Saturday, April 12, 2014

Book Review: The Astral Projection Guidebook by Erin Pavlina

Review: The Astral Projection Guidebook by Erin Pavlina

Book review by Bob Peterson

This book review is about The Astral Projection Guidebook: Mastering the Art of Astral Travel by Erin Pavlina.

This book is similar to the previous book I reviewed, (Astral Projection, by Sylvia Jacobs.) Both authors approach this using the same basic "classical" occult assumptions: that you have an astral body that actually projects to another plane of existence. Both authors give practical advice on leaving the body. However, I enjoyed this book a lot more than Sylvia Jacobs' book. There are several reasons for that.

First, although both books are relatively short (142 pages for this one versus 114 for the other) Pavlina's book uses a smaller font, so you're getting more than twice the content.
Second, she gave a bunch of background story: she wrote about how back in high school, she and her friends (Ashley and Jared) discovered lucid dreaming and OBEs and learned to cultivate their abilities. She talks about their discoveries, adventures and the setbacks. The trio would rendezvous, sometimes pulling each other out-of-body, and go on adventures. She doesn't expound on any scientific experiments they could have done (that would have made the book better), but there's a real human side to the book.

The author's bubbly personality and encouragement just ignites the reader and fills them with infectious enthusiasm. And she's very witty. For example, on page 51 she writes:
"So if you ever wake up in your bed, are paralyzed, but can still see, you are golden! Get ready."

Many people are scared to death when they encounter sleep paralysis. Pavlina sees it as a golden opportunity for adventure (as do I)! She changes the fear to opportunity.

Third, she addresses the reader like her best friend: up-close, personal and with fun, whereas Sylvia Jacobs wrote like she was addressing a classroom: a little dry and clinical.

The thing I liked the most about this book is the author's attitude. Even when she's talking about negative entities and conquering the fear, she keeps an up-beat attitude and a sense of humor. For example, on page 56, while talking about expecting the fear, she writes:
"...But not you. You're reading this guide book so when sleep paralysis happens to you, you're going to be thinking, "Wait, what's this now? I can't move but I feel wide awake? Oh wow, this is it. This is awesome. Hey, who are you hovering over me? Be gone foul creature, I have work to do!"

She goes on to say:
"If you rail against the fear, it will take hold of you and you'll sink into the fear vibration which will make you an easy target and a tasty snack."
A tasty snack! (She often refers to energy sucking entities this way.)

Although there's a serious side to the discussion of negative entities, she always maintains an upbeat attitude. This has two very important purposes: First, anyone who isn't confident (or scared) will probably back off and think twice before dabbling, at least until they conquer their fears (as well they should). Second, someone who take this to heart learns the confidence they need to have positive experiences: As author Frank Herbert once wrote in the book Dune, fear is the mind killer. If you go into this with a fearless, almost playful attitude of exploration, you'll have positive experiences. And even if you do encounter negative entities, your own fearlessness will allow you to safely confront potential threats and get beyond them, rather than letting them conquer you (drain your energy or use your fear to control you). You can avoid almost all of the negative encounters by maintaining that upbeat attitude, which raises your vibrations.

I have to be honest with you: there were a few places in this book where I did not agree with the author. First, she insists that we do not leave our bodies every night during sleep. I disagree. In my experience, we do, but we're normally unconscious and unaware that it's happening. Most OBE authors agree with me on this point; Pavlina is one of the rare exceptions.

I also disagree with the author's assessment of the mechanisms by which we're pulled back to our bodies in an emergency. She writes that your body pulls you back in times of need (alarm clocks going off, phones ringing, etc). I disagree. I think it's your subconscious self, super-conscious self or "higher" self. In other words, it's some form of superior intelligence that controls the whole show. I think she's crediting the physical body with a bit too much intelligence during an OBE; I think of it as more of a tool, a kind of meat puppet that knows the basics of breathing and pumping blood while I'm out on an adventure. She treats it, humorously, like some kind of insecure child or puppy dog that needs to be appeased. On page 62, when talking about the actual exit, she writes:
Don't succumb to the pull. Keep going. It doesn't hurt to send reassuring thoughts of calmness to your body. "Shh, there there, it's all right, I'm not leaving you for good, just want to step out for a minute and get some air. There's a good body, just stay here, and I'll be right back." Stay calm and in control.
Despite these few points of contention, I did agree with most of what she said. She has hands down one of the most thorough discussions of negative entities and how to handle them. She describes several levels of protection, just in case one method doesn't work for some reason.

Having said that, there's a negative side to this. Many books treat negative entities with a bit more spiritual, love-oriented care. Ali Wylie's book comes to mind here. Pavlina often takes a different approach: once she figured out how to deal with negative or "dark" entities, she became a bit vindictive, purposely seeking out negative entities and cutting them down or stabbing them with a light-sword. She eventually grew out of this childish phase (and that's all discussed), but it casts a somewhat un-spiritual light on the whole thing. If you're looking for a book with deep spiritual meaning, you'd be better off reading Jurgen Ziewe's first book. Still, the information is good and, as I said, very entertaining.

Here's another example of her humor:
If you achieve separation by rolling out of your body, you'll want to be careful not to continue your descent into your floor and then possibly the ground. It's disconcerting to project and find yourself immediately encased in tons of earth.

Undoubtedly! This book has some excellent advice for preparation and execution, but it's is a bit short on the OBE techniques themselves. Sylvia Jacobs' book is better in that department.

This book is very well written, has excellent grammar and perfect spelling. I only found one or two typos. Although it's apparently self-published (the cover says, it looks and feels very professional. She obviously took a lot of time and care making it the best book it could be.

This book is not very innovative, but it is highly entertaining and very informative. Thumbs up.

Bob Peterson
April 12 2014

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Review: Astral Projection, by Sylvia Jacobs

Review: Astral Projection, by Sylvia Jacobs

Book review by Bob Peterson

I finished reading the book Astral Projection: How To Have An Out-Of-Body Experience In 30 Days by Sylvia Jacobs, and I wanted to give my thoughts and observations about the book.

The first thing to note is that this book is small. It's only 113 pages long, its font is big and there's lot of white space, so it only took a couple hours to read. Compare that with my previous review of D. Scott Rogo's Leaving the Body: that was 190 pages but took me a month to read, in several carved out blocks of time (I'm a busy guy). Although Rogo's book is not even twice as many pages, it took me at least ten times longer to read, due to the small font. What this means is: Rogo's book has ten times the information.

The book makes a lot of assumptions, primarily related to occult beliefs about the out-of-body experiences. The author echoes what many of the other books say regarding vibrations, the astral body, chakras, spirit guides, Akashic records, etc. I can't say I disagree with what she wrote, but I think that many of these subjects aren't treated as in-depth as they deserve. For example, in the Questions and Answers section, she addresses the question "Why do I only see darkness in my astral body?" Her answer is:
"It is common to see darkness when you exit your physical body. This is called astral blindness. Most people are not used to their astral bodies at first, so this can happen during your first few projections.
First try opening your eyes just as you would in your physical body. Sometimes that is all it takes to start seeing with your astral eyes. Moving away from your physical body also helps to get rid of astral blindness."
While I don't disagree with any of this, there's a lot more that can (and should) be said. First, there's the whole discussion of the "cord activity range" proposed by Sylvan Muldoon, which affects astral sight. Second, there's the whole discussion of the different kinds of eyesight people experience in an OBE: I documented four in my first book and had several paragraphs to talk about it. Third, there's another whole discussion regarding the darkness and/or blackness experienced by a lot of people (such as author Frederick Aardema) described as "the void," a jumping off point for different realms of experience. So the bottom line is that the information is good, but it's "light reading." It's not in-depth, at least not for me (but I'm admittedly biased).

Jacobs does, however, give lots of good OBE advice and several solid techniques for inducing OBEs. There's nothing new or innovative as far as I'm concerned, but she does give the basics of many good OBE techniques. Some would argue she should have gone into more depth on each of these (like D. Scott Rogo did).

The subtitle is "How To Have An Out-Of-Body Experience in 30 Days". Do I think that's possible? Well, yes, the author seems pretty focused and gives a lot of techniques, and she does set reasonable expectations: to accomplish it, you need to stay focused, be persistent, follow directions, etc. It's not an unreasonable subtitle.

One problem I had with the book is this: Except for two small paragraphs on page 4 and 5, there are no personal stories, which means it's not as entertaining as some of the other OBE books out there. She speaks with the voice of authority, but she doesn't give much for credentials to say where her knowledge comes from, where she learned it, who her teachers were and what her level of experience is. However, the book is informational and concise. It is a bit dry and therefore a little flat, without a lot of personality.

You can tell that this book is self-published. The font, spacing and overall experience just aren't professional quality. On the positive side, the cover is better than a lot of them in the genre; kudos there. It's also well organized and the author stays on track. The grammar is very good (she's a good writer) but I found several typos; she could have used a proof-reader/ grammar Nazi like me to review it. These are mostly things a spell-checker wouldn't have caught. Having self-published two of my own books, I know how this works: As an author, you get too close to the work. As you proof-read your own work, you mentally read back what the book should say, not what it actually does say. That's why it's always good to get an impartial third party to review it.

This is an entry-level OBE book: "OBE 101". The information is basic, but solid. I would have liked more content: stories based on personal experience, some justification for her occult-based beliefs, better credentials, and more "personality." It's a good place to start if you're a beginner, but if you're already knee deep in OBE literature, other books may better satisfy your quest for knowledge. If you're only in it for the OBE techniques, it's a good place to start (but that's a dangerous attitude; there's a lot more to consider than the techniques).

29 March 2014

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Review: Leaving the Body, by D. Scott Rogo

Review: Leaving the Body, by D. Scott Rogo

Review by Bob Peterson

D. Scott Rogo's book Leaving the Body: A Complete Guide to Astral Projection is an oldie-but-goodie from the 1980s. It's been almost 30 years since I first read it, so I decided to re-read it and post a review.

D. Scott Rogo was a parapsychologist who wrote a few books on out-of-body experiences. He was also an experiencer, so unlike many in his field, he believed there actually is a non-physical component to OBEs.

When I first read this book, it was the most practical, straightforward and no-nonsense book in the entire genre. That's not saying much, because there were so few books on the subject at the time. Now that the playing field is level, and there are lots of OBE books on the market, I can honestly say: even today, very few books can top this one for providing practical techniques for inducing the out-of-body experience.

Weighing in at just 190 pages, it gives detailed instructions of eight different techniques for inducing an OBE. The eight are:
  • Projection through dynamic concentration
  • Projection through progressive muscular relaxation
  • Projection through dietary control
  • Projection through breathing, yoga and mantra
  • The (Robert) Monroe techniques
  • Visualization techniques
  • Projection through dream control (lucid dreaming)
  • Projection through guided imagery
The first method, dynamic concentration, basically talks about the importance of impressing the subconscious and putting the subconscious will into action. This was a popular technique of Dr. Charles Lancelin, Sylvan Muldoon, and other occulists of the early twentieth century. Basically, you use these techniques to impress on your subconscious the desire to have OBEs.

The second method, progressive muscular relaxation, is more of a passive technique. Many OBE authors (myself and Robert Monroe included) stress the need for complete relaxation as a prerequisite to OBEs. Sometimes that's all you need for an OBE. Rogo describes this in detail.

The third method, dietary control, addresses the subject of restricting your diet. This is something many OBE books do not address, and or at least not adequately. The rare exception is Graham Nicholls, who addresses the subject very well in his book Navigating the Out of Body Experience.

The fourth method is a grab-bag of breathing techniques and yogic techniques. Again, this subject is rarely talked about in other OBE books. Dr. Robert Crookall gave a fair amount of attention to breathing techniques, and even devoted an entire book to the subject.

The fifth is the procedure Robert Monroe described in his first book, Journeys Out of the Body. It's the technique that gave me my first vibrations.

The sixth method, visualization techniques, is where most of the OBE literature spends its time. Rogo treats the subject fairly.

The seventh method, changing lucid dreams into OBEs is another method used by some of the occultists like Hugh Calloway (aka "Oliver Fox") in his book Astral Projection and others.

The last method Rogo covers is projection through guided imagery. Rogo gives most of the credit to Sandor Brent, although this is also described by few other books (although at the moment they escape me). Basically, this is when a facilitator does a guided meditation in order to induce OBEs.

There are also chapters dedicated to the potential of OBEs and its practical applications. It's also chock full of tidbits of OBE history, which I find fun and fascinating.

For people who want to induce their own OBEs, but having trouble getting there, this is a must-have book. The information is concise, straightforward and no-nonsense. Yes, it's old and outdated, but it's mostly just OBE techniques, and the information is solid.

Thumbs way up on this one.

Robert Peterson, 2014 March 9

Index to my book reviews:

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Book Review: Lucid Dreaming by Robert Waggoner

Book Review: Lucid Dreaming

by Robert Waggoner

Book review by Bob Peterson

I'll have to be honest with you: I almost didn't buy this book. I've always considered lucid dreaming a different phenomenon from out-of-body experience. (If you want to know why, I'm scheduled to give a talk for INACS (Institute for Neuroscience and Consciousness Studies) in Austin, Texas, about the differences (and similarities) between the two). So I didn't give the book a high priority. "My blog is about out-of-body experiences," I told myself, "not lucid dreaming; this book has no place in my blog."

Still, some well-known authors consider them the same thing, so it shouldn't be out of place in a blog about OBEs. In the end, several people told me it was a great book (and I always pay attention to messages from the universe) so I bought it. They were right.

When I started reading Lucid Dreaming, I had similarly low expectations. Maybe it was the primitive cover the publisher gave to the book. Or maybe my focus on OBEs: ("Why should I read this book on lucid dreaming when I've still got OBE books to read?") Despite my lack of enthusiasm, I was pleasantly surprised and thoroughly impressed. This is a great book: don't judge this book by its cover.

As a matter of fact, this book has caused me to "flag" more pages than any other book I've ever read on explorations of consciousness. Waggoner makes so many interesting points and observations that I just had to flag them.

Waggoner impressed me right out of the gate. My first flag: On page 28, he has a special section called "Differentiating Lucid Dreams From OBEs." Unlike Stephen LaBerge, who wrote that he thought OBEs were a kind of LD, this guy was clearly in my camp! From that moment on, Robert Waggoner won me over. He became my friend and ally, and a fellow explorer of consciousness. And I eagerly dove into his book. Strangely, he does not return to the subject of OBEs, even though it might have been appropriate (more on that later).

Like my first book, and Robert Monroe's first book, Waggoner tries to approach the phenomenon as a scientist: he reports what happened and discusses what we can conclude from it. And he does it very well. It's very educational and informative.

The book is definitely not out on any limbs. It's both professional and fair. He thoroughly discusses the different aspects of lucid dreaming, and what we can conclude from them, and where they can take us.

At the same time, it's not stale. I expected a dry, clinical discussion of lucid dreaming, but I was pleasantly surprised: the waters of this book are deep. As early as page 81, the author describes experiences that seem to go beyond lucid dreaming, and even beyond words:
In the first part of this experience, I exist without a sense of self or identity...
As if a floating point of light in an expanse of aware, living light, the self-less awareness exists. Here, all awareness connects. All awareness intersects. All knowledge exists within the brilliant, clear, creamy light of awareness. Awareness is all; one point contains the awareness of all points; nothing exists apart. Pure awareness, knowing, light.
Then, suddenly aware of the black-gray dream space and the lone figure standing there, I try to get my bearings. Recalling the aware light just experienced, I ask the robed figure, "Was that a lucid dream?"
"No," the figure replies. "To enter a lucid dream, go this way." He points to the empty space in front of him.
...As I cross an invisible boundary, my awareness hurtles through a tunnel of whitish blue light, along whose surface I see intermittently various raised symbols..."
I felt completely overwhelmed when I awoke from this experience. Was was this?
Clearly the author had some kind of transcendent experience, not just a lucid dream. He doesn't call it an OBE, but it sure sounds like one. As far as I know, seeing tunnels is a feature of Near-Death Experiences (NDE) and sometimes OBEs, but not lucid dreams.
This experience leads to some very interesting discussions. On page 84, he says:
...By this, I propose that awareness can step apart from the self, then reunite with self, and that is how you coherently report about a self-less state of consciousness. The self does not experience it; the self's awareness experiences it. Upon the reuniting of self and awareness, the self possesses knowledge of the awareness. This movement suggests that consciousness of self exists as a quality arising from awareness, but does not constitute awareness.
This is a deep rabbit hole. On page 85, he breaks it down and concludes, in part:
...The self has awareness, but the self is not the Awareness.
Basically, it seems to me that we clothe awareness with layers of self conceptions. Then we assume awareness results from or exists by virtue of the clothing of self-conceptions! While awareness enlivens the self conceptions, the self conceptions do not create the awareness.
That's the kind of discussion I live for. That's the kind of depth my soul rejoices in. That whole discussion--what proceeds it and follows it--are deeper than most of the OBE books I've ever read, most of which talk about bodies and spirits and souls.

In chapter 16, he discusses the topic of mutual lucid dreaming, where more than one dreamer describe the same scenery, events and conversations when they return. This is a fascinating topic: this is where Lucid Dreaming and OBEs start to intersect, although that's only my opinion, not the author's.

Chapter 17 is even more fringe (in a good way): he talks about experiences where lucid dreamers meet and interact with the dead. In some cases, they actually give the dreamer information that he or she wouldn't know. In other words, they provide proof that it's more than just a dream; all indications are that it's the real person who died. This is good stuff!

The further I got into this book, the better it got. Near the end of the book, he discusses the interconnectedness of the Universe:
From that moment on, I sensed that behind all appearances an unparalleled, profound connection exists at a deep, deep level. Beneath each experience lies a connectedness. Behind each life, each object, each action, an awareness exists joined to all other life, objects, and actions. The inner working of all this awareness spills out into a reality formed and experienced and connects all in a massive symphony of individual creativity and fulfillment.
On page 253, he writes:
As I have endeavored to illustrate throughout this book, the waking ego, the waking self, seems only a small portion of the totality of conscious and unconscious awareness.
This is one of those books where I can honestly say that I agreed with everything the author said. His treatment of the subject is fair and honest. His spelling and grammar are flawless, and he has plenty to teach us.

The book does not treat lucid dreaming as an oddity of nature, or an anomaly or our consciousness. It goes deep into what we can learn from it, where it can take us, and its potential for consciousness exploration.

This is a great book, and I highly recommend it to anyone interested in doing explorations in consciousness.

February 6, 2014

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Book review: The Ten Minute Moment

Book review: The Ten Minute Moment

by Jurgen Ziewe
Click here to see a list of all my OBE book reviews

Back in April, 2013, I did a book review for Jurgen Ziewe's book, Multidimensional Man and I gave it a glowing review. It's fantastic. It's definitely a "must have" book for anyone interested in out-of-body experiences and where they can take you.

The sequel, The Ten Minute Moment, is not directly about OBEs, but there are several reasons why I felt I should add it to my "OBE Book Reviews". First, it is "A powerful experiment in consciousness" as the back cover suggests. Second, it does talk about OBEs and other transcendental experiences. Third, it makes a good addendum to the author's first book, which is about OBEs.

The author was kind enough to mail me a copy of this book, and although I received it several weeks ago, it's taken me a long time to read, despite the fact that it's a short book (138 pages, and much of that is taken by photos). The reason is: I deliberately read it slowly, carefully. I would read a page here and there, then set it down, giving it time to digest for a few days. Many times my inner voice--my intuition-- would step in and suggest I set the book down and let it settle. This isn't out of line: It took me more than a year and a half to read Yogananda's translation of the Bhagavad Gita because I would read a page or a paragraph, then set it down for the day to let the wisdom sink in. Many times I'd meditate on it as well. I also did this when I read The Bible.

In my review of Multidimensional Man, I described Jurgen Ziewe as the "Eckhart Tolle of OBEs." It was so subtle that I gave a lengthy explanation. In The Ten Minute Moment, it's not subtle; it's obvious: this book is chock full of wisdom that often lies hidden and might easily be overlooked: an unintended bi-product of the deeply spiritual experiences of the author. My point is: It pays not to rush through this book.

The only thing I didn't like about Multidimensional Man was its lack of a "how to" section. The author gave all these fabulous out-of-body narratives and even some "God" experiences, but he never gave any techniques on how to do it yourself. In The Ten Minute Moment, Ziewe bridges that gap: he gives tips and techniques, not so much for achieving OBEs per se, but for his unique forms of meditation. For that reason alone, the book is a great addendum to Multidimensional Man.

One important thing to understand is that Ziewe was not trying to achieve OBEs (in either book); he was meditating, trying for a God / Nirvana / Satori / Enlightenment experience. It's just that many times he slipped into an OBE state "by accident" instead of reaching his ultimate goal. So his instructions in this book are not geared toward OBE as the goal. In fact, he often resists the pull of OBEs because he's after something much better. An out-of-body experience is still an "experience." It's still "doing" as opposed to "being", or as Ziewe puts it:
"Light is just a space which exchanges the old physical space with the new non-physical one and despite its glory it means nothing as long as it is perceived as separate from me. Stillness is different even if it is a black void, but as it offers silence, belongingness and unity it is much closer to reality and more powerful than any external experience no matter how glorious." (p.27)
To say that the book gives instructions for meditating is very misleading (some would say incorrect), so I should explain. In fact, Ziewe doesn't give instructions at all. He doesn't suggest exercises in any conventional sense of the word. He doesn't tell you to focus on your belly button, or visualize energy rising up your spine to energize the chakras. He doesn't say to focus on your third eye, or to chant an inner Aum sound, or any conventional techniques. In fact, he doesn't advise you to "do" anything, really. He does something much more important: He takes your hand and walks you through exactly what he did, step by step. That's much more helpful, at least to me. And in so describing what he did, and what happened, he gently invites you to take his arm and be escorted to the doors of inner silence. For example:
"With my inner vision held suspended in the dark void within, my ears methodically collected all sounds as if they were pearls found on an exotic beach. As I gathered their treasure they found themselves strung on a colourful necklace stretching across the inner void." (p.85)
That description is much more than clever or artful writing. If you look under the covers, you'll notice it is very instructional: instead of telling you what to do in your meditation (doing), he tells you exactly the frame of mind or attitude to place yourself in (being). He teaches more by example than by recipe:
"The sun of love had now become the object of my meditation. The only way to focus on it was to surrender to it. Love can never be divided. To fully understand and appreciate love I had to become love, and surrendering to it was the only way. The moment I did it ceased to be a sun and became a stream, rising into the air and then cascading down in its blessing, taking me with it." (p.87)

The author is a word-artist (as well as an artist by trade), trying to draw you into the painting.

There is a "Nine-Step Meditation towards Awakening" sprinkled throughout the book at strategic intervals, but even those instructions are more geared toward being than doing. He uses descriptions like "I surrender to it and let it unfold." Or like "I simply allow Consciousness to reveal Unity to me." Instead of meditating on a word, he would "allow it to float through my awareness." It's almost as if he's describing himself in a cosmic river, but instead of paddling or kicking to move from place to place, he's simply allowing it to flow, allowing his awareness to be swept away with it, with a feeling of immense gratitude.

There is also a down-to-earth humanness to the book. Ziewe is not some high and mighty enlightened guru on a mountaintop. He's an ordinary man, with ordinary flaws. He doesn't always get it right; his meditations don't always produce the results he wants. He writes with an undeniable honesty that speaks to the heart:
"...humbly accepting what I am with all its limitations. There were no attributes that could make me into anything special, make me stand out, and in that I perceived the greatest blessing, to be as humble as the squirrel on my porch, as the bird feeding on the crumbs given to them. The pleasure was intense and so was the gratitude I felt." (p.44)
This book is not just about meditating and inner experiences. It's a journey, physical as well as spiritual, and even the physical descriptions touched a special place in my heart. Perhaps that's because there are many parallels between my life and the author's. Consider this:
  • Ziewe and I are both published authors.
  • Ziewe has had countless OBEs, and so have I.
  • On page 71, he writes about consciously watching the process of entering a dream. I've done this too, and seen the entire process in detail.
  • Both of us could be considered old-timers, in our 50s.
  • Ziewe has a stable long-term loving marriage. I do too (21 years).
  • We both value solitude and nature: This book takes place at a cabin in the middle of a forest, with a nearby lake. I actually live in a house in the middle of a forest, on a lake in Northern Minnesota.
  • Ziewe feeds crumbs to the birds and squirrels. I have bird feeders and enjoy feeding the birds and squirrels right outside my office.
  • Ziewe describes watching deer walking by. As I'm writing this account, I can actually see a deer walking by, just outside my window.
  • Ziewe writes about his love of photography and walking around with his camera, taking pictures of the wildlife. I love photography too, and have taken countless photos. Anyone who's read any of the travelogues from my website will vouch for that.
It's almost as if Jurgen Ziewe and I are walking the same path. Right now, Jurgen is so far ahead of me spiritually, that I may never catch up. Maybe that's why I see his writing as such a beacon of light on my path.

This book is one man's personal journey: a journey into the wilderness and a journey to enlightenment. It's well written, descriptive and very informative, which is not easy to do when you're talking about transcendent and/or ecstatic experiences.

The Ten Minute Moment is an excellent book, and I highly recommend it.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Book review: Astral Dancer by Alison Wylie

Book review: Astral Dancer

by Alison Wylie

I've known Alison ("Ali") Wylie, author of Astral Dancer, for a few years now, thanks to facebook and other online sites. She's a fascinating woman and passionate about OBEs, but she keeps a very low profile. Like me, she is pretty quiet and reserved and doesn't do much to promote her book. In fact, I didn't even know the book existed, and I make it a point to: I've got one of the largest collections of OBE books on the planet.

So when my wife Kathy and I (along with three other family members) took a vacation to Italy in late September, I had a golden opportunity to meet the author in person. As part of our trip, Kathy had planned to spend a day in the town of Caserta, and I knew Ali lives in a town not far from there. And so we met her at the main attraction in town, the Palace of Caserta.

She (along with her husband and daughter) orchestrated an over-the-top picnic lunch for our meeting. I gave her a copy of my first book, Out of Body Experiences and she gave me a copy of her book, Astral Dancer. I only recently got a chance to read it. It's an interesting book, and unique in the genre.

Due to unfortunate train schedules, mishaps and other circumstances, I didn't get to spend much time talking with her; about an hour: just enough to learn that she's a wonderful, warm person, with an inner strength that she doesn't let show. That shows in her book as well.

Part One, "Danny's Story," is a strange set of interchanges and lessons involving Ali and Danny, who is kind of like another aspect of Ali. In my books, I wrote about my inner voice, and I suspect Ali is doing a similar thing with Danny, although with Danny there are more past-life and OBE connections. This is a journey of Danny's healing from past-life abuse, but it's about so much more: It's also about exploring different aspects of ourselves, karma, and awareness of our spiritual being and Higher Self, and spiritual growth, all facilitated by Ali and her OBEs.

After Danny's story ends, it is "the Beginning of all the Others", also known as Part Two. This is mostly narratives of Ali's OBEs, and there's a lot of them.

As I've done with all my OBE book reviews, I need to be honest and upfront about what I liked and what I didn't.

The only thing I didn't like about the book was that the lines seemed to be sometimes blurred between OBEs and dreams. In my writing, I've always tried to make a clear distinction between ordinary dreams ("unconscious and hallucinating"), lucid dreams ("conscious and hallucinating"), and OBEs ("conscious but not hallucinating"). In this book, it wasn't always clear to me what was what. It seemed like there were transitions from OBEs into and out of dreams, and back again. I found that a bit off-putting, but that's probably just me and my own rigidity. After all, even in waking physical life, our minds form our perceptions, and that's all we ever really perceive, so I shouldn't get hung up on that, right?
On the positive side, I love how Ali interprets her experiences; both dreams and OBEs. She clearly sees the spiritual lessons, and I admire that clarity of vision that most people lack. Her experiences--even negative ones--have a positive spin, and she explains them quite well.

I love how Ali always confronts negativity with a level head, without fear, and on her own terms. There are times in the book where it seems like she'd like to sit down and have a nice cup of tea with the Devil (if such a being exists), just to chat and ask him a few questions and find out what makes him tick. Most ordinary human beings would be terrified of out their wits at the prospect of confronting the ultimate symbol of evil, but not Ali Wylie.

Along the same lines, I love how she deals with negative energies and entities in her OBEs. She wraps them with love, joy and compassion, and in some cases, even directs them out a nearby window. Her gentle but mature nature shine brightly in this book.

Ali has some great ideas and great quotes throughout the book:

"We have to save our children, both in the literal sense and in the inner sense. We need to reconnect to our inner joy, to rediscover the wonder of life and of the world. Maybe if we all do this, humanity will find her inner child too."

I loved this quote too (but I would have made it two sentences!):

"There is always a choice, we can react from fear, from negativity and aggression or we can react from love, in peace."

The author doesn't focus much on techniques or recommendations. Instead, she focuses on the OBE narratives and what we can learn from them at a spiritual level. This book is as much about life lessons (learning from our dreams and other experiences and connecting with different aspects of our soul) as it is about the actual OBEs.

Where does she get the title, Astral Dancer, from? As she puts it:
"I do a lot of dancing in the Astral. I often throw my clothes off and dance gracefully, like twirling energy, to hauntingly beautiful music, or I throw somersaults and dance enthusiastically in the air." So if you ever have an OBE and you see a naked woman darting about joyfully in the air, it might be Ali Wylie! But all kidding aside, I get it: too often I've cast aside all my own lessons, goals and missions to soar and dart about wildly in my OBEs. The freedom you feel is exquisite, and the joy is sometimes just too explosive to resist expression.

In my reviews, I usually talk about the writing itself.

The book has some endearing British colloquialisms that I need to acknowledge. It wasn't excessive, but at times I didn't even recognize a word, and had to look it up in the dictionary. For example, she writes: "I put a pair of dark plimsolls on and start running." Plimsolls are apparently running shoes. Still, that gave the book character and a unique personality.

Being an admitted over-zealous grammar Nazi, I found some grammatical problems. Mostly these were just sentence fragments that should have, in my opinion, been broken into two sentences, as I pointed out above. However, that did not detract from the content; her meaning was clear. I don't recall any spelling errors, and only one typo.

I give Astral Dancer a thumbs up, but I wouldn't recommend it as your first exposure to the topic of OBEs. Make it your fourth or fifth book instead. The reason is: there are some pretty wild stories in there, and it makes the topic seem a bit weird for newbies.

Bob Peterson
13 November 2013

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

What if God's Grace Came in Packets?

What if God's Grace Came in Packets?
By Bob Peterson, Oct 14, 2013

In a song called Part of the Plan, Dan Fogelberg wrote:

I have these moments all steady and strong,
I'm feeling so holy and humble,
The next thing you know, I'm all worried and weak,
And I feel myself starting to crumble.

Often you trudge through your days, stuck in a thick mire of habits and obligations. You move forward, fighting the obstacles in your life, trying to give each day some meaning, some justification. Every move you make in your chess game is countered with a new challenge, a new threat. Your work seems overwhelming. Bills need paying. Dishes need washing. Clothes need laundering. Life is a struggle. Through it all, you worry. You feel inadequate, weak, and small.

But every now and then, something changes. You wake up feeling elated, strong, and confident. You know you're okay. Everything in life runs smoothly, comfortably. Even when things aren't working, you feel purposeful and knowledgeable; stronger than the tide that threatens to carry you out to sea. Surrounded by mindless, ignorant people, you feel nothing but love. Engulfed by a dirty, chaotic world, you feel nothing but empathy. Trapped inside a mundane world of physical objects, you somehow feel connected and spiritual. As a soul, you can sit back and laugh at the world's ridiculousness. You have an overwhelming love for God, and gratitude for no particular reason. You can feel it: it's God's Grace.

The next day, you're stuck in the mire again, but that sacred touch was enough to keep you going.

Psychologists say that we're all bipolar to a greater or lesser degree. Everyone has moments of being manic and being depressed, but for most people, the peaks and valleys are small and inconsequential. Still, these moments of grace seem to defy your normal ups and downs of life, like a reprieve. Or a gift.

What if God has a small pouch tied around His (or Her) waist, filled with packets of Grace? Every day, He reaches in with a mighty hand and pinches a carefully measured amount between his fingers. He reaches his enormous arm over the Earth and sprinkles that grace over the surface. If you're in the right place, God's Grace enters your body like a drug, revitalizing you, and spreading its messages of hope:

“Everything's going to be all right.”
“Everything is exactly how it should be.”
“You're right where you're supposed to be.”
“You're good enough.”
“You are loved.”
“You are a child of God; you are Love incarnate.”

Grace lingers for an hour, or a day. If you could see it, you would put it on the upturned palm of your hand, thank it for its gifts, then blow it away in the direction of someone who needs it more. Having done its job, the packet of God's Grace leaves you and bounces and skips joyfully across the surface of the Earth, looking for another life to touch. 

Still, it echoes and reverberates through your soul, until you need to be reminded again.