Visualization vs. Imagination

December 5, 2006

I was recently planning a project and realized that I had been visualizing various steps that needed to be taken and how I would do this. I had a specific image in my mind of the project and how each choice I made would move the project farther along.

I realized today that this might have been what Geoff was referring to in his comment (Role of Imagination, 11/14/06 ) when he questioned if it were possible have a rational imaginative process. I think what I was doing fits this description. Each stage followed the previous in proper developmental sequence, based on prior knowledge of similar tasks. Each step was visualized as a test to see, and therefore anticipate, what problem might arise. And choices were made to move the task along to the next step and to solve problems. This process, though using the imagination, is almost entirely a rational one.

For this to move beyond a rational process one approach could have been that I might have asked for a guide to arise in my imagination with whom I could interact in dialogue and who could show me what I need to know about the issue at hand or allowed the images I was visualizing to take on a life of their own to guide me. This would have moved the process to the mythic domain where all objects can be experienced as alive, aware, and often interactive. This is what I refer to when I discuss the use of the imagination in learning, growing, and healing.

Using visualization to remember the route to a destination, to remind yourself where you left your keys, or to work through multiple or complex steps of a task versus dynamic interaction with objects that arise from your unconscious are two different sorts of the use of imagery. 

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