You found my old blog. Thanks for visiting! For my new writing, visit mikesententia.com.
I often talk about consciously engaging your mental muscles, guiding them through each step of a technique, watching and adjusting as they work. I’ve advised you to do this instead of visualization. And recently, in a post on grounding, I talked about visualizing my energy going into the earth, how ineffective that visualization was, and how consciously guiding my mental muscles through that same process worked better.
But I haven’t explained why it matters if you consciously guide your magick instead of visualizing it.
Simon has been wrestling with this. Specifically, he wants to understand the difference between visualizing an image vs working with a similar image directly:
It seems, as you’ve described it, that ‘establishing a connection’ still involves making a mental representation — which is what I understand as visualization. You say we should ‘engage our mental muscles’ but in terms of how we actually do this it still seems to involve visualization – just a different kind. In my limited practical experience of your methods it certainly feels that way. Just like talk of chakras, meridians, the ‘triple heater’ and the upper/lower Tan Tien – whatever the reality of all this esoteric anatomy the actual method of interacting with it seems to be visualization. They just claim that their visualizations are accessing something ‘real’ (in the sense of a psychic/magical/archetypal/liminal structure) rather than just visualizing an image that is supposed to represent your goal ‘to your unconscious’ in some way.
But..isn’t that really what you are doing?
Its not just more word play about how we categorize visualization – I’m trying to understand what, if anything, makes ‘sensing connections’ and ‘engaging mental muscles’ something fundamentally different from ‘visualization’. Not the explanation of what esoteric anatomy the visualization is supposed to affect – but when you actually ‘engage mental muscles’ what is going on in that moment? Why is it not visualizing – or making a mental representation?
Indeed, everything we do involves a mental representation. To throw a ball, you need a mental representation of how gravity will curve its flight. To comb your hair, you need a mental representation of where your head and hands are, so you don’t accidentally comb your face. Everything needs mental representations.
But do this for me:
- Close your eyes and imagine what you look like, sitting there. Visualize yourself lifting your arm over your head. Make it as clear as possible, or at least, as clear as you do when you do magick visualizations.
- Now, close your eyes and actually lift your arm over your head. Notice how your arm feels, and how you innately know where your hand is and how each finger is pointing, even though you can’t see it.
Both of those involved mental representations. When you visualized, you imagined a scene, thinking about how you would expect it to look. When you actually moved your arm, there was a different sort of mental representation, called proprioception. That’s the feedback your arm gives you brain, telling you where the arm is, how you’re holding it, and so on. It’s all part of normal neurology, and almost everyone has it. (It’s also the cause of the tingles in some exercises that claim to show you energy.) Both activities involved a mental representation.
But there’s one critical difference: The visualization is entirely about your expectations. There’s no feedback. If you have an incorrect view of the world — if there was a shelf over your head, but you didn’t realize it — the visualization will match your view of the world (no shelf) rather than the actual world (arm hits shelf).
When you actually move your arm, though, you actively sense where it is. If your arm bumps a shelf, you know it. If you touch a light switch, you’ll feel whether it’s up or down. You’re not just sitting there imagining the world — you’re reaching out and feeling it.
That’s the key difference between visualizing (where you focus on what you want and what you already believe is true) and consciously guiding your magick (where you feel your mental muscles and the external world each step of the way).
Yesterday, I did a healing session for a friend’s back. I made a network of connections throughout her back and felt where the injuries were. It was like a change in the texture of the material my connections were touching. Then, as I did the healing technique, I felt where each connection went (in much the same way you feel where your hand is, even when you can’t see it), felt each change in her signature, and felt how the power was flowing as a whole. The point isn’t to memorize the steps or to imagine them correctly. The point is to feel what’s going on this particular time, with these particular connections in this particular person, so you can adjust your magick to this particular situation.
I want to make that clear: The goal isn’t more accurate visualizations. I can tell you what I felt in my friend’s back, and you can imagine it. You will have an accurate visualization, but without feeling where all your connections are — without the tactile feedback you get by sensing each connection and processing that into a picture of the world as it is right this second — you won’t know if your connections go to the right spots in her back, and you won’t know what happens as you start changing things. You can imagine a bunch of connections sending healing energy to her back, but what actually happens is anyone’s guess.
I’ve made that error, by the way. I’ve taken a healing technique I know how to do, one I’ve done a dozen times, and been lazy with it. Instead of consciously stepping through everything and feeling where each connection went, I just imagined the injury, imagined the connections, and imagined the good result. I knew what each step would look like because I’d already done the healing technique a dozen times, and I expected the healing energy to work this time too. But it failed, because I wasn’t actually feeling where anything was, wasn’t delivering the energy to the right spots, and generally wasn’t guiding my mental muscles through the process.
Consciously feeling and guiding your magick is hard. It takes practice, and I don’t have a single exercise to teach it to you. We won’t get there until Book 2, and we won’t focus on it until Book 3. And until you’re doing conscious magick yourself, the concepts can be hard to grasp.
But feeling each step is what makes the difference between sending out your intent and hoping for the best vs stepping through a technique, knowing how the external world is responding to everything you do, and adjusting and debugging your magick as you go. That’s what we need to grow magick into a mature, respected discipline, and that’s why it’s worth talking about.If you liked this post, consider visiting my current blog at mikesententia.com.