5 Ways to Sharpen the Imagination + Why We Need It
We need our imagination for all kinds of wonderful things. Currently, I'm trying to tell stories. I want to tell my boys stories - crazy, wonderful, fun stories.
I look at my boys and how they play with each other, how they play alone, how they play with their toys, how they play with nothing - it's all about imagination. I listen to their excited words, their emphatic actions. They are lost in imagination, and it's such a beautiful thing. I could listen to it, watch them play for hours.
I want to sit them down and tell them never to lose it, to keep daydreaming, to keep their heads in the clouds. Don't let go of your imagination, I want to say. It will be your greatest ally. I actually told my 4-year-old that, and he looked at me like I was crazy.
He doesn't even know what it is, it is so ingrained in his spirit, in who he is. It is automatic. It is natural. This is how it should be. Used for play, for fun. This is how life should be for all of us. Children are so wise and fresh, little bits of pure Spirit.
Imagination is essential for new ideas, for an inventive mindset. Again, that's important in every profession. It's important as a human, to keep creating, to keep thinking and having wonderful ideas.
You have to see something first before you create it. Before you can set it in motion.
I want to sharpen my imagination for other reasons too. Visualizing what you want is known in every profession as the way to bring about what you want. Visualizing helps to power up the emotions. The emotions power up the frequency which brings your being into vibrational alignment with the goal or desire.
It's the law of attraction, and it's all about energy. The way you vibrate is everything. So we have to try to feel as good as possible. And sometimes, the imagination is the quickest, the best way to get there.
But did you lose a lot of it, like I did? As children, if we were lucky, we got to bask in it, to really use it and let it become an integral part of the way we lived in the world. Then something happened. We got weighed down with fear, with pain. We were told to get our heads out of the clouds.
We started studying stuff that didn't really matter in our lives. We filled up our heads with facts and figures. We naturally started to get busy, to take care of our responsibilities. We filled our heads until imagination had no room to spin out images.
There was no energy for the machine of the imagination, and no storage space for its wonderful images so it got jammed, choked up. Plus we weren't pressing its buttons after a while with all the other stuff, the "reality" we had to deal with.
Basically, you learned algebra and memorized Beowulf to dull and calm your vivid, beautiful imagination. Not a good trade, in my opinion. (I guess we'll wait on another post about the education system to go down this rabbit hole. Though, yes I agree that English and Spanish and biology and some forms of math were much needed.)
We never really lost it. We just have no room to use it. So we forgot how to use it, and so it is like a tool that has been dulled and rusted, sitting in the corner of a crammed, crowded storage room (our minds).
It's just a matter of getting back into it, using it. It's also a matter of making space. Sharpening this wonderful tool we've been given to make a difference in this world. It's a God-given gift to help us co-create our lives and serve the world.
Remember that: Imagination exists to help us serve and love ourselves, others, the world at large.
5 Ways to Sharpen Your Imagination
1. Clear the head:
So if we're out of storage space in the mind, let's work on making space and energy for the imagination and its images/movies.
This simply means settling down the mind and by watching it, we clear it of unnecessary thoughts and stuff, thus finding the glory (yes, glory) and stillness of the field of pure potentiality, which is always there.
Pure creative, conscious space.
I learned about the field of pure potentiality when I read the 7 Laws of Success by Deepak Chopra. The first one is the Law of Pure Potentiality.
That's pretty big: it's the first law. You've got to do this law before you do the other all-important six. All of these laws resonated with me, but especially the first one.
You've got to have clean soil in which to plant your seed. Makes sense.
You've got to clean out your closet before you can get new clothes, you know what I mean?
The mind is potential energy. It's just a matter of getting out of the kinetic energy mode we are most likely in, and calming and stilling until the energy until it becomes pure light and potential. This is the fuel with which we fire up the machine of the imagination.
The best way to clear your head of all the stuff is to sit in meditation as much as possible (you might have heard). And this is the best way to do it:
Try this: Come into a comfortable seated position, lifting your heart, softening your face and letting your shoulders roll away from your ears. Close your eyes and ease your attention on the breath.
Now that you're inside the body, use the awareness that's on the breath to look directly at your thoughts. Ask yourself, "What am I thinking about now?" and then, "What is my next thought?" Ask this over and over, being as still and watchful as possible.
There will be sneaky, more quiet thoughts that come in through the back door (so to speak). So watch for those. When you see a thought, this is success! Yes! Look at it (if you can, many thoughts dissipate in the light of awareness) and say, "Clear" or "I release you."
Let the energy of the thought crumble, transforming into compost for the pure potential, still energy of the mind.
Consciousness and meditation are awesome ways to clear the mind. If you need help, I've got a program that can help you for free:
2. See the details:
Sometimes it helps to take mental pictures of things. I do this when something is happening that is precious in my life, and I don't have access to my phone.
I look at all the details and feel the emotion as much as I can, and then I close my eyes (like the shutter of a camera) and take the best mental image that I can.
This is better than taking a real picture. BUT, in case something happens to my brain, I do love to record with my phone too. The thing that makes this possible is my observation of the details. Or else it's just a blurry blob of color.
Like with my youngest son's first steps: the way his feet were slightly turned out, the tentative smile on his face, the way his eyes sort of glimmered, the way his arms were in front of him like T-Rex. No camera, but the memory is fresh and I refresh it often because I love the feeling of it.
Try this: Look at something that's pretty vivid in your direct vision. As I do this, the tree outside my window is the best option. I see the light shining on the leaves, the back-and-forth movement as the branches sway in the breeze, the brown squirrel hurrying up and down the trunk, the green bushes around the tree, the shadow of the branches on the green grass.
Taking note of these provocative details, I can take a mental picture and then close my eyes and see the tree again in the space of my mind. Recreating the image with these details helps me to put the whole thing back together.
It's a small exercise, but it only takes a second and really works the muscles of your imagination. If you don't exactly get your image the first time., keep trying. If you have one minute, you can do this. If you have 5, even better.
Either choose a new image or keep working to recreate the one you chose.
3. Ask "What if...?":
But what about imagining things that haven't happened or aren't right in front of us?
Ah, yes. Imagining things that aren't there. The most wonderful job of all.
Try this: What are you looking at? What did you choose for your image in the exercise above? Use that image for now.
Then begin to ask what if questions to change the action of the image or scene surrounding that image. Pretend it's a movie.
Close your eyes and see the image and start animating it with what if questions.
Well, what if that tree suddenly came alive? What if it pulled up out of the ground by its roots and starting stomping around the town? What if it could talk?
What if it starting aging rapidly and turned colors right before my eyes, dropping its leaves, going bald and then regenerating that fresh green color of spring all in one minute?
You will have to create drama and motion here (tree walking around), use images that you don't see now that you've seen before (leaves turning colors and falling and then regenerating). Again, we are using the details. Let it be as detailed as possible.
You are creating a story! You can do this with your life. It's like magic.
What can we do here? What are we trying to do?
What if I started to get up early to meditate? I know what I would look like. I know what my meditation spot looks like.
What does me in my meditation spot early in the morning look like? What if I had a tranquil, positive look on my face? Realistically, my hair is disheveled and I'm still wearing my pajamas, but there's a mug of steaming green tea.
So you see, it's a matter of copy and pasting moving and non-moving images after asking what if. Let the what ifs take you anywhere you want to go.
4. Use all the senses:
Yes, imagination is a way of spinning out images. Image-machination. This, seemingly, is a very visual process. But imagination incorporates all the senses, not just seeing. It requires being very awake in your day-to-day so you can garner all the sensations to use and input into your imagination machine.
Even touching, even smelling, even tasting, especially hearing--these all lend themselves to the overall image.
And for those who aren't as visual or even might be sight-impaired, imagination could be a problem. The images don't come so easily. So we have to take a shortcut into the image. Are you auditory? Are you tactile? Are you smell or taste-oriented?
Try this: What other senses can bring to your image? When you close your eyes can you use those other senses? Does it make the feeling and image stronger?
So back to the example of the tree: If I'm smell or taste-oriented, I'm going to smell the grass, the blooms on the bushes. I might even pick up a piece of grass and taste it (wheatgrass shot).
If I'm tactile, I'll go in for the smooth leaves, the way the branches brush my arm, the feel of the rough bark, the warmth or non-warmth of the sun or shade against my skin.
If I'm auditory, I'll listen to the wind rustling the leaves, the birds singing, the scurry of squirrel feet.
Look at the senses as different buttons of your imagination machine. Use all these buttons. Turn all the senses on. Record all the different sensations you enjoy throughout your day. Use them as fuel for your imagination.
5. Remember and enjoy your memories:
I have a good memory. Just as I used to have a wild and demanding imagination.
But guess what? The past is imagination. You are not remembering your memories as they happened. You never will. You are remembering them as I remember the tree in my yard. It's not a totally accurate picture, but it gives me the emotion I'm looking for.
So taking the time to remember positive times in your life is a wonderful way to exercise the imagination - it is imagination, only you have plenty of fodder to make the image as opposed to making up future events or happenings.
The sense of smell is well regarded as the best way to get into remembering memories if you are trying to get into it. When I smell rosemary, the strongest memory is when I went to a wedding in Rosemary Beach, FL and stayed up late the night before with my husband's cousins, having all kinds of fun (which I won't get into here but I remember that night fondly).
When I smell pesto (basil and garlic), I think of how I used to take walks in New York every evening and one apartment had the smell coming from the open window. This takes me directly back to the dirty street, the scaffold over the sidewalk, the view of the East River right behind me.
Music is also an awesome way to remember a positive memory. There's a John Lennon song that reminds me of rocking my boys to sleep. A wild, rock disco song that reminds me of the spring of my third year at college.
Try this: Find the song or sound, the smell, the taste, the touch of something that takes you back. Close your eyes and see the memory in as much detail as possible.
Yes, memories are blurry. But the more you can get into the feeling of the sense that takes you back, the sharper the image of your memory.
So open your heart to being a little nostalgic, but also be ready to let it go. We are here to live in the present. Use memories to exercise your imagination, but then be ready to let it go to live in the now.
Comment below about your imagination! Is it active? Does it need help like mine does? What are some things you do to bring it back?
Please share with buttons below! We could all use some positive imagination work.