What is a Vision Board and how do they work?

My mind has always been skeptical and inquisitive about the events happening in our lives and their impact upon our future. I always believed that there is a rational explanation behind every event. We have always heard phrases like it was magical and it was a miracle but my skeptical mind always told me that there is a more logical yet extraordinary explanation behind every magical event. It all started, while having a discussion about Quantum Physics with my Professor at University and the conversation took a turn towards Neuroplasticity and Visualization. We discussed a great deal about the science. My Professor looked at me, filled with excitement and said, “What if the Science is Placebo?” I looked at him bewildered and said, “You are right!” So I thought, what if I approached vision boards as a scientist rather than a hypothesis, would it stand up?

I went home and started creating a vision board with Polaroid images that I stuck to the back of our bedroom door. One of my dreams is to build a state of the art public hospital for Perinatal Anxiety and Depression patients. I have been dreaming of this since I suffered it severely in 2015 (insert link here for Marie Claire). I put an image of the Gidget Foundation that has the target of $50 Million underneath it on the back of my bedroom door. I began my vision board journey by putting up other images that I wanted to create in our life and started utilising science based techniques such as meditation, visualization, journaling and psychology I began my journey. Two weeks after I placed my vision board behind our bedroom door, things started to materialise. One of the examples I will share is the Public Hospital goal. Here is how the story unfolds. I was introduced to a friend, who was hiring a CEO for The Gidget Foundation, whom just happened to be looking for an ambassador for this charity. I humbly accepted.

The CEO, Arabella Gibson, just happened to be in conversations with our Australian government, who had just happened to have a new focus on mental health. The government "just happened" to then donate $300k to The Gidget Foundation. Now 300k doesn’t seem like much toward the $50M target, however I’m now meeting many private investors on planes, professionals at my keynote events, colleagues through my workshops whom are also backing this dream and currently building a public hospital unit in Adelaide. The exciting news is, we should be able to materialise this project in the not too distant future.

Was it all a matter of random chance?

The miracles kept happening and my mind was racing again to know how so many highly unlikely things come together at once to produce a desired result? This led to a mission to determine if there is a scientific link between how we think and things that materialise in our lives.

I started to scroll through countless clinical journals, websites, personal stories and articles and realized that the visualization and other techniques do have scientific evidence. My research kept going until I was fully convinced that the brain can be conditioned in a way that could help you to achieve your goals. So, I designed a vision board program to teach you techniques and methods to neurologically condition your brain so that your brain and body gets in tune and begins to work together as a single unit. This program not only discusses the science behind vision boards but it will also include the practices and methods that you can utilise to enhance your brain and intelligence in such a way that you start reaping the rewards of all your hard effort.

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In the paragraphs below, you are going to discover and understand that you are the architect of your own destiny. I am going to explain the science and then I will tell how can you can effectively use these techniques to enhance your own future.

Our brains are amazing. If you can understand a few fundamental concepts and start focusing on the techniques that I will be discussing in the latter part of the post you will be able to create a very successful vision board.

What is a vision board?

A vision board or dream board is a collection of images, inspiring quotes, collages, intentions, affirmations of a person’s goals and dreams. It is designed to be viewed regularly and serves as a source of inspiration and motivation to help you achieve your goals. Vision boards can be created digitally, with polaroids. Or even the old fashion way with a cork board and pins. Click here to learn more about creating your vision board or dream board.

How do vision boards work?

So, you want to understand the science? Here we go…

Every now and then we hear buzz words like mindfulness, neuroplasticity and visualization. Today we are going to go behind the curtain and get a deeper understanding of the science.

 
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Neuroplasticity

Neuroplasticity is the ability of the brain to rewire itself in response to external or internal stimuli such as what we tell ourselves, or our life experiences. Your brain reorganizes itself in response to new situations by forming new neural connections. In more technical words, neuroplasticity is a phenomenon that refers to the physiological changes in the brain that happen as a result of our interactions with the environment.

Some people believe that neuroplasticity only triggers when we are exposed to some traumatic event or injury. That is simply not true. In fact, neuroplasticity keeps happening throughout our whole life, until the moment we die. Our brains are amazing and extraordinary. In our brains, there are different connections that are formed and then discarded according to the needs. Sometimes a connection falls dormant because we aren’t using it and a new pathway is created to compensate for new information, experience or a new habit being formed. When we learn something new, we create new pathways between our neurons and rewire our brains to adjust to new situations. This happens every day we are constructing and deconstructing areas in the brain. The old saying ‘Use it or lose it’ rings true for the brain.

Your brain is constantly building and deconstructing. You are adding capacity to the neural circuits you are using and the older ones, you are no longer giving attention to, decay. A process known as pruning.

 
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As you can see in this image above, the synaptic pruning process allows the brain to fine-tune its neural network and strengthen the connections between neurons that are the focus for your brain at any given moment. It’s like how a gardener prunes away excess branches on fruit trees so that the resulting branches can produce healthier and better tasting fruit.

Therefore whole regions of the brain that are actively being used are beginning to grow in size. With MRI scans we can see this unfolding in the living human brain. For example before GPS and google maps were invented, London taxi drivers had a larger hippocampus, a part of your brain, responsible for memory.

 
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Ellen has been an advocate of Vision Boards for decades

It has been believed previously that the adult brain is static, and it could not regenerate itself. Previously neuroscientists and experts believed that we were born with all the neurons we were meant to have and that the adult brain was fixed. Once degenerated, it was thought they could not be regenerated. Every cell may die eventually as we age and we couldn’t regenerate them. However, in the 1960’s scientist Joseph Altman challenged this belief and now science proves that even though some brain cells die, there are other ways for them to adapt, reconnect and replenish. This regeneration of brain cells is called neurogenesis.

Difference between Neuroplasticity and Neurogenesis

Although both are somewhat related, fundamentally they are different concepts altogether. Neuroplasticity is the ability of the brain to rewire itself, to make new connections by firing the neurons. Whereas, neurogenesis is the ability of the brain to regenerate itself.

To explain this from a deeper understanding, there are two types of neuroplasticity.

Types of Neuroplasticity

There are two types of Neuroplasticity that are distinguished on the basis of permanency of the impact.

Structural Neuroplasticity: In this type of neuroplasticity, the strength of the connections between neurons change as a behaviour or thought changes.

Functional Neuroplasticity: It is the type which describes permanent changes to the connections between the neurons.

A connection between the neurons is called a Synapsis. A Synapse is a structure that allows a neuron to transmit an electrical or chemical signal to another neuron or to a target cell or effector. So, coming back to our original question ‘How can we enhance the capability of our brain so that our body and our brain works in harmony to produce the desired effect to achieve our goals? ‘

The answer lies in Structural Neuroplasticity.

Finally, after understanding the science behind Neuroplasticity, we are going to explore what we can do to condition our brains in such a way that they start producing the desired results?

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The power of Visualization

Visualization: Visualization is a technique that uses mental imagery to activate many of the neural networks as if you are doing it.

Fascinating research from Harvard called ‘The Plastic Human Brain Cortex’ published in the annual review of Neuroscience in 2005, showed volunteers coming into Harvard Medical School to learn how to play the piano. One group was instructed to practice everyday for 2 hours. At the end of each session they sat under a coil of wire that set a magnetic pulse into their neo cortex responsible for finger dexterity, a procedure called Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TSM).

Transcranial magnetic stimulation: TSM allows scientists to read the function of neuron’s below the coil.

In these piano players the TSM mapped out how much of the cortex was involved in the finger movement while students practiced. Results: The neuroscientists found after one week of practice, the motor cortex responsible for these finger movements took over surrounding areas in the brain (neuroplasticity). These findings support several large research papers that show the greater the use of a particular muscle causes the brain to give more cortisol real estate to the other area.

What is even more fascinating with this study was the other group of volunteers. The second group of the study comes in and they are to not play the piano, but just visualise playing the piano exercises inside their head. Holding their hand on their lap, they would visualize how their fingers would move while playing the piano. This group were also measured by a TSM coil after the visualisation practice.

Scientists compared the two groups, those who played the piano versus though who visualized playing. The scientists discovered a revolutionary idea about the brain. The ability of just by thinking or visualising something, the physical structure of the brain can change. What this study revealed was the region of the brain called the motor cortex that controls dexterity and finger movement also expanded in the brain of volunteers who just visualized playing the music. Just as it had, in the group that were playing the piano.

What this study revealed was the region of the brain called the motor cortex that controls dexterity and finger movement also expanded in the brain of volunteers who just visualised playing the music.

This is why athletes such as Lebron James mentally rehearses free throws swishing through the hoop in basketball, or why legendary golfer Nick Faldo visualizes his ball going in the hole before every golf swing. They know the secrets of Visualization and how powerful the mind can be. Visualization can lead to mastery of skills by physically changing the structure of your brain without the need for endless hours of physical exertion.

 
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How does neuroplasticity and visualization help with vision boards?

We can now understand that our thoughts and behavioural patterns can rewire our brains due to neuroplasticity and break the spell of limiting beliefs, where we can live our lives to their fullest potential.

We can actually rewire our brain permanently through simple activities of visualization, meditation and learning new skills. The key to unlocking this magical ability with your vision board, is to repeatedly imagine achieving a goal on your board and then do hobbies and skills that will enable you to achieve them. This way we are conditioning your neural pathways so the action feels familiar when you go to perform it. Almost like, you are carving a groove into your neural blueprint for it to embed deeply into your brain. Finally, on a purely psychological level, visualization and goal setting creates intrinsic motivation for you to envision success and enhance your motivation and confidence.

Join EQ’s vision board program

The EQ vision board program is a step by step process to teach techniques and methods to condition your brain to achieve your goals. This program not only discusses the science behind it but it will include all the practices and techniques so you can start reaping the rewards of the hard work you have been putting in for a long time.

You are already turning thoughts into things. You are doing it every day unconsciously. Now is your time, to do it with a process and focus. Keep this practice up for years and you can have a powerful brain that is hardwired for peace, gratitude, love, happiness and positive energy.

This isn’t a magic show or a science fiction movie. This is your life! Changing your brain is something you are doing every day. Now is the time to direct it with focus, in a way that positively adds to your life.

Let’s start together today!

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About Chelsea

Chelsea Pottenger is the Director of EQ Consulting co, a world expert in delivering cognitive tools to recharge the human brain. Chelsea is currently doing a PhD in clinical psychology and neuroscience, an internationally accredited mindfulness and meditation teacher and the mental health ambassador in Australia for R u Ok? and The Gidget Foundation Charities.

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Chelsea Pottenger