Einstein famously said, “Imagination is more important than knowledge. For knowledge is limited, whereas imagination embraces the entire world, stimulating progress, giving birth to evolution.”
Yet it seems the value and importance of imagination is greatly undervalued in our society. Many people seem to think it’s a waste of time to sit ‘daydreaming’ while enjoying a favourite cuppa, but if you read this website or work with your imagination already, you’ll know that cultivating the imagination is extremely beneficial and that the mind and body can’t tell the difference between what you imagine and what you experience in ordinary life.
There are many examples of people surviving extremely difficult conditions, thanks to the power of their imagination. The story of Auschwitz survivor Viktor Frankl is remarkable. You can read about it here and here. Viktor used the power of creative imagination to help him survive and his creative imaginings in the concentration camps became his reality after the war.
“If you can imagine it, you can achieve it. If you can dream it, you can become it.”
William Arthur Ward
I’ve met some survivors of extremely harsh conditions who attribute their survival to the power of their imagination. If you know Dolores Park in San Francisco, you’ll know that on Sundays it becomes a wonderful festival-type gathering where musicians, poets, dancers, yoga enthusiasts and families and friends gather for picnics.
One Sunday during a stay in San Francisco and I went to Dolores Park to mooch about. I sat with a group of poets, who were taking turns to read their poetry to the gathered audience. One young man’s poem had me, and others, in tears. His poem was about seeing the sun for the first time in months. I spoke to him afterwards and he told me his story of how he’d ended up in a US prison in his late 20s.
He spent several months in solitary confinement without access to natural light. He told me stories about how he used his creative imagination to survive. He told me that during his time in solitary he would basically live in his imagination, having conversations with his friends and family, and planning his future. He told me how if it wasn’t for his imagination he wouldn’t have survived the solitary and the harsh treatment.
The young man also told me that he learned the key to his happiness was to create it, and not to chase it. He used the time in solitary to develop his creative imagination and get clear on his heart’s desire and life purpose. He told me that using his imagination in this way kept him sane and probably saved his life. When I met him, he was living a happily and comfortably, sharing his poetry and artwork around San Francisco.
Imagination is the beginning of creation. You imagine what you desire, you will what you imagine and at last you create what you will.George Bernard Shaw
Viktor Frankl and the young Californian artist are great examples of how we can use our creative imagination to survive conditions of adversity and create a future life that we’re able to bring closer by using the power of imagination. When everything else was removed from them, no one could take away their power of creative imagination and their dreams.
Developing a strong imagination strengthens creative abilities, and is a great tool for recreating and remodelling your world and life. The imaginationis a creative power that is necessary for inventions, designs, artwork, music, poetry, literature and cooking. The creative power of imagination has an important role in the achievement of success in any field. What we imagine with faith and feelings comes into being.
Creative imagination is most powerful when you can engage all the senses, when you see, smell, feel, taste and hear what’s going on in your imagined scene. This requires regular practice.
A great way to start strengthening the creative imagination is to take a favourite photo or image of a place you’d love to visit. Study the image until you can close your eyes and recreate every detail of it in your imagination. Then, using your imagination, ‘step into’ the scene and experience it with all your senses and use your imagination to create a wonderful, sensory experience in the beautiful landscape. To your imagination, mind and body, you’re there. It’s real! Let your imagination fly!