Using the Imagination to Cope with Emotions

Her fingers shook as she raised the black clove cigarette to her cracked lips. The golden light as she lit the clove created a patchwork of dancing light and shadows, revealing deep wrinkles in the skin of her face.

Soon she began to speak as the smoke poured out from her lips in puffs. “I want to control everything. I do not trust anyone,” she said while her shoulders were drawn forward; bearing the burden of the world and caging her heart.

I understood her fears, I told her as we stood at the entrance to a dark cave. I listened, nodding my understanding as the words poured out of her mouth like acid. I understood deeply, as she was the personification of my anxiety.

After she finished speaking, I experienced a deeper calmness. I had allowed myself to hear, see and experience my anxiety, to where it released the need to gnaw at my gut.

To up the ante, I saw myself sending her love. After all, that’s all my anxiety ever really wanted; to be loved and accepted.

This method of using the imagination to have a conversation with our emotions is based on the book Inner Work: Using Active Imagination and Dreams for Personal Growth by the Jungian analyst Robert A. Johnson.

While Johnson uses more dream-like modes in his examples of active imagination, I find that this “personification method” tells me quite a bit. I gain a good deal of information based on what the emotions say, their demeanor and their appearance. By listening to them and also sharing my own perspective, I am able to regain a greater degree of peace.

This process is quite simple. While sitting in a supported position, close your eyes, take a few deep breaths, then allow your imagination to take you inward. For some reason, I see myself outside of a cave and maybe another setting would work better for you. Once there, call forth an emotion that has been troubling you. You can name this person. Write down your conversation as it occurs; it helps to further the process. Following the conversation, give the emotion love or at least appreciation.

I’ve personally found this method more effective than riding the emotional wave that I’ve described here.  I hope that you find this helpful in your journey.

Namaste

Image: Pintrest, no credit given

 

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