Tapping Into Creativity & Imagination
By Lynn Cukaj, ATR-BC www.CreativeExpressionsConsulting.com
Art Therapy for Children, Teenagers and Adults
Imagination is more important than knowledge. - Einstein
Imagination is a form of consciousness that provides the ability to combine and take elements from reality to create a new meaning. The creative process in imagination is the ability to conjure mental images and then use language or arts to express that mental imagery. Creativity is the innate ability to use our imagination to think outside the box. Creativity is fueled by emotions, intellect, and imagination.
Imagination plays a constant and critical role throughout childhood. One has to only watch little children at play to see how vivid their imaginative world can be and witness how their emotions are cathartically released during certain activities. The use of imagination is a way for them to interpret life experiences. Children need this creative process to develop emotion regulation skills and other coping mechanisms. As we grow older, imagination can be stifled which is why it is important to explore our creative mind through mediums like Art Therapy and mindfulness.
It is believed that imagination is a result of tangible experiences and emotions that are attached to those experiences. It occurs when the external world interacts with the internal world. If imagination is dependent on the variety of one’s life experiences, it would be logical to think that the imagination of an adult would be more extensive than a child. Through my observations however, it appears as if adults are less imaginative than children. This may be because adults are less confident than children in their creative expressions. Many factors contribute to this, one being self-esteem. Throughout my career, I often hear from adults, “I am not artistic” or “I am not creative”, but this low sense of self-efficacy in their own imaginative and creative energy only limits them in their creative expression. Adults are imaginative and creative beings, but it is their own self-doubt that limits themselves. When I work with adults who are being overcritical or resistant to the creative process, I encourage and invite them to participate in Art Therapy to discover what they can create. It is often surprising to them how well they can engage in imaginative thinking. Children feel the freedom to explore their imagination because they are not as accustomed to impulse control and emotion regulation as adults. Adults can tap into their expansive imagination by pursuing a creative hobby or engaging in Art Therapy sessions. This will reduce any feelings of intimidation that would discourage adults from imagining and creating to their fullest potential.
While creativity and imagination comes naturally for children, it can take effort for adults to foster. The benefits of fostering creativity throughout life is that it assists in innovative ways of problem solving and dealing with emotionally challenging situations. Another vehicle to expand creativity and imagination which is available to everyone is the practice of meditation and mindfulness.
Mindfulness Enhances Creativity and Imagination.
The interdependence between imagination and creativity is supported by an external and internal process. The internal process enhances an individual’s perceptual aesthetics, conscious mind, and unconscious mind. The external process uses mindfulness techniques to anchor oneself in the here and now through mindfulness practices.
The goal of mindfulness is to be more self-observant and aware of the present moment. Being in the here and now enables individuals to understand their thoughts, feelings, and judgments and how they affect other people. Those who have a regular practice are able to easily adapt to ever-changing environments and cope with stressful situations. A psychological flexibility is strengthened which gives them the ability to identify and overcome mental patterns that can keep them stuck. It brings inner harmony and acceptance to everyday life. Individuals who foster creativity through mindfulness learn how to turn toward understanding their internal struggles, pain, and difficulties rather than turn away. Imagination and creativity aids in decision making, problem solving, and the pursuit of being our authentic selves. Mindful activities and Art Therapy enhance mental stimulation that allows individuals to be creative in their thinking and have more confidence in their creative expressions.
Reflections from an Art Therapist
I feel that without my ability to create mental images, being able to problem solve or think outside the box would be very difficult to do. Whenever I am presented with a situation, I immediately visualize it in my mind and go through all the scenarios of that situation. Once I have run what I have called a situational diagnostic I then think of multiple solutions to the problem. I always have a plan b, c, and d for any situation. This may sound exhausting or anxiety provoking but for me it is part of who I am. I have learned through the years that this is the best way for me to work and I have found the perfect for profession for this: education and psychology. I am both an educator and an art therapist.
Learn more about Art Therapy and Lynn Cukaj, Board Certified Art Therapist at www.CreativeExpressionsConsulting.com
For more therapeutic activities and resources on how to incorporate Art Therapy into your life, read more from Lynn's Creative Expressions Blog.