Discussion Questions, Storytelling, Sharing

  • Go around the circle and have everyone name his or her favorite story or myth. How has this sample of the imagination enriched your life?
  • Generations of people have grown up in environments hostile to the imagination. Share your personal experience, covering the role of imagination in your childhood, at home, in school, or in a religious community. What do you think can be done today to advance the cause of the imagination?

Imagery Exercise

Several simple exercises can help you develop your ability to image and explore the inner realm of the imagination. Some people find that reporting to another person — a designated guide for the journey — helps them focus on images and ignore the rational thought intrusions that can disrupt the process. Here is a simple way to practice.

See yourself in a meadow, at the seashore, in a forest, or on a mountain top ledge. Describe the view in front of you. Turn and continue describing until you have made a complete rotation. Notice where the sun is in the scene (if it is daytime). Describe what you are wearing and how you are feeling.

To expand the exercise, you might find yourself at the entrance to a cave, a garden, a chapel, or a temple. Go inside and describe what you find there.

Journal Exercises

Keep a dream journal. People in all places and religious traditions have looked to dreams for spiritual insight and guidance. For good examples, see Spiritual Dreaming: A Cross-Cultural and Historical Journey in which Kelly Buckley has gathered more than 200 dreams from Hinduism, Buddhism, Christianity, Islam, and Native American traditions. She covers a lot of thematic ground with dreams on snakes, flying, prophecy, conversions, creativity, and healing.

Use your regular journal or a special one reserved just for dreams. As you prepare for bed, date the page to signal your dreaming self that you welcome the images and insights from your imagination. You may also address a question or express a concern to your dream source by writing it on the page.
Record your night dreams as soon as possible after waking. On the left side of the page, write a narrative of what happens during the dream. On the right side, draw any images from the dream that strike you as significant. Over time, watch for recurring themes and images. Try to read what they are revealing about your life and the possibilities open to you. Look for answers to any special requests you have made.