In this episode of our mindset series, we are diving into the power of imagination.
- What is Imagination?
- Why imagination is useful for our survival.
- How to use the power of imagination to create a new reality.
Watch the next Soul Session in this series on our YouTube Channel.
Robert Maldonado 00:01
Welcome back, campers. Today we’re talking about imagination in our series on mindset, how we imagine a reality into being.
Debra Maldonado 00:13
And why do we want to talk about imagination? We talked about mindset.
Robert Maldonado 00:16
It’s the creative element in mindset. Without it, there is no creativity, then we have to fall back on logic. And our great professor, I was gonna say “ancestor”, Einstein, our wise, spiritual guru, he’s like Yoda — he said, imagination is more important than knowledge. Knowledge is limited. Imagination encircles the world. It’s Einstein. We know he did a lot of his work through what is called thought experiments. So he would actually run the movie backward and forward in his mind. Instead of having to do an actual experiment in the laboratory, or on the math board, he would imagine what would happen if I was in an elevator, or a person was in an elevator, and the elevator was dropped. The person inside would essentially feel like they’re floating, meaning they’re not glued to the floor, because they were in free fall. But from their perspective, it would appear “Oh, I’m weightless.” That’s the experience of weightlessness, it’s a falling. And that’s how he figured out gravity. That it’s a different phenomena than a magnet, let’s say.
Debra Maldonado 01:58
And then also, as opposed to the traditional scientific experiments, where you’re moving objects and measuring them, like a Newtonian kind, the apple falling from the tree. I also heard that he came up with a theory of relativity by imagining himself riding a light beam, he came up with this idea of time space from that. Even the most talented, knowledgable person was able to use imagination. Another person who used imagination is Thomas Edison. Every time he would try to get the [inaudible], of course, he would take it thousand times, but he would meditate, he would lay on his little couch in his little office and his little experiment room. And he would imagine a different way to do it. And then he would go ahead and perform the experiment. And if it didn’t work, he would think through it himself. And I think people, when we’re kids, we’re not taught to value that imagination. We’re natural imaginers. I mean, we can get a cardboard box and make it a fort, and have all these stories and play so wonderfully, we get these little dolls and these little figures, and we’re creating these things. And then when we go to school, they take that away from us in a way. They take that, they say, remember these facts, remember history, learn how to do math, and there isn’t really a class on imagination, except for maybe art, you know, do an art class or something.
Robert Maldonado 03:46
Were you a big daydreamer in school?
Debra Maldonado 03:48
Oh, my God. I was a big chatter. I got in trouble for talking all the time. But I was a big daydreamer as a child, I had an imaginary world. And I would go into my dream state as my imaginary character. I would go and have adventures. And then I would tell my friends, and they all thought I was crazy. Like, what are you doing? I was friends with all the superheroes, and I would have this imaginary world and be a part of that. And that gave me this. I think that’s why I love visualization when I got into it as a career because this is what I do, this is my thing. It is like you’re creating movies in your mind. You’re creating a whole screenplay, and you’re the central character. Everyone loves to focus on themselves. So how does imagination work as far as the brain? How’s brain dealing with this?
Robert Maldonado 04:46
Let’s break it down. What we know about the brain — and here we’re, let’s say, isolating the brain as a way of understanding imagination and how we experience it. So what we know about the brain is that we all have a brain, most of us have a brain in our skulls. And this brain is one of the most remarkable organs in the universe. As far as we know, it’s about 84 billion neurons and countless other support cells that go into the structure of the brain. It’s very complex, very sophisticated information processing unit. Which means it’s able to observe the environment through its senses, coordinate and synthesize that input that’s coming in from the senses into this first person experience that we call my experience, my life, my thoughts, my sense of who I am. My sense of the world in some circles is called qualia. So the qualia is that first person experience that you have, when you look at a color, for example, you see that yellow. In your mind, you’re experiencing the color yellow, but it’s not actually outside. We’re talking about the brain here, the brain is processing the wave lengths of light hitting your retina, and giving you that experience of yellow.
Debra Maldonado 06:52
So the yellow isn’t out there. It’s in the brain, its interpretation of calculations of space, color and light.
Robert Maldonado 07:02
Yes. Not only that, that model gives us the model for all the senses. So if you think about how we experience smells, again, the sensory organs are picking up molecules in the air, analyzing them, and saying “This should smell this way. This should smell like a rose, or this should smell like a fresh cut grass.” Then your brain is doing the calculations, the processing. And while you have the experience of “Oh, this reminds me when I was a kid, I used to cut the grass.” That’s the qualia, we get a first hand experience of something that is in reality not there.
Debra Maldonado 08:03
And so memory stores this experiences? the memory of the brain? It takes that yellow “Oh, I know, that’s yellow. And I’ve given it the label because I learned as a kid that that image or that shade is yellow.” And so then it’s automatic, and then we remember it. There’s associations with it and all that. So that is the memory and the brain.
Robert Maldonado 08:35
Absolutely. Memory is stored. And what we know about memory in the brain is that it doesn’t store like a movie. A lot of us think “I’m experiencing this as a movie, my mind must be recording it and storing it and then just play it back.” But that’s not really what how it does it. There are compartments in the brain, modules that process information. They specialize in processing certain types of information. There are modules for language, for recalling language, for processing language information, auditory information. And so when we recall something, there are modules for memory, they’re specialized in scanning all the files and finding those bits and pieces that go with the image that we want to recall. So it’ll bring up the image, say, if you recall your mother’s face, the structure of the face and that it’s your mother, that information is in one area of the brain, and the color is stored in another place, the sound of her voice is stored in another place. But what the brain does, it brings it all together and presents to us this image of the living person, very much like a movie.
Debra Maldonado 10:20
And so if it’s stored, repackaging it— basically it’s stored, and then when we put it all back together, there is some elements that aren’t exact, and when they’re put together, may not fit exactly. So there’s this other element called our imagination, that fills in the details.
Robert Maldonado 10:45
It’s a good question. If you think, what is imagination, it is the conceptualizing based on the information, and creating that reality, or that sense of the image of my mother’s face. In essence, that is imagination. In other words, we’re imagining her face, because we’re not seeing it. We’re imagining it.
Debra Maldonado 11:18
It’s a picture in our mind. A lot of people say “I can’t visualize”, but we always have this faculty to visualize or to have an image. I think why people say they can’t visualize, is they expect it to be like that movie. And so when you’re visualizing it, even in dreams, you never really see a full spectrum. You’re seeing one step at a time, or like pockets of experience. Even as you recall a dream, it’s the same thing. So is that imagination? Another part of ourselves, that’s not the brain? Or is it part of the brain, the imagination?
Robert Maldonado 11:57
It is definitely part of the brain. We can think of the brain as the hardware. If you think of your computer, it has to have a casing and where all the neurocircuitry goes, and then it has to have a screen. So the screen, when you turn on your computer, you get this screen with the different little files on it, right? We can think of that as this immediate memory that we have, the short-term memory, or experiential memory, where it’s an open file where we can then work, right? Just like in your computer, you can open up certain files, read stuff, play videos, look at stuff you’ve done before. Imagine stuff by all this, you can do it with your mind, because it’s no accident that we design computers that way. We design them this way, because that’s how our mind works.
Debra Maldonado 13:12
And so even when you think about artificial intelligence, it’s basically using that same mechanism of imagination to piece things together and make assumptions, which is kind of odd.
Robert Maldonado 13:24
Yes. So going back to that idea, what is imagination? Is it just our ordinary thinking? Or is it a special kind of thinking? It depends on how we define it. But the implications are, what we know from how the brain works is that we’re imagining reality, or what we call reality, into existence. Again, if we just break it down into what is it that I’m seeing, it’s a mental process, or my brain is processing the information from light, from sound, from sensory information.
Debra Maldonado 14:05
But it feels like there’s something external and solid, it feels real.
Robert Maldonado 14:14
Yes. So it’s synthesizing all that information and creating the qualia, or the first person experience of experiencing what we call reality.
Debra Maldonado 14:28
Well, you know, a really good example of this is, if our human brain sees the world differently than a dog would perceive. So they said that if there’s an orange on the table, the dog can’t perceive that color. So for us, the orange looks rich and beautiful. But the dog sees an object that’s gray and empty. You know, a vibrant color. It’s just because maybe their brain didn’t need to develop that need to have shiny— maybe because we have the things that we want to eat and the things that we don’t, that it has a color to it, and for survival, and maybe that’s why we see the color orange. But it’s that idea. The fruit itself is an orange. It’s an object that we’re perceiving from our own brain. Because if it was really orange, the dog would see the orange too, if there was an external, objective reality. So basically, what we’re talking about is, what is the objective reality? And it’s all imagination.
Robert Maldonado 15:34
Right? In that perspective, there is no one objective reality, because it would depend on how your senses are interpreting that reality.
Debra Maldonado 15:48
And we see the same thing. So a lot of people say “How can we all see the same thing? How could it just be in our mind?” It’s because we have the same instrument. Like I said, the dog will have a different experience of that orange, but everyone who has a human brain will have the same experience. So that orange, but it is always a slightly unique way.
Robert Maldonado 16:09
Right. Let’s go deeper, because this is just the entry point into the senses. What the implications are, is that if we’re creating a reality in our brain, if our brain is essentially making an interpretation of what we call real, that means it’s a lot more malleable than we think. Now, the reason it doesn’t feel malleable is because we’re assuming that we’re perceiving an objective reality. So if you assume it’s an objective reality, if I see that orange, and it’s orange and it’s out there, then I can only perceive it that way. That creates a very narrow, limited awareness of what is out there, what is it that I’m experiencing, whereas the imagination allows me to experiment, just like Einstein was, with my thoughts, with my perception, and shape it a little bit more, open it up to different interpretations, to different possibilities. And that’s what we call intelligence, essentially it’s the ability to observe something and perceive it in many different ways, instead of just the way we’re taught, or the way we’re conditioned.
Debra Maldonado 17:46
I like that we are initially taught how to see the world from the people around us. Then we have this capacity to expand our interpretation of what we’re seeing and what’s possible for us. But most people stay in that thinking, like they didn’t have that critical thinking, they just assume that things are the way they are, and that’s it. So imagination is a way that we naturally use but we’re using it by default versus using it in its ultimate potential, which a lot of people talk about — reaching your potential and you’re unlimited. That’s really what we’re getting at here. Let’s talk about the idea of the mind now. There’s the brain, and then there’s the mind, which a lot of people think is the same thing, but it’s not. It’s not in your head, the mind is a bigger concept. It’s what we would call the conceptual mind. We’re having this experience that arises from the brain of our individual identity and who we are, and then taking that input that the brain takes and then assigning it to “This is me having this experience.” So it’s much bigger than just a computer program in taking data. We’re actually having a meaningful experience.
Robert Maldonado 19:16
This goes back to the mind body problem in psychology. The mind body problem has been a problem in the West. It’s not really a problem, but a question because we can observe the brain. If we look inside a person’s skull, most of the time we’ll find a brain there processing, they call it the wetware instead of the hardware of the nervous system. It’s the central processing unit. But that’s not the mind because we all know, the mind, we can’t find it. If we look inside the skull, all we find is a brain. That’s not the mind, because the mind is this experience that we’re having of memories and sensation.
Debra Maldonado 20:14
Remember they studied Einstein’s brain after he died? Like they were gonna find something special in it?
Robert Maldonado 20:20
Yes. So in the West, it goes back to Descartes, this philosopher who said, the mind is made out of a different substance than the brain. The brain, we can see it, measure it with its neurons, etc, doing different things. But the mind, he says, we can’t see it anywhere. But we know it exists because I think therefore I am. I can’t deny that I’m thinking, therefore, there’s a mind there, but I can’t find it. So they definitely acknowledge the mind, which was a big breakthrough for the West. But they see it as— or saw it as something separate from the brain. And therefore, when you go to a doctor, they look at you as a physical entity.
Debra Maldonado 21:22
There’s these symptoms, they don’t take apart the mind or your psychology or even emotions, right?
Robert Maldonado 21:39
That’s a weird notion. And if you think about it, everyone has bought into it. Most people operate on this assumption that our body is different than our mind. And our mind, we know it exists, because we’re thinking, but—
Debra Maldonado 21:59
We can’t really understand. Some people just don’t examine it. They don’t even realize they’re thinking, they’re existing. They don’t notice this thought that keeps pervasively running through their mind every day. It’s interesting when you talk about the mind body problem. One of the ways I saw this, it’s like a perception of pain. When I first started out as a hypnotherapist, I did a lot of medical hypnotherapy, working with people with surgeries, and one of the main things I did was childbirth, I was going to be the childbirth queen of hypnosis. And what they said was that there’s contractions, and they go up, and then they go down. And they said, the perception is, as the contractions are going up, it’s actually more painful for the person, then they’re going down. So this lower contraction, as it’s building it’s more painful a perception of pain, then this one, which should have more pain, because it’s stressing the body, but the fact that it’s decreasing, it doesn’t feel as painful. So we have this idea of if the body has this ability to feel pain and defend ourselves, then what is that mechanism that perceives the pain? That’s why they say “One to ten, how do you feel?” because you can’t even measure pain with people. So pain is a perception. And so that’s why people can go through childbirth without pain, but there’s this idea that it’s painful, and it’s terrible. The whole environment that they put people in in the hospitals creates more tension and more stress, which actually creates more pain. I know I’m going off on a tangent here but that’s really what a good example of our mind and the physical body and how they can have two different experiences and the mind can actually create, like imagining that the pain’s going away or that it’s less or imagining the pain is worse.
Robert Maldonado 24:06
Exactly. Because at the end of the day, we are imagining our pain. Now it doesn’t mean like a lot of people think “well, if you’re saying I’m imagining it that means that it’s all in my mind, that it’s not real, and that nullifies its validity”, but that is always saying is that the experience that you’re having, the nature of that experience, the reality that you perceive in it and that you experience in it is your reality, that it’s your subjective interpretation of it. And that means it exists, but the way it exists is not the way we used to think about it or we assume it exists, we assume that it exists as an external objective reality that somehow the meaning, the color, the sound, the experiences is out there or is verified by out there. And that does not exist, the only way it exists is in our mind. That’s the way it comes about. That’s the way it’s created.
Debra Maldonado 25:22
We don’t want to discount the medical community. There’s really a lot of research and understanding the physiology, biology, all that. But we also want to say that a lot of the medical model, including therapy, is based on this idea, it doesn’t take imagination into it. It’s like a functioning, getting from dysfunction to functioning, getting from illness, and almost seeing the person as ill. Like there’s an illness that needs — mental illness, physical illness — that something needs to fix. When you’re impressing that onto someone, think about the imagination of the person that’s receiving that treatment. They’re gonna say “Oh, there’s something broken in me and I have to fix.” When I worked with people with pain management, giving them the opportunity to explore using their imagination, to imagine their body not feeling pain, imagine calmness, imagine floating feeling, imagine disassociating from the physical stresses that are happening during childbirth, and being in another place with your mind so you’re not focused on what your body’s doing, helps them. If that’s possible, what else is possible for people? Let’s talk about logic versus intuition. Would you say intuition is really a form of imagination?
Robert Maldonado 26:43
Absolutely. Again, it’s all a form of imagination. In other words, we’re imagining our reality. That’s the only way reality exists, there is no other way you can exist, except as a mental experience. In other words, if there’s no mind to observe that reality, there is no reality. That’s because we’re defining our reality through our sensory experiences. Our sensory experiences, if we just use logic, are essentially an interpretation, or they’re giving us an interpretation of something that is there. It is an interpretation. It’s not an absolute understanding of what is there. So intuition is definitely a form of imagination. And I think one way of seeing it is that there are people that are experts at forgeries, for example. They know when they look at a painting, they know intuitively, if it’s a fake or not.
Debra Maldonado 28:06
You know, that book “Blink” with Malcolm Gladwell, he talks about that. There was a sculpture. And the person, I guess the museum person that assesses the value, he just said “I don’t know what it is but there’s something about this off, and I can’t figure out what it is.” He said unconsciously, we have in our memory stored, not only personally but collectively as Jung would say, we have this storehouse of data that we are actually feeding into what we’re seeing. And intuition is not a logical practical way, it’s just something off about it. And then it turned out the stone that they used for that sculpture was actually not made in that region. So it wasn’t practical, he recognized the stone when they examined it, but he knew something was off. And that’s what intuition is. Sometimes you don’t know why, you don’t have the story or the logic to back it, but you feel this knowing that’s different, there’s an unknowing. So it’s not based on logic, but on something beyond logic.
Robert Maldonado 29:25
We can think of the way that person trains. They probably looked at a lot of paintings in their lives and studied how colors are made and how they’re laid on the canvas, etc. So all that information the brain is processing. Now, as it looks at a new painting, let’s say the question is, is this real or fake? That mind is able to observe, just come up with a conclusion intuitively. Now what that means is, the other process is logical. So logically, if that person had only logic to go by, they would have to go through a process of elimination, eliminating every possible solution, and question, is this real or is this fake? And that would take a long time. But intuitively, they can jump to the conclusion if they trust their own mind and their own training, and reach the right conclusion intuitively without going through all the steps of logic.
Debra Maldonado 30:52
So would that be combining logic and imagination?
Robert Maldonado 30:56
It can be. And that’s essentially the ideal that we want to acknowledge the imagination and give it equal footing to logic and reason. Whereas in our culture, in our society and the way we teach children now is very lopsided, it’s left brain logic, reason, don’t use your imagination, don’t use your intuition.
Debra Maldonado 31:28
So is it being masculine, like the logos and eros? The intuition is more the eros and the soulfulness of our soul versus the logic?
Robert Maldonado 31:36
Or the left and the right brain. The balance of the two is a very powerful combination. When you see successful people, when you see creative people, when you see happy people, it’s usually they are able to combine and balance those two processes.
Debra Maldonado 31:57
And we’re happiest when— like when we’re kids, just playing and imagining. And we’re not when we’re just trying to do the logical thing. We want to bring that playfulness back in. So let’s talk about this idea of the fuzzy logic and where does that come in?
Robert Maldonado 32:18
I don’t know if I’m using it correctly, because it’s a term from computers and information processing, but I love the term fuzzy logic, because it’s how we can use intuition in a more practical way. We all know the process of problem solving. There’s a new situation in our lives, something comes up, we need to decide what are we going to do.
Debra Maldonado 32:53
And usually, we write the pros and cons. Let me make a practical assessment. Maybe run the numbers.
Robert Maldonado 33:01
Exactly. If we apply everything we know now from the brain studies, the mind study, consciousness studies, then we can use this combination of logic and intuition, this fuzzy logic. If we combine it, it’s a fuzzy logic, meaning we’re not denying that we need the logic. But when we’re also including the imagination, there’s a fuzziness to it.
Debra Maldonado 33:34
It’s not a solid. It’s more a gray area, there’s more room to create in versus a hard logic. So when I think of imagination, since we’re always imagining, one thing we do know about the mind is that it has a negative bias. So by default, we are always looking for is everything going to be okay, am I going to be safe? Look out for danger. And that’s a beautiful part of our mind. That logical mind that uses that imagination to calculate wherever you go, where are the dangers, and it’s always taking it from memory. So it’s thinking “Okay, last time I walked down a dark alley, and I heard footsteps behind me, someone hurt me, or I saw it in a movie. So I’m going to get a reaction to that.” When we think about making a decision, I think this is where a lot of people trip themselves up and they stay in their conditioned safe zone is because by default, the imagination will be negative. It gives you the cognitive bias that the mind will start thinking of the worst case scenario versus the best case scenario. So when we’re about to change our lives — and most people that listen to our podcast or watch it on YouTube will be wanting to change their life — they rely on their mind to process that choice, when they have an opportunity to do a program, or to change careers, or try something new, or put themselves out there, meet new people, stretch their income, all those things that they want to do, find love, the imagination will tend to want to stop them, because they’re not really using it consciously. So by default, the mind will just go “Oh my God, if I go online, no one’s gonna like me, or it’s gonna be terrible. Or if I start a new job, or a new career, the most terrible thing’s going to happen.” And so our imagination, if not trained or used, can actually create our reality in a very limited way. And most of the time, what we imagined doesn’t come true, thank God, but we can have an experience, like you said, it’s all an experience, an experience of limitation in our life, based on that imaginative mind. And then what we want to do is we want to basically start training our mind to think of that possibility. So we can use the imagination by default, the ego just says “Watch out for danger and all these scary monsters ahead of you” or the imagination of hope and possibility and what’s potential in me, where can I go? What can be possible?
Robert Maldonado 36:41
I always think of the mind as the supercomputer — like a quantum computer because it does have imagination, not only logic — that’s been delivered to our front door. But they didn’t leave the operating manual for it. And so most people don’t know what to do with this incredible mind that they’re given. They use it basically to play ping pong or very simple games with it. And just kind of operate it the way it naturally feels to them, “Okay, this is telling me how to survive.” And it’s great for survival, but it has so much more potential, and so much more ability. But it does require us to understand what is it that I’m working with?
Debra Maldonado 37:48
In other words, we all have an agreed imagination. It’s how we use it that’s the key. We can imagine, like Mark Twain said “My life was filled with terrible things, most of them have never happened.” Because the mind can create a hell or heaven, it can create this terrible anticipation of doom, or it can create this wonderful anticipation of adventure and creativity. I think a lot of people don’t realize that they can control that, that they can change and shift the flow of their mind. It takes practice, because by default, like I said, it’s that cognitive negative bias that we were born with, and a lot of people think “Oh, I have negative thoughts.” Yeah, welcome to being a human, everyone has negative thoughts. So it’s about what do you do with them? Are you going to let them run your imagination and speed that imagination? What are you feeding that imagination with?
Robert Maldonado 38:52
Then we come to the third level of it, which is the spiritual dimension of imagination. In Eastern philosophy we see a much more sophisticated understanding of what the mind and the brain are. They don’t see it as these separate processes. They see both the brain meaning the body, the physical body, arising within this pure awareness, meaning, there are no thoughts, there are no emotions, there are no objects. It’s a pure awareness that is the foundation of an absolute reality. So if you ask a seer, if we were able to teleport a seer from ancient India to now and ask him or her “What is this universe made out of?”, they would say it is made out of awareness. Pure awareness that is primal, it predates human culture, human civilization, and it will be there after our civilizations are long gone. That primal awareness is what’s called consciousness.
Debra Maldonado 40:22
So that primal awareness is an unconscious mind because a lot of people use that term as your consciousness, meaning your conscious awareness.
Robert Maldonado 40:31
That’s right. And so if we ask, where does the brain exist? It arises within the pure awareness. Where does the mind exist? It arises within that pure awareness. Where do the objects that I am perceiving of the world exist? They arise from that pure awareness.
Debra Maldonado 40:52
They describe it in a lovely way with Vishnu, he has a dream. He goes to sleep and he has a dream, he dreams the world. And that is imagination. That’s what creates this experience of duality and dance of life. And that’s what imagination is, like God, or the universe, or the pure awareness, whatever you want to live with, imagined the world into me. We have within all of us that ability to imagine our reality. But we tend to just rely on that default condition programming, whatever everyone told us what is real versus exploring the spiritual dimensions that are beyond just the practical survival mind.
Robert Maldonado 41:44
Yes. And I think, if you ask, what is the function of this incredible imagination that is given to each and every one of us, it is so that we can figure out what is the nature of reality, and “Who am I? Who is the one that is experiencing these things called the world and why?”
Debra Maldonado 42:09
I think the imagination, when you’re saying “Who am I?”, is that we imagine who we are. We’re imagining ourselves, we’re in charge of what we want to imagine ourselves to be like, we can imagine ourselves as this incredible person that’s doing good in the world. Or we can imagine ourselves as this loser who never accomplishes anything, or is always alone, or always struggling. We’re always imagining ourselves, we just don’t realize that we had the power to reimagine who we are.
Robert Maldonado 42:47
That’s an incredible property of the mind, brain, body and awareness in us that it’s able to point the spotlight inward and ask “Who is the one that is observing and experiencing all these things?” That process is considered the inward journey. Instead of focusing only on the external objects and asking, “What are these things made out of?”, trying to figure out through physics their atoms and molecules and quartz and all these physical things, we’re asking inwardly “Who is the one curious about the objects, and observing those objects, and making meaning of those objects?” In the West, that study is only very recent. Let’s say, in the past 20-25 years people started really taking it seriously and asking “What is consciousness? What is that awareness?” But now it’s a bona fide study. And it’s giving us a new perspective on what are we going to do with this incredible brain and mind and imagination that’s been given to us.
Debra Maldonado 44:11
It’s interesting, when I first started doing hypnotherapy and self-help, we all know “Picture in your mind what you want to create”, imagining objects out there being different. It’s a beautiful part, maybe that’s level one to self-discovery. But the next level is you have to ask yourself, who’s the one asking for these objects or these experiences, that’s the real journey. When you’re manifesting in the world, it’s child’s play compared to when we’re figuring out and trying to imagine the depths of who we are on a deep spiritual level. We all begin somewhere, we all have this beautiful faculty and our experience to imagine. So what would be something that people can do right now? This is a lot of great information, what would you say is a really good step for people to start cultivating that imagination in a more creative way versus that limited protective “I’m going to imagine the worst case”. “Bad things don’t happen to me. I want to imagine the best case, so great things happen to me.” I mean, you can go down either path.
Robert Maldonado 45:28
I was thinking about that this morning. We don’t know a lot about the way the brain and the mind do their work. But the little that we know, just that much, if we were to apply it in our everyday life, would change the world. Just in the way we do education, for example, we understand that play is the imagination in action. So instead of having kids sit there all day and try to memorize things, the brain craves more that creative play, the ability to express itself in a playful way that feeds it more information and makes it more creative than any sitting there and paying attention process will do. So applying the principles that we know about how the mind and brain work would change everything. The foundational, the biggest lesson that it teaches us is that we crave playfulness and creativity.
Debra Maldonado 47:00
It’s something new. When I was a coach — well, I am still coach — but in the coaching industry, I see a lot of “me too” coaches, not in that other sense, but like carbon copies. They have the same business model, they do the same kind of names, they teach the same stuff, just repackaged differently. And I feel like there’s no imagination there. I always felt like the odd one because we were doing Jungian work. And we didn’t really fit into that model, which is actually a blessing because that helped us stretch our imagination a little more and create something really special versus just another what everyone else is doing. And look at it in commerce. The Tesla is an electric car breaking the bounds. You want to bring something new into the world, be innovative, that’s where the imagination can be used. Look at your life and say “What am I doing? Am I doing my career because it’s what my parents said was rational? Or because all my friends went to law school, so I would became a lawyer?” How can you bring more creativity and play into imagining something new. Even if you’re a lawyer, doing it in a different way. Your niece is so amazing, she’s so cool. What she does with her Instagram. She’s a lawyer, but she does something very unique and creative. So how can you bring that into your life? How could you bring more creativity in your desires? And what you’re gonna find is that when you play, these insights come that are just amazing, you really are creating something unique and memorable that has a legacy.
Robert Maldonado 48:45
There was a book out a few years ago called “The Calling of the American Mind” or something like that. It’s a psychologist talking about how we overprotect children now. We don’t allow them to make mistakes. And to go through those difficult— everyone gets a trophy thing. And that’s a great disservice to them. Because what we understand now about the brain is that it craves challenges. It grows from facing challenges. Even failing is better than not having those experiences. Failing at something teaches us sometimes more than succeeding at it. And now we’re anti-failure, we’re trying to set up things to where kids don’t fail, or we see making mistakes as errors and something to avoid, whereas challenges are always about failing.
Debra Maldonado 49:52
It stretches the bounds at any time in our life. You could look at your life as the biggest challenges lead to the greatest change. The ego wants to avoid those terrible things that happen. And even after you make a mistake, your imagination goes back and tries to reimagine what happened. Why did I do it wrong? How can I fix the past? When we could be just like “Okay, well, here we are now, let’s imagine the future.” We spend so much time trying to go back in the past and reframe it and change it. What if everything that happened led you here in this moment because this is where you were meant to be. And then you move forward. All we have is now like, the past is gone. You could move forward and become whoever you want to be. The play, I think, is so important, the playfulness and the gentleness towards yourself, that you made mistakes, and you screwed up, you said the wrong thing to someone, they got mad at you — you know what, I’m sorry, I screwed up. You’re honest, and you play with it. You bring that levity, you get permission for yourself to make mistakes and other people. And then the world is more gentle and compassionate if we’re not always expecting each other to be perfect and have a certain image. And we can be more crude. That’s why I like hanging out with creative people, because they’re willing to be different.
Robert Maldonado 51:13
That’s right. It’s never too late. Wherever you are in your developmental process, you want to give yourself more challenges, more space to be playful. Learn new things, things that are outside your comfort zone.
Debra Maldonado 51:33
There’s a comment here. “The brain craves challenges, yet, we are so afraid to face challenges, fears and get out of your comfort zone. Can you elaborate on this?” I don’t know if we crave challenges, but we crave change. And in order to have change, we have challenges. It’s like alchemy that you mix opposing forces, and the mixture creates something new. You need to have that. It’s almost like the universe is very violent in a way. If you look at how the earth was created, and how everything new is created, even, like I said, childbirth is not actually an easy thing to the body. There’s always that challenge. So instead of craving the challenge, we actually crave the change. But the challenge is the mechanism that creates the change.
Robert Maldonado 52:28
Let’s look at the brain. There’s two processes that are going on. One is that conceptual mind, the conceptual mind helps us solve problems in a logical way, very much like what we call the ego. It helps us solve problems, stay safe, and create a comfort zone for ourselves. There’s nothing wrong with that, that process is a natural process to keep us safe, to keep us in the familiar so that we don’t have to expend so much energy because we know what to anticipate based on what we experienced in the past. And the brain loves that. It conserves energy by saying “I don’t have to analyze everything that is going on in situation because I know, I can predict what it’s going to do.”
Debra Maldonado 53:29
And doesn’t the brain assess a situation, and it only focuses on things that are an anomaly, so if someone’s yelling, you’re gonna focus your attention there. A loud noise or something that feels out of place, your brain is going to go toward that, but everything else is cool.
Robert Maldonado 53:50
So that process is going on continuously. The other process that’s going on continuously is that imagination, that craving for new things, new adventures, new sources of food, new ways of solving the problem. Now those things are competing for attention. When we focus our attention on the problem solving side, or we teach our children, or we’re conditioned that way that you should only focus on staying safe and fitting in and not rocking the boat, then that becomes our primary objective and our primary way of being, of using our brain. We’re so focused on staying in the status quo, not appearing to be different, fitting in.
Debra Maldonado 54:45
But we’re not even conscious of it. A lot of times it’s almost like we have this desire to change. But we don’t know, it almost feels like an invisible force.
Robert Maldonado 54:55
Very much so. That’s conditioning. We no longer question, we simply assume that’s what I should do, I should fit in, I should not appear to be doing something different.
Debra Maldonado 55:09
It feels awkward if we step out, it’s like alarm system goes off in us.
Robert Maldonado 55:13
Yes. So creative people, successful people, they break the rules, they’re often judged, they’re often criticized. Why? Again, because they’re breaking those bounds, those rules of conformity or fitting in, they’re saying “There are new ways to do this, there’s possibility here, I can figure out something different.” And that threatens that conceptual mind that everyone, or most people are operating from, of safety, security, predictability.
Debra Maldonado 55:49
So we’re always in that battle to stay the same and the battle to grow, but the friction between the two creates something new. And if we didn’t have that resistance, we wouldn’t be able to create something new because the resistance basically dredges up all the things that are in the way of us not having it by default. It’s like all the fears, and it makes us face the things that have held us back. Say, you want to make more money, and you go out there, and you starting having problems and hitting roadblocks. You examine those struggles and say “Oh, well, this is why my income has been this way for the past 20 years, because of this one thing.” You can’t see it without the friction, without stepping out. That’s why it’s like the challenges you want to go toward, that’s what’s going to bring you something new.
Robert Maldonado 56:47
It is always that internal battle that’s going on.
Debra Maldonado 56:54
And our friend, the appraiser, the real estate, actually, that’s so interesting, too. If you think about the imagination, that when you think about a home value, it really is a perception. Because that same home in a different neighborhood, or if the market’s good or the market’s bad. It changes the dynamic of what that value is. So there’s no inherent value in that home except what our minds are holding. And it’s the same thing with money. It’s the same thing with the economy and all that stuff. So really interesting how the mind just creates our reality, we imagine what we believe is there. So great topic today, Rob. We can either imagine the best case scenario, or we can imagine the worst case scenario. And by default, we look at the worst, but we can catch ourselves. We can ask ourselves “What am I seeing? Am I seeing the truth? Is this just a thought or is it really a fact? Do I know? Is this a fact or is this just my imagination playing games with me to have the worst case?” Always just ask what would be possible? If it could be what I desire, what would that be? I play the “Debbie gets everything she wants” game. It’s like imagining I get what I want in a situation, imagine it turning out the best for you. What would that be? And that’s really the first step. Play with that idea.
Robert Maldonado 58:37
And we’re going to continue our topics on mindset.
Debra Maldonado 58:42
We have a lot of interesting topics to talk about. We’re gonna talk about neuroscience of perception, a little bit more of that and— keep going. So have a happy rest of your Friday. Thank you for joining us, and we’ll see you next week on Soul Sessions.
Robert Maldonado 58:59
Thanks for watching.
Debra Maldonado 59:01