At the time, Christine, a New York-based EMDR and Brainspotting therapist specializing in trauma and issues of creativity and problem-solving, was working on writing a book that would help readers expand their consciousness and creative powers. Specifically, she wanted to help people “get into the waves”, which is a term used to describe the human experience of moving into a state of greater possibility—and therefore freedom—as implied by the science of quantum physics.
Simultaneously, Chris, a noted New York-based freelance journalist, was writing his first book, The Way Out: The Gay Man’s Guide to Freedom (HCI, May, 2006). His goal was to lay out a path to what is usually referred to as “spiritual” realization that would replace the traditional reliance on belief and doctrine with a course that emphasized personal experience, and that spoke not only to gay men’s experiences, but to anyone – gay or straight, man or woman – who picked it up. With The Way Out he also wanted to encourage people to know that any path to enlightenment was real.
Though they did not know each other, and were in many ways worlds apart, they had begun to hear about the other.
Chris had a close friend named Allen who had offered to be a one-man focus group for Chris’ philosophies and methods in the early drafts of The Way Out.
At the same time Allen, a survivor of severe early childhood trauma, was seeing Christine for EMDR and Brainspotting treatment, and experiencing miraculous personal revelations.
Meanwhile Allen was reporting his experiences at Christine’s to Chris, and his experiences with Chris to Christine.
Hearing about the other’s innovative and successful approach to healing and self-awareness, both had the same thought about the other: “Who is this person??”
But there was more there than just curiosity at play.
Christine was in search of someone who could help her pull her essential ideas together in a way that would form a book, but which also would transcend a book that merely described the ideas. Chris was in search of someone who could handle psychic wounds and emotional blocks that he felt required not just a mere therapist, but a master.
One day that summer Christine had the idea to call Chris and see if he could help her with her book. He was very curious about her project, and also wanted to explore the possibility of becoming her client, so they set up a meeting at Christine’s office on the Upper West Side of Manhattan.
Chris soon sat down on Christine’s couch with a tape recorder and began to interview her about her book idea. And she had a lot of ideas.
To begin with she wanted to create a book that incorporated the “Biolateral” soundtrack that her colleague Dr. David Grand produced that oscillates from the left ear to the right ear and which she discovered could help put clients “into the waves”. She also wanted to make use of paradoxes, as well as other tricks and visuals that would shut down the repetitive “thinking” brain and allow unblocked creative thoughts in.
Most importantly, she wanted to effortlessly introduce scientific sounding concepts like holograms (which are observed whenever a part of something contains the whole of it); wormholes (which are shortcuts through time and space); quantum leaps (which are a form of travel that does not require physical movement); and time travel that she knew we experience every day, we just don’t realize it. And, as she did with her clients, she wanted to help readers integrate their multiple personalities and unify their conflicting desires to produce a more harmonious state of being.
Ultimately, she wanted to show readers how understanding these concepts led to “ah-ha” moments – the ones where the perfect idea, the ideal solution, or the genius discovery comes in an instant and without any work, effort, or thinking.
As a journalist, Chris knew to listen not just to the specifics of her ideas, but also to what her central intention was – to somehow move beyond merely describing what it is like to “be in the waves” where the “ah-ha” moments are found, and instead give them an experience to know these things directly. As a person who had already, in the previous four years, been leaving his body; having unexpected, mind-expanding experiences of traveling through time and space without physically moving; and having enormous stores of knowledge and awareness dropped in his mind without any effort; he was absorbing what felt like the beginnings of some kind of explanation of the changes he himself had been experiencing and writing about.
But how do you move beyond describing something in a book? After all, that’s what books do…they describe.
And then, Chris had a true ah-ha moment.
On the subway ride up he had found himself staring at a picture of a woman in a magazine who looked utterly free to him, and he had spent the whole ride up speculating what it would be like to feel that way, and what kind of circumstances would have to happen for him to feel that way. He suddenly realized that this picture contained all the essentials Christine was talking about: it was a wormhole because he had almost instantly traveled to a place in space and time where he felt that way without having to physically move; it was a hologram because the single picture contained an entire experience of freedom; and it reflected another part of himself—a part that felt that free.
In other words, he already felt free just by looking at the image…he just hadn’t realized because he was projecting his own feelings onto the picture.
Chris pulled the magazine out of his backpack, showed the photo to Christine, and said, “This is it. You don’t use words to describe the ideas -- you use images in conjunction with the Biolateral soundtrack to evoke an experience, and use words simply to help them understand what they’re experiencing. And it’s instantaneous!”
And the book that would eventually become Ignite the Genius Within was born: an image driven experience of the self that, accompanied by Dr. Grand’s Biolateral Audio, helps put people into the waves so that they become much more open and susceptible to the powerful “ah-ha” moments from which all solutions, ideas and creative powers are derived.
Over the next two and a half years, as they honed the method, the book became simpler and more open, with less and less direction and more and more freedom to be interpreted in any way a reader would feel was right. Slowly the book began to evolve from Christine and Chris creating it to something alive that seemed to be creating itself through Chris and Christine.
During this time, as they culled images together in order to trigger different aspects of the person looking at them, the central tenet of the book emerged: that we always get exactly what we want…we are just not aware of most of what we want.
After all, each aspect represented by the images in the book is the result of different wants: parts of us want to be happy, others want to be unhappy; parts of us want to be free; others want to be limited; parts of us want to be rich; others want to be poor; certain parts feel infinite and want to be big, other parts feel impossibly small and don’t want to grow…and on and on and on. The conflict between these wants is the central force not only behind the conflict in our lives, but why it seems that we only get what we want sometimes.
This has traditionally been projected onto external forces – God, luck, Karma, the one that got away, you name it – but in fact the reason we feel that we are less than powerful when it comes to getting everything we want is because most of our wants are hidden from us.
This book would bring those wants into awareness, enabling the person using it to begin to unify them, and thus be more able to only want what will make them happy. This understanding of unconscious wants at work in our lives would also fill in the gaping hole in so many contemporary books and films that aimed to help people understand their power to “create reality”, but which failed to address the aspects of ourselves we are unfamiliar with, leaving many to believe that that they aren’t in fact responsible for their experiences, or that they are only partially responsible.
Magically, in the course of the book’s construction, it went from being about wormholes, holograms, and time travel to being these very things; from a book about conflicting wants to one that mirrored those wants; from a book about getting what you want to a book demonstrating that you already have what you want. It had become a book that was not a book. Offering a direct experience of heightened self awareness, rather than a mere description of it, it was in fact a whole new kind of book altogether.
The leap both had been seeking had been made.
By Fall, 2007 the proposal was complete. Christine and Chris then hired Sagi Haviv, a graphic designer at Chermayeff & Geismar, to design the proposal, and in doing so Haviv contributed significantly to the development of the method in terms of the delivery on the page.
Chris’ editor on The Way Out, Amy Hughes, had since become a literary agent at McCormack and Williams, and decided to represent the book. She sold it in less than one month to Penguin.
Chris and Christine spent most of 2008 advancing it from a book with 30 images to one with over 100, and worked diligently to include the widest spectrum of experiences; design the easiest to understand language; make no assumptions about the reader’s race, gender, nationality, ethnicity, age, or sexual orientation; and allow the “reader” to pick up the book and travel through time and space without having to move an inch.
Christine’s dream of a book that triggered an ah-ha moment had, in the powerful and improbable creative relationship with Chris, become an ah-ha moment itself. The result – Ignite the Genius Within – was released in March, 2009.