To create an imaginary place, we use the same procedure as creating any of the other sense memories: We begin with the Mental Relaxation exercises and warm up the physical body through movement. In order to create an imaginary place, you have to employ all of your senses and be able to create the space around your entire body. This will not usually come all at once. Sometimes, only a portion of a place will come to you, and for certain circumstances, that will be sufficient.
We have already gone through a "lite" version of creating a place in chapter 2, when I introduced the senses and how they might be used in sense memory. The place we used then was your bedroom. What was missing from that excursion was putting the room further in the past and spending more time with the creation of a 360-degree space.
As with all sense memories, choosing the right ones to work on is very important. I have an exercise that I do with my students to introduce the use of place as a sense memory. When I teach, I normally lead the students through this exercise after they are warmed up. If you are reading this book on your own and want to do this exercise, it's quite possible as well. You will have to make sure that when you decide to do the exercise that you are reading it in an atmosphere of concentrated, undisturbed work. Give yourself at least two hours to start with the Mental Relaxation and then go into the exercise. Read a few steps, and then do them. Then read the next step and do it, and so on and so forth.
I call this exercise the Vacation exercise, because it begins with your favorite vacation spot from at least seven years ago. The further back you go, the better. When I say favorite vacation, I mean the first memory that comes up in response to the question: What is your favorite vacation spot from at least seven years ago? Whatever memory comes up first, it is the right one and will serve the purpose of the exercise. It doesn't necessarily mean that you had a good time, or that it is indeed your favorite vacation—it might have even been a terrible experience—but if it is the first memory that comes up, it's the right one.
1 Lie down on the floor, close your eyes, and allow your mind to wander. Don't be afraid if you feel like you are going to fall asleep. Let yourself go into a sort of dream/awake state. Think of o a
the memory of your favorite vacation spot, and allow it to play as a movie in your mind.
2 Start to build the memory through your senses. What were the sights, sounds, smells, tastes, and touches of this experience and place? Ask specific questions, and wait for the answers.
3 When you have reached some fullness of memory, pay more attention to the actual place that you are in, and let go of any scenarios and other people that have entered into the place. Slowly open your eyes, and begin to use your senses to create the space around you. Normally, we would start with sight. If you were lying on the ground in your imaginary place, what would you see if you opened your eyes? Look around you as you try and see the place immediately around you.
4 What would you be lying on in your imaginary place? Sand, grass, a porch? Are you outside?
5 What time of year is it? Ask as many questions as you can think of. Don't worry if you don't get answers. Remember, in many respects there are no answers, just the development of a better question.
6 When you have established some sense of imaginary reality, slowly start to move in the space. Don't get up immediately, always let your movements be led by sensory exploration. For instance, if you are lying in sand, pose the questions: If I am lying in the sand in my memory, what does the sand feel like beneath my body? If I move my hand through the sand, how does it feel between my fingers? What sounds do I hear as I move my body? And so on.
7 As you move through the place exploring your senses, you create the place. Remember, the place is in your imagination. If you stop creating it with your senses, it disappears for the audience. It must exist outside of your self, and that will only happen if you keep exploring it through your senses.
of 8 Move to a sitting position, and then a standing position if you like.
™ Let your movement be guided by asking sensory questions. Do not
< get involved in mime-like activities or interacting with imaginary
5 people, etc. You are strictly creating a place around you from your memory through your senses. Direct the concentration clearly from one thing to the next, systematically.
9 Don't forget to employ all of the relaxation and breathing techniques of the previous chapters to enhance your exploration of the moment.
Once you have created a place around you and you are in the middle of it, you can allow the memories of the place to filter back in. You can employ the Inner Monologue to start to interact with the space. If people figure greatly into your memory, you can speak about them in your Inner Monologue, but you should try to keep from being distracted from creating the place around you. If you allow figures from the past to take over your place sense memory, you may find that it will sabotage and diffuse your concentration. Remember, the primary task is creating the place.
We are going to leave the vacation spot now and go to the street where you lived at the time of the vacation. This is not a travel story—one moment you're in the vacation spot, the next you're standing outside the house or apartment building where you lived. Again, the first place that comes up is the right place, even if it isn't correct in terms of the time and space of your life.
1 Notice all aspects of the street where you lived. What time of year is it? Is it consistent with your vacation, or is it a different season and time altogether? Be very careful that you don't direct your memory as if you were making up a story. Let the memory reveal itself to you and lead you down its own path. If you try and make a nice, neat story out of everything, that is to say, make everything coherent and logical, it will be completely useless as an acting tool. You are not creating a little movie in your mind for others to see or to read, you are plowing the fields of your imagination to employ its fruits in someone else's ^ movie. You will use your imagination to flesh out someone c^ else's story.
2 Create the street through your senses as fully as possible. You may .s want to spend some time on this. Usually, there are many, many | memories connected to the places where we live or have lived. u note about recalling memories: If you find that there aren't any memories or you find yourself becoming bored or tired, it usually means that you are blocked by a major memory that you would prefer not to revisit. To help you overcome this and move forward in the exercise, visualize a chest full of treasures that has one horrible little thing in it, and think of that as your memory bank. Because you don't want to look at or have others see this little horrible thing, you never open the chest. You live in poverty, in rags, because your treasure chest has one thing that cannot not be revealed. Strangely enough, if the horrible thing is revealed, everyone else thinks that it's cute, or they have one just like it and they are happy to see another one. Or perhaps they find it fascinating because it is so horrible, and therefore would like to be your friend, so they could learn more about it. In fact, rather than becoming isolated, you gain comrades by exposing your horrible little things.
I am not talking about describing in detail secrets about your past. I am talking about accessing emotions and parts of yourself that will fuel the details of a fictional character. Very often, you have no idea what might constitute your own personal battalion of horrible little things. You only know that you are frozen in some area. Working on Place will often expose these areas of frozen assets. Once they are exposed, what you want to do about them is up to you, depending on the severity of their power over you. If you see that you have a pattern of avoiding certain things or "spacing out" when you encounter certain memories, try the next step.
3 To break this pattern, you should concentrate on a very small corner of your place and attempt to create it through your senses as realistically as possible. Take, for instance, the corner of a stone stoop and the feeling of the cement as your run your finger over the stone. What parts of your body come in contact with the stone if you are sitting there? How many different types of K little stones can you see within the cement, or is it smooth? And tt so on. Stay within a small, very specific portion of the place.
™ Work very small and very exact. Sometimes, this "tricks" the
< imagination into releasing a much broader bank of memories
5 and objects.
We are going to change the location again. Go into the house or apartment connected to the street. If it is an apartment building, you may wind up in the hall or stairwell first. That's okay; they're part of your home experience just as much as your apartment. Creating a room is one of the most common usages of the place sense memory.
4 Sit or lie down, and close your eyes. Walk into the house or apartment and look around. As always, use all five senses, and follow the path of the strongest impulses. As you move through the house, come to one room and stay there. Now, start to explore that room. Open your eyes, and begin with what you see. Ask very specific questions. What is the color of the walls? What is on the floor? What is the furniture in this room? What are the objects? When you see something that interests you, reach out your hand and touch it.
5 When you pick up an object, be careful that you are able to stay in the room while you are exploring the object as well. In other words, don't drop the room to investigate an imaginary object. This is difficult to do, but try. It requires discipline and systematic direction of the concentration to keep checking that the room is still there. All of this work should be done in a relaxed manner, allowing the breath to fill out the moments and the Inner Monologue to express the thoughts and feelings of those moments.
6 When you find one segment of the room that is very strong for you and ignites your imagination, stay there, and investigate it more thoroughly. Take time with the small details of patterns on a pillow or the intricacies of a needlepoint that hangs on the wall.
7 Stay in this segment of the room, and create the rest of the room from there. Think of your imagination as concentric circles. You ^
are in the center, at the bull's eye, and the space around you ^
emanates from you. Your imagination is directed by your con- ^
centration, and you project it ever farther away from yourself. It's "5
easiest to start small and then work your way to larger and larger .s spaces. Direct the concentration from the circles closest to you to |
the circles farthest away and back to the closest again. £
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