Some additional analogies occurred to me last night that might help some of my readers understand how you “get to” the imaginal world, or how you know you’re in imaginal space. It’s like dancing, in a way. For instance, any of you who contra dance know the concept of “giving weight” when you do a move like an allemande. Each dancer pulls back slightly against the other, so that there’s a sense of connection, a sense of “someone there” as you move around each other. Without that slight tension in the arms, the rotation is much more difficult and much less powerful.
An encounter with someone in imaginal space is like that: suddenly there’s “somebody there,” a kind of energetic connection that wasn’t there a second ago. It's an energetic push-pull kind of thing that gives a sense of aliveness. Sensations are heightened until they approach what you might feel if the person were with you in the waking world. Hard to describe, I know; but it's one of things that, when it happens, you'll know it.
Here’s another thing to look for; again, it’s a dance image. Imagine waltzing with a partner you know well. You know how that energy flows between you, so that leading and following become almost effortless? You’re tuned in to each other. The same thing can happen in an imaginal encounter, and once again it’s that energetic connection that lets you know it’s “real.”
Something else that often works for me is to watch for the imaginal being to make eye contact with you. This can be especially powerful. You know how you can tell when someone really looks at you? You know they’re focused on you and what you’re saying or doing. Same thing here—there’s a certain intensity present, and you can sense the living presence. It’s like the difference between a real person and a photograph. In fantasy, or in a photograph, you can see their eyes; in the imaginal, they’re looking at you. When you’re looking your fantasy image or person in the eye and they suddenly look back at you, you know you’ve made the imaginal connection.
So you might try this: start with a fantasy image, and do “your part” of whatever your fantasy activity is. Watch their eyes. Have a one-sided conversation, or offer to dance with them, or imagine yourself dancing by yourself and invite them to join you (that’s one I like!). Try letting the imaginal being respond—eventually he or she or it will. Then follow the energy—you already know how to do that—and you’ll find imaginal space. And just trust—you’re doing fine. You’re already there—you just haven’t realized it yet!