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Active Imagination Technique and how it helps the creative process.

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“In his creative work the artist is dependent on sources and resources deriving from the spiritual unconscious.”  ― Viktor E. FranklMan’s Search for Ultimate Meaning

Active imagination was devised as a therapeutic practice, by Carl Jung, to help patients that were depressed or had a lot of bad feelings. In the practice the goal is to grow relationships with characters in your mind – they talk and you can follow them in your imagination. These characters represent part of yourself that has been cut off from you – disassociated from the ego. This technique enhances individuation – joining your ego with your unconscious energies to become stronger and more creative. The unconscious is creative without ego control.

“As developed by Carl Jung between 1913 and 1916, active imagination is a meditation technique wherein the contents of one’s unconscious are translated into images, narrative or personified as separate entities. It can serve as a bridge between the conscious ‘ego’ and the unconscious and includes working with dreams and the creative self via imagination or fantasy. _

The hardest part about practicing active imagination is to allow things to happen without editing. At first I was a bit nervous. I’m an active dreamer. A lot of thing happen in my dreams – so I expected I might have a flood of images and it’s hard to remember everything. Actually I have been creating a memory castle on Pinterest to help me keep track of the recurring images in my imagination (mostly dreams or actual memories – until now). The video above suggests that the characters in an active imagination session will be more consistent than dreams. I’m looking forward to practicing active imagination more and to see how this technique evolves for me over time.

The description of my first Active Imagination visualization:

I chose the image of Inanna uprooting and transporting the tree from the book, Inanna, Queen of Heaven and Earth: Her Stories and Hymns from Sumer. I witnessed, and at moments took on the point of view of Inanna or another character, as events unfolded. As my first active imagination, it felt dream like, and was surprising to me.

Inanna was at a riverbank washing the dirt from the roots of her tree. It was a laborious and heavy job. She struggled to relocate the tree due to the large root mass as the base. She dragged the tree and then lovingly finished planting it by patting the earth around the base and she sat in childlike joy in the sun. There was a sense of timelessness in the grass and dirt. She watched the insects in the grass and the clouds in the sky like a lazy summer day. The tree grew quickly she hugged and caressed the tree like a loved pet. Then she climbed up, quick and spider like, in the tree and lay in the braches watching as the leaves multiplied overhead. The tree grew, faster and faster and up and up, and became unsettling as it turned into a dark thundercloud high above. Then all of a sudden the image transformed into a tall building, a skyscraper, a cityscape. Inanna disappeared as she wandered off to explore the city in dazed wonderment. The image changed to a boardroom inside an unfamiliar location. In the boardroom was a table with two men on either side engaged in a business deal. The father turned to his son and said; “You mentioned that you were gay?” and the son shrugged and replied, “I don’t see why it matters.” The father looked back across the table, “Watch and see.” The men at the table looked at each other. There was a sense of embarrassment or disappointment.

Great video example of active imagination:

What to try active imagination?

Here is a video with a guided mediation if you want to try it! It’s a great way to get unstuck in aspects of your life. This guy  developed his guided imaginary at the Metropolitan State College in Denver when her was teaching Creativity in Business.

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