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I spent a lot of my time making imagination work hard to get to the point where I discovered it is simple. Keep things simple. Realize that we are surrounded by imagination at work, 24/7. When a friend tells you a story, when you go to the movies, or when you come up with an analogy to explain something, you are letting your imagination powers run more free than usual. Doing imagination work captures your inherent abilities to go within and imagine and makes them available for inner explorations.
In all of my workshops, during individual training, and in groups, I start with asking people call up some place in their mind’s eye that they know very, very well. It doesn’t have to be some place special. The exercise is to make the inner experience of the space increasingly vivid to the point it feels roughly like being there. To accomplish this, our imagination senses are engaged; when we walk about the space the space feels like reality. When we touch or pick up something, that too gives has the sensation of weight and space.
Getting to Your Memory Place – Steps:
1. Pick a place you know well in the real world.
2. Close your eyes and settle in. Relax downward until you start to get dreamy-like.
3. Bring to mind the memory of your selected space.
4. Be in the space by really paying attention to details such as the lighting and sounds.
5. When you are ready, walk over to some object and pick it up or at least touch it.
6. Take your time and explore your memory place. If there is something about this experience you want to remember in detail, reinforce your memory by noticing a few more times what you want to remember while holding the intention in mind: “This is important to me and I want to remember it well.”
7. When you are ready to wrap up your inner explorations, reverse the process: start to become aware of your body, then the room, where you are, and the day of the week. Come on back fully.
Of course, repeat many times to: master the above steps, the experience, and what you need to do to go deeper next time. Happy travelling.
Early in most of my workshops/trainings I go right to this point: imagination is different than meditation. The reason I start off there is because some people come to imagination work with meditation techniques. That is not the best way or the fastest way to get into one’s imagination. Classical meditation makes the assumption that we are too connected to our thoughts, feelings, body sensations, and other things going on inside of us. To counter this over connection, meditation masters long ago developed methods to: shut down inner chatter; slow down thinking; move away from our emotions; and let our bodies run in the background with limited attention. Not all meditation methods are the same but on the whole, most follow this pattern of disengagement. I use the metaphor of “emptying the cup”, that is, emptying ourselves of much of our daily content.
Ray Bradbury follows the approach of the imagination worker:
“We are cups, constantly and quietly being filled. The trick is, knowing how to tip ourselves over and let the beautiful stuff out.”
In imagination work we tip the cup over and see what is there. We don’t try to distance ourselves from it. Whatever it is: emotions, wanderings, thinking, dreams, fantasies, troubling and repetitive thoughts, etc. we let down the barriers and we open to it. Imagination works in a circular way. First it releases our ability to see what’s inside of us and then it frees the contents. This freeing in turns deepens our vision of the unconscious. Our enhanced vision increases more freeing as our unconscious trusts us with more content and delights in our interest. And on goes that cycle.
Summary: Imagination fills the cup. Meditation empties the cup.