Thursday, April 23, 2015

Review: Astral Dynamics by Robert Bruce - Part 2

Review: Astral Dynamics - Part 2

by Robert Bruce

This is part 2 of my book review of Astral Dynamics by Robert Bruce. If you haven't read part 1, it's available on my blog:

Flag 17: In part 1, I talked about astral projections, lucid dreams, and something Bruce calls "lucid dream projections" which he claims is some kind of hybrid I don't understand. Chapter 24 talks about yet another kind of experience which he calls "Virtual Reality Projection." The idea here is that you enter into a mirror, a picture, a painting, etc., from the OBE state. In other words, you use it as a gateway into another level of experience.
"The projector then moves into the target rather than passing through it. This seems to trick the subconscious mind into creating a virtual astral realm around the projected double, identical to that shown in the picture or mirror being approached." (pg. 337)
It makes me wonder if this is just another form of passing into a lucid dream, a self-created hallucination.

Flag 18: Here Bruce talks about movement, and he gives a helpful hint I've never thought of:
"Imagine that every direction you want to move in is downhill and that you are wearing roller skates, and you will just start rolling forward whenever you want to move." (pp. 346-347.)
Flag 19: Bruce describes the astral planes as having a grid-like appearance.
"The surface of an astral plane is two-dimensional and covered with perfectly straight horizontal and vertical grid lines. This makes for a uniform checkered appearance over the entire surface. Each square contains a brilliantly multicolored geometric design, repeated endlessly in every other square. The surface of each astral plane has its own unique pattern, completely different from that of any other astral plane's surface pattern." (pg. 367)
Well, maybe I've spent most of my out-of-body explorations in the "real-time zone" but I've never noticed a checkerboard pattern anywhere in my travels.

Flag 20: Bruce talks about the structure and layout of the astral planes. He notes:
"The fringes of these area are not dangerous, but are decidedly unpleasant. The very bad lower subplanes are dark, shadowy areas populated (more aptly polluted) with all kinds of demons, monsters, and nightmarish figures. The lowest of these dark areas could aptly be called hellish dimensional areas." (pg. 373)
Again, I've (rarely) seen horrible looking scary creatures in my OBEs, but nothing I would describe as hellish. The vast majority of OBEs--both mine and other people's--are pleasant.

Flag 21: Bruce talks about making the transition from a "real-time" projection to an astral projection; in other words, how to get to the astral plane from the Earth-plane. He says:
"The method I use and recommend for getting into the astral planes is this: Starting near ground level, aim midway between the horizon and straight up and take off. Fly at the greatest speed possible. Start moving upward and feel  and become aware of the star-filled universe spread out before you...Fill your mind with the feeling of enormous distance and shoot for the stars. The incredible acceleration this causes makes your vision blur momentarily, and you may experience a brief tunnel-of-light effect." (pg. 386).
Flag 22: Bruce and I are in agreement with regard to the silver cord, although I tend to believe the cord is a purely psychological device:
"The silver cord, as far as I can ascertain, is invulnerable and therefore unbreakable...If it were possible to be destroyed by severing the silver cord, I would certainly have died many times over. Nor can it be damaged simply because a projection is suddenly ended, no matter under what circumstances or how abruptly." (pg. 401)
Flag 23: Here Bruce talks about the Akashic Pulse, the astral wind (which can pick you up and blow you to random locations) and "consciousness seeds" which are supposedly energies that "profoundly affect the lives of each and every incarnated spirit in the universe." I've never heard of consciousness seeds, except in this book. He makes it sound like a bunch of dice in some cosmic game of craps. I'm not sure what to make of that.

Flag 24: Starting on page 432, Bruce talks about Deja Vu, a strong sense of having relived a sequence of events before. His theory is that it may have something to do with the consciousness seeds which influence our lives. I have a different interpretation (which is beyond the scope of this article) but his observations about deja vu (for example, that we have the power to change the future) match mine.

Flag 25: Bruce talks about "Confusing Astral Effects". He says, in part:
"You do not have a real body during an OBE. You are an infinitesimally small point of consciousness, a spark created by the pure energies of your consciousness. You have no real size or shape." (pg. 457)
I agree with this. I, too, have experienced OBEs in which I was a pinpoint of consciousness. I really liked what Fred Aardema wrote about us identifying with a "body image" out of habit, because that's what we're used to. Or as I sometimes like to call it, "Schrodinger's Astral Body"...It's in an indeterminate state until you observe it. Bruce supports that on the next page (Flag 26) when he says:
"The subtle body parts that appear seem to be created by the subconscious mind. The mind of the projector does not seem able to accept the total nonexistence of its body, so temporarily creates body parts when they are looked for." (pg. 458)
Flag 27: I thought this was interesting:
"A brief glance at the hands during an OBE, for example, causes a small shock wave between the projected double and its physical counterpart that helps stabilize the projection. A longer observation often shifts a projector from real time straight into an astral realm." (pg. 459)
I've never really needed to glance at my hands to stabilize my OBEs, nor has it ever shifted me to another dimension.

Flag 28: I laughed when I read this, because I've often said very much the same thing when asked about different levels of the astral plane:
"Higher dimensions also do not have signposts in them saying 'Welcome to the Astral Planes--Ta ... Daaa!' or 'Mental Planes--Watch Your Mind!' or 'Buddhic Planes--Love One Another!'" (pg. 469)
It's just "poof" and you're in unfamiliar surroundings; who knows where.

Flag 29: Starting on page 472, Bruce has descriptions of different levels that he's visited. I found them interesting and informative, although I think the descriptions in Jurgen Ziewe's book Muldimensional Man were better.

Flag 30: Here Bruce gives one of his few OBE narrations. In this experience, he apparently meets with his dead son, Jeremy, who greets him with:
"You did it, Daddy, you did it! I told them you'd come...I told them you could do it!" (pg. 474).
This was a very touching moment in the book, and it reminded me of my own meeting with my dad after he'd died. This is the softer side of Robert Bruce, whereas most of the book is down to business with regard to OBEs.

Flag 31: Bruce surprised me with this one: He says:
"The best way to cultivate high-level contact, and to speed this moment along a little, is through regular, meaningful spiritual service and development, complemented by energetic and psychic development, in that particular order of priority and effort. (pg. 483).
Throughout the book, Bruce doesn't show much "spirituality." In fact, some people are quick to judge him or label him as an "occultist" with some amount of disdain. This soft spot in the book proves that he's actually a spiritual guy.

Flag 32: Bruce talks about "Lower Subplane Wildlife," a term he likes to use with regard to negative entities. His advice on how to deal with them meshes perfectly with mine: be fearless and, if you have to, aggressive. His discussion is thorough, so I don't want to short-change it. It's well worth the read. Still, I found this amusing:
"I have seen entities the size of polar bears run screaming when 'BOO!' is said to them." (pg. 491).
Flag 33: Bruce talks about how his mother was a Spiritualist, and compares how she dealt with negative entities to his own methods.

Well, I guess that's all I have to say about Astral Dynamics. It's long. It's complex. It's thorough. Its energy exercises are well thought out and worth doing. The book is well worth the time and the money.

Bob Peterson
23 April 2015

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Review: Astral Dynamics by Robert Bruce - Part 1

Review: Astral Dynamics - Part 1

by Robert Bruce

Every so often I like to re-read a classic in OBE literature. It's been a while since I've done this, and Astral Dynamics by Robert Bruce is a well-deserving classic I've not reviewed yet. It's surprising, since I listed it as #5 in "Bob's Top Ten OBE Books."

First I need to apologize in advance for the length of this review: the book says a lot, so I need to say a lot about it. For that reason, I decided to split the review into two parts, and I'll post part 2 in my next blog entry.

The previous book I reviewed seemed like a cheap ripoff of Astral Dynamics. I had recognized many of these elements because I'd just spent the past several weeks re-reading Astral Dynamics. It also explains why my recent reviews have covered small books: I needed a buffer zone while I got through this hefty volume.

The first thing to note is that it's big: Not only is the physical footprint big (6 by 9 inches), it's also 560 pages. It's not to be undertaken lightly. But it's worth the effort. I like to flag interesting parts in every OBE book, and this time I added 33 flags; a new record.

The first time I read this book back around 2001, I wasn't impressed. Yes, it was good, but I thought it was a little boring, and I didn't agree with everything Bruce said. This second time through, I liked it a lot more and found very little to disagree with. With no further adieu, here's what I flagged:

Flag 1: In chapter 2, Bruce talks about nonphysical bodies, such as the "Real-Time" Body (for Near-Earth OBEs), the Astral Body (for Astral Projection), and so forth. He describes the Etheric body as a bioenergetic body, closely associated with (and inseparable from) the physical body. Not many OBE books talk about this, but it matches my experience with ASP (Awareness during Sleep Paralysis.) It's a good discussion.

Flag 2: On page 53, Bruce talks about his theory of "Shadow Memory". He makes it seem like your non-physical body (whether "Astral" or "Real-Time") has completely separate memories that are "downloaded" to the physical brain when you return to your body. At the same time, he says, your physical body is also producing memory imprints, and the most dominant memory becomes permanently stored. All others are permanently lost. So there are tricks you need to do to allow your astral experiences and its "shadow memory" to be "downloaded" and become dominant in your brain, otherwise you're likely to lose the memory of your out-of-body adventures. I'm not sure I agree with this theory. I like to think of any "human experience" as more integrated than that, but I can't prove it's wrong either. Dream memories often fade away quickly if you don't reinforce them, but OBEs are usually pretty memorable, at least for me. I've never noticed any kind of download process. At the very least, this shows the depth at which Bruce treats OBEs: most OBE authors don't even talk about these important matters. Bruce revisits the topic again on page 298 (flag 12) and page 300 (flag 13).

Flag 3: On page 102, Bruce talks about blind people who have OBEs, which is, again, something you can't find elsewhere in the literature. In my first book, I wrote about a mode of sight I call "Astral Mind Sensing." It's hard to describe, but you can feel everything around you with your mind, kind of like a bat's echolocation. Compare that to this fascinating description from an OBEr who has been blind from birth:
"The area around me is extremely vivid in my mind, in all directions, and is very detailed. This awareness is much stronger than my normal awake perceptions are in my own home. When I project it's like I can feel everything around me, as if I am continually touching everything with my fingers, with my mind, with my senses..." (pg. 102)
It made me wonder: Is that how a blind person would describe "vision" without any experience of it? Or is it my "astral mind sensing"? Intriguing.

Flag 4: On page 250, Bruce talks about doing "Bounce Loosening" exercises. This is where you use your imagination to pretend to bounce your awareness away from your body. This is similar to many exercises I sometimes do to improve my OBE skills (for example, see the yoyo exercise I gave in chapter 9 of my first book). This is good stuff:
"Again, once you get this bounce action going, allow the feel of your physical body to slide into the background and concentrate on the exterior bounce action." (pg. 250)
Flag 5: On the next page, I found an exercise I also liked a lot. He talks about "Breathing Loosening" exercises, coordinating your imagination with your breath:
"At the end of the OUT breath, briefly feel the spacial coordinates of the entire room as being far, far away, as if you were a minute point of consciousness, a tiny spark in a giant, oversized room." (pg. 251).
Flag 6: On page 254, Bruce gives his now famous "Rope Technique" which is "tactile imaging" (focusing more on the sense of touch than vision). This technique was pioneering and has helped a lot of people achieve OBEs, especially those who don't visualize well. Most OBE techniques in the literature (including mine) focus on visualization, but not everyone can visualize well.

Flag 7: Bruce talks about motivation and enthusiasm. Early OBE pioneers like Muldoon and Lancelin emphasized this, especially motivating the subconscious. Bruce says:
"The most important ingredients for any successful projection are enthusiasm and motivation. Without these, there will not be enough mental energy to succeed; you will either fail the exit or give up and fall asleep." (pg. 260).
Flag 8: He talks about the "racing-heartbeat sensation" which is a scary thing that happens in many early OBEs, but is hardly mentioned in the OBE literature. His advice is the same as mine: "Totally ignore this. It will not hurt you in any way." That's because it is a sensation of your nonphysical body (and often a subconscious scare tactic), not the physical body.

Flag 9: Like me, Bruce has been asked many times to assist others out of their body. His beliefs (and experience) exactly match mine in this regard:
"I do not believe it is possible to directly assist another person out of body. I have tried many times and it does not seem to be feasible." (pg. 277).
Flag 10: He talks about traveling out-of-body to meet a specific person. In my first book, I wrote about my many failed attempts at this when I was a newbie. Many OBE books claim all you have to do is think about a person and you'll be magically transported to him or her. My experience has shown it's more complex than that. I eventually learned the trick, but it's extremely hard to describe: You have to "feel" for the person at the other end, then mentally pull yourself there. Bruce describes it like this, but words fail him as well:
"When you are in the trance state and/or close to the exit, imagine your target person. Everyone has a distinct essence of personality. This feeling can be used to tune in to and locate other people. Hold the image of your target firmly in mind and call his or her name several times, voicing this strongly in your mind." (pg. 279)
Well, calling out someone's name never worked for me either. It's just something you have to learn by trial and error.

Flag 11: He talks about lunar cycles, which you normally don't find in the literature. I've never noticed a correlation between the moon cycles and my OBEs (and yes, I've analyzed it), but it matches what some people (for example, Jason Kish on Facebook) have said:
"I find the best time for OBE to be the week surrounding the full moon, with the first night of the full moon being my prime projection time." (pg. 291)
Flag 14: He talks about lucid dreams and their relationship with OBEs. I've written, blogged, and lectured about the differences (and similarities) between the two. In a nutshell, I believe a lucid dream is an OBE in which you're trapped inside a self-created hallucination (an almost completely subjective experience). Bruce says a very similar thing:
"A lucid dream is a genuine type of OBE, although the dimensional gate traveled through to achieve it is best thought of as being internal." (pg. 322).
Flag 15: He also writes:
"Lucid dreams differ from OBEs in that they often seem much more substantial and realistic. A powerful lucid dream can be indistinguishable from reality, even if entered from the full waking state." (pg. 324).
By comparison, OBEs often have a strange quality to them, even though they are often just as conscious and lucid.

Flag 16: Bruce talks about another kind of lucid dream:
"One of the most powerful experiences I know of results from deliberately projecting into a lucid dream environment from the full waking state, with no break in consciousness. I call this mind-blowing experience lucid dream projection, although others have also called it WILD (wake induced lucid dream). Although this is technically a lucid dream, it can aptly be called the ultimate out-of-body experience as it has many similarities with a conscious-exit OBE."
"A lucid dream projection is essentially no different from a conscious-exit projection...The only difference of note is that lucid dream projections are far more realistic and true to life than are projections or normal lucid dreams." (pp 329-330).
I'm not sure I agree here. In my point of view, a lucid dream is an OBE in which you're trapped, as I said, inside a self-created hallucination. So my question is: which is it? In this "lucid dream projection" are you in a separate objective reality or a self-created hallucination? It doesn't seem possible to have it both ways or half-way in between (despite the fact that there can be bleed-through both ways: dreams in which astral events disrupt the dream, and also OBEs in which unintended dreams elements disrupt the OBE). So I'm not sure what to make of this claim.

Flag 17: Chapter 24 talks about yet another kind of experience which he calls "Virtual Reality Projection." The idea here is that you enter into a mirror, a picture, a painting, etc., from the OBE state. In other words, you use it as a gateway into another level of experience.
"The projector then moves into the target rather than passing through it. This seems to trick the subconscious mind into creating a virtual astral realm around the projected double, identical to that shown in the picture or mirror being approached." (pg. 337)
It makes me wonder if this is just another form of passing into a lucid dream, a self-created hallucination.

I'm halfway through my flags, so I'm going to cut it off here and save the rest for next time.

Astral Dynamics is a classic in OBE literature and well worth reading. It's chock full of techniques, exercises, and good information on OBEs. It's also very well organized, professionally edited and comprehensive. In other words, it contains just about everything you need to know about astral projection.

This book is not fun, exciting, entertaining or amusing. There are just a few (four or five) OBE narratives; just enough to keep it interesting and not stale. It is, however, very informative. If you want to learn about astral projection and how to accomplish it, this book is an excellent resource for any serious OBE student. Even though I listed it as number 5 in my top ten, if you only had enough money to buy one OBE book, you would not go wrong spending it on this volume.

I'll post part 2 of my review next time.

Bob Peterson
14 April 2015

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Book Review: Astral Projection

Book Review: Astral Projection

by "Author Unknown"

Today I'm reviewing the book Astral Projection: The Out-of-Body Experience: A Complete Guide by "Author Unknown".

Well, that's certainly an intriguing title, so I had to buy it for my OBE book collection. It made me wonder: Why would any author want to publish a book as "Author Unknown"? If it's a complete guide, I'd think the author would be proud. Of course, there are certain advantages to anonymity: Maybe the author is concerned about his or her public image? Maybe the author is concerned about legal ramifications, or plagiarism? The book doesn't even have a copyright date, which is definitely odd in the publishing business. I had to delve into this mystery and read the book.

The first thing to note is that it's not in a standard format. The pages are full-sized, not book-sized, like it came straight out of the word processor. There are only 71 pages, but given the oversize pages, it still has a lot of information.

When I started reading, the prose, text and formatting were choppy. The section labels weren't bigger or even centered. The book was clearly not edited by a professional. Still, the information seemed reasonable. Better than that; the content was actually good. I could tell that this author knew what he (or she) was talking about. When I got to page 13, I saw this:
"Here is a simple, reliable method, I have developed, to create your own personal realm:..." (pg 13).
(Three commas in a sentence that doesn't need any. See what I mean?)

The author then describes a technique that involves a spotlight or directional bedside lamp, pointed at a poster. But wait a minute! This description is pretty much the same as a technique described by Robert Bruce in his excellent book, Astral Dynamics. So, I wondered, is this author ripping off Robert Bruce? Or is it really Bruce himself?

On page 19, the author describes a technique for silencing your inner dialog, and it also sounded a lot like it came straight out of Astral Dynamics. Hmm...

On page 20, the author describes energizing the chakras using "energy hands" like Robert Bruce does. On page 21, he describes the near-OBE state as "The trance state" just like Robert Bruce. On page 22, he talks about "Tactile Imaging" like Robert Bruce, and on page 23, he notes:
"I originally developed this technique for blind people." (pg. 23)
But Robert Bruce developed that technique for blind people, didn't he?

Mr. "Author Unknown" never does admit who he is, but he does say:
"See my new book "ASTRAL DYNAMICS" Chapter 21 - Overcoming The Mind Split -for more detailed information on this." (pg. 51).
In short, this is a "Readers Digest" super-ultra-condensed, unprofessional version of Astral Dynamics by Robert Bruce. I believe the original text probably predates Astral Dynamics, and its immaturity shows. It's clearly been reworked and re-edited many times over the years.

For many years, Robert Bruce gave away free information about astral projection on the Internet. It's basically good solid information, and I admire him for all the hard work he's done for the OBE community. This book could be some bottom-feeder's copy-paste of his original hard work.

The bottom line is: If you want good, solid information on astral projection, don't buy this book. Buy Astral Dynamics instead. It's professional, well organized, well written, and comprehensive. Plus, it's good. It's also 560 pages long; much more "A Complete Guide" than this book of 71 pages. Don't settle for an inferior book when the high quality comprehensive book is available.

So who is making money off of an old, inferior text by Robert Bruce? I sure hope it's Robert Bruce, but I wouldn't guarantee it. I can't imagine why he wouldn't put his name on it, unless he's afraid he'll be sued by Hampton Roads Publishing, the publisher of Astral Dynamics. Or unless he's a plagiarist taking advantage of him. I tend to believe it's the latter; Robert Bruce would probably do a much better job of creating a condensed version of his own information, or at least find a better pen-name, like "Bruce Robertson."

Bob Peterson
31 March 2015

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

The Heart-Shaped Leaf

The Heart-Shaped Leaf

by Bob Peterson

Taken from my journal, 24 March 2015:

Today after work, I decided to mail some bills. As I was leaving the apartment, my inner voice said, “Lock the door. You should take a walk.” I locked the door and went to the mailbox to mail the bills. Afterward, I started heading toward Brushy Creek park.

I thought, Well, I suppose I could use the exercise. I asked my inner voice, “Where am I going?” It responded, “Your assistance is needed.”

When I got to the path, I asked, “Which way? Right or left?” It said, “Right. Then over the bridge, past the skate park, down the right-hand path. Then circle around the park counterclockwise. Not down by the creek; stay on the sidewalk.”

So I walked. Twenty minutes or so later, I turned the corner and saw a small leaf on the sidewalk. It was heart-shaped. My inner voice said, “Love is everywhere. People just don't see it. You don't see it often enough.” I stopped and looked at the leaf. It was unusual; not like one of the nearby trees, but from a lily from the nearby creek. What was it doing here?

I kept walking. A couple hundred feet later, I saw an old man (in his eighties?) with a bright pink kid's bicycle, overturned. As I got close, I saw that the chain had come off the bike. Another man was trying to help him, but was unable to feed the chain back on the bike because a plastic chain guard was in the way.

I pulled out the handy leatherman tool from my pocket and unscrewed the plastic guard and removed it. The younger man held the bike while I fed the bicycle chain back on. Then I tightened the wheel so the chain wouldn't come off again. Next, I put the plastic chain guard back on and screwed it down tight.

The old man was very grateful and thanked me. He said, “I stopped carrying tools many years ago. Thank you so much.” He called his granddaughter from the nearby playground and soon they were on their way.

As I walked away, I asked my inner voice, “This was all a setup, wasn't it? The walk, the heart-shaped leaf, and everything.” It sent me an inner smile and said, “Service where service is needed.” I've heard that many times from it in similar “errands.”

I scolded myself. “I should have taken a photo of that leaf.” My inner voice said, “Want another? I'll give you a better one.”

Ten minutes later, as I walked back toward the apartment, I saw another, bigger heart-shaped leaf on the sidewalk. This time I took a photo of it and smiled.

24 March 2015

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Review: Astral Projection by Janet Bord

Review: Astral Projection

by Janet Bord

Today I'm reviewing Janet Bord's 1973 book "Astral Projection." This was probably one of the first books I ever read on astral projection because when I started my quest in 1979, there wasn't much else available. Muldoon, Monroe, Crookall, and a few others.

The first thing to note is that it's a small book, about 7 by 4 inches. It's also short: just 62 pages. Still, it's got a small font, so there's a fair amount of information inside.

The author is not an experiencer; she's just an author who researched the subject and wrote a book about it. She collected OBE accounts and did her own informal surveys. In that respect, it's very basic and doesn't treat the subject in any great depth.

This book basically just tries to answer some basic questions, in five chapters:
  1. What is Astral Projection?
  2. A Case History
  3. When Does It Happen?
  4. What Does It Feel Like?
  5. Can It Be Induced At Will?
The first chapter describes OBEs and what they're like. It talks about the astral body, the silver cord, and so forth. It cites several OBE accounts to describe these things. It mentions that OBEs mostly happen once in a lifetime to many people, and very few have more than one. Despite that, Bord got the help of OBE adepts to go into a bit more depth. In other words, she wasn't just skimming the surface.

Chapter two is about obe of those adepts, Mrs. C.A. of London, who has had many OBEs. It has several of her OBE narratives. (I love OBE narratives).

Chapter three talks about the different things that can trigger OBEs, and in that respect, it reminded me of Robert Crookall's OBE books, but it wasn't as detailed: it was pretty basic information.

Chapter four talks about the vibrations, exit sensations, exit noises, hypnagogic imagery, and so forth. It was good, solid information.

The last chapter contains instructions from repeat OBErs on exactly how they self-induce their OBEs. There are only two methods described, but both are interesting to read. The first involves using mirrors to memorize yourself from another perspective, then using your imagination to transfer your consciousness to the astral body. The second method involves relaxing and drawing all your awareness into your head, trying to center the seat of your consciousness at your pineal gland.

This book is small, but well organized and well written. The information is very basic, but solid. It's perfect for someone who knows nothing, but is curious about OBEs. It doesn't go into any great depth, so it won't satisfy people who are familiar with the subject. If you're looking for depth, read Frederick Aardema's, Robert Monroe's, or William Buhlman's book.

Bob Peterson
17 March 2015

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Are OBEs the same as Lucid Dreams?

Are OBEs the same as Lucid Dreams?

By Bob Peterson

Are out-of-body experiences the same as Lucid Dreams? Some people insist they're the same phenomenon, but I believe they're different.

I'm not alone in this belief. In their 1985 book With the Eyes of the Mind, professional psychiatrists Glenn Gabbard and Stuart Twemlow compared OBEs to several different phenomena in psychology, such as lucid dreaming, autoscopy, schizophrenia, depersonalization and other body boundary disturbances. They concluded OBEs are different. As respected professionals, they did not speculate on what exactly OBEs are; they just said that OBEs don't fit into any of these categories; they belong in their own category.

I presented some of their findings in tabular format in my second book, Lessons Out of the Body (Hampton Roads Publishing, 2001), supplementing the information with my own findings.

In his 2008 book Lucid Dreaming: Gateway to the Inner Self, author Robert Waggoner also agreed that they're different, and gave some of his own findings.

In March 2014, I tabulated this information and gave a talk at INACS (Institute for Neuroscience and Consciousness Studies) in Austin, Texas. Some day, the talk will hopefully be made available online, but in the meantime, I'm presenting some of the information here.

Here are some of the differences noted by Gabbard and Twemlow: 
OBE vs. LD: Gabbard and Twemlow (1985)
OBE vs. LD: Gabbard and Twemlow (1985)

Here are some of the differences noted by Robert Waggoner:
OBE vs. LD: Robert Waggoner (2008)
Here are some of my own observations:
OBE vs. LD: Peterson (2001)
OBE vs. LD: Peterson (2001)
OBE vs. LD: Peterson (2001)
I realize that many of the things in the lists are subjective. For example, saying the "OBEer perceives himself or herself as separate" is largely a matter of interpretation: it depends on what the experiencer thinks happened, and in that regard, it doesn't hold much weight.

I would be remiss if I didn't mention some of the many similarities: both are fully conscious experiences with similar features, including floating, flying, meeting dead relatives, walking through walls; even seeing tunnels.

Was it a lucid dream or an OBE?

Unless you've experienced both OBEs and lucid dreams side by side, it's hard to tell the difference. So what can you do if you're having an experience and can't tell if it's an OBE or a lucid dream? Here are some things you can check:
  • How "stable" is the environment?
    If you wipe your visual field with your hand (Frederick Aardema's technique) or say aloud, "All thought forms must now disappear." (Robert Waggoner's technique) does your environment change? OBEs tend to have a more stable environment, whereas lucid dreams are dynamic.
  • Can you control the environment?
    Can you make a door appear by an act of will? If so, this is likely a lucid dream. Acts of will often won't affect your environment in an OBE. This isn't always a good indicator, because lucid dreams sometimes seem to be uncontrollable.
  • Do your expectations affect your experience?
    If you see a door and "expect" a beautiful woman to be on the other side, when you open the door, is she there? If so, this is probably a lucid dream. In an OBE, your experiences are often not influenced by your expectations, and often your expectations aren't met.
  • Is your eyesight normal?
    If your eyesight seems mostly "normal," this is likely a lucid dream. In an OBE, vision tends to be otherworldly. You can often see in all directions at once. Sometimes you can't see anything at all, but you can "feel" everything around you with your mind. Sometimes eyesight is cloudy, hazy, or distorted.
  • Is your body image exactly like the physical?
    In a lucid dream, your dream body is usually an exact copy of the physical body. You have a fully integrated body image. In an OBE, your body image will often be "on demand". I like to call it "Schrodinger's Body": same principle as Schrodinger's cat: your body image is in an indeterminate state until you think about it. If you don't think about your arm, it will likely not exist. As soon as you think about it, you can see it and feel it.
  • Can you be bored?
    In an OBE, you can be bored and do absolutely nothing. In a lucid dream, events often unfold in front of you. Often, you need motion or movement to keep your environment stable. Sometimes lucid dreamers will purposely spin to keep their environment stable. I've never heard of anyone bored in a lucid dream.
  • Did you see your physical body?
    If you saw your physical body, chances are this was an OBE. People don't tend to see their body in a lucid dream.
  • Did you have a sexual encounter?
    Sexual encounters are common in lucid dreams, and the sex feels convincingly real / physical. In an OBE, sexual content is rare, and when it does happen, it's often not like physical sex. It's more like a euphoric or spacey whole-body energy transfer, an electrical or static discharge, or an explosion of consciousness.
You can transition from a lucid dream into the out-of-body state. I wrote another article on that here: Turning Lucid Dreams into OBE.

Another one of my articles focused on my theory of the four out-of-body states as shown in the diagram at the top. You can find that article here: The Four Out-of-Body States

Bob Peterson
03 March 2015

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Review: Astral Projection Made Easy

Review: Astral Projection Made Easy

by E.J. Gold

This time I'm reviewing "Astral Projection Made Easy" by E.J. Gold.

Who can resist a book with that name? You can, and should.

The book is 195 pages, which seems big compared to some of the recent books I've reviewed, but it's still a quick read. Every page really only has a paragraph or three, and the rest of it is taken by a photo from the author's workshops. The photos have strange captions, like "Etheric Body workout with E.J." which shows a classroom full of people, apparently giving their physical body a workout. Or people gathered around slot machines gambling in Reno, Nevada. There's literally a photo like this on every page, none of which seem relevant to out-of-body experiences except to tout the author's workshops.

First Gold sounds serious, talking about how there are seven bodies, and how we need to learn to leave one before the next. The first body is the "organic (physical) body," followed by the "Etheric body," followed by the "Astral body." This is not unlike some occult traditions, like Theosophy, but Gold insists we need to learn to inhabit the Etheric body, and gain mastery of that first, before learning to travel in the astral body.

Next, he openly admits that he didn't invent his technique; he learned it from other people.

Then he goes off on a wild tangent about having created a special "Astral Projection headband" you can buy in several pricing levels, the most expensive being $225.00, which he calls the "High-Quality Astral Projection Headband with five Highest Quality Beta-Blocker devices". The cheapest model, "Profound Poverty Model," is only $35.00. They have no moving parts or electronics, but he says, "The Headband works First Time Every Time without fail." I wasn't sure if he was joking or serious. He was serious.

After that, he describes a classic and popular OBE technique, "The Target Technique," in decent detail. This is actually a pretty good, thorough description of this technique. Unfortunately, that's the only technique described in the book, and the book's only redeeming value.

Of course, you can make it easier by buying his headband. And you can buy his specially made target cards that are supposedly easier to find in the out-of-body state.

He talks about why we're stuck in an organic body to begin with. According to him, it's because we've encountered something scary, and this physical world is the only place to hide from the fear. We're here to resolve fears. Yeah. Right. (Darn. I always thought it was to learn love.)

Next, he goes back to talking about his headbands and how they're made personally by him, and how difficult they are to make, and that's why they're expensive. There are supposedly electronic components, but no power source. There are essential oils and fumigation, but they're covered up by laminate, so you'll never smell them. He "charges them up," although he doesn't say how, or with what.

Next, he talks about how he's available for personal coaching--for a price. You can buy his personalized training for the price of a weekend workshop, only $275-$350.

Then he addresses the problem of when you aren't sure if you've actually moved your etheric body.
"That you didn't happen to notice whether or not you were out-of-body doesn't mean you weren't out-of-body." (pg. 151)
Oh really? I can be out-of-body and not even notice it? After you do the target technique walk-through, physically:
"And then you do the same thing with your Etheric Body, but perhaps you don't know that you actually did it. You're unsure of your experience. What's going on there?" (pg. 156)

I'm sorry, but in my experience, if you're in your etheric body, you'll know it. Your physical body will be just another inanimate object in the room. OBEs are a LOT more than flights of imagination; I guarantee that, but Gold seems to think that you might not even realize you're having one!

Now granted, a nonphysical component can be coaxed away from your body while you're conscious awareness is still inside your body. Author Robert Bruce talks about that. But if your consciousness is still in the physical, that's not an OBE.

Much of the book is spent describing Gold's various workshops he conducts every year. In page after page he describes the different events, often going into casinos and gambling. And walking. And talking. And eating. And partying. And...and...where are the actual OBE techniques? Do they do that?

He conducts a lot of workshops every year, for a price. Pages 164 through 172 are entirely dedicated to describing his art class called "Draw what you saw." Dressed in a thin disguise of wanting to draw your astral adventures, he'll show you how to draw portraits, landscapes, flowers, trees, houses, and anything else you see on the astral plane. Of course, you can also buy his books about sketching.

He's also got other courses for sale: location by coordinates, precognitive functions, shapeshifter training, fear workshop, decisions workshop, enrobement and symbology, wearable targeting, and last but not least, afterlife adventures. But wait! There's more! Now for a limited time:
"You can take the Trainer's Course at the same time and then when you're a certified trainer, you can teach Astral Projection in your home-town, or go on the road with a training tour." (pg. 163).
What was that? Now he's promising--for a price--to make you a master and certified trainer of astral projection. You've got to be kidding me.

Aside from the Target Technique, he never does tell you how to astral project. He gives some theories about Etheric projection (which I already said I largely disagree with), but aside from that, there's nothing. Just nothing.

This book does nothing but sell, sell, sell, sell, sell you things: headbands, bracelets, books, workshops, personal training, or whatever. There's really no practical information about out-of-body experiences or astral projection. You're suckered in with promises of "Astral Projection Made Easy" when the author seems to just try for "Money Made Easy."

I'm sorry for being so negative and cynical. For me, it's never been about the money. This guy is just over-the-top flimflam like I've never seen before in the genre. There's nothing to see here...move along. Thumbs way down.

Bob Peterson
24 February 2015