Does my imagination serve me?

Post written by Orsolya Hernold

When I was a child, my imagination was my traveling kit – I come from a family with modest opportunities, so I used my imagination to get me to places I longed to go, meet people I was interested in, place myself into roles that were beyond my possibilities. On weekend mornings, I laid in my bed for hours making up stories about my future, making my life seem infinite. Although my daydreams ceased to play such a great role in my life, my creative, imaginary mind has served me well in work projects, training games, birthday party programs.

I see this same quality in my daughter who shares some of her images of secret doorways, ghosts, wild boars and magic wands. I listen to her with awe and try to catch all her stories in writing.

In Kundalini Yoga, I encountered a different approach to imagination. Imagination is represented by the image of a beast, and many of our exercises were aimed at cultivating this beast. Why? Because imagination can create suffering by feeding our desires, enhancing the longing (and the disappointment) for something we cannot reach, only imagine. It can keep us away from the present moment and our reality. It can also create unrealistic expectations (having an ideal or perfect image of ourselves or someone else) or issues only present in our minds (my jealousy and worry are great players here). I also realized how my imagination is at play in my fear of dogs.

So imagination has two sides: it can create art, novelty, ideas, discoveries, inventions, but also can lead to suffering. By cultivating and directing imagination, we can harness its blessings and keep us safe from the harm it can cause. Like my daughter who is yet to learn that spiders, bugs, crocodiles are only images in her head and, in reality, there is nothing to be afraid of in her room.


With the use of imagination, we can (re)arrange abstract and concrete images infinitely – what a power to possess! Still, pay attention to what you are creating in your life: positive, reassuring, inspiring images or an illusion detached from your reality.

My Kundalini book, Swami Sivananda Radha: Kundalini Yoga for the West, inspired this post.


Subscribe: email