We explore the visual imagination, which is enormously rich and varied. This is a tool much used in hypnosis and so it is valuable to explore its natural processes in many people, including yourself.
You may agree that one ofthe main functions you have when helping another to explore his or her imagination is in helping to maintain focus, primarily by asking questions.
The question of what kind of meaning such an exploration gives is left open. There are a wide variety of interpretation schemes which you will find: I simply urge you to keep at least TWO such possibilities in mind so that you are less likely to jump to unjustifiable conclusions. Sometimes the asking of questions will help to resolve a conflict between two interpretations.
The material you find is seldom strange by the standard of dreams.
In this chapter I will be asking you to explore another aspect of the way in which the mind works. This aspect is one that is of value and importance in many aspects of hypnotherapy and psychotherapy. It is the amazing richness of the visual imagination in most people.
As in the previous chapters we will be exploring what can happen "cold" - without any inductions or anything that looks like "hypnosis".
All I will be asking you to do is to work with a number of people on the lines that will be indicated. If anything unusual happens it is merely that it is unusual in the sense that it is unusual to you: something that you have not explored before.
The starting point in all cases is simply, "Sit (or lie) comfortably and close your eyes."
There are a number of approaches that can be taken then. To give you an idea of what we are aiming at I will give an example of the sort of thing that can happen: but each person is different and the example is not one that will be repeated exactly by anyone.
In the following dialogue Y stands for You and F stands for Friend.
Y. "I want you just to imagine that you are walking along some path. It could be anywhere, real or imaginary. All I want you to do is to be aware of your feet and a small amount of path around them. Just let me know when the picture becomes clearish."
F. (After about a minute.) "I am on a sandy beach. Nothing on my feet. My feet are small." Y. "Fine. Is there anyone else around?" F. (Pause.) "No, not near anyway."
Y. "Tell me more about the beach."
F. "It is enormous. Flat and open. The sea is out."
Y. "Any idea why you are here alone?"
Y. "Why not walk to where you feel like going?" F. "OK."
Y. "So which way are you going?" F. "There is a cave over there."
Y. "That sounds good. Tell me when you get there, unless something stops you."
F. (After a delay but less of a delay than it would take in real time to walk to the cave.) "Right. I am at the cave now."
Y. "Have you been there before?" F. "I am not sure." Y. "Do you want to go in?" F. "Yes, I think so." Y. "What can you see?" F. "A fire."
Y. "Is there anyone there?" F. "Yes. An old woman." Y. "Do you like her?" F. "Yes."
Y. "Is she saying anything to you?" F. "She wants me to sit by her."
Y. "That's fine. Why not sit by here and I will be quiet for a bit to leave you two together. Just tell me afterwards what happened."
(There might be a pause for five minutes or so, then the friend opens her eyes and talks freely.)
F. "That was fascinating. At first I felt very uncertain in the cave. It was rather dark. But then I had a deep sense of peace. I came to see that the old woman was my grandmother. She died when I was in my early teens. But I used to love going to stay with her. She did not say much to me in the cave - it changed after a bit to being her house and I just had some cakes that she made me. But it felt very good."
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