Tuesday, June 20, 2017

The Oshara Factor

The Oshara Factor


By Bob Peterson

Sometimes we all get discouraged and need a little kick in the rear to get our "spiritual" asses in gear, if you know what I mean. And the Universe is happy to oblige.

A few weeks ago, I was feeling down in the dumps and disheartened. I felt like nobody cared. Well, maybe one or two people. Somebody asked me when I was going to write a second book. Seriously? A second book? I've written four. The problem is: nobody knows about them. I've sold so few copies of the last three that I felt like writing a fifth book would be a complete waste of time; nobody's going to read it anyway. Most of it was my own damn fault, too: I was lousy at self-promotion. It's part of that desire for "ego-death," right? (Oh, the irony, since the desire itself is ego-based).

Inwardly, I bargained with "God," the "Universe," my "Higher Self," my "Spirit Guides" or whatever divine force might hear:
"I feel so unmotivated. Give me some kind of sign. Let me know the work I'm doing is valuable; that I'm helping at least one person. Give me a direction."

I began to worry about whether it was the start of a mid-life crisis. Then something magical happened. I got an email from Alexander De Foe, a professor in Australia who wrote the excellent (free) book Conscious Beyond the Body, to which I had contributed a chapter. He asked me if I wanted to be part of an online education program. He wanted me to design and teach an OBE class.

I agonized over my decision. I'm not a good speaker and my voice burns out quickly. I'm not a dynamic personality. And Lord knows I'm not handsome, nor do I have a silky voice like William Buhlman, Jurgen Ziewe, Neale Donald Walsh, or most other "new age" teachers. There's still this "I'm not "worthy," "qualified," or "good enough" crap going around. Still, I've taught OBE classes before (rarely), and I already knew the material. Something inside said it was the right thing to do, so I reluctantly said yes, even though it seemed like a lot of work, and equally a waste of time.

Then about a week ago, something else magical happened. I got a message from Oshara, an old friend I knew back in 1986 when I lived in Phoenix. Back then, she was one of my favorite friends from the two "Jane Roberts / Seth" discussion groups I attended (her name was different back then). I remembered she was tall, blonde, cute, and smiley, with bright mischievous eyes (and nice hips!). She also had a witty sense of humor and no "tact filters" (like the characters on Big Bang Theory). Back then I had even asked her friends if she was available, but they gently let me down and told me Oshara was "not my type." We did, however, become good friends. Then I got a job offer I couldn't refuse and quickly moved back to Minnesota (I don't do "starving" well).

Oshara's message said she happened to be in Minnesota and if I was still there, maybe we could get together and talk about cosmic things and old times. It sounded fun, so I invited her to stay with Kathy and I for a while. I told her upfront that, since I work from home, I was unavailable during business hours, and she respected that. So she came to visit last Sunday, 11 June.

I asked her what she'd been doing since 1986. It turns out she left Phoenix about the same time I did, and like me, had traveled all over the world. She lived in California for a while, and started several magazines and meetup groups. She did odd jobs for money: radio and voice work, acted as an "extra" in many Hollywood movies, and anything related to metaphysics. She even developed her own advanced "Ouija" board to help develop channeling. She even lived in Europe for a while. Eventually she found herself back in the United States, living in Elmira, New York.

If you're a true Seth fanatic, you probably already know that Jane Roberts and her husband, Rob Butts, lived in Elmira when most of the Seth books were channeled, starting with their very first experiments with the Ouija board. Now, through a strange series of "coincidences" Oshara found herself living in the same house that the Seth material was channeled!

As a life-long fan of Seth, she was thrilled about all this, but sadly, she was alone and like me, it seemed like nobody cared. Jane Roberts had died in 1984. Rob Butts had died in 2008, and they didn't have kids, so there was nobody to carry on her legacy. The house had been sold, split into apartments, and fallen somewhat into disrepair. Thousands of pages of unpublished Seth manuscripts were still sitting in boxes in the house of Rob Butts' second wife, Laurel Butts.

I asked Oshara what brought her to Minnesota, of all places. She said she got a call from a friend who lived in Minnesota who had gotten really good results with the new Ouija board, and she wanted to continue that work. But oddly enough, when she got there, her friend mysteriously changed her mind. It seemed Oshara had driven a thousand miles for nothing. Then she remembered me.

When I asked about her future plans, she said she didn't know. She had made some friends in one of the Seth groups in Minneapolis, and thought she might like to move to Minnesota. She even talked about finding a life partner or soulmate here. She seemed kind of lost and didn't know where to go, or what to do.

Now, deep in the woods in Northern Minnesota, it seemed like nearly thirty years had been erased, and we were as comfortable as lifelong friends could ever be. Night after night, we had really good, really deep conversation. We talked about Seth, channeling, OBEs, paranormal investigations, neuroscience, chem trails, the Federal Reserve Bank, Aliens, and conspiracy theories. We shared stories of our lives, our adventures, and our travels. We laughed and joked until almost midnight every night. Poor Kathy could hardly get a word in edgewise. I sure wish I had recorded our conversations because they were magical.

The three of us even (haltingly) did the Ouija board, and meditated together. She and I spent a whole night just listening to each other's favorite music while Kathy had another obligation. Oshara introduced me to Kate Bush, This Mortal Coil, Cocteau Twins, and others. I introduced her to Arven, Dream Theater, Timo Tolkki, and others. The television sat unfulfilled in silence the whole week, forgotten and ignored; a sad monument to mind-numbing entertainment and commercialism. Oshara encouraged me, and I encouraged her. It was comfortable and it was magical.

She cheered me up, raised my vibrations, and encouraged me to follow my bliss and keep writing the many unpublished books I had started. More importantly, to keep working on the classes I'd started for Alexander De Foe. I cheered her up and encouraged her spiritual work too.

She was my message from the Universe, and I was hers. We picked up each other's pieces and charged each other's spiritual batteries. We laughed that we should start our own Internet radio show and even came up with a few catchy names for it.

Then, as if by magic, Oshara's life turned around too. She got a call from her best friend in Elmira: Laurel Butts had contacted her. The word on the street was that she might be interested in renting an apartment in the old Seth house too, and maybe even share some of the unpublished Seth manuscripts. She wanted to meet Oshara and attend the local Seth group. Her fire was lit. Suddenly she was being pulled back home as quickly as she had come. She left yesterday.

Whether you call it God, the Universe, your Higher Self, or Spirit guides, I believe there are spiritual forces that conspire for your highest spiritual good.
Something drew Oshara to Minnesota--under false pretenses--so we could cheer each other up and encourage each other's life work. And who knows? Maybe we will start that Internet radio station someday.

Remember to always cherish your friends, because they are also the hands of God. But that's a different topic for a different blog post.

Bob Peterson
20 June 2017

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

The Most Energetic Places in the World

The Most Energetic Places in the World


by Bob Peterson

Many people have read about my non-physical travels, but very few have read about my in-the-body adventures. Kathy and I have traveled all over the world, and people often ask me: "What's your favorite place in the world?" I don't have just one. Every place I've visited has its own unique psychic energy. I guess it all depends on what you're looking for, right? So I thought I'd share some of the places I found most magical, most spiritual, most holy, most beautiful, and even the most scary.

These are the places with the most palpable residual psychic energy. In other words, even if you're not naturally sensitive but you still want a taste of that metaphysical energy, visit these places, because they have powerful vibes. You don't have to be psychic to feel it. If you are psychic, be prepared to be blown away by the energy of these places.
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Most scary: Cu Chi Tunnels, Vietnam



I love forests. I feel at ease there; one with nature. I even live in a forest in central Minnesota, surrounded by wild animals and the peaceful sounds of nature. Nevertheless, in my experience, the place with the scariest energy was a forest: the site of the Cu Chi Tunnels in central Vietnam.

Cu Chi is depicted in many war movies about the Vietnam War. Back in the 1970s, soldiers crept through this forest with guns, machetes, and grenades, trying to avoid the many spiked pits and booby-traps swinging down from trees to impale them. Those who survived the traps were usually ambushed when Vietcong soldiers popped out of the ground and gunned them down with machine guns.

You don't need to be psychic to feel the intense residual psychic energy that lingers in this place. When I visited the site in 2009, even my senses--as "unrefined" as they are--were assaulted by terror and the imagined screams of the dying. I didn't know a forest could feel this scary. You couldn't get me out of there fast enough. It was highly disturbing. (In case you're wondering, I was born in 1961, so I was much too young to be in the Vietnam war).

Later in the same trip, I visited another forest, one of the "Killing Fields" sites in Cambodia. You can still see the bones of some of the million+ people murdered by dictator Pol Pot at the memorial. Despite the violence, this forest has been deeply cleansed by daily prayers and Buddhist rituals and now exudes a sense of peace, tranquility, and well-being.
What about places like Auschwitz and Dachau, the sites of the Nazi concentration camps? I had the opportunity to visit there in 1989, but I could not bring myself to do it. I was actually afraid of the negative energy there.

Second place goes to: Hanoi Hilton, Vietnam

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Most haunted: The Tower of London, England


I've been doing ghost investigations since the early 1980s when I was in college and president of a student group MSPR: the Minnesota Society for Parapsychological Research. Since then, Kathy and I have been to some of the most haunted places in the world, and on ghost investigations for about half. They include:
  • Waverly Hills Sanatorium, Louisville, KY
  • Gettyburg Battlefield, Gettysburg, VA 
  • Andersonville Battlefield, Andersonville, GA
  • Queen Mary, Long Beach, CA
  • The St. Augustine Lighthouse, St. Augustine, FL
  • Tower of London, London, England
  • The Colosseum, Rome, Italy
  • The Stanley Hotel, Estes Park, CO 
  • The Bird Cage Theatre, Tombstone, AZ 
  • The Alamo, San Antonio, TX
  • The St. Anthony Hotel, San Antonio, TX
  • Villisca Ax Murder House, Villisca, IA
  • The Palmer House, Sauk Centre, MN
  • Forepoughs Restaurant, St. Paul, MN
  • Whistle Stop Inn, New York Mills, MN
  • Thayer's House, Annandale, MN 
  • Congdon Mansion, Duluth, MN
  • Billy's Restaurant, Anoka, MN
  • Milford Mine Site, Crosby, MN
  • The Pirate House, Savannah, GA
  • The Sorrel Weed House, Savannah, GA
  • The 17Hundred90 Inn, Savannah, GA 
  • The Haunted Jail, St. Augustine, FL
  • Gallipoli Memorial, Gallipoli, Turkey
  • Hanoi Hilton, Vietnam
  • Edinburgh Castle, Scotland
  • Catacombs, Paris, France
  • Moosham Castle, Salzburg, Austria
  • The Winchester House, San Jose, CA
Of all these places, the one that I could "feel" the stongest energy was the Tower of London, in 1989. Ghosts must be afraid of me, because I've never been afraid at any of these places (my OBEs have rid of this kind of fear), nor have I experienced any serious ghostly activity there. (Well, okay, I did have a shadow being walk by me at Waverly Hills Sanatorium, but it wasn't scary.) But the Tower of London just gave me the creeps.
Second place: Waverly Hills Sanatorium


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Most beautiful place: Iguazu Falls, Brazil


I went to Iguazu Falls, Brazil in 2008. The beauty is breathtaking and simply cannot be captured on camera. It just goes on and on. Famous OBE author Waldo Vieira was from the nearby city of Iguazu Falls, but I didn't realize it at the time.
Second place: Machu Picchu
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Most spiritual place: Machu Picchu, Peru


Machu Picchu is incredibly beautiful and spiritual. It's a very special place. A feeling of sacredness pervades the air. We visited in 2001, and the beauty was breathtaking.
Second place: Sedona, AZ

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Review: Out of Body Experiences Quickly and Naturally

Out of Body Experiences Quickly and Naturally


by John Kreiter

Today I'm reviewing Out of Body Experiences Quickly and Naturally by John Kreiter.

Okay, I'll admit it: I'm jaded. After reading Michael Raduga's book The Phase, I would have been disappointed by any OBE book. Raduga set the bar too high; it's a tough act to follow. Kreiter's book isn't bad; it's just...average.

The size is okay. The book has 215 pages. The margins are nice and tight, but instead of using conventional indentation, he uses several blank lines, like a web page. The amount of information is okay, but not great. The trouble is, the writing is much too wordy. When I got to page 50, I stopped and asked myself if Kreiter had really said anything significant about OBEs. Up to that point, it was mostly just "I will be teaching you this. You will be learning that. I will...You will..." For a while there, I wondered if he was ever going to write a sentence without using the word "will". For example, just picking a random paragraph from a random page:
"You can think of it like taking a night course; so that instead of learning how to sew or fix a car for example, you will be learning how to project certain portions of your conscious ego beyond the confines of your objective physical reality. Just like a course in sewing or mechanics, this course will provide very practical benefits. These benefits will not seem as objectively real and practical to you at first,..." (pg. 15)
Three sentences, three instances of the word "will." Some of this is good setup, but it got very old, very fast. Please don't tell me what I will learn. Just teach me. Stay in the present moment. Say it and move on.

Regardless, he does make some good observations and I flagged a lot of pages, such as:
"The first thing I want you to realize then is that the first obstacle to conscious expansion and to Out of Body travel is fear." (pg. 14)
Nearly twice as many words as necessary, but true. And this:
"If this is the case, then the bodies that we think that we are trapped inside of are also symbolic constructions that hide a greater truth." (pg. 30)
And this:
"If you must look for a greater being (your spirit), you shouldn't look up to heaven to find it, you should actually look within because the doorway to Out of Body Experiences and to our complete being (our psyche) is found within our inner reality, our subjective reality, and not above." (pg. 31)
Nice, but also wordy. He could have said that with half the words. The most interesting thing in the book was chapter 2, "Fun Times With Great Grandma". According to Kreiter, his great grandmother could bilocate: appear physically in two places at the same time, and it led to some interesting situations.

Chapter 3 is "Different States of Consciousness" in which he talks about brain waves and our "deep distrust of our inner self, which creates great separations between the different levels of consciousness."
"However, as you will [There he goes with that word again!] discover in this book the only training that is required is the focus of attention." (pg. 41)
I agree. It's all about the focus of attention: inner versus outer.

Chapter 4 is called "Moving the Awareness Dial." This is an exercise in which you focus your attention completely on the "here and now" to the exclusion of everything else. Then you try to shift your focus of awareness to a slightly different point.

This is more like "mental" projection rather than a complete OBE. He gives some good pointers. Such as:
"Begin to turn your hearing inward as well so that instead of focusing on what is going on in the room around you, you begin to listen to the sounds inside, in this new place." (pg. 65)

Near the end of the chapter he says:
"In the next chapter I will [There's that word again!] show you how to have classic OBEs, which essentially means you are Out of Body and are traveling through what we consider to be the real world, the objective physical world." (pg. 68).
Given the context, he means by using a "Double body." He also says a double body is not necessary:
"If you would like to have an OBE without a Double body, then please check out Appendix B." (pg. 68)
Fittingly, chapter 5 is "Create and Solidify Your Double (Part 1)" which consists of using some basic visualization techniques (similar to what's often found in classic occult books) to construct a "double body" and transfer your awareness to it; imagining yourself seeing from that new perspective, and so on. He recommends rubbing your non-physical hands together, as Raduga did.

Chapter 6 is titled "Create and Solidify Your Double (Part 2)." This is more like an example walk-through of what you should do. The strange thing is that he says:
"One could also say that this is not a story at all but a set of procedures explained from a first person perspective." (pg. 89)

But then he proceeds to tell the story from a third person perspective: "He does this. He feels that." Sigh. First-person is "I do this. I feel that." The procedures themselves are alright, I guess.

Chapter 7 is "Taking Your Double for a Spin." He writes about alternate dimensions and what to expect. He talks about seeing images that morph, and being able to tell the difference between real images and phantom images, i.e. hypnagogic images or dream images (hallucinations) and such. Oddly, he says:
"As mentioned in the previous chapter, some people like to have a voice recorder with them and either record the OBE while it is happening, or as soon as they get back from their voyage." (pg. 114)
That tells me he's talking more about OBEs in the sense of Monroe's "Focus Level" experiences rather than traditional OBEs where your body is in sleep paralysis. As for returning to your body, he says:
"One final note that I would like to mention before closing this chapter has to do with the recommendation of just opening your eyes in order find yourself back in your physical body. This is a very good method to get back into your physical body instantly but, if you have been out of the physical body for a long time, opening your eyes instantly can sometimes get a bit problematic. There is much talk of the symptoms that you might experience within paranormal circles." (pg. 115-116)
See what I mean about being too wordy and not really saying much? When I'm out of my body but too close to it, if I try to open my eyes, my physical body's eyes will often open. It doesn't cause me to return to the physical; it just causes great confusion. For example, I'll be literally floating at the top of the ceiling, facing downward, then I open my eyes and see...nothing but the ceiling. (I'm already prone because my sense of up, down, and gravity are different in an OBE. It reminds me of Fred Astaire's famous ceiling dance. But I digress.) It's very disorienting. That's why I always recommend getting a good distance from the body before trying to open your eyes.

Chapter 8 is "Interdimensional Travel With Your Double." To travel to a distant location, he recommends imagining the place you want to visit, then looking down at your hands until you see that place solidify in the background.

I also found this curious observation:
"Another interesting thing that tends to baffle those who have been having Out of Body Experiences for a while is that there is such a great lack of life out there. What I mean by this is that even though you might run across diverse forms of alien life both within the outer cosmos and even within our own planet, these alien beings are so scattered and so few that it will make you wonder why there is so little life out there." (pg. 121)
That's not my experience at all. I once had a friend who was truly shaken by the over-abundance of life "out there." She said she was shocked at how the astral plane keeps getting more and more crowded with people. I guess it stands to reason: according to google, approximately 151,600 people die every day worldwide, so all these souls have to go somewhere, right? I suppose it just depends on where you travel. I've seen both vast empty spaces and crowds of people.

Strangely, he also writes:
"Remember that I said that there is no need to engage in some odd meditative routine to change mental states. There is no need to do some boring mental routing to get from Delta brain waves (fully conscious state) to Theta or slower brain waves. (typical dream consciousness). All you have to do is to just visualize being in your double body and experiencing the world around you through your double's senses for a little while." (pg. 127)
Well, first of all, he's got his facts wrong. Delta brain waves are usually associated with deep sleep, not a waking state. Waking consciousness is usually associated with alpha or beta brain waves. Second, it depends on the type of OBE you're after. For OBEs, you want to be in Theta. Delta is for normal dreaming and lucid dreaming. For Monroe's "focus level" experiences, perhaps alpha is all you need. I suppose it doesn't really matter. These days, it's useless to even talk about brain waves because EEGs tell you very little compared to more modern forms of brain imaging.

At this point in the book, I began to wonder if he was talking about "mental projection" more akin to remote viewing.

Chapter 9 is "Protecting Your Double Using Energetic Containment." While it is a good idea to protect yourself using energy control, he goes against traditional wisdom:
"Creating a psychic shield of energy around you for example, which is what most teachers advise to protect yourself and to stop energy loss, would not work because such shields:
  • Are hard to maintain
  • require large amounts of energy to create and maintain them; so instead of stopping energy projection, you are actually projecting even more energy which attracts even more unwanted attention." (pg. 151)
I disagree. When I protect myself with an energy shield, it's "set it and forget it." It's never been hard to maintain, nor caused me energy problems. What does he recommend? Controlling your energy and your emotions so that you go unnoticed by the "astral wildlife."

He has an interesting discussion about thoughts versus emotions. For example:
"An explorer, a seeker of truth, is not interested in thought control because thought control destroys true perception." (pg. 137)
I'm not sure I agree with this, but he makes a good case by way of examples.
"Had I changed my thoughts, had I thought anything at all at that moment, I would not have seen what I saw; I would have only seen what I thought I should see." (pg. 139)
On the other hand, emotional control is absolutely essential. If your emotions get out of control, it will end the OBE.
"Instead of thought control, the seeker of truth needs to practice emotional control; energy control. He/she needs to experience it ALL completely, with less thought if possible, not more." (pg. 140)
This is true, but I think Raduga said it better. Kreiter goes on to say:
"Because there is no physical tissue to slow down the energetic impulses, this emotional energy usually radiates in a much cleaner fashion which means that emotions are felt but they do not tend to last very long or have such great intensity." (pg. 143)
I agree that emotions are felt in a much cleaner fashion, but I disagree with them not having great intensity. I've had tremendous bursts of emotion during OBEs; mostly unbridled ecstatic joy at the unparalleled sense of freedom. I've also had emotions bordering on hysteria, as I described in Chapter 19 of my first book. I've learned to keep my emotions in check because I've lost too many OBEs by getting too emotional. I'm not alone: I remember Preston Dennett talking about this problem too. Kreiter goes on to say:
"Your emotions are your reality when you are in your double body." (pg. 144)

He has some good discussion about what he calls "the grey zone." This is the same as Aardema's "the void." According to Kreiter, the grey zone is a connecting link between all worlds.

He has some interesting discussion with regard to reality, space, time, and dimensions. He says space and time don't really exist; that everything is basically superimposed on everything else, and it's a matter of frequency. He purposely doesn't speculate about other planes of existence, such as the "Astral," "Mental," "Buddhic" planes or others described by Theosophists like Charles Leadbeater, because, like me, he's had no concrete evidence to support such claims.

Kreiter has a few interesting narratives, such as a terrifying OBE encounter with a black hole. In my opinion, he could have used a lot more narratives.

He also describes some encounters with strange beings, such as "Non-Organic Predatory Life Forms" which are basically energy vampires. (Many OBE authors claim that the legend of vampires originates from psychic-energy-sucking entities in OBEs.) Kreiter talks about another species he calls "Moths" because:
"...they are attracted to the light of consciousness. These are often multicolored jellyfish like creatures that come in all sorts of shapes and sizes. They are very attracted to human emotion...These creatures are mostly benign; they are just scary as hell until you get used to them." (pg. 202)
Kreiter writes from experience, but he doesn't give enough narratives. Also, he only really provides one single OBE technique, and that's not explained very well.

The writing is mature, but as I said, wordy. I did find several mistakes, but that's true about almost every self-published book. It's better than the average self-published book, but not polished like a professional publisher.

Like all OBE books, this has both good and bad. I agree with some of the content and disagree with others. It's better than some, but worse than others. I'll give it 3 stars out of 5.

Bob Peterson
23 May 2017

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

OBE: Imagination vs. Experience

OBE: Imagination vs. Experience

By Bob Peterson

Before I get too far, I just want to make it clear (as I have before): These are only my opinions, but they're based on a lifetime of OBE research.

Do you want to induce an out-of-body experience? Have you spent a lot of time and effort trying, without success? You might be able to improve your technique if you understand the technical details of the active imagination and how it can be leveraged to induce OBEs.

First, imagine this conversation with a skeptic:
Me: I have out-of-body experiences.
Skeptic: OBEs are just imaginary. It's all in your brain.
Me: No, OBEs are convincingly real experiences.
Skeptic: Then how do you induce one? What's the first step?
Me: Lie down and completely relax your body until you can't feel it.
Skeptic: Then?
Me: Use your imagination to...
Skeptic: Stop right there. That's imagination. See the problem?
I can understand the skeptic's point of view: If OBEs are "experiences" why do you need to use your imagination? If you're using your imagination, why do you call it an "experience" rather than a fantasy? Is it "real" or "imaginary"? It can't be both, right?

It's not both. First, let me be clear:
  1. Although there's a sliding scale of awareness, OBEs are conscious experiences that feel as "real" as waking experiences.
  2. If you're not sure whether you had an OBE, you probably didn't.
  3. While many new-agers and occultists insist that imagination influences reality, they're not the same thing. In other words, you can't just imagine something and then say it was real (unless you suffer from schizophrenia.)
  4. If you receive psychic impressions or images from a distant location, but your conscious awareness was still at your body's location, I don't call that an OBE. It may be remote viewing, "focus level" experience, or traveling clairvoyance (or even fantasy or imagination), but it's isn't a traditional OBE.
So what's the connection between your imagination and the actual experience, and how do I explain it to the hardened skeptic who doesn't believe in a soul?

Imagination is merely a device to trick your brain into the OBE state.

Here is a detailed technical description:


To better induce OBEs, you should understand the underlying mechanisms and how it works. To understand how it works, there are six key things I want you to know.

#1: The brain responds to imagination as if it is reality

The first thing to understand is that your brain and body respond to imagination as if it was reality. This is most easily demonstrated when you dream. (It's been scientifically proven that everyone dreams, but it's common to not remember them without effort and training). When you dream, your sensory information comes from your subconscious imagination. It's a self-created fantasy or hallucination from your subconscious. Still, your body responds to those imaginary events as if they're real. If you dream of being attacked, your heart rate increases, your blood pressure rises, your breathing gets faster, and you naturally have a "fight or flight" response. All this is despite the fact that it isn't real. This is universal mammal behavior. My dog Spirit often wags her tail, barks, growls, or whimpers when she's dreaming.

#2: The brain's TPJ determines location from a consensus of sense data

The second thing to understand is that your physical body has five primary physical senses (sight, hearing, smell, taste and touch), and some neuroscientists believe your sense of spacial location is determined by a region of the brain called the right Temporo-Parietal Junction, or rTPJ or just TPJ for short. This is where the temporal lobe meets the parietal lobe of the brain. The TPJ manages and coordinates a consensus of information gathered from the five senses. It tells you your current location.

Scientists like Olaf Blanke, Michael Persinger and Stanley Koren have been able to fool a subject into thinking he or she is located outside their body by disrupting the TPJ with mild electrical stimulation, which interferes with its ability to analyze the sense data to form a consensus.

#3: Your brain's TPJ can naturally switch your perceived location

The brain can easily adjust its perceived location. Again, this is easily demonstrated with dreams. When we are in a normal dream, we think we are at a different physical location. Your brain has flipped a switch to think it is at a different location.

#4: The TPJ only needs data from two of the five senses for a consensus

The TPJ only needs sense data from two of the five senses to form a consensus of your location. Scientists have actually shifted the TPJ's location consensus by feeding it false data from two senses: sight and touch.

What they did was use virtual reality (VR) to feed false visual data to the sense of sight. At the same time, they force a displaced sense of touch.

For example, using a camera and computer, they show you (in VR) a displaced version of your own physical body. Then they show that displaced body image being touched while simultaneously touching your physical body at the same spot. With data from these two senses, the TPJ immediately forms a new consensus and forces your location to be displaced.

#5: Extreme relaxation cuts off sensory data from the TPJ

When you prep for an OBE, you stop moving, relax, and make your senses quiet. Only a trickle of sensory data gets to the brain, and it's all uniform, so the brain becomes numb to it. Your eyes are closed, so your brain gets a uniform gray signal to its visual processor. You try to eliminate all sounds (or use a uniform sound) with ear plugs to cut off all sense data from your ears. You don't eat, so your taste buds are not sending any data. You're comfortable and relaxed, so your brain's sense of touch is minimized too. Your sense of smell is cut off or kept uniform (e.g. with nothing, or with incense) as well.

So when you prep for an OBE, your TPJ doesn't have "much" sensory data with which to form that consensus about your spatial location.

#6: Your brain creates a "story of experience"

The brain builds a virtual world which you interpret as your "experience." In other words, you are pretty much watching a three-dimensional movie of your experience. This is true for waking, dreaming and out-of-body experience.

Connecting the Dots: What Imagination Does


Without much proper sensory data to use, your TPJ can't form a valid consensus about your location to apply to your "story of experience." When you use your imagination, you feed the TPJ with imaginary sense data, which is almost as good as the real thing. It overrides the consensus and instructs the TPJ to flip that switch.

Inducing an Out of Body Experience

Now, armed with this knowledge, let's put it to good use and induce an OBE.

Step 1. With a combination of extreme relaxation and sensory deprivation, you starve your TPJ of all sense data.

Step 2. With OBE exercises, you use your imagination to feed the TPJ imaginary sense data so that it deliberately misinterprets its spacial location. You use your imagination to pretend you are:
  • Climbing a rope. (Robert Bruce)
  • At your front door. (William Buhlman)
  • At your mirror, rotating, or phantom wiggling. (Michael Raduga)
  • Moving energy to the crown chakra. (Graham Nicholls) 
  • Focusing on the pineal gland. (Oliver Fox)
  • Flying down a tunnel. (Salvatore Caesar Scordato)
  • Oscillating energy. (Luis Minero) 
  • Swaying up and down or side to side. (Robert Peterson)
  • Swinging your arms. (Robert Peterson)
  • Swinging a hypnagogic image. (Robert Peterson)
  • Running along a train track.
  • Swimming.
  • Countless other OBE exit techniques.
Armed with only imaginary sense data that's been given enough intensity, the TPJ decides that your spacial location is not in the same location as your body. Once the TPJ forms a new consensus about your (imaginary new) spacial location, it creates a new "story of experience," and voila: You're having an out-of-body experience.

From an experiential point of view, you accomplished your goal: You tricked your TPJ, and no longer need to use your imagination. Now you just perform normal actions in the OBE until the TPJ decides to form a new consensus based on more data. (For example, the phone rings, providing auditory data which causes the TPJ to form a new consensus.)

Does this mean it's all a trick of the brain?

Certainly not. That hasn't been proved or disproved.

Scientists haven't proven whether or not something really does leave the body and interacts in some kind of alternate reality. Attempts to prove one way or another have met with mixed success. For every documented success, there's a documented failure. I documented many cases of both in a chapter in Consciousness Beyond the Body edited by Alexander DeFoe. One thing is for sure: more scientific research is needed.

What we can say is that to the experiencer (or subject) him/herself, this is a conscious experience, and it feels very real.

Armed with this new knowledge of how it works, you can now focus on how to properly use your imagination to force the TPJ into a new consensus location, and poof: you'll be out-of-body.

Bob Peterson
09 May 2017

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Review: The Phase by Michael Raduga - Part 3 of 3

Review: The Phase - Part 3 of 3


by Michael Raduga

This is part 3 of my review of Michael Raduga's book The Phase. Click here for part 1. Click here to read part 2.

In part 1, I talked a lot about the book's "story" and shortcomings. In Part 2 I talked about Raduga's OBE induction techniques. In part 3, I'll cover other important points made in the book.

Tips and Helpful Hints


The book is chock full of Raduga's advice, tips and helpful hints. Such as:

Frequency of OBE attempts
"Never try these techniques every day, otherwise the success rate of your attempts will drop drastically! Spend no more than 2 to 3 days of the week on it, preferably only on days off." (pg. 64)
Remaining passive vs. aggressive

One thing I found interesting is Raduga's discussion about aggression and passivity. I always need to remain completely passive to gain any ground. For example, if the vibrations come, I personally need to remain totally passive and blank my mind before they increase. If I try to be active and manipulate them in any way, they fade away. Raduga calls for striking a balance:
"Balance between passivity and aggression is imperative; the phase state is easily attained by those practitioners who find a stable medium between passivity and aggression." (pg. 121)
A lot of the book is just explaining "rookie mistakes": what many beginners get wrong and how to do it the right way. In one of these, he seems to actually discourage being passive:
[One mistake is] "Passively performing techniques instead of being determined and aggressive." (pg. 127)
Perhaps the key is trying to remain completely passive while encouraging your subconscious to keep acting toward the OBE on your behalf. In other words, try to be consciously passive but subconsciously aggressive. For example, I often induce a floating or rocking sensation in my body, and then "set it and forget it." In other words, I try to hold a resolve to keep floating or rocking while I consciously force my mind down into a completely passive state.

Forced Falling Asleep


Raduga talks about a "trick" technique he calls "forced falling asleep."
"What the practitioner does is try to fall asleep as decidedly and as quickly as possible, but while maintaining the intention of not losing consciousness. The most important thing is to not get caught up in how to do it...You need only to get pulled in to a wave of sleepiness and catch it at the last second. It's quite similar to real life situations when there is very little time to sleep, and one nevertheless has to catch some rest." (pg. 124)
This reminded me of Dr. Douglas M. Baker's advice in chapter 6 of his book Practical Techniques of Astral Projection from my previous book review: "This must be done rapidly." Later Raduga says:
"This is used in-between any techniques or in-between full cycles of techniques. In this case, the idea is that 3 to 5 seconds of credibly imitating falling asleep can not only conjure the phase all on its own, but also cause a kind of throwback to a more transitional state, thus increasing the effectiveness of all subsequent actions." (pg. 124)
That quote reminded me of my own technique of Sneaking Past The Gatekeeper. Basically, you do such a credible/believable imitation of being asleep that your subconscious thinks it's "lights out," and literally pulls you out of body.

Deepening


The idea here is to strengthen or deepen your "phase" experience. The primary reason to do this is to prolong the experience and make it more stable:
"Resisting the gravity of the physical body is paramount to remaining in the phase. The result of willful resistance is directly proportional to the degree of applied effort." (pg. 161)
But then, according to Raduga, the deeper the phase, the less control you have over the experience:
"All methods for controlling the phase space stem from a primary law: the degree of changeability of the phase space is inversely proportionate to the depth of the phase. That is, the deeper the phase, the more difficult it is to perform something unusual in it because in a deep, stable phase, the laws of it begin to closely resemble those of the physical world." (pg. 194)
I'm not sure I buy it. I've always believed that Lucid Dreams (LDs) were different from out-of-body experiences (OBEs). I believe LDs are more life-like and more closely mimic physical reality because they are self-created hallucinations. I believe OBEs are non-hallucinated events; perceptions of some kind of non-physical environment, and therefore, they don't translate as well into terms of our human-based sense perceptions. My lucid dreams tend to be more controllable, whereas my OBEs tend to be more out-of-control. In a lucid dream, I can make things appear or disappear, or change a hallway into a tunnel by an act of will. In an OBE, I cannot. But I digress. More about control later.

Raduga's primary two methods of deepening your experience are:
  • Palpation - Touch and feel anything in your immediate surroundings.
  • Peering - Look closely and deeply at the details of objects around you.
Secondary deepening techniques are:
  • Vibration - Try to induce vibrations
  • Straining the Brain - Try to strain your brain (without using muscles) 
  • Aggressive Action - Try waving your arms or legs, swimming motions, etc.
  • Imagining Reality - Aggressively imagine being somewhere in the physical world.
  • Use Phase Objects - Convince yourself that some object, like a pocket watch, is in your pocket, and is a "deepener."
  • Diving Headfirst - Dive into the ground.

 

Maintaining


The subject of maintaining is, in a nutshell, how to make the experience last as long as possible. How long does a "phase" experience typically last? Usually a very short amount of time. Sometimes just a few seconds to a minute. According to Raduga:
"It is physically impossible to remain in the phase forever because even a 20-minute phase is unheard of. Rapid eye movement (REM) sleep serves as the main limiting factor, since it normally lasts no longer than 10 to 20 minutes. However, in some cases it may last many times longer, like toward the end of sleeping in very late. However, even a 5 minute phase can seem to last forever in terms of time perception." (pg. 169)
I disagree. I hardly think longer OBEs are "unheard of." Although I've always been skeptical of such claims, some people claim to have had multiple-day OBEs. I personally have had OBEs that lasted about an hour and a half. Now was that my flawed perception of time, or real clock time? Since I was inside the experience itself, I can't say for sure. In most cases, I check the time when I start my OBE attempt, and check it afterward, and they seem to coincide. In almost all my OBEs, time seems to pass somewhat normally.

Techniques for Maintaining


Here are some of Raduga's techniques for maintaining a phase experience. Many of these are basically the same as his "deepening" techniques. Here's what you can do if you feel like you're losing the experience:
  • Sensory Amplification - touch and examine things.
  • Constant Vibration/Strengthening - try to reconnect with and strengthen "the vibrations" during the experience.
  • Diving Headfirst - Dive headfirst with your eyes shut.
  • Forced Falling Asleep (3 to 5 seconds) - Try to force yourself to sleep, but resist actually falling asleep. This is like making an OBE attempt inside the OBE.
  • Rotation - Try to rotate.
  • Counting - Try to count.
  • Listening In - Listen intently for noises such as buzzing.
  • Hooking onto the phase - Grab an object and try to squeeze it.
  • Using Phase Objects - Find a "phase stabilizer" in your pocket.
  • Vocal Maintaining - Try to sing or recite poetry.

 

Best Practices for Maintaining


Here are more of Raduga's recommendations for maintaining:
"There is another important rule related to resisting falling asleep: no practitioner should engage or participate in spontaneous events occurring in the phase. Events that are not planned or deliberate lead to a high probability of being immersed in the side action, which results in a loss of concentrated awareness." (pg. 173)
I wrote about this in my first book; I called it "The Fantasy Trap." If you get distracted by something in the experience and start to participate in it, or fantasize about it, you'll get sucked back into a dream state. Resist the temptation. He also recommends:
"The practitioner should not look into the distance. If faraway objects are observed for a long period of time, a foul [premature return to body] may occur, or one may be translocated towards these objects." (pg. 175)
And:
"The less internal dialogue (ID) and reflection that occurs in the phase, the longer it lasts. Talking to oneself is completely prohibited." (pg. 175)
I disagree with that too. I often use my internal dialog to help remember what happened. "Oooh, I've got to remember that I saw this!"

Personal Protection and Controlling the Dream


The subject of psychic protection against hostile entities (or "astral wildlife" as Robert Bruce calls it) comes up in a lot of OBE books, including this one. Here's a small excerpt of what Raduga has to say:
"The first thing to know in this regard is: no thing and no person in the phase presents any real threat. The practitioner himself is able to control everything that occurs." (pg. 183)
This contradicts what Lucid Dreaming expert Robert Waggoner says: that you can't really control the dream all that much, although I usually seem to have plenty of control in mine. Later, Raduga repeats this sentiment:
"In other words, if there is something a practitioner can't do in the phase, that means he hasn't reached a high level of control over it, and has something to work on." (pg. 267)
He continues:
"The second thing to know is: the only thing that can and does attack is the practitioner's own fear, be it conscious or unconscious fear." (pg. 183)
Well, yes, I think that almost everything negative we encounter is self-created from our fear. Still, I'm not 100% convinced. I still think at least a small percentage may be from external non-physical entities.

Sight / Vision


The subject is vision is an important one. So important that I dedicated an entire chapter of my first book to the subject. We often find ourselves in a void and completely unable to see. Here is Raduga's advice:
"To create vision, a practitioner needs to bring the hands four to six inches in front of the eyes and try to detect them through the grayness or darkness. Peering aggressively and attentively at the minute details of the palms will cause them to become visible..." (pg. 183)
What I always recommend is this: if you're too close to your physical body (Muldoon's "cord activity range"), close your eyes and keep them closed until you're at least 15 feet (5 meters) away, then make an effort to open them. If you try to open them when you're close to your body, your body's eyes might open, at best causing confusion, or, at worst, you'll be driven back inside your body.

Practical Uses of the Phase


Raduga has a lot of information regarding practical uses of the phase. Here's just a few:

Communicating With the Subconscious

Raduga doesn't say much about the subconscious. But he does say this:
"Communication with the subconscious mind on a conscious level is only possible within the phase." (pg. 205)
I strongly disagree with this. The ability to consciously communicate with the subconscious is not only possible, it's the entire basis for my fourth book, Answers Within.

Using The Phase for Healing


Robert Waggoner talked about using Lucid Dreams for healing. Raduga also has some interesting techniques for practical applications using the phase. For example:
"It is possible to find a well-known healer in the phase and ask about personal health problems or the problems of a friend or family member. A clarified answer may be used in the assistance of traditional medical treatment." (pg. 211)
He makes it clear that the phase should never be used as a substitute for professional medical help, but it can often offer incredible insight and aid to healing.

Art and Creative Development

The phase has an unparalleled potential for artistic development. The best part?
"They are preserved there forever, and can always be found there again. In other words, any and all information can be stored with perfect fidelity." (pg. 225)
Learning Foreign Languages
"While in the phase, it's easy to observe that general knowledge of foreign languages in it is at a much higher level than in everyday life. If a person is interested in foreign languages, then they usually immediately set themselves the task of using the phase to become more proficient in them in real life." (pg. 227)
Well, I guess that about covers it, from my outlook. As I said before, the book is well written and informative. I highly recommend it to anyone who wants to learn to self-induce OBEs. I give it five stars.

Bob Peterson
25 April 2017

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Review: The Phase by Michael Raduga - Part 2 of 3

Review: The Phase - Part 2 of 3


by Michael Raduga

This is part 2 of my review of Michael Raduga's book The Phase. Due to the length, I had to split the review into 3 parts. Click here to read part 1.

In part 1, I talked a lot about the book's content and its shortcomings. In this review I cover his OBE induction techniques. Fittingly, part 2 of the book is called "How to Enter the Phase Today." This is the technique section, where the book really shines. This includes:
  • The Indirect Method
  • The Direct Method
  • Becoming Conscious While Dreaming
  • Non-Autonomous Methods
So forget Robert Bruce's 90-day guide. Forget Keith Harary and Pamela Weintraub's 30-day guide. Raduga claims:
"The instructions laid out in this section will help most people to experience this amazing state within only 1 to 3 days of trying." (pg. 57)
So what does Raduga bring to the table that isn't in other OBE technique books? Actually, plenty. As far as I know, his "technique cycling" is unique. No other OBE book I've encountered recommends it. And it's good. Let's break it down:

The Indirect Method


Raduga says the indirect method is the most effective technique, and the only one beginners should use.

Wake Back To Bed (WBTB) with Exit Technique Cycling


First, let's talk about Raduga's starting point, the Wake-Back-To-Bed (WBTB) technique. Other books talk about WBTB which, as I understand it, was largely invented by Stephen LaBerge for inducing lucid dreams. I don't want to get sidetracked giving subtleties of the technique (it's all in the book), but I did want to give you the basics. This isn't quite how the author breaks it down, but as a computer guy, it's what I took home:
  1. Choose 2 or 3 "exit techniques" to be used in step 10
    Select two or three exit techniques from the list given below.
  2. Set an alarm clock for six hours after you go to bed.
    Since normal dream cycles are about 90 minutes long, six hours is timed to coincide with the end of the fourth sleep cycle. This maximizes the chance of maintaining lucidity when you drift back down.
  3. Wake up with the alarm. It's best to have your sleep interrupted, not to wake naturally (not critical, but recommended).
  4. Stay awake 3 to 50 minutes.
    Stay awake more time if you're a heavy sleeper, less time if you're a light sleeper.
  5. Set the intention not to move when you wake.
    As you drift back to sleep, hold the intention that when you wake up again, you will not move your physical body. If you do move, don't worry; it's not critical.
  6. Go back to sleep another full sleep cycle
    Because your body is mostly well rested, you may also have several short (abbreviated) sleep cycles rather than a full 90 minute cycle. But be prepared to spend the next 2 to 4 hours in bed.
  7. Allow yourself to wake up naturally this time.
    Remember: Try not to move when you wake up.
  8. Try for immediate relocation: to your mirror.
    Imagine you are standing at your bathroom mirror. Try to imagine yourself there. This is pretty much the "target technique" described by Buhlman and others. It doesn't have to be your mirror, but that's Raduga's first choice. Don't spend much time on this; only a few seconds. If that doesn't get you out of body, go on to step 9.
  9. Try for immediate separation from your body.
    Try levitating, standing up, or rolling out, with your astral body only (but be careful not to move your physical body). Again, don't spend more than a few seconds on this. If that doesn't work, go on to step 10.
  10.  Start "technique cycling."
    Try each of the techniques you chose in step 1 for three to five seconds, then move on to the next one. If a technique it gets results, focus on it a bit longer and try to encourage those results. For example, if you feel vibrations, or feel like your astral body is moving, keep working that technique. If it doesn't get results after three to five seconds, switch to the next technique. If none of these exit techniques get results, repeat the process again, starting with the first technique. Cycle through them regardless of whether you moved or didn't move your body.
  11. Perform at least 4 complete technique cycles.
    Don't give up until you've spent a full minute cycling through all pre-chosen exit techniques, for 4 complete cycles (or until you're out of body).
  12. After a minute, go back to step 5
    If you didn't get out of body within a minute of trying, go back to step 5. Go back to sleep for another short period, with the intention of not moving when you wake up, then repeat the process.
Exit Techniques To Cycle Through 

Raduga says you don't want a long laundry list of techniques to have to remember. Don't waste time thinking, "Gee, which technique should I try next?" Don't think about it; just act. Just pick two or three ahead of time, and then cycle through them repeatedly. Choose from the following:
  • Rotation
    Imagine that you are spinning around inside your body.
  • Observing images
    Try to watch hypnagogic images that appear before you.
  • Hand visualization
    Visualize your hands.
  • Swimmer technique
    Pretend you're in the water, swimming.
  • Phantom wiggling
    Try to imagine a part of your astral body is moving; a little at first, but then it increases. He recommends your little finger.
My belief is: it's also okay to use other exit techniques here. Don't be afraid to invent your own. For example, some people may want to use Robert Bruce's "rope" technique. I often imagine I'm rocking back and forth or forcefully swinging my arms from above my head in a downward motion. The key here, in my opinion, is to trick your awareness into focusing more on an imaginary or nonphysical body image than the actual physical body.

The Direct Method


Raduga's "direct method" is similar to the indirect method, but he emphasizes that this should not be attempted by beginners or anyone without considerable experience using the Indirect Method. You still ride the cycles of sleep, but can also use nap time to induce "micro-sleeps".

What time of day should you practice the direct method?

Raduga's not exactly clear when it should be done.
"Naturally, the best method for finding the right time to perform direct techniques is the same as indirect techniques - the deferred method. However, there are some serious differences here. First of all, one may interrupt one's sleep at practically anytime of the night or early morning (much better). Second, after having woken up (3-50 min.), one should not fall back asleep, but should immediately proceed to the techniques." (pg. 132)
Hey, wait a minute. Doesn't that make it the same as the Indirect Method? Not exactly, he says, but others have apparently thought so:
"There is a theory that there is no such thing as a direct phase entrance method, and that all direct methods are actually a subcategory of the indirect method. The only difference would be that direct techniques involve inducing micro-sleep, which authentically mimics falling asleep, creating a physiological state close to natural awakening, when it is easy to enter the phase." (pg. 138)
Later he says you can practice this during the day, when your body no longer needs REM sleep. Then he seems to contradict the earlier statement:
"Since the most effective window of time for using direct techniques occurs before sleep and at night, and lasts only 10 to 20 minutes in any case, additional time should not be wasted on trying to relax, nor should time for relaxation be subtracted from the requisite 10 to 20 minutes." (pg. 135)
Strangely, he then seems to contradict himself again:
"The second most effective window of time is before falling asleep at night. During this period of time, the brain needs to shut down the body and mind in order to renew its strength, which has been expended over the course of the day. This natural process can be taken advantage of by introducing certain adjustments to it." (pg. 133)
First "before bed" is the most effective time, and then it's the second most effective? I've always discouraged people from making OBE attempts at night before bed because your "consciousness" brain chemicals are too depleted and the subconscious is too pre-programmed to pull you into sleep. In other words, it's too easy to lose focus then. I recommend early morning when your "consciousness" brain chemicals are regenerated and you are not sleepy (which is compatible with Raduga's preferred method, the Indirect Method). He does say:
"The key to the successful use of direct techniques rests in achieving a free-floating state of consciousness." (pg. 131)

Body Position

 
Raduga also says that body position is very important with direct techniques (and unimportant with indirect, since you're coming out of natural sleep). Whereas most OBE books recommend a "wand" or "corpse" position (facing up, arms at your side), he contradicts conventional wisdom:
"...this position seriously impairs the efforts of the majority of practitioners." (pg. 134)
I disagree. Facing straight up can pose some difficulties (like if your body starts snoring), but can help keep you from falling asleep. Instead, he recommends:
"If a practitioner experiences difficulty falling asleep and is constantly awake while performing direct techniques, then the most comfortable position for the individual should be used." (pg. 134)
"If sleep comes quite easily to a practitioner, a less natural position should be taken." (pg. 134)
I personally think a slightly uncomfortable position is the way to go.

Relaxation


In my opinion, Raduga doesn't stress the importance of relaxation enough. He does, however, say things like this:
"Complete, peaceful relaxation may only be coerced by those with specialized, in-depth experience. Generally, these are people who have spent a great amount of time and effort mastering trance and meditative states. Relaxation in these cases should take no more than 1 to 3 minutes and no longer, as when a practitioner is expert at relaxation it is sufficient to just think about it, and it occurs." (pg. 135)

Desire


Although Raduga doesn't say much about programming the subconscious, nor self-conditioning, he does talk about desire:
"For more practitioners, a key piece of advice is to let go of a burning desire to enter the phase no matter what when using the direct method." (pg. 139)
Given the context in which it was written, I think what he's trying to say is: it's good to have a burning desire to have OBEs in general, but while you're actually trying to induce it, let go of that desire (and everything else on your mind, I might add).

Quiescing the Mind


In my first book, I talked about how important it is to quiesce the mind, or force it to a completely stopped or empty state, while attempting to separate. Raduga seems to agree somewhat:
"Until a practitioner learns to have stillness in his approach to the direct phase entrance methods, he cannot hope to obtain any real practical experience." (pg. 139)

Becoming Conscious While Dreaming


Raduga's third major way to induce "the phase" is through lucid dreaming. I don't think he adequately covers the techniques of lucid dreaming. He gives some of the basics, but you'll get much more depth from books like Lucid Dreaming Plain and Simple by Robert Waggoner and Caroline McCready. He does mention a cool idea I'd never heard before:
"Another way of remembering dreams is to create a map of the dream world. This is called dream cartography and is similar to keeping a journal, through an enhanced level of awareness is developed by connecting dream episodes on a map." (pg. 147)
The trick to lucid dreaming, he says, is properly forming the intention:
"Once again, everything depends on correctly forming an intention. An experienced practitioner forms an intention in a fundamentally different way than a novice." (pg. 264)

Non-Autonomous Methods


Raduga mentions non-autonomous (i.e. assisted) methods of achieving "the phase," but like the section on lucid dreaming, these are not given much attention. They include:
  • Cueing Technologies.
    For example, sound and light machines that detect REM sleep and signal the dreamer with flashing lights.
  • Working in Pairs.
    For example, a partner waits for you to fall asleep, then they whisper in your ear.
  • Hypnosis and Suggestion.
    For example, the Christos Technique.
  • Physiological Signals.
  • The Coffee Method.
    For example, sleep for 6 hours, drink coffee, then go back to sleep with the intention of having an OBE when you awaken.
And as I said last time, he strongly discourages the use of drugs and supplements (other than coffee).

Again, this is a world class OBE technique book. Don't take my word for it. You'll gain a lot more insight by reading the book than just reading my review of it.

In part 3, I'll cover some of Raduga's tips and hints for inducing the phase, techniques for deepening (improving the experience), maintaining (making it last longer), and lots of other things.

Bob Peterson
11 April 2017

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Review: The Phase by Michael Raduga - Part 1 of 2

Review: The Phase - Part 1 of 2

 by Michael Raduga

Today I'm reviewing The Phase by Michael Raduga. This is part one of a two-part review. Once again, I have to apologize for the length, but there's a lot to talk about in this book!

I first heard about Michael Raduga's work several years ago when a group of OBE-loving friends insisted I watch the author's video The Phase. My initial reaction to the video? I thought it was just over-sensationalized hype. I thought Raduga was trying to make Out-of-Body Experience into something it's not; that he was using a pretty blonde in bed with skimpy clothes to make it sell. He seemed like a self-important man with an over-inflated ego, trying to hijack and re-brand the timeless concepts of OBE to make them sound like his own important scientific discoveries. He says things like:
"It is probable that men and women of the future will have a conscious existence in two worlds. For now, however, this can only be accomplished using the special techniques described in this book." (pg. 56)
Yeah. Right. Only his techniques, right? And not just OBEs: he was trying to hijack virtually every altered state of consciousness (ASC).

What did my OBE-loving friends think? Let's just say they weren't as nice! Still, lots of people vouched that the book was good. (And it is!)

I couldn't ignore the fact that Raduga offered the book for free online at his website: http://obe4u.com/, so maybe he's not in it for the money, right? I hate reading books online, but I read several pages and it was really good. I thought, Hmm...Maybe his motives are altruistic after all.

Then I went to amazon.com and found out the paperback cost $24.99! I thought, Hmm...Maybe his motives are simple greed after all. The price put me off a couple more years.

Finally, I broke down and just bought it. And guess what? It's the best OBE "technique book" I've ever read. As you can tell, I feel very conflicted about it. I wanted to hate this book, but instead I love it.

The Phase is so good that halfway through the book, I had flagged more pages than I had with Robert Bruce's Astral Dynamics, which is a tough act to follow. For a while, I was putting flags (sometimes multiples) on almost every page. I knew then I'd have to split the review into multiple parts or it would get too long. This week I'm going to focus more on the negative side of the book, but in part 2, I promise I'll focus more on the good things in the book: the techniques.

Terminology: What is the Phase?


"The Phase" is Raduga's term for pretty much every altered state of consciousness (ASC), including out-of-body experiences (OBEs), lucid dreaming (LDs), Near-Death Experiences (NDEs), Alien Abduction experiences, awareness during sleep paralysis (ASP), false awakenings, and more. According to Raduga, it's all the same thing: It's all "the phase".

It reminded me of the Ancient Aliens Meme guy. You know: the guy who says everything is because of aliens. This guy:
Raduga writes:
"The Phase is not some alternative to all the other jumbled terms out there, but is the unification of them all." (Pg. 11)
That includes a wide variety of religious experiences as well:
"It's quite probable that some religious miracles are nothing more than misinterpreted spontaneous phase experiences. And since people in the 21st century still don't understand what happens to them upon awakening, that should come as no surprise." (pg. 35)
Well, actually, I have to agree with this last part.

So Raduga calls almost every ASC "The Phase." He also calls the physical body the "Stencil Body." He calls a failed OBE attempt or a premature return-to-physical "a foul." I hate it when authors try to create their own special terminology for OBEs. I complained about it in my review of Luis Minero's (very good) book Demystifying The Out-of-Body Experience and others. I felt like he was trying to steal the phenomenon from everybody else, or dupe everyone into thinking that he has a special understanding that supersedes all other authors; that he is the definitive expert. (A similar tactic of introducing special nomenclature is often used by cults. Eckankar comes to mind, but I digress.) Still, as I've said before, OBE terminology does have too many obsolete and/or occult connotations, so who am I to judge, right? Thankfully, Raduga doesn't go overboard. These are really the only special terms he uses.

My "OBE versus Lucid Dream" Soap Box


I've always believed that OBEs are different from lucid dreams. Raduga insists they're the same:
"There are many reasons to classify lucid dreaming (i.e. dream consciousness) together with out-of-body travel. This is not only because existing research and a massive number of peoples' experiences easily prove it..." (pg. 87)
Woah. Woah. Woah. Stop right there. I'm sorry, but that is conjecture, not proof. I want references, statistics, and scientific papers cited, plus cold hard facts, or it doesn't mean squat. Just because Stephen LaBerge or the Lucidity Institute says something, doesn't mean it's true. My belief that they're different is based not only on personal experience (turning lucid dreams into OBEs for 38 years), but also the findings of accredited experts such as professional psychiatrists Glenn Gabbard and Stuart Twemlow (With the Eyes of the Mind, 1985), lucid dreaming experts like Robert Waggoner (Lucid Dreaming: Gateway to the Inner Self, 2008), and OBE experts like Graham Nicholls (Navigating the Out-of-Body Experience, 2012). My views are clearly explained in this blog article: Are OBEs the same as Lucid Dreams? Raduga goes on to say:
"(continued) There are a number of questions that adherents of dividing phase phenomena into various states cannot answer. First, why do lucid dreamers and out-of-body travelers use the very same techniques to achieve their states, but merely call the result by different names?..." (pg. 87)
I'll bite. Answer #1: Some authors do seem to confuse the two for one simple reason: Unless you've made the transition from one to the other, it's hard to tell the difference. OBErs often don't use the same techniques. OBE techniques often approach the experience from a waking state (entering sleep), whereas lucid dreaming techniques are often a form of conditioning and take effect during REM sleep.
"(continued) Second, why are the fundamental properties of the out-of-body plane and lucid-dreaming world exactly the same?..."
Answer #2: They're not, as explained in the article. For example, eyesight and body image are different. In a lucid dream, you have a lot more control over your environment and get pulled along a story line, whereas in an OBE, it's harder to change your environment, and there's no story line. He also asks:
"(continued) Third, if the world of dreaming can take on any external form with any properties, then how does one differentiate real exit of the soul from the body into the physical world - or a parallel astral one--from a simulated dreamscape?" (pg. 87)
Answer #3: That's also answered in the article. Bear in mind that lucid dreams can be as realistic as waking life, so how do you tell the difference between LD and waking life? Sometimes you can't (resulting in false awakenings). In an LD, you know you're dreaming. In an OBE, you know you're not.
"Many can offer theoretical explanations, but not one that can be applied or proven in practice." (pg. 87)
Nor can Raduga, LaBerge, or anyone else prove otherwise, right? Raduga later says:
"Notably, the phase is accompanied by rapid eye movement (REM), which every human experiences for up to 2 hours each night, and this begins to explain the phase experience as entirely safe and natural." (Pg. 97)
While it's been proven that lucid dreams occur in REM sleep, OBEs often don't. Here are five different examples:
  • In Charles Tart's lab experiments on OBEs, the EEG showed the subject in Theta waves, not Delta.
  • Monroe Institute Focus Level "OBEs" (such as Robert Monroe, Bruce Moen, Rosalind McKnight, Tom Campbell).
  • OBEs in which the body remains animated (such as Ingo Swann, Stuart "Blue" Harary, and Eileen Garrett).
  • Scientific studies on brain blood flow during OBEs (such as Yasuhiro Inui and Hideyuki Kokubo, 2009).
  • Countless Near Death Experiences (NDEs) featuring an OBE which occur outside of REM sleep, and sometimes with the brain's neocortex completely shut down (such as Eben Alexander's NDE).

Alright. I've harped on this enough. I had to get it out of my system. Don't get me started!

Raduga's Story:


The book starts by talking about OBEs, how he got into it, and what he learned. This was actually quite entertaining.

He grew up in an unforgiving rural Russia where he became interested in OBEs. On page 9, he talks about reading "in one book" that you could pinch someone during an OBE and leave a real bruise, but the experiment has never been successfully replicated. He doesn't say whether he tried this experiment himself, but much later in the book he writes:
"...Nor is it possible to pinch someone in the phase and then to find a bruise on the person while in reality." (pg. 228)
He didn't mention it was actually Robert Monroe in the classic Journeys Out of the Body who made this claim. So Monroe probably influenced Raduga (just as he influenced me). From that point on, he was hooked. Like me, he became an OBE junkie. He dedicated his life to learning and teaching how to get to "the phase." Through experimentation, he slowly figured out what led to successful OBEs and his skills improved. How good did he get?
"If at the beginning I was happy to have one experience a week or fortnight [every two weeks, for us Americans]; now I was able to enter the phase several times within 24 hours, although far from every attempt of mine was successful." (pg. 12)
That was only the beginning. Chapter 2 is "The Search for an Answer".

Raduga moved to Moscow where he had a wider audience. He did what he could to survive, and could barely afford to eat. He wrote down what he learned, and eventually started teaching it. In his OBE seminars he quickly learned that the techniques that worked for him didn't always work for others. So he documented what worked and what didn't. He did hundreds of questionnaires, and refined his techniques to include what worked for others. Pretty soon he was able to get a remarkably high success rate at his classes.
"Having reached that level, I no longer took seriously any source of information on such subjects if it had been based only on its author's experience. Such sources were dead ends." (pg. 25)
In other words, his techniques are superior because they've been proven effective by others, not just for himself. (Another dig against every other OBE author. But that doesn't make it false.) He did learn tricks and got better at it himself:
"The 70 percent success rate I achieved during my time in Moscow was considered to be the upper boundary. After all, seven successful attempts out of 10 are not bad. But now with the indirect method performed upon awakening, my success rate approached 95 to 99 percent. Unsuccessful attempts also started to surprise me, just as the phase itself had at the very beginning." (pg. 28)
Chapter 3 is "The Answer". Much like William Buhlman, he tries to tie his phase theories to quantum physics:
"I gradually began to notice that even the small details of the phase space seemingly behave according to the rules of quantum physics. Moreover, if we look at quantum physics through the prism of the phase, then there's nothing strange about it!" (pg. 45)
In fact, the book has several quips from quantum physics. They have little to do with OBEs, but they're still very interesting. On the next page, he writes:
"For example, back when I was 18 or 19 years old, I discovered the main law of the phase, and understanding it allowed me to use the phase and control it: the stability and realism of the phase are directly proportional to the degree of perception in it. As long as your senses are concentrated on something--that something is there." (pg. 46)
This makes perfect sense to me: I've talked about how the "astral body" is very much like Schrödinger's Cat: it exists when you focus on it, but pretty much disappears if you don't. I sometimes call it "Schrödinger's Astral Body." That's because, regardless of whether you're "in" the body or not, you literally create your own reality. We literally form our experiences as we go, based on the sense data we receive (and a running commentary to go along with it).

This is more than just a new age/Jane Roberts/"Seth"/The Secret/Law of Attraction concept of creating your own reality. In fact, your brain is constantly building a virtual world which you interpret as "experience" whether in-the-body, in an OBE, or having any other experience.
"This and numerous similar experiments illustrate a very frequently used ability of the brain: The ability to immerse us in the virtual world that it is constantly building." (pg. 48)
In the OBE state, we just receive different data.
"Scientists studying quantum physics and biology increasingly say that consciousness is not a product of our world, but its creator. The world itself does exist, but not in the way we're used to. The physical world with its tangible matter exists only in our pseudo-realistic perception of it. It's no coincidence that all the paradoxes of the quantum world consist in results being different when things are under observation, and when they are not under observation." (pg. 49).
"Either way, what we consider to be the "physical world" is in any case just the virtual reality of our minds. Everything that you see around you now is not the real world, but a copy or parody of it in your mind space." (pg. 49)
It gets better:
"The phase is reality, or reality is the phase.
That is to say, either physical reality is nothing other than the phase, but with very stable phase space thanks to persistent signals from the sensory organs of the physical body, or--the phase is nothing other than physical reality, but with sensory organs deactivated, which collapses the absolutely stability of the space around us." (pg. 50)
And:
"This brought me a chuckle, and even joy, as it pointed at my main mistake: The phase shouldn't be seen as a distinct entity from reality--they are one and the same." (pg. 51)
And:
"We are always in the phase. The difference is that in the waking state, the phase space is straight-jacketed and stabilized by the external sensory organs." (pg. 52)
That's deep. That might even be deeper than Frederick Aardema's (outstanding) discussion of the nature of perception.

The good:



Theories aside, most of the book is spent teaching valuable techniques, tips and pointers to get you to the "phase" state (More about that in part 2).

The margins are small, the font is tiny, and it's 340 pages, which means there's a lot of content, and it's almost all good content. There is almost no redundancy, no cutting corners, no nonsense, and nothing unnecessary. Most of the book is about achieving "the phase." If you want to experience an OBE, this is the book to buy. If you have enough dedication, this book will get you there. It's all about technique, what to do and what not to do, what works and what doesn't work.

Unlike almost every book in the field, this book has truly innovative and highly effective OBE techniques, tips, suggestions and helpful hints.

I liked that the author included several of his own "phase" narratives, as well as the narratives of others (There are even a couple OBEs from Facebook friend Jaime Munoz Lundquist, who also appears in the Phase movie.) He is definitely speaking from experience. He also critiques several OBE narratives to illustrate what went wrong, and why, so that you can benefit from the mistakes of others.

Raduga's own narratives were interesting, but, strangely, not any more so than countless others I've read. (Which begs the question: if Raduga has several "phase" experiences per day, why doesn't he brag about more interesting encounters on par with, say, Jurgen Ziewe or Frederick Aardema?)

Raduga's Skepticism


Make no mistake: Raduga is careful to distance himself from metaphysical explanations of OBEs. He states:
"...it makes no difference at all what the practitioner considers the nature of the phenomenon to be, including if he sees esoteric or mystic motifs in it. Everyone has the right to their own outlook and it is by no means the aim of this book to influence any life philosophy or encourage it toward some theoretical bent. What's most important is that the reader be able to get real practice with the phenomenon." (pg. 86)
Later in the book, his skeptical attitude is made more clear with passages like this:
"The phase space is similar to the physical world, and a practitioner may be inclined to think that the soul has left the physical body. Sometimes the phase takes on an absolutely unnatural form. As a result, the practitioner may decide that a parallel world has been entered: the world beyond, the astral plane, mental space, or the ether. Although travel in the phase can lead to many places, this does not mean that the phase allows travel through or use of actual, alternate worlds. The practitioner should be reasonable." (pg. 228)
In chapter 13, Putting a Face on the Phenomenon, Raduga has photos of some of the pioneers of "the phase" along with a few paragraphs explaining their main contributions: Stephen LaBerge, Carlos Castaneda, Robert Monroe, Patricia Garfield, Sylvan Muldoon, Charles Leadbeater, Robert Bruce, Richard Webster, and Charles Tart. I was hoping this would be a tip of his hat to the Founding Fathers of OBE. Unfortunately, I felt like many of these descriptions were just an excuse to get in digs and point out the shortcomings of these other authors. For example, in his section on Sylvan Muldoon, he writes, in part:
"He had repeated experience with the phenomenon, but was still unable to become an advanced practitioner due to a lack of full control over the practice." (pg. 251)
I disagree. In my opinion, few people today are as adept or advanced as Sylvan Muldoon was in the 1920s.

And what about all those other OBE pioneers he seems to have forgotten?
  • What about Oliver Fox (aka Hugh George Calloway) who practically discovered lucid dreaming before it was called that?
  • What about Robert Crookall who wrote many books about the symptoms, common factors and phenomenon of OBEs across time and culture?
  • What about Glenn Gabbard and Stuart Twemlow, who did extensive analysis on OBEs in the field of psychology and psychiatry?
  • What about Paul Twitchell who formed his own religion (some would say cult) around it?
  • What about William Buhlman? Buhlman deserves to be on the list more than Leadbeater.
Alright, I'll get off that soapbox too.

The bad


This book does have many shortcomings, and I'd be remiss if I didn't list them. The biggest thing is that, in my opinion, the author ignores, glosses over, or openly discourages some of the factors other authors find critically important to inducing OBEs, such as:
  • Subconscious conditioning and desire
    Raduga seems to treat the subconscious mind like some kind of drone, or robot to be ignored, or at best, programmed. There's a whole dimension of self-programming the author seems to gloss over.
  • Rituals
    He seems to poo-poo rituals, although many books recommend it highly.
  • Meditation
    There's no mention of meditation practices, such as clearing the mind and stopping the inner dialog.
  • Focus Levels
    There's nothing about other kinds of OBEs, such as Monroe's focus levels.
  • Energy work
    The author doesn't recommend any kind of energy work. There's nothing about chakras, T'ai chi, Qi-gong or anything remotely like Robert Bruce's energy bouncing exercises, which IMHO, are golden.
  • Relaxation
    There's only lip-service payed to relaxation, which is of critical importance.
  • Imagination
    Like many other authors, I believe it's critical to develop and exercise a strong imagination, and the ability to visualize. The book ignores it completely.
  • Breath Work
    There's no mention of breath work, pranayama, bellows breath, etc.
  • Diet, Exercise, Health, alcohol, and so forth, are barely mentioned. 
  • Supplements
  • Lucid dreaming
    Lucid dream induction is given lip-service, but not given enough attention.

As a matter of fact, he poo-poos most of these practices:
"It must be said that various diets, exercises, rituals, and so forth do not produce noticeable supplementary effects to proper practice of the phase...Thus, methods recommending overeating, undereating, or tormenting oneself with various diets and strange exercises are useless and ultimately detrimental to a practitioner's wellness and balance, invariably producing a negative impact on the effectiveness of the techniques taught in this guidebook. Additionally, no meaningful association has been found between practice of the phase and what may be construed as 'bad habits.'" (pg. 88)
The same goes for drugs and herbal supplements such as Mugwort and African Dream Root:
"Various chemical substances and herbal supplements have been recommended to assist phase entrance, though using them is unlikely to do any good, and use of these has never yielded the effect that can be achieved through unadulterated practice. As such, the use of a chemical crutch is regarded here as completely unacceptable." (pg. 96)
Don't be discouraged by my negativity or its shortcomings. This is definitely a five-star OBE book. It's top notch and well worth the price. Love it or hate it, this is probably the best "technique" book out there.

From the desk of the grammar Nazi:

Although the author is Russian, (not a native English speaker), the writing and editing are top-notch and professional, although I did find many mistakes; mostly just missing articles like "the." He uses passive voice way too much, which makes it harder to read: like a textbook. Even so, the writing was impressive for a second language. I expected the worst, but was actually very impressed with his writing.

Next time, in part 2 of my review, I'll cover "How to Enter the Phase Today". This is the technique section, where the book really shines. This will include in-depth descriptions of these topics from the book:
  • The Indirect Method
  • The Direct Method
  • Becoming Conscious While Dreaming
  • Non-Autonomous Methods
  • Deepening
  • Maintaining 
  • Other tips, suggestions and helpful hints.
I promise I'll be more positive.

Bob Peterson
28 March 2017