Wednesday, December 11, 2013

one hundred years, tomorrow

Some of my most transformative self-discoveries and mystical experiences (along with everyday, practical insights, like where that lost twenty dollar bill landed and how to get impossible lids off jars) have come to me in that state between waking and dreaming, in both coming in and out of sleep, though usually coming out.  In researching Carl Jung's active-imagination technique a bit, I notice similarities to these half-awake explorations.

To date, all of my reading about Jung's version of this practice has taken place in the last week. And I noticed something that's blowing my mind a little:  Jung's first experience with active imagination happened on December 12th, 1913 - exactly one hundred years ago tomorrow! 

I plan to allow myself plenty of opportunities tomorrow to practice active imagination (celebrating this anniversary of Jung's feels particularly ceremonial to me because he and I also share the same birthday).

So…who's with me? If you're a fan of Jung, I can't think of a better way to celebrate him. 

There seem to be many ways to practice active imagination, from painting and dance to writing and meditation.  But the place between dreams and wakefulness is a particularly ripe time to dive into this practice because it's a time when we are very relaxed, open and generous with imagery.

We all experience sudden visuals or dream like experiences as we're drifting off or beginning to wake. The key, as I understand it, is to move beyond passive experience to active participation - to interact with the imagery, give it personification, treat it as real, ask it questions, all without controlling the outcome(as we often do in a daydream), and without drifting into sleep, forgetfulness or passivity.  This practice is different from lucid dreaming, but I think the same techniques applied to lucid dreams could only enrich them.

While I have found this time on the boundaries of sleep to be super potent for imagery, it's also extremely challenging (for me anyway) not to drift off.  I'm hoping to be able to hold my practice tomorrow in that magic half-asleep space, but I'm prepared to simply collect those images and work with them later if the urge to snooze overtakes me.  I also plan to work with an animal that appears to me frequently in this state.   

 The following links may make active imagination a little simpler for a sort of drop-in, short notice practice, though I certainly encourage a deeper exploration: 

here (I love Marie-Louise Von France - take special note of #4)

here (super quick, super simple video)

story of Jung's first experience with active imagination

Please do leave a comment with further resources,experience, or suggestions if you can, and by all means, if you participate tomorrow, feel free to share your experiences! 

 And you all may notice I'm not writing as much these days about the *names* in the margins - just gotta go where my heart goes - but I promise to keep it all marginal around here and not to abandon names completely.  Word to the wise? When creating a blog name, give it room to grow with you.



  1. I love your blog- names or no names. Your posts are always inspiring.

    1. Thank you, Madelyn! It sure is nice to hear this - I'm so glad you enjoy.