The unconscious is the unpredictable, deeper, mysterious force in all of us that we can learn to communicate with, learn from, and receive insights and other help from.
Watch the video below…a 3-minute intro to why, what, and how to Imagine.
Direct video url: https://youtu.be/ryooYTGwI6U
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.
The fastest way to the imagination is to call up any of your memories. Memories already reside within the imagination and the process of recalling it, brings your day-to-day awareness into the imagination’s world.
Direct video link: https://youtu.be/WhhucTbQUZE
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 training maintains 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, this 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 basic 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 the 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 training.
Belinda Gore has continued Goodman’s work and expanded it in easy to adopt books and training.
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.