A little over a year ago, a friend invited me to a vision board workshop. I went into it thinking it would be something totally different than what it was. When I thought of a vision board, I thought of sort of a real life Pinterest board- something that you would very specifically curate based on what you wanted to achieve in your life. I was so surprised when I took Leila Jankowski’s class at Lift Yoga in Alpharetta. The way she taught us how to make a vision board was revolutionary for me. Before we even got to cutting and pasting, we did a carefully conducted guided meditation to really explore what our HEART wanted- not just our minds. We built vision boards based on our “souls”, which is why Leila lovingly calls them “soul goals”.
I want to show you my board from last year (I have a new board for 2020), and tell you my favorite visioning story of my own, first.
Last year in January at the workshop, I intuitively pulled many things for my board- much of it without logical reason. While I manifested a LOT on my board, one thing was a total WHOA moment. One of the things I pulled was a map of Manhattan. I received an opportunity to run the NYC marathon in August and finished it in November. Talk about crazy!
Not only is Leila’s personal story incredible (you’ll have to attend a workshop to hear all about that!), but she’s so incredibly knowledgeable on the subject. Leila was kind enough to agree to let me interview her for this blog post, as I am certainly not an expert. Visioning has become such a big part of my life and every time I mention it people have so many questions. I wanted to bring the teacher who taught me straight to my blog, to give you guys a little more information about how it works and why it works.
Without further ado, meet Leila!
Give us a few sentences about who you are!
I’m a mom of five living in Roswell, GA (but will always be a Buffalo girl in my heart). I have worked as a local and international yoga and fitness teacher for more than 18 years. I have also worked on the corporate side of health and wellness as a manager and studio director. For the last several years, in addition to teaching yoga and fitness, I also work as a yoga teacher trainer, workshop presenter, and am finishing a graduate program in clinical mental health counseling. One of my absolute passions is immersing myself in cultures through service; I have taken several chips to Costa Rica, Haiti, and China, working alongside community members and leaders in impoverished areas.
What is visioning?
Visioning is the practice of creating a mental “picture” of your ultimate desired outcome and imagining what that looks, feels, smells, and even tastes like!
What is a vision board?
A vision board brings your vision to life through pictures, words, colors, shapes, and textures, and magazines, stickers, paint, fabric (the sky is the limit!) can be used to create them. Vision boards regularly remind and inspire people about the big dreams they have for their lives.
Is there any science behind this?
ABSOLUTELY! And I’m going to spend the most time on this because I hope this is the most significant takeaway your readers have…
While I can personally attest to the power of vision boards (or “soul goal” boards as I like to call them) in my own life, I am also a HUGE science nerd – especially when it comes to visualization.
There is a part of our brain called the Reticular Activating System (RAS), and its job is to filter through all of the information coming to our senses from the environment (there can be up to 2,000,000 bits of data surrounding us at any one time!). It selects what will be noticed and given attention to by the conscious mind, and without our RAS, our brain would be overwhelmed with data.
We train our RAS through our thoughts; what we think about or focus on most is what our RAS will notice most in our environment.
Quick example: Have you ever decided that you wanted to buy a particular car, and then you begin seeing it on the road everywhere? A bunch of vehicles could zoom by you unnoticed, but you’re able to quickly and easily spot the car you desire in the pack.
That’s your RAS at work; filtering out the unimportant models of cars and heightening your senses to the vehicle you’ve told your brain is most important to you.
Have you ever been broken up with or gotten a divorce – you’re feeling low – and then all you can see everywhere are couples in love? That’s the RAS at work, too. More about that later.
Back to vision boards. When we create this visual picture of our hopes and dreams, our brain does a mini-visualization exercise every time we view it, and we train the RAS to be on the lookout for that information in our environment. Obviously, this can work for teaching our brain to notice tangible items, but it can also heighten our senses to be on the lookout for what we most desire in relationships, careers, and even our spirituality.
I like to think of the RAS as our internal GPS system. If we want our GPS to work to our advantage at noticing all the information and opportunities in our environment that will take us closer to our hopes and dreams, we must program it accordingly.
How is a “soul goal” board process different from one that is more unintentionally curated?
Many people, unfortunately, create life goals that aren’t in alignment with their soul’s purpose; their truest vision for themselves. We often work towards goals that we think will make us feel a certain way, or what we’re “supposed” to desire based on what we see going on around us.
We know we are out of alignment when a goal is met, and it feels a little hollow, or maybe we say to ourselves afterward, “Geez, I thought I would feel different.” We get the job, car, spouse, house, etc. and might think, “that’s it?! Why doesn’t this feel more…fulfilling?”
There are a variety of reasons this happens, such as conditioning by society, culture, and even our own families. But, people indeed waste weeks, months, years – maybe even their entire life chasing goals not meant for them. This fact is evidenced by the number one regret given by people who are on their deathbed, “I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.”
So, to get in touch with our “soul goals” we need to carve out time to turn down the volume of society, culture, our families – even our own minds – and turn up the volume of the messages from our hearts.
Meditation, prayer, journaling, and spending time in nature are some ways to tune out the noise and get clarity about our vision. During my vision board orkshops, I offer a guided meditation that I specifically designed to do just that by asking questions that most people don’t ever think to ask themselves.
Can you manifest either?
Yes, and is why we have to be very careful about what we focus on; our RAS will ALWAYS show us things in our environment to validate our thoughts.
Back to the break-up story when all someone can notice is couples…if we habitually have thoughts about areas of our life that we feel are lacking or where we feel less than, our RAS will still do what it’s supposed to do; it will look out into our world and attempt to validate EVERY. SINGLE. THOUGHT. (even the shitty ones).
Also, if our thoughts are focused on what we DON’T want to create in our lives (instead of what we DO want to create), what do you think our RAS will notice MOST in on our environment? Yep, all the things we don’t want, while the things we desire most, don’t get our attention (and all the more reason to have a daily gratitude practice).
What are a couple of your favorite manifestation stories that you have heard from others?
Oh, my – there have been SO many! I’ve taught vision board workshops to hundreds of people throughout the years and could probably write a book about all of the manifestation stories I’ve heard!
But I’ll pick two of my favorites; they aren’t the wildest and craziest of examples (even though I’ve had several of those), but they are two that are special to me.
I had a young woman attend my workshop with her mother. She had recently graduated from high school and felt very conflicted about beginning college. While she knew this was expected of her by family and friends – even herself – she couldn’t shake the idea that it didn’t feel right. Through the guided meditation, journaling, and magazine exercise I offer in my workshops, she continued to get profound messages of travel and service one exercise after the other (her mother looked nervous – ha!).
Fast forward a few months later, she applied for and was selected to join the Peace Corps, where she served for a year in a Latin American country. Fast forward a year, or so later, she came back home (to a very grateful and proud Mama) and said it was one of the most incredible experiences of her life. She began studying in an area she enjoys and now works in a sector most aligned with her heart.
Another story is about a woman in her 60’s. She had grown
children, grandchildren, and was divorced. I remember her vision board
being so joyful, with lots of inspiring words, and pictures of nature,
yummy food, travel, family, and yoga. There was also a cut-out picture
of an attractive man that she glued on her board. I asked, “WHO IS
THAT?” She replied, “A man, I want a man. I can’t believe I’m saying
that, but I want a man to love and experience life with again!”
Guess who got a boyfriend shortly thereafter? I’ll never forget her coming to the yoga studio to take my class and exclaim, “I ordered up a man from the Universe, AND IT WORKED!”
I love stories like the above the most from my workshops because of their sweetness and simplicity. Yes, there is also the “OMG! THAT’S BANANAS” stories, but mostly, it’s stories of people dropping into their hearts, following the wisdom it offers and manifesting some incredibly delicious stuff in their lives.
What are your top three tips when creating a vision board?
1. Put a picture of yourself on your board (or an image that represents you), so you can literally SEE yourself in your vision!
2. Put the board in a place where you can see it every single day – especially in the morning before your day begins, and at night before you go to sleep. Every time you look at it, you’re doing a mini-visualization exercise.
3. Keep your board private and off of social media. There are several reasons for this tip:
1) More brain science (don’t get me started…I told you I was a science nerd.)
2) You will possibly craft a board to impress others and out of alignment with your vision
3) People can be crappy and tell you all the ways your vision doesn’t make sense to them (sad, but true)
4) You wouldn’t bare your soul in public, would you?
Only my closest loved ones are trusted to see my board; it’s like a private prayer to me.
Can you do this at any time of year or is it best to do it at the beginning of the year?
The beginning of the year is a great time to create a vision board because we all tend to be more self-reflective at this time, but ANY TIME is a good time to create a vision board! I’ve done vision boards on my birthday, during Springtime, and even to support my big visions for special projects!