Deep Lid Focus

This is a technique I practice to help conjure very vivid dreams. I find it helps conjure the books also, presumably via the Theory of Imagination. Rather than explain what Deep Lid Focus is, I shall let Mironaelk do so, a wise old cat from the fifth Dooven Book, With Eyes No Longer Blind. She is talking with Lydia, an insane librarian who habitually punches animals in the face. This excerpt is taken from chapter 20.



Mironaelk’s gentleness disappeared. “All right, Lydia. I shall explain exactly how it works for me. But you need to accept that your madness is what makes it work for you. Each of us has our own means of arrival: you, via your beautiful insanity, and me via Deep Lid Focus.”

Exasperated, Lydia sat. “Deep Lid—but what does that even mean?”

“It’s how I see with eyes no longer blind,” Mironaelk said. “When I was young I could see patterns when I closed my eyes. When laying upon pillow, wonderful shapes emerged in my sight, despite closed eyes. Rather like a kaleidoscope. Do you recall seeing anything similar?”

“No,” said Lydia, recognising Oscar’s indignation. She folded her paws again. “When I close my eyes everything goes black.”

“Are you certain?”

“Of course. It’s what eyelids do.”

“Try it.”

“What?”

“Close your eyes now and tell me what you see.”

“Mironaelk, I’ve closed my eyes countless times over my short, but uninspired life, and although there have been few certainties in it—other than hospitalising complete strangers—the blackness that arrives after doing so is one of them.”

“Try all the same.”

Mironaelk’s look had softened. Unaccustomed to kindness, Lydia sighed and closed her eyes.

“What do you see?”

“Darkness, unsurprisingly.”

“You’re not looking.”

“I know. It’s the problem I eluded to.”

“Try looking, Lydia.”

“How? My eyes are closed.” Her irritation grew, the darkness being a potent fertilizer.

“Focus, Lydia, beyond your closed lids.”

“What?”

“Try looking past them, or into them deeply.”

“With my eyes closed?”

“You can hardly see lids with your eyes open.”

After a moment, Lydia surrendered her attempt and glared at the cat. “This is the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever done,” she growled, “and that includes trying to physically stamp animals as overdue. Frankly, I’m beginning to understand Oscar’s indignation—”

“Oscar’s indignation is to do with himself,” she said, “not with me. He is grumpy because he refuses to acknowledge what he knows he must. Although I see this, he does not. It is one reason why I know him better than he knows himself.”

Surprised, Lydia fell silent.

“Deep Lid Focus is not difficult,” Mironaelk continued. “It’s simple and very powerful. Try it, Lydia. It’s important that you try properly.”

“Why?”

“Because it’s my way of seeing with eyes no longer blind, and it might, therefore, help you understand how you’ve learnt to do the same.”

“But I haven’t learnt how to do anything,” Lydia said. “I haven’t even managed Funnel-Bremly’s coping mechanisms. And anyway, what about Oscar? How did he manage to get here without being blind? He certainly doesn’t go around trying to see with his eyes closed, despite his bruises!”

“No, that’s true. He managed arrival here as inadvertently as you.”

“What do you mean?”

“You were both fortunate.”

“You call this fortunate?”

“Of course. Few animals stumble across such opportunity. Most, as I mentioned earlier, only manage after years of meditation, creativity or introspection. You, however, had a psychotic episode and Oscar got run over by an ambulance.”

She gasped. Having his accident confirmed by someone else made it very real. When words arrived, they were whispered. “You mean that he’s dead after all?”

The mug was sipped at again. “Well, there would certainly be an element of severe trauma involved.”

Lydia stood, feeling despair arrive with a determination to ransack the place. “He’s dead, isn’t he!” She covered her mouth. “I knew it! He’s dead, and all this is a psychotic episode! An intrinsic coping mechanism! Well, I’m not coping!” She whirled around, needing to see him. “This isn’t right! None of it is!” She hurried across the room. “Oscar! Oscar!”

“He is not dead, Lydia.”

She turned to glare. “And how would you know? You're a merely a figment of my imagination! How could you have any idea what is real when the very mind conjuring you is insane?”

“Sit down.”

The words were as physical as a punch in the face.

After wiping at tears, Lydia glared at the view. Its gold had matured into red and gave the balcony an auburn that might have emanated from the cat. She returned to her chair and sat, before a ridiculous thought arrived. “Are you my mother?”

When Mironaelk laughed, Lydia felt foolish.

“I am not your mother, no,” she said. “Try again, Lydia. Close your eyes.”

With a sigh, she did so and waited.

“What do you see?”

“Darkness.”

“Look harder.”

“More darkness.”

“Focus just beyond your closed eyes: deep into your lids.”

“Still pretty dark, actually.”

“Pretend you are scrutinising something just beyond them.”

“Beyond them?”

“Beyond your eyelids.”

In a sudden insight, Lydia realised what she meant. “You mean the faint squiggles and swirls?”

“The squiggles and swirls, yes. Look at them, Lydia. Focus on them. See them clearly. Let your eyes dart across their swirling patterns. Hold them in your sight. Watch them change. Watch them morph and twist and break. Focus hard so that your mind is unable to consider anything else. Stare until you see colours.”

“I see colours, Mironaelk!”

“Keep watching, Lydia. Focus. Scrutinise. They’ll become recognisable: swimming into faces, or the branches of a tree. You may see books and flowers. You may see a cathedral’s architecture or the play of dappled shadow. Perhaps the faces of animals you know and many you don’t. See them, Lydia. Watch them. Study them. It’s not difficult—”

“It’s not difficult, no!”

“And alongside colour you may also perceive depth, while at other times the images crash, swirl and morph so violently that you’re forced to ignore everything but one small point in order to find coherence. In which case, let the chaos froth and boil in your periphery, and concentrate only on what is conjured at that point.”

Lydia opened her eyes in astonishment. “I’d never paid them attention before!” she said. “It never occurred to watch such things!”

Mironaelk smiled. “Indeed. And you have always seen them. Before you were even born, in fact. From the moment you first closed your eyes and every night thereafter. You have always seen them, and yet you have never seen them.”

“But I don’t understand—how does concentrating on closed lids permit your arrival here?”

This was met with a shrug. “How it works is beyond me. Knowing that it does is what’s important. Though I have often wondered. I suspect practicing Deep Lid Focus prior to sleep stimulates the visual cortex. As a consequence, dreams that follow are particularly vibrant and strong. So vibrant, in fact, that I am startled into awareness within them. Over years of practice, my awareness during dream has become more potent than when awake.”

“But how does that permit your arrival here?”

“In the same way insanity permitted yours.”

“Which is how, exactly?”

“By seeing with eyes no longer blind.”

“But what does that actually mean?”

“I have no idea.”

“But you must have! Are you dreaming now, perhaps? Is that what you’re saying? Am I dreaming?”

Mironaelk laughed again. “Oh, Lydia, really, you’re as bad as Oscar!”

“I am certainly not!” she said. “I’m just very confused! It’s hardly surprising, surely?”

“As I’ve already said, my dear, it’s not what we consider real that matters, but the form that awareness takes. Think of it like this: reality manifests in awareness, rather than awareness manifesting in reality. It’s the same principle as the Theory of Imagination: imagination is a conduit for creation in the same way awareness is a conduit for reality.”

“I need a very big lie down.”

Mironaelk stood, took Lydia’s mug and refilled it. “Do you remember,” she said, while pouring, “our discussion on the recollection of dream?”

“No.”

“When Oscar was being strangled by bedsheets?”

“Oh, yes. I remember.” She took the mug again. “His frustration was most satisfying.”

“Do you also recall the notion of immersion into awareness?”

“You’ve lost me again.”

Mironaelk returned to her chair. “The more immersed we are in awareness, the harder it is to recall alternative awareness.”

“You mean that when we’re awake we can recall dream, but when dreaming we rarely recall being awake?”

“That’s right, which suggests we’re more aware during dream than when awake.”

“Or just more asleep.”

“Exactly. Immersion. And because we’re now discussing dream we must, therefore, be awake.”

“But we could be dreaming about discussing dream—or dreaming while discussing being awake—”

“And does that matter?”

“Of course it matters!”

“No, it doesn’t. All that matters is awareness. Everything else is ephemeral, including reality. Tell me, do you consider yourself aware at this moment?”

“Admittedly, I am beginning to wonder.”

“And thus reality manifests. Remember, reality doesn’t cradle awareness. It’s the other way around. Awareness is the conduit of reality.”

Evening had arrived and the hot-fin had become cold.

“I have one question,” said Lydia.

“Only one? Well, that’s encouraging.”

“Why have the Dooven Books become so deep and complicated?”

“Presumably because the more they’re written, the more there is to write. That’s the power of the Theory of Imagination, after all.”

Lydia studied her mug for a time. “So you arrived via Deep Lid Focus,” she said, turning it slowly in her paws, “and I arrived through a psychotic episode.”

Mironaelk nodded.

“And Oscar arrived by ambulance.”

“Under one, yes.”

“But he’s not dead.”

“Not if he threw a vase at you downstairs, no.”

Lydia stood and went to the window again, though saw nothing of the view, her mind too full of dreams and conduits and ambulances and riddles. She rested a paw on stone and felt the residual warmth from afternoon sun: the same peculiar detail she recalled when sprawled among leaves.

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