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