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Back-Up Procedures
Special Insert for those who did not at first "get pix"
 

For years it was cited as "a scientific fact" that one American in three is unable to "get pictures," to visualize. In our experience, not one person out of thousands has been able to get through the following "back-up" procedures without getting pictures in his or her mind's eye and thus begin to harvest the benefits of visual thinking. And: oh, yes — this writer was one of those who "absolutely can't visualize" until, by dint of methods much harder to use than those here, he finally became able to "get pictures in his mind's eye" and to start thinking visually. He found visual thinking so very, very useful, that he began teaching it to others — initially by methods similar to the ones he had been taught by, only those didn't work for a lot of people. Consulting his own visual thinking for guidance how to enable this person or that one to begin getting visual imagery, one method after another literally taught itself to this writer. One of the first remains one of the strongest, the "Helper Technique" version of Image-Streaming.

o   1. Helper Technique for beginning Image-Streaming: For this technique you definitely do need a live partner, following these next instructions with you.

Normally, it's preferred that you simply close eyes and begin noticing — and describing — whatever images happen to be there. Imagery is going on there all the time, an ongoing commentary on everything. For some of us, though, that natural, ongoing process is far enough unconscious that this "Helper Technique" may be needed —

— Though that imagery goes on all the time, some images come through a little more strongly than do others, and while this is happening, you automatically make little responses which are visible to outside observers. These little responses are "attention cues" because you make these responses when you start to give attention to some stimulus. A partner observing these cues can, whenever they happen, gently ask, "What was in your awareness just then?" — until the one who was asked, realizes s/he was seeing something just then, and thus begin the flow of description from that point.

Here are ways to make two of these attention cues highly visible and obvious enough that an untrained observer can spot them and appropriately ask you that question —

a.   When you start to give attention to something, you hold your breath. If your partner is instructed to breathe slowly, smoothly, rewardingly, and continuously, with no pauses between breathing in and breathing out, then the attention-cue pause in breathing becomes highly visible by contrast, and an occasion for asking that partner, "What was in your awareness just then?"

b.   If partner keeps eyes closed and the observer notices them moving around under the lids, what is it that they are looking at? Eye movement under the closed lids is what is significant here, not eyelid flutter. When you spot that eye movement, ask partner, "What was in your awareness just then?" When in doubt as to either cue, go ahead and ask the question.

— Meanwhile, if the one who is to Image-Stream notices any images happening, go ahead and start describing them anyway, instead of waiting for your partner to ask you what was in your awareness just then.

Once anything at all is spotted, the would-be Image-Streamer is to describe the dickens out of it in as much detail as possible, even forcing some made-up detail if need be, to get the flow started. (Spotter asks no more questions unless flow falters, in order not to slow the flow or interrupt it.) More, much more imagery will come and, after awhile, the Image-Streamer can truly begin enjoying functioning as an accurate reporter of increasingly meaningful and intriguing internal event perceptions.

This spotting and identifying of attention cues is the preferred way to get Image-Streaming started if you weren't able to simply look in and self-start as above. However, with so many other back-up techniques available: if 10 minutes' try of such closed-eyes breathing and cue reinforcing does not bring about the sought-for perceptions and experience of "pix," switch to one of the following alternative methods.

In each of these procedures hereafter, we will refer to the person seeking to see images as the Image-Streamer, and the listening partner as Listener. Once both of you get images going you can both play both roles simultaneously, one of you describing until you have to pause for breath, the other then rushing in with some description of his/her own images and vice versa, to get a lot of viewing and describing into the available time. Some of the following, including # 2, "After Image" next below, can be done by just the Image-Streamer working alone with a tape recorder.

o   2. After-Image is another way to get inner visual impressions going, as basis for that descriptive flow which leads to further visual mental awarenesses. Stare at a bright light (but nowhere nearly as bright as the sun! — 20-40 watts is more than bright enough) for a half minute, or another part of the room or windows which have strong light/dark contrast. After that, especially when you close eyes, you should have momentary after-images, left-over prints of that light on the retina at back of the eye. You may experience seeing a gloating blob of light or color, perhaps a line or so. Describe that in some detail and continue describing it as that afterimage begins to change color and shape.

Unreinforced after-images last only a few seconds. Reinforced by attention and description, your after-image can last long minutes — we've found experimentally some which lasted 4 hours! If yours fades out after a few moments, recharge on the light again and resume describing.

At some point in that process of examining and describing your after-images, you may notice experiencing some other kinds of image, whether just trace impressions or a momentary eye, face, landscape, vase or whatever. It's those other kinds of image which we're hoping to get to and describe in this experience, so please notice when this happens, and switch to describing that new image — in present tense, as if you were still looking at it even if it were only a momentary glimpse that you caught. With sufficiently forceful and detailed sustained flow of description, more images will come.

Again, if 10-20 minutes' sustained effort with After-Image did not lead you to more interesting images, try another procedure. The same for any of these procedures. No one has "run the gauntlet" of these several various procedures without getting pictures in their mind's eye with which to begin visual thinking. Once you have a procedure productive for you, practice the imagery-and-describing as such. After getting started, do not try out all the other back-up procedures since that would slow down your more essential practice, unless you plan to teach visual thinking to others and so wish to familiarize yourself with all the techniques for getting people started into imagery. What matters is the Image-Streaming itself, not how you got it started.

o   3. Worth Describing — you may have been getting blobs of color, lines, patterns, other visual impressions and not reporting them because you thought they were too trivial to mention. — Or impressions in other sensory channels — sounds, tingles, impressions of pressure or movement. These are still inner phenomena worth reporting and if you report them rapidly and detailedly enough and sustain that flow of description, you will find this leading to other impressions some of which clearly will not seem so trivial to you.

If, after 10-20 minutes of reporting blobs of color, this has not led to any other kind of imagery that you've noticed, you can, with eyes kept closed:

a.   Deliberately look beyond the color as beyond a colored screen, just a few feet further distant, and see..... (whatever impression: resume describing from there). Or,

b.   Breathe as if to "breathe in" the nearest of the colors, clearing thereby the way to see other impressions.....

o   4. Phosphenes — gently rub your own closed eyes like a sleepy child, and describe the light and-color blips which result from that changing slight pressure. Go on with describing from there.....


The next two procedures become deeply enough introspective that it's easy to nod off — the reason Einstein kept a rock in either hand — so for these two we strongly recommend using a live partner as listener and "spotter." Another reason for using a live partner with either or both of these is that we will be using again those "attention cues" from "the Helper Technique" — The instructions for these next two procedures are worded for the use of your listener/spotter partner to follow in working with you as the intended Image-Streamer.

o   5. Stream From Memory — have your image-seeking partner, still with closed eyes, remember a real scene, especially a very beautiful landscape or object or even a dream. Or have him/her make up a beautiful garden or park. Even if these are just made-up story words at first and not a perceived experience, have your image-seeking partner begin describing that scene to you in as rich detail as possible while keeping eyes closed. Have your image-seeking partner, like a reporter, sending that description to you from amidst that scene as if it is going on right now instead of being a memory of back when. While your partner is describing this memory, watch his or her closed eyes closely: when you see them move under the lids, seize that occasion to ask your partner what s/he saw just then..... It's noticing those images that's our key to pick up on and switch the describing to, whether they are memories or new fresh images. — Especially when images show up that don't fit the "story" or scene being described.....

Keep encouraging description until it is flowing, even if it has to be from word-memories or make-believe and not pictures, until images are in fact flowing. Once description is flowing, "get out of the way of the flow" by not interrupting with questions or with any encouragement more involved than a lightly positive "um-hm." The flow of description will bring flow of pictures, sooner or later, if that description is in richly textured detail, sustained without interruption or lapse or much repetition, and if the describer keeps eyes closed to see more freely.

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