Vajratantrika wrote:How clear are your visualizations? How detailed are they? Are your visualizations comparable to, say, a virtual reality machine? A vivid dream? A 3D movie? Or are they more like sensing the object of visualization is there, but not actually 'seeing' it with your inner-eye? If your visualizations are strong, clear and vivid, did this take a long time to attain? Or did you start out already having a propensity for being a visual-type of person? Has anyone used non-dharmic sources to improve your visualization skills (such as 'creative visualization' exercises, etc)? When you practice a sadhana where the text gives a description of a yidam, do you visualize the yidam while chanting/reciting the text or do you chant/recite the text and then pause to meditate on the yidam? Or both?
I think secret to good visualisation is the same as meditation on an actual or object or on the breath - stay focussed but relaxed. If you let your mind wander too much then obviously it will be difficult to maintain a clear visualization. Similarly if your mind is too tight, you will tire and lose the visualization that way.
I think it's important to to remember that when visualizing your are not using your eyes so you will not see the deity as you would if they manifested physically in front of you. You can hone in on details or draw back and imagine the entire scene.
When learning a sadhana I often pause just before the section which describes the field of merit and build the visualization in my mind before reciting the text. If I am practising with a group I will often wait until the mantra recitation to build it up if I cannot do it during the recitation of the text.
Other tips I have found useful, especially if getting distracted, is to "sweep over" the visualization - imagine the details from the top down, then from the bottom up and from left to right and then right to left and so on. It's great if you can rest your attention comfortably on a detail like the seed syllable of the deity but if you can't (and we all have days when it's easier than others), move the focus of your attention around to different aspects of the visualisation like the jewelry, mantra syllables, mudras, retinue etc. Remember too that your point of view is not limited to being in front of the deity - you can go beneath, behind, above or either side. You can move in right up close or even inside - the deity is made of light after all. SImilarly if you visualizing yourself as the deity you do not have to "look the deity's eyes", you canput your awareness outside and view the deity from without.
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