MEETING MY FUTURE SELF (the most powerful visualisation exercise I have EVER done)

It’s not often that I get to prioritise writing a post immediately after deciding that it might be worth drafting. But when I mentioned this particular visualisation exercise on Instagram last night, I had quite a response of interest. As those of you who have been following my blog for a while will already be aware, I am a HUGE believer in the power of visualisation and meditation. Some of my most visited blog posts are on the very subject. All my experiences with meditation have been positive in some way. Most recently I have participated in Josefine’s Yoga’s meditation challenge (involving practicing a different meditation technique everyday for 21 days) and I am currently doing the latest Chopra Center 21-Day Meditation Experience™, Getting Unstuck: Creating a Limitless life.

But the particular meditation experience I am writing about today is based upon a visualisation exercise that I did only one time, but it dramatically changed/informed the course of my life.

Around autumn 2000 in Australia, I attended a small event at a local community center in a suburb of Adelaide. The main focus of the event was meditation. I’d had some experience with meditation before, specifically guided audio relaxation techniques and open-eye meditation à la Sri Chinmoy.

To give you a little background to this story, I was extremely lost at the time, having just emerged from a period of self-destruction/living in dysfunctional relationships (but that’s for another post). In short, I was very young and had, through acting upon self-loathing, become very broken. But I was recovering and had begun walking on a healing path. I still experienced anxiety daily and unfounded fear was my constant unwanted companion. In hindsight I would also say that I was mildly depressed on top of everything, however having been thoroughly depressed (and diagnosed as such) not so much longer before, I didn’t quite recognise it at the time.
I had been on a cocktail of medications in 1999 prescribed to address the symptoms of depression and anxiety I suffered from. There are least 5 medications that I can recall off the top of my head, but there were possibly more. However, after 2 years of being diagnosed, reassessed and re-diagnosed, I had been taken off of all forms of medication upon the suggestion of my primary treating doctor under supervision in the hospital for which he was the director*.

It was now up to me to, with support, develop some skills and emotional tools to cope with “life stuff”. Meditation was one of the things that helped. And so, when my boyfriend at the time was invited by a family friend to attend a meditation event, I gladly went along. It may be coincidence, fate or something else, but regardless, certain things were revealed to me that day about paths I didn’t even know I wanted to take. I ended up taking them… and there is not a single thing in my life today (from my husband, to my children, to the fact that I live in Sweden) that hasn’t been shaped by these things.

So, are you curious to know how it works? To be honest, I still don’t know. But I can outline the basic exercise and you can try it for yourself. Then, if you are interested to know what I saw and what came to pass in reality, read on.

MEET YOUR FUTURE SELF

Completely from memory, the visualisation exercise we did was basically as follows (there may be details that I am missing as it was 16 years ago!):

Imagine yourself sitting in a comfortable quiet room, in a large comfortable white chair.

A screen appears in front of you and on it are projected numbers. Imagine those that you may have seen at the start of an old documentary. They count down, from 10 to 1.

10… 9… 8… 7… 6… 5… 4… 3… 2… 1…

Slowly your chair starts to rise off the floor, large glass doors on one side of the room open to reveal a peaceful natural landscape and your chair, with you comfortably seated upon it, slowly drifts outside.

Your chair starts to descend, then land, and you find yourself quietly observing your future self, exactly a year from now. You are happy, healthy and doing something that you love. What is it that you are doing? How do you look? How do you feel? When you feel as though you have taken in this scene, sit back in your chair and relax.

Slowly your chair starts to rise again and drift up and away to another place, 2 years into the future. Again you have the opportunity to observe your future self. Where are you now? What is it that you are doing? How do you look? How do you feel? Do you want to talk to your future self? If so approach and ask a question of your choosing. Once you have the response and when you feel as though you have taken in this scene, sit back in your chair and relax.

Slowly your chair starts to rise again and drift up and away to another place, 3 years into the future. Again you have the opportunity to observe your future self. Where are you now? What is it that you are doing? How do you look? How do you feel? When you feel as though you have taken in this scene, sit back in your chair and relax.

Slowly your chair starts to rise again and drift up and away to another place, 4 years into the future. Again you have the opportunity to observe your future self. Where are you now? What is it that you are doing? How do you look? How do you feel? When you feel as though you have taken in this scene, sit back in your chair and relax.

Slowly your chair starts to rise again and drift up and away to another place, 5 years into the future. This place is by a beautiful lake. Watch as the sun begins to set over the stunning landscape. As the moon appears in the sky, you see your future self. You approach each other, smiling and feeling at ease. How do you look? How do you feel?

As you stand together by the lake, the moon reflected in its water, you ask your future self one question. Now listen carefully. After receiving your answer, you say thank you, turn and walk back to your chair. You sit back down in your chair and relax.

Slowly your chair starts to rise and drift up and away. Your chair approaches a house and large glass doors open to allow your chair to drift into the same room you started your journey in.

Your chair starts to descend, then lands gently, and once again you find yourself sitting in a comfortable quiet room.

A screen appears in front of you and on it are projected numbers. They count up, from 1 to 10.

1… 2… 3… 4… 5… 6… 7… 8… 9… 10…

Now slowly open your eyes and find yourself sitting comfortably where you are.

To end this experience and to solidify what you have envisioned, create a collage of images that help tell the story of what you saw or evoke the same positive emotions.

___

For those of you who are interested in what I saw when I did this visualisation exercise myself, here are a few of the things that really stand out in my mind.

I saw myself one year in the future, wearing a smock (such as an artist would wear). I was standing in the courtyard of a place that was my own. At the time I had only ever lived in arguably chaotic share housing situations post moving away from my family home as a teenager, with up to 6 others in the same household. As a result of poor lifestyle choices on my part (and, arguably, many with whom I resided), there was always the possibility of losing a lease, and security in all forms hung precariously in the balance. In my visualisation, however, it was my name on the “important papers”, I didn’t have 6 housemates to be concerned with and everything was peaceful. It was a sunny day, warm and mild. There was a canvas on an easel and I was painting. I was smiling, I was focused on what I was doing and I was calm.

Not long after doing this meditation, upon deciding that tertiary education was something I might like to pursue, I was using the SATAC tertiary course guide as a flip book, unsure of what I was meant to study. I stubbornly (perhaps foolishly) determined that whatever page I landed on would be the course I should look into. I let my thumb stop flicking on a random page, opened the guide and read the words “Bachelor of Visual Communication”. As I read the course description, every fibre of my being knew I was meant to do that course. My guidance counselor thought otherwise and advised me against full-time study on account of my history (she thought I’d be too fragile to take the course or indeed any form of further study). In any case, I battled through the anxiety I still had and sat the university entrance examination. My result secured me a place in my chosen course in art school.

In high school my results had been rather mediocre for most subjects (with a couple of exceptions for classes I loved) and I was generally not a particularly motivated student. My university years, however, were some of the best I have had, both in terms of how I felt and how I performed academically. I discovered passions I didn’t know were there (such as an interest in corporate design), I won the award for best first year student, made the Dean’s Merit List every year, and graduated with the highest GPA in my course and a traveling scholarship to Japan. I also met my husband, a Swedish exchange student, during my second year of study. And I was finally living in a place that was my own.

During another stage of the visualisation I saw myself on a tropical beach, wearing a bikini and eating tropical fruit. Being raised in Australia, I was no stranger to beaches… except I didn’t frequent them, didn’t consider myself a “summer person” and would have balked at the thought of wearing a bikini. This beach was not in Australia. It was somewhere I had never been and somewhere that I would not have been interested in visiting at the time I did the meditation (I was an urban dweller, not a “nature girl”). The thing that actually shocked me was that my future self felt so incredibly comfortable in her own skin. She was literally glowing (tanned, even!), she was not self-conscious in the slightest and looked so happy, healthy, calm… and unlike me.

Fast forward a couple of years and my boyfriend (now my husband) and I travelled to New Zealand to renew his Australian visa. A friend from Auckland met us in the backpacker hostel where we were staying and, we happened to see a pamphlet in the reception area for a backpacker boat (60 Fijian dollars per night, including food, drinks and activities). On a whim, our friend suggested that we meet in Fiji to celebrate New Year’s Eve 2003/04. And so, just months later, we did. Prior to leaving, I realised I was in need of a bathing suit and picked up a bikini (my first) on a last-minute shopping trip. We extended our New Year’s trip to include an island visit and, one morning, sitting on the beach on the island of Kuata, eating fruit in my bikini, I thought “I have been here before”.

barefoot-island-lodge

Image © tripadvisor.com**

There is a final stand-out memory I have of the visualisation. I saw myself in a land of green fields, abundant nature, space and lakes. I knew it was somewhere in Europe, though not anywhere I had been before. It was a cold land, but I saw my future self on a cool summer’s evening. I watched the sun setting and the day turn to night before my future self appeared on a hill and almost glided over to meet me. She was even more calm and serene than my other future selves had been. We walked down the hill and came to stand side by side by a still black lake, stars twinkling overhead, lush green hills all around us. She looked at me with a knowing kindness. She knew what I was going through and I knew she felt compassion, but not pity.

After a short time I asked her one question.

“How did you get here?”

“I lived every moment to the fullest.”, my future self responded, smiling kindly.

big_thumb_277a8d4e9bfcf31f0b564974fc9274a5

Image © wallpaperup.com

___

*This account of my experiences is purely anecdotal and shared only to provide a background to the meditation experience itself. If you have a diagnosed illness, mental health-related or other, I implore you to seek professional support if you’re even considering abandoning a prescribed medication protocol. The reason I was able to stop taking the medications I was prescribed was that 1) I was misusing medications and therefore they were doing more damage than good 2) It was determined that I didn’t have any kind of neurological imbalance, but rather needed to accept greater personal accountability and find strategies to cope with life and the issues I had. Medication was not going to help me be more responsible for my own life. But there are absolutely times when medication is crucial. This is not an “anti-medication” post. And everyone is different.

**This was the actual beach I saw myself sitting on during the visualisation. And where I ended up almost 3 years later.

23 thoughts on “MEETING MY FUTURE SELF (the most powerful visualisation exercise I have EVER done)

  1. Wow…. I cried… Doing this exercise… I Have never been in a meditación class before u know… So many feelings And thoughts right now. I am Sorry if this is not the kind of comment u expect Lady Marisa It is just that… Is so intense…. I am crying again 😅… The only thing that i can tell u is that i am crying Because what i saw was so beautiful… Thank you.

  2. Gorgeous and lovely inspiring post Marisa – and I love the sound of this meditation technique – I also have someone in mind who I think would benefit from your story here and of course I’ll be sharing it with them. Thank you ❤️

  3. Wow Marisa!!! This is such a powerful post!!! I never tried meditation, and always looked at it with a pinch of salt, but this sounds out of this world…So emotional and so touching reading this post. It made me realise that perhaps I should try it, I’m recently feeling at lost and all over the place and I think I could benefit from it, so may give it a try, but can’t help to think what if I will see nothing? If my future self will not say anything back to me? Or if I will see something I do not wish for…It scares me a bit…One way or the other, thank you for sharing this, I found it to be a fantastic post. XXX

    • Hi Anna! I don’t know if you happened to catch a post I did featuring my friend Riikka (smoothie_swan on Instagram), but I’ll paraphrase it here as I think you might find it interesting. I share anecdotally/from my personal experience & don’t assume the role of unqualified advisor mostly because I don’t want to be irresponsible, and partly because I respect professionals. Riikka recently submitted her psychology master’s thesis and gave me her psychology point of view my meditation experience here.
      She believes that “the things you visualize are more likely to happen in the future. For instance, if you visualize you running marathon and crossing the finish line, it is more likely that you actually do cross the finish line in the end.” And she uses the technique herself believing that it “unconsciously guides my behaviour so that I reach the goal I’ve set for myself. This has worked for running marathons, completing my master’s thesis, getting into the PhD school, getting a healthy baby… you just have to visualize yourself the way you want to look like and miracles start to happen. It truly works! When you visualize future episodes you activate the same brain regions as when you are thinking about past episodes.” When I mentioned meeting my future self in visualisation, a few people thought that prospect was cool, but a little scary. But Riikka confirmed what I suspected; that all the things you need to reach your dreams are already inside you. Visualisation only brings them to the fore & makes them more likely to transpire. In my non-expert opinion, there’s nothing bad about becoming more of who you are & shining more of your light. And meditation can only help 🙂 Best wishes to you, lovely! xxx

      • I totally agree with you on this one, visualising things can have a huge impact on what’s the future holds, there is a great book by Joseph Murphy called ‘The power of your subconscious mind’ and it explains this phenomenon in a great detail, and your response to my previous comment just totally reminded me of it!!! This post actually reminded me of many other things that I’ve been storing at the back of my mind, and hoping for best, rather than taking action and making sure they happen, so I just wanted to say massive thank you Marisa! XXX

  4. Marisa love that you’ve shared this & openly talk about your own mental health … l firmly believe in meditation, mindfulness & self healing ….

    You are indeed one amazing lady inside & out …

    Thank you

    Sarah (redladybird3)

    • Hello Sarah! Thank you so much! I do occasionally hesitate to share such personal things, but I have been very fortunate to have positive experiences in terms of my connections and interactions with others here/on Instagram, etc. What I realise is that people are generally pretty awesome… and that they appreciate “realness”… so even if that realness isn’t picture perfect polished and quotable “inspo”, at least it’s relatable on some level. And just kinda human! The more of myself I have shared, the more pleasantly surprised I have been by other people’s responses. And the better I have felt about being me without ridiculous amounts of editing and self-censorship. Thank you so much for your support! Love from Stockholm x

  5. Your future self is very wise indeed, Marisa… But then, your present self knows all that your future self knows.
    A marvellous meditation… A wonderful girl… ❤
    xoxoxo

  6. Dear Marissa, this brought tears to my eyes. Knowing who you are today and your story from where it all began. Thank you for sharing your journey into beautiful wholesomeness. For the hope we all can grasp on to. How much more precious when I see your beautiful food today. (I shall never see a banana fritter the same way again!) 🙂 Big love. x

    • Thank you so much for your kind and incredibly touching comment. I sometimes wonder if I share too much… if I should stick with pictures & recipes and leave the life ramblings zipped up. But then someone tells me that they relate… or they read something that resonated with them in some way. And they do it with kindness. And I think how I share is ok for today. Big love back to you! xx

  7. I’ve also been through a major period of self-destruction, depression and doubt of my future. But I learned that I needed to take care of myself with health and fitness, and I healed myself almost completely through this journey.
    This is such a beautiful letter. It really opened my heart and reflected on how much I could relate. Love this so much. ❤ xo

    • Thank you so much for sharing some of your own experience too. There was a period of time when I thought that one could only be truly healthy (or even have the right to share about such matters) if one had only ever lived within a “healthy lifestyle bubble”. And certainly when I first found myself on social media, there were many more people promoting the idea of a “perfect life” as “inspo” than there were people talking about struggles they’d been through to get where they were… or even their daily challenges/reflections. I am glad the tide is turning and that, through the sharing of real personal stories (as opposed to just pretty pictures with two word captions), we can connect/empathise/realise that we are not alone. Thank you for reading ❤ xx

  8. Wow! Hope you know how amazing you are 🌟✨🌟! Thank you so much for sharing this. May God bless you all the days of your life. X💜X

    • Unfortunately, as far as I know, there is not. I did the exercise myself with a meditation instructor who was at the community centre that day. I never met him again and it was pre-Facebook etc, so I really have no idea how to find out more about it. All I know was that it really worked 🙂

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