I used to stretch my arms out and soar above buildings, directing myself at will from one place to another with a landscape that seems to be mostly city stretching out below me.
But no more. It’s one of those types of dream that while readily available as a child gradually became increasingly difficult to conjure up until eventually it became a fading memory, one that I miss.
It’s come to mind now as I struggle with week 6 of meditation. I’ve done quite well up to now, mostly managing to focus on the guided meditation and usually find a moment of serenity, however brief. But this one is beyond me.
It asks you to visualise yourself sitting on top of a cliff in the pre-dawn peace, watch the sun start to awaken and dive off the top, fly above the water and dive in deep to find yourself sat peacefully in the centre of the ocean/soul. It’s not that complicated.
Except that it is.
It’s started me off thinking about visualisations, whether they are waking or sleeping dreams. It appears to me, and a quick straw poll amongst my friends confirms, that it is very difficult while awake to visualise yourself in the first person (as the camera) and that it’s much easier to do this as the third person, watching yourself in the setting. One friend said she only dreams in the first person when she’s deeply asleep, that shallower dreams tend to be in the third. This made me wonder whether you need to relax and let some sort of rational shackles loose in order to be able to truly perceive yourself in the first person in an imaginary setting.
But it doesn’t help me meditate. I am sitting there cross-legged trying to switch from third to first person. Flying over the water has no effect in the third person: you need to see the water just below your face and I can’t. I can see myself sitting on that cliff top with the ocean around me but I can’t put myself there.
I’m also thinking that it would be too cold at that time of morning, certainly in the UK, to be sitting still imagining warm breezes before sunrise. The fact that it’s not real, that I can imagine myself on top of this cliff anywhere in the world does not prevent my brain from seizing up and saying no, this can not happen. My powers of imagination seem to have completely rusted as the rational side of me has taken over far too much control.
Similarly being able to fly over the world requires an ability to break all of science’s rules as well as society’s: I always dreamt I was flying alone in the sky while people walked the ground and that wouldn’t happen in the real world (another overly rational thought in itself). Flying is something about freedom, freedom to go where you want and see what you want, to not be hampered by rules or reality. No wonder I can’t fly now.
So I’m over-analysing the meditation, over-thinking my response to it and drifting off into thought that completely distracts me to the point where I’m not even listening to it any more. I shall start on another meditation next week and hopefully it will be easier but I do need to learn how to unshackle my imagination and that is something about which I have no clear ideas.