There's a fine line between perception and imagination because we don't just see things as they are, but rather we see things as we are. If our imagination is limited or absent, so are we.
As a psychotherapist, I use the power of imagination to help my clients shift into new perceptions. Bending things is the name of the game. Just like massage is manipulation of soft tissue for good muscular outcome, psychotherapy is a benevolent intervention that challenges the brain-locks of a person to help them get unstuck.
I use imagination therapy to access deep feelings in order to stretch perceptions, rock the boat and help my clients create lasting positive change in their lives.
Here are five reasons why imagination therapy not only works but could also change your life:
1. Memories and perceptions are bendable.
I often say to my clients, "What if you had a magic wand and could change things in your favor?" Or: "What would you say and do in this situation if you could be completely uninhibited without regard to consequences?" Or: "If you could travel back into time and find yourself as a kid, what do you see?"
Just like clay, our memories and perceptions harden if not handled regularly. Bend them, keep them warm and pliable, create with them, and above all, beware of neglecting them or making them into assumptions.
2. Your life is a piece of art, but may need a new frame.
No intellectual insight, idea, theory or understanding alone, ever liberates a person from mental or emotional suffering. It takes passion, wonder, inspiration — the stuff of a vivid imagination — to overcome habits of pain and deprivation.
And let's face it: our history is imagination.
It's not the facts that count, but how we hold them. Our past is a story imprinted with emotional charge. And so it takes emotional charge to bring about change. That life-affirming oomph comes from deep feeling, even when it's painful.
My therapy style is to help a person connect with those feelings and then rewrite, or re-imagine the whole story — to put a new frame around a familiar picture. Because even an outstanding work of art in a frame made out of dried cow manure, might make a person conclude: "This picture stinks." But it's not the painting that stinks, it's just the frame. You, in essence, are a masterpiece!
3. Deep feelings hold the key to transformation.
So, what deep feelings am I talking about exactly? The ones already in there — often the feelings of a child that got tucked away into shadows. The ones hidden from our consciousness. The unpleasant, really painful ones.
Or, there's also the potential feelings — a person's yet untapped capacity to love, for instance — dormant like an un-sprouted seed that gets awakened by the heart's desire and inspiration.
4. Crisis and loss can be times of transformation.
Deep feelings fuel real change, because only in a deep feeling state do we clearly see what is right and what is wrong for our overall well-being. This is when we can truly get a sense of our true destiny within. That's what makes feelings dangerous and why we often avoid them; they are to the lazy, unimaginative, self-protective, status quo ego, like oxygen is to anaerobic bacteria.
Their very presence breaks the stranglehold of conceptual routine unconscious living, and thrusts us into the raw openness of the present moment. We often only get to that point through disaster, crisis or loss.
5. Imagination combined with love can lead to positive change.
The good news is that catastrophe is not necessary for awakening. What it takes is thirst for the real, which makes suffering recognizable for what it is, and unacceptable — no matter how familiar it's become. I believe that letting go of suffering and the identity that we've built around it takes guts, because it can feel like death.
Positive imagination will be the death of you — if you're living an illusion, that is. That's why love comes first and imagination, second. Imagination is dangerous, love is safe. Imagination is the knife, love is the sheath. Both together make for change that's livable.
Good therapy jump-starts the imagination, shakes the status quo, punctures pockets of darkness, releases the tender heart and ushers in a new baseline sense of an alive self.