As children, we use imagination frequently, as adults we might need to relearn this skill. What comes to mind, when you think of this topic? Find out what our Skilled Helpers have to say…
The Skilled Helpers Collaborative
The Skilled Helpers Collaborative is an initiative aiming to bring meaningful content to you. Various skilled helpers from different backgrounds sharing their perspectives regarding a specific topic. They don’t get to read each other’s contribution before publication and thus don’t influence each other to make sure, you as a reader can enjoy a variety of insights.
Last month, we got to read brilliant perspectives how to create the right mindset individually and universally. Is the right mindset enough to create a thriving life for ourselves and for the Beautiful Souls around us? Could imagination play also an important role? Maybe a tool one can benefit from when feeling stressed? Or could imagination lead us too far from the reality of life?
We human beings are a creative species, thriving best if we feel we live a meaningful life. A Jungian thought is that the meaning of life is not to strive for perfection, but to become complete. I believe imagination can play an important role.
Per example: Whenever an anniversary is coming up, we achieved a goal, or a dream comes true, we celebrate this. Either with a tap on the shoulder, or a big party. The anticipation of presents and the joy of spending time with family and friends, I think (and hope) is not only a children’s privilege.
What if we not only celebrate our successes, but also the moments we fail?
Can you imagine how that could raise compassion and kindness? Not only towards ourself, but also for the Beautiful Souls around us? Acknowledging the mistake made, without any regret or judgement, and celebrate the moment of growth, the lesson learned…
I for one, can imagine a lot less stress, struggles and for sure a more complete life.
Enjoy the perspectives from the Skilled Helpers and we all hope you like this month’s collaborative article.
— Skilled Helpers Collaborative —
Whenever You Are Stuck
by Rika Cossey
The Importance Of Space
The importance of physical space to make decisions is something that life coaching (and most therapy as well) often overlooks. I coach online which means that I and my client will sit in front of a computer and stare at a screen. Personally, I can’t sit still for very long and often shift my position. And I often gaze out the window, which is right next to my computer screen. But I still feel restricted and I often sense that my client is as well. It’s not just zoom-fatigue but also thought stagnation. When the physical box around our beings persists, so will our mental box. And new ideas or concepts will be hard to grasp.
So, lately, I have been taking a different approach. I ask my client to go outside. It doesn’t have to be far from the house but I want them to create space around themselves. I believe that removing a roof, or at least opening up a physical space, is essential for better thoughts. When the wall changes to the horizon, we can suddenly see further into the future. And then the phrase “the sky is the limit” becomes a lot more possible than inside a room.
The Importance Of Movement
When my client is up for it, I take the path for better imagination even one step further and make them move. I like going for walks but even a treadmill has worked for some people. It’s about getting our bodies in motion and taking a literal step forward.
One interesting fact that supports our individual need for movement is our vagus nerve. This nerve runs from the bottom of our skull to the bottom of our spine all the way down our core, touching on all organs. This nerve is essential for our brains to communicate with our bodies and it can get “stuck” (metaphorically speaking). Unconsciously we unblock the vagus nerve when we respond to the urge to move. You might remember that children shake when they are angry or enraged. This shaking is their vagus nerve loosening which helps with releasing anger. The same goes for all mammals. I just recently met my neighbour with his dog. Upon meeting my dog, his dog started shaking and thus releasing her annoyance at my dog. It still resulted in her snapping but seeing her shake reminded me that we all need to move to release.
And if you’re not comfortable with shaking, try dancing and “Shake It Off” (like Taylor Swift).
The Importance Of Time
Another aspect of increasing your imagination is that we don’t only need to create space and movement, but we also need time to do those things. The excuse of not enough time is still something I come across often. And I get it. It takes time to gain perspective. It takes time to imagine something different.
So, here is my general suggestion: dedicate time during the week for any of the above practices. I walk with my dog in the forest every day and often dance when I tidy up the dinner table. Whenever I can, I involve my family in my activities. We do something together to get our imagination going again, or, if you like, to get “our juices flowing again”. And having these activities as routines, or even in combination with tasks, is a great way to ensure that we don’t get stuck and our imagination won’t dwarf.
The Importance Of Unplugging
One last thought is inspired by this quote from Anne Lamott: “Almost everything will work again if you unplug it for a few minutes, including you.” Take your eyes up to the sky as often as you can, pay attention to your breathing whenever you feel stuck, and take a break from the overwhelm that seems to weigh you down. Getting inspired can be as simple as unplugging every once in a while.
The important part to remember is that you’re doing all these things for yourself and for your ability to see past your problems and see solutions. Broadening your horizon can start with the question to “see in your mind’s eye”. But there are many different changes you can make in your life to take a step towards ensuring that whatever you see is not just a reflection of what you have seen in the past.
— Skilled Helpers Collaborative —
by Claire Rajan
Imagination is related to mental imagery. It is the playground of the creative mind, the place within us where everything is possible – the place that holds immense creative power. To me, the imagination is the inner space where the creator within each of us tinkers and engages the creative process to play with ideas, moving them around in new and exciting ways to bring forth our manifest reality.
This image tries to convey what I have accepted and understood as “The True Value of my human experience.” If considered with care, this image may be extended universally to every human being.
My experience with the creative process has been one of Self-Creation. While I considered myself someone with little to no creativity because I associated creativity with producing works of fine art, Life offered me another more fulfilling way to engage the creative process. The image below contrasts two states from which we humans can express our reality.
The second state (internal state 2) is where we move away from being anchored and driven by our egoic mind. In this state, we begin to integrate, strengthen, experience a true sense of inner freedom, appreciate non-attachment without losing connection, and flex into a centered approach to life.
Between these two states is a journey of inner transformation that we can choose to undertake. The “will/agency” to undertake comes from our free will. This journey builds us from the inside, guiding us to let go of the many things that keep us fragile, fragmenting, powerless, and attached. The journey is humbling because it teaches us to see ourselves completely, having us work on aspects of our personality that could be unpleasant or uncomfortable. Many of the patterns we project, dislike, and judge negatively in others are patterns that we have buried within ourselves. The journey opens us to all that we have chosen to keep hidden, forgotten, denied, ignored, and judged unacceptable in us. When we examine ourselves from inner honesty, it can be challenging to see how much damage we can do to ourselves and others due to our ignorance and pride. Ignorance because we often don’t know any better, and much of what we have learned through life experience is inadequate and shallow. Pride because we are often reluctant to let go of what we believe is our truth even when life offers us the opportunity to see things differently. In my experience, the benefits of integration are worth the journey. No Pain, No Gain.
What is the point of this image?
One thing that I have always considered from a very early age is the “Whole point of the human experience”… So why do we even bother? There had to be something more than materialistic and superficial chasings if we had to put up with so much inconvenience, so many difficulties, trials, and challenges. This line of questioning has been personally resolved and reconciled with a deep understanding of this big-picture image. When I consider that the over-arching goal of the human experience is to shift from ego to essence, persona to presence, it makes complete sense. We might each need to undertake a transformative journey whether we like it or not. We are egocentric beings deeply entrenched in erroneous and distorted ways of thinking and being. Nevertheless, we can give ourselves a wonderful gift by accepting the hard truths of our existence and moving ahead with faith, trust, and courage towards a more integrated life. As I see it, human life is holy and sacred. Therefore, the efforts needed to let go of what holds us from living our lives more integrated are indeed worth the effort. I hope this image that I wanted to express through this article from my imagination adds value to your life and offers you the inspiration to stay on the journey of transformation if you are on one or start the journey if you so wish.
— Skilled Helpers Collaborative —
Can you imagine? Your agency, meaning in life, creativity, and satisfaction are depending on it
by Mathias Sager
Imagination to connect
Apparently (I say it again and again), people’s stress and anguish, the conflict between societies, and how the environment gets maltreated do not diminish. It seems that the human ability to mentally embracing a global collective as a species does not keep pace with the globalization of the world. In other words, there’s a lack of mentality in the sense of how populations can imagine their connection to a broader context like all humanity and the planet. However, the feeling of interconnectedness is essential in contributing to health and well-being. Indeed, research findings suggest that psychological well-being is dependent upon one’s connection to a broader, even widely anonymous social scope that comes with a sense of meaning in life. Carl Jung spoke about different parts of the self that transcend the ‘ego’ self and that these need to be integrated to complete a harmonious inner self. According to Carl Jung, human creativity, as expressed by imagination, can be seen as a force of the universe that extends into each individual and may help assume a perspective of wholeness, i.e., the unification of the self, the planet, and the cosmos. It’s such coordination of views that affect people’s socio-temporal experience of the world, and the imagination of alternative perspectives can turn over beliefs that were perceived unsatisfactory.
Imagination to imagine the future
Imagination is required to imagine future events, which constitutes (besides recalling matters of the past) a part of the ability to mentally ‘travel in time’. If people don’t imagine the future, their sense of self and the perceived agency diminishes.
Imagination enhances meaning in life
The human ability to simulate temporal and social perceptibility is a mental process that was found to enhance meaning (e.g., knowing what is truly important) and psychological well-being. Mental simulation precedes behavior, either by triggering actions or by supporting self-control that can constrain activity. In that sense, simulated mental constructs form worldviews, which guide a person’s understanding, point of view, meaning-making, and experience of the world.
Imagination creates realities
Although common sense still tends to propagate a ‘what I don’t see, I don’t believe’ attitude, the human imagination represents the pinnacle of evolution. Through the inner channels of the imagination, we can see through the eyes of others, travel back to the past, anticipate future circumstances, visit imaginary places and create impossible worlds” (Marks-Tarlow). In fact, we create reality with our imagination. “What is now proved was once only imagined” (William Blake), and “nothing happens in the real world unless it happens first in the images in our heads” (Gloria E. Anzaldúa). It’s little the outer circumstances nor the past or the future we suffer; we suffer from our memory and imagination. That’s why it is crucial how we remember and imagine. The ‘now’ isn’t the whole reality because experience isn’t direct and a mere result of our five senses. Instead, we experience through imagination as our brain cannot differentiate between a sensed and imagined experience. Imagination is causing same brain activities as actions. Even the imagination of the past and future creates our present experience. The placebo effect illustrates well how our thinking becomes biology.
Artists and leaders use imagination
Artists, for example (see Kolb’s learning styles), tend to use imagination to solve problems. They master viewing concrete situations through several different viewpoints. Although they like symbols and rules, they don’t take these for granted and instead freely imagine new ones. That’s why they are feared and persecuted by rulers. Artistic skills require spatial intelligence, which involves active imagination, for example like mental imagery, spatial reasoning, and image manipulation. One downturn to such a preference may be that people who have the most vivid imagination capacity are often less likely to realize it as it will never be so nice in reality. On the other hand, considering our temporary and fragile body and related materialistic cravings and fears, our spirit is all we really have. Only when creating in freedom, without fear and shame, we experience the joy of intrinsic satisfaction. In more poetic words, it’s the bringing out of the divine of our highest purpose.
Imagination can be learned
Paradoxically, humans try to change what has evolved over long periods of time and isn’t that easy (let alone healthy) to change: our body. Yet, they still don’t see that they could change their mind instantly. Eventually, there is hope that everybody can learn imagination and achieve more meaning in their lives, for example, by expanding the connection to serve even anonymous others and by broadening one’s time orientation, especially towards the future (see my writings about Awareness Intelligence and the related socio-temporal matrix).
— Skilled Helpers Collaborative —
by Sujit Gogoi
When we see something in pictures in our mind that actually doesn’t exist in reality, we call it imagination. We all imagine things, don’t we? Whether it becomes reality or not, that’s a different topic, but we imagine. For instance, If you are about to go on a date, you might imagine seeing yourself in that newly bought polo shirt and Jeans if you are a man, obviously. Then you and your partner sitting in one of your favourite restaurant and enjoying the moment having a conversation. So you start to see yourself before it actually happening. So you see, that’s an imagination taking place in your mind.
Now the important thing is that we imagine not only the things that we want, we also imagine things that we want to avoid, or something that scares us. We feel happy and excited when we imagine something that we want. We worry or become anxious when we imagine bad things happening to us. I would also like to point out here that not all of the situations that we want to avoid make us feel worried or anxious, and neither is it bad. Sometimes it just helps us to be more aware of what the situation could possibly be, and how we can be well prepared if the situation actually occurs.
For most of us, the challenges come in when we can’t think of anything other than the negative situations that make us feel anxious or fearful. For example, you have an important job interview and instead of imagining it to be successful, you imagine the opposite of it. You might imagine yourselves speaking not confidently, or lousy in front of the interviewers and your application getting rejected. You started to feel anxious about the upcoming situation. Your self-talk goes like “what if I don’t get the Job?” or “What if I don’t perform well?” and it becomes a loop. What makes you imagine that way? Is it because your mindset is not right? Is it because you have so much negative self-talk going on that it’s becoming uncontrollable? Or Is it because you are too much attached with the positive outcome, that you are fearful of what if the situation doesn’t occur the way you want it?
What if you imagine the positive outcome as exactly as you want? Well, for this, we need to have a little bit of discipline in our mind. I believe that imagination if used consciously is one of the most powerful and effective tools one can use to improve their life. It can help you to influence your subconscious mind which controls more than 90 percent of our behaviours and reactions. When you imagine something continuously, it releases neuro chemicals that rewire your brain and form new patterns in your brain. I used imagination almost every day during meditation. Skill that I have improved dramatically over these recent months through imagination is public speaking. I continuously imagined myself vividly speaking confidently and with stillness in front of the group and now I can say that I have improved a lot in this skill. So it requires practice and if you have someone to guide you on this, then that’s awesome.
Does positive imagination help you to get away completely from all your fears and negative emotions? I would say no. I still feel nervous when it comes to speaking but that’s fine as long as it doesn’t stop me from what I want to do. Sometimes we just need to let go of our control over the situation. Not everything is in our control, isn’t it? Unwanted emotions will keep coming back from time to time but if we stop feeding them, it will eventually become less impactful and after all, experiencing both positive and negative feelings is what makes us human, isn’t it?
If you find this article meaningful, please don’t forget to write me to: coaching.sujitgogoi @ gmail.com. I would love to hear from you.
— Skilled Helpers Collaborative —