Imagery Techniques, Imagination Examined

Rembrandt’s Image of the Place of Imagination – [Post: Imagine]

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:

YouTube video showing close-ups of the painting.

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.

Energy Wizard Tesla

The Alchemist in Search of the Philosopher’s Stone, by Joseph Wright, 1771
Imagery Techniques, Visualization Techniques

Pick an Image, Any Image – [Post: Visualize] [Post: Imagine]

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.

Imagery Techniques

How to Get Rapid Imagery

jumpphotoIt is a standard move in hypnosis and imagery work to use an “induction phase” to start things off. Hypnotists and image workers ease people into closing their eyes and heading down stairs or to a nature setting for a walk.

Why is this necessary? These opening images and suggestions are needed by most of us to shift inward, relax, and be open to what the imaginal world contains. Typically, it takes a bit of time to move from our everyday concerns towards a place that is quite dreamy and less goal-oriented.

But we can get masterful enough that long induction times are not needed. We can have powerful images without closing our eyes and descinding a staircase. In fact I freely get people to resist closing their eyes as I lead them through a standard induction to prove this point.

Spot Imagery Popping Up Everywhere in Your Daily Life

A big obstacle to having imagery upon command is realizing just how much imagery we engage in during the typical day. We don’t just think and feel using words. Images rapidly fire up and die away as we: imagine some worry; figure out what we want for lunch; as we describe some event to a friend; have a gut feel about someone we like or don’t like; as we look at photos, diagrams, and movies online; and give instructions to someone who has lost their way on the road.

Start now to notice just how much imagery is in your life. Catch it everywhere you can. This will show just how fast imagery can fire in your mind under conditions not resembling a long imagery induction.

Get Simple, Drop Imagery Blocking Thoughts and Feelings

Inductions were developed to get us to move away from blocking thoughts, feelings, and tensions we too often carry with us everywhere we go. For rapid imagery, get good at learning how to drop that stuff, at least for a few minutes. This usually requires a change of life philosophy. Regular life philosophy has us on alert carrying concerns about any unfinished business or worry a bit or a lot about what is coming up next. When we are not doing that, we are analyzing and planning. We need to drop that stuff to enter deeply into imagery. We need to become simple. Simple in the sense that we are going to bring our focus to the moment (goodbye worries and guilt) and do what we have to do. In the case of imagery, we have to tune inward and get dreamy. The more stuff we leave behind and be our simple selves, the quicker and deeper we can go.

Find the Feeling

Adding to this practice is the practice of regular imagery practice. If a person has consistently practiced getting into an altered state, in time, this state can be evoked. The practitioner knows they are there through a combination of a physical sense of a shift in their body towards quiet and ease and a mental shift towards imagery, dreaminess, or at a minimum, a deep quiet receptivity.

But getting there takes some time. Here’s the practice steps:

-consistently practice with moderate or long sessions so you create the opportunity to experience the full range of shifting that happens

-consistently observe in these sessions what it feels like for you to go deeper into imagery. Pay attention to your body: look for shifts in breathing, changes in muscle tone, expanding ease and even disconnection from your body; and pay attention how you loose your grip on inner chatter and the external world.

-when you are comfortable that you have done enough of the above, try shorter sessions of 5 minutes or so and see how deep you can go. Make comparisons: how does the short experience compare to the longer sessions; what is the same between sessions; what can you accomplish in the longer sessions that you can’t and can in the short sessions with no lengthy period of easing into deep imagery.

Start in the Same Place

Our overall goal is to get to where we can: shift to inward focus, move into a space which feels poetic in the sense that imagery has a feeling tone that draws us in by way of our curiosity and desire to know more, and a space that calls us to be open to abstractions, surprising combinations, mystery, and discovery of what is important for us to know at the time of our looking.

To get in that place faster, start off all of your sessions with the same place. Find an inner spot that is special to you and stick with it. Develop it over time by getting to know its details. This depth of knowledge, picking a spot that is special to you, and regular practice will start up an automatic association in your unconscious. Bring up the spot in imagery and your body, thinking, feeling, and unconscious will start to move quickly into the routine patterns of being that you have created in your past sessions.

Imagery Techniques, Relaxing to Visualize & Imagine

Inside or Outside? Where to Put Your Focus

doorway_distractionsWe need an inside/outside strategy in our back pocket, ready to employ whenever our stress level is too high, or potentially headed that way.

An inside strategy would involve turning inward to a large, small or moderate degree, and then doing something there.  It could be doing visualization of a calming place, person, object, pet, song, etc. It could involve watching our breathing, or doing a body scan to see how we are feeling emotionally and bodily (and both). Frequently, this is the strategy we use when something is concerning “out there”. Sometimes a meeting is not going well, or we are in the dentist’s chair, or we need to withdraw from the bustle around us.

There are times, however, going inside is not the best strategy.  For instance, if we are trapped in repetitive negative thoughts such as worry and anger, going inside where those thoughts/feelings are flying about, and introducing a counter to that can be too challenging.  Going outside, can be the direction to go.

Going outside can distance ourselves from our mental/heart chatter. Simple attention to our surroundings can help.  Listening to the soundscape, for instance, pulls us from our troubles within. Look deeply at colors, differences in sizes of objects, light and shadow; feeling the wind, the movement of your feet; anything can keep us outside of your inner rumblings. Activity, especially activity with some challenge to it, will engage a great deal of our brain and reduce at least some of the energy going to our inner landscape. Of course, there are the well developed practices: mindfulness, Tai Chi, and Open Focus.

Next Steps: Aim to master a set of inner and outer target methods; experiment with them a great deal to make them your own; do a quick practice session every day. Use as needed. If one direction doesn’t help, switch directions.