Imaging is as ancient as human society. You don’t have to be an artist to enjoy working with images in a way that brings you insight and delight, helping you transform the dead wood in your life into a wildfire of inspiration.
Pre-civilised people probably thought mainly in pictures. In fact, they may well not have completely differentiated between realistic perceptions, dreams, myths, and vision. Psychiatrist Carl Jung described their vivid world: “Plants and animals then behave like men, men are at the same time themselves and animals also, and everything is alive with ghosts and gods”.
If this sounds unfamiliar to you, you’re not alone. Such a world for us modern-day humans is hard to grasp: most of us have lost touch with this part of us. But poetry and stories continue to express this hidden element of life, with animals and plants taking on the meaning of our internal world. And the good news is that we can re-invigorate our relationship to our imagination, using imagery to bring ourselves back to life.
As adults, we have a well-developed part of the brain which is known as left-sided thinking. This is the land of logic, practical thought and analysis to solve problems, and it keeps us functioning on the day-to-day plane of life. There’s no question that we need our right-brained thinking to get by – but could there be more to explore? A mystery beneath the surface that would bring the lusciousness of living fully into our minds and hearts?
The part of our brain that works with the world of imagery is silent, yet highly intelligent. Essentially, the right side is the world of our inner life, where our perception is more attuned to emotion and intuition. This inner eye has the ability to see the bigger picture of a situation. For example, when I found myself searching for a solution to a problem, I pretended that I was an eagle and able to look down at things from different angles. It enabled me to see things that at the time I had not considered important.
Living in an imaginary world is something that is very natural for children, where the boundary between real and unreal is more fluid. Some of you may recall the story of Peter Pan, in which the Adult character had lost touch with his playfulness, happiness and the joy of his children. But then, something very magical unfolded through a boy that could fly and a friend and protector called Tinkerbell. This story reminds us that nurturing the imagery of our minds is not always valued in day-to-day life, and yet it is the ground of who we are, a wellspring of potential exuberance.
Whatever we create in our lives begins as an image in our minds. Visualisation, for example, is a very powerful tool used in coaching settings. Our mind holds images which structure our thoughts and feelings, but we’re often not aware of these. By training ourselves to utilise and integrate both sides of our mind, we can bring together imagination and logic in a very powerful way, bridging the gap between inner and outer reality.
The life force that is part of all of us is invisible to the eye – yet there’s no denying its reality. Without it, we would be inanimate. Whatever name you call it by, that mystery that brings us all life has an intimate connection with our Subconscious. It is also the largest part of our minds that brings images and messages up to our consciousness, often when we are sleeping. It speaks to us through dreams, flashes of insight, or a good hunch.
Imagery can come a long way down through the generations. Kaleo Ching, in his book Faces of the Soul, refers to research that supports how our personal and ancestral memories are stored in our body tissues. Each of our trillions of cells has DNA genetic material in its nucleus. This DNA contains the biological blueprints of ancestors with messages and wisdom from our entire ancestral line. Our access to vast sources of inner wisdom is rich indeed.
By tapping into the Collective Unconscious that Jung wrote about, we can become receptive to images from or about other people, gaining real information that goes beyond our own knowledge. We can receive help from people who have the skills we need.
Imagery allows us to make contact with other people as well as objects and the natural world, serving as a window into another dimension or into dimensions beyond everyday reality. It has been my own experience that using images in this way can also be very comforting, and you can read my story about this here (insert hyperlink: “About me” page).
Dina Glouberman, in her work “Life Choices, Life Changes”, (insert hyperlink: www.dinaglouberman.com) writes about communicating across personal boundaries and about the psychic communication that occurs naturally between people. The word ‘psychic’ might conjure up a long-haired, turbaned woman staring into a crystal ball, but in fact the ability to tune in to a deeper reality is nothing extraordinary. We often dismiss such experiences, for example, having a hunch that something is not right with a close friend or relative, then being proven correct.
Glouberman herself actively supports the practice of tuning into objects. She has a way of talking to objects and living things that have meaning to her and in her book describes a walk through a museum as being like “a visit with friends”. She has special statues, paintings and photos that she talks to, asks advice of, and receives messages from. This communication extends to the natural world: she often chats to trees while walking through a park, feeling life through their senses and seeing the world from their point of view.
Glouberman doesn’t claim that these objects or living things have spirits that go beyond herself, although to her it feels like they do. She knows that the process of using the imagination in this way has allowed her to not only gain important insights, but also to feel more at home in the world.
Guided imagery is magical. Everyone has images waiting to surface from the subconscious, just as we all have dreams – you only need to give them an outlet and work with them in order to bring their meanings into your life.
Not everyone has an easy time evoking images, just as not everyone can remember their dreams. Your preferred perceptual mode may not be visual – perhaps you are inspired by certain sounds you hear. Whatever your mode of communication with your inner and outer world, my workshops can help you to dive in to this intriguing realm as you follow your curiosity about this exquisite temple of life we find ourselves in.
In my workshops, you will have an opportunity to find your own innate way to key in to the deeper parts of yourself, using the tools of mask-making, journeying with the sacred drum, and spending guided time in nature. You will come away with an invigorated sense of new discovery and a blossoming of your capacity for adventure – both inner and outer. To find out more, go here.