The Power of Imagination
The power of imagination is devalued in our culture. We are told to leave our imaginations behind in our childhood. The saying, “it is just your imagination” becomes a way to dismiss experiences we can’t explain via route of the five senses. We do everything we can to avoid talking about our imaginations and instead we brainstorm, practice creative visualization, dream up, and go on guided meditations.
It’s all a silly ruse of semantics. We cannot not imagine. It is as automatic for us as breathing.
According to the Oxford Dictionary imagination is:
- the faculty or action of forming new ideas, images or concepts of objects not present to the senses (i.e. seeing something in your mind that doesn’t exist in front of you)
- the ability of the mind to be creative or resourceful (otherwise known as innovation and problem solving)
- the part of the mind that imagines things (what we call ‘my imagination’)
The word imagination comes from the verb imaginari which means to ‘picture to oneself’. Other ways to explain imagination include using the mind’s eye, thinking in pictures and feeling into something.
More Than Just Pictures
Imagination is not just about seeing an image, but also hearing, touching, tasting or smelling something that is not physically present. A vivid imagining comes from an immersion of all the senses in an experience that is not in the material world.
When you picture an apple in your mind, or remember the taste of that exquisite piece of chocolate, or guess what it might be like to be in a bath of ice water right now you are imagining. Can hearing a good story conjure up what the experience might be like for you? This is imagination.
So many of our decisions are based on the power of imagination. We need to project forward to determine what it would be like to work in that new office or how we might get along with a new acquaintance. All of it is imagining. As Caroline Myss says, “We are never not imagining.” Seriously, try not picturing things, not formulating ideas or not guessing what something might be like.
Imagination is a Faculty of the Soul
More than just something our mind automatically does, the power of imagination is a faculty of the soul. It is a sense of the soul like hearing is a sense of the body. There are a couple of primary ways in which our soul uses the power of imagination to connect us with the sacred.
Imagination allows us access to the collective unconscious where all ideas, all concepts, all knowledge exists. In the collective unconscious are the primary, unchangeable Forms of things as explained by Plato. For example, in the collective unconscious there is the quintessential, eternal apple. Once the apple takes material form it is lesser because it is impermanent and imperfect. The collective unconscious is the home of archetypes. Archetypes are a more sophisticated name for these Forms.
The simplest way to explain Forms and archetypes is to say they are the immortal templates from which all material things are derived.
The ability to trace back to the ultimate source of a thing is a spiritual quest. Tapping into the collective unconscious via imagination is a soulful endeavor. It connects us to our creation and our creator.
Mystical experiences are possible via the imagination because they are outside the five senses. We try to collect hard evidence of angels and ghosts, but without the power of imagination, we wouldn’t be able to experience them in the first place. The spirit world contacts us via our imagination. Then we look for material proof. Our imaginations are more fluid and more sensitive to energy. The spirit world is made of energy.
Do I Need a Good Imagination to go on a Shamanic Journey?
As a shamanic teacher, I often encounter people who think they need to have a good imagination to be able to go on a shamanic journey. Much like a waking dream, shamanic journeys allow us the opportunity to explore other worlds, meet and talk with spirit animals and guides, and gain valuable guidance. Shamanic journeys are the primary technique of shamanism.
We people say, “I don’t have a good imagination,” I would guess that they are referring to their ability to be creative. As if somehow the power of imagination only belongs to artists. This is a myth. Imagination is not artistic competency. Imagination is mechanical and automatic.
There is no such thing as a bad imagination. We all have an equal measure of imaginative ability. It is our varying degree of trust in what our imaginations tell us that makes the difference. Depending on our upbringing, conditioning, and self-esteem we block or allow our imaginings. Someone with a “good” imagination is going to trust their gut and follow their intuition.
Imagination is about trust and not talent. Imagination thrives on confidence and courage.
One of the biggest reasons why I teach shamanic journeying is because it gives us the chance to practice trust. A shamanic journey is a leap of faith and tests our self-esteem. What if we find nothing? What if we come back with a ridiculous story that everyone laughs at? What if we are no good at it? It is these doubts that block the power of imagination.
Using Your Imagination on a Shamanic Journey
The key to using your imagination on a shamanic journey is to release your expectations of what this is supposed to look like. With the advent of surround sound, 3-D movie theaters with crystal clear computer-generated imagery (CGI) we’ve begun to think everything should look like a movie, including our imaginings. We want our shamanic journeys to be full immersion experiences. Even better than going to a movie, we think a shamanic journey should be like real life, and feel better.
Shamanic journeys, especially at first, can be jumpy and cloudy. We may feel a lot, see a couple images, and hear nothing. We might see a lot, but not feel a thing. This is because our self-doubt can derail the experience over and over again. This is because we want things to be a certain way. We have to build confidence and open up our expectations.
Just like any natural ability you have, you must practice learning how to use your imagination to become good at it. You have to build your muscles. You didn’t just stand up one day at one-year old and start jogging around the house. With dedicated practice of shamanic journeywork, you too can come to find that truly being on a shamanic journey is a lot like real life.
About Author, Stacey L. L. Couch
Stacey L. L. Couch, Certified Shamanic Practitioner, works as a publicist and journalist for Mother Nature and is the author of Gracious Wild: A Shamanic Journey with Hawks. She empowers people with the ability to explore life’s big questions by calling on nature, story and synchronicity as a source for guidance and healing. With her deeply rooted experience in the field of shamanism and passion for working with wildlife and rescue animals, Stacey has a unique blend of rational and mystical perspective that makes the world of shamanism easily accessible to others. She values mindfulness, wonder, and compassion in her daily spiritual practice. Learn More about Stacey.