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Edward Rosenfeld
Edward Rosenfeld

Finding the Core of the Self

Via hypnosis, visualization, and more.

Psychosynthesis is a system developed over more than half a century by Robert Assagioli. It is concerned with the separate and separative elements of the psyche. It postulates that there is an unchanging “I-consciousness.” Unlike physical-emotional-biological-mental states that change constantly and consistently, this “I-consciousness” is a persistent central core of the self.

To reach this unifying center of the self, Assagioli developed methods for self-identification awareness, strengthening the will, and visualization. All of these revolve around imaginative evocations. There are certain key phrases, similar to hypnotic inductions, that are repeated and experienced. Symbols, colors, programmed daydreams, and a variety of other techniques are used in this treatment.

Assagioli and his associates developed and described more than forty separate techniques of psychosynthesis. Following is a description of the technique of visualization:

First, imagine the setting, which is a classroom with a blackboard, gray or dull black. Then imagine that in the middle of the blackboard appears a figure; let us say the number five, as if written with white chalk, fairly large and well defined. Then keep it vividly before your inner eye, so to speak; that is, keep the image of the five vivid and steady in the field of your conscious attention. Then on the right of the five visualize the figure two.

So, now you have two figures, a five and a two, making fifty-two. Dwell for a while on the visualization of this number, then after a little while, imagine the appearance of a four at the right side of the two.

Now you have three figures, written in white chalk, five, two, four—making the number five hundred and twenty-four. Dwell for a while on this number.

Continue adding other figures until you are unable to hold together the visualization of the number resulting from those figures.

And then there are eye exercises for rest and relaxation.

The Bates method, named after its developer, William Horatio Bates, is a system for improving vision so that glasses need not be worn. Unfortunately, after rigorous examination, it became clear that these exercises do not strengthen the eyes. While it’s not recommended to use these techniques for improving your eyesight, they are helpful as a means to re-educate the process of seeing. When we see all things anew, our entire experience of life changes. As we change the quality of our sensory processing we change the quality of our consciousness.

Source: Workman

One of these exercises is called “palming.” The object is to provide rest and relaxation for the eyes by closing them. When the lids are closed, light can still penetrate. Bates suggests that the way to keep light from reaching the eyes is by placing the palms over the eyes, with the fingers being crossed on the forehead. This shuts out the light and allows the eyes to rest. The hands cover the eyes but do not touch them.

After resting the eyes, shift them from side to side and swing around, clockwise and counterclockwise. Do this with the eyes closed for about thirty seconds each. Palm the eyes before and after for rest and relaxation.

Another technique that Bates advocated was to look at a black surface so that one can see the black. This is also meant to be restful and relaxing to the eyes, especially when no attempt is made to see by holding or fixating. Just allow the black to calmly fill the field of vision.

From The Book of Highs by Edward Rosenfeld (Workman Publishing). Copyright © 2018. Illustrations by Nate Duval.

About the Author
Edward Rosenfeld

Edward Rosenfeld, a founding editor of Omni magazine, is the author of many books including Talking Nets: An Oral History of Neural Networks and The Book of Highs.

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