A strategy that is helpful in articulating and understanding our interior life is to use imagery and language to express what we are feeling and how it affects us. One image I like to use is that of a newborn baby. On the days when I am stressed out and everything is out of whack, I imagine my interior life is like a screaming baby. My response is to calmly rock the baby back and forth and let him slowly calm down. On the days when my heart is resting and my meditation is calm and peaceful, the baby is calmly sleeping. Maybe such use of the imagination might seem a little different, the reality is that I find it incredibly helpful.
The imagination is a powerful tool. The reality is that often our experiences have a certain ineffable quality to them. When we label things, this can either help us to address, express, and release difficult feelings, or it becomes a cycle of negative reinforcement in which we beat ourselves up. The cycles of negativity often cause us great distress. Instead of learning to rest and enjoy life, we can become rigid and overly reactive.
The key is to use our imagination to promote our well-being and deepen our relationship with Christ. In this sense, using our imagination becomes an aspect of meditation. The baby image I used before is not some technique I use before entering into prayer. Rather, it is intimately tied with it. Such use of the imagination should be a part of our on-going dialogue with Jesus Christ. Otherwise, we our talking to ourselves, and although this still has a natural benefit, it is not the fullness to which all people are called.
So next time you are stressed out and tired, take 10 minutes to talk with Jesus. Use some image or word or anything that strikes your fancy. It might seem a little ridiculous, but try it out and see what happens. You can also use biblical images or religious art. The guiding rule in such practices is if you begin to experience the fruits of the Spirit found in Galatians.