For years, humans believed that the brain was static, locked and unchanging. But now our understanding has changed drastically to the point where we now see the brain is dynamic and constantly changing. And what if I told you that thinking could not affect our body but also our lives. There is incredible power in thoughts and we will learn about it in the lines below.
Imaging and Doing
From the perspective of neuroscience, imagining an action and actually doing it requires the same motor and sensory functions of the brain. For example, if you imagine an alphabet, let's say 'B' the primary visual cortex lights up in the same way as it would when you actually see the letter B. The time it takes for you to image yourself writing down your signature is almost equal to the time it actually takes when you write down the signature with your dominant hand.
It proves that the action and imagination are integrated and follow the same neural pathways. Practicing one facilitates and improves the other.
A psychological study took two groups and had them practice piano for two hours except one group was allowed to practice on the real piano but used mental practice. They were not allowed to touch the piano but would sit in front of it and imagine practicing. The result is that the same physical changes took place in the motor cortex of both groups. When the mental group was given a chance to practice physically, they were able to grasp and learn faster and catch up to their skill level quickly.
An experiment to strengthen muscles was conducted. Both groups did the same muscle exercises for 4 weeks, though one group only did it mentally. Those who actually did the exercise increased the strength by 30% while the other group's strength increased by 22%. This is because that although the mental exercise group didn't do any physical practice but they still used the neurons for movement instructions.
Our thoughts do not have some mystical and magical power but mental practice is an effective way to prepare for a physical skill. Each thought changes the structure and function of brain at a microscopic level. Only day dreaming would lead you anywhere but a little mental practice wont hurt!