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What is imagination and how to boost it

why visualisation is important
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By Susie Briscoe
First part

How does imagination occur in the brain?

Imagination is a somewhat abstract concept. This is something that some people seem to have in spades and that others seem to lack entirely. It’s hard to put a finger on precisely what imagination is, but what we do know is that it is desirable and can help you to enjoy yourself in your everyday life. People with good imaginations are unpredictable, creative, and exciting to be around. Whereas people with no imagination tend to be thought of as ‘dull’.

The reality, of course, is that we all have imaginations. The only real difference is the way in which we use them and how much we choose to cultivate them. So, what precisely is going on inside that old skull of yours when you do opt to put your imagination to work, and how can you get more out of it?

How to improve your imagination

As a general rule, it’s thought that creativity is the result of finding connections between disparate ideas. That is to say that there’s really no such thing as a completely original idea but, rather, that our biggest breakthroughs come from combining existing ideas into something new.

This is easiest to do when we are not stressed. When you are stressed or focused, you tend to focus only on one thing very precisely. When you relax, on the other hand, this helps your brain to explore the more widespread connections of your neurons and synapses: your ‘connectome’. When your mind is allowed to wander, that’s when you get new ideas.


At the same time, imagination also comes from visualisation. As you imagine a new story, a new character, or a new scenario, this will tend to involve picturing it in your mind’s eye. Recent research now tells us that this occurs in a brain region called the ‘posterior parietal cortex’. This part of the brain is crucial, not only for coming up with new ideas and visualising them, but also for helping us to plan movements before we take action and to relive memories as part of our ‘declarative memory’. In other words, this crucial part of our brain is what enables us to reason abstractly and to plan, predict, and remember.

This is an absolutely fundamental tool, which gives you even more reason to stretch those imaginative muscles! It also means that doing anything that involves thinking ahead or anticipating outcomes, such as playing a sport, could, theoretically, help your imagination!

How to get better at visualisation?

One key component of imagination is visualisation. This is the ability to picture something in our mind and to actually see what it looks like.

While you can certainly be creative without having great visualisation skills, they also undoubtedly help when it comes to picturing people and places that don’t exist. If you’re writing a story, or if you’re just thinking about things you’d like to do and accomplish, then visualisation is a tool that will serve you very well. But what if you’re the sort of person who can’t easily picture things in their mind’s eye? The answer is simple: you train it.

why visualisation is important

How to train your mind's eye?

The trick with training for visualisation is to start with something simple. An easy way to do this is to look at an object on your desk in front of you or at the table. Now, while keeping your eyes open, imagine it rising up slowly and then turning around. As this happens, make sure to really concentrate on the details of the object, the way the light falls on it, what it looks like on the back, how it casts shadows on the desk.

Practice this and use it regularly, and that way, you will find that you slowly enforce the parts of your brain that you use for these kinds of tasks. Once you’ve done this, you can start to imagine things you can’t see, maybe an orange or a banana. The great thing about now creating objects from scratch is that one has to invent all of the smaller details from the spots on the banana, to the colour and to the length.

Then start getting larger and more complex. Maybe imagine a computer. Or, perhaps, try imagining yourself inside a completely different environment. You can even try experimenting with an imaginary ‘happy place’.

Visual memory

While creating objects and manipulating them can be tricky at first, something you may find easier is to visualise things that you remember and to visualise them accurately.

One way to practice this is to think of an environment you used to spend time in or that you have visited lately: perhaps a friend’s bedroom. Now, try and picture as many details of that room as you can. Think about where the door is in relation to the room, where the light comes in, where the CD player is, etc.

Not only does this help you train your visualisation skills, it’s also a very interesting exercise that can reveal just how little you pay attention!

And, by the way, if you want to boost not only your imagination but also learn a lot of interesting tips and tricks about influencer marketing, join the WinTrade Global Masterclass with Aquila Mendez-Valdez this Thursday at 5pm GMT. With a decade of industry experience in both the blogging and public relations field, Aquila Mendez-Valdez launched Haute in Texas in 2011 as a personal blog where she still writes in the hopes of providing women with fun, intelligent content they can use in their everyday lives. Through its growth and her own professional growth with one of the top PR firms in South Texas, she developed a specific expertise in helping her clients propel and curate their online and in-person presence. 

Aquila Mendez-Valdez Influencer Marketing

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