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Version 0.5 2013-11-15
The process described in this guide will make use of the natural mechanisms of the brain to improve one's ability to visualize.
Visualization is an automatic process: upon reading descriptions in text, listening to someone's story, or recalling past events, an average person can't help but see at least flashes of related imagery. As little as mentioning the name of an acquaintance may cause a person to picture that person's face.
Everyone can visualizeEdit
Everyone (excluding those with debilitating neurological disorders) can visualize. Even those who can not see images in their "mind's eye" will be able to describe a face or an object, and are even able to solve complex visual and spacial problems, problems for which they must be visualizing in order to solve. The issue such individuals face is the inability to see the visualization that the brain is doing (or the image-related computational processes in visual form). This guide is not specifically designed for people who fit into this category, but it may help.
Simple warm-up exercisesEdit
Find a simple, common object, for this example we'll use an apple. Pick the apple up and set it down again. Close your eyes, and recall what you just did, replay the memory in your mind, don't think only about what it looked like, think about what it felt like, the texture of the apple, the weight as you lifted it, the friction as it left your grip.
Now keep your eyes closed this time, pick the object up again, remember you're not focused on what it looks like, you just happen to know what it looks like, it's the same object. Instead you're focused on how it feels, the smell, the change in inertia as you move it around. Don't rush, just take careful note of all the details you can, and as you do, you'll soon realize you can't help but to visualize it.
What do you want to see?Edit
It's fine to use reference images for whatever you're trying to visualize, but you probably won't particularly need to. Get yourself relaxed, in a comfortable position, you want to be able to ignore external stimuli to more fully immerse yourself in your visualization, ignore your body completely if you can.
Let's say you're trying to visualize a man in a business suit. Picture him standing in front of you (if the image is incomplete or otherwise much less than perfectly clear, don't worry, that's normal). Understand that you're there, among the imagery, the man is standing directly in front of you, don't worry about how well you can see him, consider yourself blindfolded if you want. Consider the feeling of distance, how close he feels to you as you walk up to him. Touch his arm, feel the fabric, listen to the sound the fabric makes as you pull it, feel the elasticity, feel and follow the seams to where they are sown together, feel the arm underneath. Push his arm, feel the resistance, the weight. Feel through that sleeve fabric the change in consistency where the triceps meets the bony elbow. Maybe his suit is brand new and still smells like the tailor's shop, take note of everything you can. Remember that you're not focused on what you're seeing, you're focused on everything in general (or whatever specific action you're taking), repeat this process with his whole body. Step beside him and give him a pat on the back for being a good sport, and realize that you're seeing him much more clearly now. Don't worry if you don't see much improvement on your first attempt, and feel free to move on to the next step.
Visualize something elseEdit
Let's assume you are trying to visualize your tulpa perfectly clearly, and your tulpa is a man in a business suit.
Visualize other things, any random object, maybe a car (maybe your own car) on a plain white showroom floor. Keep the man in a suit in your mind, he's there with you, in all senses. Go and examine the car, touch it, feel the smooth, shiny paint job, note the firmness of the tinted glass, hear your business associate's footsteps, understanding that his physical body has weight that is clapping his dress shoes against the showroom floor while he examines the car with you. Lean down and look at the tire, smell the rubber, feel the relative softness, notice your business partner's polished black shoes in the corner of your eye. Walk around the car, keep your eyes on it, notice the way the light shifts on the hood as you pass around, and your well dressed friend is still standing on the other side, but you're not looking at him, you're looking at the car, you just see him in your peripheral vision. Open the door, hear the latch mechanism unhook as you lift the handle, as it gives that familiar resistance and the door opens. Sit down, the way you normally would, the car shifting under your weight, and as you take note of the new car smell your tulpa opens the door gets in -- more sounds, motion in the corner of your eye, and the car shifting again under the extra load.
Do this again with a different object, maybe explore a simple room, or complex environment, just keep him there with you. Keep in mind the physics involved, that he's made of bones and muscles and skin covered in clothing (or whatever you're trying to visualize), his movements carry inertia, he has sounds and smells and sights associated with him. Keep all of this in mind while you and he visualize all kinds of other objects the same way you originally visualized him and the car, and you'll find you can see him much more easily.
Likewise, if your primary focus is another object, always keep it with you while you visualize other things, always considering all of its properties.
Visualize while you workEdit
While you do things throughout the day, you can imagine that your tulpa (or other object of visual focus) is with you, always out of sight, or in your peripheral vision. If you can "see" your tulpa in your mind while you're looking at other things, you're doing open-eyed visualization.
Explanation of processEdit
Your brain is visualizing the things you're doing at all times, including the things you can't see. When you reach for a light-switch in the dark, or put your shoes on while looking somewhere else, your brain is visualizing everything you're doing, based off information from all of your senses and memories. Even in the absence of stimuli, the brain will automatically produce visual information where none exists, this has been documented with sensory deprivation and the Ganzfeld effect.
If you're trying to visualize something, whether it's an object, or a person, or a place, it all works the same way. You see it in your mind, often foggy, distorted, blurry, in motion, or otherwise simply less clearly than you'd like. The difference in how well you can visualize something is in how well your brain can recall and process the visual information. The brain works by repetition and association, for example, memories are associated with all the objects in the memory, such that seeing an object can make you recall the memory; additionally smells and sounds can be associated with visual information, and the more you repeat an association the stronger it will be (Understanding the basics of how to make a wonderland and the method of loci can help).
What these exercises aim to do is point the brain's powerful automatic visualizing system in the right direction with your other senses, creating expectations and associations, while simultaneously creating a kind of object permanence for the object in mind (which may help with imposition and other parts of tulpa development).
The key point is that you're not focused on the visual aspect of what you're visualizing. You're not trying to block out what you're seeing, it's simply not your primary focus, just as when you're doing any activity during the day, your primary focus is typically the activity and not strictly on what you're seeing.
When you focus too intently on any sensation you can block it out, you can end up questioning yourself and sensing nothing (the same problem some people have with visualization). You want to take note of all of the details you could possibly imagine, it is better to have lots of vague notions rather than only one or two developed inputs, try not to focus too hard on any specific sensation.
Don't forget to repeat your visualization exercises, repetition is key to pretty much everything about the brain.