When I first started out on this path, I was very concerned about whether I was doing it right. What was meditation and visualization? Eventually, I seemed to stumble into it though and despite occasionally questioning my version of meditation and visualization against what I read as other people’s experience, I began to realize that what I do works for me and gained confidence. I now realize that I have in fact spent many innumerable hours meditating without even realizing that I was doing it.
As a child growing up in England, I had quite a distance to walk everyday back and forth to school. To kill the boredom of the walk, I would imagine that I was a pop star with my own band and a song in the top 10! Occasionally, a strange thing would happen where I would be walking along singing a made up song in my head and imagining performing the song on Top of the Pops (a BBC TV program). Somehow and without knowing how, I would enter a state where I could actually hear the music and pick out the bass, drums, and guitar, piano, and backing vocals. The song took on a life of its own and it was real. Of course, as soon as I consciously realized this I snapped out of that state and instantly lost the ability finding myself singing pitifully in my head once more. After this had happened a few times, I began to actually try to make it happen with some success.
Now, when I am meditating, I know if I have reached the right level because a similar thing occurs. Whatever I am imagining or concentrating or, whatever image happens to arise in my mind, takes on a quality of realness and animation, I am there. For example, I could see a pipe and water begins to flow out of the pipe and I follow where the water is running to without any conscious effort. Suddenly, I can hear the sound the water makes and I can feel its coolness. I have learned to just go with the flow when this happens because any conscious realization of what is occurring results in the instantaneous loss of the experience.
Similarly with visualization. At one time, I would screw my face up with misplaced concentration in an attempt to actually see a picture on the back of my closed eyelids. While, I can and do see images on the back of my eyelids, I know I am truly visualizing in the right state of mind when I see the images in the middle of my head. This is a difficult concept but the image is literally somewhere in my head as opposed to on the back of my eyelids.
The experience is very similar to dreaming and since I have recognized this, whenever I can recall a dream, I make a note of it in my meditation journal. Its amazing reading back over the journal how the waking dreams of meditation and the sleeping dreams correspond and add to one another! I have read a lot about concentration.
Many authors talk about how difficult concentration is and talk about how to achieve it. At first, I interpreted this like others and found that in trying to concentrate acutely, I was simply tensioning all of my facial muscles and not achieving anything except face ache. After I forgot about what I had read about concentration and started to make progress in meditation, I realized what was meant by ‘concentration’. As a result, I interpret this term to mean ‘stillness of mind’ as opposed to an ‘acute focus’. During meditation, one uses concentration to slowly enter a different mental state that is something akin to waking sleep. My body is asleep but my mind is focused, concentrated or centered on the subject of the meditation. This state is also apparently required to ‘remote view’ and I have often wondered if remote viewing and astral projection (as opposed to out of body experiences) isn’t really one and the same thing?
I do now understand though that imagination is the key because once one achieves this state, the experiences that may result from it are triggered by the commencement of imagination. Surely, this is the entire point of ‘path working’ where you are given a scenario to imagine and at some point, the mind takes over and one is off having an experience.
It is in this state of mind that I have traveled both in the present and into the past. I have ‘flown’ over my parent’s home in England from Texas and comforted my wife at home. In the latter case, I was able to prove to myself that the experience was real at some level because I had observed my wife crying and had sat with her to comfort her. After meditation, I went home and found that my wife had indeed been sat on the sofa where I had seen her and she had been crying. She had even felt comforted by a ‘presence’. In this state of mind, I have traversed through my own inner landscapes meeting characters and creatures along the way that had some truth for me. Often, archetypal images, I have talked with my shadow (I call him the angry old man or just Mr. Angry) and have embraced my anima learning much about myself in the process.