Tuesday, November 17, 2020

Are OBEs "Real?" - Part 3

Are OBEs "Real?" - Part 3

by Bob Peterson

This is part 3 of a series of articles that examine whether out-of-body experiences are "real" or veridical. Full disclosure: Much of this is based on the chapter I wrote for Alexander DeFoe's eBook Consciousness Beyond the Body, which is free to download from amazon.com in many locations.

To read part 1, Introduction, click here.

To read part 2, Laboratory Experiments, click here.

In my previous article, I talked about OBE experiments in the lab. Now let's turn our attention to more anecdotal evidence. That is, evidence that wasn't gathered under strict lab protocols.

Anecdotal evidence from spontaneous OBEs 

Conservative estimates based on polls indicate that 20 – 25% of the general population have had one OBE in their lifetime. Many of them report some kind of evidence. The mountain of evidence is too big to quote in any detail, but can be found in several books and periodicals.

The voyage of S. R. Wilmot 

Some of the earliest anecdotal evidence of OBEs comes from the SPR (Society for Psychical Research), a British organization dedicated to scientifically studying psychic phenomena. Founded in 1882, the SPR was the first society to conduct organized scholarly research into human experiences that challenge contemporary scientific models, including OBEs. One famous case, quoted in several OBE books, concerns Mr. S. R. Wilmot, a sailor who survived a great storm while sailing from Liverpool to New York. Here are some excerpts:

Upon the night following the eighth day of the storm the tempest moderated a little, and for the first time since leaving port I enjoyed refreshing sleep. Toward morning I dreamed that I saw my wife, whom I had left in the United States, come to the door of my state-room, clad in her nightdress. At the door she seemed to discover that I was not the only occupant of the room, hesitated a little, then advanced to my side, stooped down and kissed me, and after gently caressing me for a few moments, quietly withdrew. 

Upon waking I was surprised to see my fellow passenger, whose berth was above mine, but not directly over it—owing to the fact that our room was at the stern of the vessel—leaning upon his elbow, and looking fixedly at me. 'You're a pretty fellow,' said he at length, 'to have a lady come and visit you in this way.' I pressed him for an explanation, which he at first declined to give, but at length related what he had seen while wide awake, lying in his berth. It exactly corresponded with my dream.... 

The day after landing I went by rail to Watertown, Conn., where my children and my wife had been for some time, visiting her parents. Almost her first question, when we were alone together, was, 'Did you receive a visit from me a week ago Tuesday?' 'A visit from you?' said I, 'we were more than a thousand miles at sea.' 'I know it,' she replied, 'but it seemed to me that I visited you.' 'It would be impossible,' said I. 'Tell me what makes you think so.'.... 

On the night previous, the same night when, as mentioned above, the storm had just begun to abate, she had lain awake for a long time thinking of me, and about four o'clock in the morning it seemed to her that she went out to seek me. Crossing the wide and stormy sea, she came at length to a low, black steamship, whose side went up, and then descending into the cabin, passed through it to the stern until she came to my state-room. 'Tell me,' said she, 'do they ever have state-rooms like the one I saw, where the upper berth extends further than the under one? A man was in the upper berth, looking right at me and for a moment I was afraid to go in, but soon I went up to the side of your berth, bent down and kissed you, and embraced you, and went away.'

The description given by my wife of the steamship was correct in all particulars, though she had never seen it. (Proceedings of the Society for Psychical Research, Volume VII)

The problem with the Wilmot case is that it was all hearsay evidence, and that it happened so long ago. Skeptics like Susan Blackmore can easily rattle off a huge laundry list of reasons why it should be ignored.

Phantasms of the living

In 1886, three of the SPR's most distinguished members, Edmund Gurney, Frederic W. H. Myers (two of the SPR's founding members) and Frank Podmore, published the book Phantasms of the Living. While the book covers a wide range of psychic phenomena, such as telepathy, it also contains evidence to suggest OBEs may be objective (or “real.”) In some cases cited the non-physical body (commonly called the “astral body”) of a living person is seen as a ghostly apparition by another person, suggesting that the subject's body image has an objective counterpart. In the introduction of the book, Myers writes: 

"I refer to apparitions; excluding, indeed, the alleged apparitions of the dead, but including the apparitions of all persons who are still living, as we know life, though they may be on the very brink and border of physical dissolution. And these apparitions, as will be seen, are themselves extremely various in character; including not visual phenomena alone, but auditory, tactile, or even purely ideational and emotional impressions. All these we have included under the term phantasm; a word which, through etymologically a mere variant of phantom, has been less often used, and has not become so closely identified with visual impressions alone." (p. Xxxiii) 

Many more narrations containing evidence of an objective astral body are given by Myers in his posthumous book from 1903, Human Personality and Its Survival of Bodily Death.

Dr. Robert Crookall's OBE case collection 

Similar narrations can also be found in several books by author Dr. Robert Crookall, a geologist who collected, studied, analyzed and published hundreds of OBE accounts. Many of his narrations contain anecdotal evidence of OBEs. Here's an example: 

Case No. 93—Dr I.K. Funk's doctor-friend

Dr. I.K. Funk the publisher and theologian gave the experience of a physician well known to, and trusted by, him in The Psychic Riddle, (Funk and Wagnall's Co.). The doctor went to bed. His feet and legs became "as cold as those of the dead" ..."All at once...for an instance I became unconscious. When I recovered, I seemed to be walking in the air. No words can describe the exhilaration and freedom and clearness of mental vision that I experienced. I thought of a friend who was a thousand miles distance and seemed to travel with great rapidity through the atmosphere. Everything was light...a peculiar light of its own, such as I had never known. It could not have been a minute after I thought of my friend before I was standing in a room with him. Suddenly turning and seeing me, he said, 'What are you doing here? You were in Florida'." … He approached the doctor's 'double' and the doctor heard the expression he used. He was, however, unable to answer.

..."I may add here that the friend referred to as having been seen by me that night was distinctly conscious of my presence and he made the exclamation mentioned. We both wrote the next day, relating the experiences of the night. The letters corroborating the incident crossed in the post." (Crookall, The Study and Practice of Astral Projection, 1979, pg. 96)

Anecdotal evidence: Reports from NDEs

Near-Death Experiences (NDEs) often feature OBEs that are more dramatic than typical run-of-the-mill OBEs, and often contain convincing evidence of an objective component. There have been numerous cases where people reported NDEs from which they were able to accurately quote conversations between doctors and nurses during surgery, despite the fact that they were rendered completely unconscious by anesthetics. Some patients have described operating room procedures in detail, and even procedural blunders during their NDE. Sometimes they accurately reported events occurring in the hallway of the hospital or other patients' rooms.

Dr. Eben Alexander’s Proof of Heaven

Skeptics often argue that NDEs really don't provide proof because they are almost always the result of cardiac arrest, which doesn't prove that the brain stopped working; it may still be functioning, albeit, abnormally. Since EEGs only measure activity on the surface of the brain, there could still be electrical activity during the NDE that's undetectable because of its distance from the skull surface. While that may be true in many cases, it doesn't explain the NDE of Dr. Eben Alexander from his book Proof of Heaven. Alexander, a brain expert and neurosurgeon, had an NDE due to E. Coli bacterial meningitis, which is almost always fatal. The disease completely shut down the neocortex of his brain; the area recognized by scientists as responsible for all experience. If there was a purely biological explanation for consciousness, he should have experienced absolutely nothing during his NDE. Given that the author is a brain surgeon and expert on the topic, his account is impressive. He was a skeptic of his own patients' NDE claims until it actually happened to him.

Next time, in part 4 of this series, I'll talk about evidence from OBE adepts, that is, people who can self-induce OBEs.

Bob Peterson

17 Nov 2020

Tuesday, November 3, 2020

Are OBEs "Real?" - Part 2

Are OBEs "Real?" - Part 2

by Bob Peterson

Wow. It's hard to believe, but this marks the 8-year anniversary of my blog, "The OBE Outlook on Life," which I launched on November 4, 2012. Time flies whether you're having fun or not!

This is part 2 of a series of articles that examine whether out-of-body experiences are "real" / veridical. Full disclosure: Much of this is based on the chapter I wrote for Alexander DeFoe's free eBook Consciousness Beyond the Body.

To read part 1, click here.

OBE experiments in the laboratory 

Most OBE adepts have gotten the same request multiple times: “Travel to my house in an OBE and describe the object I've placed on my bedside table. That will prove you're able to leave your body.” 

The problem with this request is that it is unscientific. It proves nothing and has no value in a scientific sense. Why? First, people are too predictable: They leave the same things on their bedside table: phone, alarm clock, keys, wedding rings, and so forth, so the system can be fooled by careful guesswork. Second, it is too easy to cheat: a certain amount of reconnaissance or detective work can fool the system. This is the case with many psi experiments. Third, it has no lasting meaning: it is all uncontrolled and word-of-mouth. These little bedside experiments usually never find their way to reputable scientists, and it won't convince them if it does.

Skeptic Susan Blackmore actually tried this experiment. She set a number of targets in her kitchen: numbers, words and objects (an example she documented is 34802 CAT, and a matchbox full of matches, but she periodically changed the target). She then invited OBE adepts to visit her home. In her 1996 book In Search of the Light she states that

“Several OBErs have now had a go at it, but none had ever succeeded in seeing it. That is, so far. It is still there, and I keep on changing it.” (pg. 234) 

In her 2017 book Seeing Myself, she states that she's given up on the idea and doesn't have OBE targets in her residence anymore.

I once got an email from a man who had memorized the serial number from the back of his desktop computer from an OBE state. Later he verified the numbers were correct. The evidence was convincing, but only to him. The problem is: The correct answer can easily be brushed aside as a lucky guess or feat of long-term subconscious memory recall. Unless, of course, it's repeated under laboratory conditions with qualified scientists driving the experiment and strict controls to rule out all other possible explanations. Clearly, OBEs should be studied in a controlled scientific fashion. Sadly, very few scientific experiments have been done on OBEs.

Dr. Charles Tart’s experiments with “Miss Z”

One of the most well-known scientific experiments done on OBEs was conducted by Dr. Charles Tart in the 1970s. His subject, a young woman known as “Miss Z” (to protect her identity) reportedly had OBEs three to four times a week. Tart studied her in his sleep lab for four nonconsecutive nights, over the period of two months. Each time she was cabled to an electroencephalogram (EEG) to record her brain waves. She was also monitored for Rapid Eye Movements (REMs) with a strain gauge taped over the right eyelid. Basil Skin Resistance (BSR) was also recorded on a Grass polygraph to monitor her level of relaxation. Other measurements were taken as well. The wires were fairly restrictive: if she sat up more than two feet, the cables would have been disconnected (they were still loose enough for her to turn over and get comfortable). And that would be indicated on the graphs.

Every night after Miss Z was in bed with cables attached and equipment recording, Tart would go into his office, flip a coin onto a printed table of random digits (computers are notoriously bad at generating truly random numbers, especially in the 1970s, so this was not an uncommon practice for scientists). Wherever the coin landed determined five random digits, which he then wrote in two-inch (5cm) high numerals on a piece of paper. He slipped the paper into an opaque envelope and used that to carry the number back to the lab. About five and a half feet above Miss Z's head was a small shelf (about ten by five inches/ 25x13cm). Tart carefully slipped the paper out of the envelope and onto the shelf where she could not see it.

On the final night of the experiment, Miss Z had an OBE. At 5:50am, Tart noted that the occipital channel [of the EEG] showed an enlarged, slow wave artifact, and the EEG looked like stage 1 (hypnagogic) tracing, with an irregular mixture of theta waves, random low-voltage activity and occasional isolated alphoid activity (brain waves of 1 to 2 cycles per second slower than her waking alpha) and occasional normal alpha. There were no Rapid Eye Movements (REM) at the time. At 5:57am, the slow wave artifact stopped and the EEG looked like stage 1 sleep with some eye movements, but she might also have been awake. At 6:04am she called out that the target number was 25132. This was the correct number (with all digits in the correct order). The odds of doing this by chance are around 1 in 100,000.

Dr. Charles Tart’s experiments with Robert Monroe

After his success with Miss Z, Tart decided to experiment on his close personal friend, Robert Monroe, founder of the Monroe Institute and author of three books on OBEs (Journeys Out of the Body, Far Journeys, and Ultimate Journey). He brought Monroe into a different lab for nine sessions. Although he called him “Mr. X” for the study, Monroe later admitted to being the subject.

As with Miss Z, Monroe was attached to probes and wires, which gave him a great deal of discomfort (according to Tart). When Tart wasn't there, Monroe was monitored by a woman lab technician. 

Despite being uncomfortable with the wires and probes, Monroe did produce two OBEs in the lab on one of the nights. He did not claim to see the target number, but something interesting did happen. In his OBE, Monroe saw the lab technician unexpectedly talking with a man. After Monroe awoke, he got her attention. When he told her he had seen her with a man, she replied that it was her husband. Monroe asked if he was outside, and she replied that he was, that he came to stay with her during the late hours. He asked her why he hadn't seen the man before, and she replied that it was policy for no outsiders to see subjects or patients. 

Conclusions

Although laboratory experiments on OBEs can be convincing, there's simply not been enough of it done to draw any conclusions. Tart's one-in-one-hundred-thousand odds against chance is not convincing to hardened skeptics. It certainly pales compared to, say, some of Dean Radin's meta-analysis of other (non-OBE) paranormal claims (telepathy, clairvoyance, etc.) in his fabulous book Entangled Minds.

In part 3, I'll begin to talk about the evidence gathered outside the laboratory.

Bob Peterson
03 November 2020

Tuesday, October 20, 2020

Are OBEs "Real?" - Part 1

Are OBEs "Real?" - Part 1

by Bob Peterson

Many people ask, “are out-of-body experiences (OBEs) real?”. In most cases what they really mean to ask is, “Does something really leave the body or is it a purely subjective experience?”. Or maybe "In an OBE, do we (or can we) witness people, things and events in the physical world?" It's an important question because it may suggest we survive the death of the physical body.

From the subject’s point of view, the OBE is very real. It’s often impossible to convince them otherwise. In fact they sometimes seem so real people convince themselves during the experience that they are actually awake and not in an OBE at all, at least until something happens to convince them otherwise such as floating, passing through walls, or otherwise breaking the laws of physics. This has happened to me many times.

In 2015 Alexander De Foe published the free eBook Consciousness Beyond the Body which examines a lot of the evidence regarding whether or not out-of-body experiences are "real." If you want a critical examination of the evidence, please download the book to your favorite device and give it a read.

At De Foe's request, I donated a chapter to the book. Since some of the evidence was covered by other authors, my chapter was understandably edited down.

In this series of articles, I'll present some of the evidence from the original uncut chapter, plus new evidence uncovered since De Foe's book was published. To be fair, I'm not just going to examine evidence to support the theory that OBEs are real. I'll also examine evidence to suggest OBEs may NOT be real. By the end of the series you can hopefully make up your own mind based on the evidence.

Two Questions

To find out if OBEs are veridical (a real perception of the physical world, not illusory) first we need to address two questions:

  • What qualifies as an OBE? and
  • What counts as evidence of its objectivity or reality? 

The first question, “what qualifies as an OBE?” leads us to the notion of a continuum or sliding scale of awareness. Strong physical evidence suggests that varying amounts of awareness (perceived as nonphysical) can exert influence away from our physical body. (There are many good examples in the book Entangled Minds by Dean Radin, Ph.D.) Studies of telepathy over the past hundred years have proven beyond reasonable doubt that one mind can affect another from a distance, and various theories have been asserted to explain that long-distance relationship. If something (such as quantum Higgs fields) actually leaves the body to transmit the information in cases of telepathy, can OBEs be just a larger, more involved version of the same process? 

Perhaps telepathy and OBEs are two different forms of remote sensory transmission on the same sliding scale. Remote viewing (where evidence is collected and remote locations are ’seen’ in the mind's eye while the subject is still awake and aware of his or her physical body) would lie somewhere in the middle. Perhaps as subjects lose awareness of their physical bodies in an OBE, their perception of this quantum field information is heightened to the point where the brain interprets it in terms of the five senses acting on a non-physical body (commonly called the “astral body” in the literature). 

Future scientific research may lead to the discovery of this quantum field information, but since this is only conjecture at this point, for the purposes of this discussion I'm going to restrict the evidence to OBEs in which there is no awareness of the physical body whatsoever). In other words, the physical body seems to be just another inanimate object in the room. Although OBEs with partial body control or awareness may be just as valid as other OBEs, I'm imposing this restriction to minimize the possibility that the information was obtained by remote viewing, clairvoyance, telepathy and other forms of "in-the-body" extrasensory perception (ESP). 

Evidence from Ingo Swann and Keith Harary

Although many might disagree, my definition of an OBE unfortunately disqualifies some of the best evidence, such as the many successes of the late psychic Ingo Swann (Swann, To Kiss Earth Goodbye, 1975, Mitchell, Out-of-Body Experiences, 1985). In one experiment, Swann claimed to have traveled to the planet Jupiter in one of his “OBEs” and identified rings around the planet in 1973, prior to the Voyager-1 probe's discovery of the actual rings in 1979. This is considered good veridical evidence of OBEs, but it doesn't pass my criteria, since he was still aware of his physical body during the experiment. 

It also disqualifies the OBEs of other famous psychics like Stuart ‘Blue’ (now known as Keith) Harary who did laboratory experiments while still able to narrate what was happening (demonstrating some degree of control over the physical body). In one experiment, Harary was apparently able to remotely affect the behaviour of his cat, Spirit, during some of his “OBEs.” Technicians filmed the animal and counted the number of meow sounds the cat made before, during and after his OBEs. The cat became noticeably more calm and meowed less during his OBEs.

It also disqualifies the “Focus Level” experiences described by proponents of The Monroe Institute (authors Rosalind McKnight, Bruce Moen, Thomas Campbell, etc.) In some cases the subject seems to have retained awareness of their physical body during these “OBEs” and can describe what's going on. Others have reported no bodily awareness, and yet they're somehow able to control their body, and even make it narrate the event remotely from the OBE state. 

The second question, “what counts as evidence of its objectivity or reality?” is a shaky one, and one with a sliding scale that varies from scientific to anecdotal evidence.

On one end of the spectrum is evidence obtained from controlled scientific experiments. Although acceptable by the average person, hardened skeptics can always discount it for any number of reasons: the senses can be fooled, eyewitness testimony is notoriously bad, memory is not reliable, shortcomings of the methodology, cheating, and so forth. 

On the other end, we have loose anecdotal hearsay evidence that equally hardened believers will accept as incontrovertible proof, despite its shortcomings. Yet even the loosest circumstantial evidence is not without value: it is enough to convince the average person, given that the evidence is piled into a high enough mountain. Case in point: most of us believe Pluto actually exists, despite the fact that we've never had direct experience of it, nor even done a critical examination of the evidence to support it. What makes us so sure? Only the mountain of indirect evidence (books and papers from scientists, photographs, gravitational measurements, etc.), almost all of which could have been faked. I might also add that OBEs have similar piles of evidence: more than 200 books, hundreds of papers and thousands of eyewitness testimonials. 

I'm going to break this series of articles into different categories of evidence based on this sliding scale:

  • Laboratory experiments
  • Anecdotal evidence from spontaneous OBEs and NDEs
  • Evidence from OBE adepts, and
  • Indirect evidence. 
Some of this was done arbitrarily, since some evidence fits into more than one category (for example, anecdotal indirect evidence). By indirect evidence, I mean evidence from a third party observer that suggests a subject's OBE may have been objective. For the purposes of this discussion, I'm using the term ‘adept’ simply as someone who claims to have induced multiple OBEs at will (in full disclosure: I fall into this category.) 

Next time, I'll examine evidence from laboratory experiments.

Bob Peterson
20 Oct 2020

Tuesday, October 6, 2020

Review: Out-of-Body Adventures

Review: Out-of-Body Adventures

by Rick Stack

Today I'm reviewing Out-of-Body Adventures: 30 Days to the Most Exciting Experience of Your Life, by Rick Stack. The copyright is 1988, which is about when I bought it. I decided to re-read and review it at the request of one of my readers.

I was very excited when I first got this book by Rick Stack mainly because Stack was one of the early students of Jane Roberts and the "Seth" material, which makes him unique in the field of Out-of-Body Experiences, or OOBEs as he calls them. If you don't know Jane Roberts, she was one of the very first "channels" in modern times. She channeled an entity who called himself Seth, and his most fundamental tenant was "You create your own reality (from your beliefs)." This predates "The Secret," the "Law of Attraction," and hordes of others that followed. (If this interests you, my favorite Seth book is The Nature of Personal Reality).

So it stands to reason that Stack's book focuses mainly on changing your beliefs, assumptions, self-talk, etc., to induce OBEs. The book has gems like this:
"If you spur your imagination with belief, desire and expectancy, and train it to visualize your goals so that you see, feel, hear, taste, and touch them, you will get what you want. --Jose Silva" (pg. 28)
and:
"If you want to learn how to induce OOBEs, the place to start is with your own metaphysical assumptions, that is, your opinions and attitudes about your existence and your universe. Individuals who encounter difficulty in their attempts to get out-of-body generally need to examine and alter their belief systems." (pg. 28)
Very "Sethian" indeed. He takes a similar stance on psychic protection and "astral wildlife", i.e. negative non-physical entities:
"Since you create your reality through your thoughts, if you believe strongly in such spooky creatures, you conceivably could manufacture them and then meet your own creations. They will not really be demons, of course, because demons per se do not exist. They will have no power over you, since it is always you and your own ideas, thoughts, and emotions that determine your experience--no matter what dimension you find yourself in." (pg. 54)
Likewise, he stresses the importance of feeling safe, not only in OBEs, but in ordinary waking life as well. Here's an old message for today's troubling times:
"Feeling safe in your world is important not only for work with OOBEs but for your overall spiritual fulfillment. Feeling consistently threatened leaves to the curtailment of creative energy. It's true that we are often bombarded by newspapers and TV programs that constantly try to tell us how powerless we are to affect events in a dangerous world. We do not, however, have to buy this bill of goods." (pg. 66)
As you might expect, affirmations play a big role in Stack's advice about inducing OBEs:
"I often do about eight different affirmations in less than twenty minutes. Experiment with what works best for you." (pg. 74)
Some of his affirmations are:
"Getting out is easy! Anybody can do it! All you really need is the desire!" (pg. 102)
Stack gives a lot of advice regarding how to induce OBEs, such as:
  • Explore your limiting beliefs
  • Use affirmations
  • Record your dreams
  • Analyze your dreams
That naturally leads to the subject of lucid dreaming. Stack's view of lucid dreams is basically that a lucid dream is an upgrade from an ordinary dream, and an OBE is an upgrade from a lucid dream. This is something I've always believed: A lucid dream is an experience in which you know you're dreaming, but an OBE is an experience in which you know you're not!

Stack gives a number of OBE techniques, including:

Technique #1: An early (and quite good) rendition of "Wake Back To Bed (WBTB)" before that term was even coined. He recommends interrupting your sleep after 3.5 to 4 hours of sleep, no longer.

Technique #2: Floating out from the hypnagogic stage (visualizations, etc.)

Technique #3: Inducing lucid dreams and OBEs from the dream state.

Technique #4: The Joy of Flight (Using triggers and dream incubation to induce lucidity)

Technique #5: From the Inner to the Outer, which is basically just waking your awareness up without waking up your body.

Technique #6: Reflection (repeatedly examining your current experience and asking yourself "Am I dreaming?" and such.)

Technique #7: Counting down, which is where you try to fall asleep while counting up: "One. I'm dreaming. Two. I'm dreaming. Three. I'm dreaming..." (Others have suggested "One. I'm leaving my body. Two. I'm leaving my body, etc....")

One of the most valuable lessons from this book is about expectations:
"Once you get going, you will begin to expect to have out-of-body experiences from the sleep state. Thus, you can begin developing a habit of having OOBEs." (pg. 110)
What I liked most about this book is Rick Stack's up-beat enthusiasm. For example:
"The greatest value in the study of OOBEs has little to do with electroencephalograms, rapid eye movements, or even the ability to describe a mountain thousands of miles away. The greatest value is in the exhilaration of being out-of-body oneself, intuitive comprehensions received, and the glimpses of the mysteries of the universe that are available to the bold explorer." (pg. 17)
Stack really understands the value of out-of-body experiences. I loved this quote. It's kind of long, but inspiring:
"Since I'm no longer afraid of or uncomfortable about death, I am more inclined to focus on the reality of life's temporariness and use it for inspiration. This focus makes me want to maximize my life in every way. It helps me understand that the moments I spend with the people I love are completely unique, and even if I will know them in other times or other universes, things will never again be quite the same. It helps me cut through all the nonsense and pettiness that is so easy to think is important. It helps me savor and use my energy instead of squandering it. It helps me give up worry and enjoy my day." (pg. 22)
Stack has a great mixture of personal OBE narratives, techniques, and basics. The book is 150 pages, in a strange double-page format, with small margins. There's a decent amount of content. The grammar and spelling are top-notch.

This is a pretty good book. It won't knock your socks off, but it's solid. I give it 3.5 stars out of 5.

Bob Peterson
06 October 2020

---------------------------

If you want me to review a book about out-of-body experiences or astral projection, send me an email: bob@robertpeterson.org, but please check the index first to see if I've already reviewed it. Also, I've got a huge pile of books I'm planning to review, so don't expect a quick turnaround.

If you like my work, visit my website, robertpeterson.org, where you'll find lots of other free OBE advice and links.

Return to the index of my OBE Book reviews

 

Tuesday, September 22, 2020

The Lesson of the Glass Monk

The Lesson of the Glass Monk

by Bob Peterson

Many of my friends know that, besides out-of-body experiences, I also do stained glass art. Recently I created the stained glass window you see above, which is 18.5 inches (47cm) per side.

One day my inner voice asked me to walk out to our deck and take a photo of the piece from outside the house (shown on the left) and another from inside the house (shown on the right) and compare them. Then it launched into a lecture about how the window is a metaphor for our physical body versus our soul. Anyone who has read my book Answers Within knows that my inner voice likes to draw metaphors from life to illustrate points about spirituality, so this was no surprise. The lecture went something like this:
Everything in our physical lives is a metaphor of our lives, our lessons, our mission, our spirit. The monk window is also a metaphor of your life (and everyone's life as well). The value of the window comes not from the glass itself, but from the light that passes through it, just as the value of your life is not from the physical body, but what we do with it; its utility, like the light that we let shine from within our souls. The physical body is just an expression or tool for the soul: its hammer and chisel.
In the dark, both sides of the window look equal. Even though you may see no value, the value is still there: it is never diminished. Likewise, in the darkest hours of our lives we may feel worthless, but our worth is always there, even when eclipsed by total darkness. Just know that everything is cyclic and the light always returns.

The back side of the window [left photo] represents physical life: the physical body. The front side [right photo] represents spiritual life: the soul.

From the outside [left photo], you see dirt and grime from outside. You see reflections of your surroundings and even optical illusions of things that are not really there. This is a metaphor for physical life, where we perceive all kinds of troubles, but most of them are illusions or path steering mechanisms.
The light from outside the glass [left photo] obscures its beauty and causes it to appear dull and lackluster. You can't even see the blue panes at the bottom. From the inside [right photo], the dirt doesn't show. It appears shiny and clean. We clearly see the light pour in to show us the true image.
From outside you see the reflection of the boards of the deck, showing you a path, but the path isn't clear and it obscures the truth. Similarly, in life, your path may seem meandering and chaotic but the reality is much simpler. The path is not the person. From within, you see there is really no path, no "doing" but simply "being," "oneness."
From outside, the inner aura surrounding the monk seems almost gone. The outer aura appears green, rather than its true color. The chakras look almost black. The lotus flower appears white and colorless. From inside, the inner aura is clean and bright. The outer aura sparkles and shines. You see the true color of the chakras shining through. The rich blue base is clear to see. The lotus flower is a colorful pink. 
So too in life, if you focus on outward appearances, you only see the distortions, the artificial, the washed-out, stressed-out; the physical animal struggling to breathe, eat, drink, mate, and survive. If you focus on the inside, you see the clear light of the soul, reflecting the eternal, the blissful, the peaceful: the reflection of God within.
From outside the monk's skin looks pale and ghost-like: a metaphor of your Caucasian physical body. From inside the skin reflects all of humanity, all colors, all cultures. Like many people, you have lived many past lives in many cultures and religions, but don't recognize it from appearances. We are all multi-colored. 
Learn to see everyone else as they appear not from an outside perspective, but from within. You may only see their physical body, the outside perspective, but realize the light of their soul lies within.
Similarly, learn to perceive yourself as the soul inside. Do not accept people's distorted ideas of you, for most will only see the distorted, poorly reflected outside image. They only see the physical.
Regardless of what they think and what they say, believe in yourself as the inner being, not the outer reflection. Learn to let your light shine the right direction. Show everyone the cosmic Light Being within. Don't let their droning false narrative drown out the song of the soul within.
Therein lies the value of out-of-body travel: you can see beyond the pale reflection of life and gain a better understanding of the soul, both yours and everyone else's. 
Remember that if you focus on the physical, you only see the pale reflection, like the photo on the left. If you focus on the non-physical you learn to understand the greater depths of the soul.
And to gain out-of-body experiences, learn to un-focus from the physical senses and focus your complete attention on "the other side of the glass." That is the lesson of the Glass Monk.

Bob Peterson
21 Sep 2020

Tuesday, September 8, 2020

Review: The Vibrational State

Review: The Vibrational State

by Maverick Vardøger

Today I'm reviewing The Vibrational State: Three Years of Out of Body Experiences by Maverick Vardøger. The copyright is 2019, so it's pretty recent material.

Like all OBE/AP books, there are both good things and bad things about this book. Unlike many of my recent reviews, I actually bought this book.

The first thing that grabbed me about the book is the author's name: Maverick Vardøger. I'm pretty sure it's a pseudonym or pen name. In the first two paragraphs of the introduction he talks about how OBEs can sound crazy to someone who's never had them. He writes "This is the justification for a nom de plume."

And his name is very fitting. According to the dictionary, a maverick is:

  1. a lone dissenter, as an intellectual, an artist, or a politician, who takes an independent stand apart from his or her associates:
  2. a person pursuing rebellious, even potentially disruptive, policies or ideas.

I've known the word "Vardøger" for a very long time. It refers to an entity from Scandanavian mythology, much like a doppelgänger, but with a less sinister connotation. It has been likened to a phantom double, or a form of bilocation. For years, many of my close friends and family have heard me call my dog, Spirit, "Fur Dogger" as a tongue-in-cheek play on this word.

So who is Maverick Vardøger? I'm pretty sure he is an American: I've worked closely with Brits for many years and I'm well versed in British colloquialisms, and there just wasn't any in this book. Not a single "whilst," "fortnight," "lorry," or "petrol." I didn't pick out any Canadian phrasing either, so the writing is American. I'd bet his real name is Rick, but that's just a guess.

The next thing I noticed about the book is on the front cover where, in small print, appears an endorsement from William Buhlman, author of some very good OBE books like Adventures Beyond the Body. That's a pretty good authority!

The book starts back on February 29, 2016, when at the age of 30, Vardøger had his first spontaneous out-of-body experience. The book spans the period from then until August 2, 2019: a little over three years.

Chapter 1 is a brief introduction to out-of-body experiences. Chapter 2 is some example OBE narratives from Vardøger's journals. Chapter 3 is dedicated to techniques. His OBE techniques are:
  • Breaking the Glue
  • Roll-out Method
  • Sit-Up Method
  • Burst Method
  • Float-Up Method
  • 4-Hour Method (A 4-hour Wake-Back-To-Bed/WBTB Variant)
  • Eject Method
  • Hover Method
  • Rope Method
  • Observer Method (similar to the Target Technique)
  • Mirror Method
  • Ramp Timer (programmed audio beeps to trigger awareness during sleep)
  • Hair Pull Method
Most of these rely on how to break free from your body once you've achieved the vibrations, or the "vibrational state." Unfortunately, he doesn't offer a lot of advice on how to get the vibrations. He does give some pre-vibration techniques; just not a lot.
 
Chapter 4 is Tips and Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs). This is pretty solid. It contains a bunch of OBE best practices found in many OBE technique books, such as:
  • Meditate daily
  • Eat light meals several hours before bed
  • Do affirmations
  • Do reality checks throughout the day
  • Eat a vegetarian diet
  • Sleep on your back
  • Exhaust your body with physical exercise
  • Perform mantras
  • Reduce fluoride intake
There are only 8 questions in the FAQ, and they're all pretty basic.

Chapter 5 is "The Astral Log". This is the longest chapter in the book, spanning 103 of the book's 145 pages. This is basically a well edited journal of all his experiences, including all the near-misses, encounters with the vibrations, sleep paralysis, finding himself "out" but glued to his body, and occasionally, a full-blown OBE. The journal spans from February 29, 2016 to August 2, 2019. It details experiences numbered from 1 to 52, but a lot of these he isn't fully out-of-body.

Although some people may find it a bit "slow," I loved it because it gives a very realistic idea of what OBE practice is like: Lots of near-misses, encounters with the vibrations, brief OBEs, explorations that get cut way too early.

It's also contemporary: you're not hearing about a dead guy's OBEs from 70 years ago; it's very current.
 
One nice thing is that it's fairly detailed. He documents many things about the OBE, like how long it's been since he meditated, how long since he ran (he's a runner), his sleeping position, and other particulars.
 
He also talks about when he transitioned his diet from meat to Pescatarian (fish but no other meat) to Vegetarianism, to Veganism. He also wore a smart watch to bed for many of his OBEs, and interestingly, the watch indicated he was in REM sleep during the OBE. I don't know how good these smart watches are, nor what they base their data on. They certainly don't measure rapid eye movements. Do they measure galvanic skin resistance? Do they just measure heart rates? How do they tell Delta sleep from Theta waves from sleep spindles? I may need to do some research.

This was all very interesting, at least to me, but I would have loved to seen it carried much further. I wish he would have documented everything for the two days prior to each OBE: everything he ate and drank at every meal, including every snack and handful of nuts. I want to know how active he was physically and mentally. Was he a chess player or a couch potato?
 
I want to know the amount of ambient and/or traffic noise in his bedroom. I want to know his body mass index, what music (if any) he listened to, whether he used binaural beats, how "electrically isolated" he was (how exposed he was to RF noise), what vitamins, supplements, over-the-counter and prescription meds he had taken. I want to know how many hours of sleep he got and how broken or interrupted it was. I want to know how stressed he was. I want details, lots of details! These are all things I wish I had tracked all these years, for the sake of research. Still, I can't fault him: in general, he documented things like that better than I did. And most readers probably don't care about such things, right?

He gives theories, all based on his personal data and observations, about the effects of diet, exercise, drinking beer and/or other alcohol. Despite all his attempts at analysis, he didn't find any strong correlations.
"They occur randomly and I can't determine the reasons or triggers. I also have not meditated in about two months." (pg. 103)
I did the same thing with my early OBEs, tracking moon cycles, biorhythms, and everything else I could think of at the time, and I came to the same conclusion: the only thing that mattered for me is the amount of time I spent practicing.
 
But just because the author and I never found a correlation, does not mean there isn't one. It can just as easily indicate the correlations are not influenced by the day's events as much as the previous day's events, right? Maybe it was that Bran Muffin he had for breakfast the day before, right? That's why I want so many details. I know I'm just being too analytical here. Still, the book had more details than other authors, and I appreciated that.
 
I personally think a lot of his experiences were encouraged by broken sleep: he describes getting up in the middle of the night to feed and/or care for a baby. In one place he even notes:
"It seems like my intermittent sleep of 3 hours sleeping, 1 hour up with the baby, then back to sleep may be triggering more experiences. The frequent physical exhaustion of running may be contributing as well." (pg. 77)
Here's an interesting note: For me (and others, including Buhlman), it's hard to induce an OBE state when my wife is in bed with me, but many of Vardøger's experiences happen with his wife by his side.

In his OBEs, he tries some interesting experiments. Some of these were trying to establish proof that his OBEs were "real" i.e. veridical. For example, he tried to pinch his wife the same way Robert Monroe claims to have done in Journeys Out of the Body. Vardøger's wife was unaffected by the attempt, had no bruises, etc. He also talked to his wife and other people during OBEs and they had no memory of the conversation. So for the most part, his attempts are validation failed. To his credit, he is honest and doesn't sugarcoat his feelings:
"The vibrations, vividness of sight and touch, my conscious lucidity, the length of the experience, and the sensations of floating and separating from my body were very real. The details inside and outside of my home were not accurate. I still don't fully understand these astral OBEs but I'm happy to explore and experience them. They are more than a lucid dream. I still haven't found proof that I am literally out of my body." (pg. 101).
I found this interesting tidbit that shoots Monroe's theory about pointing North.
"I have lived in four different locations in he last 26 months, with all my beds all facing different directions and the experiences persist." (pg. 107).
The book is interesting, but not a barn burner. As you know, I love love love OBE narratives and Vardøger gives a lot of them. As I said, they paint a pretty accurate picture of the OBE, but to the average reader, they may be a bit mundane.

The book is 145 pages with a medium-large footprint, decent margins and small font. The writing, spelling and grammar are all excellent. It seemed professionally edited. I only found a couple small mistakes. There's enough content to satisfy, but given that the vast majority of the book is narratives, I would have liked more analysis, theories, academic discussion, like, say, Frederick Aardema's book Explorations in Consciousness. I did, however, love his enthusiasm.

I'll give it 3 and a half stars out of 5, but it's almost a 4.

Bob Peterson
8 September 2020


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If you want me to review a book about out-of-body experiences or astral projection, send me an email: bob@robertpeterson.org, but please check the index first to see if I've already reviewed it. Also, I've got a huge pile of books I'm planning to review, so don't expect a quick turnaround.

If you like my work, visit my website, robertpeterson.org, where you'll find lots of other free OBE advice and links.

Return to the index of my OBE Book reviews


Tuesday, August 25, 2020

A Year of New OBE Tips - Part 3

 A Year of New OBE Tips - Part 3

by Bob Peterson

In my previous two articles, I wrote about the new OBE induction tips and "tricks" I learned since I published my fifth book, Hacking the Out of Body Experience: Leveraging Science to Induce OBEs about a year ago. If you missed part 1, you can read it by clicking this link. To read part 2, follow this link.

What I covered in part 1:
  • Taking naps
  • Trying different relaxation techniques
  • Harnessing unfamiliarity
  • Fasting
  • The 4-hour WBTB trick
  • Reading about OBEs before bed

What I covered in part 2:

  • Harness your expectations
  • Let go: you're probably trying too hard
  • Give yourself a break
  • Exercise your default mode network (DMN)
  • Ask for outside help

Here's my third and final installment of this series:

Roll your closed eyes up slightly

In Hacking I wrote about how you can slowly panning your closed eyes back and forth during OBE practice to pretend your body is in REM sleep:

"I also read a Facebook post from a guy who offered another trick related to the Gatekeeper. His trick is to slowly roll your eyes back and forth, as if pretending your body is in REM sleep. He claimed that the act of slowly rolling your eyes is enough to convince your subconscious that the body is in REM sleep, and that lets you sneak more awareness or lucidity across the threshold." (pg. 259)

Even though REM stands for Rapid Eye Movements, the actual eye movements in REM sleep are often not rapid at all, but somewhat slow.

Since then, I learned this additional trick from Terrill Willson's book How I Learned Soul Travel. Willson writes:

My primary attention was on keeping my eyes rotated upward as high as possible in my head yet staying relaxed; then I'd concentrate on listening to The Faint High whistle in the top of my head. If I could drift into sleep still contemplating like this, my chances of moving out of my body automatically were very good." (pg. 123)

So when you make your OBE attempts, let your eyes roll up gently. It's important not to strain them or force them up artificially. Just let them float up naturally.

Loosen your TPJ - Boating and video games

In Hacking I wrote about how the brain's temporoparietal junction (TPJ) determines your sense of spacial location and orientation by polling several sources of sensory data to formulate your "story of experience" (how you experience everything). The right-side TPJ determines your experience (what is happening to you) and the left-side TPJ determines your narrative about the experience (your running inner dialog about what you experience). I wrote about how you can directly change your experience by changing your inner dialog because both TPJs talk to each other within the Default Mode Network. That's why things like affirmations work.

I also talked about how video games make OBEs more likely because they train your brain to accept an altered story of experience.

Another thing I've found is that boating for long periods of time, with that constant rocking, messes (in a good way) with your TPJ's sense of stability. So it may help to spend quality time on a boat, train, or anything else with a rocking motion.
 
Later, when you're on land and make your OBE attempts, you can remember the rocking sensation and leverage that for your OBEs.

Ride the Transitions

In Hacking I wrote about how to effectively use vitamins and supplements to induce OBEs. One of the things I wrote was:

"Don’t take B-6 every day. Take it a few days, then stop cold turkey for another few, then go back on it again. For some reason, I seem to have better dream recall when I’m either starting or stopping vitamin B-6. If I’m on it too long or off it too long, the effect is nullified."

That's a perfect example of "riding a transition." OBEs are much more likely when you make the transition: when you start taking vitamin B-6, or stop taking it, but not so much when you're actually "on" or "off" the vitamin for long periods.

What I've learned in the last year is that it extends beyond vitamins and supplements. OBEs seem to be facilitated by when you undergo many behavioral changes: the transition of starting or stopping some behavior.

Another good example is sleeping at a friend's house, which I talked about in my article about Harnessing Unfamiliarity for OBEs: you're making a transition from your familiar residence to a new one, or rearranging your bedroom: transitioning from one bed position to another. These transitions and "non-patterning" can also lead to more frequent OBEs, but once you become too familiar, your OBEs can stop again.

The same is true with exercise: You may not have many OBEs if you exercise regularly or laze around constantly, but when you start a new exercise program or stop one, you're more likely to have OBEs.

The same goes for meditation: Regular meditation may facilitate OBEs, but I've often found that OBEs are more likely when I either start a new meditation practice or stop one. If I'm too regimented with my meditation--or don't meditate at all--OBEs are less frequent.

Non-patterning is not the same thing as sporadic

Don't get me wrong. That's not to say that "sporadic" or random use of supplements, exercise and meditation are the answer either. Your body gets used to that randomness too.
 
What I am suggesting is that you ride those transitions: exercise regularly for a week or two, then be lazy for a week or two. Meditate regularly for two weeks, then skip it for a week. Take a B-complex vitamin for a week, then skip it a week. Listen to binaural beats for a week, then skip it for a week. And don't use the same "on/off" schedule for all these things.
 
I suggest you vary the length of time you spend "on" and "off" a program. Some people may need two weeks or even three. It depends on your metabolism.
 
Learning to induce out-of-body experiences is like Tai Chi: you can do it your whole life, but there's always something new to learn.
 
Hopefully some of these helpful hints can get you unstuck or give you that initial push to get you across that delicate threshold and into a whole new level of reality. Try some of these new tips then share the results on one of the Astral Projection groups on Facebook.

If you have your own OBE induction tips I haven't covered elsewhere, share them too. Maybe I'll collect them and create a new blog article with readers' tips.
 
Bob Peterson
25 August 2020