Saturday, March 26, 2005

Doolies, who started Yoga and Tai Chi classes in Newport Beach, bought a book today about Chakras, the spiritual points of energy in a person’s body. The idea of Chakras is rather universal (or universally borrowed) between the different religions and spiritual sects. I skimmed parts of her book, and the contents reminded me of my own spiritual quest. I don’t remember if it began in college or graduate school, but for a time, I explored many New Age and religious books. I know it sounds silly but I sought to wield real magic, to manipulate the universe and the people around me in a mystical way. I hoped books with titles such as Modern Magick and Qaballah would enlighten me to this path.

Much of the books instructed meditation and ritual practice. At the time, my concentration and imagination were not strong enough to “see” things in my head. I remember not even believing it was possible to see in my head. I forget what we were discussing, but in college during a philosophy class, I first verbalized this theory. I mentioned that I did not see anything when I dreamed. I knew that things in my dreams were there and I could describe them, but I did not see them as I normally thought of seeing when awake. I still don’t see things in my mind in that way; I wouldn’t describe my imagination as a movie screen. But I can hold visualizations in my mind longer and I now consider that equivalent to seeing.

One of the exercises in the Chakra book directs the reader to form a room in their mind, a safe place to find peace and escape from thoughts and emotions. I was surprised to find my room forming effortlessly. As I thought more about it, the details clarified and I can now imagine the room and myself sitting in with but a thought. I don’t know if this is a product of opening myself to my imagination, or writing, or my (rather pathetic) memory training, or just aging, but it’s a skill I have that I didn’t expect to have.

My room is not large and is in the shape of a half sphere. I painted the sphere white but I can change the luminosity with a thought, ranging from a brilliant white for clarity to a brownish darkness for contemplation. As instructed in the book, there are two windows, which represent my eyes on the world. The circular windows are spaced apart on the front wall. When I look out the windows, I see a darkened horizon with a brilliant and moonless starry night. The Milky Way galaxy crosses the center of the window, and dark, rounded hills blot out the lower stars. Between the two windows is a rounded fireplace with burning logs always at the late-ember stage. The room smells pleasantly of burning wood. The fireplace crackles occasionally, but never suddenly, the sound building up slowly before disappearing. I covered the floor with a luxurious black rug that feels almost like grass when I slide across with my bare feet. In the center of the room is a black smoking chair with a full-sized ottoman that pushes against the chair to support my feet and behind my knees. The material is supple like leather but allows my skin to breathe, so I don’t become sweaty with prolonged use. A small table stands on the right side of the chair. Its legs wrought with iron and curved. A buffed greenish rock holds a cup of steaming mocha covered in tightly drawn whipped cream.

There you have it, my room of relaxation. Every time I visit, I add more details. I’m not sure if I’ll visit after today, but it’s nice to know that I created it. This visualization reminded me of a memory technique mentioned in my memory book. People in the 1800s used a mental imagery of a house with different ideas in each room to memorize speeches. As they walked from one room to the next, the room would remind them of the next part of their speech. Just more of my useless knowledge for your edification.

The reason I stopped in my original magical quest was that I discovered that there was little in magic that interested me. The power to foresee the future never excited me because if I always knew what was going to happen, the happenings would not be nearly as interesting. Similarly, the power over the universe was overrated. Even if I had all that power, after impressing people with my ability to fly or move things, it wouldn’t be that useful. I realized that I wanted the power to impress people. Once I realized that, it wasn’t much of a leap to give up my search of power because (a) impressing people turns empty quickly; and (b) all the books talked about the capacity to love as the path to the goal—I’m not against love, but love has little to do with impressing people. (This hasn’t stopped me, of course, from occasionally staring at a pencil and trying to will it to move. As of yet, no pencil has obeyed my wish, but I know it’s just a matter of time or the right pencil.)

I wrote the first part of a story, but I’m going to keep this one closer to the chest until I get a bit further. I’m realizing that I write to post, instead of writing to finish a story. I’ll let you know the progress (or just post it if I realize that there won’t be any progress).