So it’s Day 15 of this “pain map visualisation” trial. I’ve been practising to shrink those virtual maps in my minds eye but keeping my actual eyes open. I’m now able to do that more often than not. Visualising with your eyes open might sound weird, but it’s something we do all the time without thinking — e.g., when we review our upcoming route while driving. What makes it possible is familiarity — of the route and the act of driving, or in this case, of the visualisation and whatever task I might be performing.
A big advantage of this is that the practice can become more integrated in daily life. The visualisations can be more long-running. Instead of dropping everything to bring the images to mind, I can have them playing back throughout the day, although I do of course drop them and focus when necessary, e.g., when speaking about something complex.
In general, it’s helping to make things more integrated, so the practice is finally becoming a bit less intrusive on my daily life. But I still stop mid-walk periodically, in response to a pain spike and appearing struck dumb to an outside observer I suppose, while I run through the visuals. And I still struggle with mornings. The imagery is a lot more vague and broken up when I first waken. I’m evolving the visualisation each day as well, to keep the interest level high. For both those reasons, I continue to sit quietly with eyes closed each morning, thus evolving the animation and also overcoming the morning struggle early on.
When I first started practising there wasn’t much detail or sophistication to the visualisation — just three or four red blobs in random locations, getting smaller. That was enough though. But over a few days I started to include a particular sense of whereabouts in my skull they were located (interestingly, I’ve since discovered upon receiving Moskowitz’s book that two of those locations were bang smack in the middle of the two most active regions highlighted).
Soon after that, I added different colours — red fading through orange to yellow, green, blue, the whole spectrum to black and just empty, quiet, blessedly pain-free space inside my head. These were inspired by MRI images but not trying to hold true to any scientific accuracy. Unexpectedly it seems that the more movement and shifting I put into the shapes the more powerful the temporary relief is. I guess because it requires more engagement from the relevant systems.
Last few days I’ve begun to experiment with each region being a three-dimensional structure, red in the centre, surrounded by orange, yellow, green, blue corona. As each central blob shrinks, it drags the other colours with it until the whole thing shrinks to a violet shimmer and eventually fades or stutters out. and all I’m left with is a baseline of little colour sparks surrounded by quiet, calm blackness.
This is what works for me. Changing the visualisation a bit each day makes it harder to run the visualisation while doing other things, because I lose familiarity with each change. But it’s more fun to keep it challenging.
The Moskowitz book has dozens of examples of imagery that has worked for others, and it’s clear that there’s no need to try and reproduce anything in particular. As long as it’s engaging enough to focus the mind and keep it from running the pain programme unopposed, then it’s good enough.
 Moskowitz, Michael MD and Golden, Marla DePolo. Neuroplastic Transformation Workbook. https://www.amazon.com/Neuroplastic-Transformation-Workbook-Michael-Moskowitz/dp/0615814654