Imagination Examined, Visualization Examined

Meditation and Imagination, the Big Difference

When I’m making a presentation about Imagination, many people automatically think I’m talking about some form of Meditation. While Meditation is an invaluable approach to inner change and stability, it is very different from practicing Imagination.

Imagination and Meditation manage the contents of our inner life, the thoughts, feelings, and bodily sensations we have every day and any day, in very distinct ways to achieve very different goals.

Meditation, especially Mindfulness Meditation, seeks to greatly simplify the content of our thoughts, feelings, and physical sensations. It does this by moving our awareness to the senses. The senses provide us with simple impressions. This is far from the typical complexity of how we think and emote. In addition, simply sensing does not require analysis. What we sense: is as it is.  Accepting what is allows us to tune down striving.

Our senses also pull us to the present. We spend an enormous amount of our day mentally time traveling to our past or the potential future. This calls up very complex cognition.  If we can be in the now, we are freed from ruminating and fearing.

In Meditation, our analytical and striving mind is quieted. We experience a release from striving, and our minds calm and reach an increase of stability and clarity.

Boiling this down to an analogy we get:  Meditation seeks to empty the cup of content in our minds.

Imagination seeks to add mental and emotional content. Not only is it open to the thoughts and feelings of the moment, but it wants to add a lot more content by opening to the unconscious.  Our unconscious holds a wild and poetic well of impressions, intuitions, forgotten information, memories, and some say, even knowledge passed to us from humanity’s ancestors (see the work of Carl Jung, especially his work on archetypes).

Armchair Dreamers relax into a more or less dreamy place to let this content come into the mind to observe it and to interact with it.  In this process, the Armchair Dreamer finds what they are experiencing is more poetic, poignant, deeper, and insightful than everyday thinking and feeling.

Boiling this down to an analogy we get:  Imagination seeks to fill the cup.

Discover the Unconscioius, Imagery Techniques, Imagination Examined

Book Review: Use Your Imagination

This large picture book introduces the use of imagination with the help of two engaging animal characters, a simple page layout, and fun drawings of animals and props.

The child will be pulled into and along the story by the conversation between a wolf and a rabbit. The wolf acts as a mentor, teaching the rabbit and, at the same time, providing learning challenges for the guileless rabbit to master. Adult readers will be engaged by the implied danger of prey being so close and for so long near its predator. How can this book have any other resolution than the poor bunny following nature’s path? I’m sure anyone reading this book to a child will be thinking: “Do I keep reading this, or do I put it down?” I assure you this book has an ending surprising to a kid and a relief for adults.

What is essential about this fun book is how it highlights imagination as a thing to do. The child reader will undoubtedly get that imagination is a skill that can be cultivated and strengthened, that it has importance, provides many choices, and by the book’s end, holds much power.

“You need to use your Imagination! That means using words and pictures to create a story,” explained Wolf.

“Use your imagination” is repeated several times, almost as a command. Indeed, the reader will remember that imagination is not only something others do as an experience but something that a person should do without hesitation.

I recommend this book for adults who wish to share their enthusiasm for imagination with very young people in a fast, transparent, memorable, and engaging way.

Title: Use Your Imagination (But be careful what you wish for!)
Nicola O’Byrne, 2014, Nosy Crow Press / Candlewick Press,, 22 pages, 9.09 x 0.2 x 11.42 inches.

Imagination Examined

When Do We Dream? All the time [Post: Dreaming][Post: Imagine]

We dream when we drop inside and call up a mental map of where we might have left our keys.

We dream when poetry sends our mind off onto an associative journey.

When we lose ourselves in a video marathon.

When we feel a bit off and we let that dominate our thoughts, perceptions, feelings, and energy-making, we unknowingly invoke our imagination to expand that feeling to our top to bottom.

When we have to guess.

When we free associate.

When a scent takes us backward in time and we reconnect to where we were and what we were doing at that time.

When we reach a destination after driving or walking and not remember much of what happened during our commuting time.

When two things connect and a new idea bursts upon us.

When we listen to the rain, the waves, the wind and we end up following the sound’s lead.

… to know a few.

Imagination Examined, Imagination Masters

More Engaging Than Mind Chatter; Imagination Grabs Us – [Post: Imagine]

There is the old view of meditation that one empties their mind, and then they are in nirvana. The assumption if we could quiet our mind, then nirvana would arise. The chattering of our worries, planning, the analysis was the enemy.

A brief time doing non-directive meditation reveals that much more enticing than mind chatter are the images that seep into our inner view. These are more than snapshots of some irrelevant street corner or some dreamy unknown possibility. Images become movies, complete with sound, touch, and emotional tone that draws us along. So immersive they are, we lose track of time, the environment around us, our original intent to mediate. We started with the goal of standing off, untouched by our mind, heart, and the world, and instead, we are wrapped up in its drama.

Scenes from the movie on the Buddha’s life, the Little Buddha, capture our struggle not to be overtaken by inner attractions when meditating. Of course, when we are working to increase imagination, we seek out such attractions and linger within them, but that discussion is for another time. Meditation can show us just as frequent and deep our inner imagery is, called or uncalled.

How to Practice Non-Directive Meditation to See Your Inner Movies

This approach comes from a practice called Conscious Mental Rest; at least how I apply it gives a close view of the mind at work.

  1. Close your eyes and notice where your eyes naturally go when you let go and rest.

  2. Feel the eye muscles and get to know the feeling.

  3. Focus your awareness on your relaxing eyes and stop speaking to yourself. Quiet down.

  4. Anytime chatter comes up, say “No” and make the chatter stop. Realize that you in search of more important things than your chatter at this moment.

  5. Wait with as empty of mind as you can keep. Before long, when you have the chatter under control, and things are quiet, images will seep in. For a few minutes, treat them the same way as the chatter by saying “No” and not letting them go any further.

  6. More and more images will show up. When you wish, let go of your opposition and submerge with some imagery.

  7. Shake off this imagery and get back to having an empty mind.

This back and forth will show you prevalent imagery is in your mind, whether you are seeking it or not.


Imagination Examined

Get This Book! Hypnagogia – [Post: Imagine]

I could not believe my eyes when, the other day, I noticed that this long out-of-print and much sought-after book is back in print. The few copies that were around were selling for $100 plus. If you have any interest in knowing far more about the experience of inner imagery get this book before it disappears again.

In 1987, Andreas Mavromatis published Hypnagogia: The Unique States of Consciousness Between Wakefulness and Sleep. In 360 pages, he summarized major and minor writings and added his observations on this powerful experience and easiest path to high-quality inner imagery. Although we are a few decades out from that publishing date, the information is still highly relevant since so little discussion of hypnagogia has occurred in the intervening years. Dreams and dreaming have soaked up most of the research and creative studies around inner states.

He splits his research into three helpful categories:

  • the phenomenology of hypnagogia (sensory, cognitive, and emotional characteristics)
  • hypnagogia compared to other special inner states
  • brain function as related to hypnagogia

He spends a bit of time on methods but this is cast in a more general rather than specific way.  You will find the how-to-do-it steps here at Fireball Imagery rather than in Mavromatis’s book.

Bottom-Line: Get this book while you can.  A must read for those who want to know much more about this inner state.

Where to get it:  Note – The following link goes straight to the bookseller and I in no way receive any payment for recommending this book.
Amazon link

Experience Hypnagogia for Yourself

  • Tonight, linger with relaxed wakefulness rather than following straight asleep.
  • Bring up a memory or some idea you want to explore.
  • Relax more until you start to feeling additional ideas, feelings, and imagery is strongly present.
  • Hang out in that place and take in the experience.
  • Hold a few things you want to remember later by making a clear mental intention that you will remember the such-and-such item.
  • Fall asleep anytime you want.
  • In the morning, recall that which you wanted to remember and contemplate that item.
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