Imagination is one of our human triumphs! Can you think of some quirky thing imagined by another human being? How about “Rubik’s Cube,” it is totally useless apart from boggling the mind.
You know I love to have my mind boggled; it is one of the delights of being human. For millions of years the human imagination has been responsible for an amazing array of creations.
Our imaginations are virtually boundless. Wim Wenger has developed a system to extend our ability to be creative by using what he terms “Image Streaming”. He use a method to tune into the constant activity of the brains deep level imagination and record just some of what is going on in there.
Have you ever sat quietly for some time and have found yourself entering into a semi-waking dream state? When this happens I am amazed at what is going on in my brain below my usual conscious level. I often find images and sounds but more often than not there is some form of dialogue going on, a conversation between two or more people. I find that I can hold it and follow the scenario for a short time but when my mind returns to a general normal awareness then the scene disappears.
As with dreams the content fades quickly and disappears from my conscious memory.
I am now certain that this level of imagining is going on all the time in my below conscious mind because I can tap into when I set myself to. It does not take any practice all you have to do is tune into as Wim explains in his work. But more of this later.
Back to the bear. A few years ago I was visiting my Mum and Dad in Canada. As part of the trip I had promised my self some time walking in the mountains near Banff. I decided upon Kananaskis as there was a good hostel there with easy access a nearby hotel for a bit of civilisation in the evenings and of course good high level walking safe for beginners.
The first day I walked near the Olympic ski slopes and had a pleasant easy walk. Before setting off I had asked about bears and been told to make noises as I walked to discourage bears.
By bears I mean small brown ones and the much larger Grizzlys. Both are common residents in this part of the wilderness and also dangerous.
My instructions were simple Yodel, clap, sing, whistle or make regular noticeable people noises. These sounds are to alert the bears to human presence and telling them to keep away. I saw no bears on my first day.
After a good sleep in the hostel and a decent breakfast I intended to attempt another easy well walked route to a small lake.
On the way I met a group of friendly Americans, now residents of Calgary and regular walkers in this area. They invited me to go up higher into the mountains with them so I tagged along and ascended to nearly 8,000 ft.
On returning to the hostel I was told about a treat that I had missed. Several Park wardens had been moving two young male Grizzly Bears up the valley from a walking trail where they had become a potential danger to walkers. We had missed the entertainment whilst dozens of others had watched the progress.
After dinner as the residents of the hostel talked I heard a great bear story that centred on this very place.
Dave had been staying here last year. One morning he had risen early and set off to go for a short walk in the early sunshine. He opened the door to step outside and came face to face with a large bear that was about 5 metres away. Both of them froze.
In a split second the amygdala of each took control of their reactions. Adrenalin coursed through their blood streams, hearts speeded up, breathing rate increased; both were ready to make a rudimentary decision, run or fight. They both saw the other as a threat and turned, the bear to lumber back into the woods and Dave took refuge behind the door.
As Dave stood behind the door he was very aware of his pounding heart and quickness of breathing, he was shaking at the same time as he felt a sense of elation he was he was also aware of a great sense of relief that he was in a safe place.
Both Dave and the bear had experienced a fear-full incident. They had also witnessed the body’s reaction to fear when the almost instantaneous take over by the amygdala had changed their whole physiological state.
That’s what happens when you are frightened.
Two days before, when I had been walking alone, making noises to let the bears know I was approaching I was feeling a sense of anticipatory anxiety. I was not overwhelmed by one of the amygdalas* sudden gear shifts I was in a prepared state. I was operating form my logical brain and as such was in charge of my emotions.
If, on the other hand, I had expected a bear to be behind every tree then I would have been in a state of anxiety. Because I would have triggered the amygdalas fear reaction but with out the need for fight or flight.
A state of high arousal without an outlet, this is anxiety.
To return to Wim and the imagination, when I am anticipating the appearance of the bear in my anxious moments my imagination is working as normal but doing the “What if trick.” Could I use my imagination in another way?
Of course, it’s a matter of taking control, that will take time and practise. Yes it can be done.
*To explain the amygdala is a small section of the brain which controls some of our basic emotions, especially fear.