Practise imagination to boost your creativity

Practise imagination to boost your creativity -- Mervi Emilia Eskelinen

At my home, and the first six years at school, I was truly encouraged to creativity. I could access drawing tools, such as coloured pencils and basic watercolours, I had empty notebooks for writing and reading books was a big thing. All that raised me to be an imaginative and creative person, who keeps utilising her imagination throughout adulthood.

It may be true that some people are more inclined for creativity, more equipped to have a vivid imagination. Perhaps their brains just work that way.

However, I believe that creativity is something you can, and perhaps need to, train. As you can build muscles or learn a language, creativity can be practised. There are many different exercises for building your creative muscles, such as doodling or drawing consistently, making writing a daily habit or trying new creative things.

Creativity takes imagination. And imagination, for sure, needs to be trained.

As a child you probably imagined lots of things. Sometimes those things were scary, like monsters under your bed or in the wardrobe. Other things were comforting and entertaining, such as imaginary friends. Growing up your imagination changed. In the worst case, you have started to think imagining stuff as childish and a waste of time.

I have been practising my imagination since I was a kid. Fortunately, I didn't quit daydreaming as a grew up. Yes, my imagination has changed, because I have changed. The things I dream are different now. I have gained new things, perhaps lost others. I have hard time to imagine my life without almost constantly imagining stuff. I imagine, therefore I am. This is a result of close to 40 years of imagining stuff.

Admittedly, sometimes I wish I didn't have such a vivid imagination. It can be a bit of a problem, when I start to imagine things that are closer to the monsters under the bed. These monsters aren't under my bed, but rather out there in the form of financial issues, fear of failure, impostor syndrome, growing older and other fun things like that. But that is a whole different issue. Let's not get too deep into that, or else we'll both end up imagining those silly monsters.

Imagination isn't limited to monsters under your bed or imaginary friends. Being able to plan requires being able to imagine. Building a business is all about imagining the possibilities. Without imagination there's no invention. To create something new and valuable, you must first imagine it.

To keep your imagination flexible, exercise it regularly. In case imagining doesn't come easily and naturally for you, intentionally take time for it. Schedule the imagining time, if needed. Make sure you do it frequently, preferably daily.

You can imagine while physical exercise, doing other creative stuff such as drawing or doodling. That said, I do recommend approaching your imagination practice similarly as meditation. Calm down, find distraction free surroundings and a comfortable position, and give your mind a peaceful environment to explore the worlds not explored. Unintrusive music or calming background sounds, such as sounds of rain, and closing your eyes helps with turning off outside distractions. Try not to fall asleep, although you can also use this as a means to help you to get sleep, as I do.

I suggest not to use funky drugs or alcohol. They can make your imagination go bad or make you feel numb.

Try the good old 5-5-5 or 4-7-8 method. That is, breathe deep in through your nose while counting calmly to five or four. Then hold your breath for a count of five or seven. And finally breathe out counting five or eight. Repeat this a couple of times to relax and calm your breathing. When you are comfortable, get in imagining. Sometimes other thoughts and worries may seep in and distract you. As in meditation, gently direct these thoughts elsewhere and get back to your daydreaming.

There's also a possibility that your imagination goes bad, even without any substances. If that happens, you can either play the situation through and let it sort itself out, or reset. Try the breathing technique above, and get back to the beginning of your daydream. Or even build a whole new scenario.

So, what will you imagine? Books, movies, art, magazines and television can give your imagination source material. For example you can use your favourite movie as a starting point, from which to build stories in your mind. Just don't let your source material become too limiting.

For me imagining is like making little stories in my mind. I participate in these stories, as a version of myself. Often it's a more interesting, more intelligent, funnier, wittier, likeable, and more beautiful version. Perhaps that saying "don't dress for the job you have, but for the job you want" fits here too. I don't let my reality to curb my imagination. I can meet people I wouldn't meet otherwise, go to places I have never visited, even travel in time, back and forth.

Are you running short on imaginative stories to weave? Let me give you a few prompts for your next session. Some are more advanced, some simpler. Choose what works for you. Nobody will know. What happens in dreamland, stays in dreamland.

Don't get too involved in minute details or how realistic it is what you are imagining. Only your imagination is the limit.

Imagination prompts for boosting your creativity

Build the career/business of your dreams: What would you do if you could do anything for living? Create your dream career or business. Now you can be that prolific author, talented actor, rockstar coach, creative artist, famous singer, or influencer with a huge following you secretly want to be. Good news is, you don't have to worry about stuff like taxes or invoicing, unless you really really want to. This is not business planning. This is business dreaming.

Have your dream home: I don't think I really have to even explain this. But I will anyway! So you have the budget for your dream home. Doesn't matter how and why, that's just the case. Where will you live? Build and decorate your dream home. How big is your home, is it an apartment or a house, what's the layout? What makes your new bedroom perfect for sweet dreams? How does your office look like? Do you have a bathtub or sauna? This is your dream home, it can be exactly like you want it to be.

Explore the world: Finally, traveling has been sorted out. You don't have to worry about the environmental impact, or money, or bugs that carry deadly diseases. Additionally your personal physical or mental limitations are gone, or at least they can be bypassed during your trip. You can go anywhere in the world. Where will you travel, who will you meet, what will you do?

Meet a person you admire: You are about to meet someone very special. They can be someone like your favourite influencer, musician, philosopher, author, scientist, actor, entrepreneur, politician, or whoever you admire from a distance. Will you meet by an accident or is it a planned meeting? Do they know who you are (remember, this doesn't have to be a realistic version of you, but a person who you would like to be) or do you need to introduce yourself more thoroughly? What happens? What you talk about? Do you keep in touch, become the best friends?

Become timeless: Did you know you have an ability to travel through time and space? Yes, this is true. In this life, your ability is somewhere there between your ears. In dreamlife, it can be something you do spontaneously, or with an aid of some sort. How are you able to travel in time? Do you go alone, or have a team? Imagine where you would go and who you would meet. Would there be consequences of what you do to the fixed timeline, or is time as malleable as they say?

"Take me to your leader": Aliens have arrived. Luckily, these are the kind of aliens who just want to study and help. They aren't interested in conquering or probing. They want to get to know us and our ways. The problem is they can only communicate with and through people with a very rare type of minds You, of course, are one of those people. What do the aliens look like? How do they communicate with you? What do they want to say?

Get into someone else's shoes: You can be anyone you want. A real person dead or alive, a character in a work of fiction, or someone you just created. This person doesn't have to be the same gender as you. Who are you and what do you do? Why do you make the choices you do? As a bonus this can help you to be more empathetic towards other people.

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