Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Review: Dreamism by Jane Collings


by Jane Collings

Today I'm reviewing the book Dreamism: The travel journal of an astral explorer by Jane Collings (featuring Sam Gandy).

Collings and a second author sent me copies of their books at the same time. The other author's book arrived first and I started reading it, but coming from the UK, Collings' book arrived later. I was traveling and in transit at the time, so somehow I lost track of it and I couldn't find it for months. Then, late last December, my wife Kathy lost some important paperwork and I was helping her look. I looked under the car seat and found Dreamism. "Oh yeah. I wondered what happened to you." I began reading right away, but it took a while to finish.

The title, Dreamism, was a bit of a turn-off for me. I prefer books that focus solely on out-of-body experiences (OBEs) and the title made it sound more focused on lucid dreaming. It also reminded me strangely of John Lennon's song Give Peace A Chance, which starts:
"Everybody's talking 'bout Bagism, Shagism, Dragism, Madism, Ragism, Tagism, this-ism, that-ism, ism, ism, ism."
Add Dreamism to the list, right? But the book was actually quite good.

Unlike the previous book I reviewed, this book is 296 pages long, has nice tight margins, and no wasted space: There's a lot of content. The first quarter of the book is general information about OBEs, but the rest of the book is exactly what the subtitle says: a travel journal. Collings details lots and lots of her experiences, both lucid dreams and OBEs. This was much more satisfying than the previous book I reviewed: You know how I love OBE narratives, and the author was writing from personal experience. It felt very genuine and warm.

In a way, it reminded me of Vicky Short's book Persephone's Journey with its emotional roller-coaster of relationship problems, self-esteem issues, and life lessons, although Persephone was just slightly better.

Chapter 1 is really the introduction. Collings was introduced to astral projection and lucid dreaming when she attended a workshop "being held by a guy called Todd, in a converted water tower in Woolwich." (pg. 14) Right away, I knew this almost had to be well-known OBE teacher, Todd Acamesis, although she doesn't call him out by name.

At the start of the book, the author sounds a bit like a party girl. Her first major breakthrough had an interesting note regarding alcohol:
"...but then out of the blue and after a long night drinking in Nottingham, I had an absolutely amazing and sustained Out of Body Experience."
"I'd always presumed that alcohol fragmented one's energy and numbed any kind of psychic skill. I still think there's truth in that, but this experience proved that there can be other things at work that override that rule..." (pg. 14)
Recently, someone in a Facebook group mentioned that they couldn't achieve OBEs unless they'd been drinking alcohol the night before. Strange, since some OBE books advise against drinking alcohol. I've never noticed a correlation, but I often do feel more "OBEish" on days after I drink. (I don't drink much alcohol. Maybe one to three drinks a month.)

One of the hallmarks of a good book is that the characters grow, mature and find new strengths, and Collings does just that throughout. Her stories start to take on a more serious tone.

Chapter 2 is "The Basics." Right away, she addresses the burning question:
"What's the difference between a Lucid Dream and an OBE and how can you tell them apart?"
"...In a Lucid Dream you mostly see and experience content from your own unconscious mind. An OBE happens in a consensus reality on another dimension. This means an environment that's formed into being by the common thoughts and beliefs of its inhabitants." (pg. 24)
I agree completely. One thing I found very odd was this:
"As soon as you gain waking consciousness within a dream, you then have a choice of staying and exploring the dream or using a command to change your frequency to that of another dimension...thus moving into an OBE. An effective command for achieving this is 'Higher Self Now'. At this point you will usually feel a lifting sensation or one of travelling [British spelling] or moving, then find yourself in a new place." (pg. 27)
The whole "Higher Self Now" idea was invented by William Buhlman (although she doesn't credit him either.) Based on Buhlman's books, I've always inferred that the command is used to merge with your Higher Self, or to achieve some kind of cosmic blissful state beyond ordinary OBEs. Collings uses it frequently, but only to re-focus, or change locations, or even to gain clarity (as opposed to Buhlman's original "Clarity Now!"). I think she might have misinterpreted his intent. Buhlman's latest book, Higher Self Now!, talks primarily about merging with the Higher Self upon death. When all is said and done, I suppose what really matters is not the words themselves, but the meaning and intent.

Although it's a bit wordy, here's a quote I really liked:
"If you cast your mind over it for a few moments whilst you're lucid, you'll often be aware of what feels like an unquestionable fact...your waking life is the actual dream. It's a dream your soul is having." (pg. 33)
Deep. I like deep, although I didn't find too many quotes like this.

Although most of the book is just one experience after another, she does give some tips for gaining lucidity, such as reality checking, tweaking your sleep cycles, keeping a dream journal, and energy work:
"So breathing into your chakras, clearing and expanding them regularly is key. Think of it as building and flexing etheric muscles!" (pg. 37)
One thing I found valuable was her discussion of how to work with the "trans-personal chakras". Instead of focusing on the crown chakra, she talks about doing energy work with three different levels of the crown chakra that extend outward six, twelve and eighteen inches above the head.

Chapter 3 is "The 'Secret Egyptian Eyelid Technique' and the Pineal Gland" which has some interesting information and even diagrams.

Chapter 5 is "Tips for Lucid Dreaming." Collings gives several good tips and techniques.

From there she launches into her OBE narratives, weaving various tales and using them to make observances about OBEs (also like Short).

Collings is from the UK, and uses several British colloquialisms / slang, which made it both endearing and difficult to read at times. Half of my teammates at work (including my manager) are based in the UK, so British phrases like "torch" versus "flashlight," or "petrol garage" versus "gas station" don't bother me. Plus I really love the British comedy "Coupling" (I have the whole collection on DVD. If you've never seen it, watch an episode; it's hysterical). So I'm used to hearing expressions like "sod on." Even given all that, Collings uses terms I had never heard before. For example, "holiday snaps" (pg. 77) or "Sooo jammy!" (pg. 104) or "full of beans" (pg. 108).

My favorite was a reference to a "tannoy." (pg. 245) Even the dictionary app on my phone threw up its hands and said, "I got nothin', man." It turns out that a tannoy is what we commonly call a "PA system" or "public address system" or overhead loudspeakers. Perhaps the most amusing was when she described herself as "Gutted!" (pg. 152) when she forgot something important in an OBE; it gave me a good laugh, both because of the slang, and because I've felt that way myself!

The stories were amusing and well written, but the book definitely needed a proof reader. I caught lots of rookie mistakes, especially with words like "its" versus "it's". And "OBEs" spelled as "OBE's" (the latter especially in Sam Gandy's chapter). For some reason, the apostrophe problems didn't bother me much; I read past it and moved on. Despite that, the writing was mature: she's a good storyteller.

There weren't any revelations in the book. She did try a few interesting experiments. For example, she tried yoga while out-of-body:
"As I attempted to flip over on my head, it struck me how strange it felt to do body-focused practices without a body." (pg. 196)

Some of her stories didn't make it clear whether she was in an OBE or a lucid dream. To her credit, she often admits (in the experience) that she wasn't exactly sure. Some of her "OBEs" sounded a bit too much like lucid dreams to me, but who am I to judge? I wasn't there.

To be brutally honest, I was a bit disappointed that Collings' OBE narratives weren't more "otherworldly." They were like "I went into a shop where a lady dressed in blue stood..." You know: normal everyday stuff. In my OBEs, everything seems very otherworldly: slipping through walls, gliding down hallways, floating atop ceilings and flying over vistas. Author Michael Ross described a "delicious feeling and sensation of eeriness'" (still one of my favorite quotes from an OBE book.) This book lacked that.

The last chapter, 10, titled "Science Chapter" was written by Sam Gandy, and it has a very different feel from the rest of the book. It's a rushed attempt to pull science, consciousness studies, quantum physics, and OBEs together. He does a rushed interpretation of the books and meta-analysis of Dean Radin, Rupert Sheldrake and many other scientists whom I greatly admire. This only whetted my appetite. I'd like to see Gandy write an entire book on the subject and not be so rushed.

It's an interesting read. I'll give it 3 and a half stars out of 5.

Bob Peterson
07 February 2017

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Review: Astral Projection by Paul Kain

Astral Projection

by Paul Kain

Today I'm reviewing Astral Projection by Paul Kain. The subtitle is: The Beginner's Guide on How to Quickly and Successfully Experience Your First Out of Body Adventure.

If you asked me to describe this book in just one word it would be: "Rushed." The book is only 50 pages long, and much of that space is wasted. The height and width are okay. The margins and font are okay, but there's some unnecessary white space. It's not as bad as some, but still.

Like so many printed books in the same class, it starts out with:
"I want to thank you and congratulate you for downloading my book, Astral Projection." (pg. 1)
So obviously the author didn't take the time to make it look like a "real" book.

The book did not contain a lot of things I disagreed with, but there was just a tiny too much fear mongering. For example:
"So before we begin, what are some reasons to not learn astral projection? The most obvious being while you are out of your physical body, it could be harmed on the physical plane." (pg. 4)
Sure, your physical body can be harmed when out-of-body, but you're not any more vulnerable than when you're sleeping. So why even bring it up? As far as I'm concerned, this is just planting seeds of negativity that are counterproductive.

Chapter 2 is "The Proper Mindset." The author talks about raising your vibrations, practicing meditation, developing compassion, positive thinking, and so forth: very noble things. It's not bad, but too short.

Chapter 3 is "How to Achieve Astral Projection". This is usually where I get excited, but his description is way too vague. He talks about relaxation, visualization, and trying to reach the hypnagogic state, then:
"Now it is time for you to enter into a state of vibration. During this stage, it is possible to hear loud humming and roaring sounds in your ears." (pg. 14)
He doesn't describe what to do (or not do) to get the vibrations. You're just supposed to magically find yourself there. I'm sorry, but that isn't a technique, it's a description. Well, he does talk about relaxation and visualization, so maybe I'm just being too picky. He also doesn't describe an exit technique very well. He says:
"At this point in time, it is time for you to use your mind to move your soul from your body. You're going to imagine your surroundings while moving your body (with your mind only) to stand up. Try and look at your body that is still lying on the bed or sitting in the chair.
At this point in time you have successfully achieved your out of body experience!" (pg. 14-15)
It's vague at best (not to mention the redundancy: "At this point in time" and "it is time" mean the same thing). Yes, imagination is the leverage you need to use, but if it was that simple, people would be popping out of their bodies half their waking hours.

Chapter 4 is "Techniques." Like many other books in its class, it describes Robert Bruce's Rope Technique, but poorly. It skips over important parts while getting other parts wrong:
"The rope is going to exert pressure to a single point on your astral body in order to help force your soul and body apart. Using your imaginary hands (in your mind), you're going to grab the rope above you and pull yourself up." (pg. 17)
The whole point of Bruce's Rope technique is the tactile response: Blind people use this technique. You're supposed to imagine how it feels, preferably with (both physical and astral) eyes closed, as opposed to visualizing yourself doing it. Granted, that's still using your imagination, but I felt the description was misleading and fell short. Better to read Robert Bruce's original description.

Technique 2 is "Watch yourself go to sleep". I described this in chapter 5 of my first book.

Technique 3 is "Out of body experience from lucid dreams." Maybe it's just a poor description, but I don't think the author described lucid dreaming well at all:
"A lucid dream is a dream in which the dreamer is actually aware of what he or she is dreaming. If you're experiencing lucid dreams, then you have already achieved an out of body experience of some sort." (pg. 19)
First of all, a lucid dream is a dream in which the dreamer is aware that he or she is dreaming. It doesn't matter what they're dreaming. Second, while it's true that a lucid dream is a "sort" of OBE, that description is misleading: My personal belief is that a lucid dream is an OBE in which the dreamer is hallucinating a self-created dream scenario. But Kain doesn't say how they differ until you get to chapter 7.

Chapter 4 also contains two more techniques: "Displaced-awareness" which is actually decent, but again, it's not very detailed. It deals with trying to alter your body image and using your imagination to visualize the room from different perspectives. Good ideas, but it needs more detail. "The Jump Technique" is more like little reminders to help you realize you're dreaming and get to the lucid dream state.

Chapter 5 is "Meeting Spirit Guides and Other Entities". Again, the information seems mostly good, but cut way too short, and a little bit of fear mongering.

Chapter 6, "Reaching Higher Astral Realms," is way too short. Here's a quote I found very odd:
"The astral realm is divided into the "fourth" and "fifth" levels." (pg. 27)
Really? According to whom? This is out of the blue and no further details are given.

Chapter 7 is "The Link Between Astral Project [sic] and Lucid Dreaming"

I assume he means "Astral Projection" not "Astral Project". Everyone knows I'm a grammar Nazi, but I can overlook a typo or two (as I did with Buhlman's book which I reviewed last time). But a typo in a chapter title is just bad form. The information is alright, but in my opinion, some of the arguments were unconvincing and some important points were omitted.

Chapter 8 is "First Hand Accounts"

I assume he means "Firsthand" (one word) accounts. Sigh. Another blatant grammar issue in a chapter title. His narratives are a couple of very generic OBEs of other people. So now you know for sure he's not speaking from his own experience. If he's not writing from experience, what are his credentials?

Chapter 9 is "Tips and Tricks"

Like the rest of the book, it has decent information, but not enough of it.

So the book is alright; it's just not "good." It's too short, with too little information. Despite the things I pointed out, the grammar isn't bad, and the writing is mature. I didn't find any spelling errors.

I'll give it 2 stars out of 5. I prefer books that speak from experience, and this isn't one. If you're going that route, buy a book with more substance, like D.Scott Rogo's "Leaving the Body".

Bob Peterson
24 January, 2017

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Kissing Your Way to OBE

Kissing Your Way to an OBE

by Bob Peterson

As much as I'm a fan of some heavy metal music, I've never liked the band Kiss. I didn't like them at the height of their popularity when I was in high school, and I still don't like them now. I find their talent lacking, their song writing skills poor, and their music droning and boring. I also dislike them because, for me, they represent the materialist: putting image and ego before spirituality and soul. Nevertheless, I found a way to leverage them to have OBEs.

Several weeks ago I was driving home from my sister's house late at night, and the Kiss song Rock and Roll All Nite [sic] got stuck in my head for some unknown reason. The song sucks, but the fact that it had been dredged up from my subconscious was worth pondering.

I started thinking about the subconscious and how many people think it is some kind of mindless worker drone in the back of your mind, devoid of independent thought. Not true. Your subconscious is highly intelligent and capable of independent thought. Not only that, but it can understand your thoughts and desires perfectly.

I've written before about how the subconscious can help you induce OBEs: It may take you years of effort to self-induce an OBE, but to your subconscious, it is child's play. It can get you there in a heartbeat. It just needs the right motivation (and a little less sensory input).

So I decided to try a little experiment to leverage my subconscious, using the song it presented to me. The original Kiss song repeats ad nauseum:
"I...want to rock and roll all night, and party every day."
Although I sometimes crack a sly smile at the thought that nowadays 67-year-old Gene Simmons, and his band-mates in Kiss are probably singing:
"...and potty every day."
To leverage my subconscious, turned the tables. I changed the lyrics and started repeating this to myself all the way home:
"I...want to lucid dream all night, and OBE every day."
Over and over I repeated my new version, while imagining the song playing in the background. Sometimes I'd switch the order of the message:
"I...want to OBE all night, and LD every day."

Next, I toyed with other lyrics from the song, adjusting them to my new OBE theme:
"You say you want to go for a spin.
The astral plane is open: let me in!
You drive us wild, we'll drive you out-of-body."
I did this practically the whole way home, which took about an hour.

The next morning I was dreaming that I was walking down a hallway, and I thought to myself, "Now how in the heck can I induce more lucid dreams?" Then it occurred to me: "Hey! Wait a minute! I'm dreaming right now!"

With that, I came to full conscious awareness and my dream became a lucid dream. I quickly dispelled the illusion of the lucid dream and watched it dissolve around me. Then I found myself flying in a gray void, fully in the out-of-body state, off to my next adventure.

The subconscious is highly intelligent and understands you perfectly: you just need to tell it what you want, and be serious about it. Although it can understand words, its natural language is images, feelings, thoughts, and yes, music too. So it also helps to imagine yourself in the OBE state, floating weightlessly like a ghost.

If you've never heard the original Kiss song, follow this link:

A word of warning: Most heavy metal music is fraught with negativity, so please: be very careful with the messages you send to your subconscious. Although they're hard to find, try to stick with bands that have positive messages in their music. (I prefer European metal bands like Stratovarius, Epica, Arven, Masterplan, Angel Dust, Rhapsody of Fire, Sonata Arctica, etc.)

Bob Peterson
10 January 2017

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Review: Higher Self Now! by William & Susan Buhlman

Review: Higher Self Now!

by William Buhlman & Susan Buhlman

I took a few months' hiatus from my blog to enjoy a very active autumn. Now I'm starting to pick up the torch again. While December may be busy, I expect to be more active with my blog starting in January.

Today I'm reviewing Higher Self Now!: Accelerating Your Spiritual Evolution by one of my favorite out-of-body experience authors, William Buhlman, and his wife Susan. Buhlman was kind enough to send me a copy of the book so I could review it. What's funny is that he sent me an email a few days later apologizing for spelling and grammar problems, and assuring me his publisher would correct them. Surprisingly, I found very few errors in the text. Sure, there were a few, but that's not uncommon, and certainly not enough to warrant an email.

This book, in a nutshell, is about preparing for your final out-of-body experience: physical death. Death is a subject most of us don't want to face, but as a major life event, it's important to prepare and plan for it. OBEs are the perfect tool to prepare for the journey into the afterlife.

The book is split into two parts. The first part was written by William Buhlman, and it's mainly about using OBEs, meditation, affirmations and techniques to prepare for death, with a goal of merging with your Higher Self. The second part was written by his wife, Susan Buhlman, who served as a hospice worker. It's about hospice and dealing with the terminally ill and the death of others (and your own death).

Each chapter has an inspirational quote, and they're really good. Perhaps my favorite is the very first quote in chapter 1:
"If you want to awaken all of humanity, then awaken yourself.
If you want to eliminate the suffering in the world, then eliminate
all that is dark and negative in yourself.
Truly, the greatest gift you have to give is that of your own self-transformation." --Lao Tzu
But hey, I've always loved Taoist philosophy, and read texts like the Tao Te Ching many times.

In chapter 1, Buhlman talks about the importance of self-transformation, awakening, and how important OBEs and self-discovery are in that journey. Here's a quote I liked:
"This awakening becomes a pivotal turning point in your life. You are no longer satisfied with the status quo. You quickly discover that it can be difficult to express your driving need for answers when your family and friends have remained content to follow the established beliefs and rituals of their childhood. Many find that their loved ones don't share their burning desire for self-knowledge and soon realize that their quest is an individual path of discovery. And so begins the most important exploration of your life." (pg 6-7)
 So true. And another:
"Spiritual awakening is an individual experience. There are no leaders or followers, just you and your drive for self-discovery. It may be helpful to study the practices of others, but then make a commitment to connect with your spiritual essence through personal experience rather than man-made texts." (pg. 12)
Chapter 2 is titled "Recognizing our Physical Anchors" and it talks about attachment. I love this quote:
"Instead of instantly reacting, stop and think - what is the lesson here? What is the purpose?" (pg. 14)
I've always seen my life as a series of spiritual lessons.

Chapter 3 is titled "Becoming Aware of our Energy Attachments," and it talks about different kinds of attachments, and again, recognizing spiritual learning opportunities.

Chapter 4 is "The 21 Day Transformation Challenge" and it gives a series of steps for spiritual transformation, including asking ourselves the tough questions about our lives.

Chapter 5, "A Question of Enlightenment," is about the exploration of consciousness. Buhlman talks about different tools, such as breath work, yoga, Lucid dreaming, OBEs, Sound technology, chanting, drumming, and so forth. I loved this quote:
"The exploration of consciousness is an individual inner journey. The true nature of enlightenment is about clearing away the mountain of programming that has buried the radiance of our inner spiritual essence. Meditative practices are designed to assist in this pursuit." (pg. 49)
Chapter 6, "The Higher Self," gives some techniques on contacting your Higher Self, and many of them reminded me of my own book, Answers Within. For example:
"2. Sincerely request that your heart provide you with a clear visual symbol or image of your higher self. Be open to all impressions without judgment." (pg. 54)
He also gives an interesting OBE narrative that reminded me of an NDE that a friend of mine once shared:
"After an instant I arrived before a blazing Sun, it was close but I felt no sense of temperature from it." (pg. 55)
In chapter 8, "Achieving Escape Velocity," the author gives some information about how to obtain spiritual liberation. One of the first steps is:
"Awaken to the raw reality of your existence. Seek the truth; reject all forms of religious and intellectual indoctrination." (pg. 72)
I couldn't agree more. One of my favorite quotes of the whole book is in chapter 11, "Navigating Nonphysical States of Consciousness":
"As explorers we must be prepared for rapid shifts of consciousness and the reality changes that will result. As we raise our internal vibration we are essentially moving our conscious awareness inward. As this occurs your current "solid" reality will often appear to quickly melt or morph before you. Your state of consciousness will always determine your perceived reality." (pg. 118)
That's sounds like something Seth/Jane Roberts would say, and I totally agree.

The second half of the book, written by Susan Buhlman, is about hospice, dealing with terminal illness, the death of another person, and preparing for your own transition. The information is not only rock solid and practical, it's also touching and heartwarming. A lot of it is down to Earth common sense: what to expect, how to behave, and how to treat the dying with love and respect. But common sense often flies out the window when we're faced with losing a loved one, so I found the information very warm and comforting. What I loved most about Part 2 were the many stories Susan shares from her hospice work. I loved her heartfelt writing style. It left me wanting more.

I once attended a lecture by Dannion Brinkley, author of Saved by the Light (and others) where he talked about his life-changing Near Death Experiences (NDEs). He also talked about volunteering as a hospice worker, and it was very moving. Susan's Part 2 brought me back to that special place.

Make no mistake: If you're looking for an OBE book, this is not it. There are no OBE techniques, and just the one narrative. However, it is important information about something we all need to know: how to prepare for our ultimate OBE, our final exit from the physical body: death.

The book is 323 pages long, with good text, good margins and good size. So there's a good amount of text. You won't feel shortchanged. And despite Bill's email, there were very few spelling and grammar problems.

The only negative thing I can say about it is that the first half had some redundancy and he spent a little too much time touting his previous work. But as a fellow author, I can relate: When you need to say something as important as this, is it better to cite a previous work (at the risk of pissing off people who don't own it) or be redundant (at the risk of pissing off people who do own it)? It's a delicate balance, and a game I've played myself.

All in all, it was a good read. I give it a thumbs up. Now I'm psyched to get back to OBE books.

Bob Peterson
13 December 2016

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Review: Astral Projection by Tabitha Zalot

Review: Astral Projection

 by Tabitha Zalot

This time I'm reviewing Astral Projection: The Complete Guide for Beginners on Astral Projection, and How to Travel the Astral Plane by Tabitha Zalot.

This book reminded me a lot of Michele Gilbert's book. It's not quite that bad, but almost. The book is twice as long, at 43 pages, but still way too short to be useful. Like Gilbert, Tabitha Zalot is apparently trying to make money by mass producing short books that gloss over most things and say very little, after minimal research. It also says "Thanks again for downloading this book..." which is a tip-off that it was not meant for prime-time publication.

The writing is very cumbersome to read. It's not so much that her grammar is bad (it really is). The real problem is that she always uses Passive Voice rather than active voice (or should I say "passive voice was always used" ;) ).

With "active voice" a subject (noun) performs an action (verb). For example, I might say "The mechanic fixed the car." With passive voice, you specify something that happened, and what happened, which is much harder to read. For the above example, "The car was fixed by the mechanic." Zalot uses passive voice in almost every paragraph and almost every sentence: the hallmark of a very inexperienced writer. Some people seem to think that it sounds intelligent, like reading a computer manual, but really, it makes the book almost impossible to read. Here's an example of her writing:
"The most overwhelming presence of astral projecting implementation can be noted when it comes to the various faithful ideologies manifested across the Earth." (pg. 7)

What the hell does that even mean? Here's another:
"However, its long-term usage and the mostly positive consequences resulting from such incidents support its high relatedness among humans." (pg. 13)

Nnnngggghh! The whole book is like that. Okay, I've ranted enough.

I might have been able to overlook the grammar if the information in the book had been accurate. Unfortunately, it isn't. For example, she writes:
"It has been estimated that one person in ten experiments with it at least once throughout their life." (pg. 11)
Well, no. Most people don't experiment with OBE. It's much more accurate to say that according to a variety of surveys, about 20 percent (yes, 20, not 10) of the general population have experienced one OBE in their lifetime (almost always spontaneously, and not through experimentation).

Here's another blatant example of partial information or misinformation:
"Furthermore, your vision is in fact, an all-encompassing 360 degrees view." (pg. 20)
While many people do report 360-degree vision in the astral, it's not always the case. In my first book, I documented several types of eyesight, ranging from "astral sight" which is similar to in-the-body vision to "astral mind sensing" which is more like a 360 degree view. (Follow this link if you want to read that chapter).

Here's another point where I disagree:
"Usually, the most recommended location would be your bedroom, the place where you should feel most protected and at peace with yourself." (pg. 22)
While it's true that you want to make your OBE attempts in a place that's safe, quiet and comfortable, your bedroom is often a poor choice. The problem is: we're all programmed from birth to fall asleep easily in our own bedroom, so it's natural to let go of consciousness quickly there. Our subconscious is programmed to do that. With OBEs, you need to wander the edge of consciousness, not fall asleep, so I usually recommend any place but your bedroom.

Sometimes you have no choice, in which case, by all means: use your bedroom. Lord knows I've had most of my OBEs from my own bedroom, but there was no other choice. But in general, it's better to make your OBE attempts in a special place set up for that purpose. William Buhlman recommended a special couch or room, or even from a hotel room bed. Robert Bruce recommended practicing sitting up.

Here's another piece of blatantly bad information:
"Probably the most popular herb utilized to ease astral projection is moonwort, widely employed for prophecies and guardianship during the ancient times. Associated with witchcraft and apparently omnipresent in flying ointments, its genus name, "Artemisia," derives from the Greek goddess of the moon, Artemis." (pg. 25)
That's wrong. Moonwort is a completely different herb, and not genus Artemisia. She's obviously talking about Mugwort. Mugwort is the correct herb, not moonwort.

The book isn't all bad. She does get a few things right. For example, she writes:
"...the most important tool in order to succeed is your will." (pg. 21)
And I totally agree with that.

She offers 10 different Astral Travel techniques. They are:
  1. The Visualization Technique
  2. The Mirror Technique
  3. The Rope Technique
  4. The Ladder Technique
  5. The Swing Technique
  6. The Tunnel Technique
  7. The Fall Technique
  8. The Jump Technique
  9. The Roll out Technique
  10. The Muldoon's Thirst Technique
Her description of these ten techniques redeems the book somewhat, but not to the point where I would recommend it.

It doesn't have any OBE narratives to give the reader a feeling for what it's like. It also doesn't give any hints that the author actually experienced an OBE herself. I can usually tell when an author is speaking from firsthand experience, and this book did not give me that impression.

I'll give it 1 and 1/2 stars out of 5. It's just not worth wading through the misinformation and impossible grammar. Save your money: there are much better OBE books out there.

Bob Peterson
23 August 2016

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Review: Persephone's Journey by Vicky M. Short

Review: Persephone's Journey

by Vicky M. Short

Sorry it's been so long since I posted last. I've been taking some time off to enjoy the summer, visit with family and friends, and work on some of my projects, like my stained glass art. I've only squeezed in little bits of time here and there for reading.

This time I'm reviewing Persephone's Journey by Vicky M. Short. The author was kind enough to send me a copy, and I feel really bad that I haven't finished it until now. This is another long book review (sorry!), which is usually a good sign that I like a book. And yes, I loved this book.

This book took me back to a special place: It reminded me a lot of the first book I ever read about psychic experiences (aside from the OBE books) way back in the early 1980s: The Clairvoyant by Hans Holzer, the story of a young psychic girl who struggled because she was different from "normal" people.

Anyone who's read a few of my reviews knows that I love narratives; especially OBE narratives. Persephone's Journey has a lot of narratives. In fact, that's pretty much all it is; one after another, and not in chronological order. They're ordered by a theme. To illustrate the theme, most of the narratives have notes with lessons learned from the experience. For example, in chapter 10, "The Nature of Out of Body Experiences", contains an OBE with this note that I liked:
"NOTE: My framework concept is the idea that going "out of body" is simply a matter of mentally releasing yourself from the framework of physical reality. With this concept I realized something about myself that I didn't know--that I had a lifetime of belief surrounding the false notion that consciousness was contained within the physical body, and leaving the body meant releasing consciousness' grip on it. Relaxing that mental hold essentially released me from physical reality to nonphysical reality, allowing me to merely go from one framework to another. I didn't actually "go" anywhere in terms of spatial location. Based on my experience, the sensation of out-of-body movement is an interpretation of the mental process of releasing focus of awareness from one area of consciousness to another." (pg. 237)
Many of the more interesting OBEs contained verification and often, deja vu. In an OBE, she would witness an (ordinary) upcoming event. Later, she would experience that same event in real life, as deja vu.

They're not all OBEs, however. In fact, most of the narratives aren't OBEs at all. I'd say only about a third of them are actual OBEs. The other two thirds are other psychic and/or paranormal experiences from the author's life. They range from simple stories like finding lost items for her siblings, to "ghostly" tales from when she lived in a home with paranormal activity.

The book is very comfortable. It's like you're sitting around a campfire, listening to her tell personal stories of her life. Some make you want to laugh and some make you want to cry. Often you want to give her a big hug. By the end of the book you feel like she's a good friend and you want to call her Vicky.

Soon after Vicky became interested in OBEs and started pursuing them, she met Bruce Moen, a fellow author who wrote several books on soul retrieval ("Exploring the Afterlife Series" from my publisher, Hampton Roads Publishing) based on his "focus level" training at The Monroe Institute. I read them several years ago (and liked them). Even though Moen's experiences were not classical OBEs, there was enough of a connection to get Short hooked:
"What surprised me was that Bruce [Moen] wasn't writing about classic out-of-body experiences like I was expecting: what he was describing was much simpler than the OBE, along with his explanations of nonphysical reality." (pg. 126)

In an excerpt from Moen, she explains:
"Perhaps a better way to say this is that we can learn to focus our attention beyond the physical world. Physically alive humans don't really leave the physical world to explore, they just learn to focus their attention beyond it." (pg. 127)
I like to think of it as a continuum of consciousness. More on this later.

Most of this book centers around the author's friendship with Moen. Short had psychic experiences all her life, but when she met Moen, it changed her focus. He became her close friend and guide. He even wrote the book's Foreword. Before meeting him, she had random experiences. Moen gave her training, direction, and focus. Unfortunately, her skeptical husband, Dustin, didn't see it that way. I got the impression he thought it was all hogwash, which meant he was not supportive or understanding, even when confronted with blatantly obvious confirmation of psychic phenomena. Although Short never actually said it, Dustin was probably also jealous of Moen, who provided the emotional support she needed. Eventually, their fundamental spiritual differences led to divorce, but luckily she believed in herself and her experiences. (And I hope she always will.)

One of the great strengths of this book is that Vicky Short is a good story teller. She's also good at explaining things. She tells it like it is. She explains exactly when she's having a classical out-of-body experience versus when she's having more like a "focus level" experience. Or any other psychic experience. She describes her "inner voice" this way:
"When I say I heard the thought, that's exactly what I mean. I didn't think it. I heard it. Sometimes my thoughts are that way, projecting in my mind as if someone else was saying it. I've come to call it The Voice because it's more accurate than calling it a thought. Thoughts are my own thinking. The Voice knows things I don't know. I actually thought back to it in response..." (Introduction)
Like me, she even argues with her inner voice, and she agrees with me that:
"My personal belief is that The Voice originates from my higher self, giving me suggestions and help from another aspect of myself. I refer to it as Guidance." (pg. 185)

She also does a stellar job of explaining OBE memory problems. Whereas some authors like Robert Bruce theorize about "downloading" memories from the astral to the physical (which I've always questioned), Short gives a much more plausible explanation. Here's a small excerpt of a much larger discussion:
"State Specific Memory, a concept defined by Charles Tart, states that memory of an event is stored in the area of consciousness in which that event occurred. The Hemi-Sync Model of Consciousness, another Moen concept, states that each area of consciousness has a set of feelings associated to them, and by remembering those feelings to the point of re-experiencing them, your focus of awareness shifts back to that area of consciousness." (pg. 140)
 "These were important tools to remember during my retrieval, for several times I would get lost, losing the balance of Perceiver and Interpreter. I found it very easy to go back into the experience simply by remembering what I had just been seeing and feeling. It brought me right back to where I had been nonphysically and opened my perception there once again." (pg. 141)
Here's another explanation I found insightful:
"Bruce explains that the imagination is a sense of perception. Whatever we perceive in our imagination can be anywhere along a Continuum of Information where Fantasy is at one end and Reality is at the other." (pg. 151)
She goes on to say:
"...If you shift your attention along the continuum toward the other end, you will be perceiving within the realm of reality..."
"...We could say that by actively pretending or fantasizing, we are sort of tuning into our nonphysical senses. We know that what we perceive when we are actively pretending or fantasizing is not within physical reality, but even though we know we are actively using imagination in this way, what we are really doing is activating the use of our nonphysical senses of perception. And that opens the door to sensing beyond physical reality." (pg. 152)
In Exercise 4 ("Pretend Day") of my first book, I wrote about the importance of using and developing your imagination to learn to leave your body, so I really liked her take on the matter. However, this is not about fantasy. It's about perception. She also says:
"...Bruce [Moen] explained that gathering verifiable information is a critical part of opening our perception of the Afterlife and other nonphysical realities. He said that our beliefs that conflict with the existence of such realities can actually block our perception of those realities." (pg. 153)
Which sounds like it came straight out of Jane Roberts/Seth, which I also like. And perception goes back to experience, whether physical or nonphysical:
"I cannot actually prove that anything physically exists outside of the realm of my own awareness, or even prove that "physical-ness" exists outside of the realm of my own awareness. It is my belief that physical reality is physical simply because I perceive it that way...Reality is our experience of perception." (pg. 174)
Wow. I love that. Well said. But maybe the most valuable take-away I got from this book is the following quote:
"The most important thing I'd learned from Bruce was the importance of feeling love, and that raising awareness through love opened perception way beyond its normal limits." (pg. 199)
That simple quote really hit me hard and stayed with me for several days. Later in the book she writes:
"Since then I've figured out through my own personal experience that what Bruce teaches about love is very true--Love raises our awareness and opens our perception. Bruce always says that if he could teach only one thing it would be feeling love." (pg. 263)
She echoes the same sentiment at the conclusion of the book:
"What these experiences have taught me is that sensing spiritual energy, experiencing pure unconditional love, and my spiritual connections with others are the most important things in life. These experiences open the door to reminding me who I truly am as a spiritual being and how we are all connected." (pg. 271)

You won't find any OBE tips or techniques in the book. That makes for an entertaining journey, but it leaves people like me--who really have to work hard for it--wanting to know more about how to do it ourselves.

The book is 271 pages, with good margins and decent size: it's a good amount of information, so you won't feel short-changed. The writing is mature, professional and polished. It's not perfect, but way better than most. She's a great writer. Not just good, but great. She's got what it takes and I hope she writes more books.

I loved this book and give it 4 out of 5 stars. Big thumbs up.

Bob Peterson
2 August, 2016

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Review: Lucid Dreaming Plain and Simple

Lucid Dreaming Plain and Simple

by Robert Waggoner and Caroline McCready

Today I'm reviewing Lucid Dreaming Plain and Simple by Robert Waggoner and Caroline McCready. The subtitle is Tips and Techniques for Insight, Creativity, and Personal Growth.

Normally I confine my reviews to books about astral projection or out-of-body experiences. However, in February, 2014, I did a review of Robert Waggoner's book, Lucid Dreaming, which I loved. It was very insightful. So insightful that I decided to buy and read Waggoner's next book, Lucid Dreaming Plain and Simple, co-authored with Caroline McCready. I liked this one too. I apologize if I spend too much time comparing this book to that one.

The thing I liked most about this book? It provides several powerful lucid dreaming techniques (with a bit of crossover from OBE techniques like Wake Back To Bed). Waggoner's first book was a little lacking in that regard. The authors share techniques from a number of sources; even unconventional techniques. For example, the Carlos Castaneda technique of looking at your hands (and accompanying suggestions that you will see your hands the next time you're dreaming, and remember that you're dreaming).
  • Carlos Castaneda's technique
  • Stephen LaBerge's WILD technique
  • CRAM (Constant Repetition and affirmation method)
  • WBTB (Wake Back To Bed)
  • Count Down to Lucidity
  • Many more.

The authors also talk about reality checks: a common practice of many lucid dreamers who do checks throughout the day: "Am I dreaming?" This practice can carry forward into our dreams, which can then trigger lucidity. These are things like (1) pulling your finger to see if it elongates or pushing it through the palm of your other hand, (2) trying to breathe with your fingers pinching your nose shut, and (3) trying to read the same sentence twice to see if it changes.

There's also a section on enhancing your awareness, maintaining dream stability and focus, establishing goals, and so forth.

As usual, I flagged some interesting points. First:
"Lucid dreamers do not control their lucid dreams. When you read most lucid dreams carefully, they show that lucid dreamers rather influence their dreams. Although they may control their personal actions and focus, just as in waking life, they do not control the dreams--any more than you control waking life or the highway on which you drive." (pg. 29)
Waggoner said similar things in his first book, and I found that fascinating. Although I haven't had nearly as many lucid dreams (LDs) as Waggoner, I've always felt in control of the dream. But this makes me wonder: was it just influence? For example, I remember one LD in which I found myself in a hospital, and deliberately created a hallway to fly down. To me it felt like a conscious act of creation; more than a mere "influence." But who knows?

Later in the book, they talk about how LDs are more influenced by expectations and beliefs. So, for example, you can close a door and say to the dream, "When I reopen this door, I expect to see a bunch of naked women on the other side" and poof--they're there. It seems that "something" or "someone" has a more powerful influence over the dream content than the dreamer, whether that's the subconscious, "higher self" or whatever you want to call it, because those women will all have very detailed, unique faces, hair styles, eyes, bodies, attitudes, poses, and so forth, even though none of that was specified as part of the "expectation."

The book has a professional feel to it, and gets a little dry in some places. I suspect Waggoner keeps the book fun and entertaining, but McCready brings it down to earth, provides structure, practical information, and exercises. That means it's a well rounded book.

If I had to sum up Waggoner's first book in one sentence, it would be "Lucid dreaming is not only powerful and fun, it's useful, and here's how far I've pushed the boundaries." It was entertaining and informative; he explores the boundaries of the experience and where it can take us.

If I had to sum up this book in one sentence, it would be "Lucid dreaming is a genuine scientific breakthrough, and here are the keys to the DeLorean." Maybe not as fascinating and entertaining, but definitely more useful.

I'd say this book is more written for the educated; psychologists and therapists, but it's also good for the layperson. Just when you think it's getting dry, it pushes the boundaries, subtly nudging that professional to the next level: the level of the new age practitioner. The authors subtly build bridges between the scientist (study) and the experiencer (practice). For example:
'The famous hypnotherapist Milton Erickson reminds us of a powerful idea when he says: "The unconscious is always listening.'" (pg. 36)
(That's why it's so important to monitor and/or modify your internal dialog: the thought-messages we constantly give ourselves when we're awake.)

The authors carry this thought further, subtly pushing the boundaries of conventional psychology. Psychology has shown that what we "experience" consciously is actually a "construct" of our thoughts, beliefs, expectations, based on our experiences. This becomes more clear when you start lucid dreaming: You can see, hear, taste, smell and feel the crystal clear constructs of your own making, without that sensory input. You can actually start to understand that new-age teachings, like Jane Roberts / Seth's adage "You create your own reality" are true not only in dreaming life, but in waking life as well. If you change your thoughts, beliefs, expectations, you can actually change your reality.

So the subconscious and the conscious work together to build your experience, whether waking or dreaming. Tools like lucid dreaming bring the two together: you bring your conscious mind into the realm of the subconscious and, working together, you can radically transform your life.
"I developed the habit of seeing the world as a kind of mental co-creation of the conscious and unconscious mind. When something happens, I ask myself, 'Why did this happen to me? What beliefs do I have that attracted this event into my life?' Later, when something strange happens in a dream, I think, 'Why did that happen? How did I attract it into my life?' Then I realize: 'This seems too strange. This must be a dream!'" (pg. 46)
The same thing could be said for learning to speak to your inner voice, as I taught in my fourth book, Answers Within, which is essentially the reverse: bringing your subconscious mind into the realm of the conscious. Both are steps toward integrating your total self.

My favorite chapter was the last one, chapter 14, "Living Lucidly" which brings it all together. Here are a few quotes from it:
"Lucid dreaming is another discovery with profound potential. Aware in the subconscious, you can maneuver your conscious intent toward almost any goal or endeavor." (pg. 184)
"Although research has brought us glimmers of insight, we remain largely ignorant of dreaming, the dream state, and the unconscious. Yet this long-ignored area of dreaming and the unconscious may be where the next real advance in science emerges." (pg. 184)
"As Jung paradoxically puts it, 'Who looks outside, dreams; who looks inside wakes." (pg. 192)
Good stuff.

The book is about 200 pages long, with decent size, font, margins and a good amount of content. The writing and grammar are professional. The editing is professional. I didn't find a single typo, misspelling, or grammar problem. I enjoyed this book very much and highly recommend it. I'll give it 4 stars out of 5. (I save 5 stars only for exemplary books.)

Bob Peterson
07 June 2016