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As a child, I often heard the words, “What an imagination you have!” It wasn’t always a compliment. It’s true, however. My imagination helped me to deal with my nighttime fears. Creating my own world and escaping into it every night allowed me to fall asleep.
My imagination grew stronger and more powerful, as I grew older. After I faced down my fears and moved beyond them, as an adult, I recognized the connection between my re-emerging creativity and shifting reality and the imagination I’d long nurtured.
Because there’s a connection as well between imagination and manifestation. Every human creation and invention began in someone’s imagination. It’s not just an inventor’s special gift though. Tapping into the power of imagination is available to all of us.
What Is Imagination?
First of all, what is imagination?
Imagination uses our experiences and knowledge of the world and combines them with the unknown to create something new. Using imagination we create an image…or a whole world…in our mind and interact with it there.
Imagination allows us freedom to explore new thoughts and ideas that lie beyond the physical world, launching us into the dream realm where anything is possible and creativity is strongest.
Science suggests that engaging in imagination fires up large areas of the brain while creating a powerful, interconnecting neural network.
Why Is Imagination Important?
Albert Einstein famously said:
“Imagination is more important than knowledge. For knowledge is limited to all we now know and understand, while imagination embraces the entire world, and all there ever will be to know and understand.”
Children instinctively engage their imaginations. Watch any child at play and you’ll see them pretend and create. Imagining is how children learn and grow, explore and discover. However, somewhere between youth and adulthood, we disconnect from imagination, dismissing it as fanciful or a waste of time.
Imagination is a powerful tool for living an expansive, creative, joy filled life. And it does more than shift mindset. It helps to create reality, for what we think about and focus on…good or bad…shows up in our world. As I often share, our outer worlds are mirrors of our inner thoughts and our imaginations.
We can develop our imaginations, even if it’s been many years since we’ve actively engaged them. And if our imagining tends toward the negative…we call that worrying…we can shift those thoughts to the positive. And we want to, because a negative imagination creates a negative reality to dwell in.
Tapping Into the Power of Imagination
These 10 tips revitalize imagination, opening up creativity and shifting awareness. Think of these exercises as ways to reconnect with your inner child, who always knows how to imagine in big ways.
Free writing daily allows thoughts to flow from the brain to paper. It’s important to not overthink or edit the words. Just let them appear on the paper and keep writing for 10 – 15 minutes.
Set a timer on your phone and write. Many agree that writing first thing in the morning is the best time to wake up the brain and tap into creativity. You don’t need to choose a topic or craft a story. Instead, jot down whatever comes to mind. A few days in to free writing, you might find long buried ideas surfacing or fresh thoughts providing fodder for creative projects. Don’t judge what you write. Capture your thoughts and move on.
A few years ago, the adult coloring craze launched a host of coloring books covering a variety of interests. I wholeheartedly embraced the trend.
And art therapy is more than a trend actually. It helps reduce anxiety and stress. I find it a satisfying way to express creativity and tap into my imagination. Plus the act of laying color down on paper is a form of meditation.
Best of all, no one is grading your coloring ability. Feel free to literally color outside the lines, make the sky purple or try out different shading techniques.
Imagination and empathy share the ability to imagine ourselves in another’s situation. The greater the imagination, the more empathy we can show.
It follows, therefore, that nurturing empathy towards others helps broaden imagination. Practice becoming more aware of the feelings and emotions of others. Think about how you’d feel, in the same situation. Imagine what you’d do and the impact the situation would have on you.
Allow the resulting feelings and insights to guide you in gaining a better understanding of others, of the world, of experiences that are different from yours.
Often, when something challenging happens to someone, we respond with the words, “I just can’t imagine…” I discovered recently that to those who are hurting, those words come across as “What you are experiencing is so awful, I can’t even imagine it.” That’s not helpful at all, even though we might mean well.
Imagine it. Put yourself in her place. And feel with her and for her as your empathy guides actions.
Ready to make changes in your life? Start with imagining a goal…and the steps needed to accomplish it.
Using imagination in this way stimulates the brain in the same way that actually performing the task does. Athletes improve their skills and abilities by visualizing their performances. You can do this too. It’s as simple as closing your eyes and imaging each step needed to reach your goal.
Another helpful practice is to create a vision board. Include goals, dreams and hopes. Look at the vision board every day and imagine both the accomplishments and how you feel.
Visualization nudges the brain into looking for ways to bring those goals into reality. Stay open and aware of opportunities.
Keep a Dream Journal
When the subconscious and imagination meet, we dream. Many people report that they do not remember their dreams. However, keeping a journal and learning to unpack dreams opens the mind to truths about ourselves.
We work out problems in our dreams, revisit the past and create for the future there as well. It’s worth taking a few minutes every morning to jot down dreams.
I’m a lucid dreamer, aware that what I’m experiencing is a dream. I find great insights when I examine my dreams, especially the ones that don’t seem to make sense while they are unfolding.
Recently I dreamed of a river next to my house. In the dream I said aloud that I knew I was dreaming because I live in a city, with no water in sight. I decided to enjoy the dream while it lasted. As I sat next to the flowing river, a large turtle climbed out of the water and rested next to me, allowing me to pet him while he nuzzled against my leg.
I felt so happy about that turtle when I woke up. Unpacking the dream, I looked up turtle energy. When the turtle shows up it symbolizes longevity, perseverance, steadfastness, healing, tranquility and transformation, all qualities I’m happy to embrace in my life.
Learn to look for the symbols imagination plants in your dreams. Don’t try to make sense of them. Rather, allow them to speak to you about the deep recesses of your mind, heart and soul.
Rearrange the Familiar into Something New
Decluttering a room or the whole house and rearranging living spaces is an excellent way to ramp up imagination. Move furniture around. Get rid of excess. Uncluttered spaces allow for a better flow of energy which positively affects imagination and creativity.
Get creative with decor. Do you always decorate for the holidays using the same items, in the same places? Switch things up.
I love to lay out all of my decorations on the bed, and then find new ways to use them. It’s a fun form of imaginative play to rearrange the familiar and create something fresh and new.
Get Into Nature
Spending time in nature, walking in the woods, sitting near water all revitalize the body and free the mind to imagine. Engage your senses. Listen to the sounds of nature, feel the breeze, watch insects flitting by. Breathe deeply and relax. And allow the mind to wander, flitting like the insects from idea to idea.
Frequent walks outdoors boosts creativity and imagination by giving the mind a break, which allows ideas to flow. Check out other benefits from being in nature HERE.
Play is necessary, for cultivating a creative, imaginative life. Children naturally engage in play as a way of learning and figuring out how things work.
For adults, play helps us find joy in life, allows us to figure out who we truly are, rather than who others want us to be, and sparks creativity born from an active imagination.
Even routines become fun when interjecting play. Dance and make up a song while cleaning the kitchen. Make a game out of folding laundry, pulling weeds or painting the porch.
Let go of outcomes, enter into the flow of playfulness and watch your imagination ignite.
Need inspiration? Engage with children and let them show you how to play again. Forget rules. Just play, pretend and have fun.
Open to Positive Possibilities
Worry is praying for things you don’t want to happen. Imagination works whether we think about positive things…or negative ones. Rather than imagining the bad things that can happen, learn to stop that train of thought and imagine positive outcomes, happy events and joyful activities.
Say the word STOP and change your thoughts. Keep changing them as often as necessary.
When I travel, rather than worrying about what can go wrong, I learned to imagine the trip in wonderfully rich detail. Where would I walk? What would I wear? Engaging my imagination in this way led to a totally different way of preparing for trips.
I study maps of the area I’m staying in, learn the streets and where the sites are that I want to visit. Then, weeks or months even before the trip, I walk those streets, visit those locations, feel the sun on my face, hear the sounds around me….all in my imagination. It’s become an extraordinary way to anticipate a trip and it greatly reduces any anxiety I might have. When I arrive at my destination, there’s a sense of familiarity, even though the experiences are new.
I am creating my reality and then stepping into it in very positive ways.
Next year, I’m taking this technique farther, imagining trips long before I actually book them.
One of the best ways to explode imagination is to follow curiosity. See where that trail leads.
Read a book or watch a video, to learn more about anything that grabs your interest. Google to answer a question. Take the road less traveled, to see where it goes. Pursue the “what ifs”. Stare down fear and walk into new territory and try new experiences. Create a daydreaming space. Spend time in your dream space and allow your imagination to take the lead. Follow it to see where it goes.
Read more about developing a curiosity mindset HERE.
What Can You Imagine?
How is your imagination? Is it healthy, powerful and helping you manifest the reality you desire to live in?
If not, may these exercises help you connect to the imagination of your childhood. Imagine what is possible…and make possible what you imagine.
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