Differences between Visualization and Meditation

By George A. Boyd © 2014

Many seekers conflate visualization with meditation. While visualization is used in certain types of meditation, particularly Agni Yoga and Attunement Meditation, aspirants should not assume that meditation only consists of creating in the mind. We will attempt to clarify these major differences between these two modalities of inner work in this article.

First order visualization operates through the astral body. Through this channel, it can affect a variety of functions. For example:

Level Visualization Affects

Common Uses of Visualization at this Level


Role play, ideomotor movement

Physiological function

Autogenics, biofeedback, autohypnosis

Energetic (etheric matrix)

Awakening the chakras, energizing or relaxing the body

Emotional field

Dramatizing emotions, expressing the emotional states of characters in dramatic acting, generating catharsis in psychotherapy

Thought form field

Creation of thought forms, interaction with thought forms through dialog, communicating from a thought form in creative or therapeutic settings

Perceptual frame of possibility

Expansion of perception and belief for what is possible, reframing or transcending limiting mindsets through coaching

Law of Attraction

Activating the Law of Attraction to manifest and bring into your life what you visualize

Second order visualization uses imagery in combination with intention to perform attunements, which are the foundation of spiritual ministry.

When we compare visualization with meditation, we find the following differences:

In meditation, where you go beyond visualization, you encounter the “seer,” which is the attentional principle. In visualization, you use intention or suggestion to interface and interact with one of the bands of the mind.

Meditation begins where you cease trying to influence the vehicles of your body-mind, and simply “see” what is there. In meditation, you are witnessing the content of each of these levels without trying to affect it. In visualization, you are activating the vehicles of consciousness and the ethers in which they dwell through directed thought (intention) or programming (suggestion).

In meditation, you accept things the way they are and witness them as they are. In visualization, you try to make something happen.

To understand the differences between these two approaches, it may be helpful to look at the three states of functioning:

In the state of automatic functioning, you act without being aware of the source of the action; feel without being aware of why the emotion arises; and are aware of thoughts arising without directing those thoughts.

In the state of conscious dynamic functioning, you are directing your behavior, processing or evoking selected feelings, and directing your thoughts to accomplish a goal and to interface with an element within your mind.

In the state of conscious passive functioning, you are aware of the content of your mind arising. You are mindful. You are the conscious witness.

Meditation begins in the state of conscious passive functioning. Visualization operates in the state of conscious active functioning.

People, who New Age teachers have trained, emphasize active visualization and suggestion. They may find it difficult to shift to the passive witnessing of meditation.

People, who have practiced the inner witnessing of meditation exclusively, may find it difficult to shift back into conscious active functioning again. For some meditators, this ability must be rehabilitated.

We encourage people to train themselves in both modes of conscious functioning—active and passive—so they can respond as necessary to what life requires in each moment.

In our intermediate meditation programs, the in-person Mudrashram® Master Course in Meditation and the by-mail and on-line Accelerated Meditation Program, we teach techniques for both conscious dynamic processing and conscious passive processing; for both visualization practices and meditation. We invite you to explore these programs to develop the full range of methods to work on your Self and to activate and unfold your spiritual potentials.

2 thoughts on “Differences between Visualization and Meditation

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