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Imagination & Visualisation

Imagination & Visualisation

Imagination, visualisation, visions - what are they? Should we be afraid of daydreaming in technicolor?

What can we do to get started with our imagination if we "can't visualise"?

And why is imagination important for "the real world"?

Imagination, Visualisation & Lucid Living

by Silvia Hartmann

Imagination, visualisation, having visions - all these words are a problem, because they refer to "seeing" something.

Seeing something is less than half of a proper vision, imagination or visualisation however.

What these words refer to is a process of internal representation, and here is that bias towards "seeing again" - a representation refers again to being shown something, something that you look at, something that you can see.

A vision is not seeing something alone, and neither is proper imagination by any other name - fantasy, daydream, pretending, whatever you want to call that thing that people do with their marvellous minds.

It is seeing PLUS.

Imagination is seeing PLUS feeling, PLUS hearing, PLUS touching, PLUS smelling, PLUS tasting, and most of all, PLUS FEELING.

It is in fact being completely in an alternate reality, or as some call it, an autogenic reality.

A closer word to what is happening would be hallucination, which comes from a Latin phrase that means "walking in the mind" and which has been mostly hijacked by the medical profession to describe someone experiencing something that is not related to external stimuli.

Just "seeing something" without the added additional input from all the other senses is really not proper imagination; just like hearing voices that have become disembodied from their owners which remain invisible, it's actually a malfunction of the "visioning" system.

The way in which people can make internal representations in the absence of any kind of actual physical stimulation is very little explored, and highly underused. It has also been demonified as the realm of the mentally ill; but that is as unfair as saying that a person who starts screaming when seeing a real spider or a snake "proves" how dangerous it is to be seeing anything at all.

Reasonable healthy people have all the faculties they need for full sensory modality, full autogenic visioning experiences.

These experiences are not just perfectly healthy to seek out, they are important on many different levels; and most important of all is that the broken modalities need to be put back together for that lucid, autogenic experience where the alternate reality or internal representation becomes just as real as we would feel if we were walking on a sandy beach and feeling the sun on our faces, the wind in our hair, seeing AND hearing the waves crashing to the shore, smelling and tasting the salt from the sea, feeling relaxed and happy.

The reason that it is so important to bring back the full body autogenic experience is because each modality BRINGS DIFFERENT INFORMATION, and only when you put all of that information together, do you get a whole that is more than the sum of the parts, and an understanding of the real nature of the environment becomes apparent.

You could say that anyone who is missing of those modalities in a visonary experience, an imagination, a daydream, or even a hallucination is short of a few playing cards, and without those, the game doesn't work properly, and the rules of the game don't make any sense.

There are also major misunderstandings about how to use the internal representations and their modalities, simply through a lack of practice and familiarity.

The first thing you always hear when you start talking about imagination, visualisation and so forth is "But I can't visualise!"

The fact is that everyone can visualise - they just don't know they're doing it.

Ask such a person about a time they went on holiday, and to describe in detail a particular moment of pleasure and happiness, and their eyes will start to move in that typical NLP described way as they "re-call the memory" or in other words, start to make an internal representation of the data stored.

They will be perfectly capable of telling you that they were in a tropical country, with many big palm trees, white sands on the beach, might make a comment of how amazingly turquoise the water was ...

If you take the time and question this person specifically, "What did you hear?" they will be able to tell you that they heard a radio from a beach restaurant nearby, surf, people laughing, the sound of glasses, there was even a dog barking far in the distance ...

Ask them, what did you smell? and they will tell you that.

Ask them, what did you feel? and they will be able to tell you that too.

All of "that" which is information is presented as an internal representation, in this case a memory.

And that's just the same with visualisations in the sense of autogenic, lucid experiences with all the modalities present and correct - we can all do it, but we don't know we can, and have to re-familiarise ourselves with that process.

Here comes an amazing thing.

There is a threshold when you are imagining things, when you are calling up internal representations.

If you become aware of all the modality experiences, and they all come on line TOGETHER, we experience that moment when we become "lucid" - we are literally stepping into the internal representation and THAT now has become "reality" to all intents and purposes.

Again, the only time you hear of such things happening is in "bad" examples - like a trauma survivor having "flashbacks" where they are totally in that memory, once more, and yet again, and it's as real as it was the first time they experienced it.

However, what we need to remember is that this is not a proper lucid experience - if it was, the person who was having the flashbacks would KNOW that they ARE INSIDE A MEMORY and would be able to change the memory, or work with it, or evolve it, or DO SOMETHING to that memory so that the flashback was not just an endless re-run of a memory, but an opportunity for evolution and potentially, an invitation to healing.

This example tells us perhaps the most important component in the cocktail that is a proper vision, a proper imagination experience, a proper lucid experience - namely that the CONSCIOUS MIND needs to be there as well, that it is a part of a system and without it, nothing is complete.

When we are "awake and aware" INSIDE any daydream, imagination and hallucination, we have power and leverage OVER that vision.

We can act within it, we can act upon it, we are free to move inside of it, and to leave it too at any time.

All these imagination movements of the mind have suffered from being compared to what sick people do - not what healthy people do, and therein lies all the fear of "getting lost in hallucinations" of "not knowing what is real and what isn't" and so on and so forth.

With the full power of the human visioning system activated, we get a literal downpour of data coming into our systems - that's why we call them "visionary thinkers" or "a visionary genius" - when that system works as it should, people have FAR MORE INFORMATION than those who haven't got that system online.

With all that extra information, problem solving and innovation becomes easy, elegant and natural.

And there, we then get to go full circle.

Is this system working OUTSIDE of visioning and imagination?

How awake are you when you are awake?

Are you truly lucid, or are you stumbling around in your own incarnation just like the trauma survivor stumbles around in their old memory, helpless, hapless, and with no way out?

What can we do, right here and now, to become MORE awake? More aware?

Which one of our modalities are weak, or used not enough, and needs to brought more online so we get that threshold break when all of that information comes in through all our senses at the same time, comes into harmony, and the world starts to make sense at long last?

This is probably the most astonishing and most exciting part of the research into visions and the multi-modality nature of internal representations we've done - this is by no means "just" about daydreaming, fantasy, and hallucinating safely and productively.

This is about lucid living - enlightenment, getting our hands and minds on the data and information we need to understand the world and our place within it - while we are awake.

Silvia Hartmann

June 2010

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"I honestly had no idea I could be this creative." Gen Woodruff