Creative thinkers, leaders, and other individuals who inspire us in all kinds of ways have one thing in common—imagination. Another way of saying that is they are somehow able to tap into the wellspring of images stored in their minds and come up with innovative visions, which enable them to formulate their goals and achieve the mastery needed to realize their dreams.
From the time of the ancient Greeks to modern day researchers in the field of consciousness, the power inherent in one’s imagination has been well known. For imagination is what allows us to tap into the depths of our being, where a rich wellspring of hidden resources awaits. Gaining access to this trove of creative potential and Eidetic Image Psychology is a cutting-edge methodology that offers specific tools and techniques to access one’s imagination and unearth the hidden potentials stored within, in the form of distinct, vivid impressions called Eidetic Images.
Tapping into these images can allow us to discover novel and original ideas, reveal solutions to specific problems, and access the exact states of mind and action that can assure success. It is like looking into a rich source of stored information residing within us, in which answers to our many dilemmas mysteriously appear.
Robin Morgan, feminist author and poet, described the process as, “ . . . like finding pockets of gold in the psyche.”
These inner mental pictures have proved to be extremely effective in unearthing original and inspired visions, as well as uncovering the optimal ways to overcome both the personal and strategic obstacles to implementing one’s desires and goals. Understanding the power of imagination in all areas of life, Einstein said, “Imagination is more important than knowledge, for knowledge is limited to all we now know and understand, while imagination embraces the entire world, and all there ever will be to know and understand.”
Yet, how can one learn to travel into the realms of their imagination and draw from the rich storehouse of information within?
Eidetic images are bright, lively pictures seen in the mind’s eye, much like a scene from a movie. They are accurate, clear visions of all our life’s experiences from birth to the present, and they embody information of our innermost gifts and capabilities. Just as computers store digital information that can be retrieved at a later date, our brains store retrievable images of all the events of our lives, which directly impact how we view and interact with everything around us.
But unlike the bits of cold data stored by a computer, these memories are more like virtual reality images, vivid memories that replicate the environments in which we have lived. We can navigate these in order to see the exact impediments to our success and discover effective and inspired strategies in all walks of life, ranging from our personal relationships, to school, to the boardrooms of corporate life, even to the world of professional sports. Rick Peterson, the director of pitching development for the Baltimore Orioles, has used these kinds of images in training professional pitchers. Describing his experience he said, “Eidetics gives us the insight to unleash our full power.”
These virtual reality images, when accessed, recreate the sensory experience of our original stored memories, which include sights, sounds, smells, bodily sensations, and emotions, providing insights charged with meaning. These three-dimensional visual records are accurate, consistent, and repeatable. They can be scanned for detail and examined for new emotional perspectives. Recalling these sensory virtual reality images provides us with the ability to explore any past or present person or situation, and see them in a new light.
Even though the concept of Eidetic Imaging harks back to the ancient Greeks, who called eidetic visions “gifts of the Gods,” it is also at the cutting edge of modern image psychology, and researched in universities around the world.
You can try eidetic imaging for yourself. Here is an eidetic imaging exercise called “Going to the Periphery.” Although there are hundreds of image techniques that have been developed to suit a wide range of situations, this one allows a person to find solutions for stuck emotional states by moving one’s attention away from the center of the image to its periphery.
Sometimes, when people feel hopeless or unable to solve problems, they are unable to see their situation from a wider perspective. This can keep them stuck and feeling frustrated. However, new energy and insights about the seemingly hopeless dilemma can be obtained by viewing the eidetic image of our specific situation, and then moving our focus from the center of the image (which typically contains the full thrust of the feeling of hopelessness) to its edge or periphery. This allows for a new infusion of healing energies regarding the nature of the hopeless situation to be brought forth, alleviating the obstruction. It can be likened to moving to the top of a mountain to get a more panoramic view of a situation, and, in the process, discovering new vistas where previously unimagined solutions are revealed. The peripheral image exercise can be used in most situations by anyone experiencing hopelessness in overcoming an obstacle. It can help to invigorate one’s congested creative juices, resolve work anxieties, bring healing energies to a troubled relationship, or enable one to better cope with a trauma. The healing answers always arise from within ourselves, and are therefore congruent with one’s essential self.
Here are the instructions for this image:Peripheral Image Instruction
Find a quiet place to sit where you can take a few undisturbed moments to go within and explore the images that come to you. When you see the image you should be able to experience emotions and bodily sensations related to it, and new understandings may appear. You may keep your eyes open or closed as you do this, whichever you prefer.
- See an image in which you feel hopeless or stuck. What do you see? Allow all the details to emerge.
- Now go to the edge, to the periphery of the image. Where do you go? What do you see? How do you feel there? See your original hopeless situation from this perspective and notice what you see now. What happens now in the image?
- Repeat going to the edge of each new image until you get a shift in your original stuck feeling. Some of the peripheral images may be negative and others positive. Keep going to the periphery until you get relief, illumination, or a new understanding.
Here is one person’s experience as he went through the exercise. Eric M. is a man in his fifties who felt hopeless about making a career shift due to the crippling fears that overtook him. By utilizing the exercise, he was able to break his fixation of fear and bring forth the confidence he needed to attain his goals. This is how he described his situation:
“I feel kind of hopeless and very stuck. I want to do a new thing in my work. I want to change from individual consultations as a career coach to a new work situation where I am giving larger presentations in corporate settings. I am stuck because I fear I am not as good as others who are already doing it. Do I really know enough? I get insecure and feel inferior to those who have been doing it for a long time. I see them as the real experts and I am just a novice. Why would they want to come hear me when they can go hear them? I feel contracted and scared.” Now here is the process I took Eric through, using eidetic images to help him discover a solution.
JS:See the image in which you feel stuck in doing what you wish to do, giving larger presentations. What do you see? Allow all the details to emerge.
EM: I see I am at my desk trying to write a workshop plan. I see that I am really anxious and scared. My body is tense and sweating. I am thinking about doing it and anticipating failure. I am scared just thinking about it. I see myself just thinking about the workshop and I get scared. I feel hopeless.
JS: Now go to the edge, to the periphery of the image. Where do you go? What do you see? How do you feel there? See your original hopeless situation from this perspective and notice what you see now?
EM: I see myself outside my office, outdoors, walking. I am on a road with not a lot of cars. There are trees around and I feel the breeze. Suddenly my breathing is easier as I feel myself walking. My body relaxes and I start to feel more at ease.
JS: Let the image unfold naturally in your mind’s eye. From this perspective, what do you see?
EM: I see me starting to plan what I am going to talk about. I see me going into action. I see me writing notes. My mood is more positive. I see that I am excited and more connected with what I am passionate about and more into it. I feel more release, more energetic and alive. I see that if I don’t think about all the negative thoughts my passion emerges and carries me. When I go outside and I am in the atmosphere and immediacy of nature it gets me out of the scary thoughts in my head. Taking the walk and feeling the breeze, I become immersed in those sensations and the negative thoughts cease, so I can begin to do what I need to do for my task. It frees me up to attend to the task I have to do.
JS: Now go to the next edge, the periphery of this image. Where are you? How do you feel being there? See the original situation again. What happens now?
EM: I am driving to the place where I am going to give the presentation. I am feeling freer and more excited. I feel good. I anticipate positive things and the excitement of doing it.
JS: Go to the edge of each new image until you get a shift in your original stuck feeling. Some of the peripheral images may be negative and others positive. Keep going to the periphery until you get relief and illumination or a new understanding.
EM: I see I am on the stage. I am connected with the audience. I have a little anxiety but it is exciting too. I am connected with the material and with the audience and I don’t feel nervous. I am at ease and it feels good.
JS: How do you feel now?
EM: I feel much calmer and more assured. It is interesting to me that by seeing the image of going to the periphery, walking into nature, my fears subsided. I was able to see myself sitting down to create the workshop without the fears and anxieties and my natural desire and excitement came out. This is really cool because I never left this chair. Just by taking a few minutes and closing my eyes and seeing the image I relaxed, and my true energy and passion arose from inside of me and took over the fear. I also see that as I continue to view the image, the excitement helps me see new creative ideas for the workshop. Thank you!
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Jaqueline Lapa Sussman, MS, LPC
For more than 30 years, author Jaqueline Lapa Sussman has applied the techniques of Eidetic Imagery in her work as a counselor, speaker and teacher. One of the foremost Eidetic practitioners in the world, over the last two decades she has been the protégé and close associate of Dr. Akhter Ahsen, Ph.D., the founder and developer of modern Eidetics and pioneer in the field of mental imagery.