Ridin’ that train, high on hypnagogic imagery

When I was fresh out of college I used to ride a commuter train several times a week, 30 minutes each way. I was always exhausted during that phase of my life, and after a while I figured out how I could bring on a sort of dream-like state, which my father the psych professor tells me is called hypnagogic imagery.

This is what I would do: I would sink down into the seat, close my eyes, empty my brain, and simply focus on the feeling of the train’s forward movement. If I could really sink in and feel nothing but the movement of the train, I would soon be able to open my eyes again and look out the window of the train. Yes, that was the goal: to look out the window. Because when I was in that twilight state I could look out the window and see landscapes that weren’t really there. Open farmland, forests, mountains. Sometimes in surreal psychedelic colors. And most interestingly, a part of me was always aware that really I was still in the dreary suburbs. That really my eyes were still closed. That really I was half-asleep.

My life at that time mostly sucked. I wouldn’t go back to it for anything. But I do miss those train rides.

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  1. Lovely post Mo. I can feel myself on that train, too.

  2. You don’t have to miss those train rides. Because the real train ride was inside of you. You can do it anywhere (well, OK, hopefully not while you’re driving).

    Very cool post.

  3. Glad you guys liked it. Thanks for the comments. :-)

  4. What beautiful imagery…(in my short stint in art school) someone created a video of a train ride. She projected the video on the white wall and put a chair where the seat would be and acted as if she were in a train car. I was actually impressed with her creative performance piece.

    Oh, what fastapproaching and olderyeyes said, Ditto. Both lovely and cool, your post, that is. ;)

  5. Aww, thank you my dear. I think that creative performance sounds cool too!


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