The Basic Practice

In the spiritual life, imagination has two meanings. First, it is a human faculty — the part of us that traffics in images, symbols, myths, and stories. It is the capacity we all have for innovative thinking and creative expression. Second, the imagination is an inner reality, a boundless realm not defined by our senses or reason that we know from our dreams and can enter via certain exercises while awake. The practice of imagination encourages us to use this faculty and enables us to explore the realm.

Begin by learning the language of imagination. Keep track of the images that come to you spontaneously in association with your feelings and thoughts. Draw pictures of what you encounter in your dreams. Contemplate art and see yourself as part of the picture. Read myths and tell stories. Remember, through the ages spiritual pilgrims have found that it is possible to step into the inner realm of imagination. There you can find fuel for your journey and gifts of wisdom.

Why This Practice May Be For You

"You're just imagining that. It's not real." Unfortunately, many people associate imagination with "imaginary" and its connotation of "unreal." This is a difficult spiritual practice for those who think that everything has to be verified by sensory perception and empirical evidence. Reason also gets in the way of imagination, especially when it is codified into rationalism which regards only logic and analytical thought as valid routes to truth.

When we discount the imagination, we cut ourselves off from the riches that can fuel our creativity. We limit the ways we can view the world and our own experience. There is much more to life than can be contained in a rational philosophy.

Daily Cue, Reminder, Vow, Blessing

  • Noticing patterns in the clouds above me or in the sand at my feet is my cue to practice imagination.
  • When I recall one of my dreams, I am reminded that imagination and spirituality go hand-in-hand.
  • Appreciating the creativity of others, I vow to express my own imagination as best I can.
  • Blessed is the Reader of Hearts who enables us to read the world with imagination.