Helping people embody their life myth.
– Carl Jung
Imagination Transports You to Myth
When people hear that I work with the imagination, many of them say to me, “Oh, I bet you love working with children.” I always respond to them by saying, “The children aren’t the ones who need it. It’s the grown-ups.”
Children are in touch with fairy tales, storytelling, make-believe, an archetypal world that brings magic into life. Unfortunately, and painfully, as we get older, our feelings and heart can close down in response to individual or world trauma and abuse.
Losing Touch with Imagination
These threatening processes can cause us to shut down our feelings, which simultaneously cause us to lose touch with our imagination. Archetypal psychologist James Hillman explained that the “heart is the seat of imagination,” which is to say that any great adventure begins in the heart!
When we do the work of psychotherapy that focuses on opening empathy for the people of this world, including ourselves, we recover our connection to dreams, the underworld, storytelling, and our living myth.
Healing and Connection
Opening the imagination works with the mind, the feelings, the body, and archetypal beauty to engage the inner child, the one who is connected to spontaneity, play, and joy, to help you to bring forth your authentic nature.
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Therapy works directly with the suffering of the soul.
Anxiety, depression, grief, loss, relationship conflict, body image issues, addiction, and/or trauma are the matrix of the transformational process. The gold, or valuable materials within, is buried in your suffering, pains, and hurts. Your life path is discovered in the middle of your greatest afflictions.
Depth psychology is an umbrella term for the study of unconscious processes. Carl Jung explained that it is the inner child of the adult in which the development of personality happens. In this sense, imagination is essential for grown-ups. For Jung, the development of personality is “nothing less than the optimum development of the whole individual human being…an act of high courage flung in the face of life.” Jung’s idea of the inner child as a place for deep psychic work provides a gateway into the healing world of the archetypes.
Therapy that explores the unconscious focuses on the organ of imagination: the heart and opening of the feeling channel. Embodiment practices spearheaded by innovators like Arnold Mindell, Mary Starks Whitehouse, and Marion Woodman expanded imagination practices to include the body. Somatic depth psychology integrates mind, body, spirit and soul.
An important idea used in depth psychology is numinous experience, or an experience of awe, something greater than us is at work. Jung noted that in psychotherapy, it is numinous experience that heals us. This means that when we are connected to the unconscious, imaginative elements arise, creating the conditions for healing from trauma and abuse. If we have lost touch with the imagination, transformational processes can get blocked, energy gets stuck in the body, and repression/denial turns pain into anxiety and depression. Opening the imagination creates the potential for unlimited possibilities.
How It Helps
The primary method is the cultivation of the imagination in movement connected to an open-heart channel. This signals the development of empathy and compassion for all people, including yourself. This process uses psychologist Diana Fosha’s accelerated therapy techniques to help people open core affect states.
The methods include creative and expressive arts, movement exercises, talk therapy, dream work, and/or active imagination in movement. These methods are employed to open body-based feelings and sensations while simultaneously initiating imaginal metaphorical elements and analytical process.