Warning: This post contains New-Age babble, Bizarre Spiritual References, Meditation, an underlying association with Chaos and Self-Realization.
My vague Credentials, if you could call them that
I grew up in Hindu Christian school that included meditation as a daily exercise from the age of 5 or 6. I can’t say I was good at it as a child, my mind moves on too many tracks at once to keep it quiet, but the methodology stuck. Since leaving the school, I’ve been a little lazy about doing it regularly, but when I’ve been upset or confused, I’ve gone back to the practice.
When I was 13, I decided to create what, at the time, was a meditation visualization. Something to focus on while I meditated, a very elementary Mind Palace, if you will. I had found the instructions in one of the various spirituality books I was fond of at the time. I believe it was most likely the ‘Crystal Healing’ book I nicked from my elementary school library. (Yeah, I never said meditating on the oneness of all creation was a cure for occasional kleptomania.) The book discussed using crystals in meditation as a focus and creating rooms inside them, imbuing them with a mental space and using that visualization to focus your meditation. This became the basis for what would evolve into my Mind Palace.
What is a Mind Palace?
A Mind Palace is a mental construction used to organize the mind. A focal point to visualize during meditation, a safe haven to retreat to in times of stress. Your mind palace is that safe subliminal space deep inside your mind where you go when things get crazy. It is where the subconscious mind and the conscious mind can intermingle.
Fictional representations of this idea would include Occlumency in the Harry Potter series and the titular ‘Mind Palace’ of the much beloved Sherlock Holmes. But fictional representations suggest that such things are only possible for magicians and errant geniuses, or that they simply don’t exist (or perhaps that one is a crazy delusional lunatic). This suggestion is false (in my reality anyway, your reality might claim evidence that sheep have landed on Jupiter) because the Mind Palace is perfectly reachable for any individual. Everyone in my reality (yours might simply consist of sheep of course) has a place in their head where they try to go to be quiet. The place they try to reach through meditation. The place they retreat to when in shock or in pain. I feel like I’m repeating myself a lot, its hard to word New-Age Spiritualism in a way that doesn’t sound pretentious and woolly.
Reaching your Mind Palace
The Mind Palace is reached though various means. Meditation, music, or any number of altered states of consciousness, can bring about the slight change in perception where the practitioner is focused and quiet, thus allowing the magic to happen. If you already have a meditation technique, I recommend using that. For those of you new to meditation, try sitting or lying down in silence. If you don’t like silence, try listening to classical or New-Age music (Enya or Raphael are good) and either focussing on your breathing, or the exploration of your Mind Palace.
So, moving on to Construction of your Mind Palace.
The simple construction of a Mind Palace is a visualization of a building or room in your mind, a place you can return to and use as a focus when meditating. Your Mind Palace should include things that are important to you, perhaps colors that you like or styles you are fond of. The most important thing being that you can clearly visualize it and remember its form. I would suggest being somewhat organic in your construction, my personal Mind Palace has lots of areas I have yet to explore, simply due to the ever expanding manner of life. A rigid construction may be less adaptable, but I wouldn’t really know as mine is very organic. My 13 year old Mind Palace was one room and thus couldn’t represent all of my life and memories.
Your Mind Palace is deeply personal, so don’t feel like you HAVE to include anything. Don’t be embarrassed about it either, its not like you have to show anyone, so go nuts. My best advice is that its best to go with what you know (I happen to know fictional worlds very well). Include things that you love, things that mean something to you. For some people, this may include religious icons or locations. If you are more comfortable with a real world or fictional world location, go with that.
My Mind Palace as an Example;
The foyer of my Mind Palace is based on the foyer of Collinwood mansion from the recent Tim Burton ‘Dark Shadows’ film. I picked this because I loved the architecture and grandiose nature of the room. To me, it was the perfect foyer, and thus perfect for my Mind Palace. Other places I’ve used as references include; The Beast’s Library from Beauty and the Beast (who DOESN’T want that?), The Tardis, various portrait galleries from Kensington Palace in London, The Orangery Tea Room outside of Kensington Palace, A French Chateau, Hogwarts, Cair Paravel, and various other places. My Mind Palace has a representation of London attached to one wing, due to my obsession with the city, it also includes various weather patterns at the same time. I have representations of both important people and important characters wandering about.
In essence, a Mind Palace can be seen as rather self indulgent. But its a place for you to feel quiet and happy and safe, so make it as self indulgent as you want. It seems rather pointless to not go all out, since its essentially just a place in your mind for you to enjoy.
I visit my Mind Palace daily, and I find that meditation comes much easier when I have something to focus on. Instead of relying on guided meditation from other people, I can explore the floors and wings of my Mind Palace or just look out at the sky from the Observatory on the top floor.
So, there you have it. My purely self -indulgent, geeky, New-Age, Californian-Hippie, method of Meditation. I don’t know if this will be helpful to anyone, but my therapist (of course I have a therapist), found the whole idea rather new and interesting, so I thought I’d put it out there.