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Exercising Imagination

Exercising Imagination

The subject of the creative mind and the origin of creative spirit is a recurring theme in philosophy and psychology.

The Origin of Created Things

Where does our imagination give existence to new thoughts, ideas, and art?  The conscious and subconscious mind processes all experiences in our lives, but each retains different amounts of information and differently. The conscious mind is aware of only between  5% and 10% of what happens, and is a poor witness of real-time events.  The subconscious mind, however, retains vast amounts of information and most everything that the conscious mind ignores.  

The Creation of Art

When we engage in the creation of art, we engage both our conscious and subconscious minds.  We rely upon our imagination to discern and differentiate between the reality we perceive and the reality we create.   We describe the reality that we seek to create with words, images, and sculpture.  This is the realm of imagination, where creative art resides.    

The Inspiration of Imagination

My personal journey regarding the creation of art is a spiritual journey, in that I believe that we are spiritual beings.  As a Christian I also believe that how we describe our reality with art can be either good or bad.  Our conscious and subconscious interacts with our perception of reality in different ways. The art we create is thus dependent upon on our thoughts, our focus, and our intent.  Art is independent, however, of our religious orientation.   I choose to associate it as such because to deny the existence of God, who is the creator of everything, is to deny the ability of his creation to create anything.  

Imagination is the key to how we create art.   It should be viewed as any muscle or skill that needs exercise and practice.   The better we can imagine the world as we want to create it, the better art will represent what we perceive.  

Here are my five suggestions to help exercise our imagination.

1) Reading Stories and Poetry

Actively reading a story has the effect of exercising our imagination, because we must construct a world in our mind from words devoid of any visual stimuli.  Researchers at Carnegie Mellon University observed the structure of children’s brains before and after 100 hours of intensive reading training. At the end of the study, the white matter (the stuff that improves brain communication) in their brains increased and they were able to read better.  

2) Writing Stories and Poetry

Just as actively reading a fictional story has the effect of exercising our imagination, so too will the effect of writing a fictional story generate or stimulate creative energy.  While it is true that writing in general is helpful, it should be noted that there is a substantial difference between printing letters or drawing letters when engaged in writing.  To help you perceive shapes and spacial development, it is better for a writer to draw cursive letters which aids the development of other drawing habits and techniques.  

3) Puzzles and Chess

A jigsaw puzzle is very good exercise that not only stimulates the ability to see negative shapes, but also helps us develop skills related to thinking of possible outcomes and chance.   Playing chess will cause you to think in terms of future possible moves and countermoves.

4) Coloring Books

Using a coloring book is an excellent way to exercise your imagination and concentrate on the creative endeavor of perception without much effort with regard to form.  The picture is done – you just need to be creative and fill in the blanks.  

“I recommend {coloring} as a relaxation technique,” says psychologist Antoni Martínez. “We can use it to enter into a more creative, freer state,” he assures. We can also use it to connect with how we feel, since depending on our mood we choose different colors or intensity. “I myself have practiced that. I recommend it in a quiet environment, even with chill music. Let the color and the lines flow.”  In other words, be creative.

5) Listen to Instrumental Music

Active listening to instrumental music is also a great way to stimulate creative thought.  Music is a divine skill and allows us to explore higher levels of conscious thought.  It is often called the Mozart Effect. There are numerous scientific studies that detail the effect on the human mind.  Some people think that silence helps concentration and focus – but music can also provide a similar effect, especially when lyrics are absent. (Nina Kraus, Jessica Slater, “Music and language: relations and disconnections,” The Human Auditory System: Fundamental Organization and Clinical Disorders, Vol. 29, 3rd Series, 2015).

About The Author

Jeffrey W. Spencer

Jeff is a 25+ year survivor of stage IV melanoma cancer. He describes himself as an outdoorsman, though he is a technology professional and primarily works at a desk. He is a veteran of the USMC. His undergraduate studies were taken at SWTSU (Government/English), with graduate studies at Texas A&M (Philosophy), and the University of Texas at Austin School of Law. His hobbies include photography (landscape, travel), writing, and computers. He lives with his wife and some dogs in the Texas Hill Country.

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