We dream when we drop inside and call up a mental map of where we might have left our keys.
We dream when poetry sends our mind off onto an associative journey.
When we loose ourselves in a video marathon.
When we feel a bit off and we let that dominate our thoughts, perceptions, feelings, and energy-making, we unknowingly invoke our imagination to expand that feeling to our top to bottom.
When we have to guess.
When we free associate.
When a scent takes us backward in time and we reconnect to where we were and what we were doing at that time.
When we reach a destination after driving or walking and not remember much of what happened during our commuting time.
When two things connect and a new idea bursts upon us.
When we listen to the rain, the waves, the wind and we end up following the sound’s lead.
… to know a few.
There is the old view of meditation that one empties their mind and then they are in nirvana. The assumptions if we could just quiet our mind, then nirvana would arise. Chattering of our worries, planning, analysis was the enemy.
A brief time doing what is called non-directive meditation reveals that much more enticing than mind chatter are the images that seep into our inner view. These are more than snapshots of some irrelevant street corner or some dreamy unknown possibility. Images become movies, complete with sound, touch, and emotional tone that draws us along. So immersive they are, we loose track of time, the environment around us, our original intent to mediate. We started off with the goal of standing off, untouched by our mind, heart, and the world, and instead we are wrapped up in its drama.
Scenes from the movie on the Buddha’s life, the Little Buddha, capture our struggle not to be overtaken by inner attractions when meditating. Of course, when we are working to increase imagination, we seek out such attractions and linger within them, but that discussion is for another time. Meditation can show us just as frequent and deep our inner imagery is, called or uncalled.
How to Practice Non-Directive Meditation to See Your Inner Movies
This approach comes from a practice called Conscious Mental Rest, at least how I apply it give a close view of the mind at work.
- Close your eyes and notice where you eyes naturally go when let go and rest.
- Feel the eye muscles and get to know the feeling.
- Focus your awareness on your relaxing eyes and stop speaking to yourself. Quiet down.
- Anytime chatter comes up, say “No” and make the chatter stop. Realize that you in search of more important things than your chatter at this moment.
- Wait with as empty of mind as you can keep. Before long, when you have the chatter under control and things are quiet, images will seep in. For a few minutes treat them the same way as the chatter by saying “No” and not letting them go any further.
- More and more images will show up. When you wish, let go with your opposition and submerge with some imagery.
- Shake off this imagery and get back to having an empty mind.
This back and forth will show you prevalent imagery is in your mind, whether you are seeking it or not.
I could not believe my eyes when, the other day, I noticed that this long out-of-print and much sought-after book is back in print. The few copies that were around were selling for $100 plus. If you have any interest in knowing far more about the experience of inner imagery get this book before it disappears again.
In 1987, Andreas Mavromatis published Hypnagogia: The Unique States of Consciousness Between Wakefulness and Sleep. In 360 pages, he summarized major and minor writings and added his observations on this powerful experience and easiest path to high-quality inner imagery. Although we are a few decades out from that publishing date, the information is still highly relevant since so little discussion of hypnagogia has occurred in the intervening years. Dreams and dreaming have soaked up most of the research and creative studies around inner states.
He splits his research into three helpful categories:
- the phenomenology of hypnagogia (sensory, cognitive, and emotional characteristics)
- hypnagogia compared to other special inner states
- brain function as related to hypnagogia
He spends a bit of time on methods but this is cast in a more general rather than specific way. You will find the how-to-do-it steps here at Fireball Imagery rather than in Mavromatis’s book.
Bottom-Line: Get this book while you can. A must read for those who want to know much more about this inner state.
Where to get it: Note – The following link goes straight to the bookseller and I in no way receive any payment for recommending this book.
Experience Hypnagogia for Yourself
- Tonight, linger with relaxed wakefulness rather than following straight asleep.
- Bring up a memory or some idea you want to explore.
- Relax more until you start to feeling additional ideas, feelings, and imagery is strongly present.
- Hang out in that place and take in the experience.
- Hold a few things you want to remember later by making a clear mental intention that you will remember such-and-such item.
- Fall asleep anytime you want.
- In the morning, recall that which you wanted to remember and contemplate that item.
The Place of Imagination is where the imagination is quickly stirred and released. It is domain and center of power of a worker of the imagination. The alchemists had their labs; the ancient philosophers had their caves; Europeans, the forests; lamas, mountainside retreats; and genius makers (i.e. Edison and Tesla), their workshops.
Rembrandt really captured the essence of a Place of Imagination in his painting called The Philosopher in Meditation (shown above). We see a combination of sunlight and fireplace light, perhaps representing the analytical or conscious mind, and darkness that intensifies up the spiral staircase, a swirling force that pulls us into the unknown and unseen unconscious. The imagination awaits the philosopher who sits looking downward, turned away from his book.
Here is a video of the painting with zooming, turning, and varied contrasting:
Finding Your Place of Imagination
You probably already have one but the work-a-day world keeps you from remembering the location. Slow down and spend some time and think if you have been in a place of magic (for you). This place can be in the real world or a place of your imagination.
When you find it, and sometimes it has to be constructed from two or more locations combined imaginatively into one place, explore it. Find its qualities. If need be, furnish that place with special objects that fascinate you.
Lock it in by making this the place where you start your imagination work. In time, this will be your Place of Imagination.
Tesla followed by Edison
The Alchemist in Search of the Philosopher’s Stone, by Joseph Wright, 1771
Visualization – is the ability to bring a specific image or goal to our “mind’s eye” for exploration and creativity. An example would be: I need to develop a video script and need to visualize the camera shots including which angles I will use, the anticipated lighting found on location, and other factors important to producing a good video. A second example: I’m having trouble following through on projects. I know the story of the tortoise and the hare is an important allegory for me about persistence. I will visualize the story each day before getting down to work.
Imagination – is broader than visualization because it allows more unguided elements from our unconscious to mingle with what we bring into a imagination session. For instance: Turning to the videomaking project, I know a lot of what I want to film but there are some aspects that I don’t know how to convey. In an imagination session, I visualize what I know but then I let things “go” and watch what my mind brings up. I let my imagine run free and I observe and learn.
Dreaming – is that state where we are very far from our usual way of being in the world. This is rapid-eye-movement dreaming as we sleep. Dreams can be recalled with practice and dream symbols and stories and can be explored for deeper understanding of what is happening in our unconscious.