published Thursday, March 29th, 2012

Upton: The power of poetry

A few days ago, I created an impromptu poem with a young and bubbly girl who sat with me in my office. I wrote a phrase, and she added a line.

I came up with what seemed to rhyme and she added further meaning. We proceeded thus until we'd completed our piece of writing. I was surprised that it actually made sense to both of us. It had been awhile since I'd used my creative imagination alongside someone else in that way. The activity energized and inspired me.

As a therapist, it's my job to find out what problems my clients want help with. They tell me about family issues, past memories, stressful situations, and difficult, unwanted emotions. Sometimes I ask them to imagine what life would look like if they could design it just for themselves. Surprisingly, some don't have a clue. They've never imagined what their ideal selves and situations could be.

Part of our journey toward living a better life, feeling less stressed, making more money, or changing careers is finding a way to visualize what we desire the most, then building real things around that image.

Even daydreaming has amazing benefits to refresh us, lift our mood, expand our belief in what is possible, even motivate us. It's been said that the imagination is more important than knowledge. In order to accomplish anything in life, we must first see it in our minds. When planning a trip or vacation, half the fun is simply imagining what it will be like.

The ancient scriptures say that where there is no vision, the people perish. In order to live, we must be able to visualize something ahead. It gives meaning to our lives. It helps create hope and forward motion. It even helps us respect the process of personal growth.

This is generally innate to children. When I was a girl, I remember making up songs, stories, poems, plays and dances, and enjoying these types of activities with friends and siblings for hours. Today, it still gives me great joy to see children explore their creativity and emerge with startlingly beautiful pieces of creative work.

Unfortunately, the older we get the less likely we are to use our imaginations in everyday life. A friend and I played with crayons the other week and loved it. We wrote ideas, drew pictures, made playful designs. Both of us felt joyful and light after the activity.

Anyone can invite the imaginative into their lives more by thinking of something new to do or try on a regular basis. You may want to explore something nearby that you've been wondering about or cook a meal without using any particular recipe, making up the seasoning mix as you go along. You can even rearrange just a few items in your house to stir things up.

On the spiritual level, one can even pray with imagination and texture. You can ask God questions, request divine ideas to overcome a complex problem, or pray over the tiniest part of an issue, like asking for laughter during a difficult time or for a discouraged person to experience a pleasant surprise that could lift their spirits.

Using our imagination provides escape from the daily grind of life and help us picture and experience of the many extraordinary textures and hues it has to offer us.

Tabi Upton, MA-lpc is a local therapist and writer. Email her at tabiupton@bellsouth.net.

about Tabi Upton...

Tabi Upton, MA-LPC is a therapist at New Beginnings Counseling Center.

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