The Power of Thinking in Shapes

Different shapes evoke powerful shifts of energy and attention

My client Ruthanne runs a small publishing company and always has a gazillion ideas running through her head. She’s also married with two small children. Life is busy and overwhelming. Thinking in shapes has made all the difference. It’s how she connects with herself and her own inner knowing.

It’s how she stays grounded and focused.

Underneath the surface of your conscious mind lies a potent language that is common and universal among all cultures. It is the language of aesthetic form.

There’s a reason bank buildings are square. There’s a reason that when we need rest we go to a large body of water… or the desert. There’s a reason web designers use lots of white space. (Space allows readers’ eyes — and brains! — to stay calm so they can absorb the material.) There’s a reason why group facilitators seat people in a circle (rather than lines of chairs) when they want to create a sense of cohesiveness and group bonding.

Corporate advertisers consciously and strategically use shapes in their buildings, products, and advertising because different shapes appeal to and awaken different parts of our brain. But shapes aren’t just for corporate advertisers and web designers. Every one of us can tap their potent power.

Confused about the direction of a project? Getting distracted by other things? A LINE brings clarity, definition, precision, and focus.

Feeling anxious about an upcoming presentation? A SQUARE brings the beautiful qualities of a line (clarity and definition), along with safety, sturdiness, and strength.

Ready to launch a new program? A TRIANGLE also brings clarity and definition (line) and the sturdiness of a square. But the triangle has a particular vision it’s reaching for. The triangle honors and develops this vision from a place of sturdy groundedness.

Something is missing but you’re not sure what it is? Work with a CIRCLE. Circles gather the stray threads and missing pieces. A well-formed circle with a clear edge also has the clarity and definition qualities of a line, but the circle is primarily about wholeness and completeness. With circle, there are no edges or corners for anything to hide in. Everything that makes up this whole is all here, all present, and all accounted for.

Stuck in a way of thinking about something? Need to let go of the rules and be creative? Free up the lines and immerse yourself in NO SHAPE. Think soup, the sea, the desert, a vast field, or a wispy cloud.

Squares are sturdy with clear boundaries, while water is loose and flowy. There is no “right” or “wrong.” Sometimes we need to be flowy, sometimes we need to be more clear. On busy days, Ruthanne spends much of her day as a square, triangle, or line, keeping her clear-headed and focused. But on the weekends when she wants to enjoy downtime, she likes to “lose her shape.” And on a deep level, Ruthanne is working circle energy as she’s been unearthing a buried dream to write a novel. The circle is honoring her desire to include all the parts of herself as she moves forward in the next stage of her life.

How to “think” a shape?

First, it’s important for you to know that your imagination can take you absolutely anywhere. (…that’s its power.)

Why is visualization so popular? Because it works.

So let’s play with an example. What do you feel you most need right now? For myself, there’s a lot of change happening in my life and I’ve been feeling anxious. So I’m going to call on the power of the square. Why don’t you become a square with me?

First, I take a calming breath and gently close my eyes. The language of aesthetic form is “bigger” than me — it’s something I can “rest into.” When you work with the imagination, you should feel a sense of ease and restfulness. As the author and spiritual guide, Kathleen Dowling Singh, once said, “Rest. Rest without the need to become. Rest in Being.”

In this place of calm and rest, I imagine that all of myself is here right now. There are no scattered thoughts, energies, or parts of myself that are missing. I am right here, right now.

Then I imagine the shape of a square. I don’t need to see this shape or image clearly — I only want an inner sense of square form. Then… I imagine that I AM the square.

Many of my clients initially have a strong bias against squares. They immediately get scared and believe this means they are “boxed in.”

But… you are not inside the square. You ARE the square.

BEING the square is very different than being inside the square.

As the square, I’m very sturdy. Someone can come along and push on me and I won’t tip over. I’m grounded and I can’t be pushed around. I also have a good sense of myself — I have clear lines and definition. I know exactly where my corners are. I know exactly what size I want to be today (and I know I can be any size that I’d like because this is MY imaginative power).

To go deeper into what the square wants to say to me, I do a bit of writing:

“I am the square. I am solid and clear. I get to define myself. I don’t get swept into what other people think or want for me. What I really want to say is, I get to define myself.”

Beneath every project, relationship, person, and circumstance is an underlying shape. What shape is that for you right now? You can’t do this wrong. Choose whatever shape feels appealing and then imagine yourself becoming it. What does it feel like? Can you feel a shift in your energy?

To go deeper, you might do a little journaling to see what shows up. For example: “I am the circle. I am whole and beautiful…” Or, “I am the line. I am very focused…”

For more on the power of shape and aesthetic form, check out my website, www.kimhermanson.com, and my new book, Deep Knowing: Entering the Realm of Non-Ordinary Intelligence.

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coach for creative breakthroughs + guru of the power of metaphor + faculty at Pacifica Graduate Institute. www.kimhermanson.com

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Kim Hermanson

Kim Hermanson

coach for creative breakthroughs + guru of the power of metaphor + faculty at Pacifica Graduate Institute. www.kimhermanson.com

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