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  • Writer's pictureErin Clark

Rule your imaginal realms

My back is confused about it’s back duties. This has happened before, so I know it will pass. When I lie down, I am in no pain. When I move or sit, I get bolts of electricity in my back that range from cautioning to so intense It’s like I grabbed an electric fence but the fence is inside me and it is grabbing itself. It’s worse after getting up after lying down. Peeing in the morning is like having a lightening storm inside me. Buzzz zappp ⚡️⚡️⚡️It’s a kind of wobbling miscommunication between my hip flexors and my lower back and my squished up, already-not-where-they-should-be nerves.

Sometimes, if I go slow, it all sorts itself out by afternoon and I can move as I usually do, so in that spirit, I went downtown to take in the fresh sunny day. I have never moved so slow and cautiously in my entire life. I have never paid so much attention to what internal collection of tensions holds me upright, moves me forward, braces my body against bumps and swoops. And I pay a lot of attention. It took me an entire walk signal to roll un-painfully over the sidewalk bumps at the edge of the curb. I had to wait for the next round to cross. It had switched again while I carefully rolled up the curb, cars passing behind me as I moved one. wheel. at. a. time. I do not move slow. I do not think slow or feel slow or function in any kind of slow. When my Uber driver said, ‘take your time,’ I thought, ‘my time is very different today.’ And let us both accept that. I talked him through dismantling my chair as I executed my transfer into the backseat at exactly the pace of a sloth. I sat weird, slightly elevated and angled to the left, so the bumps on the road couldn’t electrocute me and agreed with him genuinely when he talked about the beautiful day, beautiful life.

Back in my bed, there is total relief -no pain, and my mother is often nearby in case I need something, like, for example, a witness to how slow I can move now. So slow. So still. Like the physical part of me is actually in another dimension, which is out of phase.

My mom reaches for things. She washes the bathtub, the dishes, my laundry. I lie in bed where there is no pain. The bedrest plan is supernatural erotica, pink lipstick, home baked cookies.

Another thing you can do while lying down for days a time is practice your trance skills. To get into the zone, I like to use ASMR videos (I recommend Maria), or binaural beats (I recommend Sonesence music), or space cookies (I recommend my friend’s freezer - or the Canadian government).

Do you guys remember magic-eye posters? Where you had to kind of squint your eyes and keep your gaze out of focus despite its persistence to regain focus, and if you could do it, you were rewarded with a 3D image of an elephant or tiger! I think of trance skills like that, but you squint with your mind’s eye and you do a soft, out of focus thing with your whole body - you feel it, but out of phase. You’re here, and in the imaginal realm simultaneously. I find powerful and pleasant healing, inspiration and an enhanced capacity for being in the imaginal realms. I like to go there as much as I can, in whatever way will take me.

One thing I had never done before was straight up hypnosis. Lying in bed indefinitely felt like an excellent time to do some past life regression over Zoom with a hypnotist in Korea, so I contacted my friend Simone Grace Seol.

Simone's internet was being grumpy in her office, so she took her laptop to her bedroom and we both reclined for our session. Then she talked me down and inward. And what a gorgeous narrative journey. Just the surrender of mind it takes to journey like that is powerful for me, I don't surrender or release control naturally, I have to chose it, practice, and chose it again. In some ways that process is more important than the content of the journey - though I heal by narrative, if you haven’t noticed.

My mind told me a story I hadn’t heard from it before and I was pleased. And then I slept a dream-filled sleep.

The next morning Simone messaged me to apologize.

“I realized I made the mistake of leading you during the hypnosis induction to “walk” through a beautiful place. Ableism much? I am so sorry. I’ll be paying much more attention next time! You were kind to let it slide.”

I had just written about this experience - the impersonal rejection of being guided to visualize a body that is not mine to participate in healing, grounding, meeting my higher self, whatever. I was exploring what happens to you when even your imaginal realm is occupied by the pressure to not be you.

But I did not let it ‘slide’. I just knew what to do instead.

It took me ages (and a lot of alienating group meditations) to figure out what works for me in visualizations. If I imagine myself rolling through a beautiful place, my brain immediately tries to factor in the actual effort it would take to roll through a meadow or along a beach, because that's how I actually make those things happen - by imagining them as close to how it would actually be as possible. My brain is so familiar with the process if thinks i'm preparing for a real-life stroll in a magical meadow and instead of in an effortless dream world I’m in sharp focus again and again and out of the magic.

However, if I imagine myself walking, not only does it take the exact same amount of sharp focus, (‘is this what walking feels like? Is this how fast I would move?’) it also is no longer me. I have to imagine someone else who I have seen walk and smoosh them into a composite of ‘me.’ I can visualize the beautiful place in excruciating detail, but I can’t imagine myself in it.

But the idea of the beautiful place, is the sensory detail, not how you get around in it. The idea is to anchor yourself in this interior body, you feel the breeze in your hair. You smell the salt of the sea. You hear the rustle of leaves in the trees. Your physical body lies in bed, listening to car horns and shouts and the fridge turning over, your imaginal body is aroused by dream nature and you are eased into your subconsious' world to learn what it knows that you don’t yet.

A sense of movement is also a sensation. So I float. I see myself sitting down and I float forward. I can float down a river, my hands outstretched to brush through the reeds. I can float through a meadow, parting tall grass as I move slowly through it, plucking wildflowers and collecting them in my lap. I can float up a mountain, through a forest, down a beach. no strain, all sense.

There are limits in the physical world. There shouldn’t be when you dream. Practice your dreaming skills, rule your imaginal realm.

I was so pleased and more deeply healed when Simone made a point of calling herself out and discussing it with me. If you’re a practitioner who uses guided visualization and you want to have your client move through a scene, ask them how they’d like to imagine themselves moving and see what you come up with, see if it works or if it’s jolty and try something else. But you don’t have to walk.

You can crawl, feel lichen sprout between your fingers. Or roll bodily down a hill made of clouds. Or make the scenery come to you. Listen, if it pleases and delights you to imagine that trees move across the forest floor of your imagination to caress you -picture that. Need to go upwards or downwards or cross a threshold in the visualization? If portals can cross dimensions, they can come to you.

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