At many points mention is made of visualizing 'a light', 'an energy', the spiritual eye, etc.

However, even though I am feeling perfectly relaxed, I am unable to visualize anything — all I have is the darkness in front of me when my eyes are closed.

I do the breathing exercises, but see nothing.

Is this normal or is there some approach which will allow me to visualize as recommended?

—Richard Kennedy, Australia


Dear Richard,

The ability to visualize is very useful in all aspects of life. Athletes – like gymnasts, divers, even bob-sledders – learn to visualize the feats they wish to accomplish, as a way of focusing their minds and directing their efforts in a particular way. The spiritual principle is that energy follows thought. Another way of expressing this principle is that nothing can be accomplished unless we have a clear idea of what we wish to accomplish.

Everyone is capable of visualizing, but for most people it is an ability that needs to be developed. While some people find it easy to imagine things visually, others find it easier to imagine the feeling of it rather than the visual image. For example, to visualize a waterfall, one could see the water cascading down, or hear the sound of it, or feel the booming power of it, or perceive the sensation of water drops on the skin.

On the spiritual path we are trying to experience higher states of awareness. Great spiritual masters and spiritual scriptures have described these states in terms of certain qualities of light, of sound, of peace, of joy, love, and power. In order to set our efforts in the right direction, we can imagine those exhalted states in terms of what we have experienced already – soothing colors, sounds, feelings.

When you meditate, gaze gently upwards towards the point between the eyebrows, and imagine there a light, any kind that easily comes to mind: a candle light, the light of a fireplace, a sunrise, a burst of fireworks. You can knit your eyebrows together several times to stimulate that center, relax, and try again to imagine. Your efforts at visualizing will in time stimulate actual inner visions.

As an athlete or musician or artist must try many times before achieving a measure of success, the same is true for the aspiring yogi.

Here is an interesting exercise suggested by Yogananda that you might want to try. It might help you in both your meditation and in your dreams:

Sit in your dimly lighted bedroom just before you feel fairly sleepy.

With half-open eyes steadily and simultaneously look at a portion of the room and try to visualize and memorize every detail. All the time will yourself to see all the objects of your vision in a dream and fall asleep while you are visualizing.

In this way you will be able to visualize or produce a mechanical vision of anything, any person, or any place in a dream consciously produced in the subconsciousness.