If I know anything at all, it is that Art Heals and Transforms us. This truth is a driving force in my life.
Over the past week, I've been working on materials for my Imagine You class in 21 Secrets. Imagine You is a fun, spontaneous way of intuitively creating pages in your art journal... but there is SO much more to it.
I believe wholeheartedly that each of our spontaneous, creative imaginations is a sacred navigator on our life’s journey.
Think back to when you were a child, still young enough to get lost in imaginary worlds of your playtime. Even if you can’t remember the exact details, can you remember how that felt? In your mind? In your body?
Do you remember ever being told that something wasn’t “real”, or to stop “pretending”? Or some other time when it was made clear that your creative ideas had a very separate place from the “real world”? How did that feel?
“Imagination will often carry us to worlds that never were, but without it we go nowhere.” ~ Carl Sagan
I’m going to suggest that it may actually be NECESSARY to build a relationship with our Imagination in order to create a more joyful, thriving experience of ourselves. Doing this can help us heal, make important decisions, connect with others, build resiliency and dream ourselves into expressing and Being, fully and radiantly, who we are in the reality of our lives.
It just requires practice. Practice PLAYING!
There is no better, safer place to begin to trust the power of playing with your unique Imagination than in the juicy seas of an Art Journal!
That’s what makes art journaling so special - its intimacy with our mysterious, creative potential. It is my absolute favorite place to come to again and again to explore and process and find relief from the “realities” of daily Life... and the real beauty is that this also leads me right to the outlook or fresh perspective I most need at that time to navigate my days with deeper grace and awareness.
And trust me, the more you Play - be it active daydreaming, painting, writing, laughter, dancing, singing, or any other way you improvise and let loose - the more you will feel like YOU!
If you are like I was, and like I still can be sometimes, you might not be entirely comfortable with intentional imaginative Play. So let me explain more about “why” this is so important.
I feel very strongly about understanding the needs of our Imagination (yes, it has needs!). I feel this way because I have witnessed time and time again, personally and as a healer and caregiver, the power that belief has on our suffering and experience of life.
I’d like to offer an example for you to ponder as you reflect on the power of Imagination. I used to work as a nurse in pain management, and sometimes there would be discussion about whether or not pain “actually existed” for a patient who claimed it did and who was obviously uncomfortable. Many co-workers wanted “logical” proof of where the pain was coming from before believing the patient was actually in pain.
This always infuriated me, and I would ask them, “Does it really matter? We see that the patient is suffering. We don’t need to know if it is explainable scientifically or if it is Imagined to SEE that it is very Real in their experience.”
Those questioning the patient were perhaps stuck in the limitations of their own imagination, beliefs or conditioning. Likewise, the patient may have very well been imagining the pain, for all scientifically 'provable' purposes - yet this had profound impact on their experience, causing them very real physical sensations of pain. We are complicated, interconnected beings of mind, body, and spirit - where every part of what we are effects every other part. Or, put simpler, our thoughts and imaginations can and do alter our experience of reality.
“I am certain of nothing but the holiness of the Heart's affections and the truth of the Imagination.” ~ John Keats
I like to think of Imagination as a living being that goes with me wherever I go, as strong a force in my life as my own beating heart. Though we may sometimes feel disconnected from our Imagination, the truth is that it is ALWAYS at work anyway, trying to steer the way.
It is your Imagination’s very nature to Imagine! And whatever it imagines gets your attention, whether you realize it or not.
Its brilliant abilities as a navigator are shaped by everything we have ever experienced, observed, known, felt, believed, instinctually known or dreamed. It offers us messages about our journey like a firecracker chain of synaptic associations. Much like our own amazing neurons, it is Electric and always responding!
Sometimes those messages are random snippets and flashes, and other times they are arranged into intricate story tapestries. It all comes at us, and we get to experience the intricate beauty and select how it informs us.
But here’s the thing - just like any living being or organ of our body - it has to be well nourished and loved. Like ourselves, our pets, our children - it needs devoted exercise and attention in order to Thrive and be able to carry out its purpose optimally. And, on top of that, it is as interconnected to our holistic wellbeing as any other part of our make-up.
“You can't depend on your eyes when your imagination is out of focus.” ~ Mark Twain
Your Imagination requires attention and focus to remain a reliable guide in realizing your possibilities. Left neglected, malnourished, or without space to exercise joyfully and freely, it will continue to Imagine - because, remember, that’s its very nature! - but its messages will reflect the level of care it receives... and it can turn into a bit of a trickster, filling your mind with exaggerations or distorted stories in an effort to get your love and affection.
If you’re not careful of this cry for help, you may find yourself living these stories without even knowing how you got there!
“We are what we pretend to be, so we must be careful about what we pretend to be.” ― Kurt Vonnegut
This could show up in your life as unnecessary worries, fears, irritability, doubts, tension, restlessness, resistance, apathy, anxiety and even physical pain. When you stop to pay attention, you may feel like you are living in your head, in your thoughts - you may even notice actual pressure there.
Because if we think about it, a fear or a worry is really about something that we are Imagining could happen. When we let our un-nurtured Imagination guide us by way of fears, we can even become or act like someone we're not.
So if any of these things are creeping into your experience, they just may be a sure-fire sign that your Imagination is begging you to give it the space to explore creatively and thrive again. I know this has been my experience.
“Imagination is the golden-eyed monster that never sleeps. It must be fed; it cannot be ignored.” ~ Patricia A. McKillip
To work on your behalf and for your wellbeing, your Imagination must be honored and fed! IT MUST HAVE PLAYTIME!!!!! It craves spontaneity, Joy-time, Me-time, free-time, with no expectation or goal except that there be no goal!
It asks that you make space for your innate curiosity to do what it does best... Observe, Arrange, Explore and Express itself just for the pure mystery and joy of doing so!
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When you make space for this in your life, your Imagination becomes a vital, healthy Ally and friend offering hints, tips, signs and love whispers of your deepest truths.
Now, I’m not gonna lie - sometimes those truths are not always easy ones to face, but they are ours, and there is a great comfort that comes in knowing where we stand on our journey.
Most of the time though, in my experience, intuitive play with my Imagination brings me deeper into my relationship with Joy, while offering me insight into amazing synchronicities and opportunities that are already happening in my life all the time.
“Imagination is everything. It is the preview of life's coming attractions.” ~ Albert Einstein
And there’s more, that I just want to barely touch on.
When we consciously interact with our Imagination, we begin to build deeper collective empathy and understanding for one another.
Yep - it helps us connect to each other, even though it seems such an internal, personal experience.
“In its arguably most transformative and revelatory capacity, [imagination] is the power that enables us to empathize with humans whose experiences we have never shared.” ― J.K. Rowling
Journeying with my Imagination has become a sacred process of art making that extends into how I live, naturally deepening my connection to myself, to others, and to Creative Spirit. When well-nourished and exercised, with plenty of time to explore and play, it always leads me back to my truth.
~ ~ ~
(Consider joining us in 21 secrets for an amazing art journaling experience! Click here to learn more.)
The links to 21 Secrets on my site are affiliate links - which just means, as teachers, we all get to share in the exchange of dollars for this priceless creative experience!