When I wrote about notions and billows, I mentioned that these “non-existent presences” was something that I grew up with. I didn’t know what they meant. While I had a belief and interest in the supernatural, it didn’t occur to me that those billows could be associated with that. I did have this nascent idea that not everybody else was as bothered by the billows as I was, but I didn’t want to be a bother myself. So, their effects would be worthy of notice, but not of mention.
In any case, I pursued my interest, and followed the directions of a tutorial for developing extra-sensory perception and the ability to transmute that extra-sensory experience. This tutorial was written for people who didn’t have any experience with (what I now call) billows (and take as a manifestation of notions) and otherworlds at all.
It proposed that an altered state of mind was a requirement for developing skills with this liminality. A specific altered state of mind could be reached through mind-altering substances, or by inducing pain, or by sexual stimulation, or a number of other ways.
Unsurprisingly, the one way that the tutorial continued on with was the quite harmless meditation. To sit still, to relax, in a soundless and dark space with no distractions…This would naturally prompt a shift in attention away from the real world, and towards an altered state of mind whereby the notions and billows can then be experienced.
With enough practice, one can experience the notions and billows without “meditation”, that is, without sitting, without relaxing, with noise and light and something else to do…Familiarity with the altered state makes it easier to shift to.
At first, I thought that I was doing something wrong because nothing about my regular experience was truly changing, but eventually I figured out that I had a natural attunement to the otherworld that was as sensitive as it was ever going to get…and that liminal work was not out of the ordinary, or necessarily empowering, at all.
The next step after that, in the tutorial, was a particular meditation technique that was supposed to induce an experience that I now call “far-fetch”. I describe this technique in my own words:
First, the physical position. I use what’s called the “dead man’s pose” in yoga, laying flat on my back, with my arms relaxed at my sides and palms up. Sometimes I have something supporting my neck. I massage my face with my fingers to clear any stray wisps of hair and relax my forehead (I have a bad habit of frowning) and jaw. Then I sort of shimmy my shoulders against the surface I’m lying on to make sure the muscles are relaxed, becoming aware of the relaxing muscles in the arms, hips, legs, ankles and toes… basically moving the wave of deliberate relaxation slowly down, until I am completely relaxed and just letting the surface I’m lying on support me.
Then I wait, until thoughts like “What will I have for dinner? What will I wear tomorrow? Did I really understand my work or should I check with someone? I remember a song… can’t stop singing it in my mind… that’s annoying. And these images, are they memories or imagination or what?” — just wait, until they quiet, and stop. Until they trickle off into the dark behind my eyelids, and inner silence, a deep and total blank-slate silence. Any sound I hear from outside is just released in the meaninglessness of being in the moment.
Some online tutorials recommend to use this sound, to simply listen out, with a blank mind. This did not work for me, and neither did any visualizations. Personally, I found two things key in this blanked-mind state:
Sense of location. With my mind silenced and dark, I just think of the concept or feel of “the air/space in front of my face”. I don’t imagine it moving, don’t visualize anything, just become aware of that space. Then, I think “the air/space in front of the air/space that is in front my face” and just slowly ease that idea forward until I’m meditating on some vague location beyond my body… about a foot and a half beyond.
Holding the above thought, that sense of location– and this is the hard part– with absolutely no effort. It’s after I’m out that I get to celebrate, or recall what I’m supposed to do, but during the meditation, I need to cultivate a deep feeling of… well, the best word I can think of is “defeat.” I have to sort of trick myself into replicating the feeling of giving up on this in the middle of every time I have a go at it, because that state of being relaxes me far deeper than deliberate relaxation does. It quiets the thrum of excitement, or irritation, even boredom. It’s really just utter defeat, letting whatever will happen, happen. (While maintaining that spatial sense of “beyond” as described in key #1.)
With correct balance, so to speak, I should make it through the disruptive transition to gain the experience of “floating up and away from body” between 20 minutes and 2 hours from starting.
The writer of the original tutorial testified to a heightened form of extra-sensory perception, conviction of an otherworld, and other phenomena following this far-fetched experience. (That is, I use “fetch” in the notion of the experience of being embodied, the relationship with the physical body, and the process of identifying otherwise. Identification is the main thing.)
As I haven’t been able to do this regularly since following treatments for depression, and haven’t experienced such a dramatically heightened effect as the tutorial-writer has, I include the above instructions as a curiosity.
This experience isn’t deliberated. The plan is there, but not the expectation. In initiating a far-fetched experience this way, the expectation must be defeated in order to accomplish the thing. Deliberate imagination doesn’t factor at all. It’s completely passive, and it happens anyway, and that’s what makes it real: Only the passivity in observing a phenomenon makes the experience of the observer true.
At least, that’s what I used to think of this. That same passivity within the construct of a planned, expected, imagined meditation…Well, that’s what I do nowadays, that’s what I’ve found to be more helpful, and that’s what I’ll continue to write about.