Active Imagination, Twilight Imaging
Free Association Method
The author writes freely of anything that may cross their mind, without searching for some specific subject or topic. The flow of their thoughts is free, and followed with no voluntary intervention. The important thing is that the critical mind does not intervene to censor spontaneous thoughts. We truly have the drive to censure the products of our thinking, starting from various criteria: moral, ethic, narcissistic, cultural, spiritual. The method of free associations demands us to temporarily give up intellectual censorship and freely speak about any thought.paraphrased from Freud, applied to writing
Free Association How-To
- Begin by choosing a word or phrase that holds some personal significance or resonance for you, take some time to meditate on this word or phrase, and let your mind play freely around it, without trying to force or control the direction of your thoughts, without worrying about making sense or following a logical progression of ideas.
- Write down whatever thoughts, images, and associations come to mind, without censoring or judging them in any way.
- Use these associations as the starting point for a piece of writing, letting the words and ideas flow freely onto the page.
- Don't worry about making sense or following a logical progression of ideas, just let the words take you wherever they lead.
- As you write, try to let your imagination take flight, exploring the rich and fertile terrain of your subconscious mind. Allow yourself to be surprised and delighted by the unexpected connections and associations that emerge from your free association.
- Keep writing for as long as the words continue to flow, without stopping to edit or revise. Just let the words carry you wherever they lead, following the twists and turns of your imagination.
- When you feel like you've exhausted the possibilities of the initial word or phrase, move on to a new one and repeat the process. Explore different words and phrases, and see how they inspire and provoke different responses and associations in you.
- Repeat this process as many times as you like, using different words and ideas each time to keep the writing fresh and interesting.
- After you've finished writing, go back and read over what you've written, looking for connections, patterns, and themes that emerge from the free association.
- Use these connections and themes as the basis for a more structured and coherent piece of writing, incorporating the best ideas and images from the free association into a more polished work.
- Experiment with different words and phrases, using the free association method to explore new and unexpected directions in your writing, and to discover new depths and dimensions of your imagination.
Jung's Active Imagination
Freud used free association; Jung used what he called active imagination. Active imagination is a psychological state between everyday awareness and the dream world. It occurs naturally in circumstances like listening to stories, watching the flames in a fireplace, and listening to the sea.
A technique where the contents of your unconscious are translated into images or narrative. Jung linked active imagination with the processes of alchemy in that both strive for oneness and inter-relatedness from a set of fragmented and dissociated parts.
Key to the process of active imagination is the goal of exerting as little influence as possible on mental images as they unfold. Observe the scene, watch for changes, and report them, rather than to consciously fill the scene with one's desired changes. One would then respond genuinely to these changes, and report any further changes in the scene. This approach is meant to ensure that the unconscious contents express themselves without overbearing influence from the conscious mind. At the same time: "You yourself must enter into the process with your personal reactions: ... as if the drama being enacted before your eyes were real".
Active imagination is a method for visualizing unconscious issues by letting them act themselves out. Active imagination can be done by visualization. Active imagination can also be done by automatic writing, or by artistic activities such as dance, music, painting, sculpting, ceramics, crafts, etc. Doing active imagination permits the thoughtforms of the unconscious, or inner "self", and of the totality of the psyche, to act out whatever messages they are trying to communicate to the conscious mind.
An important technique of Ira Progoff is called "twilight imaging." Somewhat similar to Eugene Gendlin's focusing, twilight imaging takes place in the twilight time between waking and sleeping–a period during which the conscious and unconscious come closer together. The aim is not to make cognitive decisions nor to turn out a literary masterpiece, but rather to discover patterns and inner sources which clarify and instruct the course of life.
The key to Twilight Imaging lies in the fact that it takes place in the twilight state between waking and sleeping. We find that by working actively in that intermediate state of consciousness, we are able to reach depths of ourselves with which it is very difficult to make contact by any other means.
Twilight Imaging is done in an "intermediate state of consciousness" somwhere between sleep and waking. In this altered state we "behold" inwand "perceptions" which present themselves unasked for.
Ira Progoff uses active imagination, but called it "twilight imagery". It is the central method for working intuitively with diary entries. Thus, the book tells you to "sit in stillness" and move into "twilight imaging":