Wednesday, October 31, 2007

The Invisible Door

Here's a Halloween question that emerged in a previous thread:

How does one "keep the door open" to the psychic or supernatural events? Or keep it shut?

And a similar one:

How does a writer keep the door open to material from the unconscious? And the furthest reaches of the imagination?

I'd love to hear any thoughts you have, any practices that help you.


Sarah Peters | Spiritually Engaged said...


I'm a new reader of your blog and so far I've been loving it!

These are two great questions, and my answers apply equally to both.

First, I meditate using centering prayer techniques that allow me to enter the silence of inner space. Simply sitting for 20 minutes and letting go of all thoughts, sensations, and even insights as they arise has become an important daily practice. Cynthia Bourgeault wrote a book on this form of prayer that I highly recommend.

Also, I record my dreams. Every morning I write down as vividly and completely as I can any dreams I had the previous night. Dreams are direct communication from the unconscious, and getting them down on paper helps you remember them more often. Dreams are often the doorway you speak of to psychic events and material from the unconscious and the imagination.

Lastly, I dialog on paper with characters from my dreams and stories. This is another conscious form of communication that engages the unconscious and the imagination.

The common thread between all these is value - if you pay attention to psychic events, the unconscious, and the imagination and value the input of your subtle senses, then the door will open wider.

Peggy said...

That's a lovely intro into the most effective doors to the door, Sarah.

It's also an investment of time...and time spent regularly. The daily repetition is so important--and I do struggle to remember that this kind of contemplative time is crucial to the process.

Reading your comment I remembered something that happened to me while I was working on my first novel Revelation.

I was sitting on my sofa, at one end, pondering a piece of the story, somewhat unhappily, since I felt stuck. In one of those split-second flashes of thought/image/dream, I pictured a toddler (my 2 year old self) walking the length of the sofa to where I was sitting, wrapping her arms around my head and saying, "I'll help you."

It was a tremendous relief...and I did get unstuck.

billie said...

I had a major experience when I was at a little inn in the mtns revising my first novel, at a point where my agent seemed to have a vision for it that I couldn't quite see.

When I arrived and unpacked, and sat down to begin, the most intense thunderstorm I've ever witnessed exploded right outside my windows - I was in a little room that was literally hanging off the side of a mountain, and the lightning was striking so close it took my breath away. After it was over, a double rainbow appeared. There was a double rainbow in my book, and it sort of kickstarted my writing retreat to see one so close I could reach out and touch it.

I wrote nonstop through that first night, feeling like I was digging deeper than I ever had in any rewrite. But I was also feeling a lot of disruption - I felt I was doing some terrible things to my main character, whose name is Claire.

The next morning, I went to the little lobby/office to get my breakfast and the innkeepers' 3-year old daughter picked me out of the 5 or so adults who were there waiting and thrust her doll into my arms. "This is my doll. Her name is Claire and she wants to tell you that she loves you."

It moved me to tears. There was a dream in the book that had to do with Claire and a baby, and it felt like it was being enacted in the flesh that morning. Very powerful weekend.

I often think we try to hard to "find" these moments. The best ones simply come if/when we open to them.

Peggy said...

That's pretty shivery, Billie. That girl introducing!

I'm also pretty amazed by your writing through the night.

And I'm still very interested in that question of exactly how we stay "open" to such moments.

I think that doing the writing and having the intention are a tremendous start. But I also know that overwork or overfocus on work can prevent such happenings.

billie said...

I often see clients who are closed off to the unconscious and to being open to spontaneity and synchronicity. These are often the same clients who over-analyze and take things very seriously. They're quite often very successful and great people. But blocked, in a fundamental way.

My prescription is simply - play.

I have them get play dough and paints and go to the park and swing and slide. Make mud pies and dig in the dirt. Make messy art. Bake bread and leave the mess until after it's done and you've eaten some hot, with butter.

Jung said, "Often the hands will solve a mystery that the intellect has struggled with in vain."

Getting into the physical, gritty, hands-on experiences of childhood, especially if we have grown up to be very cautious and careful and perhaps a bit perfectionistic in nature, is a really good way to open the channels.

Peggy said...

Excellent advice, Billie. And I'm so pleased with myself that I took off and spent a couple of days on a coastal island this week, playing.

It's possible to take play breaks during an office day too, though. That's why ad agencies "creative" offices look like kindergartens sometimes.

Debra Whaley said...

Sarah, Peggy and Billie,

I absolutely loved reading your comments about this question!

Peggy, the story that you told about your two year old self, approaching you and saying that she would help you, nearly brought tears to my eyes. I think that we forget that there are parts of ourselves that we have buried and have long forgotten, who can really be of help to us in times of need. I started reading a book this morning and the dedication really struck a chord with me. It read, "For all those who longed to find a best friend and found it in themselves." Such a simple thought, but quite profound, as well. Each of us has so many tools that we have hidden away, and if we could just dig down deep enough to excavate them into use, we could find things that we never even remembered that we had. Peggy, your two year old came out in order to remind you of that.

Peggy, I agree that overwork and overfocus does something to prevent the natural creative process from continuing. I have a very hard time when I place too much emphasis on trying to do much at once. I become overwhelmed if I try to push myself past a certain point, and then all circuits shut down.

So how do we stay "open" to such moments? I am much more open to psychic and supernatural events now, than when I was younger, because I feel "protected". I wasn't raised with the knowledge of Guardian Angels, God as a Protector, etc. That was something that I learned much later on. I think that feeling safe and protected by something or someone, really allows me to be more open to psychic experiences. Feeling "guarded" makes me feel more empowered, and when I feel empowered, I am less fearful about the unknown.

As far as being able to use this to reach material from the unconscious, my suggestion would be that if you get to a point where you are feeling stuck, give yourself a breather. If you begin to feel uncomfortable with a train of thought, stop, switch to something that makes you feel secure and protected, and then go back to what you were doing when you feel ready.

I am going to give this some more thought because I find the topic very interesting, but I truly believe that our imaginations will only stretch as far as we feel safe in allowing them to go.

Peggy said...

Feeling securely rooted somewhere does seem crucial.

One rather mundane example comes to mind: drinking tea, a link with familiar reality, while at work on a novel. Every sip is a reminder that I haven't gotten lost in an out-of-body experience.

Also, when I came back from India, I couldn't go to movies for a while. Because I felt I was already dealing with two realities: American and Indian worlds, and that was all I could handle. I couldn't risk losing my bearings in the world of a movie.