Purposeful Imagery

The Art of Autism is celebrating peace this month. I wrote something for them; as did many of my very talented comrades (they requested a poetry format) on that theme. Poems will be posted on their site with links from their FB page sometime this month. 

What is the most peaceful thing you can think of? 

I had to consider that when sending in a painting. They requested art too for the peace theme and I sent in an abstract rendering of singing trees.

 I’m reading this right now btw:

images

—and for a tree lover, this book is bliss. Hope’s descriptive narratives are spellbinding. Her description of the improbably of a seed becoming a tree, that tree rooting itself down to forever hope against hope that where the seed landed will have just the right mix of sun from above; water from below…

This study: An underappreciated (indeed dream job at least for me) career path…

So I asked before—If you closed your eyes right now and imagined what peace looks like, what would it be? 

A still lake with nary a ripple? Birds caroling at sunrise? Sure, why not engage all the senses when imagining peace…

Engaging the senses is actually a clever “memory trick” that people use to memorize things. I’m reading this too:

9781594631702_custom-199e69d791e44f1aa4b81e85e84b4d78ea02f720-s200-c85-1This book has a lot of interesting passages

and one of them is about using the well known concept of employing imagery to sharpen memory. The author (a woman known for her career at NPR) interviewed a memory expert who suggested a good way to remember where you set down your keys. 

He said to imagine that, as soon as you set the keys down, really see them there. Create a visual in your head of the keys there on the table (or wherever) actually exploding and burning a hole in that table. 

Later when trying to remember where the keys are, the memory of this image will be stored in various brain locations including the visual part (that’s me highly simplifying the process) and voila! You remember where the keys are. I don’t drive, and so I don’t misplace keys, but this visual imagery can be applied to where I left my phone or glasses. I just have to imagine my eyeglasses perched on my head exploding a hole in my cranium. This can work! It’s the intent that matters. You have to purposefully plant a memory to remember it.Such as it is with anything really, being purposeful and having intent.

Here’s an example of me applying this internal visual imagery in my life.

But first some backstory: I have this quirk (for lack of a better term,) and it’s not that I don’t know left from right. I have never struggled with right and left. I write with my right hand…so I need only to think: this side means ‘right.’ 

My quirk is that I get lost in buildings. Starting with kindergarten. On that first day of kindergarten I (bravely) asked to use the bathroom. I was quickly reprimanded and told that in school we call this the ‘lav.’ Perplexed, I nonetheless was granted permission to use THE LAV. I walked all over the school looking for it. I was running my fingers over the walls, amiably trotting by the principal’s office, in search of this elusive room when I was noticed and brought back to my classroom by a helpful 4th grader.

“But Kimberly the lav is right here IN the classroom. Now don’t you remember when I showed everyone? Next time you know. Now take your seat.”

I squirmed around a while.  I still needed to use the toilet. 

Anyway, I have a depth perception problem too and I’m not sure how this contributes to the problem, but what I do know is, I seem to get to a location inside a building but when I leave… the exit eludes me-I instinctively try to follow the same exact route I used to get in. It’s as if subconsciously my body begins to retrace the route I used before when it fact to exit the place I should be reversing the directions. 

I’ve noted that for example if I went 

“left-right-elevator floor 2-left-left”

 to get to my location ; that when I exit, I automatically go the same route instead of going 

“right-left-elevator ground floor-right-right.”

So, finding myself alone in a hospital the other day (I was there 6 hours awaiting someone to be released after a procedure) I found that I needed to visit the cafeteria. I’d been in this hospital before, but I’d never navigated from that floor. 

I got directions from a volunteer at the desk and then proceeded to follow her directions. However I knew I’d have to find my way back. What should I do? Snap photos on my iPhone of my journey so I could refer to them on the way back? I was going to do just that. What a brilliant idea…..but decided to rely on internal visual imagery instead. 

So I stopped at every notable turn/landmark/door to implant the imagery. I was actually stopped by someone, concerned (rightly so) by me and apparently thinking that I was having an episode (staring at doors frozen in place)… I assured her I was OK and told her I was memorizing my route so I wouldn’t get lost on the way back. She said it sounded like a good plan! I noticed that other people did not do this. I had to take extra steps to get to the same end but I did. not. get. lost. And that’s big.

Knowing that using imagery sharpens memory is one thing. Having the where-with-all to actually use this in life is another thing. For me it worked.

I also read this book recently, which I didn’t think I’d like as much as I did.

9780062338846_custom-030503e5b540f68d9b6ccd67b34f2541df1e3bbe-s400-c85How magical was Claire’s childhood! She knew about tofu, whole grains, and quinoa decades before I’d even heard any of those terms, let alone eat them daily! I had ketchup sandwiches and pudding on a daily basis while she was being served exotic Indian foods. To be raised in a vegetarian/maharishi/meditation driven/guru school sounds fascinating.

Her mother wanted to learn the practice of deep meditation which led to levitation; as gurus have done…rising a few inches off your meditation pillow. She referred to this as flying and often meditators experienced this by suddenly jolting or hopping in the lotus position, a few inches forward. A sought after goal. This is accomplished in bumps and starts apparently and when Claire attempted it herself (chanting her special meditation word which was familiar and comforting but also kind of felt silly) Claire said this:

“That which felt sublime and comforting was always laced with the bizarre and questionable and then after flying-I understood that in order to have a sublime experience you had to be absurd.”

The brain is like this: both a sublime masterpiece and also a hot mess with so many ways to go frighteningly off the rails. Most things (people too) ARE a contradiction of being symbiotic opposites of the sublime and the absurd, Claire is right about this. I must’ve looked absurd staring at doors in corridors but I achieved my goal. That is sublime, at least to me, in a world that often seems to make no dam sense.

I have been sorting out some powerful feelings after reading Donna William’s FB announcement. I have no words for that.

Anyway I intended to blog today on the theme of change, however after mentioning this theme to a peer, she saw a bigger picture, so to speak. I’m now saving that theme for not one but three upcoming articles, one of which will appear in February, one in a month or so, and the other I’m not sure, but most likely December or thereabouts. So I’ve got a few choices to make right now: wash the kitchen floor, sweep the dog hair up, clean the bathroom and catch up on laundry OR work on the article that has a deadline in less than 3 weeks- and I really should finish the painting that is going to accompany that piece. I started steroids today again and I hope this doesn’t throw a monkeywrench in the plans (i.e. severe insomnia later but maybe that can be retooled to work to my advantage who knows)…

I’ll supply links to all this stuff later but for now I’ve got to do something productive. Can you guess whether I’m getting up for a broom or a paintbrush? Be purposeful!

 

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6 thoughts on “Purposeful Imagery

  1. Uh, what did Donna Williams announce?

    May as well go for the broom first, get it out of the way and off your mind so you can be creative.

    Like

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