Bonus Episode 1 Transcript
The Bright Sides: Patient #10-E-2
by Julia Morizawa
Dr. Bright: What do you see?
Dr. Bright: Who is Matilda?
Myra: A brilliant little girl who loves to read books and can move things with her mind.
Dr. Bright: Is this girl someone you know?
Myra: No, no. She's a character in a book.
Dr. Bright: Ah, yes. I remember her quite well myself. In what way are you seeing her right now?
Myra: There's a girl, maybe ten years old, looking through a copy of the book. It looks beat up. Oh, and there's a card with a bunch of dates stamped in the back. But they end in 1997. I must be in the library.
Dr. Bright: What else do you see?
Myra: Wow, this must be an old copy of the book. If the check-out card is still in it. That seems odd. Well, it is a hardback, so I suppose if you take good care of a book, it could last a long time. But I wonder why they left the card in. I'm glad they did, it's like a little time capsule-
Dr. Bright: Myra. What else do you see?
Myra: Oh, um, looks like just about every other Roald Dahl book. Oh! Ramona Quimby! And, The Boxcar Children. Oh, that's not in the right spot. It should be under "W," not "C." Hm.
Dr. Bright: Can you expand your point of view? Can you move into another aisle?
Myra: I can turn my head, but I can't move my feet. I'm not really standing. I'm sort of floating? I can see a window to one side and a couple of kids sitting at a table to the other side. Oh, there's someone coming.
Dr. Bright: Who is it?
Myra: I don't know. A woman. Maybe early thirties. Oh, she's coming fast. She's grabbing the little girl, she's grabbing her real hard. And shaking her. Hey! Let her go! Stop!
Dr. Bright: It's alright, Myra. You're not really there right now. The little girl isn't really there right now.
Myra: She's yelling at her. Saying she's a bad girl for disappearing like that. She was worried. The little girl's crying. The kids at the table are looking over. Stop it! Hey! Leave her alone!
Dr. Bright: Myra. I think that's enough for now. Let's come back to this room, and when you are ready, open your eyes.
Myra: (overlapping) She's pulling her away. I can't hear them anymore. I can't do anything, I can't move. The book is on the floor. What an awful woman. Getting mad at her child because she failed to keep an eye on her...
Dr. Bright: (overlapping) Myra, your meditation is coming to a close. Change your focus from inward to outward. Feel your body in the chair, your feet on the floor. And on the count of three, open your eyes. One, two, three.
Myra: Is it just me, or am I doing this meditation thing wrong?
Dr. Bright: There is no one right way to meditate.
Myra: Isn't there though? I mean, that wasn't very relaxing.
Dr. Bright: That isn’t always the purpose. The practice we’ve been working on over the past couple of months is quite specific: using visualization to access memories stored in parts of your brain that you may not otherwise recall.
Myra: Is this something normal people can do?
Dr. Bright: What do you mean by normal?
Dr. Bright: There are people who have eidetic or photographic memories, who are not considered members of the Atypical community. But being able to access deeper compartments of the brain is generally an Atypical characteristic, especially amongst Class As and some Class Ds.
Myra: Your newspaper ad...do you get a lot of patients who come in for the first time, who think they're "strange and unusual" in the Atypical sense but they're really just "strange and unusual" in the, well, general human sense? Do you have to turn people away who are really just looking for normal therapy? That was mostly rhetorical. I know you're not going to answer that question.
Dr. Bright: Well then, shall we get back to it?
Myra: Good idea.
Dr. Bright: Tell me what you remember.
Myra: Library. I was in the library. Children's books. Ah, Matilda. My favorite book as a child. I used to read it over and over. As soon as I finished, I'd flip back to page one and start again.
Dr. Bright: Do you remember seeing any people?
Myra: Um, no, no I don't. Oh, wait, there were two kids sitting at a table. I could see them past the far end of the row of books.
Dr. Bright: Wonderful. Anyone else?
Myra: No. Mm-mm, no one else.
Dr. Bright: Okay.
Myra: Did I say there were others?
Dr. Bright: There were two other people that you saw during your visualization, that, in my point of view, were very central to your experience, It’s interesting that you don't remember them.
Myra: Were they people I know?
Dr. Bright: I don't believe so. A young girl. And, presumably, her mother?
Myra: I don't- I don't remember anyone else. I don't remember them.
Dr. Bright: It's quite alright.
Myra: Ugh, fuck. Sorry, not- sorry. I just- I want to be able to control this. I want to stop blacking out every time I project. It makes the whole ability pointless.
Dr. Bright: Your ability doesn’t have to have a point, Myra. The most important thing is that you learn to live with it, not that you find some way to make it useful.
Myra: Still, it would be nice. It’s so frustrating when I come back to myself and have all that lost time.
Dr. Bright: Be patient with yourself. We haven't been working together that long. I actually think you've made a great deal of progress since your first session.
Myra: Yeah, yeah, I guess. I just don't get why I can't remember my projections anymore. I never had this problem when I was a kid.
Dr. Bright: It's not uncommon for people who have dealt with trauma in their past, Atypical or not, to experience this sort of dissociation or memory loss. It's a defense mechanism.
Myra: I don't think my life has been any more traumatic than anyone else's.
Dr. Bright: We can't qualify trauma. Everyone has their own way of processing their experiences.
Myra: But, what about other Atypicals like me? Other people who can astral project. Is it common for them to... dissociate?
Dr. Bright: It's not unheard of. In my experience, most projectionists do recall their experiences, but it's often similar to recalling a dream they had the night before, rather than a solid memory. It could be that when you astral project, your brain is using all of its energy toward your ability and there's simply none left to form new memories.
Myra: But you think my projections are directly associated with trauma. Like I'm trying to escape.
Dr. Bright: I do.
Myra: I was reading about astral projection online- I know, I know- I’m not supposed to do that.
Dr. Bright: I would caution against seeking out information on your own. There’s a lot of misinformation out there. Especially when it comes to people like you - there isn’t a WebMD for Atypicals.
Myra: Right, I know that. But there are people who believe in astral projection anyway. And a lot of what I’ve read talks about visiting the astral plane. What is that exactly?
Dr. Bright: Well, as someone who has never visited it myself, my understanding is that it's a sort of other dimension that lies somewhere between the conscious and the subconscious. Some Atypicals with your type of ability are able to move their subconscious into this dimension, in order to communicate with people they wouldn't normally be able to communicate with, or recall information and memories stored deep within their or other's subconscious.
Myra: Is that what mediums are? People who can project into the astral plane? Talk to dead people?
Dr. Bright: Yes, there are some who believe their astral projecting allows them to find a place between life and death, but communicating with the deceased is a difficult thing to prove, to say the least.
Myra: Wow. But I've never experienced anything like that. I don’t think I’ve ever been to the astral plane.
Dr. Bright: That doesn't mean you are unable to, or that it's not something you could learn to do. However, your ability - the ability to leave your body and actually visit other locations in this world, in this present time - is far more unique.
Myra: You say that as if you're just trying to be nice.
Dr. Bright: No, I mean it. It’s impressive.
Myra: It's not very impressive if I can't control it, much less even remember when it happens.
Dr. Bright: That's why you’re here. If you're willing, I'd like to talk about what led up to this particular event yesterday - to you projecting to the library. Where was your body? What were you doing?
Myra: Um, I had gotten into a car accident.
Dr. Bright: Really? Not too serious, I hope. Everyone was fine?
Myra: Yeah, yeah, everyone was fine. It was a fender bender, if you can even call it that. I was at an intersection, waiting to make a right on red. But there was a pedestrian crossing the street, so even though there weren't any cars coming, I couldn't go. Well, this asshole behind me starts blaring on his horn. But obviously I'm not going to go because I'm not going to hit somebody just because this guy is too entitled to wait two seconds. Anyway, so when I don't go, he pulls into the gas station right there next to us on the corner. But at the same time, the pedestrian clears, so I start going. He speeds through the gas station and out the other driveway onto the street, without stopping, of course, and hits me right as I finish turning. And neither of us are going very fast, so there wasn’t much damage. But he flips his shit. He gets out of the car, doesn't even move to let me pull over and get out of traffic. I was about to get out of my car, to, you know, do the right thing and exchange information, but when I saw him coming at me, screaming, I sat back down and locked the doors. He comes to the driver's side and starts yanking on the door, then he starts banging on the window. He's yelling and that's when I blacked out. Next thing I remember, I wake up, still in my car, and there's a police officer knocking on my window. I guess a few people called 9-11. But the other guy's gone. He fled the scene. Fortunately, there are still some decent people in the world and at least two witnesses at the gas station got the guy's license plate. So, I guess the police are going to look into it.
Dr. Bright: I'm sorry you had to deal with that. I'm glad you're not physically hurt but that sounds quite frightening.
Myra: Yeah, I'm just glad Penelope wasn't with me. And I'm glad the guy didn't have a gun. Or, if he did have one, he didn't use it. He's definitely not someone you would want to be able to get a gun.
Dr. Bright: I imagine there are a lot of people who fit that bill, but there isn't much stopping them these days. So, it seems like, when you blacked out, you projected to the library.
Myra: Yeah, I guess so.
Dr. Bright: In a previous session, you mentioned that when you were a child, you would escape to the library quite often, is that correct?
Myra: Yeah. Both literally and, well, astral-ly.
Dr. Bright: It was a safe place for you.
Myra: It was a quiet place where I could hide in other people's worlds. I'd read books about kids with great lives and imagine I was in their shoes. And I'd read books about kids with terrible lives to remind myself that things could be worse.
Dr. Bright: And this man, in the car, he frightened you?
Myra: Absolutely. I thought he might kill me. He was very, very angry. In a rage - a seeing-red kind of rage. And that's- that's a look that I'm very familiar with. I know what it can lead to. Or I don't know what it can lead to, and that's even scarier.
Dr. Bright: Myra. I know you haven’t been ready to talk about your childhood. And it's not always necessary to open old wounds. In some cases, it can be detrimental. Do you think exploring those memories would be helpful or harmful in your case?
Myra: I don't know.
Dr. Bright: You said this man had a look that you're very familiar with. What did you mean by that? What kind of look was it, exactly?
Myra: It was like...that look that someone has when he just hates himself so much. And everything that happens in his life, throughout the day, is just more evidence of how unworthy of happiness he is. But he's incapable of feeling sadness, because that would be considered a weakness, so instead he feels anger. And he lashes out at other people. And it's really a misplaced attack on himself. Like every time he hurts someone else, he's really just trying to hurt himself.
Dr. Bright: And this is a look you’ve seen often?
Myra: Not here. Back home. My father had that same look. Until the day he died. Penelope’s father had that same look. Until the day he died.
Dr. Bright: Generally, your black-outs occur during negative interactions with people, is that correct?
Myra: Definitely. I mean, when I was a kid, it wasn't always like that. But this past year or so, since it started happening again, it's definitely a response to people.
Dr. Bright: Would you say that the majority of your projections this past year have been a result of negative interactions with men?
Myra: I hadn't really thought of that. But, yeah, I would say so. But, not just negative interactions. They’re scary, afraid-for-my-life interactions. I mean, fortunately, it doesn't happen very often. But it is always with men. Not women.
Dr. Bright: Sometimes we have unconscious biases toward people with certain traits, so we might interpret their actions harsher than we do with others of similar behavior.
Myra: So, you're saying maybe I just judge men harsher than women?
Dr. Bright: Perhaps.
Myra: That makes me sound sexist.
Dr. Bright: It's just the conditioning of your upbringing and past experiences. If you’ve experienced traumatic encounters with men in the past, it makes sense that that would be a trigger for your ability now.
Myra: Can we really even call it that? Does it count as an “ability” if I can’t control it?
Dr. Bright: Many Atypicals have little to no control over their power when it first surfaces.
Myra: Yeah, but most of your patients are probably teenagers.
Dr. Bright: Not necessarily.
Myra: Last week you said most Atypicals discover their powers in their teens or twenties.
Dr. Bright: While that's true, there are many other possible, non-physiological experiences that can trigger an Atypical's powers, such as trauma or a major life change like moving or quitting a job. And, based on what you've told me previously, I'm fairly confident that you were, in fact, exhibiting the use of your ability when you were a child, it was simply mis-diagnosed and you didn't know it.
Myra: But if that's the case, then why would my ability just disappear in my teens and twenties?
Dr. Bright: My theory is because of the medication you were prescribed during those years.
Myra: Really? Do drugs have an adverse effect on Atypicals?
Dr. Bright: It depends on the drug, and it depends on the Atypical. Some medication can be very helpful in managing an ability or its side effects. But that is still a developing sector of Atypical study - there haven’t been enough consistent trials and results to know exactly how medication effects all Atypicals.
Myra: Well, what do you think?
Dr. Bright: I think, in your case, the medication you were prescribed as a child caused your ability to become dormant. You said you were on benzodiazepines for a number of years?
Myra: Yeah. And you think that could have stopped the projections?
Dr. Bright: I think it’s certainly possible. This is where psychiatric care for Atypicals can become rather difficult - we don’t always know what medications are going to have an affect.
Myra: Gee, great.
Dr. Bright: It is frustrating. That’s not to say that solutions can’t be found. It’s just, well, it isn’t actually an exact science. A lot of trial and error unfortunately. And you were taking benzodiazepines for a number of years, correct?
Myra: Yeah. Yeah, I was diagnosed with epilepsy when I was twelve? And I was on Clonazepam or Diazepam- one of those other "pams" all through high school and college. But it kind of became a problem.
Dr. Bright: A problem how?
Myra: I- I kind of used speed to help me get through college while working full-time. Then I'd take my meds to bring me back down, and I'd go through my prescription too fast and have to go to a different doctor, and it became a thing.
Dr. Bright: While it can be very helpful, prescription medication is also unfortunately very easy to abuse, especially when it's highly addictive. You’re not alone.
Myra: Yeah, I know. And I knew that’s what I was doing, that I wasn’t using it the way I was supposed to. But once Penelope was born, I cleaned up my act. I was back to only taking my meds as prescribed and I quit drinking, and everything else.
Dr. Bright: And then, when were you diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder?
Myra: Oh, I think I was 22, 23?
Dr. Bright: Do you know what the primary factors were that led up to that diagnosis?
Myra: Um, mainly mood swings and depression and anxiety and the drug abuse. And relationship stuff. I was in and out of an abusive relationship - well, mostly in. Much to the disapproval of most everyone else I knew. And I guess I was impulsive. I may or may not have driven his car into a lake.
Dr. Bright: On purpose?
Myra: Kind of? I definitely stole the car on purpose. And drove it out of town on purpose. And I was going back and forth between crashing into a tree and pulling over to collect myself. And then, next thing I know, I’m in the lake, in the car, sinking. For a moment I considered just sitting there. Staying in the car. Drowning. But then survival instinct kicked in. I couldn't breathe and my body just took over- I unbuckled my seat belt, rolled down the window, and swam to the surface. Thank god for manual windows, I guess. I crawled up to the bank and laid in the mud and I don't know how much time passed - maybe a minute, maybe an hour - but the police showed up. And an ambulance. And a fire truck. I spent the night in the hospital with a broken rib and a couple of bruises. And then I spent fourteen days in a psych ward.
Dr. Bright: How did you end up there?
Myra: I think the ER doctor asked me if I had any intention of harming myself or another and I said "Yes." So they fifty-one, fifty'd me.
Dr. Bright: Were you prescribed any additional medication at that time?
Myra: Um, yeah. Just an SSRI and some other pill that I had to cut in half. It was for Schizophrenia, but when taken in really small doses it was supposed to help with anxiety, I think.
Dr. Bright: And, are you still taking those?
Myra: No, no. I weaned myself off those like a year and a half ago. About the same time I quit taking all my epilepsy meds.
Dr. Bright: Myra, I think it’s important to point out how dangerous it can be to stop taking your meds without a doctor’s supervision. Even if you don’t think they’re being effective anymore, it’s inadvisable to go off of them on your own.
Myra: Tell that to the American healthcare system.
Dr. Bright: I’m sorry?
Myra: I lost my health insurance. I know it’s not smart to go cold turkey, so I didn’t, but I couldn’t afford to buy my prescriptions anymore so I stretched them out as much as I could.
Dr. Bright: Ah. I’m very sorry to hear that.
Myra: Eh, it’s alright. Once I got sober and I got out of that quote-unquote relationship with Penelope's dad, I- I wasn't acting out as much. I was less impulsive, my depression went from being suicidal to just being sad. I guess what I'm trying to say is, yeah, the meds helped a lot, but since I've been off them, I've actually been okay. Well, aside from my ability resurfacing after almost twenty years. That's been kind of inconvenient.
Dr. Bright: Would you prefer to go back to keeping your ability dormant? Whether that be through medication or other means?
Myra: What? No way. I mean, is that a possibility? Do some Atypicals just choose to get rid of their ability?
Dr. Bright: It isn’t an option for everyone, but given your history with medication, we might be able to find something that would work for you. When given the option, some Atypicals decide that they would prefer to just live, for lack of a better term, normal lives.
Myra: I think I gave up living a "normal" life years ago. But look at me now: I got my ass up, left my old life behind, moved to this beautiful new city and met a weird therapist who told me I basically have a super-power. No, I'm not running away from this. Not this time. Besides, I thought you couldn't prescribe me medication. That's what you told me in our first visit.
Dr. Bright: That's correct. I'd have to refer you elsewhere.
Myra: Where? To another doctor that specializes in Atypicals?
Dr. Bright: Yes. At the very least, you could get more information, understand all your options.
Myra: I'll think about it.
Dr. Bright: Well, you can come to me any time you’re ready to discuss it.
Myra: It used to be great. I remember when I was in middle school - maybe sixth or seventh grade - I, projected, I guess, from the classroom out to this little park that was across the street. It had a playground made of wood and a rusty set of swings. And this was the first time I had ever projected to another location, that's why I remember it so clearly. And I think I was just bored. I made a conscious decision to leave my body, and walk out of the building, and across the street. And I remember I could see things and hear things, but it was a bit blurry and disorienting, like I was in a giant watercolor painting, and I couldn't touch anything. I tried to sit in the swings but I couldn't even move my arms to grab them. It's like, I could move from point A to point B, but I didn't actually have a body with limbs. I was just there.
Dr. Bright: Would you say you were floating?
Myra: Yeah. But, I couldn't, like, fly, you know? Even though I was floating, I had to move out of the classroom and down the stairs and through the front door just like I'd have to in real life.
Dr. Bright: How were you able to open the doors?
Myra: I don't know. I think they were all just open when I needed them to be.
Dr. Bright: And that was the first time you remember projecting.
Myra: Well, the first time I remember leaving my body and moving to a different location. And I guess my real body sort of slipped into this catatonic state, but I didn't realize it at the time. I snapped out of it when the teacher dropped a textbook really loudly on my desk. And I guess the teacher had been saying my name for a while but I wasn't responding. All the other kids were giggling when I came to and I was sent to see the nurse. At first they just thought I was day- dreaming, or being rebellious by purposely not responding. But once it happened a few times, they made my parents send me to a real doctor and that's when I was diagnosed with epilepsy.
Dr. Bright: But when you were a child, you weren't blacking out, correct? You would remember your projections?
Myra: Right. As far as I know.
Dr. Bright: Prior to that particular time, what other similar experiences do you remember having?
Myra: It used to happen a lot at home. I'd be in a situation I didn't like and I could close my eyes and just, sort of, leave my body. I'd basically concentrate really hard on wanting to disappear, and my body would start tingling. First my fingers and my toes, then my arms and legs, until my whole body was vibrating. And then, all of a sudden, I'd be outside of myself. Watching myself experiencing whatever it was I was going through as if I were watching myself in a movie. Looking back, I guess I was doing this astral projection stuff a lot, but I didn't realize it was weird. I think I thought that maybe everyone could do it.
Dr. Bright: Do you remember how the doctor at that time responded when you described that you were astral projecting?
Myra: At first she attributed it to a sort of lucid dreaming, or something. She thought the catalepsy might have been the result of a brain injury, but when she started questioning my parents about that, they kind of freaked because, well, they were afraid that they'd get in trouble. Or maybe they just didn't want to pay for it, I don’t know. The doctor referred me to a psychiatrist who thought I was schizophrenic, but then my parents stopped taking me to doctors altogether. The epilepsy medication was technically working - I wasn't projecting anymore - so I think they just thought it was solved.
Dr. Bright: It's not uncommon for Atypical abilities to be misdiagnosed as psychiatric disorders. Or even for an Atypical ability to be entwined with an existing disorder. Unless a doctor has specifically worked in the Atypical field, they're not going to know to even look for Atypical explanations for their patients' symptoms. There are, unfortunately, very few doctors for Atypicals because there are very few people who even know that Atypicals exist.
Myra: Hey, how much of the population is atypical?
Dr. Bright: Most recent studies tells us that about two to four percent of the population can be classified as atypical. But those numbers are based off people who have actually come forward as having unusual abilities. We don't know how many may be out there living in secret or unaware of their powers.
Myra: Who keeps track of all of that? People like you?
Dr. Bright: Yes, there’s a network of sorts. Other doctors and therapists who keep each other updated on numbers and such.
Myra: How did you even get involved in all of this in the first place?
Dr. Bright: I understand why you’re interested but let’s keep the focus on you.
Myra: What, you can’t share the trade secrets?
Dr. Bright: I’m afraid not.
Myra: Right. Of course. Probably for the best, anyway. I'm sure it wouldn't be safe for the general public to know about us. There would be witch hunts. Pitch forks. Burning people alive at the stake. Tying up women and throwing them into the lake to drown. Oh, I wonder if any of those people accused of being witches back in the day were actually just atypical!
Dr. Bright: I wonder, indeed.
Myra: Well, back then it was basically a crime just to be a woman. You were under the Devil's influence if you simply talked back when your husband was beating the shit out of you. Or if you were pretty. Or smart. Or single. Ugh. I don't know how people did it back then. I probably would have slit my wrists.
Dr. Bright: Don't underestimate yourself. For all we know, you could have been the leader of a feminist rebellion.
Myra: Or, you know, an actual witch.
Dr. Bright: Better a witch than a pitchfork-wielding villager, wouldn’t you say?
Myra: Wow. Touché. We should get t-shirts made.
Dr. Bright: You said that when you were a child, you had regular out-of-body experiences when you were in a situation you didn't like. Can you give me examples of those types of situations?
Myra: Let's just say my parents did the best they could, but I didn't escape my childhood without a few broken fingers and a dislocated jaw.
Dr. Bright: I'm sorry to hear that.
Myra: Yeah, well, I don't really want to talk about that here. That's not what I came here for.
Dr. Bright: What did you come here for?
Myra: Therapy. Yeah, I realize that talking about my abusive parents is something normally tackled in therapy, but I just...I'm not ready. They just put such a fear into me. They'd make threats that if I told anyone, then it would be ten times worse the next time. Just talking about it now, to you, all these years later, I'm half afraid my father will come bursting through that door. We didn't have a lot of resources back then. Things were different in the eighties and nineties. And I grew up in a small town where half the population probably still doesn't believe there is such thing as mental health or global warming, or science.
Dr. Bright: You’re safe here, Myra. We can talk about your past when you’re ready. This is about what you want- not what you think you should be doing or what you think your parents would most approve or disapprove of.
Myra: I want to figure this out. I need to be able to control my ability sooner rather than later. Or, I don’t know, maybe I should go back to suppressing it. I can't black out every time I feel threatened. What if something happens with Penelope and I need to protect her and I literally can't because my body is catatonic and my brain is trying to find the nearest library?
Dr. Bright: I think gaining control will require breaking the association between your ability and your childhood trauma. For many years it’s served as a defense mechanism, but you never fully developed it. Now that it's back, your power is at the developmental stage that it was at when you last used it. In other words, the Atypical side of you is still a twelve-year-old girl.
Dr. Bright: But that doesn't mean you can't grow. You can teach an old dog new tricks.
Myra: I hate that saying.
Dr. Bright: My apologies. It didn't sound right after it came out, but it was too late.
Myra: You're not like the average therapist, are you?
Dr. Bright: Why do you say that?
Myra: I mean, you're just not what I imagined.
Dr. Bright: What did you imagine?
Myra: An old man.
Dr. Bright: I'm not sure how I feel about that.
Myra: Oh, you know, just societal sexism and ageism from my upbringing rearing its ugly head.
Dr. Bright: Yes, well, while there are plenty of old men in this field, in my experience, therapists come in all shapes and sizes and colors and ages and genders. But I will concede that - my speciality being what it is - I might not fit into any kind of “average therapist” box.
Myra: I'm suddenly feeling kind of bummed that you're my therapist.
Dr. Bright: Oh? Why's that?
Myra: I think we'd be good friends.
Dr. Bright: I'm glad to hear that. Although I can’t be friendly with my patients outside of therapy, I still think it's very important we have a positive relationship. At the very least, you should trust your therapist. Feel safe with them.
Myra: Feeling safe. What a novel idea.
Dr. Bright: You will get there, Myra.
Dr. Bright: Why don’t we try a little experiment? See if we can get you to astral project on purpose.
Myra: Okay...and how exactly were you thinking of making that happen?
Dr. Bright: Using a specific type of meditation that has worked for other patients with the same ability.
Myra: Like what we did earlier?
Dr. Bright: Yes. But, if you're in any way uncomfortable, I completely understand and we can wait.
Myra: No, no. I just- I guess I'm mostly worried that it won't work and I'll be disappointed.
Dr. Bright: It's very likely that it won't work the first time we try. I'm actually not expecting it to. And that’s okay, we can always try again. The most important thing is to take that first step.
Myra: Okay, sure. Tell me what to do.
Dr. Bright: First of all, get comfortable. Just like before. Whatever feels right to you. And give me one moment.
[sfx: Dr. Bright getting up and opening the office door]
Dr. Bright: Sarah? Do you have a minute?
Sarah: (from a distance) Sure.
Dr. Bright: Perfect. We're going to start now.
[sfx: Dr. Bright shuts the door and flips off the lights]
Dr. Bright: I'm going to pull the blinds and turn off the lights.
[sfx: Dr. Bright closing blinds and switching off lamp]
Dr. Bright: And I'm going to turn on some white noise.
[sfx: white noise machine turning on]
Dr. Bright: Close your eyes and focus on your breath. With each inhale, count to three. With each exhale, count to three. Feel the warm air flowing in and out of your nose. Feel your diaphragm expand with each inhale and collapse with each exhale. Inhale, two, three, exhale, two, three. Inhale, two, three, exhale, two, three. Now, I want you to close your hands into tight fights. Squeeze, and relax. Squeeze, and relax. Squeeze, and relax. Now, visualize squeezing your fists without actually moving. Squeeze, and relax. Squeeze, and relax. Continue focusing on your breath. Inhale, squeeze. Exhale, release. As your body becomes warm, you feel a slight vibration pulsing through your veins. Increase the pumping of your fists until the vibrations travel from your hands, up your arms, down your torso, and into your legs and feet. And when you're ready, leave your body. Let yourself go. Myra? Myra? If you can hear me, when you're ready, turn, walk to the door, and open it. Now walk through the door and into the lobby. Sarah has a bright yellow piece of paper taped to the front of her desk. She has written something on it. Read what she’s written and try to hold it in your mind, if you can. Now, slowly, turn around and come back into my office. At your own pace, approach yourself and re-enter your body. Now, I'm going to count down backwards from five. And when I reach one, you'll open your eyes and be back here with me. Five, you're more aware of my voice. Four, you feel relaxed and comfortable. Three, your body is back on this plane. Two, you open your eyes. One.
[sfx: Dr. Bright switches off the white noise and turns on the lamp]
Dr. Bright: How do you feel?
Myra: Fine. Relaxed.
Dr. Bright: What do you remember?
Myra: I remember getting comfortable, and you were talking to Sarah, and then you turned off the lights and turned on that noise. And I was focusing on my breathing. Then you told me to squeeze my fists. And then you told me to visualize squeezing my fists without actually moving. And then you told me to step out of my body. And then...and then...I did it. I left my body.
Dr. Bright: Do you remember what happened next?
Myra: Did I- I went outside. To Sarah- to her desk.
Dr. Bright: That’s very good.
Myra: And- and- ugh, there was something...something written? On her desk?
Dr. Bright: That’s right. Do you remember what it said?
Myra: It was familiar...something about the beauty of the world? It’s like it’s on the tip of my tongue.
Dr. Bright: That's alright, Myra. You’ve already recounted far more than you’re usually able.
Myra: But am I even close?
Dr. Bright: Let’s check shall we?
[sfx: Dr. Bright walking to office door and opening it]
Dr. Bright: Sarah? May I grab that piece of paper from you?
Sarah: (from a distance) Yep. Here you go.
[sfx: Dr. Bright retrieving paper from Sarah, closing the door, and handing paper to Myra]
Myra: "Our aim is to make the world more beautiful than it was when we came into it. It can be done. You can do it." That’s- that’s Vonnegut. Welcome to the Monkey House. It worked. I did it. Sort of.
Dr. Bright: Unless you and Sarah plotted behind my back before we started today, then, yes, you did it.
Dr. Bright: Your body knows what to do, but it has grown accustomed to projecting as a result of traumatic situations. Perhaps being in a safe environment and my voice guiding you allowed you to access your ability without the usual fear and anxiety. Also, it's my understanding that, as an adult, you've never really tried to project on purpose. Is that correct?
Myra: No. I mean, no, I haven't, you’re right. It never really crossed my mind to try because it's generally a bad thing when it happens. And, you know, because of the whole blacking out thing. I don't get it, how come I was kind of able to remember it this time?
Dr. Bright: Our brains often dissociate as a defense mechanism - to protect ourselves from potentially harmful memories of trauma. But in this case, you projected intentionally. You felt safe, so dissociating served no purpose.
Myra: I- I can't believe that it worked.
Dr. Bright: It’s a first step. And a very big one. If we keep practicing, you’ll hopefully be able to accomplish the same thing without a guide, and remember your projections more clearly. How are you feeling?
Myra: I feel really relaxed. Like, really, really relaxed. I mean, I've gotten so used to this only happening when I'm stressed. But I feel good. Really good. Oh.
Dr. Bright: What's the matter? Are you alright?
Myra: Yeah, yeah. I just got a really bad headache all of a sudden.
Dr. Bright: Can I get you something?
Myra: No, no, I'm fine. It's gone. It was really bad but really brief. Oh, I feel exhausted. I'm really tired. Um, are we pretty much done? What time is it?
Dr. Bright: Yes, we're more or less out of time. Are you sure I can't get you anything?
Myra: Yeah, no, I'm just so sleepy all of a sudden. I think, uh, I think I better get going.
Dr. Bright: Why don't you sit in the lobby for a bit. There's a love seat out there. You're welcome to take a little nap on it, if you'd like.
Myra: Oh, yeah, maybe. I guess I shouldn't drive right now. Thanks, Dr. Bright.
Dr. Bright: My pleasure.
[sfx: Dr. Bright leading Myra out of the office]
Myra: (from a distance) Sarah. You have great taste in books.
Sarah: (from a distance) I'm glad you liked that one.
Dr. Bright: Myra is going to rest out here for a while before she drives home. Will you get her whatever she needs and let me know if anything seems out of sorts?
Sarah: (from a distance) Of course.
Dr. Bright: Thank you.
[sfx: Dr. Bright shuts the door and sits]
Dr. Bright: Patient has shown exceptional skill with her ability. She was able to project into the next room, through a closed door, and read a piece of paper planted for her to find. And, she recalled the experience, albeit vaguely. But, to intentionally project on her first attempt is...quite impressive. She did experience what appeared to be a brief but painful headache afterward. And she expressed being very exhausted. I do recall that many astral projectionists experience physical symptoms as a result of projecting, but I'll need to review past case studies to determine the long-term effects of this ability and whether or not it would be safe to continue practicing during sessions. I will also need to consider how much of this I want to share at my next quarterly review.
[sfx: click of recorder]
[music & credits]
Lauren Shippen: The Bright Sessions was created by me, Lauren Shippen. This episode was written by Julia Morizawa and edited and directed by myself. It was sound designed by Mischa Stanton and engineered by Evan Cunningham, who also composes all our music. Julia Morizawa is the voice of Dr. Bright and Jasika Nicole was the voice of Myra. You also heard Elizabeth Laird, our resident psychologist, as Sarah. You can hear Jasika’s other incredible work on Alice Isn’t Dead and Welcome to Night Vale. Julia is currently working on an upcoming sci-fi digital series, along with Briggon Snow, who you know as Caleb. The series is called “PURE” and it is an ambitious, independently produced visual story set in the distant future where genetic modification has divided society. Starting tomorrow, July 17th, they will be launching a crowdfunding campaign to help finish production on "Episode Zero". Check it out at www.journeytotheannex.com. Just following and sharing will get you behind-the-scenes access, and it's the best way you can help Julia and Briggon make this project a reality. If you’d like to support The Bright Sessions and help us make more podcasts, you can become a patron at patreon.com/thebrightsessions. And make sure to follow us on twitter @brightpodcast for updates. The next bonus episode will be coming out on August 20th. Until then, thanks for listening and stay strange.