Phase 2: Creating & Expanding Your Environment
In the previous lesson, you learned how to use your sense memory to create a sensory experience during visual meditation. You are now comfortable with giving substance to the things you see and feel. You also know how to get more information from something you’re interacting with and how to learn more about it by examining it. Now, you’re going to put that into practice by creating your own environment.
For some of you, this might be the last phase you’ll want to complete. You may not be interested in sharing your visualization with other souls, and that’s okay. When I started this practice, my intention was to create a space for myself that was far removed from the busy, demanding world of being a student, a wife, and an office administrator. I considered it my home away from home.
The more I visited this place, the more permanence it had in my memory. It took less and less effort to reach a state where I could see it, feel it, hear it, and even smell it. That’s when the magic happens. The more you practice, the more your world will take on a life of its own.
In this phase, you’ll be able to:
- Create your own environment through visual meditation;
- Expand and grow that environment;
- Perform a procedural exercise and navigate your environment;
- Understand logic errors, sloping, and other difficulties while visualizing;
- Allow the unexpected to happen;
logic error: (n) when a visualization loses a sense of realism and becomes illogical because the meditator doesn’t know or understand how it works, causing it to act unpredictably; when sharing a visualization, this can be caused by two people trying to affect something at the same time
procedural activity/exercise: (n) the act of performing an action step-by-step in a conscious way
procedural error: (n) a logic error caused by missing or not knowing the step in a procedure; causes unpredictable results in activities
sloping: (n) the inability to visualize a sloped surface without it unintentionally warping or giving the surface an extreme angle, such as a gentle hill becoming a 90 degree angle
Pick a Starting Space
We’re going to start out by doing a visualization of a very small square-footage of space. This can be either outdoors or indoors, but it’s going to be in close proximity to you. Visual meditation in general makes you considerably near-sighted, so starting small is really to your benefit. It shouldn’t be any more than a 10-foot diameter around you.
This space will be the starting location from which you will build from and the place you will appear each time you start your visual meditation. You will be familiar enough with this small space that it will maintain some consistency and allow you to go on auto-pilot during your meditations.
Here are some ideas to get you started:
- A cool, grassy space underneath an old oak tree. There’s a soft breeze, and you can hear the faint cacophony of leaves in the forest canopy around you.
Limit your focus to the immediate space around you. Reach down and feel the cold, young blades of spring grass between your fingers. Roam to the bark of the oak tree. Listen for the white noise of the wind in the trees. Don’t gaze into the distance; keep it close. Do you smell anything? Is the air warm and humid or cool and dry? What time of day is it?
- Sitting on a couch in front of a fireplace with a mantle. The fireplace is flanked by two large windows with heavy curtains.
Feel the plushness of the couch, and touch its texture. Feel the heat of the fire beating on the apples of your cheeks. Approach the mantle and start populating it with items.
- A room or space in your own house that you are intimately familiar with.
This is a way to start if you don’t feel comfortable yet with creating something new and want to build confidence. You can even physically sit in that space and try to visualize it from memory as you meditate.
- Inside a car, parked overlooking a beach.
A vehicle is a great small space to start in if you’re familiar with the interior of a vehicle.
How to Create Your Environment
- Begin with the sense memory exercise but start with where you are sitting or standing. If you are sitting on carpet, touch the carpet fibers. See it and tell yourself about it. If you’re sitting on a couch, feel the texture of the textiles. If you are standing, reach out and touch what’s in front of you. Slowly integrate yourself into the space.
- Slowly begin to visual the space a little at a time. As with your first experiences with the sense memory exercise, it may seem blurry or dull in color. Continue to tell yourself about the environment until you have enough information to be there.
- When you are ready, move around the room. Within the environment you create, give it as much life as possible by imbuing it with purpose and intention. Start moving your hands over every surface as if you’re sculpting it in real time. Examine each feature and answer these questions:
- What is this made of?
- Why do I have it or why is it here?
- What properties does it have? Is it small, large, cold, warm, rough, smooth, shiny, or dull? Is it heavy or light? Can I lift it? Does it have a smell?
- Where is this place located regionally?
- Is this a private place or a social place where other people would meet?
The answers will come to you creatively. The more story you give your space, the more you will remember it.
You should start in this same place and reconnect yourself with this environment during each visual meditation. Soon, you’ll find that the environment will automatically reveal itself to you. You will be able to reach deep meditation while visualizing the environment and not have to work very hard to process what you intended to remember. The items, textures, and life you create will simply be there without your prompting.
Tips & Tricks
- Starting with an outdoor environment is slightly trickier than an indoor one. It can be hard to put to memory the twist of a tree or how many trees were growing in a cluster of forest. You can still have a very beautiful visual experience, but you will need to consciously memorize some aspect of your outdoor environment to follow the exercise.
- Find audio that matches your environment. This will fully immerse you and make the sensory experience more believable.
- Use noise-cancelling headphones and a blindfold/eye mask. I will always recommend this because it creates sensory deprivation from your physical environment.
Expanding Your Environment
This small space you’ve created will grow naturally from the 10-foot diameter to an entire room, an entire house, a lot, a town, a city, a country… But take it a day at a time. Continue to focus on your small space until you feel so proficient in sensing it that you don’t have to consciously interact with it anymore. Then, move outward to other areas. Do so with wonder and curiosity, and your mind might fill in these negative spaces for you with details spontaneously.
With each meditation, start from the same place and move outward in the same way. Continue to do this until it requires less and less of your focused attention to manifest visually. You should have a complete concept of where everything is. In this way, your environment will grow boundlessly.
Moving from indoors to outdoors, outdoor environments don’t require as much memory because it’s not necessary to know every branch of a tree or bush. They are also the most changing and easily misremembered of environments. So, while you can have a general lay of the land, you will never have a perfectly permanent outdoor environment. That can be really beneficial if you’re looking to explore or just want to relax.
The Procedural Exercise
Everything we do in our daily lives requires some procedure. From the moment we wake up to the moment we go to bed, we operate on steps and linear movements. One little action at a time. You may have been taught how to consciously perform procedures as a kid, such as learning how to tie your shoes or brush your teeth.
While playing in your environment, you can improve your sense of physical presence in the environment by performing procedural exercises. These exercises can be of any activity you enjoy. Break it down into baby steps and consciously narrate them to yourself. The better you get at them, the more natural they feel. They help to slow down your movements in your visualization so that you can feel more present.
Example of backing out of a driveway as a procedural exercise:
- Pull on the car door handle to open the door.
- Open the car door.
- Place your right foot on the driver side floor, sit down in the driver’s seat.
- Pull the car door closed.
- Place your foot on the brake and apply pressure.
- Push the key into the ignition and turn the ignition over.
- Shift the car from park into reverse.
- Let foot off the brake, apply to gas pedal as needed.
Procedural exercises can be as complex or simple as you need them to be. Your objective is to be conscious of every minute amount of weight you put into the action, the use of your body, and the motions you make. It’s going to help slow you down and feel that the action is actually happening. Your body will have more gravity in your world.
A common procedural exercise you can do is to visualize yourself walking through your own house. How many steps do you have to take up the stairs? Can you feel the floor change from tile to carpet?
Logic Errors, Sloping & Other Difficulties
As you begin to explore through visual meditation, you might run across some inconsistencies or weird experiences that don’t quite make sense to you. These can interfere with your experience and be frustrating, but they’re all relatively normal. As complex as the human mind is, we can’t account for everything. There may even be more issues that occur for you, but these are the ones that I have encountered personally. Rest assured, I have found working solutions for may of these issues.
Of course, if you find other issues and have resolved them, please share them with me!
You may try to skip a rock across the lake, and it just skips in place on the water. You may try to bounce a ball and it falls flat. You try to mount a horse and fling yourself to the other side, right onto the ground. Maybe your environment is bigger inside than it appears on the outside, and it wasn’t intentional. The primary cause of logic errors is not knowing how something will act or functions well enough, so your mind errors out trying to understand it. Not all of us are physicists or architects.
A lot of logic errors occur when you’re in a deeper state of meditation or too tired and are allowing your subconscious mind to fill in more of what is happening, especially if what is going on is physically complex. You see this lack of logic in dreams, too.
In general, I call anything that behaves unpredictably a logic error.
I discovered logic errors early on when I was creating my consensus environment Tremida. As I started interacting with other souls in my environment, I realized that some things became illogical if I did not stop to think about how it worked or fit into the situation or environment. For instance, I created a loft for the cabin, but I realized that the angle of the roof made it impossible to have a loft realistically. That was a logic error on my part. I still kept the loft for a little while, but I became irritated by another problem: spiral stairs (see Procedural Errors below).
Logic errors happen a lot more when interacting with others in your environment. If two souls are attempting to direct two different things at the same time and you misunderstand what’s going on, you can get some pretty bizarre results! Don’t panic. Logic errors are easy to resolve by simply examining the situation and working through it slowly. The most common reason logic errors happen is because we simply don’t know enough about something, so it can also be beneficial to learn more by doing those things in real life.
Procedural errors are a type of logic error. They interrupt the flow of a procedure, usually something with movement, and contradict your intention. They can happen because you forget a step in the process, need more steps in your procedural, or just don’t know enough about the method of operations to make it work.
Going back to the loft I mentioned above, to reach the loft, I created a spiral staircase. For the life of me, I could not walk up the spiral staircase. I kept walking in circles, having the hardest time knowing when to stop walking. It seems ridiculous, but I haven’t walked up many spiral stairs in my life. I had no plans for how many turns it took, what the landing looked like, or anything. I just kept walking. Eventually, I removed the loft and spiral stairs because I just couldn’t figure out how I wanted it to work. Such is life.
Stairs in general can be difficult unless you set a specific number of steps and try to stick to that number. Alternatively, you can mentally skip the stairs, but if you’re trying to be immersed in your environment, physically moving up or down the stairs can really add to your experience.
Another procedural error I had was with fishing. I stood on the banks of the lake with another soul, eager to show off my fishing skills to him. I took it step by step. First, I set the reel. I pinched down the line with my thumb, swung it back, and in a nice arcing swing of the rod… I immediately threw my fishing rod into the lake. That was not what I had intended. My friend looked at me and said, “Why did you do that?”
I was so embarrassed. I showed myself fetching the rod from the water. I tried it again. Set the reel, grip the rod, swing — and into the water it went again! At this point, I was flummoxed. Why was this happening? It’s been a while since I fished, but I knew what I was doing. I tried it over and over, and I kept throwing it into the lake. My friend was practically doubling over in laughter. I started accusing him of creating the visualization of me tossing the rod into into the water, but he was sincere that he had nothing to do with it.
It took some time for me to realize that I missed a small step: the sound of the line, hook, and bobber unfurling from the reel and hitting the water. I don’t know why this was so important, but it worked. The mental energy from the swing was transferred into the bobber and hook and cast out into the lake where it hit the water with a satisfying plonk.
You get used to the little embarrassments, and sometimes they really make you laugh.
Sloping is when what seems to be a gentle incline or decline suddenly becomes a dramatic slope. I have this issue when I am horseback riding down or up hills, looking into a valley from high up, or trying to go down a large set of stairs. For some reason, you can have this fish-eye effect that completely skews your perception of the angle. If you focus too much on the error, it can give you motion sickness and a sense of falling or not having balance.
It happens most when I focus on the angle, so to avoid it, I try to pay attention to what’s in front of me and not what’s closer to my feet. If you are moving on the slope, it can be helpful to remember what your feet do and how your body weight shifts while going down or up that particular slope at that angle in real life.
Sloping can even occur in your dreams if you have this error often enough.
Allowing the Unexpected
Some of the best experiences you will have in your environment are the unexpected ones. So far, everything you have done has been intentional and required your conscious participation. Now, as you relax, your environment will begin to hold the shape you’ve given it.
If you have been regularly reaching a state of deep meditation, you can combine deep meditation with visual meditation without having to use a lot of brainpower. You’ll be in your environment, absorbed in the sensory experience. This is when unexpected things can happen in your environment. You might have a bird land on your shoulder. Someone might call your name. A phone might ring even though you didn’t imagine a phone in your space. It will leave you wondering why and how. Some the experiences can be truly spiritual and wonderful. Some can lead you to real self-discovery.
I have no explanation for the unexpected things that can happen. They could be seemingly random neurological firings or parts that your brain fills in, or they could be influenced by things beyond our own understanding. Either way, I personally feel that the unexpected experiences give visual meditation so much value.
- Create your visual environment and explore it daily for 30 minutes minimum. You are welcome to expand it, but try to not create a massive environment. Stick to a smaller, easily managed space.
- Create a procedural exercise. This can be any activity of your choose and doesn’t need to be exclusive to your environment. You can walk yourself through a daily procedure that you do daily in real life.
- Why did you choose the environment that you did?
- What is your favorite object in your environment?
- Have you had any troubles getting the sense of moving around in your environment?
- Were there any issues (such as logic errors) that occurred during your meditation?
- What is your favorite activity in your environment?
- Is there a sense in your environment that you really enjoy? (Favorite smell, favorite texture, etc.)
When to Move Forward
It isn’t necessary to move forward from this phase. If you’re happy with where you are at, continue to enjoy and create as you meditate. However, if you wish to take a spiritual step forward and share your environment with those that have crossed over, you can move forward when:
- You have established and become familiar with your environment. You have spent enough time in your environment that it feels real when you visualize it.
- Your environment is stable. As you go into your meditation, the environment you created comes to you easily and reliably. Nothing has changed. All the items you have added to the space are there without needing to go over them again and again.
- You can navigate realistically and can perform more complex procedures. You have no problem moving in the moment. It’s as if you’re really moving and not zooming from one place to the next. Navigating and performing activities feels natural and real. You have weight and feel present in the environment as you move.
- You are able to reach a deeper state of relaxation or deep meditation and maintain the environment independently. You may have even experienced unpredictable moments that you didn’t intend to happen.
Have a question or need assistance with this course? Reach out to me!
Ready to move on? Let’s go!
Phase 3: Sharing Your Environment