(This is a less magic-focused version of this article.)
A pretty fundamental question is, how can you find and communicate with other-space and its denizens? (Who may become your groupmates.) It’s different for every person, so all I can really do is give my experience and hope something clicks for you.
Perhaps as a writer, perhaps as someone with an active imagination, or perhaps (most likely) as someone with a skill I didn’t know I had, I’ve always had an inner or other-world waiting for me. The best way I have to describe it is like an ongoing dream, and get technical from there.
When you are sleeping and you first wake from your dream, you’re often disoriented; you think you’re fundamentally still inside that dream, but you become aware of this world. I’ll call this the 3/4 (three-quarter, not 3 of 4) state. In this metaphor, 4/4 means you’re completely dreaming; to be on this scale, I’ll consider primarily lucid dreaming. Once you continue to wake up, you are mostly in this world, but the dream is really compelling. You may be holding on to a sense of longing or terror or sadness that it brought to you; I call this the 2/4 state. And finally, you have a complete awakening, where all you’re doing is thinking about the (fading) memories of the dreams logically. I’d call that a 1/4 state.
This ongoing dream is something like a continuous background 1/4 – 2/4 state. It’s like, I’m familiar with this dream, and I know it’s there, and I can sort of feel the edges of it as a reality still. But I’m largely focused on what’s out here. When you wake from a dream, you can still sort of “see” what you would’ve seen inside the dream. This is also true for me. I can “peek” in, and like watching the last bits of drama play out from a dream from which you’ve just woken, I can also interact with my “ongoing dream” in a limited way.
This is what I call my other-space.
I’m not sure how one would go about finding such a space anew, but I imagine that starting with creative visualisations and guided meditations would be a good place to practice.
Which brings me to my next topic. How do you interact with this space?
The deepest conscious interaction comes in a 3/4 state. I’m typically laying down somewhere, comfortable, and tuning out this world. To go deeper, I would sometimes put some trancey music on headphones. (Wardruna works well. :)) In the very best 3/4 state, I would sometimes lose track entirely of what’s happening out here, lose track of time, and have limited sleep paralysis upon coming back.
For me, it’s an exercise in receiving. I heard someone once describe Hawai’i similarly, that it’s a place in which you listen, watch, and feel, and through this exercise, you are rewarded. Approach it with a child-like wonder, without expectations. This is very important, because you want to experience what this place has to offer to you; trying to impose your own ideas on how it should work is going to lead you to creative (or perhaps not-so-creative) visualisation, not journeying.
Our other-space was reset a while back, so to speak, so I got to experience this first finding all over again. I opened my mind’s eye, without expectations. I was first in a place of empty whiteness. I could stand, but there was nothing anywhere around me. I listened and looked around, waiting for the details to fill. I became aware of a little girl who spoke to me about the place. The two of us chose a starting point, and suddenly it became a large, grassy park. There were swings, other children, and a treehouse that we’d imagined into being, for her to live in. I asked her name, and she said I could call her The Oracle, which amused me a little, given the Matrix character. But it’s an appropriate name, I’ve found.
I did not create the children, nor the swings. I didn’t expect them to be there, nor did I ask for them to be there. They simply were. You might call them a part of The Oracle’s setting or metaphor, or perhaps her mind, but either way, they are there. I’m not sure it matters what they “really” are. I’ve never tried, but I have little doubt that I could walk over to one and have a conversation.
When I’m confused, especially about other-space, I talk to The Oracle. I ask, and then I listen. I’m open, and I receive. Words form in my mind, or perhaps pure thoughts that become words for me.
You can follow this process and explore and explore. Let yourself be drawn to things and people, and you may find that they have advice for you, lessons for you, or are simply fun to talk with. You may find places that have things you need or want, up to and including places you simply feel are enjoyable and homey. A little sanctuary from what’s out here. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with that. Not every spiritual or meditative thing is about some dramatic insight. We also find peace through this.
And always, you listen, you watch, you feel. You don’t impose your will on the place. You can speak, you can interact, and in some cases you do get to build a space, just like Inception. But to get the true value of it, it’s all about letting the space tell you what you see. Let the images, words, ideas come on their own.
If you ever find yourself saying “well crud, I didn’t expect her to say that” or any other variation on “wow, that was surprising”, then I’d say you’re doing it right. (Or you are doing what I’m suggesting, anyhow — I’m not sure there’s a global right or wrong here.)