I have always been a daydreamer, thinking about my future life.
For years, when I was a child, I would go through the Sears catalogues with my best friend Marla and we would pick out the furniture we were going to get when we moved into our own apartment together. We had decided we would find a place just like Mary’s apartment on the Mary Tyler Moore Show, complete with a cool shag carpet.
By the time I was six, my mother was constantly telling me to stop daydreaming while walking to school. She was worried I would get hit by a car because I wasn’t paying attention. Both my sisters did not daydream as much and they were rewarded by walking to school on their own by the age of five.
By fourteen, I was busy picturing exactly what my husband would look like someday. I would try to predict how many days it would be until I met him. I worried that I had met him already, that we were in the same place and maybe even brushed elbows but I didn’t notice. I could picture exactly what he was going to look like and how he was going to be. Of course, he would be the best looking, most interesting and coolest person I had ever met. (FYI, he was and still is. We have been married for over twenty years now.)
At this same time, I was also sure that I was going to grow up to become a private detective like Charlie’s Angels. There are some remnants of this dream in the series that I did for my podcast called Finding Shelley Desroaches, where I investigated the disappearance of a woman from London, Ontario.
At sixteen, I updated my career goals to also include becoming a CEO by 30 and being featured in Business Week Magazine. I daydreamed about everything: the cottage I would own in Lake of the Woods one day, places I would live, the kids I would have. I was picturing this amazing future while teachers were giving me detention for staring out to space and doodling in my notebook.
While I was led to believe throughout my childhood and most of my adult years that there was no benefit to this practice of daydreaming, it seems that it all paid off. I achieved all those goals, except for being in Canadian Business Week. I was instead featured in Czech and Romanian business magazines, as that was where I worked. I was recognized for being the youngest CEO of a telecom business in the world at the time and in another for being the only female CEO in telecom. I am sure it did not last long, as the Scandinavian countries were very advanced in who held senior positions.
Now, I see that this was a form of visualization and manifestation that I was naturally doing. I just didn’t have a fancy name for it. It wasn’t until I read Dr. Joe Dispenza’s Becoming Supernatural: How Common People Are Doing the Uncommon that I really started to understand how this practice could be used in many aspects of my life and learned more about the concept that we can heal our body through our own mind. The further I read, the more I was fascinated.
This book opened up the possibility that the mind is a powerful tool to bring about health and happiness, but it can also do the opposite and become an enemy. It is all based on what we tell ourselves about ourselves. If we see the world through a more positive light, our life will be more positive.
After I read Dr. Joe’s book, I signed up for an online guided visualization class. It was weekly and three hours long. The woman leading the class looked to be in her sixties and had long gray hair that reminded me of the 1960s. She was very knowledgeable on how to lead a more peaceful life.
She had us all lie down on our own floors, the same as if it were the end of a yoga class, and she began the visualization. Like in the book, the instructor focused on the different chakras to guide the class from the top of our bodies all the way down.
If you’re not familiar with chakras, there are seven of them in your body. It starts with the crown, at the top of your head, and then moves down to your third eye, throat, heart, solar plexus, sacral, and finishes with your root at your feet. Each area of your body is associated with a different side of your spiritual and emotional self.
During the first two sessions, I fell asleep early and slept through the majority of the class – since it was online it was much easier for me to sneak from laying on the floor in my room into my own comfy bed. But I really wanted to give visualization and this class another chance and see if it could work for me.
In preparation for the third session, I ordered some mushrooms to microdose. I took enough for a psychedelic experience, imagining this would be the quickest path to unleashing the innermost sections of my mind while giving me the energy to stay awake during the whole marathon session. But all it did was agitate me and made the three hours seem to drag on even longer. But I do remember at one point thinking inside my stomach was a war zone with soldiers (little mini people) who were fighting against my cancer and I was not sure how to help my platoon fight for me. It felt a little discouraging.
So after that session I never went back.
The first thing I did after reading Dr. Joe’s book was to lend Zach, my son, my copy. After the visualization classes failed, we started doing our own guided sessions together, with Zach taking the helm. They were usually no more than ten minutes long and we started doing them every evening.
We would go to our guest room and lay in the bed side by side (with only one of our four dogs, as our dog Coco never leaves my side) and hold hands as Zach would start at the bottom of our toes.
Here is an example of a short practice, created and written by Zach based off the work of several visualization experts:
- Lie down or sit
- Arms by your side
- Eyes Closed
Step 1: Draw attention to your breath, concentrate on the sensation of air traveling in and out of your body.
Step 2: Align Body Centers
Guided visualization begins with becoming aware of your body’s eight energy centers or chakras.
- Below Navel
- Base of skull
- Top of head
- Roughly 1 foot and a half up from top of head
Become aware through starting at the perineum and visualizing the body center as a tiny, glowing ball of pulsating energy situated in the center of your perineum. Visualize that area as calm and comfortable, begin to associate this with elevated emotions. Happiness, peace, and above all, gratefulness (the most important emotion to keep consistent through aligning and becoming aware of all 8 body centers). With your attention firmly placed on that tiny ball in your perineum imagine a thin line that you follow along to the base of your naval. This is your 2nd center, again visualizing as a tiny ball of pulsating energy and bringing up a state of elevated emotion. Continue along this line, taking a pause at each center to visualize and emote until you reach the 8th and final body center.
- Note: To bring up elevated emotions focus on the present moment, taking pride in your ability to become aware of and align your bodies eight centers. Using this action, forcefully bring up elevated emotions, such as motivation, satisfaction, and gratefulness. Gratefulness is the most receptive of elevated states.
Step 3: Want/need Visualization
With your attention now firmly placed on all 8 body centers, we now begin our want/need visualization. This visualization must be unique to you, what do you wish for? The goal is to create clear images of this wish coming true, it can be in story format, or my personal favorite, a series of images or short vignettes related to that wish. For my mom I create a series of images all connected to living a healthy and pain free life.
- “I want you to see yourself sitting straight, standing tall, and jumping high. You feel pain, no discomfort. Visualize yourself going for a run on a cool summer day, you feel confident, empowered by your body and grateful for your abilities.”
The visualizations of each session varies: in one sitting we may spend a great deal of time focusing on new found health, in another we may instead be focused around anxiety or fear. On certain occasions it will be an extremely specific visualization, such as an upcoming hospital appointment or a public speaking event. By becoming aware and in tune with our body’s natural energies and associating this action with elevated emotion, we are able to put ourselves in an elevated state where we are much more receptive to the energy around us. In many ways we are creating a self fulfilling prophecy, linking our future dreams or desires with the energy of ourselves and the world around us.
Step 4: Drawing attention back to your breath, feeling it travel in and out, and finally opening your eyes when you feel comfortable to do so.
The next part is most important: Once you have elevated your state, and you are in a place where it is only your subconscious and you ask the universe for what you want. Someone else out there might have submitted something they need that matches your want or the universe has picked it up from them and an energetic connection is made.
For example, Zach once wished for my energy to improve, because fatigue is debilitating. Within three weeks, I saw an ad for Ritalin on TV and chatted with my doctor about it and gave it a try. It did help with my energy, and now I am on a longer-acting version called Concerta. Usually these drugs are for people with Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD), but they also work for people with chronic fatigue to help give us energy.
Another example: We jointly asked for some Public Relations for our store and a week later we were asked to talk about products on a show on Global TV with a large viewer base.
These are just two examples and Zach has many more, as he is disciplined enough to keep it up with the practice every week.
I believe visualization really can make a huge difference in peoples’ lives,
but you have to commit to six days a week for at least an hour per session to really start seeing some rewiring of the brain as you master the practice.
For me, I will always go back to daydreaming. My husband will ask me where my head is at and I will say just daydreaming. Teachers, friends, and family have asked me all my life what I daydream about and it has not been until recently that I realized I am constantly visualizing my future.
I think I have been guiding my own visualization since before I could talk. I think the reason I did not talk until I was three was that the images and life I was creating in my mind were more interesting than my everyday life.
But my daydreaming has evolved and I have tried to incorporate some of the principles and ideas of visualization. Now, I will speak out to the vast universe multiple times throughout the day and ask for things. And I believe, if it is something I truly need, the universe will provide it for me. But most things I ask for are not things I really need. They are egocentric or come out of a place of insecurity, fear, worry, or just plain old narcissism. I think the universe understands me in ways I don’t yet understand myself and has my best interest at heart.
Some of my favorite escapist daydreams, usually when I am trying to refocus away from pain, are about renovating my parents’ house (the potential projects are endless, so this can last a good 30 minutes). I also will design a week’s worth of outfits for myself or create a new Sunday newsletter in my head. Creative things give me peace of mind.
I imagine winning the lottery of $100 million.
This keeps me busy for 30 to 40 minutes because I put restrictions on my win. I will decide that all of my spending has to be experience-based, or charity-based, or to build a new business from scratch. Daydreaming is endless entertainment and I think it is a healthy distraction.
It’s amazing where our brains will go if we allow them to. It is incredible how they will find ways to keep us safe and secure and help us get the things that we need and want. Daydreaming can be an amazing healing tool and method of actually planning for the future. It is a place of no limits and no consequences, something we all need sometimes.
~ Karla xoxo
Karla Stephens-Tolstoy has stage 4 chronic cancer, diagnosed in 2018. She is Her2 negative, IDC. She takes 50 pills daily, including Ibrance and letrozole, her cancer fighting pills. Karla is the co-owner of the online store StandUpSpeakUp.ca with her son, Zach. Through this venture, they are proud donors to various charities. All proceeds of their limited edition Healing and Empowerment Scarves are donated to Wellspring Cancer Support Centre.