Originally published in Connect Magazine November Edition.
Where do we go when we are reading a novel that we just can’t put down?
At some time in our lives we have all found ourselves so thoroughly engrossed with a good novel that we put our own lives aside to read on. The characters, the action, the scenery, and the experiences described by the author create a convincing and compelling fantasy realm where we can lose ourselves for hours at a time. We forget about the room we are in, our need for sleep, our daily life and enter into the realm of the authors imagination. We bring our own powers of imagination to the words they have written, and we create images in our minds of the scenes described in the text. Sometimes we become more interested in being in the story realm than we are in living our daily lives. This is an example of escape from reality through fantasy fiction which effects the real life mainly by moving the person from focus in the outer world, to focus in the story realm. It removes the readers attention, but does not significantly alter their brain state. Where we go, effectively, is into an altered state of consciousness, another realm within the mind.
The journey into another realm, that we undergo when reading, can also be experienced by gamers. The experience of playing a favourite game can become so rewarding to the player that they are happier when immersed in their virtual realm than they are in the day to day activities of their physical life. Independent of the theme and content of the game, the gamers mind gradually adjusts to the game environment, and their way of thinking becomes optimised to succeed in the game realm. Because of this, the realm of the game becomes superimposed onto the daily life at a sub-conscious level, and the gamer will apply some of their strategies from the virtual world in the real world without even knowing they are doing it. This kind of simulated training is a common military and industrial practice, with results proven in fitting the trainee to a mindset and skill set suitable for particular real world roles. This is an example of virtual realms imposing themselves on real life. Often the initial journey into the game realm is like the journey into the book fantasy realm, however, the participatory nature of gaming is such that new neural pathways are laid down during the journey.
Where do we go when we are dreaming? Daydreaming? In a trance, or in some other altered state of consciousness?
We could say that when we are not fully present to our worldly circumstances for what ever reason, we are in fact partially present to an other realm of experience. In dreaming states we are immersed in the realm of the dream-scape, mostly we are not aware that we are dreaming, and while we are dreaming, the dream realm is our world and our experiences there are real for us. In a daydream, we may be partially aware that we are awake, and partially aware that we are dreaming, the realm of the daydream is a sub-realm of the imagination. We can be inspired and infused with new ideas while traversing this realm, we can also become frustrated when we return to the fully awake state that our life does not match our day-dreamed version of reality.
I write all this because journeys to other realms, and visitations from other realms are much more common than we realise. When we are cognisant of the processes by which we enter and exit other realms, we are able to better recognise our experiences and benefit from them rather than suffer because we are unconscious of their potential effects. When we find ourselves having out of body experiences, or astral travelling, when we are visited by disembodied entities or mythological creatures we are prepared to meet them and communicate with them because we have a better idea how they came to be in the state they are in. Consider this; a distant relative is nearing the end of their life, they have no way to contact you in the ‘real world’ so they enter a trance-like state while thinking of you in a focussed manner, meanwhile, you are standing in front of your bathroom mirror brushing your hair. Suddenly you feel a strange sensation wash over you and the eyes looking back at you from the mirror are not your own. Perhaps you receive a cryptic message of some sort, and just as suddenly the sensation leaves you wondering ‘what the heck just happened?’ Now consider that this phenomenon could not have occurred if your mind had been focussed on a screen, or a page of text at that time, it could only have happened because your mind was in an open and receptive state.
While we are preoccupied in this realm, of waking life and direct physical stimuli, we are in fact not able to access subtle realms. When we are immersed in text or media based realms we are also not available to experience subtle or spiritual realms. When we allow some time for quiet contemplation we open ourselves to the possibility of experiencing something else. Rather than allowing our consciousness to be constantly stimulated by text or screen based media we need to ensure adequate time to day-dream, to enter a light trance with a receptive attitude and to allow space and time to establish contact with realms beyond the physical. In this way our lives are enhanced, we benefit from incoming information from the universe that is unlikely to reach us any other way.
Original digital artworks Copyright 2013 Glistening Deepwater.