Continued Education

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Imagination Summed Up

An image (from Latin: imago) is an artefact that depicts or records visual perception. For example: a two-dimensional picture that has a similar appearance to some subject (usually a physical object or a person), thus providing a depiction of it.

Imagination (also called the faculty of imagining) is the ability to form new images and sensations that are not perceived through sight, hearing or other senses. Imagination helps make knowledge applicable in solving problems and is fundamental to integrating experience and to the learning process.

“My imagination makes me human and makes me a fool; it gives me all the world and exiles me from it.”

Ursula Le Guin, Winged: The Creatures on My Mind

As developed by Carl Jung between 1913 and 1916, active imagination is a meditation technique wherein the contents of one’s unconscious are translated into images, narrative, or personified as separate entities providing a bridge between the conscious ‘ego’ and the unconscious. It is a technique used by many natural or alternative medicine practitioners, as well as some physicians and psychologists, for aiding clients and patients and includes working with dreams and the creative self via imagination or fantasy. It can be used to help with anything, from healing the body to solving problems or reducing stress.

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What does this tell us?

From the brief exploration above, we can see that the imagination is a very powerful tool, which holds within it the potential to do a great deal of good. If properly harnessed, it can cure all manner of physical ailments and bring healing to much of our mental dis-ease. It can also, however, cause great harm. For this reason, maintenance is not just an important habit to adopt, it is a vital task and should be incorporated as regularly as is permissible.

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Confused?

Think of it like a garden. Gardens need our attention and our loving care. They need our vigilance and our action. They need us to visit them regularly with our bag of tools in order to sow and to weed them. They also need us to sit and spend time in them, and to appreciate and enjoy them. In addition, they need us to take responsibility for how they are ordered and laid out or they will spread and grow at random. Given free reign, they will eventually take over, suffocating and destroying everything of value. It is important we understand that they are alive. That they have needs and wants. That they have minds, which (left unclaimed) they will take on as their own.

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Once Upon a Time…

Whether we have experience of a garden in real life – our own, a friend’s, our parent’s, a public park – I am sure we can all relate in some way to the above analogy. And, like gardens, our minds are the same.

As a child we believed in monsters underneath the bed. As an adult most of us know that this is not true. Our childhood monsters were monsters of our imagination, fuelled by television and fiction and by the things we conjured up as a result of our immediate environment. Maybe we made monsters out of the events that we were unable to comprehend or properly process? Maybe we made monsters out of the people who scared us or who caused us harm? Maybe we were ill or injured and we made monsters out of what we were experiencing?

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But what happens if these monsters remain? What is life like for those of us who have not managed to locate and clear out the bad things in our head?

I’ll answer that one for you: tough, painful, terrible, impossible, a chore.

Whether we are aware of it or not, we all have monsters living underneath our beds. The only difference between then and now is that we no longer believe them to be located outside of us, and the problem with this is that – unseen, private, individual – we have also stopped sharing them, having given up hope that they can be killed. We have grown out of calling in the aid of a parent. We have long since realised that checking and receiving confirmation that ‘said monsters’ are not present tonight or are gone for good is good enough. We know they are still there. We constantly feel and see them. And we know, without needing to be told, that they are inside and not outside of us.

So, What Do We Do?

The most common way of suppressing and silencing monsters is to attempt to deny their existence: drinking coffee and alcohol, smoking cigarettes and pot, taking and injecting drugs, bingeing on and abstaining from food…. We seek all manner of narcotic and harmful substance or behaviour, looking to suppress our discomfort and inner dis-ease in manifold external ways. And I won’t even try to deny that we are all fairly successful for a while. We must be to have developed the addiction (whether fixed or flexible, conscious or not) in the first place.

Take me, for example: why do I drink coffee every day when I know that I mostly end up regretting it? Why do I continue to chase the temporary high it gives me even while I know the inevitable crash that will follow?

We are all, in our own way, a self-fulfilling prophecy, and we all hold within us the power to cure or to confirm all of our ills.

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If we can commit to the responsibility of regular practice, incorporating a process like Imagineering, Guided Visualisation, Meditation, Self-Hypnosis, Art or Writing Therapy, EFT or Matrix Reimprinting into our daily lives, taking time out to converse with our inner selves, committing to the work that needs to be done, we can dramatically improve upon the quality of our lives.

So, although I have only touched on the surface of what we suffer and what can be done in aid of it, I urge you to take it upon yourselves to explore and investigate your imagination in full. The pictures and words in your mind are a gift. Harness them. Honour them. Let them out and play with them. Laugh and cry with them. Talk. Argue. Make up. With regular maintenance, that landscape can become your closest and your most loyal friend.

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Anxiety, for instance, is often the result of unresolved traumas (events incurred in our close or distant past).

Physical injuries usually have a story to tell.

If we educate ourselves to the messages being presented by our bodies and take it upon ourselves to do regular monthly maintenance, clearing it all out, sweeping the bad and the useless and the detrimental away, we can (in theory and indeed in practice too) keep ourselves happy and healthy.

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