The human imagination is the most powerful force on Earth. Without imagination we wouldn’t have any of the creations that hold up 21st Century society.
In the Vedas, imagination is viewed as both the transcendent power through which the gods created the universe, and the power that joins the human spirit with the ultimate reality (1).
To live your ultimate reality, you have to train your imagination.
In my Ultimate Guide To Creativity I discussed how important it is to nurture imagination. Because without imagination you cannot achieve your creative potential. And without creativity, man might as well be an automaton.
Why Imagination Is So Important
Imagination has given humankind our greatest accomplishments.
It is only due to the imagination that Gaudi was able to construct the most divine architecture in Sagara Familia, or that Shakespeare was able to distill the essence of man and use it to pen such timeless classics as Hamlet and Macbeth, or that Monet was able to take the port of Le Havre France and convert it into his masterpieces.
As the quote goes:
But to fly, the imagination needs wings.
We give the imagination wings by training the mind.
When you train your mind to be more imaginative, you increase your creative potential, and this opens up the possibilities in life, ultimately increasing the chances of success in all areas of your life.
Here’s how imagination effects 3 core areas of life:
- Career: A highly imaginative person will see the possibilities for career development, and they will also be more likely to create new things, such as products to sell (a big deal for any entrepreneur).
- Dating: Believe it or not, imagination effects dating. For starters, people are more attractive to creative and imaginative people (2)
- Health: This is truly phenomenal. Imaginative people are healthier. Increased creativity leads to less anxiety, better mental health, and better problem-solving skills (3).
All of this means that imagination is becoming a very real thing.
Imagination and reality: They’re closer than you think
Many people consider the imagination to be about childhood games of Cops and Robbers and Cowboys and Indians. They consider imagination to be pure fantasy. But as Pablo Neruda famously said, “Everything you can imagine is real.”
Neruda is not alone in his belief in the power of the imagination.
“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.”
Imagination perceives reality beyond the five senses. (4). This is why it is so powerful. Because it cuts through sensory reality to create a more vivid world.
The imagination can take the information of the world and rearrange it to create something new, such as by taking glass, wood and stone and turning it into a house.
Imagine (pun intended) what you can achieve when you train your imagination.
7 Enlightened Ways To Train your imagination
1. Be Inspired By Kids and play games
If you want to know how to train your imagination, learn from kids.
Kids are geniuses of imagination.
Pablo Picasso said:
Kids love using their imagination.
Tragically, as we grow up we’re forced to become machines of logic and reason and we lose our imaginations.
That’s why we need to actively train our imaginations to stay strong, just like we train our bodies.
One way to do that is by having fun like a kid.
Fun implies a sense of playfulness. Playfulness implies a sense of creativity, a sense of messing around, changing things, and experimenting.
Be creative. Have fun. This will boost your imagination big time.
1b. One option is to play video games
Video games have been scientifically proven to make you more creative and to improve your imagination (5).
Some genres of games are better at this than others.
Creative games like Snipperclips for the Nintendo Switch, for instance, teach you to be more creative and imaginative. Fantasy games like Dragon Age and Final Fantasy show you amazing fantastical lands and characters, inspiring your imagination.
And there are games that get you to draw or to be creative in other ways (Minecraft, for instance).
Snipperclips–the best game for your imagination
2. Take a shower
In his groundbreaking book, Wired To Create, Scott Barry Kaufman says that 72% of people have creative insights in the shower.
When we are showering we are (usually) alone and relaxed. We are in an isolated environment where there is little to distract us. The sound of the water mixed with the massaging of the body make us highly relaxed. And a relaxed mind is a creative mind (6).
To train your imagination, take a truly relaxing shower with some aromatherapy soaps.
Train your imagination in the shower
1. Meditate on the sound of the water
2. Be mindful of the feeling of washing your body
3. Breathe in the warm air
4. Smell the fresh scents of the soap
5 .Above all relax. Your imagination and creativity will come to life.
Its a well-established fact that meditating makes us more creative. And this is especially true for “Open meditation techniques”.
Open meditation techniques are meditations in which we do not focus on a singular thing. Instead, we we open our minds to the entirety of our environment. We are mindful of everything.
Science proves that open meditations make us more creative.
Cognitive psychologists Lorena Colato and Dominique Lippelt at Leiden University conducted research and discovered that a brief meditation session can have a deep and lasting affect on your creative brain. However, this is only true for “open” meditation techniques (meditations in which you are receptive to your entire environment and to thoughts and sensations)—Read my guide to 31 forms of meditation for more on this.
4. Train your imagination with this visual memory exercise
Visual imagination is the ability to perceive mental images.
For instance, I’m currently writing a fantasy novel. It’s full of lots of elaborate fantasy worlds. And when I write I literally step into those worlds. I’ve always had an insanely powerful imagination, so when I write I literally see my fictional world around me. That’s visual imagination.
Here’s one technique I personally use to train my visual imagination:
Visual Imagination Exercise
1) Start by closing your eyes and taking a few calming breaths just to silence the thoughts of the day. (Use this guide to Nine Round Breathing. It’ll relax you very quickly and very deeply).
2) Imagine that you are stepping into your chosen room of your house. You open the door and turn to the left. What do you see? Take your time to really visualise the wall, any furniture, windows etc. This should take a minute or two. Allow yourself to see the colours of this side of the room, the shapes, the general outline of the room and so on.
3) Now proceed to the next wall and repeat the process. Repeat this process for each wall of the room, so you are taking a minute or two to paint a mental picture in your mind’s eye of each side of the room.
4) Once you have viewed each side of the room, allow yourself to fill in the details. Are there any items left out? Is anything out of place? Are the lights on or off? Allow yourself to see these details.
5) Open your eyes and try to recall the same mental picture. You will find it to be harder because information from your environment is interfering with the mental picture. The more you practice this exercise the more you will be able to use your imagination whilst your eyes are open, and this will greatly help you to think clearly in your day to day life.
I personally do this exercise once a week. It’s a powerful way to train your ability to visualise. But you might be wondering: Why do you want to imagine the rooms of your house?
The exercise is a means to an end. When you can visualise your house easily, you’ll be able to visualise other things. It will help you to see what’s in your imagination more clearly. It’s only by imagining the details of my own home that I’ve trained my imagination to be able to see the feathers of a griffin in flight when writing my novel, or the facial contours of the snow wolf that is one of my main characters.
You can also use this to help you with visualisations. One of the best psychological exercises you can do is visualise your path to success. This will help with that (if you’d like to know more about this, take a look at my guide to training your subconscious mind).
5: Practice Yoga
Read my guide to yoga for creativity for more on this.
6. Read and watch fantasy :
It has been scientifically proven that when you read highly imaginative fiction you open your mind and increase your imagination (4).
Probably the best genre for this is the fantasy genre.
Fantasy books are packed full of highly imaginative scenes and are perhaps the most creatively-liberating genre of novels.
Alternatively, watch highly creative movies. These can either be movies that are highly creative in themselves (Inception, for instance), or movies that show a character being highly creative.
Ryan Niemic is a positive psychologist who conducted research showing that the movies we watch have a profound impact on our mind. We can actually watch movies to learn specific human characteristics, including creativity.
In his book Positive Psychology At The Movies, Niemiec states that the best movies for imagination are:
- A Beautiful Mind
- Cast Away
- Edward Scissorhands
7. Make use of these 40 daily brain training exercises. The healthier your brain is the better your imagination will be.
Are you a writer?
If you are a writer, you really should try my mindful writing exercises. They will boost your creative writing skills big time while training your mind at the same time.
But fun is number one
Having fun is the absolute number one way to train your imagination.
As an artist, actor, writer, poet, and journalist I’ve used my imagination professional for many years. And honestly, every single time I’ve come up with a new idea that knocked my socks off, it’s been while I was messing around, when I was just having a laugh. And there’s a reason for that.
It’s because, neurologically, feats of the imagination require neuroplasticity. Imagination requires the ability to inject entropy into your mind, to mess things up, to come up with new ideas rather than sticking to the same-old thought patterns.
But that’s really just a clever way of saying that you should let go, have fun, and allow your imagination to take you where it will.
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