Many people who are interested in hypnosis get frustrated because they have trouble visualizing. Now, the first thing is to point out that visualization is one form of imagination and that not everyone thinks primarily in visual terms. Whatever way you imagine things is fine and right for you.
But, even though hypnosis can work quite well without the rich sensory images and impressions that people crave, those experiences are tantalizing. There’s something fun and exciting about the idea of entering a lucid dream state and exploring fantastical worlds of imagination. And, there’s no denying that when people have rich sensory experiences, their hypnotic sessions feel more powerful to them and this feeling can be very important in the success of hypnotic change work.
Fortunately, everyone can imagine. We may not use our imaginations as much for fun as adults; but, we all have that capability. It’s innate. We’re born with it. As children, we imagine things all the time, let loose and have fun with it. Some people play “Cowboys and Indians” or “Cops and Robbers.” Others, imagine themselves as a character from their favorite TV shows. I still remember playing “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” and “Power Rangers” when I was a kid. I’m sure part of you remembers those experiences and how you did it. You can remember what it’s like to lose yourself in an imagined scene and play a character.
Imagination isn’t hard. It’s simple. It’s easy. It’s natural.
Even as adults, we still imagine things all the time. We look for patterns and imagine meaning and are often right; since our imaginings are shaped by our experiences. We imagine our favorite foods when we’re deciding what to eat. We imagine what will happen to us when we buy something, say something or make any choice.
Our decision-making process runs on imagination and whether what we imagine makes us feel good or bad.
Often, when people have problems that they can’t seem to solve themselves, the issue can be summed up as a failure of imagination. They have trouble imagining the ways that their lives can improve, the things that they could do in the here and now to take them one step closer to their goals.
By developing your powers of imagination you become a better problem solver. It becomes easier to see options and look at things in a different light. It becomes easier to find the choices you can make that take you toward your goals. And, very importantly, easier to imagine yourself taking that next step and feeling good about it so that you become more likely to take that step in the physical world.
The best way to build imagination is through play. Children develop their imaginations through the games that they play by themselves and with others. As adults, it’s still the best way. We do more of what we enjoy and games are enjoyable. There’s no reason that self improvement has to be painful, it just depends on how you look at things; how you imagine them to be. If you imagine the process as hard; for you, it will be. If you imagine yourself as able to enjoy it; then you will find joy in the process.
The game I’m about to teach you is called: “What’s in the box?” for obvious reasons. There’s no need to overthink this. In fact, overthinking it is the best way to get in your own way. This is a game of improvisation and imagination. Don’t think, do. Just react on instinct. Let whatever comes up, come up.
Whatever you experience is right for you. It will all build your imagination. The only way this won’t work for you is if you go looking for (imagining) reasons that it wasn’t good enough and get yourself pointlessly frustrated. If you do this, you will very likely stop practicing, stop improving, and prove to yourself that you can’t do it. And, even then, if for some silly reason you choose to imagine difficulty where there is none, you’re still using your imagination! Good for you!
The game is simple, it can be done by yourself purely in your own mind; or, if you can find someone willing to play with you, it can be done in small groups. There are advantages to both and I urge you to do a little of each.
To get the best results, I recommend setting a very fast pace. Moving quick keeps you from overthinking things and getting in your own way. Ask yourself questions as soon as they pop into your head and answer them just as fast. Often, you will find that the faster you move, the more random sensory impressions just pop up; until, eventually, they start to quickly coalesce into a vivid, imagined scene.
Imagine that you have a box, a present just for you. Visualize it if you can; but, don’t worry about it if you don’t see anything. Say out loud, “I am imagining a box. I am holding a box.”
Does the box have wrapping paper or is it just a plain brown box? Do you see anything on the package? Is there a mailing address? Is it a package from Amazon? If there is wrapping paper, is it the shiny, metallic kind or printed paper? Are there designs on the paper or is it plain?
Shake the box. How heavy is it? What sounds do you hear? Describe everything you notice about the box out loud in as much detail as possible. If you don’t have any impressions spontaneously arise, don’t worry about it. Make something up! Describe it anyway. To describe it is to imagine it on some level and will still build your imagination. The only way to do it wrong is not to do it!
If you say that the wrapping paper has purple polka dots on it, how do you know that? You just provided visual information! Part of you must have seen something and that part of you is getting activated and exercised and growing stronger! However you knew to say, “The wrapping paper has purple polka dots.” is the part of you that is already visualizing! Do it more! Make it stronger! You’ll see the images soon enough. Don’t be too surprised if after a while you say something like, “You know, I’ve been seeing images for the last half hour. I just didn’t really realize they were there.” It happens all the time with this.
Remove the wrapping paper. Physically tear it off. Pantomime the action of opening the box. Get your body involved! Describe aloud the sound of the paper tearing and the feel of the cardboard. Imagine that you can smell the cardboard, breathe it in. Do you have trouble with the packing tape or does it open easily? Describe, describe, describe!
Look into the box. Do it physically. What do you see? What color is it? What size?
Lift it out. What’s the texture like? How much does it weigh? Does it have a smell? Is it safe to taste? (Of course it is, you’re imagining it! It may not taste good; but, who cares? I imagined licking a bust of Caesar earlier. It’s you’re imagination and you’re free to lick anything or anyone you want to.)
If you find a hat. Go ahead and put it on! Imagine looking into a mirror and seeing how you look. If it’s a frisbee, go ahead and throw it and watch it sail away. If it’s a kite, go ahead and fly it.
If it’s a mysterious alien machine, what does it do? What happens when you push the glowing button?
Let yourself have fun with it. Lose yourself for a little while in the experience. Let cares and worries melt away as you go on a journey of exploration, excitement and imagination. Let yourself be a kid again, if only for a little while. You’ll feel better if you do.
Now, on to a couple of variations.
If you’re doing this by yourself, I highly recommend that you keep a journal of all the interesting things you find. You may want to stop after each and every box to write down what you experienced and imagined while it’s fresh in your memory and then review your journal entries after you’re through.
Especially if you have any interest in deep hypnotic exploration or change work, journaling is critical. Dreams and imagined experiences easily fade away and are forgotten. A little bit of amnesia is very common with daydreaming, imagination and hypnosis. If you want your mind to hold on to them, you have to teach it that they’re important and the best way to do this is by recording all impressions and experiences. By putting that extra attention on them you reinforce them, and make them much more a part of you.
If you’re doing it with others, it becomes all the more fun. One person just hands the other the box. They may even say, “Here’s a birthday present for you! I hope you enjoy it.” or something like, “I just found this tattered box by the side of the road, I wonder what’s in it?” (“Oh my, goodness! It’s full of kittens. They’re just babies. They’re so cure. Look at that little grey one!”) or “I just snuck this out of a secret government facility. What is it?” In this way, you’re feeding each others imaginations and fueling the process.
The other person can also help you to find more details by asking lots of questions; much like I did when I was describing the game. It’s a lot easier to lose yourself in the imagined experience when you’ve got a friend asking you questions and you don’t have to ask them yourself.
I still recommend keeping a journal of imagined experiences even when playing with others; but, you’ll probably want to just do it at the end so as not to interrupt the flow of the game.
There is a slightly more advanced version you can play. It’s mostly the same; but, by it’s nature it tends to create imagined scenes; and so, the smart move is to keep this until you’re getting lots of detailed imagined sensations from “What’s in the box?” even though you may find that you want to play it right away.
It’s very easy to get frustrated by pushing yourself too hard and doing too much, too soon; and I highly recommend that you take your time. Let yourself enjoy the ride. Appreciate where you’re at. You can choose to appreciate whatever comes up and just let results come in time. I know you can do it. You’ve waited for things before and you can do it again. You know how to be patient already.
The name of this more advanced version pretty much says it all, “What’s behind the door?”
When you open the door, what do you see? What do you hear? Is anyone there? Or, is it an empty scene? Does your door lead to a closet or a room? Does it open into a park? Does it lead to the moon or to an alien world? Do you see an empty void? If so, neat! That’s a blank canvas that you can imagine anything you want on. Emptiness is powerful in that way.
If it’s dark, is there a light switch? There can be. It’s your imagination and if you go looking for a light switch, you’ll probably find one.
It’s your imagination. The possibilities are literally limitless.
With practice, “What’s behind the door?” can easily lead you into a wake-induced lucid dream state where you can have all kinds of interesting adventures. And, the more you play, the more easily you’ll be able to slip into that state and the more the scenes will tend to flow. It’s possible, with practice, to enter dream worlds which feel every bit as real as physical experiences. Pretty great result for a simple game, huh?
If you have the goal to be able to lucidly dream; then, you may want to practice by yourself without physically pantomiming. Just sit still and imagine everything. Otherwise, this is exactly the same.
Thank you for reading!
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