It is stated in the Einstein Factor that "you will be surprised by the abundance of images, their startling clarity, and their bizarre and unexpected subject matter. Only when this happens have you truly begun to Image Stream."
I hear the villagers wanting to cut off my head for such heresy. So before they catch me, let me explain.
When I attended the Double Festival in November 1997, I got the chance to work with many people with varying degrees of image streaming experience and ability. What surprised me the most was how easily some people who had never image streamed were able to conjure up detailed images. Coming from the opposite end of the continuum, this troubled me. But I knew there's a reason God is making this hard for me. I think I know why.
The questions that entered my mind throughout the festival regarded the validity of the claim that image streaming was the immediate feedback loop created by simultaneously describing out loud the images and other inner perceptions one experiences. If that were the case (or rather, the entire case), these people would be quite the genius. Yet they were just starting to realize the power of the inner mind. Thus, image streaming must be more than just conjuring up images.
One of the great parts of being at an image streaming group is that you actually do everything you're told. It is very easy to be lazy when you're by yourself. But when you're in a group and they are debriefing, you must debrief. When they feature question, you feature question. And so on.
Perhaps the second greatest distinction I made that week (which is really saying something given the pages of distinctions I came up with) was the value of the long feedback loop. With so much emphasis on the immediate feedback loop while image streaming, one may easily forget what I call "the other 50%" of image streaming, and thus miss the lion's share of the potential of this powerful technique.
Okay, so what is the long feedback loop? Concisely put, it is the debriefing process (both of content and experience) after the image streaming session is done.
There, now that I've been concise, let me be my self-indulgent, wordy self.
Although many of the following distinctions are implied throughout The Einstein Factor, I feel the need to be a little more explicit with the long feedback distinction. First, let me tell you how this distinction solidified in my rather thick skull.
In the 'Improvitaping technique", explained in brief later in the book and explained in detail in Win's separate course on musical creativity, the student automatically utilizes what is called the reflexive sorter. What is the reflexive sorter? Basically, it is the part(s) of the brain that sort the tremendous abundance of images, sounds, text, etc according to intention. While this might not mean much now, this is a crucial piece of the puzzle.
Improvitaping creates a long feedback loop by making the student listen to his entire doodling session twice. That is really the only rule. There is no structure to the doodling, no agenda, and no conscious assembling of notes and melodies. In fact, conscious intervention misses the whole point of the exercise. You are free to make whatever ghastly sounds your heart desires.
After a few sessions, the reflexive sorter catches on to the fact that everything the student plays is going to have to be listened to twice afterward. You don't need to tell the mind what to do or what not to do. It will automatically sort through all of the icky stuff and organize its thoughts and actions around those sounds that are more pleasing to the ear. Impossible? Well, let's see what's behind the technique.
This process utilizes two natural laws - Win's favorite, the Law of Effect (you get more of what you reinforce) and The Law of Adaptation (I'm not sure this is its actual name, but that isn't important right now). While improvitaping, you brain will naturally adapt its messages and commands in order to coax you into playing more pleasing sounds (reinforcement). It knows whatever notes you play will have to be atoned for at a later time, and then again.
So what's this have to do with image streaming? I told you I was wordy.
Before, when I image streamed, I never got around to the debriefing process because most of my images were indistinct. Thus, I considered my faculties to be too underdeveloped to begin interpreting the images (by the way, the 2nd edition of the Einstein Factor will rearrange a couple of sections that may have led the reader to stall the debriefing process). This would be the equivalent of doodling on the piano and then just getting up and leaving it (which essentially explains the last twelve years of my musical experience).
When I was at the festival, I noticed that the debriefing process actually helped me get more images. It was as if the brain was being rewarded for its good deeds. Since the images now had to have meaning and since my mind knew that I was going to spend time interpreting, it quickly caught on and gave me more of what I wanted.
What's even better is to record your image streams on tape and then listen to every second in real time. Egad!! Why would anyone want to sit through and entire image stream word for word? Surely that sounds like punishment to anyone below expert level!!
Think about it. By listening to the image streams, you don't have to remember the rules. Your mind will self-correct itself within several sessions. Pretty soon, you'll be filling up the entire tape with pleasant, sensory descriptions because your mind knows that anything else is the verbal equivalent of that icky stuff in the improvitaping exercise.
By debriefing in this way, you are reinforcing two things:
- the relevancy of the images
- the continued improvement of the process
So how do we standardize this? I'm glad you asked. Win has a debriefing sheet for image streamers that he makes available with a couple of his books. I'm going to make a few changes. I should also note that this is not carved in stone and I welcome any and all additions and modifications.
You'll notice that at no time do I incite criticism or recite any lists of things you shouldn't do. Everything is meant to create positive momentum to what we want and let anything that we don't want naturally fall by the wayside. Your mind hates negativity because it doesn't help it figure out what you do want. By keeping the language positive, your brain is able to use intention to its advantage.
You'll also notice that it is set up in a hierarchy with the most important issue addressed first. If you find yourself making a couple of suggestions for yourself toward the top of the list, there is no need to go through to the bottom. Making a billion suggestions only puts you into overwhelm. Therefore, stop once you reach two or three.
PRELIMINARY IMAGE STREAMING DEBRIEF SHEET:
Describe the "Trigger Method" used to get started (if any):
Describe your experience:
When/Where did your descriptions flow easily, thus leaving no silences?
How can you make the flow even stronger or more consistent next time?
When/Where were your descriptions entirely sensory?
How can I make your sensory descriptions even better or more consistent next time?
When/Where were your descriptions entirely in the present moment?
How can you make your command of the present tense even better or more consistent next time?
When/Where were your descriptions well balanced among the sensory systems (visual, auditory, kinesthetic, olfactory, gustatory)?
How can you make your sensory balance even better or more consistent next time?
When/Where did you use a change in perspective, position, size, or other submodality to amplify the feedback?
How can you use more of those techniques next time?
When/Where did you take advantage of opportunities to create a thresholding device?
How can you take greater advantage of this powerful technique?
Comments on the Content:
Which images seemed most relevant?
Which images surprised you and/or seemed entirely spontaneous?
What do the images mean?
Which images can you add to your personal decoder dictionary?