The Key to the Prison Door Exercise

"Because our inner terrorists enslave us, the aim of this exercise is to end the enslavement. There are many ways to stop our enslaved relationship to life. As you become more skilled in the ways of mental imagery, you probably will find your own approach. But, I think you will find this one useful.

"Close your eyes and breathe out three times slowly. Know you are doing The Key to the Prison Door Exercise to free yourself from enslavement by your inner terrorists, and it is taking 15 to 20 seconds.

"See yourself in a prison cell. Have a light with you if you need one. You can have any kind of light you wish since anything is possible in the imagination. Then look around the cell and discover the key that unlocks the door.

"When you find the key, unlock the door to let yourself out of the prison. Keep the key with you, knowing that you can return to the cell any time you need or wish to. Outside the prison cell door find the staircase that ascends. When you find the staircase, climb up the steps to the door that you find at the top of the steps. Open the door and find yourself coming out into a clear, bright, light open space. Know that you have taken the step toward ending your enslaved mentality. And after finishing, breathe out and open your eyes.

"I would like you to look at two particular aspects of this exercise. First, notice that I said to keep the key with you so that you can come back to the cell if you need it. Even though, as Kabbalah makes clear, our real aim in life — our real wish and desire — is to become free, oftentimes freedom scares us. It is characteristic of a number of people with whom I have worked, that when the door of freedom has opened, and they see the light beyond the door, they immediately pull the door shut. They do not want to take the step into the clear open space.

"Some people make it known that they want to hold onto their illness; they want to hold onto their familiar lives. Not seeking freedom or, after finding it, turning one's back on it and rejecting it, is to be acknowledged and honored as a respectable approach to life. It is a genuine choice, your choice. You keep your key to make that choice.

"The second thing to notice, for some of you at least, is that when you came out of the prison cell, you may have met a guard or some officer there. It is very common in imagery exercises to find guardians or keepers of certain places — keepers of the door, keepers of the space you want to enter, from whom you must ask permission to do so.

"If you meet such a guardian, ask if you have permission to enter the room or space that the guardian is watching over. If the guard says yes, you give your thanks, and continue on your way. In some cases, the officer will ask you for something in exchange for permission to go on. If this happens, find something on your person to give the guard as a payment for continuing.

"If the guard does not give you permission, this is a diagnostic sign for you. It shows that to some degree, you may be rejecting your own freedom or may be resistant to it. You may not be ready for the change(s) that can ensue. You can try again, to see if resistance is still operative. If so, don't fight it for now. Return to waking life, breathe out, and open your eyes.

"Try again tomorrow.

"With persistence, you will 'overcome' — in the word of the civil rights anthem — and move into the space of freedom, beginning to live the life that Kabbalah offers to us as a possibility for fulfillment in this passage on earth.

"You may need to do these exercises again and again. As I said before, we are masters at creating inner terrorists; they are masters at finding ever new ways to insert themselves into our lives and thoughts. Be vigilant; seek self-awareness; employ mental imagery."