Today, a comment got me wondering where restlessness comes from. I think we’re restless most often when we feel “stuck”.
Stuck in our careers, homes, relationships, circumstances, way of lives… whatever, you name it. Or maybe you can’t name it. Maybe you just feel stuck and can’t articulate where it’s coming from. Sometimes, this has a lot to do with our thought process.
Then later I heard something interesting:
“Imagination is always either leading us toward enlightenment, or it is leading us away from enlightenment.
There is no such thing as stuck.
We are always moving in one direction or the other.”
This struck me for two reasons.
One, because I really believe there is something extremely special and undiscovered about the imaginative faculty; it’s one of the topics I like exploring here at Serenity Hacker. The idea that it can lead to enlightenment (or deeper happiness) really intrigues me.
And two, because sometimes, I feel a little stuck, myself. I think everyone out there can relate to that.
But could it be that simple? Is the power of our imaginations in our thoughts either causing us misery or leading us toward enlightenment and more fulfillment? Maybe, in some ways it really is that simple…
I like the premise that imagination is always at work. That it’s always moving us in a direction. If we take this as true, then a lot of our negative thinking, including thoughts of guilt, fear, doubt and insecurity, could easily come from imagination gone awry.
We usually think of imagination as something we have to “tap into” or “develop”. Something that’s not always accessible to us, that we need to work toward by conjuring up a certain mood or state of mind. But it could true be that:
the vast and limitless powers of imagination are impossible to turn off
Imagination is always creating, growing, embellishing and amplifying things for our minds to explore and analyze. It can be beautiful.
But, if you don’t give it something positive to focus on, your imagination can start creating thoughts out of all the crappy stuff. All of those yucky “voices” we hear when our minds aren’t quiet, all those lousy thoughts that we’d rather not think, that’s just imagination doing what it does.
It’s no wonder that we get so restless, avoid boredom, and fill our lives with endless distractions. We sometimes tire of watching our minds create garbage, stuff that brings us down. And we don’t know how to stop it.
But maybe there’s liberation in realizing that we never really can stop it. Our imaginations will always be operational, always working, there in the background (or sometimes the foreground), creating. As long as we think, imagination will play its part in that.
This power within us can do different things, depending on what we focus on: it can either move us closer to peace within ourselves, deeper fulfillment, and aliveness, or it can bring us further away from that, creating problems, dilemmas, and fears to consume our attention. If we let it. Your imagination is infinite and limitless; it will just keep creating.
So look at your thoughts in any given moment and see how they are making you feel. That’s a clue as to which way your imagination is taking you. Do they make you feel happy or more at peace? Is what you’re thinking leading you toward a more accepting, lighter, more alive place?
If not, then let those thoughts be: your imagination just created something that’s leading you away from the good stuff. You don’t need to continue thinking about it.
When you notice your imagination taking you in the wrong direction, you’re always free not go with it. Chalk it up to imagination getting carried away with itself. And with you. Imagination does that.
But it’s not a one-way street. There are no dead-ends. You’re not stuck because your imagination is always moving you in a direction, even if just a little. If you see that you don’t like where it’s going, you can always make a u-turn, any time you want. Try coming back to the present moment first, and then put your focus elsewhere.
Next time you’re caught up in thought, stop and observe: In which direction is your imagination taking you?
We are shaped by our thoughts; we become what we think.
When the mind is pure, joy follows like a shadow that never leaves. ~Buddha