It sure is. Even though meditation and visualisation are often used interchangeably, the two techniques are actually quite different and affect the brain in very different ways.
Mediation is used to calm the nervous system and deliver deep rest (even deeper than sleep) to the mind and body. With the help of a mantra, there is little effort to control our thoughts or other aspects of our experience. Meditation helps us repair and regenerate which, when practiced consistently, can help us overcome stress and illness.
During meditation, your sympathetic nervous system is calmed and you are present and in the moment. When practiced over time, this can lead to decreased anxiety, stress, depression and pain. Regular meditation has been linked to increased clarity, focus, retention of facts and awareness.
Visualisation, on the other hand is very active and can excite our nervous system. During visualisation, we are more conscious of what we are doing. With eyes closed, the breath and senses are guided into a relaxed state where we can then direct our thoughts to bring about a desired physical, mental or emotional result ie: feeling more confident, practicing and re-programming specific sporting techniques, gaining more clarity and focus or overcoming fear.
During visualisation, thoughts are guided to imagine best case scenarios for future situations – whether that be a sporting event, a key-note speech, new skill acquisition or a complete five-sensory experience. When practiced consistently, visualisation can re-programme neural pathways and in other words, replace old habits, thoughts, movement patterns, reactions and feelings.
Did you know that your brain cannot tell the difference between imagined and real practice? That’s right! The same neural pathways fire which means visualisation is a very powerful skill to compliment any physical practice.