Embodiment and creative imagination – part 1

Some quotes from R. Bosnak, Embodiment: Creative Imagination in Medicine, Art and Travel. Bold emphasis is mine.

The most absolute and unmediated form of embodied imagination is a dream. It instantaneously presents a total world, so real that you are convinced you are awake… This world-creating power I call embodied imagination. It manifests not only in dreams… [D]reaming, not waking, as a paradigm for creative imagination.  p 9

From the point of view of dreaming perception, an image is a place, and environment in which we find ourselves. While dreaming, the environment presents itself as physical, though at the tail-end of dreaming, in the process of waking, we can observe that this physicality evaporates. Therefore the image is of a quasi-physical nature, presenting itself as if it were physical. This quasi-physical environment creates strong responses in the body, embodies states. In the world of creative imagination we encounter quasi-physical presences, frequently in the shape of people [of phenomena] we know. From the point of view of dreaming they behave like beings in their own right, with their own intentions. pp 9-10

First, creative imagination on the level of dreaming usually presents itself as quasi-physical… Secondly, it takes a body to perceive imagination. Disembodied imagination may exist, but even so, while encountering it we are in a body, so we can’t know it in its disembodied condition.
Thirdly, there is the fact that we are embodied by imagination, that imagination grows itself a physical body… And finally, most startling, there is the fact that images are the embodiments of their own intelligence. p 10

[These substantive images] are forms of intelligence which present themselves as substantive bodies to the perceiving eye of the creative imagination. They consider this realm of substantive images to be as real as the physical world perceived by the senses as the timeless transcendence experiences in the spirit of contemplation, and as the formal beauty of structure perceived by the mid of mathematics. It is a real world between matter and spirit, between body and mind, a real world of creative imagination, which dropped out of western awareness around the thirteenth century, and in an eight-century long mental march turned into its opposite in the contemporary notion of the imaginary, imagination as the opposite of reality. p 11

[A]ctive imagination, an active conscious engagement with the spontaneous embodies presences of creative imagination. p 14

Brecht’s Alienation?

[U]nfamiliarization comes first. Only then can habitual consciousness creack open widely enough to let in some rays of renewal. p 11

What we usually address as our self, I understand to basically be an identification with set habits of consciousness.

[With this paradigm shift] we will come to understand things less and less, opening up a space for epiphany, the ongoing self-revelations of alien realities to the unsuspecting mind, allowing us to experience a “Visionary event, ecstatic initiation . . . the world intermediate between the corporeal and the spiritual state and whose organ of perception is the active Imagination.” p 12

Travel as Amplification

I take meta-psychology as a pattern of conceptually presented images which may amplify the signal emitted by the observed phenomena, a principle called “amplificaiton” . . . p 13

Travel in order to truly meet an alien culture serves as a signal-amplifying membrane . . . When you stay in an alien place for a while a kind of osmosis begins to hapen. Slowly the alien world around begins to grow inside you. You don’t particularly have words, but you sense that, of its own accord, the environment is becomign apparent to you. It sensitizes you to its own specific organs of perception, different from teh ones you had before, and what had seemed impenetrable now seems to meet you. You have to wait for the unfamiliar place to grown towards you. And when it does you can hear hitherto unrecognized frequencies.
Amplification does not lead to direct understanding, but to a fermentation process which makes subliminal image-signals grow stronger, allowing them to rise above the surface of cognition. p13

complex living systems . . . include principles of emergent self-organization which function without an organizing self. . . on the border between order and chaos – on the verge of going out of control, but not entirely – the most creative processes would unfold in disparate fields . . . p 15


A variety of emotionally-charged body-states can exist simultaneously. p 16

Characters [can] inhabit bodies to the point of enactment. p 16

Besides the character’s apparent desire to come into being, there is a corresponding compulsion to become like others [mimicry], a compelling force already observed in monkey’s. . . By mimicking the characters we encounter in embodied imagination we are drawn into their characters by the compulsion to resemble them. Mimicry in turn triggers the unconscious identification reflex, which makes us partake in another’s presence in a similar way as we had previously been identified with habitual consciousness, with our selves. This makes it possible to directly experience the embodied presence in its otherness. If we were to become the presence this otherness would get lost and we would no longer be true to the observed phenomena, of which otherness is an essential component. p 17


[T]he difference between healthy and unhealthy responses to trauma is in the imaginal distortion or change which begins to occur immediately after the traumatic event in healthy dreamers . . . I understand this distortion to be the metabolizing work of imagination, which begins to play with reality in order to dissolve hard-to-digest chunks of living. p 41

As concrete specificity is essential in working with embodied images, a person has to first be taken back to a specific moment in time. p 42


Embodied imagination is a call to the senses. It involves all the senses in the same way a physical environment does. If sensitive to nature, when walking in the woods, surrounded by trees, all our senses are engaged. We are fully emotionally involved with our environment through the spell the woods cast on us. In embodied imagination, the spirit of place takes hold of us. . . p 70

Embodiment is the fundamental archaic way of knowing. Embodiment precedes mental and emotional knowing. p 71

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