There's a theory, at least among psychologists and life coaches, that we are sleepwalking through life. We are vastly unaware of the magic around us, the power within us, the wonder of it all.
I'm guilty of it, and somehow by admitting it, I see the truth of my own sleepwalking. Driven by subconscious thoughts, beliefs, and habits, most of which don't serve me, I have moved through much of my life in a daze.
I was just over on Medium, writing about my realization that I have been living life by avoidance: avoiding conflict, avoiding disapproval, avoiding judgment. But the kicker was that I realized that I have been avoiding my own life, avoiding MYSELF!
From Lionhearted Writing to Lionhearted Living
It got me to thinking about a blog post I read awhile back by Lucy Flint. Her blog is about what she calls courageous or "lionhearted writing" and she wrote this particular post on how she writes scenes and characters for her novel writing. (Come back Lucy Flint. Your blog is AHHHHmazing! Unfortunately, she doesn't seem to be active on her website anymore.)
This particular phrase I am going to share, she used for writing. I want you to use it for lionhearted living!
BE. IN. THE. SCENE.
That's it. Be in the scene! Great...my work here is done.
Just kidding. keep reading to see how she elaborated on this particular phrase.
Before I do that, let me tell you that she talks about those times when she settles for less, calling it "low-grade visualizing," where she thinks her way through a scene instead of being in it. I'll come back to this later.
For now, I want to talk about what it means to BE IN THE SCENE for LIVING!
I call it DayLight Dreaming. It's a practice that you can do in 5 minutes or 20 minutes or an hour of time, where you immerse yourself in your imagination so deeply that your body "feels" as if you are really there. Lucy calls this "high grade visualizing" and she insists that visualizing our stories (for writing AND for life) changes everything.
Let's try it!
Imagine for a moment that you are on the basketball team. The coach has taken you out of the final game of the season and benched you because you turned your ankle during an intense battle for the ball under the net.
"Put me in coach," you say. "I can play."
Use your imagination to feel the intensity of the situation. Listen to the squeals of rubber soled tennis shoes on the auditorium floor. Hear the roar of the crowd, catcalls and all. Smell the sweat, and taste the salt and blood in your mouth. See in your minds eye just what moves you would make if the coach put you in. What happens next?
Close your eyes and spend just a minute or two fully experiencing this in your mind's eye. Even if you've never played basketball in your life, let your imagination carry you away.
What happened? What surprised you? What caught you off guard? What did you feel?
What's In It For Me?
You have just experienced what Lucy Flint was talking about. If you were writing a book, you might have just "lived" the scene so that your reader could experience it with you. Now, since we want to use it for our actual living, you might be wondering why you would want to do this as a practice of imagination. What's in it for you?
(Remember, this was just an example. You can "be in the scene" of any scenario you want.)
Here are a few benefits:
- Rehearse situations: first date, job interview, performance review, sales call, discussion with your child or parent, etc.
- Improve skills: imagine playing the piano, shooting free throws, delivering a speech, or whatever skill you want to enhance.
- Attune your senses: with practice you'll find that you are more aware and present in your everyday life.
- Gain insight: your creative mind just might provide you with answers or solutions that you couldn't see before.
- Among others. There are many more benefits but we'll explore those in another post.
Your body can't tell the difference between what you just imagined so intensely and the real experience. (The intense immersion is what makes the magic.)
Backtracking to move forward
Let's go back for a minute to Lucy's mention of getting by with low-grade visualizing. Think about how often you try to think yourself through life.
Don't try to convince me that you don't. Your monkey mind, just like mine, runs the circus if you let it.
So either you're sleepwalking, depending on less than ideal habits and subconscious impulses and reactions, or your monkey mind has you walking a tightrope. Not exactly living the high life is it?
Lucy shares 5 steps for integrating this crazy imagination work. So, I'll share what Lucy says with regard to writing, and then I'll share what Runa says (that's me!) about using it for living a fuller life. Here they are.
- "Be willing to move slowly."
For Lucy, this means not hurrying through the scene so you can finish the chapter or increase your wordcount.
For Runa, this means really allowing yourself to be fully immersed. Be patient with yourself. Practicing this in the imaginal really translates to immersing yourself more fully in your real life too! But it takes time, so move slowly in the scene, and move slowly in an ongoing practice. The results are worth it.
- "Build the whole scene."
For Lucy, she wants the writer to build a "veritable world of wonder" for the reader to be able to step into.
Runa wants us to be experiencing this wonder for ourselves. Reading someone else's world of wonder is fun and escapist. Building our own world of wonder is truly empowering and transformational.
- "Expect it to feel super weird."
Lucy reminds us that using our imaginations isn't a very adult thing to do, or so we're taught. Feel the weirdness and do it anyway. Moving through the weird is where things get good.
Runa says YES, it is your imagination, but not "just" your imagination. Let it run away with you. It's truly a superpower that very few people wield.
- "Don't grab the distraction bait."
Lucy refers to this part as a sort of chicken exit, thinking that better ideas are found elsewhere, on Google, Wikipedia, or anywhere outside ourself.
Feel like you're stuck? Runa says wait until something appears...be patient until something moves...or,...make it up if you have to, but stay in the scene!
- "Whatever else you do, don't hold back the most essential part of the scene."
In order to express the importance of the most essential part of a scene, Lucy quotes Julia Cameron who writes of horseback riders "throwing their heart" over the Grand Prix hurdles so that the horse follows.
Runa says follow the imagery. Let it develop even when it's uncomfortable or unexpected, trusting that your heart is already on the other side. Amazing things happen right here! Plus it improves your ability to allow the amazing in real life! Lean into the unknown!
If you've never really implemented this kind of practice, it might seem silly, or even a waste of time. I dare you to give it a try. You just might find that your life comes alive in ways you always hoped but never imagined. ☺
Got questions? Comments? Reply below or email me!