Closed eye visioning is a meditative/introspective technique where the participants explore different scenarios with their eyes closed, guided by the facilitator’s open questions. The questions are asked very slowly to allow enough time for images to arise in people’s minds. The goal of this exercise is to allow the participants to familiarise themselves with the “four generic futures” (grow, collapse, discipline and transform) from a personal and intuitive perspective.The aim of the technique is to tap into the participants (unconscious) images of the future and their instinctive reactions to these images. The technique borrows from meditation, relaxation, hypnosis and lucid dreaming.

Process

  • Step 1: Frame the exercise by explaining the purpose and the process. Let people know whether you will share the visions at the end or not. Sometimes not sharing can allow the participants to be more free in their imagination and not worry what they should remember afterwards. Invite questions and make sure that everyone is comfortable with the exercise. Let people know that they can stop at any moment.
  • Step 2: Invite the participants to find a comfortable position (lying or sitting), in which they can remain for the duration of the exercise (approximately 10-15 minutes). Allow time for everyone to settle in.
  • Step 3: Invite the participants to close their eyes and relax for a few moments. Guide them to focus on the breath and to let any thoughts and feelings come and go, without grasping. Watch the ebb and flow of thoughts and feelings for a while.
  • Step 4: Guide the participants through the exercise by asking open questions related to the scenarios you're exploring. You can learn what type of questions to ask and how to ask them from meditation teachers or psychologists practicing hypnosis. See also the example exercise below.
  • Step 5: At the end of the exercise take your time to bring the participants back to the 'here and now'. Let them focus on how their body feels after being still for a while, focus on the breath again and slowly open their eyes. Invite them to stretch and move around for a while in silence.
  • Step 6 (optional): If appropriate, invite the participants to share their experiences. They could share how they felt during the exercise, or go into details of what emerged in the scenarios.

Example

Example of FoAM's guided closed eye visioning to explore four_archetypal_futures

I invite you to make yourself comfortable: lie down, sit, lounge, walk - whatever feels right to be doing after lunch. We’ll have a short 'guided siesta', or 'closed eye visioning', where you’ll travel to different possible futures in your mind’s eye, guided by a series of questions. We won’t share what you saw, so just relax and see what emerges - it doesn’t matter how incoherent, nonsensical or even embarrassing things you might encounter. They’ll be just passing thoughts. They don’t reflect on 'you' or your personality. Just observe them come and go as reactions to my questions. Enjoy!

Take a few deep breaths. With each breath you travel a year into the future. In and out, in and out, further and further into the future. When you’re ready, open your mind’s eye… you’re in a world where everything continued as it does today. Everything continued to grow. There is more of everything. More money, more waste, more work, more pleasure, more, more, more… Imagine waking up in this world. Look around. What do you see? Who is around you? What are you doing? How are you growing? (etc)

With your next breath, let go of the Grow world. Let it dissolve into the background. Just focus on your breath. In and out… in and out… With the next breath another world comes into view. A world of Collapse. The economy collapsed, social structures collapsed, the climate is spinning out of control, the environment suffering a rapid mass extinction. Where are you in this world? What does your life look like? Where do you live? What do you do? How do you communicate in this world? What does technology look like? (etc.)

And then, when you are ready, let go of this world. Focus on your breathing and let each breath take you away from Collapse… And then breathe in and open the gates of a Disciplined world. We imposed rules and regulations to cap unlimited, unhealthy growth. Some of us are disciplined and have transformed our lives to become more sustainable. Others have rules imposed on them, through an intricate system of monitoring and consequences. Which type of person are you? Disciplined or in need of disciplining? Or are you the person doing the disciplining, devising and implementing the rules? What does your work look like in this world? How do you live? Do you travel? And if you do, how do you do that? (etc.)

We’re about to leave the Disciplined world, so take a deep breath and one last big push towards a Transformed world. A world where everything is different from your life today. Nothing is the same. What does that look like? What does it feel like? What can you smell, taste, hear, touch? Look at yourself? What do you look like? Where do you live? What do you do in your life in a transformed world? etc.

And finally, take one deep breath and close the portal to Transform. Focus on breathing and with every breath travel one year backward. Take as long as you need to come back to the present… And when you arrive, slowly open your eyes, stretch out and make sure that all your bits have returned safely to the here and now. Welcome back.