Nurturing Imagination ?

Nurturing Imagination ?


Here at Sarum College our aspirational strapline is Learning to nourish the human spirit ( see something of our work  at and as I complete the first year of my presence, engagement and leadership of the College I have been much intrigued about what it is that enables such nourishment and learning to take place. Over the course of August we have attracted many varied individuals and groups into the College. At the moment we are busy recruiting to our MA programmes having just published the new academic course brochure. This is the context within which I offer this short review.

It is impossible for any of us to sit still and this book Transformative Imagery ( Ed by Leslie Davenport JKP £19.99 ISBN 9781849057424) happily landed on my desk at the right time for reflection and review. We have just embarked upon a re-organisation of  the colleges learning into a number of centres and  have established the Centre for Human Flourishing. In conversation with my skilled and creative colleagues on Friday we began to explore how best to communicate and convey of vision for connection and gathering with those who come here. We want to do this in such a way that can dig deeper into our human condition and what it might mean to work together for wholeness through personal and social change.

In the context of this conversation  I was glad to be challenged to look again at the images and pictures we use when we attempt to try to capture some of that work together.

The expertise and professional skill of Leslie Davenport is demonstrated through this book and its careful organisation and intelligent accessibility. It covers an extraordinary amount of ground. Part one opens up the foundations of guided imagery through four chapters that look at the history and overview of the use of guided imagery. Part two offers four further chapters which examine imagery for health and healing. Part three explores the subject area in relation to depth psychology and Part four offers five chapters that discuss the nature of spiritual images in wisdom traditions. The final part gathers together seven chapters challenging the reader and practitioner to apply some of this good practice and thinking in and through their work. The book is clearly printed and offers comprehensive resources. It is not surprising therefore that Davenport has succeeded in pioneering the adoption of guided imagery into the mainstream practice of medicine and psychotherapy.

Much of our learning is diminished through a dualistic approach that emphasises the cognitive, the physical and the tasks and functions of relating and living at the expense of meaning, mystery and transformation. I have an intuition that many individuals and groups who seek places of learning beyond school or university are longing for something more beyond these materialistic and capitalist models of controlling truth. The chapters of this book demonstrate the extraordinary capacity of human beings for imagination – for moving beyond the immediate and obvious into a deeper place of connectivity and fulfilment.

In the formation of lifelong learners who will engage in living with an emotional intelligence so sadly lacking in many areas of our society this book is really important. However written as it is out of the American context and experience some of it will not be easy to translate into northern European structures and cultures. This reviewer, nonetheless, is determined to use this framework of learning and expertise to shape the work of the Sarum centre for human flourishing. For that inspiration and encouragement this review expresses admiration and gratitude for this volume of essays.


James Woodward

Principal Sarum College

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