Using Visual Memories to Create an Inner Safe Base of Resilience
Fully 25% of your brain’s real estate is devoted to visual processing in the occipital lobe. Human beings who can see navigate their world primarily by sight, more than touch, hearing or smell.
You can use this tremendous power of processing experiences visually to install resources of equilibrium in your neural circuitry, an inner safe base to come home to. When you remember seeing a banana or imagine seeing a banana, the same neurons light up in the visual cortex as when you see a banana in real life in real time. You can use this very real power of visualization and visual memory to
create resources for resilience that are very real – and soothing – to your brain.
Exercise: Memories of a Soothing Natural Landscape
This exercise can install a resource in your brain that can last a lifetime.
1. Go outside to a place that has been calming and soothing to you, or a place that has been the scene of moments of courage for you.
2. While gazing at the landscape intently, spend 30 seconds (or more) committing the view to memory.
3. While still at the site, practice evoking the image repeatedly in your mind.
4. Practice evoking the image again later, when you are somewhere else. (If you can revisit your soothing or -encourage-ing landscape several times to repeat; excellent.) Practice calling up the image many times until it is a reliable resource in your brain.
5. When you sense even the slightest whiff of a wobble, evoke this image in your mind’s eye. (You can place your hand on your heart as you do so, if you wish.) Let the felt sense of the soothing or en-courage-ing landscape help you steady your equilibrium now.
You can, of course, create an entire library of memoires of soothing landscapes, just like the memories of soothing people, to help you recover your range of resilience even as circumstances change.