My day started like many others, with nothing out of the ordinary expected to happen. The first item on my to-do list was a business meeting in town. The route I would take was routine. Yet, this day, something else came forward. I felt myself pushed by an impulse to open my Curious Mind and follow my curiosity. As I drove, I allowed myself to navigate by directions derived from an inner GPS. Instead of turning right at the intersection as usual, I took a left turn. I then took another left, and then another. I was now following the signposts of imagination rather than the fixed landmarks of the familiar.
As I slowed down to take in the new vistas, my Curious Mind opened ever more widely. The landscapes with their multicolored cactus flowers and newly blossoming nasturtiums were beckoning. “Here we are,” they announced. My breath deepened, and my vision expanded.
When I finally arrived at my meeting downtown, my Imaginal Intelligence was completely engaged. Not only did I accomplish the tasks at hand, but in addition, because I arrived already enlivened by the Imagination Matrix—the creative force moving through all forms of being—the seminar became an extraordinary flow of ideas. I was at ease, enjoying the act of teaching that is my authentic purpose. The world of the ordinary and expected gave way to the emergent possible.
Actualizing Your Life Purpose
When you are living an Imagination-Centered Life, you are anchored in your soul’s journey. The creativity and spontaneity that you were endowed with from the beginning reemerges. As your relationship to the Imagination Matrix grows, a new clarity of purpose develops. The union between your everyday personhood and your inner self becomes more secure. You are grounded in your center place—the place of ease and wellbeing.
This rooting is referred to by some psychologists as “the primary anchoring system.” The anchoring system is imperative to the development of an actualized identity. Deepening your anchoring system creates the foundation for an abundant life and a sustained sense of wellbeing. In fact, there is no greater need in life than to find and develop the ability to ground into your life’s purpose. Without foundational support from the inside, it is difficult to truly innovate or individuate. When feeling untethered from your purpose, you look to others for validation. When you rely on other people for direction, purpose, or meaning, you are always vulnerable to external judgments, agendas, and shortcomings.
This exposure creates a secondary unnatural symbiosis, a dependency that is fragile by nature. Of course, we all need and welcome the love and care of others. Yet when we are fully reliant on external resources at the expense of internal resources, trouble awaits.
It is no surprise that entire fields of intellectual pursuit orient to the study of interior life. Psychology brings focus to the wounding and healing inside. Virtually every therapeutic approach addresses this primary goal of connecting to the authentic self.
From Abraham Maslow’s hierarchy of needs to Sigmund Freud’s psychoanalytic depiction of the personal unconscious, from object relations therapy to positive psychology, the strengthening of an inner nurturing relationship between the ego and deeper self is a core focus.
Guided by Samoan mythology, Karen Lupe has described this as “thinking with the heart.” Developmental psychologists often claim that the healthy nurturing needed for this inner development is dependent on unconditional love between a parent and a child. Evolving a supportive inner parent who protects and cares for the vitality and curiosity of the inner child is, in one form or another, the goal of most psychotherapies. Though the methodologies differ, the primary message is uniform: Bring attention and care to your inner life. Cultivating the skills of living an Imagination-Centered Life accomplishes this fundamental need.
While I agree with these theories and have used them in my practice, I assert that a fundamental aspect of building a healthy primary anchoring system has not been taken fully into account. Journeying in the deep imagination is actually an essential contributor, along with all the other aspects of anchoring, to building a pathway to discovering your authentic purpose and to embodying a fully integrated life—or, as I call it, living an imagination-centered life.
Awakening to an Imagination-Centered Life
This process begins with you and you alone. When you are grounded in your center place, your mind begins to clear and to focus. Your purpose calls to you, and you are aligned with it physically, psychologically, and spiritually. When you are in alignment, you quite naturally stand on the foundation from which your Imagination-Centered Life is constructed. You take in only what resonates and discard the rest.
Awakening to an Imagination-Centered Life is about following your curiosity and wonder to your state of Illuminated Consciousness. Being in Illuminated Consciousness opens you to the knowledge and mysteries of an extended psychic field; to the abundance and vibrance of the Imaginal presence in all things Earth, Mind, Machine, and Universe. Illuminated Consciousness is first and foremost a reflective practice.
How to Access Illuminated Consciousness: The Quick Shift Protocol
Connect to your full body resonance. Deepen into the somatic experience of grounding to the earth.
Release your rational mind. Allow your Curious Mind to open to the Imaginal fields.
Attune to both the sounds and the silence. Let them embrace you in their infinite motion.
Perceive through multiple lenses. Bask in the lumen naturae—the light of nature, as the alchemists called it.
Yield to the experience of impermanence while still remaining connected to the radiance that is both within and without all things.
When you are in the state of Illuminated Consciousness and aligned with your purpose, the beauty and magic alive in the people, creatures, places, and things of the world shine more brightly. You no longer live in a static world of fixed objects; rather, you reside, one among the many, in a fluid field of Imaginal waves that shimmer and dance. You feel the wisdom of the mountains and trees. People become keepers of stories that engage and excite you. Animals become guides and teachers. This ability to see all aspects of the worlds, above and below, is similar in some ways to the expanded perception of an owl.
The owl is both an actual bird with acute, specialized abilities and, too, a figure of human imagination. The owl’s eyes are large. The forward-facing eyes give the owl its wise appearance, as well as a wide range of binocular vision. The owl can see objects in three dimensions (height, width, and depth). Owls can turn their heads up to 270 degrees to the left or right and almost upside down. For owls, hearing is as important as vision. An owl’s hearing is 10 times more sensitive than humans’, and it can hear sounds 10 miles away. With their expanded vision (eyes that can see in the dark) and acute hearing (ears that can pick up the faintest of sounds), it is no wonder that the owl is thought to have mystical and supernatural abilities.
The archetypal attributes of the owl—a wisdom guide, propelled by an inner light—models new ways of being conscious in the world. When you are in the state of Illuminated Consciousness, connected to the multiplicity, it is akin to experiencing the perception of an owl.
Excerpted from The Imagination Matrix: How to Access the Greatest Power You Have for Creativity, Connection, and Purpose by Stephen Aizenstat. October 24, 2023; Sounds True. Reprinted with permission.