Have you ever heard of Interactive Imagery based Meditation? Very few people have, or understand the concept, and it goes hand in hand with who I am as an Art Therapist. I live and breathe this process, and it is time to start sharing the magic. How “Interactive Imagery” or “Inward Eye” Meditation occurs manifests itself much like the energy medicine of Tibetan Buddhism. William Wordsworth noted the significance of “the inward eye” as the knowing imagination. With a trained Art therapist and/or meditation guide, you can enhance the process of dialoguing with your own internal imagery.
Over eleven years ago, I was learning the art of interacting with my own imagery to master how to guide others. Bob Schoenholtz, now retired, was the Founder and Director of The Inward Eye in Philadelphia, PA. It was an early Autumn day and I was focusing on “A Safe Place”. During this meditation, I was able to merge with much of my internal imagery transforming myself through cascades of symbolism and archetypes, eventually seeing myself approaching a safe place – an island with beautiful rocky green mountains. From a birds eye view, I moved instantly to the ground seeing myself for the first time in my own meditation. I am truly there at ease, in peace, on the beach painting on an easel, singing, dancing, free – a calm ocean greets me just beside a rocky cliff with unique vegetation. As I re-enter reality in Bob’s office in center city Philadelphia, I realize that I had never seen this place before. I grew up in the mountains of Pennsylvania, vacationing in the Florida Keys and Stone Harbor, New Jersey, so it makes sense that internally I feel most at ease with both landscapes. In the moment, I have what we call the “weird eye, or creative eye” Where much of the mind-body is still interacting with the imagery from the meditation time. Any person transitioning from a deep creative process into normal communication understands the weird eye I speak of now, and due to my state Bob escorts me to the train to be certain I find my way in reality – that is how deep he knew I had gone.
Having recently graduated with my Master of Art Therapy, I had time off before beginning a new job as a psychotherapist for Albert Einstein Medical Center. Naturally, I went to spend time with my devoted and loving parents in the Florida Keys. While I was there I reconnected with a young man I knew from high school, whose older brother I had dated as a teenager! He was living and loving life on a small island in the French West Indies, St Barths. One morning I found quite the invitation in my inbox – his friend and sailing colleague was flying his single engine plane from Miami directly to St Barths in a few days, making one stop in Turks Caicos to refuel and completing the flight in one full day. Did I Want to join him? As quite the naive youngster, I had an eager appetite for adventure and had my passport ready, though it had never been stamped.
I accept the invitation to take the flight! My father is popping Advil as if it were Xanax to calm his nerves as he drops me off to meet the pilot and fly across the Atlantic ocean only 1300 feet above sea level. The entire journey most of the islands we pass are low-lying and the visual journey of blues and greens transforms me. I am at ease in this single engine plane. We can see a hurricane 90 miles moving ahead in the distance and his reassurance, knowledge, and confidence allow me to be the same myself. With my consent, he cloud-surfs, pushing off the intense inertia of clusters of seemingly small clouds. I am amazed,discovering the true energy within these beautiful buoyant fluffy looking masses we admire from the earth. As we near St Barths, the pilot asks if I would like to circle the entire island before we land, and with the same joy that met each question before I say, Yes please. As he circles the Island, my mind-body begins to explode with enthusiasm, frisson though my whole self, inward fireworks ablaze. This island appears exactly as I saw it at the end of my meditation a few weeks earlier!! We land, pure bliss and laughter begin as my feet touch the earth again. It was just before our landing my new intriguing friend reveals he knows of less than ten people that have flown that distance in a single engine plane in one day.
Incredible for me, but how does this truly happen? Do you believe in the magic? I do believe there are steps you can begin and follow to manifest the subconscious dreams you have yet to discover. I had no idea what my safe place looked like internally until (with Bob’s guidance) I asked myself. So, let yourself start there. Feel your feet on the ground, and allow your body to be supported the way you need to allow yourself to visualize. Take a breathe through your nose, and back out through your mouth. As you let yourself focus on your breathe, ask yourself for a safe place and see where you go. Draw a picture of your safe place, and share it with another human and/or us #safeplace Then let it go, knowing it will always return as you need the safety.
Simple suggestions you can take to build your own visual and creative fluency. Interacting with your own imagery will help you change your life! Keep a visual journal allowing yourself to draw freely without judgement. The more you allow yourself to associate personal imagery freely the more equipped one seems to manifest significant change.
As I continue to visit this sacred place now eleven years later, there is more to tell that is surprising and interconnected. My husband, my Valentine, I very curiously realized on this very island, a love story for another time.
Keep in mind-body this meditation process can be incredibly effective in very short doses when applied appropriately.