Mind over matter: A reflection on “Creative Visualization” by Shakti Gawain

The common saying goes, “Mind over matter.” However, as a student whose matter increases on a daily basis — usually due to homework, responsibilities or other conflicts — the matter often ends up dominating my mind.

Throughout my journey of trying to end the loop of mental negativity that we can all sometimes find ourselves stuck in, there is one book in particular that has helped my mind prevail the pressures of life. “Creative Visualization” by Shakti Gawain, is a book that focuses on methods individuals can practice to recreate their perceptions and in turn, live a more positive life.

It is a rather spiritual book, and some parts were a little too hippy-dippy for me. However, I was able to take some great lessons from “Creative Visualization” — and they worked.

In regards to the saying ‘mind over matter,’ Gawain explains ways in which the mind can create the matter you so desire.

Two of the fundamental concepts of the book are that energy is magnetic and form follows idea. In other words, you will receive what you put out into the world. This is not to say one won’t experience hardships or difficulties, but simply that focusing on the positive instead of the negative will make everything a little more doable and enjoyable.

The practice this book centers on is called creative visualization. I was first introduced to this concept at the Governor’s School for the Arts a few years ago. We would take a moment out of our day to close our eyes and imagine ourselves performing. The goal was to visualize the situation as realistically as possible, meaning the more details, the better.

Recently, over winter break, I utilized this method again — this time to overcome social anxiety. I imagined myself engaging with unfamiliar faces and having open and honest communication. I envisioned being at ease and comfortable throughout our conversation and effortlessly composing my thoughts into words.

I gave this goal energy every day, doing the creative visualization process, which is a form of meditation, either in the morning or at night. Then, I also used affirmations throughout the day.

Gawain notes that there is a “continuous inner dialogue … keeping up an endless commentary about life.” This is like, for example, how you can hear yourself say words in your mind when you read. In my case, this internal chatter is usually me worrying and stressing out about things in the future, and it hinders me from succeeding in the present.

Affirmations are used to counteract and replace these subconscious negative thoughts with conscious positive thoughts. An affirmation is basically a positive statement. It can be specific or general and spoken aloud or thought, but it should always be in the present tense as though you are already experiencing it. Two examples provided in the book are, “I always communicate clearly and effectively,” and “I am an open channel of creative energy.”

Gawain encourages readers to create affirmations specific to their individual intents. I thought about my own affirmations periodically throughout the day. They served as reminders in my spare moments. I truly became more conversational, comfortable and excited to communicate and be with people.

Gawain uses an analogy for those who use the creative visualization and affirmation methods: life is a river. Her idea is to go with the flow of the current. And even though you may take a winding course, you can enjoy the views along the way.

This comparison shows that one can consciously work towards a goal, while remaining in the present, accepting change as it comes. The latter is important because by opposing change you energize the idea of not achieving your goal, and that creates an inner conflict.

As students, we are under a lot of pressure the majority of the time. Once I figured out how simple it is to create a more positive perception, I was able to focus on my goals, opportunities and mental well-being. I hope you can experience the same outcome.