An Introduction to Guided Visualation Part III
Written by: Michelle Belanger
This is part three of a series of exercises designed to introduce you to the art of visualization, also known as active imagination. In this exercise, you hone your abilities until you can imagine a figure in full sensory detail to the point where the experience feels real. Visualization techniques serve as the underpinnings for a wide variety of metaphysical disciplines, including guided imagery, past life regression, healing with energy, item construction, and numerous magickal workings.
The Living Image
Now that you have an idea of how visualization works for you, we are going to embark on an extended exercise constructed to hone your imaginative abilities. Over the period of the next couple weeks, you should plan on putting ten to fifteen minutes of your day aside to practice this visualization. The best time to do it will either be just after you've gotten up and started your day or just before you're going to bed, when things are winding down. Make certain you have quiet time for the duration of this exercise so no one will disturb your concentration.
For this visualization, you are going to build an image in your mind. The goal is to imagine this image so vividly that you can relate to it with all your physical senses and ultimately interact with it in your mind.
First, read the following description:
She is tall, with long flowing hair and smooth skin. Her eyes are a deep amber color. When light reflects from her eyes, there is a prismatic effect that hints of many other colors. She wears a flowing robe of a soft, supple material. It cascades around her in voluminous folds. Her hands have long, slender fingers, and you know her hands will be cool to the touch. She wears several bangles and rings, each intricately worked in silver and set with glittering jewels.
In one hand, she holds a chalice of finely wrought gold. There is a deep red liquid in the chalice, and the scent of it hangs richly upon the air. It has a sweet, fruity scent with warm, spicey undertones. The scent of the wine mingles with the scent of her perfume, which is light and crisp and reminds you of the smell of the air on a cold winter morning. When she speaks, her voice is low and musical, and she has a slight accent that you cannot quite place. She stands in a simple stone chamber, waiting patiently for you to approach.
This is the living image you are going to strive to make real in your mind. You may choose to see her as an angel or a goddess or just a wise and benevolent teacher. The chalice she carries contains the wine of inspiration, and your goal is to imagine her so clearly that when she holds this out to you, you can feel yourself take the chalice from her hand and drink.
For each of the steps below, you should go at your own speed and move on only when you feel you have mastered that particular step. Understand that this exercise requires a goodly investment of time and energy. If you want the best results possible, you should be patient with your progress and you should not rush.
Step 1: Memorizing the Details
For the first three to five days of the exercise, read through the passage at least once, paying close attention to all of the details. Once you have finished with the description, close your eyes and try to recall each detail from the description. Focus on one detail at a time until you can perceive that detail clearly. It's all right at this point to only see her in bits and pieces; the important part is memorizing all of the details.
Step 2: Building an Image
When you are comfortable with your memorization, start the visualization without reading the passage first. Focus on one set of sensory details at a time, beginning with the sense you are strongest at imagining. Work toward total recall of all of the details that pertain to this sense. Once you are comfortable with your recall of those sensory details, move on to the sense that is next easiest for you to imagine. Go through each sense, from your strongest to your weakest, until you can layer together a rough sketch of the complete image purely from memory. Then you are ready to move on.
Step 3: Fleshing Things Out
At this point, you should have near total recall of all the sensory details of the image. You have been able to focus on each set in turn and you have started layering them together. For this step, you are going to work toward perceiving her as a real three dimensional figure standing in the stone chamber. She does not have to move or talk at this point. First, work on perceiving her as she stands there. From your vantage point, carefully observe every aspect of her in detail. When you can call to mind her image and perceive it as if she were standing in front of you, you are ready to move on to the next step.
Step 4: Making Her Breathe
You have worked toward memorizing each detail, perceiving them individually, and then perceiving her as a whole. Now it is time to bring her to life so she can interact with you. In this step, you will imagine her in the stone chamber, but you will add small details of movement, facial expression, the sound of her breathing. Work on hearing her speak. You may not be able to clearly make out each word, but you should be able to hear the sound of her voice. Imagine her until you can see her move fluidly as if she were a living, breathing person standing right before you. Once you can perceive her with all of her details plus the added detail of animation, you are ready to move on.
Step 5: Personal Interaction
At this point, you should be able to call to mind the woman standing in the stone chamber so you can perceive her just as if she stood before you. Now you must work toward directly interacting with her, having her hand you the chalice, taking the chalice into your own hands, and then drinking from this. You will feel her hand as it touches yours, feel the chalice in your hands, smell the scent of the wine and taste it on your lips as you drink.
Throughout this interaction, your focus on her should be such that she does not falter or fade when you shift your attention to the chalice but remains as real and solid to you as a living person. When you have achieved such a level of control that you can imagine this exchange and experience it almost as if it is really happening, the visualization should take on a life of its own. At this point, the visualization itself will add details that you did not actively imagine. She will speak to you in that voice that should now be familiar, and you will clearly hear and understand each word. She has a message for you regarding your progress and she can tell you what you need to focus on. Once you drink of the wine, she will give you a gift. Pay attention to what this is and when the exchange is finished, be certain to thank her before you depart.
If you have been successful with this exercise, you will have created what the Tibetans call a Yidam. A Yidam is a tutelary deity, but it is constructed by the student himself. The Yidam is not an entity unto itself but a projection of the student's subconscious mind, and as such it knows things about the student that he inadvertently hides from his regular consciousness.
Through intense visualization, a Yidam can be made to seem very, very real. With enough work, you could feasibly imagine her so strongly that others might be able to perceive her as they would a ghost. As a thought-form, she can take on a life of her own beyond your imaginings and ultimately act independently of you. But that is not the goal of this lesson. This lesson is to hone your skill of perceiving things through active imagination so you can harness those skills for meditation, past life work, energy manipulation, will-work, and ritual later on.
So your final act is to imagine yourself meeting with her and asking her to return to being a part of you. You have built her up from a description on a page to a living, breathing entity, and now it is time to make her return from whence she came: inside you. Thank her for all she has given you. Acknowledge that she is a part of you, then embrace her and feel her return.