What if you could become a better pianist in your sleep? Or tennis player? Or surgeon? Well, according to a NOVA documentary on dreams, you can do just that. In the 2012 documentary, researchers compared two groups. Each group was tasked with attempting to build a new skill. Although both groups slept for the same amount of time, one group was prevented from dreaming. The result: the dream group showed increased improvement in the practiced skill, reporting dreams involving the target task.
Using mental rehearsal as a tool to build skills is not new. Sport Psychologists have been using the power of visualization to help performers for some time. The interesting part is the similarity. Both dreams and visualization use the power of mental rehearsal to improve skills. Now then…. How should be best use this knowledge to fully harness the power of mental imagery?
Now on a quest, I decided to find a way to integrate the concept of visualization and dreaming into a more powerful tool. Using some basic guidelines on how to better influence your dreams, I set out on a self-study.
Below I have outlined my approach. Join me with your own goals to see how you might be able to better yourself with the power of dreams and visualization.
Step 1: outline my intention.
How will I use visualization and dreaming to improve my life? I decided to use a more “classical” psychology goal and also a performance goal.
Goal 1: Improve willingness to engage in emotionally charged discussions.
Having grown up in an emotionally reserved family, I have a strong urge to avoid emotional conflict that directly affects me. Seeing it as a limiter at times, I would like to become more willing and confident in initiating discussions that must be had.
Goal 2: Improve my pack positioning in road bicycle racing
I have a great passion for cycling and am always looking to improve my ability in competition. One of my biggest limiters is positioning at the end of a race, where cycling becomes a full contact sport in order to secure a good position.
Step 2: Create and refine visualization.
Write down what I want to dream about every night before I go to bed. Edit the script as I revisit it every night to create a vivid account of the events that I want to achieve.
Step3: rehearse visualization before going to bed.
I have decided to try using some recordings in addition to text. Reading the text and focusing on imagining what the words say and then listening to a recording of it as I doze off. Keeping the visualization as the last thing I think about that night is important.
Step 4: Reflect on dreams.
Like any skill, practice makes perfect. Remembering and recording dreams will help me chart out progress of my ability to influence my dreams.
I am hoping to report on what I learned in my next post. If you decide to join me in this endeavor, best of luck!