Tuesday, September 10, 2019

Review: Out of the Body Experiences

Review: Out of the Body Experiences

by Robert Alvery

Today I'm reviewing the book Out of the Body Experiences by Robert Alvery.

This is a very obscure and hard-to-find OBE book that is copyright 1975.

The author, Robert Alvery, was a salesman in the UK who grew up in the early 1910s or so. In 1933, he became a spiritual healer, eventually joining the Spiritualist Church. He hooked up with his teacher, a spirit medium by the name of Estelle Roberts, and received much of his OBE training from her spirit guide, Red Cloud.

He had many out-of-body experiences, some of which are in the book. A few of them involved him meeting with dead loved ones, like his brother who had died several years prior. He makes some interesting observations. For example, he looked for his silver cord and never found it, even though he fully expected it to be there. Unfortunately, most of his OBEs were not very interesting, at least to me.

At the time this book was written, there weren't many books about astral projection. He didn't get around to reading Sylvan Muldoon's book until around 1965, but he was unclear which of Muldoon's three books he read. Alvery simply calls it "Astral Projection" but it could have been any of the three Muldoon books:
  • The Projection of the Astral Body
  • The Case for Astral Projection
  • The Phenomena of Astral Projection
But before all that, Alvery became part of a Spiritualist healing circle, and decided to try some interesting experiments. Using hypnosis, he started putting his patients into a deep trance, then he would instruct them to go out-of-body and explore while the circle did their healing. Some of the patients came back with interesting stories of being out-of-body, many of which are in the book. Some of these OBEs had veridical evidence to suggest the OBEs were "real" although more modern books have better evidence (Graham Nicholls' books come to mind).

I found this quote interesting:
"These Laws [of being able to leave the body] must not be misused and it is for safety's sake most necessary that intelligences in the next world should control all out of the body experiences for us amateurs." (pg. 99)
In other words, Alvery thinks OBEs should always be controlled by spirits, not by us. Unfortunately, I didn't find much else of interest.

The book seems somewhat disorganized and rambling. It reads almost like some kind of strange manifesto. He goes from saying logical things like:
"Make no mistake about the fact that what stupid people call magic and miracles are but the operation of laws they do not yet understand." (pg. 97)
But then he randomly cites references in the Bible related to dreams, visions, and spirit visitations, which I didn't think were relevant.

The book is 118 pages long with small margins and tiny font, so there's actually a lot of content packed into a small package. The spelling and grammar are top-notch, although I did find one mistake. His British English is somewhat encumbered and hard to read, although I've seen much worse. I only had to look up two words in the dictionary. One of them was "groyne" which is apparently an alternate spelling of "groin."

There are absolutely no OBE techniques, tips or suggestions in there. It's simply a collection of OBE narratives from both him and patients of his healing circle. And not very interesting narratives at that. But it is interesting from a historical perspective, given the book's age.

If you're looking for OBE narratives, I recommend Jurgen Ziewe's book Multidimensional Man instead.

I'll give the book 3 out of 5 stars.

Bob Peterson
10 September 2019

Tuesday, August 27, 2019

Should I Share My OBEs With Friends?

Should I Share My OBEs With Friends?

by Bob Peterson

I recently saw a very good question on one of the astral projection Facebook groups:
"Should I share my astral projections / out-of-body experiences with friends or family?"
Let me tell you what happened to me.

Telling My Family

In my first book, I wrote about how I got into OBEs when my brother, Joe, bought Robert Monroe's first book, Journeys Out of the Body for my dad in 1979. My dad didn't talk about the book, but I borrowed it from him and read it. To say it profoundly impacted my life is certainly an understatement! It shook my entire world view to the core and my life was never the same again. I was only 18; just out of high school and into college.

I felt like I had literally just set foot in an undiscovered new non-physical world, so naturally, I wanted to share my new profound discovery.

I knew I couldn't share my OBEs with my mom. She was Catholic, and went to church every Sunday. I figured she'd think I was playing with fire, putting my soul at risk, or dancing with the Devil. And at that point, I had had some pretty scary things happen, so my stories would only scare her more, and she didn't need that.

At one point, I tried to tell my dad. He had read Monroe's book, and books on Edgar Cayce, so he leaned toward the metaphysical. Unfortunately, he really didn't seem interested. He kind of brushed me off. I was the youngest of five kids, and his life was busy, so he really didn't seem to want to talk about it.

I knew Joe would be more receptive to the concept; he had studied (but not practiced) Esoterica and occultism all his life (and hey, he still does: visit esotericarchives.com if this interests you.), so I told him and his wife about my first few OBEs.

At first, they seemed to believe me. They acted excited and wanted to try it themselves. They tried a lot of techniques, but didn't get the results I had. To their credit, they even leveled up and built a full-sized working flotation tank in the spare bedroom of their apartment. In the end I think they may have induced one or two OBEs, but it was a struggle. Eventually they gave up, and at that point, I didn't have enough experience or know-how to help them.

After sharing a few of my OBEs with them, they started giving me "the look." They never actually said anything negative, of course. It was all non-verbal communication. Maybe it meant they didn't believe me, they doubted my sanity, or worse, they thought I was hallucinating or losing touch with reality. It's more likely just that they thought I was just making it all up to get attention. Either way, it was a negative reaction, so I vowed to shut up and keep my experiences to myself. I never shared another OBE with them.

My other brothers were out of state and I thought my sister wouldn't be receptive to it at all. I knew I could only tell one person: myself. I wrote my OBEs down in a spiritual journal. When that was full, I filled another, then another, and another. And I vowed not to talk about it unless I knew for sure the person was receptive to it.
Even when my first book was published many years later, I was still afraid of "the look" and how my family would react. I never told them about the book, but eventually they found out anyway. Surprisingly, my mom was very supportive. She didn't talk about my OBEs, but she said she was proud of me for writing a book, and hugged me.

It's still hard for me to talk about my OBEs with my family.

Telling My Friends

As the months passed, I became more and more desperate to talk to someone--anyone--about my OBEs, which were piling up rapidly.

One day I was walking through the University of Minnesota campus toward my Physics 1001 class with my best buddy in college; a blunt, smart, and crude man named John Fitzsimmons. He had a brilliant mind, but he disrespected all women and referred to them all (including his sister and mother) as c*nts. In a moment of fool-hearted bravery, I mustered all my courage and told him about my OBEs as we walked.

At first, John listened patiently, then he stopped abruptly. He spun me around, put his hands on my shoulders and looked deep into my eyes. He didn't say a word. He just looked into my eyes. I asked, "What are you doing?" He said, "Trying to figure out if you're serious." Then he looked at me as if I'd lost my mind. Then we continued walking in an uncomfortable silence.

Finally I said, "You know me, Fitz. You're my best friend. I'd never lie to you. Do you believe me?" He stopped and stared into my eyes again. Then, after an uncomfortable pause, he said, "You know I don't believe in all that crap. But I believe that you believe it happened."

That was basically when our friendship ended. I wasn't hurt that John didn't believe me. I wasn't even looking for his support. I just needed to tell someone. But at that point I had to face the stark fact that John are I were just too different: He was a staunch materialist, and like it or not, I was becoming more and more spiritual. By force, it seemed. He was a stubborn student of physics, and I had seen firsthand proof of a non-physical world with my own non-physical eyes.

At that point a light bulb came on. I realized I didn't have to put up with his misogynistic rants and negativity. I asked myself, What do we have in common? Not much. Thus ended our friendship. John and I didn't have a fight or a falling-out; it's just that I got busy, he got busy, and we never went out of our way to hang out together anymore.

It was about that time I joined a student-organization called MSPR: the Minnesota Society for Parapsychological Research. There I met good friends who were more receptive to my OBEs. When one door closes, another one opens, right?


Many years ago I got an email from a woman who told me her story. She said she made the mistake of talking to her family about her out-of-body experiences. To make a long story short, her family did an "intervention" and had her committed to an insane asylum where she was forcibly held and over-medicated. She remained in captivity for more than five years until they finally decided she was not a danger to herself or anyone else. She deeply regretted having told anyone about her experiences and gave me a stern warning to keep my mouth shut and never share any stories with anyone. It would have saved her five years of her life.

Robert Monroe's doctors found him quite sane, so I wasn't too worried about my mental health. It wasn't for another few years that I obtained Gabbard and Twemlow's book With the Eyes of the Mind which analyzed in detail just how "sane" OBEs are [I had to write to the publisher to buy a copy. And in case you're wondering: No, OBEs have nothing to do with insanity. But that topic is beyond the scope of this article.] Still, her warning was a stark reminder not to go blabbing about them to just anyone.

Of course, that didn't stop me from publishing a damn book about it and telling the whole world, right? But by then, times had changed and people were a little more receptive to the idea. And by then, I didn't give a crap what people thought of me. Talk about facing fears! But I digress...

Religious Conservatives

Obviously, if you were raised by religious conservatives, you should probably keep your experiences to yourself and not share. You can almost guarantee they're going to judge you and try to tell you it's a sin, or the work of Satan, despite the fact that there's absolutely no evidence to back up that statement. It doesn't matter if they're Christian, Muslim, Jewish, or any other religion. A closed mind is a closed mind, so don't waste your time.

Of course, I make one exception to the rule, and that is for Mormons, Jehovah's Witnesses and any other religious zealots who come to my door to peddle their religion. That's when I let the crazy out! I tell those...ahem...bastards... everything!
"Let me ask you something: Would you rather watch a ball game on television or live at a stadium? Would you rather hear your favorite artist on the radio or at a live concert? Okay...So would you rather read about Jesus Christ in the Bible or meet him in person? Have faith in him, or shake his hand and give him a hug?"

"When it comes to building your house, whose advice would you trust more: a guy at Home Depot who's done it themselves, or a guy who wrote a book about it two thousand years ago? Okay...Now what about a religious experience?..."
You get the idea. Have fun with those guys! Don't hold back. You may just open their minds. Just be sure you know the Bible better than they do. (I almost always do, and I often send them home with Bible homework!)


So if you feel like sharing your out-of-body stories, my advice is: be cautious and know your audience. Make sure they'll be receptive. Most people are still not ready for the truth.

It's frustrating not being able to tell anyone about your OBEs. It can be lonely as hell. As someone recently pointed out, it's not a good conversation starter for a first date!

Sometimes it reminds me of the old Black Sabbath song, "Lonely Is the Word" from the Ronnie James Dio era:
"I've been higher than stardust
I've been seen upon the sun
I used to count in millions then
But now I only count in one
Come on, join the traveler
If you got nowhere to go
Hang your head and take my hand
It's the only road I know
Yeah, lonely is the word"

Bob Peterson
27 August 2019

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Tuesday, August 13, 2019

Review: Fast Astral Projection for Beginners

Review: Fast Astral Projection for Beginners

by Didi Clarke

Today I'm reviewing the book Fast Astral Projection for Beginners: Your Guidebook of Astral Traveling Techniques by Didi Clarke.

In my opinion, this is a run-of-the-mill self-published astral projection book with nothing to distinguish itself and nothing significant to add to the genre. I have the same gripes about this book as I have many others like it:
  • It's way too short, at just 58 pages, although the last 10 are just promotion of her other books.
  • She doesn't seem to speak from personal experience and gives no narratives or examples of her experiences in astral projection.
  • Her techniques are basically a parroting of other techniques, and not explained as well as the original versions.
  • There are no unique new ideas or techniques.
Clarke gives four astral projection techniques:
  • The rope technique, but a poorly implemented visualization-oriented version, unlike Robert Bruce's original technique that uses only "tactile imagination." Clarke actually asserts that the "rope" you use to escape your body is the "silver cord" so many talk about. Well...as far as I know, that's pure fabrication. I don't recall anyone else in the genre who asserts this. As far as I'm concerned, the rope itself is pure imagination: a device to trick your mind out of it normal physical paradigm and into the OBE paradigm.
  • The Monroe Method, but again, not explained as well as Monroe did. This is not Monroe's "Lines of Force" technique that I've talked about in the past, but another.
  • The Point-Shift Method, which is just trying to shift your point of view to a slightly relocated point of view.
  • The Self-Visualization Method, which is a poor take on an old staple of Occult astral projection techniques: creating and using a "simulacrum" or imaginary double to focus your consciousness. Clarke writes this about the technique:
    "I've found that this method works best when you're standing up, as opposed to sitting or lying down." (pg. 26)
Seriously? Standing up? If your body has enough muscle tension to keep you standing, you're not really out-of-body, right? And if you're standing, your body will hold too much tension to allow you to let go. If you induce an OBE from a standing position, your body would probably collapse in a heap. Mine would, anyway. Yes, there have been cases in which people have left their body and it keeps right on walking and such. Mary Deioma's book, Loved comes to mind. It's even happened to me, but purely by accident. Still, it certainly seems like an odd thing to recommend. I would recommend total relaxation instead.

Clarke also dedicates a chapter to remote viewing, and one to lucid dreaming, but neither is given proper attention, and neither is an OBE.

She also gives her own variant of Wake Back To Bed (WBTB) which she calls the REM Disruption, but unlike the conventional 6 hours of sleep, she recommends setting an alarm for 4 hours of sleep. Maybe she got this from Albert Taylor's book, Soul Traveler?

Curiously, she offers instructions on how to return to your body when you're done. Well, that right there sounds like the voice of inexperience to me: OBEs end automatically, and usually way too early. The trick is staying out as long as you can before you get automatically sucked back in. In other words, getting back in your body is not something you should ever need to worry about.

Clarke does give some sound advice with regard to practice. For example, she warns against practicing halfheartedly (pg. 40). This is very true. But advice like this is scant.

She seems to be yet another author trying to make a living from writing lots of tiny books on a lot of topics. I can't fault her (or anyone) for wanting to make money from writing, but it demonstrates that astral projection is not the primary focus in her life. You'd do better to get a book that displays passion for Astral Projection / OBEs from someone who has made it their life's work, like William Buhlman, Robert Bruce, or Graham Nicholls.

On the plus side, the book is well written and organized. I didn't find any glaring grammar or spelling problems.

I'm sorry, but I just can't recommend this book. It's better than some, but it's way too short, and doesn't go into enough depth on any topic. And as far as I can tell, the author doesn't write from experience. It's just a restating of what other people have written on the subject, but better.

I'll give it 2 stars out of 5.

Bob Peterson
13 Aug 2019

Thursday, August 1, 2019

Hacking the Out of Body Experience

Hacking the Out of Body Experience

by Bob Peterson

I just wanted to let everyone know that my new book, Hacking the Out of Body Experience: Leveraging Science to Induce OBEs, is now available to purchase on amazon, both in print and for Kindle. I tried very hard to make this the best OBE "How-To" book ever written.

The paperback version is available in the United States by Clicking on this link but it's also available in the U.K., Canada and elsewhere.

The Kindle version is available by Clicking on this link.

Instead of reviewing my own book, which seems kind of lame and self-serving, I'll let the book stand on its own. I will, however, provide a table of contents so you can see the variety of techniques in the book. It should be no surprise that several of the books chapters have appeared in my blog already, because I've shared a lot of the information here first.

Table of Contents
Introduction 11

Part 1 - Out-of-body Basics 17
1. So Many Questions 19
2. Becoming an Ideal Candidate for OBEs 31
3. The Science of OBEs, the PFC, and the TPJ 41
4. Robert Monroe’s Lines of Force Technique 53
5. The Vibrations 59
6. OBEs, Sleep Cycles, and Brain Waves 101 63
7. Sleep Paralysis and OBEs 69
8. Overcoming Fear 79
9. The Guardian of the Threshold 87
10. The Four OBE States 93
11. The Three Strategies to OBE Induction 101

Part 2 - The Direct OBE Induction Strategy 103
12. Harnessing the Hypnagogic (Pre-Sleep) State 105
13. Harnessing the Hypnopompic (Post-Sleep) State 111
14. The Five Approaches to the Direct OBE Induction 115
15. Preparing For Liftoff: Mental Preparation 123
16. Preparing For Liftoff: Physical Preparation 131
17. How to Focus Your Mind for an OBE 149
18. The Cloud or I Am Elsewhere Technique 153
19. The Target Technique 155
20. Simulacrum, Cube and Black Box Techniques 159
21. The Spinning Disc Technique 161
22. The Floating Beach Ball / Sphere Technique 163
23. The Pineal Doorway Technique 165
24. Rocking and Swaying Techniques 167
25. The Yoyo Technique 169
26. The Falling In A Well and Cone Techniques 171
27. The Feet Zoom Technique 173
28. The Swinging Arms Technique 175
29. Ab Crunch, Tai Chi and Exercise Techniques 177
30. The Almost Move Technique 179
31. The Flash or Running Technique 181
32. Rolling, Spinning, and Tornado Technique 183
33. The Rope Technique 185
34. The Washing Hands Technique 187
35. The Feel for Buzzing Technique 189
36. Heavy / Light Technique 191
37. Brain Crush and Straining the Brain Techniques 193
38. The High Pitch Whine Technique 195
39. The Song Replay Technique 197
40. Imaginary Shouting for OBE 199
41. Mantras for OBE 201
42. The Heartbeat Technique 203
43. The Candle Flame Technique 205
44. The Orange Peel Technique 207
45. The Swinging Hypnagogic Image Technique 209
46. Problem Solving for the Direct Strategy 213

Part 3 - The Indirect OBE Induction Strategy 221
47. Introduction to the Indirect OBE Strategy 223
48. Chi Circulation, Energy Bouncing, and Chakras 227
49. Hypnosis and the Christos Technique for OBEs 237
50. The Desire Factor and the Thirst Technique 239
51. OBE Affirmations and Prayers 243
52. Self-Labeling and Self-Talk 247
53. OBEs and Music 251
54. OBE Narratives and Walk-Throughs 255
55. Sneaking Past the Gatekeeper 257
56. The Sleep Directive Technique 261
57. The Wake Back To Bed (WBTB) Technique 263
58. WBTB and Technique Cycling 267

Part 4 - Turning Lucid Dreams into OBEs 271
59. Lucid Dreaming 273
60. Keeping Dream and OBE Journals 275
61. Appointments, Trigger Mechanisms and Anchors 283
62. Turning Lucid Dreams into OBEs 289

Part 5 - Brain hacks and Assisting Technologies 291
63. Introduction to Brain Hacking 293
64. Breath Work and Proper Breathing 297
65. Sound Technologies and Binaural Beats 301
66. Sound and Light Machines 303
67. Vitamins, Supplements and Probiotics 305
68. Aromatherapy and Scented Oils for OBEs 315
69. The Pineal Gland, Contaminants, and Boron 317
70. OBEs, Celibacy, Masturbation and the Sex Drive 321
71. Dietary Considerations 325
72. OBEs and the Default Mode Network 331
73. Odds and Ends and Superstitions 335
74. Putting It All Together 339
75. When All Else Fails: A Formula for OBE Success 345
76. The Future of OBE research 349
77. Conclusions 351

Bob Peterson
01 August 2019

Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Review: Soul Traveler

Review: Soul Traveler

by Albert Taylor

Today I'm reviewing the book Soul Traveler: A Guide to Out of Body Experiences and the Wonders Beyond by Albert Taylor.

Soul Traveler is copyrighted 1996 and that's probably the first time I read it. Now it's one of those classics in OBE literature. It also gained a fair amount of popularity: it's the only OBE book I know that made it to #1 on the Los Angeles Times Bestseller list.

Part of its popularity, I think, is that Taylor was a guest on the famous paranormal radio show, Coast to Coast, back when the late Art Bell was doing the show. I think he became friends with Bell, who invited him back on the show many times. And for good reason: Al is a very dynamic and smooth speaker. And his laugh and smile are infectious. His enthusiasm for OBEs really shows.

But Taylor is not a spacey "woo-woo" new age guy or an occultist. In fact, he has a degree in aeronautical engineering. He used to be an engineer for the American space agency, NASA. So he's more of a "techie" science-minded guy like I am.

I first met Albert Taylor when I was graciously invited to "tag along" at an OBE conference in Boulder, Colorado in 1999, featuring Taylor, William Buhlman and Patricia Leva. Here's a photo of me (left) and Al (right) from that event:
The best thing about this book is the OBE narratives. If you follow my blog, you know how I love narratives. Taylor is a good writer and his narratives portray the excitement of OBE discovery. You really feel part of his journey; the trepidation, the cautiousness, the excitement. All of it.

Taylor mostly gets to his OBEs through the Awareness during Sleep Paralysis (ASP, sometimes simply called SP) state, which is a bit unusual as OBE books go. If you don't know what ASP is, click on this link. He says he's had ASP all his life, and so have a lot of the members of his family. It's not unusual for superstitions to pop up around ASP:
"'The witches are riding you!' is what my grandmother would say whenever someone complained about the paralysis. This so-called paralysis, I found out later, was my own personal doorway to what may be the 'ultimate truth.'" (pg. 2)
Before he learned to turn ASP into OBE, he learned to make grunting distress sounds whenever he had an episode of ASP, and he got his wife, Kathy, to shake him until he woke.

He spoke about his ASP episodes with a friend, Doctor H, a voice of reason, who suggested some experiments. Soon Taylor learned how to turn his ASP into OBE, and started exploring.

He makes many good (and accurate) observations in his OBEs, such as:
"I would later learn that the soul can communicate with other souls but not necessarily with the awareness of the 'personality self.' The 'personality self' is the part of us that interfaces with our every day material world. It is this part of the psyche that hates, fears, envies, and judges--some of our best qualities!" (pg. 12)
That exactly matches my experience: in an OBE, you can talk to someone who is in their physical body, but it's like you're talking to their subconscious, not their conscious self, and they have no memory of it afterward.

Hungry for knowledge, he started reading lots of books (like I did). At someone's suggestion, he visited the local "Eckankar" group, which is where he acquired the term, "Soul Traveler." They suggested some more techniques to improve his OBE ability, some of which he describes. (I'm avoiding the subject of Eckankar here because it's beyond the scope of this review. Some day I'll dedicate a blog article to the subject. For now, let's just say that I treat it as an OBE-based "cult"--and for good reason.)

Like me, Taylor was enthusiastic and tried to share his discoveries with friends and family. That immediately backfired. Like me, he learned the hard way to keep his mouth shut.

One of my favorite moments of the book is when he meets with his dead aunt:
"With two parts courage and one part fear, I curiously inquired, 'Aunt Vera, aren't you dead?'
'Yes, I am!' she said smiling at me.
I stared at her in partial disbelief. Yes it was her--a part of me knew it. I also could feel an intense sensation of love emanating from her. It was wonderful! I returned the feeling without hesitation." (pg. 77)
Although Taylor doesn't really give any OBE techniques in the book, he shares a few valuable insights, such as:
"Note to the would be traveler: The feeling of anger is extremely pernicious to the chain of events which lead to an OBE. Any and all negative emotions will likely stifle any attempts you make to achieve a higher state of consciousness." (pg. 90)
He reinforces this teaching later, stating:
"...emotions like stress, anger, envy or negative thoughts hamper if not sever of the chain of events leading up to an OBE. So, get rid of them...
Remember, inner peace is the goal, and that peace should reflect in as many areas of your life as possible." (pgs. 120-121)
I also really liked this quote:
"Thus, fear becomes an impenetrable curtain between the personality self and the God within. So, simply put, fear is for people who don't know God! If you arrive at this realization you will have very little difficulty during your own soul travels." (pg. 126)
Taylor teaches a basic progressive relaxation technique in the book. In other words, where you tense and relax each of your muscle groups working from the bottom up.

I only found one thing in the book I disagreed with: On page 116, he has a diagram of various planes of existence, and it curiously portrays the astral plane just above the physical plane. But here's the thing: it shows the "etheric plane" highest on the chart, right next to the "Oversoul" which can escape the cycle of reincarnation. This runs contrary to the more popular belief that the etheric plane is just above the physical, and the astral above that. I'm not sure if this is what Eckankar teaches, but it's contrary to what most occultists teach. Other than that, Taylor seems "on the money" with his OBE observations.

Before almost every OBE, he goes through a procedure he calls the "Taylor Pre-flight." This basically consists of these steps:
  • Lie on your back
  • Take a deep breath and hold it for about four seconds.
  • Release the breath through slightly parted lips as you sing the Hu in a low vibrating tone. [Eckankar teaches a chant of "Hu" (pronouced Hugh) whereas most Hindu-based meditation uses "Om".]
  • Relax your whole body again (this time without the tensing)
  • Breathe normally and think about floating or rising upwards. (Pg 129)
Taylor also teaches some energy work in which you visualize a ball of energy above you, then draw energy from the ball, circulate it to your feet, then up your body, out through your head, and back into the energy ball.

He also suggests the Wake Back To Bed (WBTB) technique, which he calls the Interrupted Sleep Technique, or IST. In Taylor's version, you go to sleep about 9:00 p.m. (21:00), setting the alarm for 1:00 a.m. When the alarm goes off, get out of bed and stay up until 3:30 a.m. Then lie down on your back again, and do the Taylor Pre-flight.

The book is 138 pages, with decent font and margins, so there's an "okay" (not great) amount of content. There's a lot of white space, so those 138 pages go very quickly: it's a short read. Or maybe it's just that I was glued to the book and couldn't put it down! I finished it in less than a week of casual reading. Compare that to the previous book I read, Blindsight, which is 140 pages, but, as fascinating as it was, took me two months to read because I needed time to digest the material.

My biggest complaint about the book? I wanted more. It's highly entertaining, but it feels short. Taylor really needs to write a sequel: It's been about 25 years; what's happened since?

I'll give it four stars out of 5.

As a side note: It's not really important, but Taylor and I are polar opposites when it comes to politics (full disclosure: I'm Libertarian). At one point we were Facebook friends and he actually asked me if there was a way he could hide only my political posts from his Facebook news feed. I admit, I got a bit over-zealous with politics, and I've tried to tone that done in recent years. In all seriousness, I suggested he "unfriend" me and just follow the posts on my "Robert Peterson" page, where I purposely avoid politics. I love Al Taylor and respect his views, even if I disagree with a lot of them. When it comes to OBEs, we are brothers.

Bob Peterson
16 July 2019

Tuesday, June 25, 2019

Review: Mindsight by Kenneth Ring and Sharon Cooper

Review: Mindsight

 by Kenneth Ring and Sharon Cooper

Today I'm reviewing Mindsight: Near-Death and Out-of-Body Experiences in the Blind (second edition) by Kenneth Ring and Sharon Cooper.

I saw this in a bookstore one day and just had to buy it. This book poses several fascinating questions: Do blind people actually "see" in out-of-body experiences (OBEs) and near-death experiences (NDEs)? If they're blind from birth, what is it like? Is it more like their normal mode of perception (centered around hearing, touching, smelling) or something entirely different from their normal mode of perception (centered around sight)?

To answer these questions, the authors contacted schools for the blind and arranged to interview several blind people who had OBEs and NDEs. Then they presented the evidence and some fascinating observations in the book. The book is more than just a bunch of interesting stories. In fact, it's rather dry, scientific, and analytical, but it's fascinating, in a good way.

In a nutshell, the answer is: Yes and no. They seem to be no different than OBEs and NDEs of people with normal sight. Sometimes people with normal sight report a strange mode of sight that doesn't exactly correspond with regular eyesight: they report being able to see in all directions at once: spherical sight. They sometimes report being able to sense an entire room with crystal clarity, but it's not exactly the same as physical eyesight.

One woman named Claudia who could see as a young child, but was blind by age 5, described it this way:
"It's kind of like vision but it's not vision...It was seeing but it wasn't vision...because vision is really sharp and it wasn't like that." (pg. 98)

This really piqued my interest. I devoted an entire chapter of my first book to the subject of OBE eyesight and its different modes and peculiarities. The chapter is called "Fight for Sight." You can read the chapter by clicking on this link. What Ring and Cooper found about the blind perfectly matches what I called "Astral Mind-Sensing" in the book. It's almost like you're remotely sensing everything in the room at once in great detail. For example, you "sense" that a chair is six feet (2 meters) in front of you and "sense" every detail about it, at a distance, but it's qualitatively different from "seeing." In fact, this seems to be the normal mode of operation for my OBE eyesight, and I often have to make an effort to switch my mode of perception to "astral sight" in order to get a more visual representation of things; one that more closely matches my physical sight.

Other times, the blind do seem to be able to "see." People who have extreme visual impairment can, in an OBE, suddenly "see" everything with crystal clarity.
It often startles them to be able to suddenly see clearly. For example:
"Interviewer: And was it a visual perception?
Nancy: Yes.
Interviewer: And could you tell me the clarity with which you saw too?
Nancy: Extremely clear. And to this moment it's just like it happened five seconds ago. Or it's happening right now, I can just see the whole thing." (pg. 74)
I guess I'm biased when it comes to this topic, given my experience, so by all means: read the book and judge for yourself. But a lot of the evidence is pretty compelling.

For example, one woman, Vicki, was congenitally blind (blind from birth), but she claimed to be able to see during her 1963 NDE. In her interview, they asked her what it was like. She said:
"I was shocked. I was totally in awe. I mean, I can't even describe it because I thought, 'So that's what it's like!' But then I thought, 'Well, it's even better...than what I could have imagined.'" (pg. 26)
But that might just be her interpretation or expectation, right? Or is there something more? Later, she goes on to describe things in detail like:
"I saw the metal chairs that we sat on as children and the round tables in the dining room, and they had plastic table cloths on them. I didn't have to touch the plastic table cloths to be aware of them." (pg. 32)
Another man, Brad, who was blind from birth describes:
"I remember seeing what we could call the backyard which was on one side of the building, and I remember that I could see a hill that I used to scamper up and down just for exercise in the part of that yard that was farthest from that particular building. Those are the sights that I can particularly remember seeing. I wondered, even then, how I could know them without touching them. I could actually point to them." (pg. 40)
Another man, also blind from birth, found himself:
"In an enormous library during the transcendental phase of his NDE and saw 'thousands and millions and billions of books, as far as you could see.' Asked if he saw them visually he said, 'Oh, yes!' Did he see them clearly? 'No problem.' Was he surprised at being able to see thus? 'Not in the least. I said, 'hey, you can't see,' and I said, 'well, of course I can see. Look at those books. That's ample proof I can see.'" (pg. 49)
Then there's the story of "Frank" who asked his friend to pick out a tie for a wake of a mutual friend who had died. Later, he took a nap and had an OBE in which he saw the tie: It was red with gray circles on it, and he was surprised to find out what it looked like. His friend was shocked when Frank described the tie to his friend. This incident was independently verified by his friend (pg. 70).

The book presents some very interesting insights: For example, a man named Jeff was severely visually impaired in his left eye, and completely blind in his right eye. During his NDE, he was surprised to find he could see perfectly through both eyes. He saw his path through the tunnel, for example. (pg. 82)

Another thing I found fascinating: People who are congenitally blind do not have visual images in their dreams at all. Their dreams are just like their waking life: they can hear, touch, etc., but they cannot see. Children who lose their eyesight before the age of 5 also tend to not have visual imagery in dreams. Kids who become blind between 5 and 7 may or may not retain visual imagery in their dreams, and people who become blind after age 7 seem to have "visual" dreams. (pg 84)

And yet they all still seem to "see" during OBEs and NDEs. Here's the thing: Congenitally blind people describe their NDEs and OBEs as qualitatively different in that they can actually see whereas their dreams always lacked a visual element. (pg. 84)

Another thing I found absolutely fascinating: There have been several cases in which a congenitally blind person had their physical eyesight restored by doctors. In those cases, they have an extremely hard time dealing with their newfound eyesight, learning to identify and recognize shapes and such. But when a blind person has an OBE or an NDE, they don't: they're not only able to instantly "see," they can instantly grasp what they see. Wow, that's mind-blowing.

The authors approached this scientifically, seeking other reasonable explanations. They consulted vision specialists. They shoot down Susan Blackmore's theories regarding "retrospective reconstruction." (pg. 86) They discuss "blindsight" and "skin-based vision" theories. They do all their homework.

They also address the language problem: Our society is so geared toward normally "sighted" people that our language interferes with our descriptions. For example, blind people often say they were "watching television" even though that's physically impossible. Could all this just be a big misunderstanding? Could they be using the words metaphorically? There's a long, fascinating discussion, but the bottom line is: no. It's more than that. Blind people seem to "see" things that are later verified to be true.

Here's another interesting thing: blind people, with no possible experience of sight, describe their NDEs and OBEs with concepts like color, as different frequencies of light they perceived. When you think about it, that's pretty darn accurate. One blind woman described the different colors of the flowers she "saw." Another described how the doctors and nurses in the Operating Room all wore green outfits.

Some of these blind people seemed genuinely surprised at how their own physical body "looked." One woman described her body as a gray outline, which is how I normally see mine. Another described her body as looking very black.

The bottom line is that "sight" seems to be simply an "interpretation" of a set of data, and that remains the same regardless of how you gather that data, whether it comes from your eyes or another source. The book's authors call it "transcendental awareness." And it seems to be the same data for both sighted and blind people alike. It's all just data and our mind's interpretation of that data, right?

The book is 140 pages, professionally written, with "smallish" text and margins, so it's not a big book, but there's a fair amount of content. In places, it's a bit dry, even for my tastes. They use a lot of long scientific words. At times, it's difficult to read, so it took me a while to get through it. I didn't find any typos or mistakes in the text.

I'm give the book 3 and a half stars.

Bob Peterson
25 June 2019

Tuesday, June 11, 2019

My Five Unconventional Meditations

My Five Unconventional Meditations

by Bob Peterson

In my never-ending pursuit of out-of-body experiences, I've tried a lot of types of meditation. But you know I'm an unconventional guy: I'm not one to follow the rules and do the stereotypical Transcendental Meditation (TM) or Kriya yoga. I'd rather try new things, explore and reinvent.

Inducing an OBE is a special kind of meditation itself, but that's not what I'm talking about. I'm talking about "support meditation," in other words, meditation to make OBEs more likely and your OBE attempts more fruitful.

I basically do five types of meditation. They are:
  1. Silent meditation
  2. Binaural beat meditation
  3. Musical meditation
  4. Left-right meditation, and
  5. Vibration raising meditation
On most days, I meditate twice every day: Once in the morning and once in the evening. Every morning, I meditate for about twenty minutes, and I always do a silent meditation. In silent meditation, no music is playing. I just sit in complete silence and try to quiesce or "turn off" my mind completely. What often happens is that as soon as my mind is completely shut off, I start seeing things, literally, in my mind's eye.

In the late evening I meditate again. Depending on my mood, I pick one of the other four types at random. I always, without exception, listen to binaural beats or music under good quality over-the-ear noise canceling headphones. A couple years ago I broke down and invested in a pair of Bose QuietComfort 35 Bluetooth headphones. They were expensive, but I have no regrets.

Binaural beat meditation

I listen to a lot of binaural beat meditations. I've got a collection of them on my phone. I always wear my headphones. My current favorites are:
  1. "Winds Over the World" by Richard Roberts (not to be mistaken for the idiotic Christian evangelist with the same name). You can buy this from the Monroe Institute at this link: https://www.monroeinstitute.org/node/1085. The track is 30 minutes long, but you can hear a two-minute sample here: https://www.monroeinstitute.org/sites/default/files/Winds%20over%20the%20World%20Sample.mp3?uuid=5cb2172ae1eeb
  2. "The Far Countries: Multidimensional Man" by Jurgen Ziewe. You can listen to this track here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pVshec6YL_Y
  3. "Maha Mrityeonjaya Mantra" by Hein Braat. You can listen to that here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AmsPdQlEy2c
  4. You can also find a variety of binaural beat meditations on youtube. Jason Bannister has created several nice ones.

Music meditation

When I don't feel like listening to binaural beats, I sometimes listen to "ordinary" music that makes me feel "spacey," "entranced," or "otherworldly." I'm not talking about "trance music" as most people like to think about it (I've never cared much for that). I've got a large collection of songs for this. Some of my favorites are:
  1. "Awaken," "Ritual" or "Close to the Edge" by Yes.
  2. "State of Independence" or "The Mayflower" by Jon and Vangelis.
  3. "One of These Days" followed by "Echoes" by Pink Floyd
  4. "Kashmir" by Led Zeppelin.
  5. "Rajah Khan" by Renaissance.
  6. "Little Neutrino" by Klaatu.
  7. "Cygnus X-1" by Rush.
  8. "One of These Days" followed immediately by "Echoes" by Pink Floyd.

Left-Right music meditation

Out-of-body mogul Robert Monroe developed his "Hemi-sync" technology when he discovered that binaural beats synchronized the two hemispheres of the brain. The brain tries to synchronize what it hears in the left ear with the right ear.

I've always thought he didn't take the technology far enough: While Hemi-sync has a long list of benefits, I believe it doesn't go far enough to aid in inducing OBEs. In my experience, it's more effective to jar your brain's sense of location by deliberately feeding it false auditory information, and hopefully in such a way that confuses it.  If you scramble that so it doesn't make sense, you can kick it out of its normal patterns. What I mean is to close your eyes and:
  • Feed different-but-similar music into each of your ears. This is similar to Hemi-sync, but for example, play the same song with two different instruments, and pipe the two separately into each ear.
  • Listen to music that unpredictably "bounces" the music from one ear to the other.
  • Visualize the music as best you can.
  • Imagine energy or "chi" moving through your body and around your body in harmony with the music.

This is probably my favorite type of evening meditation, and I've amassed a large collection of songs that do this, and I'm always looking for more. I listen to them a lot, and I love them. Here a just a few of my favorites, in no particular order:
  1. "Merlin the Magician" by Rick Wakeman.
  2. "I Robot" by Alan Parsons Project.
  3. "Magnum Opus" by Kansas.
  4. "Nucleus" by Alan Parsons Project.
  5. "Yours is No Disgrace," "Long Distance Runaround," "Face To Face," "Astral Traveller," "Arriving UFO," or "The Ancient: Giants Under the Sun" by Yes.
  6. "How it Hits You" by Jon Anderson.
  7. "Toward the Within" or "The Ubiquitous Mr. Lovegrove" by Dead Can Dance.
  8. "Too Much Time On My Hands" or "Lights" by Styx.
  9. "Autobahn" by Kraftwerk. 

Vibration raising music meditation

I'm not talking about "The Vibrations" associated with OBEs. I'm just talking about music to change my mood to be more positive, optimistic, and uplifting. A lot of OBE experts say that having a bad, sour, or negative mood lowers your vibrations and makes it impossible to induce OBEs. So this is one way I try to improve my own attitude and lift my spirits.
  1. "Are You The One," "Key to the Universe," or "Silence of the Night" by Timo Tolkki.
  2. "In Perfect Harmony" by Within Temptation
  3. "Street Spirit" by Stream of Passion (Yes, I know it's a remake)
  4. "I'm Okay," "Sing for the Day," or the entire album "The Grand Illusion" by Styx.
  5. "Holy Light" by Stratovarius.
  6. "Bound for Infinity" by Renaissance.
  7. "I'll Sing You Home" by Timo Tolkki.
  8. "The Answer Lies Within" by Dream Theater.
  9. "And You And I" by Yes. I love to visualize my vibrations getting higher and higher, then kundalini energy shooting from my base chakra out through my crown chakra while this plays.
Don't try to do anything else. Just close your eyes, listen to the music and let it do its magic. Whenever possible, try to visualize the music dancing in front of you.

After doing this for years, I still think the most effective of these for me is the "Left-Right" music. For me, it seems more effective than listening to binaural beats. I listened to a few of these last night creating this blog article and had an OBE this morning. Enough said.

Bob Peterson
11 June 2019