My pondering on the distance learning training was partly prompted by the questions I have been asked on occasion. Mostly, people wonder about how they can connect with each other, a topic I dealt with in part one of my reflections.
Sometimes the questions are more about the difference between a long residential format and the shorter, monthly sessions. I have always been taken by the idea of the peripatetic monk or nun, who, rather than shut themselves away in a monastery, instead, live their spirituality out in the world. I mention this, as it is part of the sensibility I try and bring to the Distance learning training.
In this training, we do our work, in the midst of living our everyday lives. Not all our meetings are at such a great distance. We have at least one residential planned for the trainings. But, in general, we are apart, living our lives and weaving our experience of imagery between the comings and goings, the doings and happenings of every day.
Participants have dealt with so many crises: deaths of partners and friends, loss of income, relationship issues, children, work and all that. Moreover, they have had to work with it, as it happened, in the moment, as they were also scheduling journeys with fellow trainees, and attending group sessions as well as dealing with whatever else was happening.
The training has been a great gift in these situations. Imagery work helps integrate and heal whatever is happening and participants experience how deeply supportive their inner guides are, right in the middle of these events. It is wonderful learning to have, as they go forward to work with others.
Sometimes people ask me but which training is better?
That question is not the question that needs to be asked.
Returning to your deep self
Returning to your deep self and trusting again your own core wisdom or guidance, is what this work is about. So, perhaps the question about which training format to attend is where you begin to really pay heed to that inner guidance.
It is not a question about which training is better, in an objective sense but it is a deeply subjective question: which training is the one that I need to attend?
If someone tells you that one format for the training is objectively better than another, be a little cautious. They may have thoughts and may be very convinced by their own thoughts, but that doesn’t mean they are correct. Imagery is not confined to what we think, and Imagery doesn’t judge. Instead, it takes every opportunity offered to draw us deeper into the richness of our inner life, whether we connect through phone, internet or sit side by side with each other.
I have experienced both residential trainings and distance learning trainings. The trainings I did over the first 20 years, were all residential. The last 2 have been distance learning. Both have their strengths and their unique characteristics. Both hold you beautifully and can guide you to where you need to go in yourself. Both allow you integrate and grow more and more in your wholeness.
Of course, both depend on you being a full participant in your own growing. There is no magic formula. You need to seek your own growing and healing with all of your focus and in the trust that you will be guided in that along the one, unique path that is yours. Your inner guides know the destination and the pacing of that journey. All deep imagery trainings will allow you to grow in trust of the inner process that is yours, and no one else’s.
People do, of course, have preferences. They have needs that may be met better in one format rather than another and better with one trainer, rather than another. One way of training may indeed suit you better than another one and that is something for you to engage with as you make a decision.
My advice is that you pay attention in this time of choosing. Obviously, the work appeals to you. So take the time to ask your guides, to journey a little and to come home to yourself as you make the decision.
Sometimes the question is about which is the better trainer? To answer that, you need to know what a trainer goes through to become a trainer. It is not a case of attending a few workshops, reading some books and then, getting certified. Anyone who is recognized as a trainer in this work has spent many years working with Deep Imagery. They know the power of it in their own lives and can draw on that trust and knowing as they work with others. They have, most likely, attended numerous trainings as a participant. (People do that, even without wanting to become a trainer, because of the depths it brings them to and the continuous integration that occurs in their lives).
Trainers also will have taken Workshop Leader Training and worked with groups of people. And, finally, they will have apprenticed with a trainer and attended a number of trainings as an apprentice and co-trainer. In other words, our trainers are dedicated to the work and know the power of it for themselves, in their own lives. They have spent many years gaining experience with the work so that their knowing is deeply integrated into who they are in themselves. That is the key element in getting permission to train others: You have done your own extensive deep work. You understand the processes of the deep imagination but that understanding has been gained through continuous, dedicated attention to your own deep healing.
So there is no trainer I would not trust. There is neither better nor worse here, but there are people with deep and vast experience in the work, who have an ability to share it and to lead someone through the process.
There are of course differences in trainers. The nuance they give to their teaching is their own because it is grounded in their own personal experience. All our lives are different, and so we have learned to meet and trust our inner guides in varying situations, for ourselves. It doesn’t mean we are limited to our own life experience but it does mean that we have a particular experience to draw on.
My own experience includes the death of my baby; of illnesses; the experience of being an immigrant and living in varying cultures; my experience in learning Jicarilla medicine; my love of myth; my working through my childhood. … there are many, many things I draw on.
I know grief, trauma, love, joy, illness, loss as all humans do. I know how the many negatives and positives of my life have impacted me and I know how deep imagery has helped me integrate my experiences. The great wonder, of course, is that I still live and experience, and daily have more and more to integrate.
Life with Deep Imagery is an ever-evolving adventure!
As a new group begins to gather to take part in the three year Distance learning program, I have begun to reflect on the depth and beauty of this work and how tremendously powerful the distance learning program is.
We are blessed to live in a world that provides relatively easy technology, through which we can connect with each other, across many miles and even many continents. But the technology is not what makes the program powerful. The program works because of the power of the deep imagination and the dedication of the participants; the willingness they have to go deep, to hold space, to guide each other and to trust the deep imagination.
Many times, over the last few years, my trainees have spoken about the depth of connection they feel with each other; the marvel of trusting in such a theoretically nebulous space; the beautiful synchronicity in the experiences they have, the discovery of their own depths and the depths they find in each other. Their deep imagery guides are there, waiting and willing to guide them to where they most need to go, whenever they open themselves to that space.
To work at such distances is quite a blessing in many ways. To work successfully, one needs to truly ground oneself, to find that connection to earth and self and inner wisdom. It asks one to relentlessly pay attention to one’s own process. And then, with great trust and skill, to reach forth from that place within and hold space for another human being. It requires attention. It requires tenderness. It requires trust in the inner guides, trust in deep imagination, and trust that what needs to happen, will happen.
Above all, for those participating in the program, it requires cultivation of presence and depth; a willingness to encounter the deepest parts of your self and to root yourself there. For without that, you cannot guide. Even when sitting in the same room with another person, if you do not connect to your own depths, you cannot guide well and even more so, when the distances are so great.
If you were to ask me what one of the greatest strengths of the distance learning program is, I would say it is this: It creates a situation where one has to learn very quickly to develop presence, to be able to hold space, to be able to reach out and hold another person with safety, tenderness and compassion; It calls forth one’s fundamental trust in the inner guides of the deep imagination.
As we move through this program, year by year, I myself continue to learn and expand. I learn to trust more and more. My own journeys deepen. I am often in wonder at the beauty of the journeys and the depth of the healing. I shouldn’t be, perhaps, as I have worked for almost 30 years with deep imagery. But the work continuously surprises me and delights me.
At my core of cores, I trust the wisdom of the deep imagination. It is not bound by thinking that suggests this may not work. Deep Imagery, after all, doesn’t confine itself to our thinking patterns! Instead, it consistently takes every opportunity to become our companion and to guide us exactly where we most need to go, at all times and in all ways, for the sake of our wholeness.
And maybe that is the truth of the program: The deep imagination will always work towards our wholeness and healing. All we need to do is give ourselves the opportunity to meet with it, to allow it guide us through our healing in exactly the timing that is best for us, and through this, for each of us to come to experience our inner beauty.
When the avenue for our connection is via the internet and phone, our deep imagination does not judge. Instead, it takes the opportunity to bring us healing, and to tend to our wholeness, in a way that is uniquely and tenderly crafted, so as to gift us with exactly what we need for our growing.
The beauty of the Deep Imagery training is not rooted in the vehicle we use to deliver it but in the power of the deep imagination and the willingness of the participants to engage fully in their process. Those who have experienced the training are witness to that beauty.
Thank you to all who accompany me on this great adventure. Thank you, Steve Gallegos, for your companionship and support on this trail. Thank you, Barbara, for your heartfulness. Thank you, Kristyn and Susi, for risking the great adventure…and to my other fellow travelers on the path, love, gratitude, and more love!
There are a number of places both on this website and on DeepImagery.net where we outline the benefits of our training and tell you about the curriculum and the expected outcomes. All that information is valid. This type of description appeals to our logical, thinking side. It may be needed if you wish to speak to an employer in order to take some time off or if you are invested in learning skills. All we describe, we provide. Indeed, I don’t believe that there is any other imagery training currently available that offers as much as we do in the line of skills and exposure to types of imagery work. But this work goes deeper than skills alone.
Our deep imagery training is not just about learning skills but it is about attending to your own wholeness, about your own inner process, about going deep within and discovering your own inner allies. It gives you the luxury of a dedicated time in which you can go deep within and discover the beauty and profound wisdom of your inner world.
This training allows you develop relationships with the deepest aspects of your self. Sometimes, maybe even mostly, these aspects come to you as animals. Sometimes, they come as other beings. Through this work you get the opportunity to grow your relationships with them so that they become your allies and friends, your companions on the journey of your life.
Yes, there may be scary moments during the training. There will undoubtedly be injuries that need healing. There will be parts of you that perhaps you have never before met, powerful parts, sad parts, joyful parts. There will be injured animals, lost animals, sad animals but there will also be happy animals, powerful animals, loving animals. There will be feelings, emotions that may be new or recurrent. You will encounter your thinking both as it supports you and also in those places where it doesn’t.
But through even the darkest of places, you will never be alone. You inner guides will walk with you and will never bring you anything you are not ready to handle. Your trainer and training group will also walk their paths beside you, in companionship, as they too, (trainers included) do their own work, meet their own guides and journey to those places of deepest healing.
Your deep imagery guides will teach you to be compassionate and tender with yourself. They offer you endless compassion on your journey. They allow you speak the things that are deep in your heart, to say the words that perhaps you have never expressed, or words you did say but were never before heard. Your inner guides become your best friends and your best teachers. They have been waiting for you to come and say hello, to walk with them, to experience their love for you. They will teach you to trust, to know the ways of your soul.
In the training, there will also be times of great joy and celebration, of insight and of owning the parts of you that you pushed away because they were too big, too powerful, too whole. Our training gives you the time to know yourself, to discover and celebrate your wholeness; to know wholeness as an continuous, beautiful path.
Your trainers and the other people in your group will also accompany you. You will not be alone for human companionship. Your training group will hold the space you need. They will listen with respect. They will guide you in to your inner world. And you too will learn to listen to yourself, to make room for the beauty that is within you, to trust that your healing is not only possible but fully available to you, waiting for you to say “I’m here. I’m ready to go with you.” That is all it takes to begin.
My advice to my trainees is “Pay attention your own healing first. Dedicate yourself to seeking your own wholeness. Your own healings, your experience with deep Imagery will teach you best of all how to be with others. This training is a chance to deepen yourself. Seize the opportunity with both hands and all of your heart.”
Deep Imagery changed my life. It continues to do so! It can change yours too.
© Mary C. Diggin, PhD
The Deep Imagery Distance Learning program is a distance learning version of The Core Curriculum Training in Deep Imagery, as developed by E.S. Gallegos, PhD. It is a 3 year program, certified by the IIVR (international Institute for Visualization Research). The residential program has been in operation for over 30 years. Until 2017, it had been only offered as a residential training. In the residential format, it consists of 12 full days a year, divided it into 2×6 day or 3×4 day periods, each year.
The distance learning format allows people to take the training but not need to travel themselves. It also allows the group to be smaller. The DIT program allows people to integrate Imagery very much into their lives and deepens their imagery practice through that daily interaction.
Like the residential program, its core requirement is that the trainee experiences Imagery and imagery journeys and through that, gain the familiarity and the trust they need to work effectively with others. In the residential training, trainees primarily work with each other. In the distance learning group, the work between the group happens long distance but people also work with others…. friends, family, perhaps clients…in one on one sessions.
The distance learning program works with a small group. Each training group is currently between 3-6 people. This allows for close supervision by the trainer and allows for flexibility in scheduling.
Our group currently meets through Zoom, an online webinar app. Each session is recorded and uploaded afterward to the website so people can listen to the sessions as they need. The structure allows for group journeys, individual journeys, discussion and instruction and has been very effective. I use a conference call setup which also has the option for video. The format we are using has been very effective and does not make people who are not technologically minded shy away and our sessions are very rich.
Trainees also have access to video of Dr. Gallegos and others guiding and journeying so they get to see how individual the experiences can be. I also bring in ‘guest” speakers occasionally as I want to expose the people I work with to the widest possible array of quality, in terms of trainers and uses of imagery. My experience also is that it gives more direct trainer interaction than the residential might.
Residential vs Distance learning
Some people will prefer a residential setup. It is a block of time in which nearly all the work takes place. Check with www.deepimagery.net for upcoming residential trainings or contact trainers individually from the IIVR trainer listings on this site.
The distance learning is more fluid than the residential training in its timing and is split into discrete bites that will suit some people and their lives. As a group, we meet for about 1.5 to 2 hours, once or sometimes twice a month. This is the main instruction time and we decide on that time together. The people involved have to be self-motivating to a certain degree. They have to schedule time with members of the group to journey and to practice. They may also schedule sessions with others to practice one-on-one in person guiding. They also occasionally send the trainer questions or schedule a consultation time. It is very flexible. It will suit some people and not others.
All our deep imagery trainings are very experiential. We want people to experience imagery as deeply as they can. We nurture the relationships people build within the deep imagination. That is the core of what we do. Out of that, people find their own depths and trust their own paths and know how to be with the depths, both in themselves and in others.
In deep imagery as we understand it in the Personal Totem Pole Process, the emphasis is on relating directly to the imagery guide and in fully partaking in the experiences that occur in the imagery journeys. A journey begins with the practitioner leading the journeyer through a relaxation process. The aim is to help shift the journeyer’s attention away from where it is currently focused and into their body experience. From there it is easy to shift attention to the window of imagery.
In a deep imagery journey. our first action is to call for an inner guide, usually an animal, inviting it to come to us. Experience in Imagery journeys is deepened by our active participation with the inner animals rather than by simply observing the animal, thinking about it or interpreting it symbolically. Thus the primary tasks we have as journeyer, are to communicate with the animal, listen to its response, and allow space for further interaction.
Greet the inner guide and thank it for coming. ,Asking the animal some open- ended questions, such as “What do you need from me?” “What needs to happen now?” “Is something ready to heal?” all allow a deepening of the Imagery journey and enable a truly interactive and relational experience.
By remaining curious about our own process, responsive to our imagery guides and keeping the journey outcome open-ended, the deep imagination
has the space it needs to bring us to where we most need to go for our own growing, be it emotional, psychological, or spiritual.
“It is alright to understand it metaphorically but the animal needs also to be related to in the immediacy of its existence, not merely as if it were ‘a message about.’ To treat the animal as if it were only a metaphor about other aspects of one’s life is to miss the fact that it is also the living nucleus of the connection to those other aspects.”
E.S. Gallegos, The Personal Totem Pole Process, 190
To be a successful deep imagery guide, we must become familiar with the realm of the deep imagination and trust our own inner imagery guides. We need to become skilled at guiding without intruding, of holding space with clarity, with giving direction without distracting the journeyer.
Training in the Personal Totem Pole process is thus highly experiential, allowing participants to plunge deeply into their own process, in order to familiarize themselves with the workings of the deep imagination. The training holds that the foundation for any therapist is his or her own inner growth. One can only guide where one has gone before so the training requires a depth of commitment to one’s own growing, an openness to change, a curiosity about one’s own process and a willingness to experience whatever needs to happen for one’s own healing.
The trainee is not merely taught a number of techniques but has an opportunity to undertake his/her own inner work which insures that their eventual ability with the Personal Totem Pole process emanates from deep personal experience.
Right now it is not a matter of understanding but of experiencing our presence and your own aliveness:’ answers Elephant “Understanding will come later. Understanding always follows experience and cannot precede it If it precedes experience then it is a false understanding, a sham, a fantasy, a make-believe.
ES. Gallegos, Nothing is Nothing, 10