Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Review: Untold Story by Dennis Leroy Stilwell

Review: Untold Story

by Dennis Leroy Stilwell

Today I'm reviewing the book Untold Story by Dennis Leroy Stilwell.

This book is pure fiction: a novel. In my review of William Buhlman's Adventures In The Afterlife I mentioned that I am primarily a nonfiction reader and how I burned myself out on visionary fiction. Now I only read fiction occasionally and reluctantly because it seems like such a waste of time to read "something that's made up" when there are so many good nonfiction books out there. Why did I read this one? Mostly because the author, Dennis Leroy Stilwell, sent me a review copy and asked me to review it, and I never turn down books. He insisted that it prominently featured out-of-body experiences throughout the story, and so it did.

I wasn't too excited about diving into a novel, but I started reading it anyway. As the pages flew by, something strange happened. Although it wasn't as engaging, powerful or riveting as some novels, I found myself somehow drawn in. Deep down in my soul, I somehow felt like I was meant to read this book, and that its message was meant for me. I can't explain it. I kept being drawn back to it, and I enjoyed it to the very end.

The story centers around Alex and Patricia (as well as several peripheral characters) who work at a rural zoo. Lately, they've had several camels miscarry, and Alex gets blamed for the deaths. In search of answers, Alex goes to New Guinea where he meets a local shaman (known as a "glas man") called "Gapa" and his apprentice, a boy named Pida. There, Alex learns out-of-body travel and other important lessons.

The characters were colorful and believable. Part of what I found so fascinating about this book is the author's descriptions of New Guinea, its culture, customs and its unique kind of shamanism. I've done a lot of international travel and even met shamans in the jungles of Peru, but I've never been to New Guinea.

I never candy-coat my feelings in these reviews, so I have to be honest: Although they kept recurring throughout the book, the OBEs were just a little bit flat and lackluster. They were an important part of some scenes, but only features of the story, and not the book's primary focus.

The good news is that the book was well written. The writing was mature, seasoned and professional, although I did find one or two mistakes. The bad news is that there were some scene transitions that weren't very smooth.

The first problem I had with this book is that there wasn't enough tension or conflict between the characters. Many of the characters just agreed with one another and there was little show of emotions. Although there was some, there could have been more banter. The second problem is that there wasn't enough conflict. The author didn't focus enough on the bad guys, their motivations or goals. The evil wasn't evil enough. In that respect, it felt kind of like a "Chick Flick" at times. There was "enough" conflict, but if there had been more, it would have been a better book. It could have used more plot twists too.

I did enjoy this book. Like I said; I felt repeatedly drawn to it. The OBEs in the story were enough to keep me interested. I especially liked it for the fascinating glimpses into New Guinea culture and shamanism (the one thing that all flavors of shamanism have in common is OBEs).

If you're looking for other novels that focus more on OBEs (rather than just a feature of the story), I also recommend:
  • The House Between The Worlds by Marion Zimmer Bradley (a fantasy novel about a scientist who stumble on a drug that induces OBEs and leads to the discovery of a parallel dimension.)
  • Flying In Place by Susan Palwick (about a woman who uses OBEs to escape from an abusive situation), or
  • Nightflyer by Christopher Fahy (a young adult novel about a teen who uses OBEs to exact his revenge on the bullies who pick on him).
None of the aforementioned are "spiritual" books, but they are fun if you're looking for fiction. And if you know of other good fiction books about OBEs, let me know.
Bob Peterson
01 September 2015

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Why Keeping A Dream Journal Helps OBEs

Why Keeping A Dream Journal Helps OBEs

By Robert Peterson

"Why should I keep a dream journal? I usually don't dream, but when I do, my dreams are nonsense anyway."

I know keeping a dream journal is a pain in the ass. It takes a lot of time and effort, and some mornings you just don't want to mess with it. However, it does help your ability to Lucid dream and have OBEs. Many people don't understand the connection, so let me explain it. It's complex, so bear with me.

It all has to do with memory and the way humans compartmentalize information. Think about it: our brains are constantly bombarded with gigabytes (if not terabytes or petabytes) of information: visual data, audio data, tactile data, as well as taste and smell, plus feedback from our own body on its current state: hunger, thirst, oxygen levels, pain levels, etc. All this sensory data arrives simultaneously to the brain. But if it all got through to your "conscious self" at once, it would be overwhelming. You couldn't function normally. So your brain has very complex "data filters" (for lack of a better word) to make sure the only data passed from subconscious to conscious is the "important stuff." One of the reasons why drugs like LSD are so overwhelming is that they temporarily tear down your brain's natural data filters.

One of the ways our brains keep this barrage of information manageable is to compartmentalize it. It's like a computer's file system, broken down into many levels of subdirectories. All the information is automatically filed into different categories.

Sometimes our brains need to process this information as quickly as possible. For example, if there's a sound, you need to be able to instantly judge whether the sound is a threat, and often that involves memory. You can only identify the sound of a pistol being cocked based on your memory of that sound. So each category is assigned a priority, and each memory is also assigned a priority based on the likelihood of needing that information.

What does science know about this memory sorting? A 2011 article in Scientific American magazine talks about the "doorway effect". It explains a phenomenon known to many, especially when you get older: You walk into a room, then pause and ask yourself, "Now why did I come in here?" The article is based on the work of a team of researchers at the University of Notre Dame who published a paper titled:  “Walking through doorways causes forgetting.” The article explains:
"The doorway effect suggests that there's more to the remembering than just what you paid attention to, when it happened, and how hard you tried. Instead, some forms of memory seem to be optimized to keep information ready-to-hand until its shelf life expires, and then purge that information in favor of new stuff."
Well, it's not purged; it's just archived into deep "hard-to-fetch" storage. Our brains automatically prioritize or set aside memory based on perceived need. When you walk from room A to room B, it's less likely that you'll need to recall the information from room A, so room A's memories are filed away to longer-term storage, then dumped from short-term memory, making it harder to access. Only room B's information is important now, so you forget why you came.

If you walk back into room A, those memories are given a higher priority again and you can often remember your original goal.

This shuffling of information and memory is all done automatically by the subconscious, but the good news is: you can program your subconscious. You have control over the priority. You can reinforce the importance of carrying the information over, and you can practice it over and over to reinforce the programming, making it easier. If you tell yourself, "Now when I get to room B, I'm going to remember that I need to do this" your subconscious will learn to comply and give room A's memories easier access.

Why does this have anything to do with OBEs and Lucid Dreams?

It's because it's not just doorways. Although the magazine article doesn't say it, I believe there are many types of barriers used by the subconscious to compartmentalize. The biggest and most glaring is: your subconscious does the same thing when transitioning from a waking to a sleeping state, and from sleeping to waking. The information from our dreams and other non-local states of consciousness are automatically shuffled to the bottom of the heap as "unimportant nonsense." (Because we've reinforced that all our lives, but that's another topic.) So trying to consciously remember your dreams is a struggle, if not impossible. Conversely, trying to remember your waking life during a dream is also a struggle.

By keeping a dream journal, you are forcing your subconscious to carry memories and information from your body's sleeping state forward to your conscious self. The information is carried through the proverbial doorway.

In order to consciously recall a dream, you need a certain fragment of awareness in the dream: You need enough "conscious you" to pay attention to what's happening, in order to be able to recall it in the morning. You need a tiny connection from the sleep state to the conscious self. So basically, a dream journal trains your subconscious to allow more conscious awareness on the other side of the sleep barrier. And "conscious awareness" is exactly what you need for out-of-body experiences and lucid dreams.

So why bother with a dream journal if the contents of your dreams are (usually) not important? It's because your dream journaling programs your subconscious to carry the information across the threshold of waking/sleeping. It tells your subconscious to keep an open connection to the conscious self into sleep.

"But I don't dream. How can I keep a dream journal?"

Science has proven that everyone dreams, multiple times every night. It's just that you don't remember.

"Okay. How can I keep a dream journal if I can't remember my dreams?"

You've got to make it a habit. Here are some things to jump-start the process:
  1. Take vitamin B-6 before bed. Don't take more than 100mg per day. Don't take it every day. Take it for a few days, then stop for a few days. For some reason, this seems to help with dream recall.
  2. Before you go to sleep, tell yourself, "Tomorrow morning, I'm going to remember my dreams."
  3. After that, imagine yourself in the morning. You wake up. You sit up in bed and recall the dreams you just had.
  4. Tell yourself, "Yes, that's exactly what I'm going to do."
  5. Repeat steps 3 and 4 a few times. Then go to sleep.
  6. In the morning, sit up, close your eyes and try to remember anything you can about the dreams you just had. Focus on any little fragment that comes in. "It had something to do with a man" Then follow it where it takes you. "The man was trying to take me somewhere..." And so forth.
  7. Once you're up, write down your dream. If you're too busy, just write down some keywords that will trigger your memory later.
  8. Perform these steps every day so that keeping a dream journal becomes a habit.

Bob Peterson
18 August 2015

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Review: Out Of Body Experiences by Kensho

Review: Out Of Body Experiences

by Kensho

Today I'm reviewing the book Out Of Body Experiences by Kensho. The subtitle is "A practical guide to exploring the Astral Plane."

The book is a short 80 pages, with average margins, average font, average grammar, and 12 small chapters. The cover art is good, but I also found another book on amazon that has an almost identical cover.

I've got to be brutally honest. The book turned me off right away. The prologue, introduction and the first chapter were okay, I guess, but chapter 2, "The Different Dimensions" didn't sit well with me. He started talking new-age pseudo-science that made no sense to me. He talked about different planes of existence as if they were different dimensions. First, he talked about the physical world as the "Third Dimension" because of its length, height and width. But I know I'm not alone in believing that the passage of "time" is a fourth dimension, and yes, it does exist right here in our physical world. It seemed like a glaring oversight to me. Next, regarding the physical world, he wrote:
"There are 48 different divine laws that control every physical object in this dimension. This includes laws of physics like gravity, and dimensional laws like distance." (pg. 14)
Hmmm. That sounded familiar.

The next world, he said, is "The Vital World" (which most books commonly call the Etheric plane or the Real-Time Zone), and it supposedly has 36 divine laws. After that is the Astral World and Mental World (combined) and there are 24 laws. Where did I hear these kind of claims before? Oh yeah. It was the late Samael Aun Weor's book, Dream Yoga, which I reviewed almost a year ago. It was the undoubtedly the worse OBE book I'd ever read. I quickly thumbed to the back of this book and read the "About The Author" section. Sure enough, I found:
"Kensho's knowledge comes from the teachings of his guru Zen Buddhist Master Dharmapa Rimpoche, and Gnostic Master Samael Aun Weor, as well as his life experiences and anecdotes." (pg. 80) 
So he just admitted his "knowledge" is mostly secondhand, rather than being based on firsthand experience. Hm...

Who is this Kensho, anyway, I wondered. From his photo he looked like a normal white dude, not a Japanese teacher. The copyright in the front of the book was listed as "Kensho" but I found another copyright in the back that said Cyrus Kirkpatrick. It said Kensho got his name from the Order of the Yellow Dragon, an organization I know nothing about.

I've always had a deep seated distrust of OBE teachers who change their name to something esoteric. I feel like either they aren't happy being themselves, or else they're trying to impress me. I've always had this problem, and I need to apologize for it. I had the same problem with Ophiel (aka Edward Peach) in 1980. I had the same problem with Beelzebub (aka Mark Pritchard) ten years ago, and I had this problem with Akhena last year (but she definitely earned her credentials and my respect). Yeah, I know. I shouldn't be so cynical about teachers who change their name. I should just humbly recognize that sometimes people want to reinvent themselves, and changing their name is part of that. Maybe someday, once I learn to destroy the last vestiges of my ego, I'll even move to an ashram myself and change my name too. But I digress.

A lot of people know I'm skeptical about metaphysical claims; even my own. It's just that I've had too many OBEs and seen too many weird and unbelievable things in my life; I can't deny what I've witnessed firsthand. Still, I question everything and try to maintain a healthy skepticism. And that's a good thing. Especially when reading an OBE book, because there's too much crap on the market.

So back to the book. If you're going to make a claim about the physical plane having 48 laws, I want to see them. Spell them out. Let the reader evaluate them. How did you come to know about these laws of physics? Was it from your OBEs? I've got a book on physics that's 3 inches thick, so bring it. How many of the 48 are laws of thermodynamics? Of quantum mechanics? Show me where Planck's constant fits in. Unfortunately, the author doesn't. He seems to make these claims for two reasons: One, to make a point that the higher the plane, the fewer laws, and therefore the happier you are. And two, to make himself sound like a voice of authority who knows how it all works. To me it just seemed like hand waving.

Chapter 3, "Common Misconceptions About Astral Travel" is alright, but somewhat shallow.

Although very short, chapter 4, "The Difference Between Dreams, Lucid Dreaming and Astral Projection" was a bit more to my liking. I've always insisted they were two different things. (It's a very deep subject, but basically I believe lucid dreams are OBEs in which you experience a hallucinated dream world.) This chapter also talks about brain waves, and he agrees with me that Delta brain waves are not good for OBEs:
"The Delta brain waves stage is when we lose complete awareness, it is when we simple "black out" and this lasts some 30 minutes. The Delta ruins everything for us when we want to be conscious to have an OBE..." (pg. 25)

Chapter 5 is titled "Preparation for Astral Travel" and has some decent advice, such as avoiding television before attempting OBE, lying face up, having the right frame of mind, and so forth. However, he recommends practicing between 9:30pm (21:30) and 10:00pm (22:00) which I disagree with. In my experience, it's always best to practice first thing in the morning when you're alert and your mind is less cluttered.

Chapter 6 is "O.B.E. Techniques" and it's actually pretty decent. Like Weor, he likes to use obscure mantras. This chapter is a mixture of different OBE techniques, most of which are better described in other OBE books. For example, he reduces Robert Bruce's famous "Rope Technique" to one tiny (poorly worded) paragraph:
"Imagine there's a rope hanging on top of you, either visible or invisible. Imagine you grab it with your astral hands and start pulling your astral body up until you leave your physical body." (pg. 41)
That's it. Needless to say, that's sorely lacking in detail. His other techniques are not quite that bad though.

Chapter 7 is "More OBE Techniques". I'm not sure why he felt the need to break his OBE techniques into two chapters, but he did. This chapter contains more mantras and miscellaneous other techniques. It's not bad information.

Chapter 8 is "The Magical Technique of the Angel's Trumpet" which he claims is "real elemental magic." It also uses a mantra (Angel's Trumpet is supposedly a type of tree.) I don't believe in "real magic." I believe in laws of physics that we just don't understand yet.

Some of what he recommends is to pray to the divine mother or divine father, which is probably just a link to the subconscious (and not bad advice).

The rest of the book is not bad. It contains practical advice for lucid dreaming, dealing with astral situations, meeting astral people, and how to tell "real" people from hallucinated dream people and so forth. It's pretty basic stuff.

There's really only one OBE narrative and it describes how the author once met a co-worker in the astral plane before they met in real life. I would have liked to read more of his experiences, but unfortunately, there were none. The book is more like "This is how things work" (implied: based on what my guru told me) rather than my preference: "This is what I experienced and therefore know firsthand."

Okay, so maybe my early impressions of the book tainted my opinion. Maybe I just didn't like how the author made secondhand claims that obviously came from his guru rather than his experience. Maybe I just didn't like the way the author gave himself the voice of authority with no evidence or OBEs to back up his assertions. I guess the book's content was not that bad. It was just...average. But I've read a lot of OBE books that are a lot better.

Bob Peterson
11 Aug 2015
Index to all my OBE book reviews

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

What Should I do When the Vibrations Hit?

What Should I do When the Vibrations Hit?

By Bob Peterson
28 July 2015

This is one of the most common questions I hear from people learning to induce out-of-body experiences:
"I've spent lots of time learning to relax my body and focus my mind. I've reached the stage where I can get the vibrations, but then one of three things always happens:
  1. The vibrations fade away quickly.
  2. I'm paralyzed and completely unable to move, or
  3. It seems like my heart is racing uncontrollably.
Eventually I snap out of it. What should I do to turn this into a full out-of-body experience?"
The most important thing is to remain calm. When the vibrations hit, you need to stay completely 100% passive. Don't think. Don't feel. Don't try to encourage the vibrations because that will cause them to fade away. Just keep your mind as still, unmoving, and passive as possible. Just wait and "watch what happens". Yes, I know that might seem nearly impossible: it's like trying to totally ignore your own electrocution. In one of my books I wrote that it's like ignoring getting slapped in the face, but it is essential. And yes, it can be scary as hell.

When the vibrations reach their peak intensity, try to physically sit up, stand up, roll out, or otherwise get up out of bed. If it's the real OBE vibrations, your physical body won't move, but your astral body may move. If your physical body moves, it wasn't the right vibrations and you probably weren't in a deep enough trance. Either that or you waited too long and the vibrations have already faded away.

If your astral body won't move, or is paralyzed, pinned or stuck to the physical body, try again physically to move in a different direction. If you can't sit, try to roll left. If you can't roll left, try to roll right. If that doesn't work, try to do a backward somersault.

If you've tried everything and still can't get unglued from your physical body, here's what to do:
  1. Close your (astral) eyes and keep them closed.
  2. Try to push forward with your consciousness and just imagine that your consciousness is moving forward.  Even though you may not feel any movement, your consciousness will move forward in your astral body.  If you have doubts that it's working and open your eyes prematurely, your awareness will zip like a ball on a rubber band back to your body.  So keep your eyes closed and have faith that your consciousness is moving forward.  
  3. Keep pushing forward with your consciousness in your imagination as hard as you can, just like walking underwater, until you are about fifteen feet (five meters) away from your body. Visualize that the walls or ceiling in front of you are getting closer as you imagine moving forward. Of course, since your eyes are closed, you can only guess your progress, so don’t obsess on the distance, just take a best guess. 
  4. Once you are safely fifteen feet away from your body, you may open your eyes, and you will be in your astral body and free to roam.
If this sounds familiar, it may be because I've given this advice before in an article on my website called "What Everyone Should Know About Sleep Paralysis, ASP and OBEs".

The "racing heart" thing is often a manifestation of fear or anticipation. You should let that all go. It's almost never your real physical heart that's racing anyway; sometimes it's scare tactics from your subconscious. It's usually an energy sensation associated with your non-physical body, not your physical body, so don't be concerned that your heart is going to explode, etc. Just do your best to ignore the sensation.

Bob Peterson
28 July 2015

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Review: Easy Astral Projection by Keith Morgan

Easy Astral Projection

by Keith Morgan

This time I'm reviewing the book Easy Astral Projection by Keith Morgan.

This is a small book: Just 21 pages. The font is small but so are the margins, so there's not a lot of content. Its copyright is 1992, so it's not ancient.

Although it doesn't say it on the cover, the subtitle is "Simple techniques for travelling in the Astral planes." I've read so many books that claim to make astral projection "Easy" or "Simple" that I've become a bit cynical about it. Inducing OBE has always been a long process for me, and never easy, so it makes me feel like they're luring me in, and I'm always disappointed.

I disagreed with this book on several points. For example:
"...this altered state of consciousness that we consider to be Astral Projection is the same altered state of consciousness that is considered to be termed as being 'Hypnotism' that of an auto suggested state of being that is different from the normal pattern of behaviour that is more commonly found within an individual." (pg. 2)
Yes, OBEs involve a kind of trance state, but to me it's completely different from a hypnotic trance.

Early in this book, the author starts using the term "magick" and "magickal" as if to give out-of-body experience some kind of special 'occult' mystique. In my opinion, there's nothing magical about it. It happens to common folks every day.

So let's talk about the author's OBE techniques. They're not bad and not without merit. They are, however, a bit obfuscated.

The first technique is "Visualisation of a Deity." These are run-of-the-mill visualization techniques, and not bad in themselves. The important thing in my opinion, is:
"Concentrate upon the image as a whole being & see it as a manifestation of such & of the Astral planes, but most of all, believe in what you are seeing, as a being of the element which is being invoked & as a being of your own magick." (pg. 10)
In other words, visualize the image as realistically as possible. The second technique, which is important enough to have its own heading, "Development of Clairvoyancy," is obscure. In fact, he says:
"This method is known as scrying, & is simply, expanding your consciousness through a medium of reflection, this looking into the deeper you, any reflective surface can give good effect, such as a still pond etc, it is a meditational device and nothing more, through these personal meditations deeper things can be learned." (pg. 11)
I'm sorry, but in my opinion, scrying is a lot different from astral projection. In my opinion, with astral projection your physical body is just another inanimate object in the bedroom, and your awareness is elsewhere. With scrying, your consciousness stays firmly planted in the physical and you're using your mind's eye to do something akin to remote viewing. If you want to do remote viewing, there are plenty of good books about it. If you want to do scrying, there are good books on that, too. For example, Donald Tyson's book "Scrying For Beginners". But in my opinion, OBEs are not the same.

There's another separate section of OBE techniques called "Astral Projection & Altered Consciousness Methods." It's small and unimpressive. It talks briefly about relaxation, slowing down your heart rate (and breathing), energizing the pineal gland and chakras, using a mirror, fasting and auto-suggestion. It's scant and not very detailed.

Toward the end of the book, he makes another dubious claim:
"The Void is the primal void of chaos, that is DAATH on the Cabbalistic tree of Life, out of the turmoil of the firmament all is born, it is a start & a re-birth.
TAKE NOTE: travel to the void is not recommended! There is excellent documentation of experimentation of Astral Projection into the Void, as a cabbalistic friend of mine once told me,
 "You will emerge, Mad, Bad, dead or enlightened!".......& he meant it!" (pg. 19)
Few authors have written about "The Void" but this is the only one I can recall that's negative. It seemed like needless negative superstition to me. Frederick Aardema's excellent book, Explorations In Consciousness has an excellent discussion of the Void, without the occult and/or kabbalistic connotations, and it's certainly not negative.

This book's grammar is poor and careless (as you can see from the quotes above). The content is small and often obscure and veiled in occult labels. And in my opinion, the information isn't very good. Although the book is cheap, there are a lot of better OBE books out there. I'd pass on this one.

Click here for a complete list of all my OBE book reviews.

Bob Peterson
14 July 2015

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Review: Mental and Astral Projection by Robert E. Moser

Review: Mental and Astral Projection

by Robert E. (Bob) Moser

Today I'm taking a trip down memory lane and reviewing the book Mental and Astral Projection by Robert E. Moser, an oldie from 1974. It's a short book; just 55 pages.

I first read this book in August of 1980. I had only had 21 OBEs then, so I was a newbie and I was eager for more. The book didn't stand out in my mind at the time, but after just re-reading it, I'm amazed to see just how much it influenced me.

Moser starts by explaining mental projection and astral projection, and the fact that mental projection is easier than astral projection. In my opinion, the author's "mental projection" is what we now call "remote viewing."

I remember how disappointed I was with Moser's OBE technique. After spending a considerable amount of time relaxing your physical body:
"Now, if you wish to [astral] project....simply use your imagination to lift yourself free of the body....to go where you have selected....knowing, at all times....that the natural protective mechanisms of your body are working normally...." (pg. 35)
That's pretty lame. He's advocating the use of imagination to induce OBE, and granted, imagination is an important step. But the process is so much more complex than that. I got nothing out of this. By the way, the overuse and abuse of the ellipsis "...." is the author's, not mine. :)

He expands on this technique later in the book. You use your imagination to visualize a doorway with a fancy door, a keyhole, and a key. You customize the door to make it "yours". Only you possess the key, and each time you induce an OBE, you imagine unlocking the door and locking it behind you to keep any foreign entities out. You always take the key with you.

The book didn't make a lasting impression back in 1980, but I did take a few things he said to heart: First, to keep a journal of your experiences. Second, that other entities can't control your body unless you allow them access. Third, the importance of keeping a dream journal and learning dream recall:
"The importance of the effort to receive full dream recall cannot be overstressed." (pp. 43-44)
This book may have also unconsciously prompted my earliest communications with my inner voice:
"Another point I would like to stress is that it is my firm and proven belief, that the superconscious mind has the answers to the information we seek, if we but look inward. It is in me, it is in you. This is our higher self, our God-Consciousness that has all the memory of time within it. We must seek inward and communicate there for the information." (pg. 44)
It probably also fueled my distrust in spirits:
"I do NOT advocate the use of guides on the astral planes. We have no way of knowing or judging who or what may be trying to either help or harm us. On the astral, since we are faced with a different set of values and a new set of rules, we can easily be misled by some entity who is trying to use us." (pg. 47)
In fact, Moser takes this a step further. He stresses not to interact with the astral plane. He advises us to merely observe what we witness. But to quote the 1980s rock song Blinded by the Light, "But mama, that's where the fun is!"

Maybe this book was just what I needed in 1980: A healthy dose of caution, a little esotericism, a dash of distrust in spirits, a few clues about my inner voice, and a few hints on how to self-induce OBEs. There are many OBE books that are far better than this, but I don't regret having read it.

30 June 2015
Robert Peterson

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Review: Travel Far by Darryl E. Berry Jr.

Travel Far

by Darryl E. Berry Jr.

I can't believe it's almost been a month since my last OBE book review. A barrage of crises and obligations left me little time to read. Sigh.

This time I'm reviewing the book Travel Far: A Beginner's Guide to the Out-of-Body Experience, Including First-Hand Accounts and Comprehensive Theory and Methods by Darryl E. Berry, Jr. That's a mouth-full.

The author was kind enough to send me a review copy and I really enjoyed it. Unlike most books in the genre, this one is "just right" in many respects. It's 220 pages: a good amount of content. It has good size paper, good margins, and a good font size. Its grammar and spelling are--you guessed it--good. That's refreshing, especially after the last book's many errors.

I always like to start off addressing the negative things about a book so I can end on a positive note, but in this case I don't have many negative things to say. It's just a good, solid well-rounded OBE book with good content.

The book is divided into two parts.

Part 1 is about the author's personal experiences, and you know how I love OBE narratives. The narratives were interesting, but somehow lacked emotion. Whenever I have an OBE, no matter how mundane, there's an element of, "Oh my God! This is so incredible!" even after 35 years. These narratives somehow lacked that element, so they felt a little "flat". Still, they were fascinating and unusual, even in this admittedly obscure genre. For example, in one OBE, Berry encounters "fire beings". In another, when he was 7 years old, he found himself in "The Desert World" for a solid week! This reminded me of my own childhood experience where it seemed like I had lived in another world for centuries (although it wasn't a desert world). He also writes about encounters with extraterrestrials; an important topic, but rarely found in the genre. Plus another important topic that's often neglected: time travel OBEs. It makes for some fascinating discussion. I can't go into detail here, but check out this quote:
"My perception is that I entered (or made) an alternate universe, a different reality stream or timeline, and lived in that alternate timeline for that duration of time." (pg. 73).
Part 2, "Theory and Methods" is where Berry gets down to business. This is where I perked up and starting flagging pages. He begins by explaining brain waves and states of consciousness. He addresses the topic well. I didn't agree with everything he said (but I rarely do). For example:
"Delta is the state of deep physical sleep, and home to the out-of-body experience." (pg. 83)
I've always believed that OBEs occur during deep theta brain waves, not delta, which agrees with Dr. Charles Tart's experiments on Robert Monroe and "Miss Z." I believe that lucid dreams occur during delta. But who am I to judge? I've never been hooked up to an EEG machine.

In reality, it doesn't really matter, because brain waves are old-school. They only measure what's happening on the outside (cortex) of the brain. Modern neuro-scientists don't give as much credence to brain waves as they do newer technology that addresses the whole brain: fMRI imaging, brain blood flow measurements, and so forth. But that's another topic for a future article.

Berry's approach to OBE practice makes a lot of sense:
"The general goal is to consistently practice so that you move this threshold of awareness at least through the deep theta state. From there you can initiate an OBE." (pg. 85)
In other words, you teach yourself--through practice--to retain conscious awareness deeper and deeper until you can get to the OBE state. It doesn't get much more practical than that. That's kind of how I learned to do it.

Another thing I liked is how the author sets up a clear division between OBE "Basics" exercises and "OBE Initiation." He makes it clear that his "OBE Basics" exercises are more important than the OBE attempts themselves. In fact, he says:
"As a general rule, for every hour you spend practicing to have an out-of-body experience you should spend 1 or more hours practicing one or more of these basics." (pg. 90).
The "basics" are not too different from the exercises of Robert Bruce in Astral Dynamics, but Berry is not so regimented. It was more relaxed and not as serious, and I liked that. It just felt right.

One of the things I liked most about Berry's exercises is that it took a Taoist approach to energy work, which is what I've always used because of my early Tai Chi training. That's unlike (1) traditional Hindu meditation which sends energy straight up the spine and through the chakras and out the crown chakra, (2) the IAC's "velo" technique, which pushes energy up and down in a oscillating fashion, and (3) Robert Bruce's technique which is similar, but focuses on storing the energy in the Tan Tien (navel / belly button chakra). Berry's Taoist method circulates the "chi" up the spine and down the front of your body: in a continuous circle.

He also talks about OBE Asanas (yogic body positions) and even gives photos to demonstrate them, which is a nice bonus. He also talks about OBE mudras (hand positions); something I've only seen in one other OBE book, also with photos.

On page 128 is his list of OBE techniques, and it's a pretty good list. It includes his own techniques as well as borrowing from other experts in the field. He covers all the basics, including his signature technique, the "Relax-Move Technique." He also suggests some unconventional techniques, such as the "Sleep Signal Focus" technique, which is a method to overcome sleepiness that often overcomes us during OBE practice:
"Become aware of or imagine the sensation of sleepiness and dive into it...You can attempt to 'stay ahead' of sleepiness, diving into it and keeping awareness ahead of it before it drowns you in unawareness. This is a signature technique of my friend Louis." (pg. 131)
One of my favorites is his "Creative Visualization" technique:
"Use your imagination to visualize something that holds your attention. One visualization of mine is to imagine myself engulfed in a flame, as if I'm the wick of a candle, or to imagine a flame in my third eye area." (pg. 138)
The book isn't all dry technique and business. He has just a dash of spirituality too. My favorite quote from the book is:
"All of our limits are ultimately self-imposed." (pg. 198)
This is a good solid OBE book; a well-rounded mix of narratives, theory, techniques and spirituality. The author is not pretentious or esoteric. He comes off as your good friend, not Severus Snape.

I give it a big thumbs up. It may not dethrone any in my list of Bob's Top Ten OBE Books but maybe I'll call it #11.

Bob Peterson
16 June 2015