In today's society, when you talk about an active imagination, you are referring to a person's enthusiasm for creativity. How often do you refer to your kids as having an 'active imagination'? I know I certainly do on a regular basis. In Jungian Psychotherapy, it is known as something else. Carl Jung is considered the forefather of analylitical psychology. He is well known for this views on collective unconscious, synchronicity and Individuation just to name a few. Jungian Psychotherapy (quite obviously named after Jung) is therapy designed to bring together the conscious and unconscious parts of the mind to help a person feel balanced and whole. We are always referring to consciousness in varying levels when it comes to paranormal discussion so it seems fitting to explore Jung's concepts. You will find quite a lot of people in the paranormal field will know quite a lot about Carl Jung and his theories. So how does active imagination come into play?
What is active imagination in Jungian Psychotherapy?
This was thought of as a way to bridge the gap between a person's consciousness and unconsciousness. By using imagination, meditation and even dreams, a person is able to bring their unconscious thoughts into the present. It works as an observation of their dreams or imagination. He believed that a person's desires and fantasies want to become conscious. By letting these play out in a dream or meditative state "The patient can make himself creatively independent through this method ... by painting himself he gives shape to himself" .
It was during Advent of the year 1913 – December 12, to be exact – that I resolved upon the decisive step. I was sitting at my desk once more, thinking over my fears. Then I let myself drop. Suddenly it was as though the ground literally gave way beneath my feet, and I plunged into the dark depths Carl Jung
In order to work with active imagination, we are encouraged to sit in a quiet place and recall a figure that has appeared in a dream. Talk to it. To find out the meaning of the dream, active imagination encourages the dreamer to start a dialogue with dream figures in waking life. What do these figures mean to us? While this is a very simplified version on how to work with active imagination, it's purpose is to get to the core meanings of your dreams. A lot of the information that comes through is said to be from our unconscious mind. It is for this reason that by identifying the meaning of these dreams, we can have a better understand of our unconscious mind which is used to store all of the things we either want to or have been taught to forget.
I did my best not to lose my head but to find some way to understand these strange things. I stood helpless before an alien world; everything in it seemed difficult and incomprehensible. . . . But there was a demonic strength in me, and from the beginning there was no doubt in my mind that I must find the meaning of what I was experiencing in these fantasies.
By using this technique, does it allow us to get to the bottom of our dreams, even the ones we think are paranormal in nature?
Dreams and the paranormal
When it comes to the paranormal, people often refer to their dreams. A dream can involve a family member who has passed visiting them in a dream. It can involve visiting a location and talking to people they know are passed. It can involve lying in bed in a dream state and talking to people they feel have passed. They could dream about something that eventually becomes reality which is what we call precognition. By using active imagination, it allows us to get to the very core of the dream which may allow a person to separate emotion from what they consider to be paranormal.
As much as I would love to say that every dream of someone who has passed is a visitation from a spirit, could it just be the unconscious mind trying to work through some unresolved issues? This would be particularly true when it comes to people that are close to you that have passed. If there is some unfinished business or even guilt, it is common to bury this deep down so that you don't have to confront the information. Just because information is not at the forefront of your mind, doesn't mean it it something that has been completely forgotten. By using Active Imagination, it can allow you to properly explore these feelings that are perhaps deep down in your unconscious mind and even help you move forward.
While we are on the subject of Carl Jung, I feel the need to talk briefly about individuation. Jung saw it as the process of self realisation, the discovery and experience of meaning and purpose in life. It is a process of a person discovering who they truely are. I feel like this is quite fitting when it comes to the paranormal field as I know with myself, this is has been a significant part of what I have been going through over the last 6 years of exploring the paranormal. This is why I am always saying to people that it is so much more than sitting in a dark room 'hunting for ghosts'. The journey has taught me so much about myself and through the research I have done for this blog, I have educated myself on topics I never thought I would ever look at (this being one of many). I have reignited my love for writing, found my confidence and found something that truely makes me happy.
Individuation works on playing with opposites such as the conscious and the unconscious. Part of the process is embracing what is in our unconscious mind and bringing it to a conscious level which can bring a certain level of enlightenment. It is thought to always be an ongoing process, however there will be moments where you feel that you have 'gotten there'.
Consciousness should defend its reason and protect itself, and the chaotic life of the unconscious should be given the chance of having its way too – as much of it as we can stand. This means open conflict and open collaboration at once.
I actually quite love this last line of the quote - This means open conflict and open collaboration at once. I feel this again is very fitting for the paranormal field. We should absolutely be debating theories and our opinions in the paranormal field. We all have varying levels of experience and our knowledge base is focused on different areas. We are constantly learning from one another, but we should be questioning each other as well. At the same time we should be working together - not against one another. A lot of people automatically seem to think that we are in competition with one another. It may shock you to know that I am actually friends with a lot of paranormal bloggers. I share ideas with them, have discussions, and I even collaborate on a blog with my good friend Ashley Knibb (cheap plug for our Supernatural Synchronicity series). The point is that people feel we should be in competition. The reality is that we are so eager to learn from one another, that we see it as an opportunity to further our research by working together. While it is human nature to be protective especially when you have achieved a certain amount of success, imagine how much more you could achieve with other minds just as smart and passionate as yours by your side? Not being naive, because yes there are people out there that may take advantage etc, but this is not exclusive to the paranormal field. This is just life. By applying the process of individuation, it allows you to be the best person you can be so surround yourself with the people that will allow you to be that person. Don't waste your time with negative energy. You will end up just burying more negative things down in your unconscious mind that you will eventually have to deal with later. We know probably better than anyone that life is too short. I am going to finish this article with an odd and random but completely relevant quote from the movie Wreck it Ralph.
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