Her Little Drug Box.

Skipping meetings for parties
under the bridge.
Stumbling home, to the abode
of those who conjured

this body, hopelessly embedded
in this hell
you’re forced to endure.

Screaming faces,
violent fingers pointing,
till your father
pushes you against the wall.

Just trying to deal here.
That’s all.
Just doing your best.

Now just
left alone again.

Fucking abandoned.

Bedroom door closed.
Punching pillows, like in therapy.
Screaming into them, muffling
your tantrum,

and when that fails to exhaust,
you make
the determined walk
to your little

drug box,
chasing pills
with alcohol.

Advertisements

Telepathy and Eye Contact.

“When eye contact between two people is initiated and maintained, an invisible energetic circuit is established between the two participants, dissolving the barriers that ordinarily separate them from each other, drawing them ever closer into a shared awareness of union.”
— Will Johnson, The Spiritual Practices of Rumi: Radical Techniques for Beholding the Divine.

“Portal sits deep within the eye.
The eye of yin’s severity
rewards understanding.”
— Mudvayne, Mercy, Severity.

In addition to my personal experiences, parapsychological research suggests that not only is eye gazing unnecessary for telepathy to occur, but distance between the subjects in question ultimately makes no difference, either. Despite this, eyes certainly hold a particular and peculiar power for me and I continue my struggle to understand why. It doesn’t help matters that aside from the alien abduction literature in general and my own experiences in particular I have only heard of experiences of “ocular telepathy” through two other sources.

Years ago, when I found Koda on the net, he had yet to write his 2004 book Instant Enlightenment: Metaphysical Fast Food, which I have since purchased. His interest in metaphysics was first sparked as a teenager in the early 1970s after experimenting with psychedelics. Since then he has explored the paranormal through conversation and tested out various techniques on his own.

His first attempt at telepathy occurred when he and a friend were alone, smoking hashish, and the technique was a rather basic one: Koda tried to focus on and “send” a letter as his friend tried to “receive” it. After visualizing a letter for about five minutes, his frustration grew and he screamed to himself mentally, at which time his friend screamed it quite verbally. They tried to repeat it several times that day and failed, but now that he had confirmed telepathy to his satisfaction he decided to see what other questions in this area he could lay to rest.

After attempting and accomplishing two other paranormal feats while alone in his bedroom that evening, as he explained it, “My ego was glowing profusely.” Upon going to the local coffee shop and telling some of his friends and classmates, however, he was met with only disbelief and ridicule. Frustrated, he was immediately set on revenge, and he stumbled upon the means some weeks later at that very coffee shop.

They often held staring contests and one girl always seemed to be better than the rest. Whenever he challenged her he would be doing fine for a short while before he cracked a grin and lost the game. He finally thought he would try thinking of a joke during their staring and telepathically “send” it to her to see if he could get her to laugh. It worked, even during the rematch she demanded. When she asked how he had done it and he told her, she confessed to using the same technique.

He then began practicing telepathy far more blatantly — and with a certain vengeance. He would begin the process using cold reading, approaching a friend, looking in their eyes and saying,”Let me see if I can read your mind.” Judging from their facial expressions he could easily determine that they thought he was full of shit, so he told them just that. They would confess it was so but maintained that it proved nothing. Then he would declare that they were now trying to think of something more specific and less obvious. Then he would tell them that they were beginning to wonder if he really could read their mind after all given his accuracy this far. At this point he began to generate fear in them, which as a consequence made them focus all the more intensely on whatever they were thinking about.

Up to this point, it was all cold reading, but it became, in this way, effective foreplay for telepathy. He slowly and systematically built up fear in them that he could read their minds and once that emotional component achieved sufficient intensity — typically when he went one step further and accused them of being terrified that he might be capable of knowing their deepest, darkest secrets — their focus became so locked on their specific, sustained thoughts that, as he put it, they essentially broadcasted their thoughts to him. He would then tell them what they were thinking, which by this point was something very specific, and they would confess that he could do it after all.

He did this daily for two weeks and got quite proficient at it before deciding he had had enough. Not only did he finally feel that he gotten even with them, he could no longer deal with the feelings of absolute terror he generated in them in the process. To make matters worse, even after making it known that he had stopped, people still avoided him for roughly two months.

It was two years before he started investigating telepathy again, this time with the intent of teaching others how to do it. In time he developed what he came to call the “Psychic Window Technique” in which two people engage in prolonged staring or mutual gazing at a short distance. According to Koda, this technique has a few effects.

In the midst of prolonged eye-gazing he would perceive strange illusions in his partner’s face: areas would often appear blurry, darker, or become more pronounced. Sometimes these distortions gave way to full-blown hallucinatory shape-shifting into the faces of strangers, animals, and even stranger things. His partner, it turned out, would see the same illusions, simultaneously and with equal intensity on his own face. He came to call this effect “visual telepathy,” and it is essentially this that first brought him to my attention. It helped explain an incident I’d had on December 15, 2001.

For some time I had been working at a particular fast food restaurant where I also often spent a considerable and embarrassing amount of my time off. A few hours before work I would come in, get my free and essentially bottomless cup of coffee, sit in my booth in the smoking section and spend my free time writing, reading, thinking and, in my idle time, people-watching. It was one of the few unofficial benefits of the job.

On the day in question a guy I had briefly worked with at another fast food job saw me, took a seat at the opposite end of my booth and we engaged in a short conversation. He was there with some guy, perhaps a brother, who had a young kid with him. After we concluded our conversation, he got up and left. I went back to my writing, lost in my own personal trance, having assumed that was the end of it. I could not have been more mistaken. As I have previously written:

“I was jolted… by the sound of something hitting the far end of my booth. Startled and curious, I looked up to find a dome of blond hair poking out from just beyond the end of the table. It was the upper hemisphere of a toddler’s head. One hand of his was grabbing a hold of the end of the table; in the other, he held his cup with the sippy-top. He was looking dead at me, and instead of meeting his eyes I just sort of laughed under my breath, turned my head back down, placed the pen to the page and continued my writing. My eyes didn’t even reach my notebook before I heard it again. Looking back up, I immediately locked eyes with the kid and found myself imprisoned there. The gateways to my mind were being held hostage.

My peripheral vision was suddenly enshrouded in this dark, blurry overcast. While the eyes at the end of the tunnel shared the shadowy opaqueness, it was also possessed with a hyper-vivid quality. This sense of pressure built in my head, as if energy from his eyes were literally pushing into my mind, as if breaking and entering the mind and scanning and downloading personal files. A virtual form of search and seizure or, in this case, a telepathic analogue.

After a moment, he seemed satisfied and strangely amused, looking at me in a creepy way, as if he knew a “dark secret,” as I had later phrased it, that somehow connected him and I. The edges of his lips then curled slowly upward to an unnatural height, almost as if this surreal Cheshire Cat grin belonged somewhere in the twilight betwixt reality and cartoon.

Soon he walked away slowly with who I presume to be my ex-coworker’s friend holding his hand, but my line of sight was still ensnared by his eyes. He held me in his ocular tractor beam until he was out of my line of sight, at which time I felt him release my mind from his psychic grip.

Sinking down into the booth, I was cold and trembling, heart pumping wildly beneath gooseflesh. My eyes felt a strange, widened sort of pain, and it felt as if I could still feel the residual feeling of him being inside my head. I tried to look intensely out into nowhere, to “stare” the feeling out of me as if I were trying to flush out the psychic lines or something.”

According to Koda, this mutuality of experience does not end with visual illusions and hallucinations of the face, either, but extends to emotional states and physical sensations. One can even play a game, he suggests, in which one takes on the role of the blind receiver as the other intentionally generates and attempts to communicate a specific emotion or sensation.

This brings us to the 1998 book, Dancing Naked in the Mind Field, by Kary Mullis, a biochemist who won the Nobel Prize for his invention of the polymerase chain reaction (PCR) in 1983. Despite his accomplishments and credentials he is, to put it mildly, a controversial figure and an interesting character with even more interesting personal anecdotes to relate. In a chapter entitled, “Intervention on the Astral Plane,” he recounts his experience with a woman he introduces as Katherine O’Keefe who had astounding abilities — though I will focus on a single instance he cited which occurred on the day he met her “in the flesh,” in December of 1978. They met first at a Bakery and she then followed him home:

“We talked briefly about nothing much in kitchen and then made love before I knew anything more than her name. She looked deep into my eyes and did something to me with her mind that was ecstatic. It seemed to me as if a little tentacle had reached into my mid-brain and tickled my hypothalamus” (p 93).

In 2002, while I still worked at the fast food restaurant previously mentioned, I had met Angela, a beautiful girl that had some strange experiences of her own. When we worked nights together she used to get up real close to my face and stare at me in the eyes, which I always enjoyed. At one point, while staring at me in that way, she did something akin to what Mullis described. I received this intense, joyous, almost orgasmic high that reached a fever pitch, overwhelming me and causing my field of perception to ripple like the surface of a disturbed body of water.

I had experienced such perceptual distortions before, to be certain, though the emotional component had never before achieved such intensity. One of the first occasions this happened, I was attending a dance with my girlfriend at the time at her school. In passing, as I was walking behind her through a crowded room, I happened to lock eyes with a random girl and the same thing occurred: a rising high with rippling vision. And she had done it at some distance, too.

Koda also writes about telepathically transmitting and receiving emotionally-charged imagery. Having read it for the first time in the process of writing this, it made me think of two experiences of mine.

The first happened during high school sometime after the flashbacks. I was in English class and we were all in our seats working on our papers independently and the teacher was walking up and down the isles, observing us as we worked. Occasionally she would stop and talk to a student in whispered tones. She walked up to my desk, leaned down to talk to me and as I looked up I happened to look her directly in the eyes. It was as if I was sucked into the vortex of her pupils. Inside, I saw things rotting, dripping with a venomous, sewage-like substance, absolutely grotesque, ill and deprived of life. And in an instant I broke the link, looking away from her, totally confused as to what had just happened.

Years later, the same sort of thing happened to me with a kid on April 8, 2002 as I was in a booth at work talking with a Tess, a co-worker and passing romantic interest:

“As her and I spoke, I found myself a bit distracted when this family of four came in. There was a curly-haired brunette lady who I presumed to be the mother; a tall, dark-haired man who’s face I never saw, and two kids. There was a younger one who had blond hair and blue eyes and looked rather frail-looking. His head was kind of big, too. The other was older with dark hair. The mother sat down in the booth behind my friend – booth number five – with the frail boy between her and the wall. Across from her and back-to-back with my friend was the tall man. Across from the blond haired kid and tall man sat the dark-haired boy.

It was the blond that first caught my attention. He was a cute little kid with bright blue eyes, but something about him made me uneasy. Though I was quick to attribute it to paranoia, for a few moments I watched him closely just to be sure. As I was scrutinizing, both kids stood up at once, leaned towards one another from across their table and placed themselves forehead to forehead, like playful bucks locked in a duel, staring dead into one another’s eyes. The mother lightly backhanded the blond kid and told them both to stop.

My attention slipped back to Tess, who was still talking. I had absolutely no fucking clue what the hell she had been saying, and even what she was saying at present seemed to be empty words lost in a jumble. I was getting really, really uncomfortable, and I had no idea why. It all seemed very odd. Somehow, something just didn’t feel right.

Then I looked back up over her shoulder. The dark-haired kid seemed to sense my eyes on him, and he suddenly turned around and looked dead at me and have me a Cheshire Cat grin. When I meet his eyes his pupils grow large, darker-than-dark, and it suddenly it feels as if I’m violently dragged forward and right into them. It’s like we’re in this foggy bubble where we’re only eyes and mind, and only him and I exist, and the rest of the world grows blurred and distorted. It was definitely visual — he looked magnified, abstract and surreal, and I could still see that Cheshire grin, wide and cartoon-like. It certainly wasn’t limited to image, though. It was as if our eye contact had merged us mentally, fused us. I felt as though I was in his mind, or that he was in mine, or that we now shared a mind.

I looked away. It took me a few seconds or so of staring at the table in front of me to realize just what the hell had happened. I knew I wasn’t sleeping, so I couldn’t be dreaming. I wasn’t on drugs. Tess was still talking, but when she looked up at me she did a double-take and then stopped dead in her tracks. I imagine the look on my face must have been about as fucked up as I was feeling. She studied me another moment before asking what was wrong.

Looking at her, staring deep into her eyes, I found that nothing happened. If this was in my head, I wondered, wouldn’t looking into her eyes do the same thing? I looked back at the kid, thinking this might have been something I’d imagined — half hoping, as a matter of fact, that it had truly been something that I’d imagined. Then it all happened again. He goes into my head, grinning again, almost as if he’s a fucking cartoon. If I focused at all, I feared I might be locked there forever; that I might be trapped there and the rest of reality might fade away.

He looks away. While I’m sitting there pale as a ghost and freaking out, he’s sitting there amused. It’s almost as if he thought it was funny that he could do this. He leaned over the table again and whispered to the blond haired kid. Then he turns back to me and does it again, grinning that wide and freaky Cheshire cat grin, eyes as big and black as universes.”

Koda ultimately experienced something far more extreme than me in this respect, however. In the summer of 1984 he writes how he was practicing the technique with a friend of his in a coffee shop when, for roughly six seconds, they both suddenly saw the same detailed scene from the same perspective:

“I was looking directly at a very pretty blond girl about nineteen-years-old. She was perhaps six feet away, facing slightly toward my left as she sat in front of an old-fashion chest of drawers topped with a large, ornate mirror. Her dress was bright yellow, laced up the front and had a white, ruffled collar. She was brushing her long blond hair with very slow strokes, looking rather absent minded, as if she were daydreaming about some hoped-for future. To the left of the dresser was the closed bedroom door. Without knowing why, I was certain there was a hallway on the other side of the door. I knew that toward the right the hall lead to the back door and the barn area, while on the left the hall opened into the living room. On the other side of the hall from the bedroom was the kitchen. I knew where all the pots and pans and lanterns were hung, that the road came in from west in front of the house and most of the fields were in that direction. I knew everything about the place as quickly as my mind could scan the area, including the ‘fact’ that I was in a farmhouse in Southern California in the late 1800s” (p 18).

In rare instances, he says, even thoughts can be communicated — as exemplified to some degree in his initial experience with his friend on hashish and his subsequent mind-reading of his friends and classmates. It also brings us back to Mullis. In a chapter of the aforementioned book entitled, “My Evening With Harry,” Mullis recounts an experience he had in 1978 in San Francisco.

He was sitting at his kitchen table with his friend, Harry, a fellow chemist, who he had not seen in some time. They both drank some beer and Harry smoked a joint. After explaining that he wanted to show him something, he turned to Mullis with wide eyes and asked him to stare into his eyes and do his best not to blink or react if his face happened to change. As Mullis goes on to explain:

“His face did change. It was still Harry, but varieties of Harry I had not seen. Different faces appeared out of the familiar flesh, which now wasn’t so familiar. Some of them were humans I didn’t know, some were not human at all. They were animal. They were all Harry in some way I couldn’t explain. I was seeing things in him that were him but not a part of the life we had shared. It was a little scary, but Harry was somehow underneath it smiling that confident smile” (p 86).

(p 86)

They both admitted to being inside each other’s minds (“the front room — the reception area,” Mullis explained) and then Mullis broke it off for a moment, grabbed two pens and some index cards.

“We were being scientists. We both wrote down a word and then showed each other our cards. It was the same word. Just a word, nothing cosmic, but it was the same, and we knew it would be. We did it again and again, and we knew every time it would be the same. We were watching something — always present but usually dormany — from a privileged position that we had created by putting ourselves together in some way. It was absolutely normal and yet it wasn’t” (p 87).

Recently I came upon some articles regarding eye-gazing experiments that inspired me to try researching the subject again, hoping to find something. While I found no further personal anecdotes, I did happen upon some interesting and relevant studies. In a video by The Liberators International they invited strangers to publicly engage in eye contact for one, whole, psychologically-juicy minute. After the predictable awkwardness produced at the onset, participants reported the very heights of elation. This predominantly emotional experience may have been overshadowed by some haunting hallucinatory phenomena if ocular engagement had continued for ten minutes, however, at least according to experiments conducted by Giovanni B. Caputo, a psychologist at the University of Urbino in Italy.

I was first introduced to Caputo’s work through an article regarding his studies on mirror-gazing in which he found that after perhaps no more than a minute of staring at one’s reflection subjects experienced what he called the Strange-Face-in-the-Mirror Illusion. Features would darken or become more pronounced; people would see, instead of their own faces, those of strangers, animals, or monstrous beings. In further experiments in which he explored the effects of what has been variously referred to as interpersonal, intersubjective or mutual eye-gazing, he found that the same basic manifestations emerged.

In a paper entitled, “Dissociation and hallucinations in dyads engaged through interpersonal gazing,” Caputo described an experiment in which he paired off 20 people (15 women, 5 men) and had them sit facing each other at a distance of roughly three feet in a dimly-lit room where they were instructed to gaze into one another’s eyes for ten minutes. There was also a control group of 20 placed in more or less the same conditions, though in this case they were instructed to gaze at a blank wall. Each group then completed three questionnaires relating to their experience. The initial dealt with dissociative states, the remaining two focused on their experience of the point of focus — the control group’s wall or the face of your partner. The results were astonishing:

“The participants in the eye-staring group said they’d had a compelling experience unlike anything they’d felt before. They also scored higher on all three questionnaires than the control group. On the dissociative states test, they gave the strongest ratings to items related to reduced colour intensity, sounds seeming quieter or louder than expected, becoming spaced out, and time seeming to drag on. On the strange-face questionnaire, 90 per cent of the eye-staring group agreed that they’d seen some deformed facial traits, 75 per cent said they’d seen a monster, 50 per cent said they saw aspects of their own face in their partner’s face, and 15 per cent said they’d seen a relative’s face.”

As explained elsewhere, a cocktail of neural adaptation, psychological projection and facial recognition would explain the surreal effects that can manifest during mirror-gazing; the same would appear to be true for mutual gazing. This would not, at least so obviously, explain why interpersonal gazing would constitute the more intense experience of the two — nor would it begin to explain the seemingly telepathic effects. There are, however, at least two separate studies that may offer some insight. One was conducted by psychologists from the University of Stirling involving 20 five-year-old children. It concluded that those who averted eye contact in order to consider how they would answer questions were more apt to answer correctly than those who maintained their gaze. In another study conducted at Kyoto University in Japan (the results of which were published as “When we cannot speak: Eye contact disrupts resources available to cognitive control processes during verb generation”) participants played word association games of varying complexity while looking at a variety of faces that were either staring or looking away. During eye contact, they did more poorly during the most complex questions.

In both cases, then, it was suggested that cognitive effort and eye contact interfered with one another. While neither study so much as references hypnosis, the conclusions of both appear to resonate well with hypnotist Scott Jansen’s allegation, which is that sustained eye contact generates “psychological pressure” that diminishes conscious thinking. Subliminal or unconscious thought then rushes in to compensate, heightening one’s suggestibility. In other words, eye contact could be seen as the most basic form of the most typical of induction techniques used by hypnotists both on and off the stage: what is variously known as the direct gaze, fixed gaze or fixation method of hypnotic induction. Though this can be used to refer to the subject’s fixation on nearly anything — a candle’s flame, a finger, a swinging watch — among the objects of potential focus are the hypnotist’s eyes. The issue here is that inducing hypnosis does not alone explain the seemingly telepathic effect, as there are no clearly no overt, hypnotic suggestions to follow in the midst of silent, mutual gazing — and they would prove difficult to deliver, too, perhaps, given the interference it evidently has with respect to cognition.

There may very well be nonverbal hypnotic suggestions at play here, however. Consider that eyes are essentially extensions of the brain that not only receive external signals as sense organs but can also transmit the brain’s own signals to other pairs of eyes. When you engage in eye contact with another person you pick up on the expressions on their face and, of course, the movements of their own eyes. While you can consciously perceive the eye movements known as saccades, such as when the person looks back and forth, there are various forms of subtler, involuntary movements that occur even when those eyes remain fixed on your own, and they may also communicate nonverbal information regarding their inner state. By picking up on these external, nonverbal reactions to their own minds we may instinctively decode those signals and replicate the other person’s inner state within ourselves. Hypnotic trance through silent, prolonged mutual gaze would only amplify such effects.

Those effects are certainly there, too, whatever the cause. In a 2015 study published in the journal Neuroimage, 96 volunteers were split into pairs and proceeded to engage in mutual gazing under the watchful eye of fMRIs. It was found that not only did the pairs begin blinking in unison, their brain activity synchronized in the area of the right inferior frontal gyrus. The remaining question is whether these mundane processes are enough to explain the effects of what I, perhaps lamely, have referred to for some time as ocular telepathy. To put it more plainly: if through prolonged mutual gazing you are capable of sharing or exchanging hallucinations, emotions, mental images and even thoughts with your partner, does it remain a viable hypothesis that the aforementioned normal — as opposed to paranormal — processes are the culprit?

Taken as a whole, it seems a stretch. To break it down in specific bits: being capable, in the midst of locked gaze, of reading emotional states through nonverbals and experiencing them as your own — or experiencing them as emotions from an external source, namely that of your partner — is a hypothesis that would be relatively easy for me to accept, especially given what we know regarding our inherent capacity to subliminally and automatically translate body language. When it comes to sharing hallucinations and subjective imagery, however, I am far more skeptical, and when it comes to communicating thoughts — say in the fashion of Mullis and Harry at the kitchen table exchanging those index cards — it seems absolutely absurd.

So how might one explain this?

We know that ordinary sense perception exists. Our mundane senses do not operate in isolation, however, but are in constant concert, influencing one another with the aim of delivering a seemingly seamless sensory experience to consciousness. Smell, for instance, affects taste, as anyone who has had nasal congestion can attest to. Wine tasters swirl the fluid in the glass, take a hearty whiff, and then sip, utilizing all relevant senses as they contribute to a more holistic, mindful experience of the taste.

There is sufficient data in parapsychological studies to suggest that extrasensory perception exists. While we accept the community or senses as a factor for clear reception with respect to the clarity of reception provided by any singular, ordinary sense, we are for whatever reason suddenly prone to amnesia when it comes to exploring the extra-sensorium. Here, frustration and discouragement overwhelm us when we learn that, for instance, telepathy is difficult to isolate with any certainty from other senses — or potential extrasenses — in the laboratory setting. When we do manage to fashion experiments that isolate specific psi, we are frustrated and discouraged when the effect, though exceeding chance, is relatively weak. We fail to consider the fact that in their natural environment, so-to-speak, they may complement and be similarly influenced by a community of extrasenses just as ordinary senses are.

Not only that, but we should expect these two distinct sensory systems to influence one another as well, which would certainly serve to complicate matters. Assuming this is the case, it could go some way to explain what many interpret as a failure in parapsychology, which is to say that any detectable effects are prone to being relatively weak in nature. After all, when we take average individuals and subject them to parapsychological studies with rigid controls meant to remove any evidence of sensory (if not other extrasensory) influence, we are in effect removing their given extrasense (telepathy, in this case) from its natural context and placing it in an isolated, alien environment in which it is not only virgin but necessarily abandoned by its typical support system. We should be astounded that parapsychological experiments reveal any psi influence at all.

Perhaps the coupling of mutual eye-gazing, subliminal cold-reading and telepathy could better explain the phenomena experienced as ocular telepathy. It works so well, its effects are so predictable, immediate and intense in comparison to telepathy as it is ordinarily explored, simply because it utilizes the parapsychological in tandem with the psychological and biological.

No doubt a relevant form of training might help discipline our natural ability to conjure such capacities through the Psychic Window Technique, and the literature which I have referenced in quotes in this article already provide some clues as to what training might be optimal. Consider, for instance, the conversation between Mullis and O’Keefe following the incident in which she seemed, according to him, to have tickled his hypothalamus:

“I asked her what the hell she had done to me.

She replied, ‘You’ve been playing with your mind, but you don’t know anything yet. No one has ever properly taught you.’

I was excited. ‘Will you show me how to do that? What you did?’

‘You already know. You just need to practice'” (p 93).

Though Mullis reported that she did indeed teach him to practice, he gave few details, in the end only offering the reader her diagnosis of his condition. “She told me that I had abilities that I hadn’t tapped into and that I had to learn to quiet myself inside,” he wrote. “I had to learn not to think so much.” Though she never said it outright so far has Mullis himself has conveyed, it seems clear to me that she was talking about meditation — something akin to the Theravada and Tibetan Buddhist practices of samatha and vipassana, which cultivate the power of attention.

There was also a detailed practice offered by Koda, however: the aforementioned “The Psychic Window Technique.” He suggests that you and your partner sit down and face one another at a distance of perhaps two to three feet, sure to maintain “open” body language devoid of defensive barriers like crossed arms or legs in the process. Both of you then decide which mutual “side” will hold your attentions when you stare at one another: either you focus your eyes on your partner’s right eye as they focus on your left or vice versa. It is of vital importance, I think, to focus mutual attention on a mutual “side,” as it makes certain you are both focusing on the eye of the other that is focusing on you. This would also make it indistinguishable from samatha meditation.

Once the “side” is established, you both stare into one another’s eyes unwaveringly, without blinking, all the while trying to expand your field of clear perception to encapsulate the entirety of the face: then the weirdness begins…

Of Gravity and Burning Flesh.

An insomniac
morning dawns
as I awaken out
of a nightmare’s
vice-grip.

Images censored,
hiding behind a wall
swaying like a tease
at the tip
of my mental tongue.

Sadness,
terror lingering, fed
by the prospects
of the day. No exit,
nowhere to go
but down

further
into this frigid well,
but I’m going to try
and fly across the hungry
void anyway.

To survive,
I divide inside.
So confusing
trying to understand
why, I know.

Is it the spark
of that stubborn part
of you always fighting
the impulse

to get
your hopes
up, rising against,
lifting, carrying
yourself all the way?

Remember
forever: gravity
is god here.
What goes up
must inevitably

bow down, looking
up with wide, hungry
and obedient,
blowjob sort of eyes

before the feet
that make the greater
distortion in space,
that which pulled you in,
attracted you.

Still,
somehow you have thus
far managed to dodge
that fate.

Predictably, you find
a path across the chasm,
never to hit
the ground, a smooth,
lateral sway to land

on warm earth,
proceed on forward
towards
confidence with caution:

after all,
this may be a trick,
some grim illusion seducing
you into letting
your guard down,

relaxing defenses,
believing just to postpone
and further pack the punch

behind the inevitable
enlightenment, true
and bright and burning
your fucking flesh away,

hardens and cools
your soul

until you become the enemy:
a greedy
sadist void of all empathy.

No Cosmic Justice.

Many people find it hard enough to empathize with those in positions they were formerly in themselves, let alone empathize with someone in a position that they entirely alien to. Even when they can manage to see from their former positions they can only see themselves there in the other person’s shoes, you could say, but not looking through the eyes of the other person. This is why the notion if retributive karma has come to irritate me as much as the heaven/hell belief: do something bad to someone now and later, somewhere down the line, tables will surely turn. Even when we remember our former positions we all too often fail to empathize, as formerly mentioned, so what good is a cosmic system of justice aiming for balance throughout countless incarnations shrouded by amnesia?

A Reason to Fight.

I cannot be
like you, for that
would impede
upon my individual
responsibility
to be true

to myself and, by extension,
impede upon
my responsibility to feed
the diversity
that keeps the fires of life
as a whole
blazing.

To be anything less
than who I am
would be to dishonor
life from all conceivable
directions, so I am afraid

I must decline
your invitation, as it does
not resonate
with my inner core.

Push me? I push you.
You crossed
the line, I am just guiding
you back.

Don’t make
me have to violently
increase the distance,
or, in an animalistic
manner pluralize
your existence,
your precise
location in time
and space.

Its a form of rape.

I know revenge
is just an attempt
forced empathy.

I will never do
what you do to me.
You, you’ll never get it.

Freedom, truth,
individuality,
choice
is everything,
and among
you, it all dies.

A reason to fight?

Fuck yes,
that is enough for me.

Inverted Loci & Sacrifice of the Self.

It was through reading up on NLP, if I remember correctly, that I first learned of the concept of the locus of control. One’s locus is where one attributes the creator of oneself and one’s circumstances. To label it as internal or external seems too simplistic, however, at least in my case — instead, it could be far more accurately characterized as an inversion.

In fact, the mentality in question here is as backasswards as can be: I become responsible for how others feel; they become responsible for how I feel.

Feeling responsible for the thoughts and emotions of others manifests in the “disease to please” everyone around you. It is what Nietzsche meant when he spoke of holding the herd over the individual. More value is placed in the masses than in the individual.

If you feel that others are responsible for how you feel, you constantly depend on them to feel good about yourself and tend to blame them when you feel anything negative, which leads to feelings of resentment. If you feel that you are responsible for how others feel you are assuming ownership over their emotions, constantly running around trying to make people feel as you think they should. In any case, living with inverted loci is ludicrous for a few reasons.

First, the battle is ultimately a futile one, a total waste of time and energy, as you cannot exert any long-term, wide-ranging control over the reactions of others.

Second, even if it were possible it would be blatantly unethical. Despite the fact that this appears to be a problem of indiscriminate empathy, it is also very shallow, unenlightened empathy: you are manipulating others into reacting to you in a targeted fashion rather than in their own, unique, authentic manner.

Third, there is what I call the persona problem. You must sacrifice honesty and authenticity — in short, bury your true self beneath a persona, or social masque — in order to procure the desired reactions or avoid undesirable reactions from your social environment. Maybe this is why sometimes I don’t want to be around other people. I fear I’m going to feel trapped and drained by the emotional tug-o-war puppeteer game I feel I’m forced to engage in. Over all, inverted loci wastes time and energy and shows a significant lack of value in individuality and personal freedom and responsibility.

The answer is to adopt the attitude of self-governance, free will and personal responsibility towards our emotional states. I am free to feel how I feel, but ultimately responsible for those feelings. They are free to feel how they feel, think what they wish, believe what they please, and are ultimately responsible for their own feelings.

It is about “expression, not impression,” as I have heard it so elegantly phrased. If I have issues with anxiety, depression and anger, they stem from a lack of self-discipline or undeveloped coping mechanisms. They aren’t “making” me feel jealous, angry or depressed; I just feel jealous, angry or depressed, be it by choice or programming.

I think emotions become more honest and stable once you claim your own as your own and recognize those of others as belong to them and not to yourself. You’re more apt to make commitments, and when you do make them, to keep them, and make only as many commitments at once as you can handle. Your insides aren’t being tugged this way and that by others, and you don’t feel the need to tug others. It also saves energy because you’re not investing so much time in trying to manipulate what other people feel — be your intentions good or ill.

This isn’t a philosophy dead-set against empathy, either, but a philosophy that places ultimate value in the individual and in diversity. However important it may be to be receptive to the feelings of others, it is equally important to recognize those feelings as their feelings and not your own, and your feelings as your own and not theirs. Empathy requires sensitivity, then, but just as important is the act of maintaining boundaries.

A Collision of Multiple Descriptions.

In NLP, they have what they call multiple descriptions. These are the three distinct vantage points that are accessible to any individual, not unlike the first, second and third person modes or perspectives utilized in narration. In the first position, you experience an event through yourself. In the second position, you are empathizing with another person, walking a mile in their shoes. In the third position, you experience it all from a detached, impersonal, observer perspective that has no stake in the outcome.

People often get stuck in one position. When ensnared in the first position, one is controlling, egotistical, narcissistic, even psychopathic. Imprisonment in the second position leads one to place others before themselves: they become pushovers, martyrs. In the third position, one is a passive observer in, a detached witness to life rather than an active participant.

Rather than being stuck in a single position one might shift between them uncontrollably or even have two or three positions afflicting them at once.

I constantly find myself looking at myself as if from a third person perspective, from some external, objective viewpoint, often while I am simultaneously bound in the first person perspective. I recognize this as dissociation. It feels as though that third person mode is always there, always lingering, so perhaps that is why I so often have the feeling of being watched, being observed, even when I am alone.

I also get stuck in the second position, constantly and involuntarily putting myself in other’s shoes, seeing the world as it may be through their eyes, feeling what they feel, even thinking what they may be thinking. When I get the second and third positions at once, it adds up to something akin to an “omniscient” third person perspective — where, in writing, the narrator weaves in and out of the minds and senses of various characters. In practice, it leads to anxiety, to overload and worse and I need isolation to process and find my center again.

Thankfully, NLP offers a means by which one can allegedly learn to shift positions more or less at will. First, you calibrate the target, which is to say you become aware of verbal and nonverbal cues, and then you use the technique of “pacing” in which you strategically mirror those nonverbal cues in some way.

When this is used to access the first position, it is known as congruence; when used to access the second person, it is known as rapport. After establishing rapport or congruence through pacing, you can then use the technique of “leading” to move the target into new territory.

Its worth toying with…

Wes Goes South.

I’m outside the building smoking when two young guys approach me. One seems clean cut and extroverted; a smiley glad hands sort of fellow. The other, a scrawny white kid, looks shy and disheveled. It’s the first guy who asks me for money, and I motion towards the building behind me, to the fast food restaurant.

“I work here, man,” I told him, topping off the subtle suggestion with the blatant announcement, “I don’t have any money.”

I cannot hope to ever express how much I enjoy watching the whole demeanor change. This happens so fucking often. Someone comes up to you with open body language, direct eye contact and a kind smile. Unlike this guy, some warm up to you first; fore play before they try and get in your pants — figuratively, for money or cancer sticks.

This guy, he jumped right in.

As soon as you say no, you won’t give them money or let them bum a smoke, you suddenly don’t exist to them. You’re unwilling to fall prey to the sympathy they are trying to elicit in you, fail to provide for them, so you have no use to them. They might even get visibly angry, say something crude.

This guy? He’s a pro. I say no and he goes to the opposite end of the sidewalk to try and get the other guy enjoying a cigarette to fork over some cash. He leaves me with blond-haired skinny boy, sinking beneath his shoulders, hiding beneath the hoodie.

As strangers and friends alike often do, he begins spilling to me. There are no hidden aims, no ulterior motives, he just needs someone to listen. He talks to me as if he’s in training as a beggar: he tells me he’s getting better at it. How he tries to find a job, but he doesn’t have a home or a phone number, so that causes issues. His parents kicked him out, he tells me; they want nothing to do with him. He doesn’t know what else to do.

What do I tell him? That I remember a life where I died homeless and alone, that buried in me somewhere I might know how he feels? Or do I maintain an illusion of sanity and restrict it to this life, tell him how if it wasn’t for friends and family I would have been in his position years ago, perhaps be worm food right now?

And the wall I erect nowadays when it comes to beggars: how do I go about explaining that? Do I be honest?

How can I help people when I can hardly help myself, especially as I have learned that people do not always return the empathy you have with them but rather use your empathy to manipulate you, to serve themselves, and to hell with you?

We have a polite conversation. I finish my smoke, kindly bid him a good evening and go back inside.

Later, as I’m cleaning the dining room towards the end of my shift, Wes strolls in. I’ve known him on and off for years. I met him through a guy that used to work here with me.

He’s out on the streets, homeless again. He might go to prison, he tells me, and this time it wasn’t even his fault — he was in the wrong place, wrong time, and someone in the apartment he was crashing at died from an overdose. Now he’s selling weed so he has some income. So he can eat.

He asks me if I could get him some food. I make him a quarter pounder and hide it in the gondola where I put the trash. I put it outside the back door for him, and he thanks me. Hugs me. And goes on his way.

There was talk that day about a fire uptown, another story about a fire alarm going off in a nearby Walmart, so when we saw what looked like a fire truck flashing its lights at the motorcycle place next door, I figured it was just some nomad arsonist making rounds. Upon going home that evening, I learned it had nothing to do with a fire. Some guy had overdosed on heroine in the darkness just outside the building. What I read online gave no name — “let’s call him Ben,” it said.

My name? That figures.

Perhaps a day or two later, one of my coworkers comes in the back room to see if I’ll let this one guy outside use my lighter, because no one else will.

I go outside to find its Wes. He’s alive. It wasn’t him who died. The relief is short lived.

He looks, well, bad.

He’s wearing the same red hoodie as last time I saw him. He looks like a tall skeleton coated in tattooed, Caucasian-colored shrink wrap. His eyes shine like glass. The whites of the sclera have gone pink. He’s constantly in motion, like a thoroughly-caffeinated drunk, like an enthusiastic, wildly gesticulating Jack Sparrow.

I ask him if he’s high. He insists he is not. He’s having a mental breakdown, he tells me. Out of the corner of his eyes, he keeps seeing people who aren’t there. Keeps hearing conversations that no one is having. The other night, he blacked out, lost himself, became someone else. He suddenly came to later to find his girlfriend crying. He remembers nothing. Nothing at all.

Dissociation. A dissociative identity taking control due to too much stress for his personality to handle. Is that what he is experiencing?

Is that what I have experienced?

I see him again a few days later. His girlfriend broke up with him. According to her, she was afraid one night when he blacked out that he might rape her, which seemed to confuse and hurt him. He was raped as a child, he told her; he would never do that to anybody.

“Yeah,” she told him, “but you weren’t there.”

What do I tell him?

In a Space of Body-Light.

Like clouds
of vibrating energy
surrounding, permeating us,
charging or draining me,
all too often
infecting me,

resonating, reverberating,
pulling me into vortices,
a land pockmarked
with rabbit holes to fall down,
drowning me out,

leaving me
mistaking their e-motions
for my own, mind blinded
by the body-light.

Always losing my sense
of boundaries.

Fighting my way
to the surface of
solidarity, stability.
Still it remains a not-so-faint
background,
never too far out of reach,
seductive, electrifying.

High Absorbency.

Oh, how they have explained me.

“Your brain is like a radio receiving all stations at once,” Dr. Napier once explained to me with enthusiasm. On another occasion, he explained me as “jet fuel without a container.” Finally, on still another occasion, he summed it up. “If I was forced to use one word to describe you,” he confessed, “it would be ‘intense.'”

In roughly the same manner, the psychologist I saw during college when the anxiety attacks amped up told me that a good word to describe me would be “sensitive,” but then offered another as well: “cerebral.”

Napier also referred to me as a “fantasy prone personality,” which I knew about generally but never once bothered, amidst all my Googling, to look up. So I finally did.

Evidently I am one of the roughly 4% of the population are said to be fantasy prone personalities. These highly hypnotizable “fantasizers” have creative and intense imaginations which leave them prone to hallucinations and “self-suggested psychosomatic symptoms” which can lead them to confuse imagination for reality. They may even have what is known as a paracosm: an elaborate fantasy world full of stable history and geography, populated by your choice of the conceivable. If as a child you had imaginary friends or an imaginary identity or if as a teenager onward have a vivid imagination you invest the majority of your time in, this may be you as well.

If you claim psychic abilities, have out of body experiences, see apparitions or are abducted by aliens: uh-oh. Red flag.

Closely associated with this is psychological absorbency. Absorption is essentially hypnosis (fixed attention with a reduction in periphery awareness) but rather than it being intentionally spawned by a hypnotist’s induction technique we are instead entranced through our sense of identification with the object of attention.

This is why we get absorbed in any story. You become “one” with the object of focus and react to its circumstances as if it were your own. Like the character you identify with in a book or movie or the character you play in an online role playing game. This is also found in our capacity for empathy with another. We forge a bond and nurture it until fusion; until what Campbell calls “the seizure” takes place and it all becomes indistinguishable from real.

We believe in, but can believe and back out again. People get absorbed in a book, movie or video game and snap back out of it. People explain how they fall in and out of love. We focus, concentrate, zoom in to experience a first-person perspective through absorption. We zoom out, push away, distance in a third-person perspective through use of dissociation.

Some of us get stuck in. Some are locked out.