Shedding Skins – How to engage with Creative Imagination
“Imagination is critical to the quality of our lives. It enables us to leave our routine everyday existence by fantasizing about travel, food, sex, falling in love or having the last word – all the things that make life interesting. Imagination gives us the opportunity to envision new possibilities – it is a launchpad for making our hopes come true. It fires our creativity, relieves our boredom, alleviates our pain, enhances our pleasure and enriches our intimate relationships… Without imagination there is no hope, no chance to envision a better future, no place to go, no goal to reach.”
Bessel van der Kolk (The Body Keeps the Score)
Imagination is the beginning of any transformation – we have to see the destination to be able to go in that direction.
However, imagination on its own will not change reality – it will remain just daydreaming.
The difference between daydreaming and Creative Imagination is physical action.
Physical action is what we initiate to bring that intangible vision into the visceral reality of our body. Our gestures, combined with our vision of the future, will rewrite our neuro pathways.
You probably heard the expression “Neurons that fire together, wire together”. Well, you have to engage your nervous system with your whole body to be able to rewire it.
This will happen with consistent practice in small steps. Olympic athletes, for example, use this technique. They imagine their performance and allow their muscles to fire in the same sequence.
I have seen the Olympic Diving teams training before their jumps at the Commonwealth Games in 2018. On the ground they were doing the same movements they will perform in mid-air and it looked like a bizarre dance from the outside. The results were real and tangible.
How can you apply this knowledge for yourself?
Any cycle of transformation starts with a small action. Often, the fear of the unknown and doubts prevent that first gesture to occur.
The Ceremonial Space was used in traditional cultures to support that first step into a new phase of life. There are major thresholds like the rights of passage to adulthood or marriage, but there are countless transformations we go through every week.
Nowadays there could be changes in career, relationships and countless ways the world shifts around us.
Each time you feel resistance moving forward, locate the feeling that holds you back in your body. Could be a heaviness on your shoulders or a cramp in your stomach.
The key here is not to suppress it but acknowledge your hesitation and isolate it, so it will not contaminate your desire to move forward.
Imagine that fear or doubt going into an object or piece of clothing you are wearing. The idea is to move the fear outside of your body and internalize the desire to move forward.
At one point, you might want to separate your body from that heaviness and here you can choose to remove a piece of clothing to give your body a cue in letting go.
As you get lighter, allow your body to express even with a small gesture how you feel as you move toward your goal. Here is where the creative imagination starts to work – when the feeling merges with the visceral sensations in your body – bringing your dream to reality, step by step.