By: Dr. John Ankerberg, Dr. John Weldon; ©2001
New Age visualization is the use of mental concentration and directed mental imagery in the attempt to secure particular goals, whether physical, psychological, vocational, educational, or spiritual.


(from Encyclopedia of New Age Beliefs, Harvest House Publishers, Eugene, OR, 1996)

Info At A Glance

Description: New Age visualization is the use of mental concentration and directed mental imagery in the attempt to secure particular goals, whether physical, psychological, voca­tional, educational, or spiritual.

Founder. Unknown; the practice is ancient

How does it claim to work? Visualization attempts to program the mind to discover inner power and guidance. For example, by using the mind to contact an alleged inner divinity or “higher” self, practitioners claim they can manipulate their personal reality to secure desired goals, such as occult revelations, financial security, health, or improved learning abilities.

Scientific evaluation. Scientific research on forms of imagery (not necessarily visualiza­tion) has provided some useful insights into brain/mind interaction and the ability of mental processes to affect the mind-body function. Unfortunately, modern science does not always separate legitimate from questionable research. And legitimate research is easily misused when tied to Para psychological and New Age premises or goals.

Examples of occult potential. Visualization is often used as a means to, or in conjunction with, altered states of consciousness. It often accompanies occult meditation and is frequently used to develop psychic abilities. It is used in channeling to contact “inner advisors” or spirit guides. It has long been associated with pagan religion and practice such as shamanism and Buddhism. Many human potential and occult New Age semi­nars, such as est and Silva Mind Control employ it.

Major problems. New Age visualization assigns the human mind a divine or almost divine status. This not only represents a significant distortion of human nature, but it can also mask spiritistic manipulation of the mind, re-conceptualizing this as a natural or divine endeavor

Biblical/Christian evaluation. As an occult practice, New Age visualization is prohibited; but even alleged Christian forms are insufficiently critiqued, of dubious value, or subject to abuse.

Potential danger. Chief hazards include occult influences and problems arising from the denial of reality by over-reliance upon one’s “divine” mind and its alleged power or “wisdom.” For example, in the areas of medicine (physical self-diagnosis), education (e.g., tapping the knowledge of “inner counselors”), and religion (receiving psychic revelations), the process can produce a trust in false data that could result in foolish or harmful decisions.


  1. Steve Hensen on October 14, 2021 at 8:41 am

    Is there a distinction between different forms of mental imagery? What about sports visualization which seeks to increase belief in positive outcome, increase motivation and cultivate a positive mind set? Surely there is a difference between a belief that one is tapping into spiritual beings and one who is using visualization as a way to program the mind to focus, eliminate negative thoughts and foster confidence?

    • The John Ankerberg Show Staff on October 14, 2021 at 1:19 pm

      You are right, Steve. There is a difference between these things. God has created us with both the ability and tendency to visualize. There are many positive elements to this: We naturally visualize the stories and metaphors we encounter in the Bible (e.g., “The Lord is my Shepherd”) – it is one of the main ways we process things and allow them to impact us on an emotional level; we often visualize situations and people when we pray; we visualize future decisions as we seek God’s wisdom; the list goes on. We are visualizing creatures. I don’t think visualizing a future sports game, or something like a golf swing or gymnastics move, is wrong or what is meant to be addressed in this article.

      It focuses primarily on false ideologies and particular practices used in the occult and New Age Movement where visualization is used to channel spirits or alter reality (e.g., the law of attraction, the power of positive thinking, or Word of Faith movements). The issue with these is not visualization itself, but what one is attempting to do through it based on idolatrous assumptions (e.g., you have a divine inner self or higher self that can be tapped into for power; faith is a force one can wield to manipulate God rather than faith as trust in and surrender to God). These are ideologies we need to be discerning about. But merely preparing for a game (without the assumption that such a visualization itself taps into a special power which can alter reality) is not wrong or what this article is seeking to address.

      -JA Show Staff

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