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

Tuesday, May 28, 2019

The Ten Commandments of OBE

The Ten Commandments of OBE

by Bob Peterson

Over the years, I've developed habits to help me induce OBEs. Lately I've been thinking I should try to figure out what these are and share them. I thought it might be fun to present these as a Ten Commandments of OBE. There are no rules, of course. In fact, these are not commandments at all; they are simply guidelines or "best practices."

When I thought about it, there are two different categories of "best practices": Those done during normal waking life, and those done during the actual OBE attempts. So I broke up my "commandments" accordingly.

Ten OBE Commandments of everyday life:
  1. Thou shalt write down your dreams as often as you can.

    Hopefully you should do this every morning when you wake. If you don't have time, just jot a keyword or two down to jog your memory. Once in a while, go back through and re-read your past month's dreams. Doing this reinforces the connection between this world and the other side of sleep. It trains you to maintain a tiny thread of awareness and to bring back memories from the other side.

  2. Thou shalt do positive OBE affirmations every morning when you wake up and every night before bed.

    Just a simple sentence or two will do. "Out of body experiences are easy and effortless for me." "I allow myself to have OBEs and I'll remember them in the morning." These are just simple positive messages to your subconscious.
  3. Thou shalt do energy-moving / chi bouncing exercises every day.

    Again, nothing long, drawn-out or complex. Just imagine energy bouncing around your body for ten to thirty seconds. I recommend the "microcosmic" and "grand circulation" orbits from T'ai Chi. Robert Bruce has a lot of these in his book Astral Dynamics. Also, the "Velo" technique of the IAC is good.
  4. Thou shalt use your active imagination as often as you can.

    No matter what you're doing, occasionally pause to imagine you're flying out-of-body, putting your hands through the walls, floating weightless, or whatever. Just literally two or three seconds. Daydreaming is good for OBEs; it strengthens your brain's default mode network, which is key to focusing on inner events rather than outer events.
  5. Thou shalt practice your OBE techniques as often as you can.

    Take the time to practice OBE techniques. Don't short-change it. Even if you can't afford to take a half-hour off to do this, just take a few minutes before bed to close your eyes and try to imagine you're floating, swinging, bouncing, or vibrating.
  6. Thou shalt meditate every day if you can.

    There's an old saying I love: You should meditate for 20 minutes everyday, unless you don't have the time, in which case you should meditate for an hour. I'm not talking about making OBE attempts; I'm talking about trying to relax and hold your mind completely still and blank. Silence the monkey-chatter.
  7. Thou shalt not give in to fear or let fear stop you from trying.

    Scary things may happen when you approach the edge of sleep. Don't let it stop you. Spiritual progress is on the other side of fear.
  8. Thou shalt obsess about OBEs.

    Apply pressure to your subconscious by reading about it, watching movies about it, fantasizing about it, etc. Strong-arm, coerce and cajole the subconscious.
  9. Thou shalt never give up, get discouraged, or think negatively.

    For example, don't think things like "I can't do this" or "Nothing works." If you find yourself getting discouraged or negative about OBEs, counter it by doing more positive affirmations.
  10. Thou shalt do reality checks.

    Periodically ask yourself, "Am I dreaming right now?" Train yourself to do this automatically throughout the day. Because if you can become lucid in a dream, you can turn that dream into an OBE.

There are lots of other things you can do to improve your odds. For example, listening to binaural beats or hemi-sync tracks can improve your overall odds.

Ten Commandments of OBE attempts:
  1. Thou shalt focus only on the OBE attempt.

    During your OBE attempts, don't think about what you're planning to do once you're out. Focus only on inner events, not outer events. Don't let your mind drift, worry about the time, or your phone, or appointments, commitments, or future plans.
  2. Thou shalt mute (or block out) all input from physical senses.

    Ignore all sounds, sights, touches, etc. Forget about all bodily sensations. That means relaxing thy body completely (to the point where you can't even feel it), practice in complete silence, and near-total darkness.
  3. Thou shalt mute (or block out) all external distractions.

    Keep animals like cats and dogs from jumping up on you and disrupting your practice. Prevent televisions from playing, radios playing, lawnmowers in the background, clocks ticking, cell phones beeping, etc. If silence isn't possible, use earplugs or noise-canceling headphones. If total darkness isn't possible, use a sleep mask to block the light.
  4. Thou shalt not practice when you're tired, stressed, rushed or under a deadline.

    If you practice when you're tired, you're just going to fall asleep and sabotage your own attempt. Go into it fresh, unless there's absolutely no other time to practice.
  5. Thou shalt stop all wandering thoughts and emotions and keep them stopped.

    Just become single-minded and focused, while minimizing your thoughts at the same time.
  6. Thou shalt get as close as you can to sleep without actually going over the edge.

    Try to see how close you can get to sleep. Wait and watch for hypnagogic images to appear, then try to take control of them and manipulate them. The biggest mistake most people make is not getting close enough to sleep.
  7. Thou shalt remain calm, relaxed and passive, no matter what happens.

    Block out the real world and stop paying attention to it completely. Become "entranced." Become so single-minded in your focus that someone could slap you on the face and you would barely even notice it. Or at least strive for that level of focus.
  8. Thou shalt ignore alarming feelings.

    If it seems like your body stops breaking, just ignore it and continue. If it seems like your heartbeat goes crazy, ignore it and continue. If you hear voices, see monsters, or whatever, just ignore them and continue. Don't let these distract you from your single-minded focus. If you feel vibrations, that's another matter: follow these instructions.
  9. Thou shalt not eat big heavy meals before OBE attempts.

    Eat light, not heavy, meals, and eat early.
  10. Thou shalt not play "What If" with hypnagogic images.

    If you try to play "what if" with a hypnagogic image, you'll quickly get sucked down into a dream state. That's what we do when we fall asleep. Just think, "That is mine" and try to take conscious control of the image. If the image dissolves, wait for the next one to appear, then do the same thing.

There are probably a lot of other general guidelines I could add. For example, you should visualize or imagine sights, sounds, touches, and movements as realistically as possible, but I wanted to keep it simple. These are a good start for your OBE practice.

Bob Peterson
28 May 2019

Tuesday, May 14, 2019

OBE Frequently Asked Questions

OBE Frequently Asked Questions

by Bob Peterson

This article is a compilation of frequently asked questions (FAQ) about astral projection and out-of-body experience (OBE). It includes the Questions and Answers chapter from my first book, the Questions and Answers chapter from my second book, and other questions I've seen since. I tried to put newbie questions near the top, but the rest appear in no particular order.

Can anyone please teach me how to astral project?

That's a lot like asking, "Can anyone please teach me how to ride a bicycle?" The answer is yes, but there's a big difference between describing the mechanics and actually doing it yourself. Like any skill, you need to learn the techniques, then do a lot of trial and error before you become any good at it.

There are tons of online resources for learning OBEs.

  • There are lots of Facebook groups related to OBE and Astral Projection where you can find help.
  • There are lots of full-length books about OBEs in the "Files" section of the "Astral Projection" group page on Facebook.
  • There are also videos available on youtube.
  • I've got tons of free information on my website, including the entire text of my first book and much of the second, plus helpful articles: http://www.robertpeterson.org.
  • Michael Raduga has free information, including the entire text of his primary book, "The Phase": https://obe4u.com/
The information is out there. You just need to do some research, then try some of the techniques.

What's the easiest method or technique to achieve astral projection?

It varies from person to person. What works for one person may not work for another, which is why I don't recommend any one in particular. You've got to try different approaches and techniques and see which one(s) work best for you. There are many to choose from.

What's the best book on astral projection?

It depends on what you're looking for. If you're looking for OBE techniques, my favorite is The Phase by Michael Raduga. I've broken it down into several categories and listed the best books from each category in a blog article titled "Bob's Best of Breed OBE Books": Click here to read it.

Not all OBE books are created equal. If you're thinking about buying a particular OBE book, you might be able to read a book review of it. I have book reviews for many OBE books: Click this link for a list.

Does anyone teach AP? Are there classes I can take?

Yes. The best is probably William Buhlman's class, offered by The Monroe Institute, but it's often full, and it's not cheap. There are also classes offered by other organizations, like the International Academy of Consciousness. Again, do some research.

I've been trying to achieve astral projection for years; nothing works. What should I do?

The biggest mistake people make is trying the same thing over and over. You need to change it up and try different techniques until you find one that works for you. I wrote a blog article about this. Click on this link to read it.

I can get the vibrations, but they just fade away and nothing happens. What should I do?

I always recommend that you wait until the vibrations reach their peak intensity, then try to physically stand up, sit up, roll out, or whatever, just like you would in the physical body. If you've got the genuine OBE vibrations, your physical body won't move, but your non-physical body will, and thus you escape the body.

I can get out of my body, but then I can't see. Totally blind. What should I do?

You're probably within what author Sylvan Muldoon called "Cord Activity Range" which is about 15 feet (5 meters). My best advice is to (1) close your eyes, (2) try to get at least 15 feet (5 meters) away from your body, then make an effort to open your eyes.

What position should my body be in when I practice?

I've had OBEs in all positions. There's no problem with lying on your back, stomach, or either side. However, research tells us that people are more likely to have OBEs when they lie on their back.

When I practice I need to swallow, have problems with saliva or itching. How can I get past that?

My usual response to that is: When you fall asleep at night, you don't have any of these problems, do you? You just fall asleep. When you have one of these problems, it probably means your physical body is too wide-awake. You need to do the same thing when your body falls asleep, but retain conscious awareness.

When I practice, I see and hear weird things. Is that normal?

Yes. Everyone has similar hallucinations when they fall asleep--known as "hypnagogic" imagery--but the vast majority of people are no longer conscious when they occur. When you start to practice OBE, you learn to retain conscious awareness deeper into these states, so this is normal and expected.

Do certain foods affect my ability to have OBEs?

I wrote a blog article about dietary considerations. Click on this link to read it.

Are there any supplements that will help me achieve OBEs?

This is a complex topic. I wrote two blog articles (part 1 and 2) about it. Click on this link for part 1 and this link for part 2.

What are the dangers of astral projection?

This is another complex topic, and one that should not be short-changed. Most people believe there are no dangers: your physical body cannot be harmed while you're out of it, and your non-physical body is immortal. Just remember this: The only thing you have to fear is fear itself, and your best self-defense is to be fearless. If you do have a scary encounter, just remember that it's better to be angry than afraid in an encounter. I devoted a chapter of my second book to this topic. You can read it by clicking on this link.

How do you get past the fear?

You just need to endure it, and as you have more OBEs, you should gain confidence. Just tell yourself you'll just watch a little longer and see what happens, and rest assured that you can always end the OBE. If things get too rough, you'll automatically be pulled back inside.

Can someone proficient pull me out of my body?

I honestly don't know if this is possible, but if it is, it's extremely difficult. I've tried it many times, and always failed. William Buhlman, author of Adventures Beyond the Body, has also tried it several times and failed.

Are OBEs "real," i.e., can you observe verifiable real-world proof? 

There's a really good book devoted to this topic called "Consciousness Beyond the Body" edited by Alexander De Foe. Full disclosure: I contributed a chapter to it. The good news is that it's free and can be downloaded from amazon.com. The bad news is that it's e-book (kindle reader, etc.); there's no printed copy. Here's a link to where you can download it.

Will you travel to my house and tell me what's on my nightstand?

No. Every astral projector goes through a phase of needing to obtain proof. Once satisfied, they often have no interest in doing this. In my second book, I wrote a chapter about how difficult this is to do.

What do you do during an OBE?

Mostly, I explore. I experiment. I have an insatiable curiosity, so I just go out and try things. I also love to fly.

Can you lose your body or get lost?

If anyone has lost their body, they obviously hadn't lived to tell about it. But all indications are that you can't lose your body for good. I believe that your "Higher Self" has invested a great deal of time and energy in creating and maintaining a physical body for a purpose. It's not going to give up your body until your purpose has been fulfilled. Thousands of people have experienced OBEs, and wandered thousands of miles away from their body. After a certain period, they usually just lose consciousness and find themselves back in their body again.

What about possession?

Perhaps if you're a spirit medium (IOW, your etheric body isn't bound as tightly to the physical body as most other people) spirits can temporarily inhabit your body while you are out. However, spirits cannot possess your body long-term unless you give them permission to do so. My clairvoyant friend, LD, told me of an OBE where a spirit of a woman entered her body without permission. The woman was trying to animate LD's body, but couldn't. LD returned to her body to find it occupied. She was so angry that she yelled at the spirit to get out "or else." The spirit said no, but LD got furious and yelled "Now!" The unhappy spirit quickly left the body, and LD entered it again. The point is, even when you are out of your body, your oversoul has a "claim" on that body. Other spirits do not have the power to animate your body.

Can you encounter something evil like a demon?

I don't believe in evil. There are only two kinds of demon. The first kind is the demon we create from our own fears. If you don't believe in evil, you cannot encounter these demons. If you understand and face your fears, you can face these demons and destroy them with an act of will. The only thing you have to fear is fear itself.

The second kind is the spirit of a dead person who is playing the role of a demon to make him/herself appear more intimidating. But that's different from evil. Remember this: They are just a spirit like you and me. They have no more power than you do, despite how they look or act. If you are a gentle soul, just visualize a white light around the spirit and send feelings of love to the poor misguided spirit. If you're ornery, tell them to stick it where the sun doesn't shine, and walk away. If you're playful, make yourself into a big demon and give them their own treatment. They can't harm you, and they can't possess your body unless you give them power over you by being afraid.

What are the psychological effects? Can you go insane? Is it a disorder?

Again, I can only speak from personal experience. One common definition of "sane" is when a person is an integrated person functioning normally in society. I can say this much: I haven't had any problems holding a job or functioning in society. As a computer programmer and analyst, stress levels are high and my brain functions are constantly taxed. My OBEs haven't done any noticeable harm, and I've been doing this since 1979; nearly forty years.

There is an excellent book called With the Eyes of the Mind by professional psychiatrists Glen Gabbard and Stuart Twemlow that contains an in-depth study of the psychology of OBEs. It compares the OBE to other psychological phenomena. In short, they found that the OBE shouldn't be grouped with psychological disorders such as dissociation, schizophrenia, autoscopy, and other body boundary disturbances. OBE falls into a category of its own.

When is the best time to practice?

The best time to practice is in the morning, when you are awake, refreshed, and not likely to fall asleep. I mostly practice Saturday and Sunday mornings because I can sleep in late, wake up refreshed and then have plenty of time to practice. I also recommend you take a nap sometime during the day, and use that time to attempt to leave your body. Naps are better than bedtime, because you're usually not as tired. You can relax and really get into it, without being so tired that you just fall asleep right away. If you only practice before bedtime, make sure to go to bed early so you won't fall asleep immediately.

What's the difference between an OBE and a lucid dream?

There are a lot of differences. I cover that in a separate article. Click here.

What's the difference between meditation and OBE?

In some forms of meditation, the goal is to clear your mind of all thoughts, which is very similar to quiescing your mind for an OBE. Some people report accidentally leaving their body during meditation. Others go into a state of meditation when trying to induce an OBE, but never leave their body.

When I meditate, my mind becomes empty, and I go into a kind of trance that I can't explain. In this trance of meditation, I don't have any perception. I don't have dreams or hypnagogic images. It is as if the world has completely stopped, and my consciousness has been extinguished. When I come back from meditation, I have no memories.

When I induce an OBE, I don't induce nearly as deep a trance. I retain a thread of alert consciousness the whole time. Once I reach the OBE state, my consciousness becomes normal again. After the experience, I have complete memories of the experience.

How do I know if my experience was real or just a dream?

My general rule of thumb is: If you're not sure, it was probably not a real OBE. A true OBE should leave you with little-to-no doubt in your mind. In a genuine OBE, you should literally feel as if you are separate from your body. It won't seem like a dream, a daydream, a visualization, or a fantasy. It will feel absolutely real.

Is consciousness as clear during an OBE?

In an OBE, as in life, consciousness can be crystal clear or muddy. I've had OBEs where my consciousness was more intense than normal waking life. I've also had OBEs where my thinking was more "muddy."

What's the difference between OBE and Near Death Experience?

This is how I think of it: The out-of-body experience is one typical feature of a Near Death Experience (NDE). Typical NDEs have some other common features that aren't usually found in an OBE (although that doesn't mean they can't happen). Some of these features are: Gliding down a tunnel, having your life flash before your eyes, seeing a bright light, meeting dead relatives or friends, and being told it is "not your time."

Also, NDEs usually happen during times of bodily trauma. OBEs often happen from a state of perfect health.

Has anyone seen God, Jesus, etc., during an OBE?

Yes, but it is more common to see deities during NDEs rather than during OBEs. It's interesting to note that when this happens it seems to be based on the person's religious convictions. Christians tend to see Christ. Buddhists tend to see The Buddha. Hindus tend to see their deities. I believe there is only one God. Perhaps certain powerful spiritual entities on the other side can appear in a form makes the participant most comfortable. Personally, I've never seen a deity during an OBE, except the childhood experience in chapter 2 of my first book.

Some people, including me, have reported seeing Jesus in an OBE. For an article I wrote on the subject, click here.

When you leave your body, aren't you technically dead?


Why doesn't brain damage or rigor mortis occur?

Your body does not die during an OBE. It goes into a deeply relaxed state.

Is OBE related to UFO phenomena or alien abductions?

Many victims of "alien abductions" describe symptoms similar to OBE phenomena. They describe tunnels, vibrations, weird sounds and sights, and total paralysis. They describe how aliens appear out of thin air beside their beds or walk through walls. Victims are levitated out of bed and are pulled outside through the wall. I believe many such victims are merely misinterpreting symptoms of typical OBEs. I think a lot of "abductees" would be relieved to know the true nature of their experiences!

I must also add that not all claims of alien abduction can be dismissed as OBEs. Some UFO cases have compelling physical evidence that wouldn't be left after an OBE. OBE's don't leave burn marks on your front lawn!

I devoted an entire chapter of my second book to this subject. You can read it by clicking on this link.

Can you inhabit the body of a spirit medium during an OBE?

Around 1903, a disabled (bed-ridden) guy by the name of Vincent Turvey learned how to induce OBEs to free himself from his disabled body. Spiritualism was very popular then, so Turvey started visiting seances during his OBEs. A few times he actually sent messages through the medium during the seance. In his book, The Beginnings of Seership, Turvey has signed testimonials from people who were present at these seances. I believe him because he had witnesses and because he was too physically ill to stage such elaborate hoaxes. I've never tried it, and I don't know of anyone who has, other than Turvey. But I believe it can be done.

Is there a such thing as astral sex?

Yes. Only a few books in the genre have references to astral sex. Astral sex is very different qualitatively than physical sex. It's more "spacey," or "etheric;" more like an exchange of energy or an electrical discharge. Lucid dream sex is convincingly real, just like physical sex because your body schema is a replica of your physical body. In an OBE, your body is more "on demand." Here's an entry from my journal:
03/08/83 Thu
Last night I had an interesting experience that I'd like to share. Last night before I went to sleep at midnight, I prayed to God. I asked to have an experience where I would reach my soulmate through a dream...Some time in the middle of the night I found myself in a dreamlike state and was semiconscious. I was not in a recognizable place. I was with a woman with light hair, and I don't know if she was my soulmate or not. We got very close to each other, and just before we embraced I became conscious. The intensity of the experience is what caused me to be conscious. We embraced and at first I thought we were hugging. Then her body became less defined and started melting into mine. I was surprised and my body started melting too! As we melted into each other, energy started shooting out in all directions with the intensity of the sun.

I can't remember any more.
What do you see when you look in a mirror?

The following is an OBE where I looked into a mirror. What I saw was surprising.
12/25/85 - OBE #121
...I stayed in bed, practicing OBE. I used the rock-my-consciousness method to loosen myself from the body, but I felt somewhat attached to it, even as I was swinging away. On one outward swing, I twisted to my left, reached out with my astral arms, grabbed onto the bed and pulled myself completely out of my body. I paused there, crouched down on my bed, looking at the drapes on the bedroom window. Everything looked normal from that point of view.

I had been planning to try to visit Cherie, and I paused to think about visiting her. I thought, "There's plenty of time for that. First, I want to experiment a little bit." My eyes were closed because of the previous two OBEs.

I paused, trying to think of a good experiment. "I know," I thought to myself, "I'll try looking into a mirror!" As soon as I thought that, I felt a strange shift of consciousness and I opened my eyes.

I found myself in a strange room with a mirror. I walked over to the mirror and looked at it. At first I saw my own image, but without a beard--I only had a mustache. I thought to myself how much I looked like Brad (Cherie's husband). My image slowly turned into Brad's image and I thought, "Hmm. Maybe I'm a counterpart of Brad. But I have a beard and a mustache, and my image doesn't reflect that." I looked into the mirror again, trying to fix the image. I noticed the image wasn't smiling; it had a very serious look on. So I smiled into the mirror and watched my image change.

My image changed slowly into the image of a woman I've never seen before, and then slowly turned into an image of DS, smiling! (DS is a member of our discussion group). I thought, "Whoa! That's not me. I wonder if DS is a counterpart too!" I bid DS's image farewell, and looked into the mirror and saw myself. This time I looked normal in all respects. I was smiling, and I noticed I was wearing the same clothes my body had on in bed. I thought, "Good."

I wondered whether I should visit Cherie, or do another experiment. I tried to think of other experiments I could do, but I lost consciousness and immediately came to in my body.

This story had an interesting aftermath. The next day, I narrated the OBE to the discussion group and Brad was there. As nearly as we could tell, Brad was just getting up and dressing during my OBE. He most likely was in the bathroom looking at a mirror! Was the image I saw of him real? I'd like to think so, but I guess there's no way to tell for sure.

How long does it take to learn OBE?

This varies from person to person. Some books claim to be able to teach you to leave your body in thirty days or less. That depends on a lot of factors, like the reader's belief system, how often they practice, the methods they try, and their attitudes during practice.

Some people have tried for ten years or more before having their first OBE. Others have done it on their first try. Don't be discouraged if you don't get results for several months. Everyone can learn this skill with practice and patience.

What's a typical OBE practice session like?

On a typical practice session, I wake up naturally around 6:30 a.m.. I'll get up, visit the bathroom, then drink something with caffeine. I'll stay up for about a half hour to clear my mind. I'm usually too tired at that hour, so I'll go back to bed and sleep for another sleep cycle. Around 7:30 a.m., I'll wake up naturally, stretch and start my first OBE attempt. After about twenty minutes of trying, I will give up, roll over and go back to sleep.

When I wake up from that sleep cycle, I'll make my second attempt. Again, I'll keep at it for about twenty minutes before giving up. I'm usually successful on my second or third attempt. If I'm not successful by the third try, I give up for the day.

How long does it take to induce an OBE?

Typically, it takes around fifteen to twenty minutes to induce an OBE. My fastest induction took around thirty seconds. My longest induction took more than an hour.

What's the most common mistake during practice?

The most common mistake people make is trying too hard. Many people try so hard to induce an OBE that they never reach that totally passive state of mind I mentioned in chapter 24, step 2. If you "try hard" instead of letting go, you'll never be able to quiesce your mind enough to induce an OBE.

Why do it? What is it good for?

I wrote a blog article on this topic. You can read it by clicking on this link.

How many OBEs have you had?

Hundreds, possibly thousands.  It depends on how you count them.  In many of my early OBEs, I would exit and reenter my body several times over the course of a morning.  In my journals, I only counted it as one OBE when, in fact, there were several.

There were several years in the 1990s where I neglected my OBE journals and didn't write any down, even though I still had them. It's no coincidence that I began dating my wife around 1989 and was married in 1992. Wives can be such a distraction!

The number keeps increasing too, so it's a moving target.

Ultimately, it doesn’t matter how many OBEs you have.  What’s important is what you learn from them.

Can average people have OBEs?

Yes.  In fact, most OBEs happen to normal, ordinary, average people.

Can average people learn to induce OBEs?

Yes.  I wasn’t born with any special gifts.  I learned everything the hard way.  So can you.

Are some people more likely to have OBEs than others?

I don't think that certain people are more likely to have OBEs than others. OBEs happen to people of all ages, religions, races, cultures and sexes.  It happens to spiritual and unspiritual people alike.

If people can leave their bodies, why isn't it more common?

Actually, it is common. Conservative estimates indicate that OBEs happen to 20 - 25% of the population.

Can you die during an OBE or because of an OBE?

Nobody can possibly rule out the possibility of dying during an OBE, because obviously if anyone has died during an OBE, they haven't been around to warn us; therefore, all we can do is speculate.  I think we all chose to come to this Earth for a purpose, and we're not going to die until that purpose is fulfilled; therefore, I don't think it's possible to die before our appointed time.  If you die during an OBE, it would only be because it was your time to die, and the OBE would not have changed the time-table of your death.

In my experience, no matter how long you want to stay “out,” your body will automatically suck you back in when it needs attention.  So I don’t even think you can commit suicide by trying to remain outside your body.

Can two people switch bodies during mutual OBEs?

If both people agree, it might be possible.  We can only speculate until it's been tried.  My guess is that, even if it were possible, it wouldn't be a permanent switch.  You probably couldn't control the other person's body for very long.  It would probably be like traditional mediumship.

Outside of fictional books, movies and television, I’ve only heard of two accounts of people who may have actually switched bodies.  The first case was Vincent Turvey’s account of his controlling a spirit medium’s body during a seance.1  Turvey supposedly had signed testimonials to this feat.

The second account was from Robert Monroe who may have temporarily entered the body of a strange man.  In an OBE account dated March 11, 1961, he wrote, “...and I thought I had made a normal return to the physical.  I opened my eyes, and I was in a strange bed.  A strange woman was beside the bed, and she smiled as she saw me awaken.  An older woman stood behind her...They helped me get out of bed...and I knew for sure I wasn’t the person they thought I was.  I tried to tell them this, but they only humored me and seemed to think I was still in some form of delirium...”2

What are the factors that encourage OBEs?

The most important factor is the amount of time and energy you spend studying and practicing the techniques and how much time you dedicate to it.

What am I doing wrong during OBE practice?

Since I can't be inside your head during practice, I can't tell you what you're doing wrong.  Most beginners make the same mistakes: They try too hard, and don’t let go enough.  In other words, they don’t let themselves slip close enough to the unconscious state; they remain too “awake.”

Should I attempt OBE with my eyes open or closed?

Your eyes should be closed when practicing OBE.

How important is chakra development to OBE?

When I developed my ability, I did not do any chakra work directly.  At the time, I didn't much believe in chakras.  However, these days I've decided that chakras are real, since mine have been noticeably very active.  Chakra development is probably time well spent, but I learned to leave the body without it, so it's not mandatory.

Why am I suddenly jolted awake when falling asleep?  Does it have anything to do with OBE?

This happens to a lot of people.  I believe that we leave our bodies every night during sleep.  I believe that this jolt is caused when we enter the dream state before we are ready for it.  I think that this happens because our subconscious or superconscious self realizes that it's mistakenly allowed too much of our conscious personality into that dream state, so it aborts the dream sequence and causes us to awaken with a jolt.

So in a way, yes, this has something to do with OBE, but it's not abnormal or paranormal.  My theory is that if you can teach/convince your subconscious “it's okay to take me with when you go out of body” then this might lead to conscious OBEs instead of jolts.

Has it gotten any easier to travel by thought since my first book?

Most OBE books claim it’s easy to travel during an OBE simply by thinking about a person or place.  During my early OBEs, I tried everything I could to travel by thought, but nothing worked.  I'm happy to report that eventually I figured out how to travel with a thought.  It took a lot of trial and error, and it's not always accurate.  Also, it's virtually impossible to explain.  I just pull myself to a location.

Do your OBEs happen in real-time or is time distorted?

As far as I can tell, the OBE seems to happen in real time.  Although some people report experiences where they seem to be in touch with events of the past or future, it has never happened to me.

Have you ever experienced time travel during an OBE?

Once. I wrote a blog article about it. Click here to read it.

Should I worry about hitting power lines during OBE?

I haven't hit any power lines, so I'm not sure.

Have you ever seen extraterrestrials during an OBE?

No, but others have. It's very uncommon in the OBE literature. One notable exception is Darryl Berry's book "Travel Far".

Sometimes I wake up and can't move.  Is this related to OBE?

This is a well-known phenomenon called “Awareness during Sleep Paralysis.”  Many people have it, and most people are afraid of it until they understand what is happening.  Basically, your mind wakes up before your body wakes up.  Your mind is awake, but your body is still in the middle of the natural sleep paralysis that occurs when we all sleep.  It's very difficult to break free of this paralysis, but if you do break free, either your body becomes active and you wake up or else your body stays there, and you have an OBE.  It has happened to me many times, and it's nothing to be concerned about.

I wrote a short article about it many years ago titled "What Everyone Should Know About Sleep Paralysis, ASP and OBEs." Click here to read it.

What happens if you pass through a living object such as a tree?

Not much, really.  Usually I get a slight shiver, but other than that, it feels the same as passing through other physical objects.

Can you manipulate matter on the astral plane and what occurs there? If so, how will it impact physical reality?

You can try to manipulate astral matter, but it won't do you much good.  I've never been able to affect physical reality during my OBEs.  Most of the time, your hands just pass right through the objects you see. If you do manage to move a non-physical object, when you go back to your body, it will not have moved.

Can out of body experiences be used for wrong doing?

I suppose OBE can possibly be used for wrong doing, but it would be extremely difficult.  Just thinking about the wrong-doing would either keep you inside your body, or else cause negative experiences.

What about privacy?

There is no such thing as privacy. Privacy is an illusion. You are always surrounded by entities, some in and some out of their body. You can inhibit them to a degree, but that's only temporary. If you are spiritual and have pure thoughts, you will not attract negative entities (they would find you boring) and you would have no secrets from anyone. I've had entities visit me while I was naked in the shower, and so forth, and it can be surprising and unnerving.

What part of us travels in an OBE?

To address this question, we have to define the soul and the mind.  These are all things that can be described, but not as easily defined.  If my OBEs have taught me anything, they've taught me that the soul and consciousness extend way beyond what we experience in everyday life.

I think of the part that travels out-of-body as my consciousness. I think that the astral body only exists because we are so deeply ingrained with our body image.  I think that our Higher Self always transcends our physical body and is probably very amused by how trapped we feel inside our birdcage bodies that have a wide-open door.  As someone astutely pointed out, whoever said you were in your body at all?  We're just so accustomed to carrying the body around with us that we take it for granted.  You can call it spirit, or soul, or whatever makes you feel comfortable, but it's all the same thing; the real you that is independent of your physical body.

Can others see you when you are in an OBE?

People who are dead or otherwise out of their bodies can usually see me.  I can't always see them, but that's another topic.  People who are inside their bodies never seem to see me at all.  I remember one OBE where I stood in front of my wife Kathy, trying to get her attention.  Despite all my efforts, she didn't see me.  Perhaps someone who can see auras could tell when I was visiting them astrally, but I've never been in a position where I could try that.

The bottom line is this: can ordinary people see ghosts?  Under ordinary circumstances, no.  Maybe once in a while something causes someone to see a ghost.  We may be able to see someone having an OBE under those same circumstances.

What should I do if I meet a spirit for the first time? 

Act the same way you would when you meet a stranger off the street: cautiously.  Remember, spirits are just people like you and me. Some are good. Some are not so good.

Can (and should) we contact dead loved ones in an OBE?

Yes.  For example, you can use astral projection to meet with and speak to your dead wife.  However, I caution you that it's extremely difficult.  The problem is, you are likely to be very emotional about your wife's death.  It will be hard to induce the proper OBE state until you can set aside these emotions completely during the process.  That’s easier said than done.  After you're out of your body, if you get too emotional, it can also bring you back to your body.

I wrote a blog article about it contacting the dead: click here.

Are there any drugs that can induce OBEs?

Some people claim that certain drugs can intermittently induce OBEs.  For example, nitrous oxide (laughing gas) or certain hallucinogens. Author and skeptic Susan Blackmore had an intense OBE when she smoked marijuana. Since drugs interfere with the brain’s normal functioning, I don’t trust the reality of drug-induced experiences.  It’s better to induce OBEs the natural way.

Bob Peterson

14 May 2019

Tuesday, April 30, 2019

Review: Astral Travel by Gavin and Yvonne Frost

Review: Astral Travel

 by Gavin and Yvonne Frost

Today I'm reviewing Astral Travel: Your Guide to the Secrets of Out-of-the-Body Experiences by Gavin and Yvonne Frost. For the purposes of this review, I'm using the 1982 paperback edition shown below. My edition has a more captivating cover that features bare boobs. I guess sex sells, right?
Beyond the cover, this is a very interesting book, and different from most in the genre, but not in a good way. The book is copyright 1982, which means the information is a bit outdated. The authors, the late occultist Gavin Frost and his Wiccan wife, Yvonne Frost, have a decidedly unapologetic attitude toward witchcraft and the occult. And they're proud of themselves. They state upfront:
"We believe the instructions we give here are the most comprehensive, the easiest to understand and follow, that have ever been offered to the public." (pg. 14)
Um, no. I didn't find their instructions comprehensive nor easy to understand.

They claim to have started two organizations: the "Canterbury Institute" and "School of Wicca" which supposedly trained lots of people astral projection, then used them as research tools to study and document the phenomenon. They present themselves and this research as the final authorities on the subject, and give some very interesting "findings." I don't agree with a lot of them, though. For example:
"When you astral travel, you are voyaging to real places. In your first astral trips these will most likely be in your own neighbourhood in the present time-frame. There are differences between the astral present and the physical present, but those differences do not involve symbology. You are seeing what is literally there." (pg. 37)
That's not always the case. There are plenty of examples where things appear one way in an OBE and another way in physical reality. For example, in a recent OBE (18 April, 2019), I couldn't find a bucket I had placed in the bedroom to catch a leak in the roof when it was raining; it just was not there. When I returned to my body, I discovered that in physical reality, the bucket was still there, right where I had placed it. (This also underlines the fact that OBEs are not the same as lucid dreams: in lucid dreams, your expectations determine your reality. In this OBE, I fully expected the bucket to be there, and it wasn't. Unfortunately, that topic is beyond the scope of this article.)

There's been a lot of conjecture about why OBEs sometimes don't match reality. Many travelers say it's because you're basically seeing "an echo" or "thought forms" or a premonition of the physical plane, and not the actual physical things. Either way, evidence suggests that the Frosts are wrong, or at least misleading.

The book talks about sleep phases, but in my opinion, they get a lot of this wrong too. For example, they simplify sleep into just two states: The "D" state (Dreaming), which takes a quarter of the time, and the "A" state (not dreaming) which takes the other three quarters. The say:
"When awakened from the A-state sleeping, subjects report realistic, thought-like dreams that resemble waking experiences." (pg. 41)
That's a gross over-simplification, and inaccurate. Scientists have identified several phases: hypnagogic, non-REM (nREM), REM, hypnopompic, and so forth. In nREM sleep (which takes most of the sleep time), it's much harder to wake someone, and subjects usually don't report any experiences at all during that phase. Now the hypnagogic and hypnopompic states are where things get interesting. But I digress.

As for astral projection tips and advice, they recommend some interesting things:
"Get plenty of sleep: for good dreams, at least ten hours a night." (pg. 35)
Some people seem to have more OBE success with broken sleep or a bit of sleep deprivation, but I've always had more success when I over-sleep, so I agree with them there.
"Bed position - Head to the east seems to work best." (pg. 45)
That's interesting, because I've always had more success with my head to the West. Head to the East is my second most successful position. Robert Monroe (and many others in the genre) recommend head to the North. Nobody seems to like head-to-the-South. Either way, the Frosts are counter to what everyone else says.

They state that OBEs are easier near the full moon. In their own variation of the WBTB (Wake Back To Bed) technique, they recommend:
"Seven days before full moon, start setting your timing device so that you will be awakened three hours after lights out." (pg. 47)
That's interesting, because a number of authors recommend you set your alarm six hours into your sleep, not three. Three hours seems much too early to me: That's into your night's third sleep cycle, so I'd think you're likely to be too groggy. At three hours, you'll be too groggy.

They have some questionable dietary advice that's quite different from all other books in the genre:
"A small but growing number of students report that travel is made easier by a meal of two eggs, a small steak, and a fresh green salad just before the attempt." (pg. 53)
I've never before encountered an OBE book that recommends eating a heavy meal, especially meat, and never before an OBE attempt. The vast majority of OBE books recommend an empty stomach, and only a very light meal late afternoon or early evening before the attempt. Several books recommend a vegetarian diet (Graham Nicholls' book comes to mind). But steak and eggs? Really? C'mon. I'm a meat eater and I can't even imagine...No words.

As for time of day, they recommend:
"The twilight zone between waking and sleeping that occurs when you first go to bed is the best time to attempt conscious astral travel. In the evening, somewhere between 10 and 11 p.m., is the best time to prepare for your work." (pg. 54)
Again, that goes against conventional wisdom. If you try for OBEs before bed, you might be programming your subconscious (which is good), but you're also more likely to fall asleep, because that's what you've been doing all your life. Plus, your brain is saturated with the sleep hormone melatonin, which will make you too sleepy to retain the consciousness you need. I recommend early morning when your brain is fresh.

The authors also employ a bit of fear-mongering, with statements like:
"It is possible in such cases for your body to become possessed." (pg. 56)
I don't believe that for a minute. It's your body and nobody's going to take it from you unless you just happen to be a spirit medium, in which case your energy (some say "etheric") body is more mobile than most people. Your "Higher Self" (for lack of better words) has invested too much time and energy developing your physical body for your Earth lessons, and isn't going to give that up as easy as they make it sound.

They also give rituals of protection (one version for pagans and one version for Christians) and give stern warnings in all capital letters:
Fear mongering, and completely unnecessary. As for traveling to remote locations, they say:
"Think yourself at the place where you want to be. Instantly you will be there." (pg. 59)
This is a pet-peeve of mine. I've harped about this many times in the past. It's not as easy as "Think yourself there." You need to set an intention and pull yourself toward it. I've spend countless frustrating OBEs trying to "think myself" to a person or place, to no avail until I got the knack for it.

The authors do use interesting terminology. Throughout the book, they use "I" to refer to your conscious self, and "me" to refer to your physical body, and all that it entails. So they talk about the "I" leaving the "me." It's actually a pretty convenient way to talk about it.

What techniques do they teach? They give a couple techniques, and they're pretty archaic. One involves--believe it or not--drawing a chalk circle on the floor in the centre of your space, dragging your mattress into the circle. Ritually set aside all your cares by writing them down and putting the list in the oven. They recommend dim lighting equal to the light of one lighted candle. Then, they claim, you need to establish an unsatisfied need or "Defined Necessity" (such as hunger) to use as motivation for your astral body to depart the physical. They even suggest that you take a shower, and beardless men should shave beforehand. (Pages  76 - 80). Definitely some weird ideas.

They also recommend having training yourself with "controlled distractions" like practicing with tight or uncomfortable clothes, and such. The idea here is to condition yourself to ignore the distractions. Personally, I don't think this is a good idea at all. Yes, it's good to learn to shut out distractions, but purposely imposing distractions just seems counterproductive to me. Author Daniel Kai's book Astral Projection recommends slight discomfort, but not to the point of distraction. No other author recommends deliberate distractions.

The book makes some dubious claims. For example, they differentiate between two different kinds of astral projection: "Twilight Zone" and "Meditative State". At first glance it sounds rather like "Etheric" versus "Astral" projection, but no, that's not what they mean. Although they claim the "Twilight Zone" technique is the easiest and most natural mode, it "Cannot be done on demand, for it requires the presence of a protecting Guide who will look after 'Me' while 'I' is out (pg. 100). The 'Me' (body) is asleep when 'I' is out. But the "Meditative State":
"...is more difficult than Twilight Zone. Can be done on command, in response to key signals. Protection is done in the physical plane; consequently no Guide is required. 'I' and 'Me' are both awake. 'Me' is homeostatic; that is, most or all of 'Me's' demands are satisfied. An urgent Necessity is required to get 'I' out." (pg. 101)
So if I'm interpreting them correctly, it's more like "Twilight Zone" is normal out-of-body experience whereas "Meditative State" is more like what the Monroe Institute calls "Focus Levels." But...Who says you need any kind of guide to watch your body? And who says the first kind can't be done on demand?

The authors break experiences into "five astral realms" which are:
  • Here-Now - Like "Etheric Projection" but, they say, "It is congruent with the presently existent physical world." (But in my experience, it's not always, as previously noted above.)
  • Time - Time-travel OBEs
  • Cosmic - Far realms of the physical world
  • Here-Now Guidance - Teaching realms
  • Spiritual - A joyful place of spirituality
They claim each of these five astral realms have gates, which are described. For example, the gate to the "Spiritual" realm is called "Beauty itself." It doesn't say much about where to find or how to use these gates. They just kind of drop it.

Another dubious claim they make is about time travel:
"Just as in the case of colour, so other sensory inputs change in intensity as you move forward in time. All become more intense as you move forward and less intense as you move back into history. The increase in emotional energy levels is particularly distressing to many of our more sensitive researchers." (pg. 117)
Sorry, but that directly contradicts my experience. Granted, I've only had one Time Travel OBE, supposedly to the year 2049, but in that OBE, the intensity of colors, sounds, and emotions was not any different at all from my normal OBEs (If you can call them that!).

Another dubious claim: They claim to have witnessed groups of three discarnate (dead people) spirits that somehow meld together and disappear to form a permanent new entity. (pg. 119). Really? Sounds a little fishy to me.

Another dubious claim the authors make is that "there are no animals on the astral." (pg. 158) Well, I guess I've not seen any (I have seen incarnate animals, like my dog Spirit) from an OBE, but not actual non-physical animals, at least that I can recall.

One thing I really did like about the book is when they described the ancient Egyptian gateways between realms. Maybe it's just superstition and lore, but they described a confession required of a person to gain admission to the next level which has seven parts (page 156):
  • I have not cursed Thee nor taken Thy name in vain.
  • I have obeyed the laws of man.
  • I have not borne false witness.
  • I have not stolen, nor have I been deceitful.
  • I have put out new cakes and ale so that a Ka [spirit body] may feed.
  • I have not made any afraid.
  • I come in peace.
Following that they have a brief discussion of the passage "I have not made any afraid." Although this book was written in 1982, and the confession supposedly written in ancient Egypt (some 2500 years ago) I found it to be a message our society really needs to take to heart. I believe fear is one of the biggest roadblocks to spiritual progress, and conquering it, the most liberating. A natural consequence of this belief is that terrorism, which uses acts of violence to incite fear, is the biggest evil in the world today, and runs counter to spiritual progress.

The book talks a bit about possession and non-physical entities getting attached to astral travelers (with just slightly more fear mongering than necessary). Their solution to pesky astral pests is exactly the same as mine:
"...Then assume some terrible Guide-guise aspect, and threaten the possessing or attached entity with painful and dire results if it does not promptly leave. The more terrible and the more imaginative your threats, the more quickly will the possessing entity leave." (pp. 181-182)
That's exactly right. In my blog article Turning the Tables on Fear (under "Fear of demonic possession") I talked about my friend Lisa, who confronted a spirit this way who tried to take over her body. That's probably where I heard it first.

Then. You're going to want to sit down for this. Believe it or not, they suggest using astral projection to possess, or inhabit the bodies of other people, to your advantage (page 192)! That sounds like very bad karma to me. No, no, no, bad, bad, bad. Apparently they're unconcerned with Karma, because they write:
"The whole theory of the threat system called 'karmic debt' appears to be a myth invented by the Law-Giver Manu." (pg. 209)
They also say:
"It is especially true that prayer should be avoided, if it indeed ruins the spiritual landscape." (pg. 211)
The book also talks about using Astral Projection to influence world leaders, and they have a cavalier attitude toward the whole thing, which I didn't like.

Lastly, they claim that "hell" does not exist. They say they've tried to find it, but it cannot be found, because it does not exist (page 213.) I believe the concept of "hell" was invented to keep children and ignorant people under control. This instilling of fear is, in essence, terrorism, and therefore, counter to spiritual progress. Still, some people claim to have visited "hellish" places in out-of-body experiences, especially as part of Near-Death Experiences (NDEs). Granted, those instances are very rare, but they probably provide the basis for the myth.

They don't really provide any solid out-of-body techniques in the book, except for setting intentions and such.

The book is 240 pages, with small print, so there's enough content, but I found myself disagreeing with a lot of it. The grammar and spelling are both good, but I did find an occasional mistake here and there.

I'll give the book only two stars, mainly because I felt there was a lot of misinformation and things I disagreed with. This is probably one of the "disinformation" books that helped me decide to write my own book.

Bob Peterson
30 April 2019

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

Vitamins, Herbal Supplements and Probiotics for OBE - Part 2

Vitamins, Herbal Supplements and
Probiotics for OBE - Part 2

by Bob Peterson

Here is part 2 of my article "Vitamins, Herbal Supplements and Probiotics for OBE". To read part 1, click on this link.

I sometimes drink a caffeine drink (like a can of soda) in the evening, and it doesn’t keep me from sleeping. However, I’ve noticed extra lucidity and can often remember my dreams better when I do. For what it’s worth, Keith Morgan says to avoid caffeine,5 but my experience is just the opposite.

Michael Raduga suggests you keep a cup of coffee or energy drink like Red Bull or Monster by your bedside. When you wake up in the middle of the night between sleep cycles, drink the caffeine drink and go back to sleep immediately. He claims to have a 60% success rate with this method.6

Caffeine with Melatonin for Lucidity
Melatonin is a natural brain hormone you can buy in the United States as a supplement.7 Some people take it with caffeine right before bed for OBEs. The caffeine stimulates consciousness and the melatonin promotes sleep, and thus, conscious sleep.
Consult your doctor before taking melatonin. Start out with 3mg right before bed, but beware: It may make you unusually drowsy the next morning. Never take melatonin before driving a car or operating heavy machinery, because it will make you sleepy. If 3mg doesn’t affect you, bump it to 10mg. If 10mg doesn’t affect you, try 20mg, but don’t go higher than that. If 10mg hits you too hard, you can also try a smaller dose. I haven’t experimented much with melatonin.

Caffeine plus Alcohol for Lucidity
I’ve never been much of an alcohol drinker. I drink maybe one alcoholic drink a month, if that. Some people say you can sometimes induce OBEs by drinking both a caffeine drink and an alcoholic drink right before bed. I’ve never tried it, so all I can is report what people say. Some research indicates that both alcohol and barbiturates suppress OBEs,8 but Akhena insists that a moderate amount of alcohol is not a problem.9

Galantamine and Choline for Lucidity
Galantamine is a drug used to treat Alzheimer’s disease, because it enhances memory, but some people use it to induce lucid dreams. It is an acetylcholinesterase inhibitor (AChEl), which means it blocks the breakdown of the neurotransmitter acetylcholine, a molecule that supports memory. I’ve tried taking it twice and didn’t notice any effect. Some claim galantamine produces “poor quality” lucid dreams, but it’s better than none at all. Consider it a way to “jump start” the process. You can buy it as a commercial product called “Galantamind” which combines galantamine with vitamin B-5 and choline, a nutrient from which the brain synthesizes acetylcholine. There’s also a product called “Galantamind Plus” that contains a cocktail of other vitamins (including B-6 and B-12) as well as galantamine.
It’s best to take one galantamine tablet in the middle of the night when you wake up before one of your last sleep cycles of the night. If you take it too early, you might have problems getting to sleep.

Huperzine-A with Vinpocetine
Daniel Kelley recommends taking Huperzine-A with Vinpocetine for OBEs.10 Like Galantamine, Huperzine-A is used to treat Alzheimer’s disease and is a reversible acetylcholinesterase inhibitor that inhibits the breakdown of the acetylcholine. Do not take Huperzine-A if you’re on beta-blockers to decrease heart rate because it’s been known to reduce the effectiveness of common pulmonary and cardiovascular drugs.11 I’ve never tried it because I’m on a beta blocker.

Dream Leaf
Another product you can buy for lucid dreaming is Dream Leaf. Each bottle contains several red pills and blue pills. (These are NOT the same pills as the movie The Matrix, but the manufacturer apparently wants that mystique.) The pills contain Mugwort, 5-HTP, Huperzine-A, Alpha GPC, Choline, and Bitartrate.  

To use dream leaf, take one red pill before bed. Next, use the WBTB technique (chapter 57.) When your alarm goes off six hours into sleep, you take the blue pull to induce lucidity and go back to sleep. I’ve only tried Dream Leaf once, and it had no effect on me. I believe the red pills contain mugwort (among other things) and the blue pills contain galantamine (among other things).

Mexican Calea (Calea ternifolia)
Mexican calea, also known as calea ternifolia or “dream herb” is a species of flowering plant in the aster family. It’s sometimes used in Mexico to treat intestinal problems like diarrhea. People also use it to induce lucid dreams and to remember their dreams because it’s a natural oneirogen (it enhances dream-like states of consciousness). The leaves are smoked or brewed into a tea. It has a bitter taste, and can have some undesirable side-effects like nausea and vomiting. I’ve never tried it.

African Dream Root (Silene undulata)
Another oneirogen used to induce lucid dreams is African Dream Root. The Xhosa people of Southern Africa consider it a sacred plant and use it in their ceremonies. Like Mexican Calea, it’s commonly cut up and brewed into a tea. I’ve never tried this either, but I have friends who have.

African Dream Herb (Entada rheedii)
African Dream Herb is a large woody nut / seed about one inch in diameter. It’s also known as snuff box sea bean and cacoon vine (in Jamaica). It’s used in traditional African medicine to induce “vivid” dreams (although I haven’t heard of it specifically used for lucid dreaming) and to communicate with spirits. It’s common in many coastal places of the world, but not the Americas. The inner meat of the nut can be chopped up and eaten or ground into a fine powder and added to tobacco which is smoked just before sleep.

L-Theanine is an amino acid found mostly in tea leaves. You can buy it as a supplement from health food stores to promote relaxation and stress relief without drowsiness. Unlike Mexican Calea, there are no known bad side-effects. Some people claim to induce OBEs by taking L-Theanine along with caffeine. I’ve tried it a couple times, but it never induced lucidity.

Cannabis / Marijuana
I’ve never used cannabis (marijuana), so again, I’m speaking out of ignorance here. Some people claim marijuana encourages OBEs. Susan Blackmore had her first (and very lengthy) OBE after smoking marijuana.12 I’m not aware of any other authors who claim to use it for OBEs. Marijuana is considered a mild hallucinogen, so it interferes with normal processing of the TPJ. But as with all hallucinogens, can you really trust what you experience?

Before you take any of these supplements, talk to your doctor about drug interactions and side-effects. Research the supplements and how they may affect you. Most of these over-the-counter supplements are not regulated by the FDA or other government organizations. In other words: PLEASE BE CAREFUL AND DON’T DO ANYTHING RISKY. OBEs are not worth risking your health.

16 April 2019

5 Easy Astral Projection, Pentacle Enterprises, Keith Morgan, 1992, pg. 15. “Never drink tea or coffee or caffeine related drinks such as coca cola.”
6 The Phase, Michael Raduga, obe4u.com, 2015, version 3.0, pg. 155 – 156.
7 Melatonin is considered a prescription drug in some countries (e.g. Germany), but may be purchased over the counter in the United States.
8 Seeing Myself, Susan Blackmore, Robinson, 2017, pg. 196.
9 Out of Body Experiences, Akhena, Channel Soleil Publications, 2013, pg. 47.
10 Behind the Veil, Daniel Kelley, 2018, chapter 5, Dream Recall.
11 http://www.naturallivingcenter.net
12 Seeing Myself, Susan Blackmore, Robinson, 2017, pg. 293.