This will be part of a large collection of visualizing instructional videos, guides, and checklists but here are the first 4 minutes. You will get a quick feel for why visualize and what are the major visualizing types.
I often get emails of the type of phone calls I made when I first started with imagery work. They all boil down to: “This imagery stuff is not working.”
Imagery does not work the first time we try it. Or the second time, etc. But I assure you that it does work. Maybe not to the exact results that you want, but the core of imagery works because it is running all the time whether we are aware of it or not. I will save my proof of that until a later time, right now I want to put the light on patience.
Patience defined (Oxford Dictionaries): the capacity to accept or tolerate delay, trouble, or suffering without getting angry or upset “you can find bargains if you have the patience to sift through the dross” synonyms: forbearance, tolerance, restraint.
The reason that imagery can be tough to get started is because other things have to be in place before it starts to show itself. We have to get good at those things and that takes time.
Relaxation – We can’t approach imagery with the same goal-oriented stance we might be using all day long. We need to switch to something that feels like we have plenty of time, that we aren’t in a rush to get something done or all figured out. Any number of methods can get us there but we need to use those that our favorites so the experience feels open, flexible, and inviting.
Getting Dreamy – Imagery is like dreaming with our eyes open. Dreamy is good. It blends a little bit of poetry with our thinking and our experience because soft with memories and symbols.
Letting Go and Following – Once we get even a bit dreamy we should follow its lead. That means letting go and relaxing even more. If a detail comes up, we follow it. It pulls us deeper and shows us even more dreamy content.
I wish I could say that there is imagery training everywhere at all sorts of levels, but that isn’t the case. There are only spotty opportunities to dig into imagery to any substantial degree and you may have to travel some distance to get it. Here is a list to work from and some suggestions on how to search for more.
Psychotherapy and Health Care Related Emphasis
Academy for Guided Imagery – Santa Monica, CA and online
The Academy (AGI) was created by a physician and a psychologist a few decades ago, mainly to offer imagery training to health care and mental health care professionals. Their current trainings maintain much of that focus but the coursework is open to anyone.
Training centers around recordings of Drs. Marty Rossman and David Bresler in workshops, supplemented with readings. To advance to each higher level of training, a test must be taken and submitted to AGI. After a certain level, participants needed to complete an on-site half week training in Santa Monica. After that work, students then could go on to the next level trainings with a similar half-week course-work in California. These days, these work can be conducted by Internet conferencing around a set schedule.
Thoughts: I highly recommend this very comprehensive program. Disclosure: I have a certificate of completion from this program.
For direct information, see: www.acadgi.com/
Imagery International – Northern California (annual conference)
Practitioners from a variety of backgrounds conduct workshops at this annual fall conference. Imagery International also provides a bound newsletter that is published several times per year and is available to its membership.
For direct information, see: imageryinternational.org/
Center for Healing and Imagery – Washington, D.C.
Dr. Mark Lawrence started this training program a few decades ago and ran and taught until his passing in 2011. The emphasis had been on ego states (parts of ourselves), trauma therapy, and mindfulness meditation in therapy.
Thoughts: I recommend this program, especially for therapists in need of continuing education credits. Disclosure: I have a certificate of completion from this program.
For direct information, see: www.centerforhealingandimagery.com/
General Exploration and Self-Therapy Emphasis
Naperstak comes from a career in psychotherapy so many of her recordings and books come from this emphasis. With that said, her products are aimed not for the professional but for anyone who wants to explore imagery or work on themselves. Each recording is clear and follows a basis formula of starting off with relaxation and then a journey through archetypes appropriate for that recording. Bellruth Naperstak does occasional workshops.
For direct information, see: http://www.healthjourneys.com/
Dr. Jerry Epstein – New York City
Dr. Epstein has provided insight and instruction for decades and he continues to hold court in New York City. In recent years he has expanded into phone groups which greatly expands opportunities to learn from him. His books are must haves and give the reader much to think about and to explore.
For direct information, see: http://drjerryepstein.org/
Davenport also comes from a psychotherapy background but provides a book and training for those who wish to use imagery personal issues and healing. She provides CE for those who work through her book and does occasional training. She was also on the founding faculty of the Deep Imagination course work (see below).
For direct information , see: http://www.lesliedavenport.com/
Deep Imagination Certificate Program – John F. Kennedy University – San Fransisco
This is the only imagery program associated with a teaching institution that I know of in the United States. JFK University has been providing specialized training for several decades for those lucky enough to attend. Here, they offer a certificate in guided imagery through on-campus courses.
For direct information, see: http://www.jfku.edu/Programs-and-Courses/Continuing-Extended-Education/Deep-Imagination.html
Foundation for Shamanic Studies
This is the oldest organization that I know of with a shamanism-bent. Michael Harner started this years ago after the success of his book, The Way of the Shaman. Imagination training centers around levels of imaginative depth, sonic driving to get people into imaginative states, and use of symbolism from shamanic practice around the world. Harner provides training and training for those who will go on to train others. On his site he has materials including recordings of shaman drums and rattles, but also a directory of teachers by geographical area.
For direct information, see: https://www.shamanism.org/
Trance Postures – Cuyamungue Institute
The late anthropologist Felicitas Goodman noticed that certain postures represented in ancient carvings were associated with spiritual activities and mystical states. Curious about this association, she tried several of the postures and discovered they enhanced imagination work. Goodman then went on to capture these images and theories in a few books and in trainings.
Belinda Gore has continued Goodman’s work and expanded it in easy to adopt books and trainings.
For direct information, see: http://www.belindagore.com/CuyamungueInstitute/tabid/657/Default.aspx
Deep Imagery of E. S. Gallegos
A few decades ago Dr. Gallegos introduced the theory and practice of imaging power animals at power locations within the body. This became the basis of his personal totem pole process. Dr. Gallegos books are still available and he does some teaching.
For direct information, see: http://www.esgallegos.com/
Recommended Search Terms for More Training:
sports imagery, shamanism, dreams, dreamwork, hypnosis and imagery, Jung Society, active imagination, imagery.
Also, check major bookseller for books on imagery. Some of those authors provide training.
The Place of Imagination is where the imagination is quickly stirred and released. It is domain and center of power of a worker of the imagination. The alchemists had their labs; the ancient philosophers had their caves; Europeans, the forests; lamas, mountainside retreats; and genius makers (i.e. Edison and Tesla), their workshops.
Rembrandt really captured the essence of a Place of Imagination in his painting called The Philosopher in Meditation (shown above). We see a combination of sunlight and fireplace light, perhaps representing the analytical or conscious mind, and darkness that intensifies up the spiral staircase, a swirling force that pulls us into the unknown and unseen unconscious. The imagination awaits the philosopher who sits looking downward, turned away from his book.
Here is a video of the painting with zooming, turning, and varied contrasting:
A clearer wood carving shows some of the hidden detail submerged in Rembrandt’s original:
Finding Your Place of Imagination
You probably already have one but the work-a-day world keeps you from remembering the location. Slow down and spend some time and think if you have been in a place of magic (for you). This place can be in the real world or a place of your imagination.
When you find it, and sometimes it has to be constructed from two or more locations combined imaginatively into one place, explore it. Find its qualities. If need be, furnish that place with special objects that fascinate you.
Lock it in by making this the place where you start your imagination work. In time, this will be your Place of Imagination.
Stop stalling about trying imagery or getting into imagination. Start simply but profoundly. Sometime when you are just hanging out and are relaxed with nothing too special on your mind other than hanging out:
1. Pick an image, any image. This can be from any source or form (I prefer to hold something rather than just have it on the computer screen). This can be a photo of something you know or something totally unknown to you. Don’t spend too much time picking “the right image” because the goal of this exercise is doing imagery work, not how to pick the right image.
2. Get comfortable, probably sitting rather than reclining.
3. Look at the image a bit until you have it rough out enough in your memory and then close your eyes.
4. Bring up the image but don’t worry too much about capturing all of the details. In fact, let your mind drift towards that seems the most interesting.
5. Let the image hang around and when it slips away, gently bring it back. This is not an exercise in concentration so let the image morph and float a bit in your head and heart.
6. Be aware that soon associations to the image will drift into your head. No problem, but be a bit curious as to why those associations came up with this image. Again, no hard thinking about this matter just appreciate it.
7. Explore for five, eight, or ten minutes.
8. Open your eyes.
9. Contemplate on what you discovered from this one image.
More await you.