When the breakthrough came, it didn’t take place out of thin air. I had been preparing myself for it – unknowingly – for a decade and a half. We need to talk about automatic writing as I experienced it.
I began just by beginning, not knowing what I was doing. I sat down with pen and paper and sort of waited for something to happen. It’s easier to do this than to explain it. I placed myself in a state of openness, in the way that you would if you were waiting for a friend to talk to you. Usually I asked a question to start things off.
At first I was trying too hard. It can be difficult, remaining receptive when you want something to happen! I didn’t know what I was waiting for, you see. I thought, “well, start.” So if I pushed the pen across the page a line, forming letters as I was moved to, sometimes I’d get words that didn’t make sense together, sometimes nonsense words – letters that didn’t even make real words – and sometimes just blankness. But sometimes things worked, and before too long I recognized what attitude worked, and then I had the secret. It is a matter of imagination as much as receptivity. I often tell people, “if you can’t get started, just pretend for a while. Make it up deliberately, knowing you are doing so. Persist, and at some point when the real thing kicks in, you will know it.” It should go without saying that as important as anything is: Never deceive others or yourself. The former is merely a matter of integrity; the latter, though, involves discernment.
I cannot describe it better than this: Sit with pen and paper, pose a question or express your willingness to interact with someone, and wait quietly. If you cannot quiet your mind, practice meditation or deep relaxation until you learn to do it – and then, do it. Sitting with quiet mind, wait for words to well up within you. This is not so different after all from what we all do in writing to someone or conversing. Something the other one says sparks a response in us, words well up, we express them (speaking or writing) and as we express them, more words come on their heels, extending the thought. You’ve done it all your life. Do it here.
However, in writing automatically, your attitude should not be careful forethought, but the impulse of the moment. You may find yourself writing long complicated sentences and paragraphs phrase by phrase or perhaps word by word, often having no idea where the sentence is going! It can take some getting used to, like the first time you engaged cruise control and felt your car deciding for itself when to accelerate, when to slow down. But as soon as you get used to it – it’s easy! In fact, that’s a major drawback to the process. It is so easy to do, it is fatally easy to undervalue. “It’s so easy, I must not be doing it right! It’s so easy, I must be making this up.” But – dammit – it is easy, once you figure out how to do it. It is the “figuring out” that can take some time.
My initial efforts at automatic writing suddenly “clicked” in July, 1989, with the clear entrance of a feminine presence that I assumed (having read some of Carl Jung) was my anima figure. She had a presence and an authority about her, and a great concern for my welfare. As a sign of my willingness to not insist on controlling things from an ego-based level, I began calling her, affectionately and whimsically, The Boss. I modeled a head in clay that looked to me like a wise old Indian grandmother. I named her Evangeline, and she and I had many an extensive talk via pen and paper over the next few years.
I have described these first encounters in the “Guidance” chapter of my book Muddy Tracks, so I won’t repeat it here. I used to quiz her extensively on matters of business, such as what were the opportunities and perils my partner and I were not noticing. And of course we talked of the meaning of my life and how I should proceed. One thing I learned – and had to re-learn and re-learn over years before it finally sunk in – was that in coming into communication with The Boss I had not acquired a way to foresee the future. When I would ask The Boss what would happen in this or that event, as often as not the answers were wildly wrong, till I finally gave up asking, and used these conversations as they should be used, as a sort of second opinion on my life, rather than as an ultimate authority or remote control. (Years later I did learn why the future usually can’t be predicted. We’ll talk about that in due course.)
After about three years of habitual conversations with The Boss, I came into contact – in the body, not via automatic writing – with a powerful psychic who called the process “talking with the guys upstairs,” and I immediately adopted concept and terminology. Communication proceeded as before, except that now I thought of it as talking to “the guys” rather than talking to The Boss. From assuming that Evangeline was my anima figure, I went to assuming that she was one of an undetermined number of personages available to me. This involved a certain loss of precision, but it was a big advance. Instead of thinking that I was talking to one definite person, now I thought that I was talking to an undefined “them.” Gradually I realized that I was not skillful enough or experienced enough to differentiate among them. As they told me later, people constantly slipped in and out of our talks, without my noticing.
Then, a couple of months after being introduced to the idea of “the guys upstairs” – or “the gentlemen upstairs,” as I often called them – I did the Monroe Institute’s Gateway Voyage, and on the very last night of the weeklong course joyously broke out into new territory. And so, on a December day in 1992, when I was already 46 years old, I began to learn how to experience these things. For the first time I could see how to live in an expanded awareness without esoteric disciplines or psychoactive drugs. I had found the key to living that way in “normal” life.
The story of my Gateway fills a long chapter in Muddy Tracks; here I will merely say that that week is when I learned how to live awake, rather than automatically and half-asleep. The Institute provided me with a way to acquire experience without dogma. Monroe’s technology used sound to put you into various altered states. As to what you discovered when in those states, well, the institute’s main dogma said, “go see for yourself!” I loved that approach! It fit me perfectly. First get the experience, then figure out what it meant.