You may choose to light a few scented green and blue candles, spray some aromatic mist around the room, or burn some incense before beginning this technique in guided fantasy which is aimed at taking you away from the banal routines of everyday life and inciting ethereal experiences. The positive effects of this practice should be felt in one’s mood and general outlook.
I want you to find a comfortable spot–either on the bed, on a chair, or on the floor–and start taking long and deep breaths. Breathe in and then breathe out. Breathe in and then breathe out. Breathe in, breathe out. Do it nice and slowly. Do it rhythmically. Try to loosen every muscle in your body. Some will be tight no doubt. Let all the tension seep out of them with each exhalation.
Today I’ve got a little treat for you. We’re going to go on a little adventure to a secret place called the Cave of the Returning Waters. It’s so beautiful there, probably because no other person has every theorized its existence or bothered to search for it. I found it by accident one summer night very long ago when I was exploring some subterranean passages. You can only access it through a series of waterlogged sumps. The peaks over which it lies are too high to climb and the opposite side is lined by treacherous gorges. I suppose its inaccessibility is what makes it so alluring. In the morning the tides come in. When you stand at the mouth of the cavern all you can see is an ambient red ball being rolled out from behind a veil of hazy mist that hovers over an expanse of boundless sea. One is up to his or her thighs in water at that point so there is no land visible, not unless he or she stands along the steep cliffs on either side. It is a mythical and mystical experience. No other place can rival it, none that I know of anyway.
You can’t see because its pitch black and the night won’t allow for it. But you should be able to feel me. I’m right beside you, near you, ever-present by your side. We’re at the foot of a clump of virgin peaks called the White Mountains. Towering up to the cupola of the heavens, they are an insurmountable sight to behold. Now either take my hand or follow the trail of my voice as I lead you through a narrow ingress on the face of the mountain into a pearl-coloured cave graced by an array of the most beautiful limestone formations. Some are growing out from the roof and others from the floor, aching to be united in an embrace wrought by Father Time. There’s a subterranean lake some thirty feet ahead so keep following the sound of my footfalls.
It’s a little warm and humid in here, isn’t it? Our clothes are dampened and we’re perspiring like crazy. This seems like the perfect excuse to jettison our clothes. We’re going to have to do it anyway given that we have to swim through a network of sumps to get to our glorious destination. Can you hear the sound of the trickling water beside us? It’s rather mesmerizing and we could probably fall into a deep languor right here if we weren’t stretched for time. And why are we stretched for time you ask me? Well, the current needs to be travelling towards the sea if we are to reach the Cave of the Returning Waters safely. From what I’ve been able to discern, it appears that the current changes direction every twelve hours and that the whole phenomenon is intimately bound up with the tides. If we get caught swimming down there during a change of current, we could get flushed down into the infernal regions of the earth. So we need to make the plunge when the current is travelling towards the sea–which is now!
Now, feel my palm and fingers as they brush up against yours and urge you to take hold of them. Just relax and let me show you the wonders of this preternatural paradise. Breathe in and breathe out, slowly and rhythmically. Without further ado we dive into the lake, thrashing our legs as vigorously as we can. Welcome the cool water as soothing refreshment against our warm skin as we propel ourselves through the underwater chasm. Feel yourself gliding along, moonwalking even as the wayward current sweeps us closer and closer towards the frontier of land and sea. For two terrestrial creatures we don’t look at all awkward or unskilled in traversing foreign territory; our strokes are fluid, coordinated, and harmonious, parting the waters so gracefully as to evoke the jealousy of the water nymphs themselves. Soon, we become conscious of phosphorescent flickers of light scattering out from a pinpoint directly above us. This breathing hole is our exit point. We change the trajectory of our path and begin ascending towards it. It feels like aeons, but we eventually come up and haul ourselves out of the conduit. To catch our breaths we prostrate ourselves on the ground for a few seconds, but we end up falling into a deep sleep.
We feel ourselves floating. For a while, there is nothing other than a whirling sensation as we spin in circles, returning to the same position with each revolution. We sink lower and lower and lower into the infernal regions, closer and closer to the land of the dead. Suddenly, a cry issues from below us and before we know it we are being pushed up towards the surface again. We are being carried somewhere by someone or something. We catch sight of fins, a tail, and an elongated snout. Could it be a dolphin?
It isn’t long before we awake in a state of disorientation and crawl to our feet. Did we just experience a shared dream? We very well might have. Slivers of moonlight appear to be coursing in from the entrance of the sea cave that we’re in. Can you hear what’s going on outside? Can you hear the waves crashing and the surf hissing? You can almost see the inversion of the shore water as it rallies against the accumulating kinetic force of the next breaker which is about to reach a climactic crescendo. Look down at our feet. Even in this poorly lit region of the cave, you should be able to see pockets of seawater shimmering amidst a labyrinth of limestone ridges on the ground. The tide must be coming in.
We stumble out through the mouth of the cave and into the exuberance of a quixotic moonlight. Outside the stars twinkle from their coordinates in the heavens, the wind rustles against the nape of our necks, and the waves surge over towards the shore and bathe our naked feet. Feel the tepid breeze as it caresses the curves and orifices of your body: your lips, nose, and ears; your shoulders; your back; your chest; your arms and hands; your abdominal region; your buttocks, groin, and the regions between your legs; yours thighs, knees, and calves; your feet; and your toes. As we stroll along a bank of smooth silica sand exposed by the tidal flat, grains displaced by the tumultuous waters incite a titillation that originates beneath our feet and darts up along our hamstrings to our buttocks and lower backs. A sprays of salty mist brought up by the waves occasionally intrude upon our sense of taste and smell. At times, the terrain on which we walk is smooth and smugly and at other times crawling with pebbles and stones that jab into our feet. Even in the dark, we get a sense of the impregnable nature of the precipitous cliffs that stand horizontal to our right. Look up to your right and try to make out some of their details. Try to discern the shadowy figures of giant eucalypts, oaks, cypresses, palms, and sequoias that sprout from uppermost tier of the limestone rock and spend their lives grappling with ravages and diseases brought on by the eternal elements.
Have you realized where we are yet? The place which we have thus far caused to rise out of the darkness and into the light is wild, haggard and inaccessible like the sheer force of our raw, insurmountable will. The sands are carnelian, like the red veneer of our courage. Occasionally, the wind shifts the grains to create different patterns. This is the hourglass of Time. Hidden between the rocks and sometimes beneath the sands are desert scorpions and cobras with stings, physical signatures of the psychic antidotes which we use to combat and annul venom spat at us by those who practice injustice and enmity–sentiments whose potency can be lethal. The eucalypts, oaks, cypresses, palms, sequoias, and every other tree growing on the edge of the dramatic ravines hint at the carefree and unencumbered disposition by which we wish to lead our lives, not to mention the pallid stoicism with which we shall confront any potential threat. Can you see the shadows of numerous nests perched atop the canopy? They belong to male-female pairs of sea eagles which have mated for life, undisputed evidence of our unwavering loyalty towards one another, our brothers and sisters. Down below, the wild cats roaming about the foot of the cliffs mirror the degrees of freedom we shall acquired over our lifetime and the unconscious propensity we feel to expand them. In the rivers and seas, a school of dolphins ride the waves as a visual display of our sexual prowess and liberation.
Following a trail mapped out by the sand bank brings us to a small cove hewn from the cliff face where one can find repose from wind and water. It just so happens that this is the best place to watch the sunrise from. How might I know this? Well, I’ve experienced it many times before. Just make yourself comfortable by lying down on the sand and closing your eyes. You may huddle beside me if you wish. Breathe in and breathe out, slowly and rhythmically. Try to coordinate your breathing with the intermittent crashing of the waves. Let the mesmeric sounds lull and relax you as much as possible, but don’t let them carry you off into the realm of sleep. We listen as the waves run ashore in an endless cycle of repetition, ascending further and further up along the bank until they finally swish over our feet. They’ve brought us dowries of many shapes, sizes, colours, and textures from the heart of the ocean; little clams, cockle shells, cowries, cone-shaped limpets, moon shells, mussels, nautilus shells, sand dollars, and scallop shells. It feels so good to be caressed, honoured, and loved by the sea, doesn’t it?
Over the horizon, the most brilliant star Sirius has begun its ascent to the mount of the heavens. That means it will be morning soon. You know, during the summer months you can sometimes see the ghosts of dead people here. They’re often visible just before the golden corona of the sun kisses the horizon. They’re imprinted onto the landscape in the way that light from a real image is projected onto a section of exposed camera film to immortalize it. Once they’re on this film, they’re never lost. Pictures that we choose to develop and redevelop eventually fade and disintegrate but the negatives are always there, waiting to be processed again and again and again… Don’t ask me why and how this occurs, that’s just the way it is always has been, is, and will be until some hand erases the film from existence. If you can resist the lull of sleep at this time during these months you will see dark shadows–the silhouettes of men, women, and children–moving through the mists. They appear in the east and progress westward by either gliding, walking, or flying over water. Conversely, they disappear as the supernal star is blighted from vision by the first flashes of sunlight across the sky.
Lift your head and peer out at sea. Can you see anything out there? There’s something sailing along the horizon, cleaving the waters as a black swallow cleaves the air. It’s difficult to differentiate what it might be because of the thick layer of mist gravitating around the horizon. Oh, wait a second. It’s changed its course now. It appears to be coming towards us at mercurial speeds, demonstrating prodigious aptitude for swimming and spraying jets of water into the air. Could it be a sea nymph or a Siren? Perhaps it’s a messenger sent from the sea goddess who lives beyond the frontiers of the visible horizon. The sight of beaks, melons, dorsal fins, and tail flukes suddenly become visible. The cetacean intelligence–the bottlenose dolphins–have arrived! They obviously sensed the presence of other beings on the shore and wish to make our acquaintance. Many are coming, riding the waves fearlessly and assertively. Their greatest will is to play and to perform; to sing and to commune; to understand and be understood; to love and to be loved. They wade about in the shallowest regions, trying to work their way as near to shore as possible for the sake of nuzzling our feet.
We plunge into the water and surface beside a mother with her calf. The mother studies us with a keen eye. After deciding that we’re nothing but a couple of faithful allies, she rubs herself against us. We return the friendly gesture and caress her muscle-bound belly. She tells us: “In a time before this, everyone spoke the same language: the mountains; the seas; the wooded forests of the earth; the stars the rule over our fate; and even the zodiacal beasts that lay entangled in its web. Then, we were all as One; we conspired with one another like cells of a single body, as if we were bees gathering pollen for the sweet sake of a greater cause. We satisfied our unquenchable thirst for mead with the same tongue; we partook of the same knowledge in much the same way that the fearsome Graeae, sisters of the Gorgons, shared the same eye and perspective. Back then blood feuds and odium had not coagulated in the amniotic fluid; there was only a single hermaphrodite in the water–absolute, lion-maned and narcissistic in its own love and fancy. The left side was Man, the right Mother Nature; those star-crossed lovers of the sea shared the same heart and lungs, and even the same perspective.
He would rub her underside, she would nuzzle his chin. They watched the star-spangled skies each night as they kissed adrift on a grey-bearded and froth-filled sea. Sometimes she would get overexcited and thrash about, frightening the wits about him; she never really contemplated the supremacy of her own being, or the far-reaching consequences of flexing the long fibres in her muscles. Her willpower churned like a black hole, disarming his urgent ego and every other. Sometimes they would squawk, bellow, chirp, screech, or simply talk nonsense with one another ;at other times still they would seize, possess and gnaw at each other’s bodies, or mimic one another’s thoughts and emotions like the lyrebird, that master of guises–nothing was stamped private or confidential. Telepathy was their golden Word, and inflections of pronunciation simply irrelevant. When invoked, the Word was like a knew-jerk reaction. He spoke and she changed into a mermaid; then she whispered in his ear and he orgasmed like a saltwater geyser. They would spiral out of control, going faster and faster, until they were bumped off their slanted axis. Life was quite like an embryo then, a rambling supernova in saltwater solution. Everyone understood words and explosions.”
[Spend ten to fifteen minutes exploring possible scenes that might bifurcate naturally from this imaginary peak experience. Once your experiences have tapered down to a close, return to the administrative text and complete the exercise.]
Without warning the sun’s rays shoot into the heavens, obliterating any trace of the star Sirius from sight. The ethereal paradise dematerializes from our mind’s eye and we are subsequently sucked back into our material bodies. I hope that you didn’t stop taking those long, deep, and rhythmic breaths during the course of that entire pilgrimage. Breathe in and then breathe out. Breathe in and then breathe out. Breathe in, breathe out.
You can gradually open your eyes once you feel like you’re ready to return to everyday consciousness. Remember that you can return to the Cave of the Returning Waters whenever you wish to repose from the prosaic routines and stresses of the phenomenal world. I have showed you the way now and that little secret place is there for you whenever your heart may desire it. A most appropriate way to finish the exercise is by doing a few light stretches and then drinking a glass of water. Once you have been practicing for a while, you might elect to change things up by undertaking the entire pilgrimage on your lonesome, without a guide.
P.S Let the reigns of your imagination free… let them free…