Jul 13, 2017
Imagination Is As important As Knowledge: Dr. Anke Smit Weber
Dr. Anke Weber Smit is an experienced life coach, inspirational speaker, author of a book and (research) articles. As a coach and altenative Therapist she specialises in:
• Creating and manifesting your desired future
• Increasing awareness about your own motivantions
• Energetic psychology
• Mindset coaching / Conciousness engeneering
• High sensitivity (HSP) issues and training (focus on positve empowerment)
• Personal leadership
• Re-shaping the past
• Positive parenting
• Motivational Thinking
• Effective Communication
• Coordination time management
We are glad to have her as our Guest of the Month. In this interview, Dr. Anke shared on power of imagination and visualization and success. Enjoy!
Please, can we meet you?
My name is Dr Anke Weber Smit, and I am very pleased to meet you. I am a coach, mother, wife, healer and ecologist, but most of all, I see myself as a rather curious person. As a younger woman I trained at universities in Germany, England and The Netherlands and loved to travel. After a career of 20 years as an ecologist, I discovered meditation as a tool. It helped me to calm down, focus, imagine and visualize what I wanted to explore and achieve. By meditating (only 15 min per day!), my perception widened, and I learned to access the uncharted territories of the power of imagination and visualization.
And – still being a scientist at heart – I also started to test the images and information which I got during meditation. After this, things evolved quickly, and I enrolled in a program for Reconnective Healing/The Reconnection. I soon started my own practice (ankewebersmit.com) for coaching and healing in Trondheim (Norway) where we lived at the time. I was by the Norwegian Healer Association in 2011 and continued my education in energy techniques that help you to re-program limiting believes and fears. That was an unexpected turn in my career for people who’ve known me longer, but for me, it was more like a natural consequence of who I was and where my personal development was heading.
Today, people still ask me regularly: "How can you, as a trained ecologist with 20 + years of professional experience, explore such dubious fields as alternative therapy, EFT (Emotional Freedom Technique) and healing? “ Well, I can only answer that BECAUSE I am a scientist, also called a RE-SEARCHER, I am very curious to explore new frontiers of what we know and check if it works for me. In fact, one of the first rules that my promoter taught me when I was just a starting PhD student were: ‘ In scientific experiments we actually can’t verify a theory; we can only falsify it, since we can never be absolutely sure that we have completely ruled out all other possible explanations for the outcome besides the hypothesis we started with.’ Wise words.
That’s why to me researching the world I live in is my favorite occupation-especially looking beyond dominant belief and paradigms.
2) You help people improve health, find their personal pitfalls, passions and talents, can you tell us more about this?
As you have probably noticed yourself, today’s society has a lot of demands on every one of us. We are being influenced by our families, neighbors, peers, employees, advertisement….and I’m sure you can name a few more. This ‘environment’ is expecting a lot of us. At the same time it is in a way ‘brainwashing’ us and smugly dictating our consciousness, how to act, what to think and how to behave. In part, that is ok because it helps us to create rules for our societies and to further develop our knowledge and technologies. It can, however, also be very limiting if you are a person that has other ideals, needs, capacities or dreams than the majority of your peers.
Let’s take High sensitivity, for example. I became more and more aware of my high sensitivity while I grew older. I discovered that I my intuition was working wonderfully and that focusing on what I wanted to achieve worked rather great for me as well. So I learned more and more to follow my ‘gut feeling’ and use my intuition and high sensitivity as an asset. This experience inspired me to do more research about high sensitivity and I started with lectures and workshops about High Sensitivity in order to inspire fellow sensitive people to become the leaders of their own lives. Instead of staying in the feeling that they had to ‘follow the expectations of their environment’. A lot of health research and the experiences I had with high sensitive clients will be published in the book ‘Expedition High Sensitivity’ in October 2017 (in Dutch).
I use a number of techniques to aid my clients with their process of discovering who they are, what their motivations are, what they need to change in order to change their lives into the lives they want to lead. And how to actually get started and do just that. My approach is very personal, I develop trajectories for each client who comes to see me depending on their needs and experiences. If need be I also alter sessions in order to accommodate unforeseen events that need urgent attention immediately.
My clients can always approach me and share their experiences. I believe in open, compassionate conversation instead of pity. Pity has the unpleasant side effect that it makes people feel weak, and I want my clients to feel stronger. I am a big fan of attention training and energetic psychology, which combine mechanical techniques with verbal communication. In my experience this approach helps people enormously to become a clear picture of what the underlying reason for their dilemma’s or problems are. At the same time it enables the client to rise above this reason and start to approach the subject / person/ situation differently ever after.
And you know what delights me most? If I have a client comes to see me, all sad and hopeless and they leave my office an hour later, smiling and energized; one lady even said she felt like super-woman and ready for the challenges she wanted to take on.
In the words of one of my clients:
“I feel much better now on all levels. I feel things are all right now. It’s true that I’ve been through a very hard time and I’ve always been a bit of an outsider, different than the rest. What‘s also very special is that I received a very concrete answer from you about something that has kept me very busy last week – and that you knew nothing about”.
Our focus in this interview is on Imagination, what’s imagination in relation to individuals’ success in life?
Imagination has different meanings and if you look for any scientific basis of processes behind imagination you might want to be aware of this. It can mean that you are ‘imagining things’ which often has a negative touch to it and is associated with psychological problems. That is not the kind of imagination, I am taking about. For me imagination is the ability to think of new ideas, to be creative or resourceful. With your imagination you can form new ideas, images or concepts not present to the senses.
To quote the all-round-genius, Albert Einstein: “I am enough of an artist to draw freely upon my imagination, imagination is more important than knowledge. Knowledge is limited. Imagination encircles the world.”
I consider imagination is very important. It can help you overcome obstacles, setbacks and even expand your mind to enable you to learn new skills. Have you heard about the research about learning to play the piano? Magnificent! In a startling piece of research conducted at Harvard Medical School researchers investigated the power of imagination.
The Harvard team worked with a group of adult volunteers, none of whom could previously play the piano. They were split into three groups and put to a test. After the tests, brain scans of every test person were taken and analyzed. The researchers were interested in differences between the before – and – after situation and the differences between the three groups.
The first group was taken into a room with a piano and given intensive piano practice for five days.
The second group was taken into an identical room with an identical piano – but had nothing to do with the instrument at all.
The third group was taken into an identical room with an identical piano and were then told that for the next five days they had to just imagine they were practicing piano exercises.
The result brain scans were extraordinary.
Just as the researches had expected, the brains of those who simply sat in the same room as the piano (group 2) hadn’t changed at all.
Equally unsurprising was the finding for group 1, test persons who had performed the piano exercises. The brain scans showed marked structural changes in the area of the brain associated with finger movement.
It was group 3, the group that had merely imagined doing the piano exercises which produced truly surprising results. According to the brain scan results, the brain structure of these people had changed almost as distinctive as those in group 1, that actually did practice.
The researchers concluded that apparently ‘The power of imagination’ is not a metaphor. It is real, and has a physical basis in your brain.
Isn’t that thrilling news? Think of the possibilities that we can use this power of imagination for!
4) Children don’t have problems using their imagination, unfortunately, when they become adults they seem to have outgrown that. What do you think is wrong with adults’ mind and how can we rectify this?
I really don’t know why ‘growing up’ is often associated with losing your imagination, as well as your drive to play and explore. One of my teachers, Dr Eric Pearl, always emphasized ‘are being childlike’ in your work, remain curious and unbiased. This approach is the key to a rich and flexible life. Unfortunately, people tend to confuse ‘child-like’ and ‘childish’ a lot, I feel. While child-like is a quality that helps you to keep an open mind, being childish indicates that you are not in the position to see a situation from any other point of view than your own. These are two fundamentally different ways to deal with life.
Part of the blame that children lose their imagination and even part of their IQ seems to be the present school system, which was revolutionary when introduced about 170 years ago. Today, however, little has changed as compared to its roots (apart from some minority school types like Dalton, Montessori and Waldorf schools); children are taught the same irrespective of background, capabilities, disposition and interests. It must seem to them that the main aim of going to school is to get good grades – and not to lead an innovative, personal and fulfilling life that suits them individually. Such a belief must be quite damaging to using your imagination instead of memorizing facts and figures in order to obtain an ‘A’.
While I partly agree to this hypothesis, proposed by some visionaries in the USA, I also feel that the school system, however seasoned it may be, is better than having no education for children at all.
In order to rectify the loss of imagination when growing up, I feel we should go back a little and re-think the way we bring up our kids; we should enable them to be heard in their opinions and encouraged in their quests. Support them in what they are interested in and restrict the less important aspects of academic learning to a minimum. For me the key is also to lead by example. As adults, we could show children that we can lead a happy life if we don’t fully meet the expectations of the society we are living in. We can show them that we, too, experiment with our imagination and use it to make life more worth living.
5) Now, let’s talk about the power of imagination. Is imagination powerful either for good or evil?
That is a bit of a tricky question, Dr. Duyilemi Akindele Felix. Yes, I actually think it is. I think there is no ‘force’ guiding an individual using his or her imagination in ‘the right way’. There is no power that ‘censors’ what you do with your thoughts and passion- other than yourself.
I mean, look at history and you’ll find examples of the power of imagination for good or evil. People have been driven and inspired by imagination so vigorously that they were able to inspire hundreds or thousands with their idea. Thousands that in turn were enthusiastic and willing to help that person to make his or her dream come true. These people were strong enough to use their imagination to paint a picture of the world that others loved – that others loved so much that they actually helped to make it real.
Think of people like Barak Obama, the first ‘black president’, Mahatma Gandhi with his staggering pacifist movement or mother Teresa, whose inspired work helped countless of the poorest people on earth. And of course, there are many, many more people, famous or not so famous.
You also ask about evil. I think that imagination can be used for evil, it is just hard to give an example here, because what you define as ‘evil’ might not be evil to others. Personally, I would consider people who decide to drop an atomic bomb or who abuse others as pretty dark souls, but this might not hold for everybody.
So, yes, I think imagination can be used for good and evil. Which is why it is essential to become aware of the creating power that imagination holds, and of your owns motives. Because if you don’t know your own motives, and your own limitations and ‘blind spots’ you are at risk to use the power of imagination to manifest something that on the long run you did not want to bring into being at all. I’m talking, for example, of quarrels with your spouse or neighbor, whom you would love to get rid of. But I suggest that you are aware of what you imagine, because if something happens to these people you might feel responsible.
Having said this – I do not want to de-courage you to use the power of your imagination to the best of your abilities. Go out there and create, I have the trust that the world will become a better place if we all use our creative powers to the best of our abilities.
7 Life Lessons From The Life of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
How can one deliberately alter one’s life using imagination?
Personally, I believe that you can do a lot about your own life using your imagination. Yet you may not always get exactly what you wanted, it may come in another form or with some detours. I remember having this ‘project’ where I imagined that during the next 7 days to come people whom I’d be able to help would find their way to me.
I imagined it very intensely on Sunday and Monday morning. On Tuesday morning, my doorbell rang an older lady, whom I knew a little through my daughter, asked if I had a minute for her. It turned out that she was hoping to get some help with her daughter, whom she had fallen out with. Two hours later, the doorbell rang again. A gentleman from the neighborhood, who I knew only superficially, asked me if I knew a person who could teach him some Norwegian. He had heard that we had lived in Norway for 6 years and thought I might know some Norwegians who lived around here. I did not know anyone, but offered him to teach him myself. He gladly accepted the offer. The rest of the week went by uneventful, until Friday late afternoon when I got ready for the weekend. The doorbell rang and when I opened the door, I saw a slightly demented old lady, soaking wet and totally lost as to where she was and where she needed to go. Luckily I was able to arrange her safe return to the home for elderly people that she presently lived in.
To come back to your question: yes, I think you can deliberately alter your life through imagination.
I am not sure though how to apply this process to situations who really face big challenges like illness, starvation, violence and natural disasters,. In any case, I am convinced it is always easier to deal with any kind of challenge if you have mastered to guide your thoughts and focus on the things that you want more of in your life. I do believe, however, that you can live a happier life if you focus on what you want and use your imagination and visualization in order to get it.
As Winston Churchill said: ‘You create your own universe as you go along. The stronger your imagination the more diverse your universe will be. When you leave off dreaming, the universe ceases to exist.’
7) In your work with many people, can you share, perhaps, the experiences of people who have tapped into the power of imagination and as a result changed their lives?
Oh yes, there are quite a few. There was this wonderful woman who had finally managed to step out of a relationship that wasn’t working anymore. There was psychological abuse and blackmail for decennia until she managed to find the strength to tell her partner she wanted a divorce. Much to her delight he left and she kept their kids. As if that was not enough, she quit smoking (she had smoked 2 packs day) and started working on her physical condition again. This woman had thought about divorce for some time, but only some weeks before she told her husband she had started to really dream of being free again.
Another wonderful example is Ron, a man who was suffering from psoriasis since his late adolescence. Psoriasis is an infection of the skin that pops up in situations of stress, a weakened immune system or damaged skin. He suffered greatly from it, at times, since it usually infected his lips and mouth.
Ron had a father who was very dominant. His father was also very difficult to please, and although Ron was very sporty and intelligent, he mostly heard from his father that he just wasn’t good enough. For example coming second in a national judo championship meant nothing, since he had lost the crucial fight.
Only when Ron had reached his late thirties, he realized the kind of emotional blackmail from his father that still had him firmly in his grip. He decided to break with his father, a decision that was very hard and took him some weeks to prepare. Through imagining how he would feel after he’d finally broken free of the unpleasant grip his father had on him he managed to take the step. And not long afterwards, something very unexpected happened: he never suffered from psoriasis again.
Last but not least, one of my younger clients, a boy of 8 years old, once suffered from an inflammation of his toe nail. It was painful, but not really severe. I asked him that he could try and ‘ask his toe’ how long the infection would take and when his toe would have fully recovered again. He took his time, tried to establish contact with his toe (equal to his inner wisdom) and after some minutes came back with a crystal clear answer: ‘1.5 weeks, it will take 1.5 weeks for the toe to heal’. ‘Ok’, I said ‘then you can now start to look forward to when your toe will be healthy again, imagine how it feels when the pain is gone.’. And he did.
I must add that his parents, who had been with us during the session, also cleaned and disinfected the toe every day, but after 11 days later the toe was perfectly normal again.
There are lots of other examples of how imagination (and visualization) have helped people reach goals, make decisions and just overall improve their well-being.
If you can’t think of any such incident in your personal life, why not just start experimenting with your own power of imagination right now?
8) Is their difference(s) between visualization and imagination?
Yes. I think so. For me, imagination is the ability to think of new ideas, to be creative or resourceful. With your imagination you can form new ideas, images or concepts not present to the senses.
Visualization is about forming a mental image of something, it’s about making something perceptible to the mind or imagination.
I think that new ideas start with imagination, but they might not get very far without the power of visualization. If you stay in the phase of imagining things that ‘might be’ or could be’ these new ‘things’ will not gain enough ‘weight’ of ‘power’ to become real. They will stay in your imagination and never make their entrance into the ‘real world’.
9) Is there any scientific bases on how imagination work?
I’ve long asked myself the same question. Imagination is a tricky subject to study scientifically, because researching imagination requires to study the works of the brain, and in order to do this, a lot of advanced technology is required. And I can imagine that the interpretation of the results this technology produces is also not that straight-forward either. But think of the ‘piano experiment’, which I find a wonderful indication that we will-in time- be able to understand more about the scientific basis of imagination. There is, buy the way, a very interesting book on how imagination is the driving force behind scientific research, by Paul S Gray and & John B Williamson (‘The research of imagination ‘; 2007).
Imagination works through thought, and thoughts are a product of ‘mere’ minor electrical reactions. These thoughts are – consciously or unconsciously – stored in our brain. Since thoughts have a – conscious or unconscious- effect on our nervous system, they are able to affect our behavior, and thus our environment. This means, that imagination, which acts through thoughts, has an effect on the behavior of our organs inside our bodies and on the movements that are visible to our surroundings (f. ex. head-, eye- and arm movement). This effect of our thoughts on our external behavior was used to connect a robot-arm with a man’s arm bone, which he was able to control through his brain (Ortiz-Catalan, 2014).
Another scientific example for how powerful imagination can be is the placebo effect. It is best known for its ability to heal sick persons by telling them that they are given medicine that will heal them. These people consequently recover from their illness, although the medicine was just a sugar sweet with no medicine in it at all; a placebo. A study also documented the ‘placebo effect’ for learning (Wegner and Loughnan, 2013). They asked two groups of test persons to answer some questions. Group 1 was told that before a question appears on their screens the answer would be flashed very briefly on their screens – too fast to be taken in consciously, but ‘slow’ enough for their unconsciousness to pick it up. Group 2 was told that they would only see the questions on their screens. However, both groups were flashed with a random set of letters prior to the question appearing on their screen.
The result was remarkable: group 1, who thought that they had registered the answers subconsciously scored higher in the test than group 2. The belief that they already knew the correct answer had increased the chance of giving the right answer in members of group 1.
How is that as an example of the power of imagination?
10) Your final words
‘The power of imagination’ is not a metaphor. It is real, and has a physical basis in your brain. Imagination is something wonderful that is much underrated, in my opinion. Instead of viewing it as ‘something for the artist or kids’ everybody could profit much more from their own imagination.
It can help you overcome fear, see the good things in your life, help you through tough periods and inspire you to be(come) the best version of yourself that you can be. I actually think that imagination can be a great healer (or the opposite). Yet if your imagination forbids you to think in new ways, if you close the door for ideas or concepts that you learned to reject earlier in your life, your imagination will not be very stimulating indeed.
‘Imagination is everything. It is the preview of life’s coming attractions’ (Albert Einstein)
Let me ask you: What would you like to create with the aid of your imagination- and when are you starting?
Thanks for your time.
Thank you, Dr Duyilemi Akindele Felix for honoring me with this interview.
You may also be interested in: From Kitchenette to the World an interview with Dr. Albert Oduwole
or this: Value is self-advertizing an interview with Tope Popoola
Dr. Duyilemi Akindele Felix is a renowned writer and InternationalInspirational Speaker. He is a popularly sought after Speaker in Corporate Organizations, Schools, Seminars and Churches and host of a daily Radio Program "Life Without Limits" on Impact 92.5Fm. He has written a number of inspirational books, including "It’s In You" "Pick Up Your Broken dreams" "Wake Up Your Destiny" and others. He spends his time reading, writing and speaking. Reach him via [email protected].
PS: Go to my homepage to get a free copy of the "12 laws of Greatness"Ebook.