Sunday, January 22, 2006

Imagination, nutrition for the mind...

Today I felt like discussing my view of Imagination. The term itself has many meanings. Here is what the dictionary says about Imagination...

"Imagination - Traditionally, the mental capacity for experiencing, constructing, or manipulating 'mental imagery' (quasi-perceptual experience). Imagination is also regarded as responsible for fantasy, inventiveness, idiosyncrasy, and creative, original, and insightful thought in general, and, sometimes, for a much wider range of mental activities dealing with the non-actual, such as supposing, pretending, 'seeing as', thinking of possibilities, and even being mistaken."

As a child, I was described often as one who had a powerful imagination. Mostly, these people did not mean it in a positive way, they meant that I lived in a fantasy world and I was too much of a dreamer, and not necessarily well grounded in reality. As an adult, I am sometimes described today as a bit eccentric by many who know me best. The dictionary describes eccentric as ...
"Said of a person or behavior, etc: odd; unusual or unconventional.
Thesaurus: unconventional, offbeat, idiosyncratic, peculiar, abnormal, bizarre, quirky, erratic, flaky (US slang), strange, weird, freakish, outlandish; Antonym: normal."

I have been assured that they mean unconventional, not weird, which I will accept as a complement, as conventional to me means average or normal. My life has been anything but normal. Being average or just normal is just not where my head lives, for better or for worst. In fact, in school, being average just gets you a C. That wasn't for me. I mostly got A's or D's & F's, depending on whether I liked what I was learning or not. In the classes where I got D's & F's, you guessed it, I was known for being a day dreamer.

Here's a question for you, what is reality, anyway. In a lecture by Deepak Chopra, M.D. and a well known author, Dr. Chopra tells it this way...
"One of the interesting things that science has found, this should have been obvious all along, is that what we call perception, what we see, hear, touch, taste, and smell, is really the least reliable test of what reality really is. We cannot trust our senses at all!After all, the senses tell us that the earth is flat and we don't believe that anymore. The senses tell us that the ground that we stand on is stationary and we know it's spinning at dizzying speeds and hurtling through outer space at thousands of miles an hour. The senses tell us things have a certain taste, smell, size, texture. Maybe that's not the way they really are. There was an experiment done at Harvard Medical School about 20 years ago. A group of scientists took some kittens and brought them up in a room that had only horizontal stripes. All the visual stimuli in the room were horizontal. Another group of kittens was brought up in a room that had only vertical stripes. And when these kittens grew up to be wise old cats, it turns out that one group of cats could see only a horizontal world. The other group of cats could see only a vertical world. And this had nothing to do with the belief system of these cats. There's a phenomenon that psychologists call Premature Cognitive Commitment. Premature, because we make it at a very early stage of our development. Cognitive, because that's how they cognize or see the world. And commitment, because it fixes us to a particular reality, it imprisons us in a fixed mode of perception. There are many variations of these experiments. In India, when they train elephants, they take the baby elephant and tie it with an iron chain to a huge tree. Then they start cutting the size of the chain and the tree. Ultimately you can tie the elephant which a big animal now, with a flimsy rope to a green plant but the elephant is unable to escape. It's made a commitment in its body-mind that it's in a prison!Or you can do another simple experiment. Take some flies and put them in a jar. After a while remove the lid from the jar and you'll find that most of the flies, except for a couple of pioneers, will not be able to escape. They make a commitment in their body-mind that they're in a prison. People will tell you who work in aquariums that you can separate fish from each other. They're in big glass tanks and the separations are transparent glass partitions. You can remove the glass partition after a while. The fish will swim to the edge of where the partition was and return. They made a commitment that that's as far as they can go. All these experiments, and there are many variations of these, are pointing to a very crucial fact as far as the mechanics of perception is concerned. And that is that our initial sensory experiences and how we interpret them or how they are interpreted for us actually structure the very anatomy and physiology of our nervous system in such a way that ultimately the nervous system serves only one function: to keep reinforcing the initial interpretation. Anything that doesn't reinforce the initial interpretation doesn't even get into the nervous system. So if you don't have a concept or a notion or an idea that something exists, then your nervous system won't even take it in."

I believe all creative people have big imaginations and that it is required in order to really have a full life with real meaning. Dr. Wayne Dyer, in his book The Power Of Intention, a book I have enjoyed recently, writes that "if you change the way you look at things, the things you look at will change" literally. And perhaps the smartest man that ever existed, Albert Einstein stated that "imagination is more powerful than knowledge"
Wow, one of the smartest people ever felt dreaming was more important that studying reality and he invented the Theory of Relativity.

My study of Quantum Physics confirms this thinking. We become what we think about most. We create our own realities, sometimes without even being totally conscious of it.

This brings me to an interesting question. What if the only thing that keeps us from having what we want, is only limited to our image of what we would like to have, our imagination as it were. Would we not think less about what we have or don't have and more on what we want?

George Bernard Shaw puts it this way, agreeing I believe with Einstein, "The reasonable man adapts himself to the world: The unreasonable man persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore all progress depends on the unreasonable man" In the corporate world, they describe this as "thinking outside the box" or the limitations of our minds.

According to Goethe, the German writer and scientist "Whatever the mind can conceive, can be achieved." What if he is right?

I think I will keep dreaming, perhaps even a little more so as I get older. It's good nutrition for the mind.


Christopher Wiechert's Healthblogger is for educational or informational purposes only, and is not intended to diagnose or provide treatment for any condition. If you have any concerns about your own health, you should always consult with a healthcare professional. If you decide to use this information on your own, it's your constitutional right, but I assume no responsibility.

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