Jungian Active Imagination?

D, modified 6 Years ago at 12/8/17 2:12 PM
Created 6 Years ago at 12/8/17 2:09 PM

Jungian Active Imagination?

Posts: 107 Join Date: 2/22/17 Recent Posts
Has anyone had experience with this practise where you connect to your unconscious? I just want to test out a certain hypothesis(If integration of  unconscious material can allow for fast progress when certain hindrances are gone.), but the caveat is that active imagination can sometimes cause disconnection to reality.

I'd rather not do something that fucks me up in body and mind, like some people that incorrectly practise kundalini yoga. But, it'd be great if it proved to be fairly safe. I've never considered 'auxiliary' practises to be of any worth until I tried out noting my daily experience which boosted by CCE(Clarity,concentration and equanamity in relating to sensory phenonema.), so this kind of practise also seems to be of worth if my hypothesis turns out to be correct.
Pål R, modified 6 Years ago at 12/8/17 3:46 PM
Created 6 Years ago at 12/8/17 3:46 PM

RE: Jungian Active Imagination?

Posts: 115 Join Date: 8/3/16 Recent Posts
I am very interested in this too.
I have done active alchemical imaginations under guidance a few times. It has been very ”energetically” intense with strong physical reactions each time.
seth tapper, modified 6 Years ago at 12/8/17 4:21 PM
Created 6 Years ago at 12/8/17 4:21 PM

RE: Jungian Active Imagination?

Posts: 477 Join Date: 8/19/17 Recent Posts
One thing to try  is meditating while watching something scary on TV.   Just observe the fear arise in the mind.  It is a powerful technique that gets at the subconscious corners of the mind.

 I think imaginal techniques probably work really well, but I have no experience as such.  I have imagined being run over by a steam roller while meditating - the more realistic you can make the machine the better - just let it crush you out.  This always produces big releases for me. 
Dom Stone, modified 6 Years ago at 12/8/17 6:15 PM
Created 6 Years ago at 12/8/17 6:09 PM

RE: Jungian Active Imagination?

Posts: 118 Join Date: 3/21/17 Recent Posts
As a way of accessing problem parts of the psyche, I can imagine this could be a useful trick, and if done skillfully with people that don't have any immediate issues with their mental health, fairly safe maybe with the odd difficult patch.

The issue comes, when the mind, even to a subtle level, is expecting something other than what actually arises, which is likely to happen if you don't immediately disembed from the material. (Not going to happen if cords of attachment are unbroken) As is not as phenomenologically simple as 'you looking inside yourself', the idea that "you" are in control of what is happening is bound to break down at some point. If we have any attachment to the idea that " 'I' am safe doing this" then we create a pocket of reality, where anything that challenges this will cause an unnecessary amount of suffering, and also create more hurdles to jump over. There will be resistance, and this will make the whole process of gaining any useful insights sticky and possibly neurotic.

I view this as a process of Dependant Origination, and the less expectations we have on what should happen right now, the more likely you will be discerning the 3 characteristics of experience.

I'm not suggesting that this is the case, and would agree that it's totally sensible to ensure the safety of your practice, and hope instead to offer a different perspective on things that may help you more directly penetrate the 3 C'with such useful insight material.

It would be interesting to hear your results if you do this. Good luck. emoticon
Scott, modified 6 Years ago at 12/8/17 9:39 PM
Created 6 Years ago at 12/8/17 9:39 PM

RE: Jungian Active Imagination?

Posts: 27 Join Date: 10/24/17 Recent Posts
Jungian Active Imagination is one of a group of techniques for blending states of awareness, ranging from normal daytime awareness down through dreaming to deep, dreamless sleep. Just like lucid dreaming is the blending or carrying of conscious awareness into the dream state, active imagination is the blending or carrying of the dream state into wakeful consciousness. Jung noticed that similar states were produced when listening to a story or drifting into (hypnogogia) or out of sleep (hypnopompia)--in these latter two cases, dream and wakefulness are more or less evenly balanced. There is also another set of blended states in which one is wakefully aware in dreamless, abyssal sleep or experiences sleeplike cessation of some of the sense modalities while awake (osel/yoga nidra/yogic sleep).

If you are currently working with mental health issues of a caliber that may require medication, this practice may not be advisable at this time. Even if you are not, the unconscious material that is unearthed by this technique can be very powerful and is particularly upsetting to those who have a lot of "stuff" that they've spent energy trying to distance themselves from, so it's helpful to be able to phone a friend who can act as a lifeguard if things get weird. Jung thought that he was having a psychotic break and had visions of a tide of blood coming over the Alps. 

When beginning a practice session, it's helpful to set one or more intentions to guide the practice. This may be as simple as saying, "I am practicing active meditation; I will not fall asleep." One may also at this time dedicate the practice to the benefit of all sentient beings, and/or formulate a wish, intention or other guidance, such as, "I am doing this to work on my courage," or "to meet a part of myself which I have kept hidden," or "to find a solution to a problem which seems insoluble." In the Classical world, those who suffered from difficult illnesses would visit the temple of the physician-god Asclepius, where they would engage in a dream practice called incubation, and would dream their own cures.

The practice itself works like this:
  • Relax, resting comfortably.
  • Allow your critical editor's mind to rest. Simply accept whatever images may occur without judgment or interpretation.
  • An image may come to mind as you muse. If not, you can begin with a "starter image" representing your conscious mind. A house or temple, with several doors and a staircase leading down, down, down, into the subconscious dream space. A field or clearing on the edge of a great wood, with a path that crosses flowing water or a gate in a low stone wall and disappears among the trees. A painting or photograph where some of the figures have their backs turned to you.
  • As you look into the image, something will move or change. Follow that thing as it leads you into the image. Keep going toward whatever is the most vivid thing there. Notice when sounds become audible. Notice the feel of your imagined surroundings.
  • If you meet someone, talk to them, and let them talk back to you or to other people around them. When something they say surprises you, you're on the right track.
  • Follow the experience wherever it leads. Allow it to come to a conclusion naturally.
  • After you're finished, memorialize the experience however you wish: writing, painting, drawing, recording audio or video, or whatever you prefer. When you get familiar with the technique, you should be able to record your experience as it is happening. Jung's Red Book is a record of a series of active imagination experiences he had early in his career.
  • If your record is sufficiently rich, then you can resume your experience where you left off, or restart from your starter image.
  • Rather than going on a journey, you can use this technique to bring remembered or imagined people to you so you can converse with them as if they were there. This is a particularly popular technique for various authors, who have written entire books by simply taking dictation from their narrative viewpoint character.
  • As with many visualization techniques, it often takes beginners some length of time to get up to full sensory vividness; however, if you've ever visualized scenes from a book, either one that you're reading or one being read to you, you're not really a beginner.
Richard Zen, modified 6 Years ago at 12/8/17 10:18 PM
Created 6 Years ago at 12/8/17 10:18 PM

RE: Jungian Active Imagination?

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D, modified 6 Years ago at 12/9/17 11:11 AM
Created 6 Years ago at 12/9/17 11:11 AM

RE: Jungian Active Imagination?

Posts: 107 Join Date: 2/22/17 Recent Posts
I don't have a mental illness, and I tend to face most of my ugly aspects(violence, loneliness and anger) rather than pushing them away so I guess this practise should be safe enough to do.

Thank you for the instructions, I will start practising it and report back here if anything interesting happens.
D, modified 6 Years ago at 12/10/17 1:15 PM
Created 6 Years ago at 12/10/17 1:07 PM

RE: Jungian Active Imagination?

Posts: 107 Join Date: 2/22/17 Recent Posts
I've put it into practise now, and, for some reason, there's been a massive surge of sexual feelings, anger and some sort of 'urge' to start doing metta practises.

What the fuck? This is a strange practise, but pretty interesting so far.
Scott, modified 6 Years ago at 12/15/17 6:14 PM
Created 6 Years ago at 12/15/17 6:14 PM

RE: Jungian Active Imagination?

Posts: 27 Join Date: 10/24/17 Recent Posts
Yes, that's fairly typical, though different people get different emotions predominating. You're unpacking all of the stuff in your mental basement--everything that isn't acceptable to be for you, your family, or your society. This is what's called the Shadow. It's also the source of immense creative energy.

Compassion is the agent of transformation here. That's what the urge to do metta & right action is doing--transforming the wild emotions into beneficial form. One set of possible outcomes is that the anger will eventually become the desire for righteousness, the ability to pacify opponents and obstacles, and the virtue of equanimity; the sexual material becomes love, the ability to enrich, create and grow, and the virtue of generosity. 
Lonnie J Brown, modified 5 Years ago at 10/9/18 2:28 PM
Created 5 Years ago at 10/9/18 2:23 PM

RE: Jungian Active Imagination?

Posts: 2 Join Date: 9/21/18 Recent Posts
I realize this is a belated response, but then I'm a belated member on this discussion board.  I don't think there's any particular danger inherent in practicing the technique.  The interesting question for me is what is the nature of the experiences, the journeys available by way of this practice.  

For starters, there is Jung's Red Book, where he documents his own inner explorations in art and in writing.  Then there is the philosopher Henri Corbin who wrote extensivley about what he calls the mundus imaginalis, the imaginal realm.  What is the nature of that realm and what is the ontological status of whatever entities, or persons you might encounter while journeying there?  Are they mere figments or do they have a mindstream and an agency of their own?  What is the imagination anyway?  If nothing abides even for an instant, then the solidity of the physical world is a creation of our imaginations.  Or, rather, our experience of the sensible world as a solid and abiding set of objects is a creation of our imaginations.

Another interesting read with regard to both the imaginal realm and the question of the inwardness or sentience of beings we might encounter is anthropologist Eduardo Kohn's "How Forests Think."

Anyway, the proof is in the practice, but sometimes having a wider set of perspectives to inform our judgment can enrich the journey.