The art of creative visualization is an important and interesting dimensions to many different types of meditation. At the most basic level, visualization is about consciously eliciting mental pictures. Take an example from day to day life: planning. In planning, you imagine something that you would like to do and then think about how you could do this so it best matches your expectations. If you plan to go to the store to buy milk, but do not know what store actually sells milk, then it would be very hard to plan. You would have to go out and wander around where there are stores in the hope of finding one that sells milk.
If you do know such a store in advance, you can plan your trip to that specific store, get the milk, and come home again. You can plan because you have an inner picture of the store you need to go to and the route you need to take to get there. In other words, you can plan your trip because you can visualize it in some detail.
In the material world, there are constant checks on our imagination. I may specifically plan to go the hardware store for my milk, but when I get there I will usually find they do not sell milk at all. Or I may go to the store where I usually buy my milk, but find they are sold out. In the imaginary world, however, no such checks exist, or do they? I can very definitely buy milk at the hardware store, in my imagination. I could do anything at all in my imagination. Well, let's see.
In meditation you can use creative visualization to go on an imaginary journey, or to experience an imaginary event. You could create such a journey or event to discover or learn something. For example, you could go on an imaginary journey to a remote island where there is a wise women who knows the deepest secrets of your being and can answer your questions about your life. While you would use your imagination to create the sense of being on this journey, there is no way you could consciously plan every detail. But your subconscious mind will quite easily fill in some of the details and you will be able to observe these, just as if the journey were real.
So in the above example, once you arrive at the wise women's house you may find she's not in, or you may find that she's expecting you and happy to help with your questions. She may answer your questions in unexpected ways, or maybe say 'yes' where you thought that perhaps the answer was 'no'. None of these details were planned by you, which makes the experience very much like a real adventure. You planned the general journey, but seem to have little control over what exactly you encounter on it. Just like when you go out to the store to get milk you do not know who or what you will encounter on your way.
This unexpected element can make the inner journey feel very real, sometimes more real than reality, because it may reveal something about your inner nature that your ordinary 'waking' life does not. It is almost as if in the visualization you are more awake than during your daily activities!
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Weekly artistic response to Rudolf Steiner's soul-calendar-18 with original German text, my translation and interpretation.
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