“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.” Albert Einstien
There are some things I just won’t skip on any given day. The first is breakfast, if I don’t eat I’m grumpy and no good to anyone. The second is some form of meditation and the third is my ‘Imagination work‘. I consider all three to be of equal importance to my wellbeing and everyone I come into contact with.
‘Why are we here? – for each other of course’ ~ Albert Einstein.
Every single day I give myself at least one creative task. Sometimes I have two minutes and sometimes I have an hour, but no matter what, I always find the time. It can be as simple as experimenting with taking photographs on my iPhone or I write a short poem. When I have more time I paint . I am not saying I am good at any of these things. I do them because I know that by allowing myself to be creative and to be in touch with my inner child (who doesn’t care what I think I’m good at or not good at) I am conditioning myself to be more free in everything I do. I know it sounds a little like a hippie artist spiel so I’ll just spell it out clearly before we begin.
I was pretty good at making a mess. I messed up most of my relationships, messed up my career more than once and after years of searching and trying as many cures as I could, I have found what works for me and I want to share it.
‘The aim of life is self-development. To realize one’s nature perfectly – that is what each of us is here for.’
~ Oscar Wilde
It’s easy to sweep mess under the carpet and let it hide there. It’s also easy to talk about it for hours and blame every one for how you feel about yourself – except you. Now I let myself make a mess with pictures, words and paint. That stops me making a mess of things with people I care about and screwing up the opportunities that come my way.
I make a mess everyday because I deserve to.
I do it creatively, passionately and all in the name of excitement.
For me ‘Imagination work‘ is the quickest way to get in and under all the crap. Your imagination is a clear doorway to a secret cabinet, where you are hiding everything that hurts, everything that makes you angry and everything you have been trying to avoid. By reclaiming your inner child and allowing yourself to have fun with it, you can clean out that mess and begin to feel great about yourself.
‘Imagination work’ is a daily routine, it takes dedication and an open mind to begin with but I promise you , you will fall passionately in love with it and it will happen fast.
Passion is what drives me and I like to work with opposing forces, within me and out there. So let’s talk about why I started doing this before we go into the how. The deepest force I have had to learn to bait and battle is self-sabotage. I say bait because I had to find a way to drag it out of the shadows and work with it. I don’t believe you can cure these things. They are part of you. The only way forward is to find the opposing force and teach them how to dance. For me the opposing force of self sabotage did not lie in the comforting arms of self love. No, I had to go deeper. I had to get my hands dirty and shake things up by the root. The deeper I dug, the clearer things became.
The treasure beat in my chest, the map and the opposing force was my imagination. The key, well it would only turn in the lock during those rare moments I was able to tune in. I discovered this by accident whilst working with my imagination as an actor. As i gathered ideas and tools from teachers and created what is now my own daily routine, I began to feel a transformation taking place. I found the more I activated and extended my imagination through creative tasks, the easier it was to get under the lies I’d been telling myself. It was by expressing myself through art (believe me a lot of it is terrible, this is not about being an ‘artist’) that I began to understand parts of me I had never really known. It’s strange, the way we long to be ‘seen’ by others and yearn so deeply to be understood, yet we often know so little about ourselves.
Once you discover how much you have buried and how liberating it is to let go and expand to your full self, you no longer want to just stop and smell the roses. You want to know and appreciate the fullness of beauty. So you let the part of you that longs to roll around in the dirt and get scratched up by the thorns - out to play. If you can learn to do this, then you will see darkness is not to be feared but embraced. For it is from your darkness and secret mess that true clarity speaks. You write it down, you dance it out, you sing it high or voice it low (in a gravel laced tone) and you paint it with your fingers if it calls you to do so.
well, why not?
I can tell you why I believe we all should, it’s part of why we love our smart phones so much. We want to express, to capture and to be heard. It is healing and allows you to connect with all the parts of you that long to speak. The work I am going to introduce you to can be done in conjunction with any of your current practices and done no matter where you are. Imagination work is about expression from your core. Rotten teeth and all.
From the moment you begin to create something, even if it is just writing down one word or putting a single colour on a page, you begin to feel free. When was the last time you turned up a piece of great music and danced all on your own? If you think about it, the only two places we are truly free is in our dreams and in our imagination. When we daydream the two worlds collide. In that place every suppressed thought, every denied desire and unspoken ability come tumbling through the dark tunnels of suppression and twirl out into the warming light of freedom. Imagination is the key to expressing your deepest, darkest and most wonderful desires.
Three words ‘LET IT OUT’.
Two words ‘I fear’.
One word “ferocious’
The one word I feared most.
Why? simply because I am.
One part of me is deeply ferocious.
My hidden treasure chest is filled with many riches. All those riches are me. My shades, my jewels, my colours, my moods and all my faces. We all have this treasure, it’s just that many of us believe we have to keep it buried and hidden. and why do we do this? why do we stop ourselves from living our lives as our full selves? well, let’s step right off the dark cloud and go straight to the silver lining; it is because we are fools (yes the foolish part is silver). We are taught to conform and make ourselves into small and quiet versions of who we truly are. It is polite to be predictable. What a vanilla boring lie! So be a fool, let yourself paint the worst picture in the world or write a three sentence poem that only makes sense to you. That is the fun part! and it’s yours not anybody else’s. Approval is simply not approved.
For every part of you currently being suppressed there is a tiny piece of cotton wool being placed over your ear drum.
The cotton wool steals the sound of your song and it muffles what would be your roar.
How can you find the answers if you cannot be heard?
Somewhere down in the dirt I found the root of my self sabotage and it was being fertilised by all the parts of me I was keeping hidden. Self sabotage is fuelled by negative thought and negative thought comes from these parts of you being suppressed. It is a vicious cycle. What it is not is rocket science. It’s just a bitter pill to swallow. It’s that awful light bulb moment, when you have to confess the only person in your way is yourself. I know I’ve never liked to admit defeat or weakness and that is why self sabotage managed to beat me for a very long time. It messed with my career, ate away at my self-esteem and fuelled a deep anger I had always tried to hide.
About four years ago I reached a point where I knew I had an important decision to make. I could either stay angry and stifled or get to work. Thankfully there are certain laws from the spiritual realms that I believe work hand in hand with science. I say thankfully because I have a logical side and it needs to be pleased just as much as my bare footed spirit (who likes to feel the earth between her toes). The law of attraction works hand in hand with gravity. It’s simple, when you reach breaking point you throw both your arms and your secret thoughts skyward. What comes down and at you first are ideas and tools. Then it’s down to the science of your spirit. If you have really decided to take your self on – you’ve truly made that important decision, then you will grip those tools with all your might and crack open the ideas. You will take what you uncover to the kitchen of your mind and start cooking up a storm for your soul.
Imagination is everything.
Set yourself free.
You see, somewhere in the depths of self-loathing and trying to run away from my true self, I found magic. I now know light is absolutely empowered by darkness and laughter will swim it’s way to the surface through tears. You usually have to lose in order win and best of all when you truly embrace all your dirty-messy-inner-conflicts the rewards are endless.
Let the storm happen.
You will be more than okay.
To begin with, you will discover a tool which will serve you well to the grave. That tool is the power to turn every poison you encounter in your life into medicine which will enhance it. Turning poison into medicine is a buddhist based principle but you do not have to be a buddhist to take it on. You just have to be hungry for excitement. I say excitement rather than happiness because I believe happiness lies in the arms of excitement. The way to access this tool is to truly hear yourself, clearly and from both your light and dark sides. The songs of both will emerge from the moment you begin these imagination based routines. When you tap in, it is something you will have for life. You will pass it to your children and their children’s children.
The beauty of imagination is it is contagious and private all at once.
The power of your imagination is it can never be taken from you.
By working with it on a daily basis you begin to find themes in what you express. Those themes will speak to you about yourself. You will uncover secret needs and desires and you will instantly be flooded with feelings of freedom. You will start to really listen to your mind and speak with your body. When you get that cotton wool out of your ears and you hear your inner music, it is nothing short of wonderful. The volume of the muffled and melancholy string section in your song gets turned down. The opposing pulsing beat of your spirit drum gets louder and louder and louder. You can’t help yourself, you have to dance. This is the song of excitement and from that place your truth belts out a tune.
The truth that can only ever reside within you.
We all know this, so why the hell do we spend so much time trying to find it in someone else?
Crazy person mistake number one : ‘It’s not me it’s you’.
Bullshit! it is you. It’s harsh but true. There is a simple medicine for this poison we feed ourselves. It’s a simple four letter word. If you say it out loud and don’t feel an immediate sense relief, then I hate to break it to you but you don’t listen to yourself. If this is the case, you best get a supportive friend (preferably one blessed with an authoritative voice) to yell it at you pronto.
Once you tune in, there are no more apologies or excuses to be thrown at others or get caught up in all by yourself.
Life is a ridiculous experiment and it should be fun!
So when did we stop playing and dancing ridiculously?
Why shouldn’t we experiment with our best whilst embracing our worst?
and why not allow all of our different sides to rear their (beautiful or ugly) heads?
The answer to all three questions is we should and it should be fun. Hold space for it all, within yourself and out there for others. None of us are perfect, none of us have one face or just one mood. All the time we spend trying to rid ourselves of what we brand as ‘negative traits’ (and hiding the things we think the rest of the world may not approve of) would be better spent on actually giving ourselves permission to disturb the air.
‘ If I didn’t have my films as an outlet for all the different sides of me, I would probably be locked up.’
~ Angelina Jolie
The different sides Angelina speaks of, we all have them but most of us suppress them. We don’t allow ourselves to find an outlet. We show the world our ‘good self’ and that mask becomes our public persona. It is a tiring game, yet so many of us seem to play it everyday. I decided I wanted to stop doing this myself so I needed to work out how to get it all out of me. I wanted to begin to embrace my light and my darkness whilst holding space for everything in between. This isn’t a luxury or an indulgence. I truly believe it is the one real obligation you have to yourself. To live your life as a full person and not just a muted shade of one part. People who know this, know it saves them from frustration (or in some cases insanity) induced by being stifled. To Angelina stifled clearly equals being locked up or put in a cage.
To know yourself and to be your full-self means getting out of the cage. It means unlocking your secrets and it means having fun exploring your emotional palate by calling upon your imagination. This should not be a tool solely possessed by artists. Nor should it be a long forgotten pleasure reserved for children. It should be something we all get to enjoy at any age. Our imagination is such an incredible gift and we should never stop exploring it. The possibilities are endless.
Dance in the light of your darkness by creating your own private moments of expression and escape.
Each and every day.
IMAGINATION IS EVERYTHING.
All photos have been taken on my iPhone.
*Top of page shot~ photographer James Demitri