The greatest crisis in our lives is a crisis of imagination. We get stuck and set ourselves up for failure because we buy into a limited or self-defeating version of reality, and refuse to see our situation differently.
The answer lies within us, in the power of imagination. We are ruled by images; they are the “facts of the mind” (as the poet Coleridge called them) that turn us on and turn us off and program our bodies for wellness or disease. To live richer and more creative lives, we want to learn to choose the images to which we give energy and belief. We can do this by learning and harnessing the seven open secrets of imagination:
- If we can picture our blocks, we can move beyond them
Mandy was terrified of speaking in public, even in front of two or three people. I asked her if she could feel what was blocking her. She could; it felt like a choke collar. I asked if she could see that collar. She saw it as antique lace of the kind her grandmother used to wear. Once she had that image, she was able to work successfully to release herself from the choke-hold of a family tradition that held that it is the role of women to suffer in silence. When she found an image of her block, Mandy moved beyond it and claimed her voice.
2. The body believes in images and they can help it to heal and stay well
An image sends electrical sparks through your whole body. This shows up when brainwaves are recorded by an EEG. At the same time, an image sends a stream of chemicals washing through you. If you dwell on images of grief and failure, you are manufacturing “downers”. If you can shift your mind to a relaxing scene you produce a natural tranquilizer whose chemical structure is very similar to Valium. If you summon up images of triumph, you mobilize neuropeptides that boost your immune system.
In its internal workings, the body does not seem to distinguish between a strong image and a physical event. There is immense potential for healing here – as is increasingly recognized in the healthcare community, if we choose to give our focus to positive images that are right for us. Where do we get those images? From happy life memories, and from our dreams, which are a great factory of customized imagery for self-healing.
3. If you can see your destination, you are better than halfway there
Harriet Tubman saw roads to freedom. She saw them in dreams and visions in which sometimes she was flying like a bird over landscapes she has never seen with ordinary eyes. She led 300 escaping slaves along those roads, guided by her vision maps, and never lost one of her “packages” to the posses and the bloodhounds.
We want to grow a vision of possibility. We want to practice seeing and sensing ourselves enjoying the fulfillment of our heart’s desires, in our dream home, or our dream job, or with our dream partner or community. If we can grow a vision strongly enough in our inner senses – and if it is guided by the heart and the gut and not merely the head – then that vision has traction. It helps to pull us towards our destination.
4. The Big Story is hunting us
The Big story – the one that can give us the courage to get through whatever life throws at us – is hunting us. It makes itself known in dreams and through the play of coincidence. We allow it to find us by making a date, preferably seven days a week, with the most important book we’ll ever own: our personal journal.Writing a journal is taking a walk in the bush. The longer you write, the further you get away from safe places and much-traveled roads. You’re now in the wild. And you’re in that state of alert relaxation that is going to encourage something large and powerful that lives in the wild to leap at you from hiding and claim you. That’s how you get your big story, the story that wants to be told – and lived – through you. You go where it can catch you.
5. There is a place of imagination, and it is entirely real
For each of us, there is a place of imagination – maybe many places – that are altogether real. One of these, for me, is a magical library of which I never tire. Any book in this library opens another world, and master teachers are accessible here.
Spend a few minutes, any day you can, building your own home in the imagination – a place where you can rest and relax and get creative ideas or receive healing or have fun with your favorite people. You’ll find this wonderfully restorative. You may also find that the stronger you build your dream place in your mind, the greater the chance that it will manifest in the world.
6. We can transfer a vision to someone in need of a vision
We have the ability to grow a vision for someone who needs a vision. After her hysterectomy, Dawn told me she felt “gutted.” I helped her to picture herself inside the blackened, hollowed-out core of an immense California redwood that had survived a forest fire. Despite the gutting, the great tree was vigorously alive, hurling its green spray towards the sky. Dawn made the redwood image part of her daily meditation, and it took on spontaneous life. She entered the blackened core one day to find it had become the nest of the phoenix, and felt herself rise, on shining wings, from the ashes of her pain and loss.
We can work a vision transfer with one person at a time, or with a whole group or community. Great visionary leaders can wrap a whole people in their vision, as Winston Churchill did in the darkest days of World War II.
7. The stronger the imagination, the less imaginary the results
Imagine that you can make yourself incredibly small and travel inside the body and repair its cells structure and balance its flows from within.
Imagine you can travel across time and visit a younger self and provide the counsel and mentorship that younger self needed in a time of ordeal.
Imagine you can communicate with your self on a higher level, and get a wiser perspective on all your issues – and return with a road map that will get you where you need to go.
Imagine that you can reduce pain with your mind, and can develop this ability to the point where you can dispense with meds even when undergoing root canal work.
Imagine you can go to a place where you can review your soul’s contract – the set of lessons and tasks you may have agreed to undertake before you came into your present life experience – so you can now remember and complete your true life mission.
Imagine a workplace that is no longer toxic or stressed out because people make space every morning to share dreams and check whether an innovative solution or a fun idea has come to someone in the night.
I have seen all these things accomplished, through the power of imagination.
What we can imagine has a tendency to become real in our bodies and our world.
So let’s imagine peace and healing, and remember the open secret that Rabindranath Tagore expressed, with poetic insight: “The stronger the imagination, the less imaginary the results.”
Adapted from The Three “Only” Things: Tapping the Power of Dreams, Coincidence and Imagination by Robert Moss (New World Library). © Robert Moss. All rights reserved.
Graphic: Pierre-Cécile Puvis de Chavannes, “The Dream”, 1883