Tuesday, March 31, 2020

Review: How I Learned Soul Travel

How I Learned Soul Travel

by Terrill Willson

Today I'm reviewing How I Learned Soul Travel by Terrill Willson.

I know for a fact that Terrill Willson is not the author's real name, but a pen name. I know this because he sent me a copy of his book several years ago with a personal letter. To respect his privacy, I won't divulge his real name. At least he didn't use a demon name like the last book I reviewed, Experiencing Astral Travel (there was no such violation of trust with V.M.Beelzebub, whose real name openly appears in his book's copyright notice.)

This is the story of how the author, "Terrill Willson," became interested in Eckankar, an OBE-based religion (or cult, depending on your point of view) and the steps he took to learn and refine his "soul travel" (out-of-body) techniques. Although the book is cast in the light of Eckankar, it's not preachy or Eck-saturated. That's just a back-drop to Willson's story.

First a little background. Eckankar was founded by Paul Twitchell, whom William Buhlman still defends to this day as "the real deal." He co-opted many yogic traditions from India and claimed it was an ancient religion he was entrusted with. Yeah. Right. I can't judge Twitchell because I've never read any of his books (yet!).

I've always felt negatively toward Eckankar because when I first checked them out in 1980, their "Living Eck Master" (whom they claim is the sole representative of God on Earth) was "Sri" Darwin Gross, whose books, like Your Right to Know, were not only self-contradictory every couple pages; they were, to quote a song by Jon Oliva, "nonsensical ravings of the lunatic mind." Darwin Gross was eventually canned, fired, sacked from the position and kicked out of the organization in 1981 amid scandal. The position of "Living Eck Master" was taken over by Harold Klemp who still leads the organization (at least Klempt comes across as somewhat more sane).

Anyway, back to Terrill Willson. The book is copyrighted 1987 and it covers at least 5 years of out-of-body progress. Willson writes about several OBEs in which he sees and/or interacts with the Eckankar Living Master. Although he's not named, I assume he's referring to Klemp at this point.

The best thing about this book is that the author writes down what he tried, and how well it worked, and what he learned from all his trial and error. You can clearly watch his progress from novice to accomplished out-of-body traveler, and the steps he took to get there. That's helpful.

When he started out, he struggled a lot and tried a lot of things:
"As yet no particular technique had ever proven effective for me more than once, and by this time I'd begun to figure out why." (pg. 62)
He tried everything from meditation to concentration to contemplation. He spent hours every night lying awake trying everything at the expense of his sleep. The most important thing I got is: Contemplation is where you should focus your efforts.

This is a really hard thing to teach. In my books, I talk about how you need "focus" and stillness, but you also need to remain passive and receptive.

I really loved Willson's definitions of meditation, concentration, and contemplation, so I'll quote them here:

Meditation

"My definition of meditation goes something like this: meditation involves trying to achieve a completely relaxed, totally passive state of body and mind. Ideally this is accomplished by first relaxing the physical body as much as possible and then throwing the mind blank, trying to free the mind of all thoughts concerning the physical body and the physical world." (pg. 81)

Concentration

"My definition of concentration, based on my own futile learning attempts, is this: concentration is an attempt to rigidly force the mind to hold a specific idea or visual picture, trying to lock the mind so perfectly onto this single idea or picture that all attention is withdrawn from the physical body and physical surroundings. Reaching a level perfect level of concentration is extremely difficult, but if achieved, even just for a moment, separating from the physical body then becomes quite easy." (pg. 82)

Contemplation

"Contemplation is more of a happy medium between meditation and concentration, not passive like meditation and yet not nearly as mentally and physically draining as concentration...my definition of contemplation goes like this: Contemplation is a relaxed pointing of the mind in one certain direction, a continuous dwelling on some feeling, thought, or idea in as relaxed a manner as possible. In contemplation one does not try to rigidly affix the mind to anything but instead allows it to wander and simply brings it back each time it strays off." (pg. 82)
Willson says that Contemplation offers two important advantages: simplicity and effectiveness.

Willson gives his OBE technique at several stages while developing it, so you can see how he tweaks it, makes changes, and improves it along the way. That's very helpful. For example, relatively early in his development, his technique went something like this:
"Just before bedtime I would read a few pages of one of my Soul Travel books and then just go to sleep. Either by alarm clock or self- suggestion, I would wake up in the middle of the night and go back to sleep, keeping my full attention on the faint high whistle in the top of my head. All thoughts concerning Soul Travel would be avoided while listening to this sound. Each time my mind wandered, I would simply bring it back and place my attention on listening to the sound again. If it took 30 minutes, or an hour, or 3 hours for me to drift into sleep, so be it. Any chance of moving out of my body, either automatically or of my own accord, would likely come at the moment of drifting into sleep..." (pg. 108)
Gradually, he made changes and added elements:
"I developed a new sound technique during this time, imagining the sound of the faint high whistle as a current of energy flowing into the top of my head and focusing on the tingling sensation that would develop at this particular spot. Somehow my chances of moving out of my body seemed improved when I did this." (pg. 114)
Later, he improved it by reversing the flow: he started with the whistling energy entering his feet and exiting through his head. Then he added his own version of Wake Back To Bed (WBTB), setting an alarm, getting up in the middle of the night, just for a few minutes, splashing water on his face, then back to bed.

Throughout the book, he uncovers helpful observations, like this one:
"Toward the end of this two-month trip, I uncovered my most valuable bit of information to date about contemplation. I learned that the closer I let the black inner screen draw to my inner point of vision while contemplating, the better my chances were of moving out of the body after drifting into sleep. I also gradually began to notice that the direction my eyes were pointed during contemplation made a difference, too." (pg. 122)
This eye direction thing is interesting too, and it matches my experience.
"My primary attention was on keeping my eyes rotated upward as high as possible in my head yet staying relaxed; then I'd concentrate on listening to The Faint High whistle in the top of my head. If I could drift into sleep still contemplating like this, my chances of moving out of my body automatically were very good." (pg. 123)
Later, he refines this even further, pointing his eyes upward only for the first minute or so of contemplation, then he lets them relax into their natural position for the rest of his technique. He found out it's not so much the direction of your eyes, but the direction of your attention.

He actually lays out his technique, which he calls "Contemplation Technique A" and later, he refines it and gives alternates B, C, D, E, F, and G. He also discusses how to use the famous Eckankar mantra "Hu" (which sounds like the name Hugh.) He recommends chanting aloud, because, he says:
"Chanting silently won't usually stop the mind's wanderings, but in my experience chanting softly outloud will." (pg. 161)

Willson doesn't talk much about his OBEs, but he does make some interesting observations. For example, he talks about how glass behaves in an OBE: Sometimes it acts like a barrier, and sometimes you can push on it and it stretches, making a sound like running your hands over a balloon. But when you give up trying to push through, it can suddenly shatter. (pg. 129)

He also talks about how to handle scary encounters with threatening people and creatures: He says if you become totally passive, the threatening creature or person will become passive too. Kind of like disarming them. (pg. 131)

Another important thing he discovered is that the first OBE is always the hardest, and makes others easier. This is especially true about multiple OBEs in a single night: If you induce an OBE, regardless of how brief--even just a second--it's vastly easier to induce more OBEs that night. But it helps to remain motionless after you return to the physical.

Following that, he began to notice a post-OBE feeling that immediately followed one of his OBEs. This led him to another important discovery: You can induce more OBEs just by remembering that post-OBE feeling, even if it's your first for the night!

Another thing I found interesting: Willson writes about a few experiences in which he's inside a very large building. For many years now, I've noticed that I'm inside very large buildings in my ordinary dreams (not so much my OBEs, in which I'm often outdoors). In my dreams I'm often in huge warehouses, vast factories, enormous hotels, gigantic shopping malls, etc. I wonder what that means.

This isn't the most comprehensive book about inducing OBEs, but it's definitely packed with gems, and very helpful.

The book is 176 pages with smallish font and good margins, which means there's plenty of content. It's broken into 40 bite-size easy-to-read chapters, so it's a quick read. The writing and editing are professional and the content is good. I'll give it 4 stars out of 5.

Bob Peterson
31 March 2020

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

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

Return to the index of my OBE Book reviews

Tuesday, March 17, 2020

Review: Experiencing Astral Travel

Review: Experiencing Astral Travel


by V.M. Beelzebub

Today I'm reviewing Experiencing Astral Travel: An 8 Week Course by V.M. Beelzebub, a pen name for Mark Pritchard.

Sorry for the length of this article, but there's a lot to talk about. Like my other long reviews, (e.g. Michael Raduga's and Robert Bruce's books) it means there's a lot of good stuff.

I've owned this book a long time. I've skimmed it but I've always avoided reading it, for one simple reason: The author, Mark Pritchard, decided to call himself V.M. Beelzebub. He doesn't give any explanation for that name or where he got it, but really: What in the world was he thinking? Everyone probably remembers the name from Bohemian Rhapsody by Queen:
"Beelzebub has a devil put aside for me...for me...for meeee!"
But I remember it mostly from The Book of Ceremonial Magic by Arthur Edward Waite which is kind of like a "demonology 101" book. According to Wikipedia, Beelzebub...
"...is a name derived from a Philistine god, formerly worshipped in Ekron, and later adopted by some Abrahamic religions as a major demon. The name Beelzebub is associated with the Canaanite god Baal. In theological sources, predominantly Christian, Beelzebub is sometimes another name for the devil, similar to Satan. He is known in demonology as one of the seven princes of Hell."
So I always wondered: Was Pritchard trying to impress us with his illustrious name? Was he trying to make us think he's in league with the devil? Or the devil himself? Let's face it: Astral Projection gets a bad rap as it is from fanatical Christians who insist it's a form of "witchcraft" which is forbidden in the Bible. AP has nothing to do with witchcraft or satanism (although those paths might practice AP). One thing's for sure: His name might just weed out people who are ignorant about such matters. But really...What's wrong with using his real name? I would have had a lot more respect for him if he had. Or maybe I should ditch Bob Peterson and assume a more dark and mysterious pen name like "T.J. Asmodeus"? What do you think? Nah.

Okay, enough levity. Now that I've actually read the whole book, I can tell you: it's actually a very good "how to" book for astral projection. So let's get into it.

The first thing I liked about Pritchard (Sorry, I just can't call him Beelzebub) is that we share a common trait:
"I wasn't born with the ability to Astral project like some people, so I had to learn how to do it and, sometimes with great struggles, to overcome many obstacles until the techniques succeeded." (pg. xi)
This is mostly an AP/OBE technique book and it contains a lot of pretty good exercises. Each week in the 8 week course introduces new exercises and suggests you keep using the previous ones, so you gradually build up your OBE repertoire. Some of the exercises include:
  1. Learning relaxation. I talked about that in a recent blog article.
  2. Remembering dreams and dream journaling are given fair treatment. You can read my blog article about that by clicking on this link. He suggests using a mantra, "Raom Gaom" to remember your dreams, which is interesting and unexpected. In my opinion, there are lots of ways to remember your dreams; mantras isn't high on my list.
  3. Concentration/Visualization. This is learning to visualize objects and keep them stable. Very important skill.
  4. Concentration on the Heart. This is the first real OBE technique, i.e. not just prep work. He suggests you "feel each beat and concentrate upon each one of them." (pg. 33). Elsewhere he suggests, "If you maintain the concentration on the heartbeat without random thinking, you should be able to astral project." (pg. 35)
  5. He stresses the importance of maintaining awareness. In other words, avoid daydreaming (in everyday life) and learn to focus completely on the present moment. In terms of neuroscience, it means learning to engage the task positive network (TPN) of the brain more, and use the Default Mode Network (DMN) less.
  6. He suggests using mantras to induce OBEs, and he gives several. For example: "La Ra S," "Egypto," "Fa Ra On," and "Tae re re re re re." He says that mantras stimulate the chakras. He says to repeat one chosen mantra from ten minutes to an hour before actually making an OBE attempt. He stresses that saying the mantra aloud is important, and to only resort to silent (inward) chanting if necessary. The book has several links to http://www.gnosticweb.org/astralbook/ to sound files giving the correct pronunciations. 
  7. He gives some common lucid dream techniques: practicing awareness (of where you are, etc.), questioning reality ("Am I dreaming now?"), pulling on your finger (to see if it stretches), and trying to jump (to see if you start to fly or lift off the ground higher than normal).
  8. He also gives his simple variation of the famous "Target Technique."
The best thing about this book--where the book shines--is that almost every chapter has an extensive "Questions and Answers" section. These are often longer than the main text itself, and they contain very good (unfiltered) questions and very good answers. For example, someone asked him about drugs. His response was (in part):
"All drug-induced experiences belong to the negative side and that side is only strengthened in a person by taking drugs." (pg. 14)
Someone asked if you can meet and communicate with people in an OBE. Again, in part:
"You can see people who are awake in the physical because you see their astral part but you cannot communicate with them because they will not be able to see you unless they have polyvision." (pg. 14)
My experience is that you can communicate with in-the-body people, but it's like talking to their subconscious. They act distracted and don't engage you in conversation, but they will talk nonetheless. They won't remember the conversation though.

Someone asked if reduced eating can help with OBEs. His response:
"As long as you are eating sensibly I suggest you keep your regular eating pattern and continue practicing in order to improve your concentration and OBE experiences." (pg. 15)

I tend to disagree. I think reduced eating can help you induce OBEs. At least it does for me.

Someone asked about dark shapes and shadowy movements in the room. His response:
"The negative things you perceived could have come from your subconscious although they are more likely to be negative entities in the astral to deal with them you will need to know about conjurations which we used to expel negative entities of any kind." (pg. 17)
I tend to think the opposite. In my experience, most negative encounters come from the guardian of the threshold, i.e. your own subconscious. That's not to say negative entities won't occasionally try to mess with you; it's just less common. Pritchard does give two main "conjurations" in the book to get rid of negative entities. The first one is:
"In the name of Jupiter,
Father of the Gods,
I conjure you,
Te Vigos Cosilim." (pg. 93)
The second is:
"Bellilin, Bellilin, Bellilin,
Amphora of salvation,
I would like to be next to you,
Materialism has no strength next to me,
Bellilin, Bellilin, Bellilin." (pg. 94)
I've always been a very science-oriented guy, so invoking Jupiter and/or Bellilin just seems like nonsense to me. Sorry. That's just who I am. In my opinion, it's just a psychological tool to control your own fear. And if it works, feel free to use it. But you could just as easily use a quote from your favorite holy book, like Psalm 23 of the Bible:
"Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I shall fear no evil, for thou art with me..."
Or even quote a favorite song, as long as it brings you a feeling of power and protection. Like this excerpt from the song "The Power of Thy Sword" by Manowar:
"I'm the master of the world, I have no fear of man or beast,
Born inside the soul of the world
Riding hard, breaking bone, with steel and stone
Eternal might I was born to wield..."
I don't like that Pritchard always seems to assume the worst, which tends to reinforce negative encounters. At one point he says:
"There is a huge war going on between the forces of light and darkness, most of this is unknown to the average person..." (pg. 102)

"...The more we progress spiritually, the more the negative entities attack us and try to stop us. They see us then as people who are getting away from their grip and who begin to pose a threat to them.

The further into the light we go the more the darkness comes against us." (pg. 102)
Mark, Mark, Mark. Negativity like that will only cause trouble. Here's a similar answer to another guy's negative encounter:
"What you perceived coming towards you was a sinister entity. There is nothing to be frightened about though, they can be there at any time, it is just that you were aware of its presence then. Later in the course you will have a technique that you can use to get rid of anything like that." (pg. 24)
He does, however, suggest that you should be fearless, which I completely agree with.
"Remember that negative forces use fear to stop any astral investigation. If you give in to them they will have won, but if you don't you will find a whole new world opening up for you." (pg. 77)

Pritchard touches on something I called "The Fantasy Trap" in my first book. In fact, I dedicated a whole chapter to it which you can read by clicking on this link. In some of my other books I similarly caution not to play "what if" with hypnagogic images for the same reason. This is rarely mentioned in OBE literature, so I applaud his response:
"Any daydreams there actually turn into dreams and before you know it, you're in a dream and you do not realize that you projected until you wake up from sleep." (pg. 35)
So by all means: avoid daydreaming in an OBE and stay focused.

Pritchard doesn't draw a clear line between astral projection and lucid dreams. When someone asked about it, he said this:
"With projection, you go straight from the body. When you wake up in a dream, you have missed the projection but you are still conscious in the Astral. You can be in the same place from both methods. It is only the way that you get there that is different." (pg. 57)
To me, the two are quite different, and I spelled out the differences in this article.

Many books say that you can create whatever you want in an OBE by using your imagination. While that may be true for lucid dreams, it doesn't seem to be the case for OBEs. Pritchard seems to agree:
"Forget about having spherical vision or trying to perceive in a certain way. That can make you create things from your own imagination that are not really there and that can make you lose the Astral [projection], turning it into a dream or bringing you back to the body. It just becomes a distraction; it is best to be simple and clear in the astral." (pg. 58)
A lot of people feel the vibrations and their physical body goes into sleep paralysis, but then they don't know what to do next. I talk about that in my sleep paralysis article and my "Almost Move Technique." Here's what Pritchard says about it:
"You need to train yourself to get up from bed when the parts of your [astral] body begin to move. Don't pretend or imagine that you are getting up; you have to actually get up from the bed." (pg. 70)
This is absolutely true. I always tell people: if your physical body moves, it wasn't the right vibrations. If it's the right vibrations, your physical body should stay put and your astral body should move.

The book also includes a fairly decent list of dream symbols and how to interpret them, as well as some basics of numerology. The downside is that he credits Samael Aun Weor for most of this information. Samael Aun Weor still holds the record for the worst out-of-body book I've ever read. You can read my review of it here.

The only downside of this book is that it comes from an "occult" point of view; a world view in which spells, demons, and black magic are assumed to exist, and they're lurking around every corner to grab you. They're not.

One thing to note, though: When I was reading this book, I felt a strange kind of energy. It was almost as if an entity (or multiples)--maybe even Pritchard himself--sensed my reading the book and turned their focus toward me. I found myself doing habitual energy shielding to avoid energy drain. So either I was just a bit creeped out by all that talk of negative forces, or else I really did get the notice of non-physical force by reading it. In either case, you may want to use energy shielding while reading the book.

The upside is that the book contains lots of good solid OBE techniques and advice, and extensive questions and answers sections.

The book is 157 pages with tight margins and small font, which means there's a lot of content. I found a few typos throughout the book, but it's well written, mature, and pretty good overall. I'll give it 3.5 stars (bordering on 4) out of 5.

Bob Peterson
17 March 2020

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

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

Return to the index of my OBE Book reviews

Tuesday, March 3, 2020

Review: The Theory and Practice of Astral Projection

The Theory & Practice of Astral Projection

by Anthony Martin

Today I'm reviewing The Theory & Practice of Astral Projection by Anthony Martin. The subtitle is "Exploration in a world beyond the body." It's copyrighted 1980: right about the time I was getting into AP/OBE.

This is a pretty average out-of-body experience book, but it has some unique concepts that makes it stand out from the crowd. First, Martin asserts that the "Soul" and "Astral Body" are two different things. He says the astral body is kind of like a bridge between the physical body and the soul. This is in contrast to many other books that describe an "Etheric body" that's halfway between the physical and the astral bodies. Martin claims the astral body is semi-physical, whereas the soul is wholly non-physical. He says:
"The soul, by all agreed definitions, is immortal and imperishable. The astral body may survive the death of the physical body for a time, but it too perishes in due course." (pg. 21)

Martin does, however, offer a number of other theories, including the more "layered" multi-body approach of Theosophy (A.E. Powell, C.W. Leadbeater, Madame Blavatsky, etc.)

He gives a fairly decent history of the out-of-body experience, given the small size of the book.

Like many other books, Martin gives stern warnings, saying that "Dissociation can be a hazardous business (pg. 46). He even asserts:
"It is even possible, as some have claimed, for the astral body to become damaged - a condition indicated by a corresponding change in the aura." (pg. 46)
I tend to disagree with this. I've seen no evidence the astral body can be damaged.

Chapter 3, "The Practice of Astral Projection" is the gem of the book, and makes the whole book worthwhile. It has lots of useful tips and techniques. For example, he notes:
"The single most important factor in deliberate astral projection is the desire to leave the physical body." (pg. 49)
I agree, and Sylvan Muldoon said the same thing.

Like many books (e.g. Salvatore Caesar Scordato's You Can Fly, he stresses the need for intense and realistic visualization. Curiously, he ignores the use of other imagined senses (touch, sound, etc.) which can also trigger OBEs (e.g. Robert Bruce's Astral Dynamics). He gives a fairly good rendition of the Target Technique found in so many books, but he gives somewhat of a prelude by talking about the Japanese method of "Counting the Steps." Again, an interesting twist on an old concept.

He also suggests some unique techniques that I don't remember reading anywhere else, such as this one:
"You might imagine being anchored in some way to the sea bed and needing desperately to force your way to the surface." (pg. 51)
Now that's creative! I love it. Of course, you still need the prerequisite relaxation which is only mentioned in passing:
"The pressures of everyday life must be completely ignored: your muscles as well as your mind must be relaxed and all tension must be overcome. You must not even be anxious to succeed in projecting, as anxiety of any kind is a barrier to successful astral projection. If exteriorization fails to occur, the failure must simply be accepted and another attempt made at a later date." (pg. 52)
Another interesting OBE technique is:
"Many astral projectors maintain that the course of the released double is often spirally from the head, and this course can be visualized in order to induce projection." (pg. 55)
Many OBErs (William Buhlman, for example) say that the astral plane is a place where thoughts become things (thought-forms) before they manifest as physical reality. Martin has some unique and interesting twists on this concept. I thought this was a creative way to look at things:
"In other words, thought is a creative act in the astral world, and if we imagine the astral body whirling towards a narrow point of release or climbing out of the physical body, this will inevitably encourage those actions to take place: the thought is enough to set the astral body in motion." (pg. 58)
He recommends lying on your back (which most authors do) but curiously, he suggests lying on the floor instead of your bed. This is probably to break the familiarity trap.

Another technique he gives is this:
"Another childhood case involved fairly basic reflections on the question of personal identity - that is, concentration on questions such as 'What am I?', or 'Who am I?' - to produce separation from the physical body." (pg. 89)
Besides the techniques, there are several good (but old) narratives, not only of OBEs but also of autoscopy (doppelgänger) and shared dreams (which I believe are unconscious OBEs), shared by three different people.

This is an old book, but packed full of gems. This is a relatively small book, as Astral Projection books go, but it's good. The physical size is only slightly larger than a postcard. It's only 94 pages long, but the margins and font are small, which means there's enough content to satisfy. The grammar, spelling and writing are all professional quality.

I'll give it 3 1/2 stars out of 5.

Bob Peterson
03 March 2020

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

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

Return to the index of my OBE Book reviews

Tuesday, February 18, 2020

Relaxation Techniques for OBEs

Relaxation Techniques for OBEs

by Bob Peterson

To induce an out-of-body experience, you need to turn your focus completely inward, away from the physical senses, and you can't do that if there's any tension in your physical body. So quick and deep relaxation is of paramount importance. Many books ignore or under-emphasize this important step. In this article I will share some relaxation techniques you can use while inducing OBEs.

Progressive Relaxation Technique

Almost all technique-oriented OBE books recommend that you use “progressive relaxation.” It's almost cliche'. With this technique, you systematically work (or progress) from your feet to your head and relax the muscles of each body part, one at a time. Many books recommend that as you focus on each body part, you briefly tense the muscles then let them go. In other words, (optionally tense and) relax your feet, then forget about them. Then (optionally tense and) relax your calves, then forget about them. Then move to your hamstrings, etc. Eventually make your way up your torso, systematically relaxing each body part. Many books spend extra time relaxing the individual muscles in your head and face because we hold so much tension there: separately relax your neck muscles, jaw muscles, cheeks, forehead, and so on. Then go back to the start and verify they're all still relaxed.

It's effective, especially for beginners, but it has a down side: it's slow and it turns your focus, at least temporarily, to the physical body you're trying to exit. I tend to use other methods like these:

"Pseudo-VELO" Relaxation

I think of this as "pseudo-VELO" because it reminds me of the IAC's "VELO" energy movement technique. "VELO" is an acronym that stands for "Voluntary Energetic Longitudinal Oscillation." It's a technique in which you imagine a "plane" (almost like a round cutting board made of psychic energy) or "slice" of soothing, pulsing energy sweeping up and down your body repeatedly. Or imagine your body is enclosed inside a big tube with energy pulsing up and down the entire length, slicing through your body. Eventually you try to build a kind of harmonic resonance with the sweeping energy wave. (Author Nanci Trivellato wrote a nearly 500 page book that devotes a lot of time explaining the technique, so I can't possibly explain all its subtleties here; sorry.)

My "pseudo-VELO" relaxation is similar to VELO, but instead of energy, you imagine a "plane" of soothing relaxation traveling up and down the tube. As the plane slices through your body, it relaxes all the muscles it touches.

Hospital Blankets Technique

If you've ever had surgery, you know the operating rooms are kept cold to prevent bacteria and disease from growing. To keep patients warm, though, the assistants drape them with a comfortable but very warm (or even hot) blanket.

This relaxation technique is similar. I just lie down and imagine a nice warm soothing hospital blanket is being draped over my body, filling it with relaxation. I imagine the blanket pervades and melts into my entire body, like sugar in coffee. As soon as the blanket melts into my body, another blanket is draped on me, followed by another, so I have a continual supply of nice warm blankets of relaxation. This has become my favorite relaxation technique lately. It's fast and effective.

Optimizing Practice Time

The easiest way to achieve complete relaxation is simply to perform your OBE exit techniques when you first wake up, before you move any muscles. At that time you're already completely relaxed and don't need to do anything. This takes advantage of your body's natural state. You can do it when you first wake up in the morning, or take a short nap, then practice when you awaken. It can be difficult to remember not to move your muscles right away, but you can learn it with a little practice.

Although it's uncommon in the literature, another trick--at least if you're a man--is masturbation. Orgasm can cause an instant feeling of relaxation. Author Salvatore Caesar Scordato recommends this in his book You Can Fly. Michael Raduga also gives a "Sex Technique" in his book The Phase that leverages this fact. Although I've never studied it, I suspect that the ancient Indian Kama Sutra also hinges on this fact.

The Importance of "Speedy" Relaxation

The "speed" at which you relax may also be important. In his book Practical Techniques of Astral Projection, Dr. Douglas M. Baker writes that relaxation:
"...must be done rapidly; as rapidly as you might have done at the end of that long drive in your automobile! It is just as if your body is a sack of corn that is suddenly thrown on the floor."
In their book How Enlightenment Changes Your Brain, neuroscientists Andrew Newberg and Mark Robert Waldman emphasize that many mystical experiences and "enlightenment experiences" are associated with a rapid drop in neural activity to the brain's prefrontal cortex, and quick relaxation is also associated with it. This need for quick relaxation is also mentioned by Darryl Berry in his book Travel Far in which he gives a technique where you change body positions, or "asanas" (yogic body positions) frequently. With his "Relax-Move" technique you relax then switch positions, then relax again, and repeat. This trains you how to relax as quickly as possible.

Another note about rapid relaxation: Michael Raduga also says you shouldn't waste a lot of time relaxing: the more time you spend on relaxation, the less you can devote to doing the actual OBE exit techniques.

So go out and practice quick and thorough relaxation, and then you'll be ready to perform your preferred OBE exit techniques.

Robert Peterson
18 Feb 2020

Tuesday, February 4, 2020

Review: Apprenticeship to a Ghost

Review: Apprenticeship to a Ghost


by Don Sanger

Today I'm reviewing Apprenticeship to a Ghost by Don Sanger. The author was kind enough to send me a copy a while back.

The book features many out-of-body experiences, which makes for a great backdrop. Like all books, there's both good and bad. I always like to start with the bad first so I end on a positive note.

The spelling, grammar and writing were actually very good (except for a few out-of-place commas) and the writing is mature, but the book needed serious proofreading. There are several instances where the wrong word is used, probably due to a lack of proof-readers and a spell-checker that was done in haste. So "might have had" appears as "might have hand." A "pint of lager" is presented as a "pint of larger." And "I was rather hoping" is now "I was rather hopping." Which makes for some interesting visualizations! "Exercise" becomes "Excise." "Morale" becomes "Moral." Even "astral plane" is given as "astral plain" in a couple places.

There were lots of these, and I know how it happens: when authors spend a lot of time editing a book, they get "too close" to the work and stop seeing mistakes that are glaringly obvious to everyone else. I'm as guilty of this as Sanger with every book I've ever written. Even my latest book has several mistakes like this. Authors are human and we make mistakes. Maybe I'm just more sensitive to it than most.

This book is visionary fiction (VF), and I tend to not like that genre in general. Oh, sure, there are a few outstanding VF books. Richard Bach's book Illusions is probably my favorite, and worth every penny, but Jonathan Livingston Seagull? Meh. Thea Alexander's 2150AD was also good. The problem I have with VF books is that there's often no plot, no conflict, and no tension. It's all about the message, not the story. That's what drove me nuts about James Redfield's Celestine Prophecy books: I'm just not a fiction lover, and when I take the time to read a novel, I want heart-pounding, blood-pumping, page-turning, nonstop, action-packed drama. Think Stephen King's Rose Madder or Firestarter. (One of my favorite OBE-oriented novels is The House Between the Worlds by Marion Zimmer Bradley, but it's not VF and it has no underlying spiritual messages. But I digress.)

In Apprenticeship to a Ghost Sanger tries to wrap the inspirational messages around some tension but it was not enough to enthrall me. There just wasn't enough conflict in the story.

There were several lead-ins where Sanger could have blasted the conflict, but didn't. For example, he could have made the out-of-body experiences themselves more tense and fearful (at first), playing on the apprehension of the main character, Don, but he didn't. I guess I can't blame him for not wanting to paint OBEs with a canvas of fear because OBEs are usually not like that.

He could have made the encounters with the ghost more scary and tense (at first). He could have made Don's relationship with his girlfriend, Sharon, more strained with bickering, fighting and threats. His family could have accused him of losing his mind, and threatened to have him committed. He could have heard scary noises, gotten dark alley beatings, and acquired stalkers. His grades could have suffered and his future jeopardized. He could have lost his job. He could have questioned his sanity. But nope. There was not enough tension. It didn't "grab" me with in-your-face "story" I wanted.

Still, I read the whole thing and I did enjoy it. The last third of the book was actually much better than the first two thirds. Sanger's descriptions were rich and colorful, and his musings were deep. You just need to go into it with certain expectations.

Plot or not, a good VF book should inspire you and make you see things in a brand new light. It should open your mind to new ideas and new possibilities. It should be mind-expanding. Apprenticeship to a Ghost does do all that. Much of the book takes the form of inner dialog, where Don is thinking to himself, and he thinks deep philosophical thoughts, and interesting thoughts: Thoughts about God, about communication with the spirit world, about reincarnation of animals and people, planes of existence, vibrations, spirits, over-souls and about the hierarchy of souls. Lots of deep thoughts, and I liked that.

The book has a feeling of honesty and authenticity, and I often paused reading to ponder whether Don Sanger went through some of the things his main character does. It helps that the main character's name is Don.

One of my favorite quotes of the book is:
"Ignorance is the root of all evil." (pg. 150)
Agreed! Another great quote is:
"We are beings living in different worlds. We are living on the same planet of course but living in different worlds." (pg. 233)
I was pleasantly surprised about two thirds of the way into the book when "Don" is taught a valuable energy technique: You hold your hands in front of you and repeatedly push and pull a "chi ball" or "energy ball" between your hands.

For many years I've actually done this exercise in bed while preparing for sleep. Not every night, but many nights. Here's my version: Lying face up, I lift my arms in front of me and push and pull on an imaginary chi ball between my hands. I actually hold my hands so all fingers point at each other, and try to manipulate the energy in the space between them. (This is a variation of an exercise I used to do many years ago in Tai Chi class while standing up). I also circulate the energy around my arms from left to right arm and across my shoulder blades. Then I imagine the energy accelerating. After maybe 30 seconds of this, I put my hands down, roll over to my side and go to sleep. That's what I do.

So imagine my surprise to find a similar technique in this book! In Sanger's version, the hands are held up like in prayer, and the space between them is pushed and pulled. It's a very similar technique, and I was quite surprised to find it here.

I also found another valuable technique in this book that I use regularly. In this one, you try to create an ever-expanding bubble of love that starts out small and grows to encompass the entire universe. I actually gave the details of this in my previous blog article, Raising Your Vibrations before I saw it in this book. The book also stresses the need for developing positive energy, as I did in that article. Funny how the pieces of the puzzle always fit together so nicely!

I resonated with the main character, Don who, like me, is changed because of his experiences. For example, develops a distaste for horror movies, similar to me.

The book is 249 pages with a smallish font and narrow margins, which means there's plenty of content. You'll get your money's worth.

I'll give it 3 stars out of 5.

Bob Peterson
04 February 2020
---------------------------

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

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

Return to the index of my OBE Book reviews

 

Tuesday, January 21, 2020

Review: Astral Projection by David H. Lewis

Review: Astral Projection

 
 by David H. Lewis

Today I'm reviewing Astral Projection by David H. Lewis.

This is an obscure book, and I doubt you'll find it in any stores, or even amazon. So this review is mostly just for fun. The copyright notice is 1980, but it doesn't even have a proper ISBN. It simply says "Library of Congress number reserved" at the front.

It's probably one of the first astral projection "books" I ever bought, probably in 1980. In fact, it might have been the first AP book I bought, considering that I had only borrowed Robert Monroe's book Journeys Out of the Body from my dad (and later inherited it from him when he died.) I probably picked it up at some obscure new age bookstore in Minneapolis that's long since gone out of business, like "Evenstar."

I'm sure it was self-published before today's "self-publishing" or the Internet even existed. It was self-printed too, as evidenced by the staples holding it together.

The book credits "Grand Marshal Sir Bobby Ferrel and other astute members of science." Who is Bobby Ferrell? I've never heard of him. The book claims:
"Grand Marshal Sir Bobby Farrel is known to possess the highest degree in Astral Projection from its beginning stages to universal travel in all area of the planes. It is the testimony of many astute members of science to be an enlightenment of knowledge that has been long sought in this present day era..." (pg. 1)
Alrighty then. I don't know about you, but my alarm bells went off: either he's trying to artificially bolster his credibility or someone's having a big ego trip. And that makes me lose all respect.

The book is very short: only 23 pages. It contains some solid advice and a few decent "best practices" but there's nothing new or surprising: it can all be found in other (better) books on the subject.

The book contains only one exit technique, and that is the "Target Technique" described in many OBE/AP books. One of the earliest accounts of the Target Technique comes from occultist Edward Peach, AKA "Ophiel," in his 1974 book Astral Projection (which I bought at about the same time as this). My favorite explanation of the target technique appears in William Buhlman's book, Adventures Beyond the Body.


In this technique, you choose a route (usually one you know well) with various stopping points, almost like stations in which you engage the senses. Buhlman recommends starting at the front door of your residence. Raduga recommends your bathroom mirror. Once chosen (while still in your physical body), you perform a "walk through" traveling from station to station. At each station you try to fully engage your senses and commit it to memory: You see the place, listen for any sounds present, touch things, and so forth.

Later, once you've done several of these rehearsals and fully memorized your path, you lie down, relax your body completely, and try to replay the walk-thru in your imagination, aided by your memory. If you're successful, the imaginary walk-thru leads to an actual sense of being at the location in your non-physical/astral body, at which point you can stop using your imagination and start interacting "for real."

Lewis does a good job describing the technique. In fact, most of this book's 23 pages are devoted to it. Lewis recommends you do the target area walk-thru from start to finish, then backward, from finish to start. He says to do this once per day for at least 12 consecutive days, without ever skipping day. He suggests engaging every one of the senses, so create a "sight" station, a "sound" station, a "touch" station, etc. After 12 or more days of physical walk-thrus, you're ready to lie down and try to replay it in your imagination. It's a solid technique.

One of my favorite quotes from the book:
"You will also, for the first time in your life, come to the startling realization of what death is like and that what your minister has taught you is now going to be flushed right down the drain. However, it will take you many years to UNDO their idiotic teachings." (pg. 14)
Lewis recommends you keep complete secrecy about your out-of-body adventures, but not for fear of negative reactions or ridicule. It's because your friends and family might have negative thoughts about OBEs/AP and the telepathic nature of their stray thoughts might work against your progress.

I disagreed with the author on this point:
"As a special note of interest, traveling throughout the entirety of our universe is accomplished in a time equivalent to only several earth minutes, for in this universe, time does not exist nor speeds measured in relation to time." (pg. 17)
That may be true, but I still have a problem with this concept of instantaneous travel of the entire universe. Maybe I'm held back by my own self-limiting belief system, but I'm too science-oriented to accept that.

He also seems very cautious with regard to where you travel on your first attempts. He gives stern, dire warnings that until you've reached advanced stages, you must stay in your home or apartment because of "other forces" that lie beyond your immediate domain. This was just too much fear-mongering for me.

The book has some other strange fear-mongering as well. I found this one both interesting and amusing:
"CAUTION: Do not attempt to visit women of child bearing age until you can do so with a NEUTRAL MIND. There are entities out there that will use your life presence to obtain an incarnation. These entities ARE ALWAYS EVIL though not necessarily demonic (befitting a demon or evil spirit.; mad; violent or frenzied) but I assure you that they will sink their claws into you once they are sparked to life and will never let you go. At this point of your digestive reading, you could think this portion is one big joke but you will only do it once....I assure you." (pg. 21)
Perhaps this goes back to the author's experiences with a succubus: an opportunistic sexual demon that supposedly steals your energy. But those experiences are normally associated with ASP (awareness during sleep paralysis.) This kind of fear mongering is never helpful: don't be afraid to visit anyone, including women, and interact as you would normally. If you're some kind of pervert, sexual deviant, or sex addict, maybe you'll attract some of these kinds of negative experiences, but normal people have nothing to worry about. Just remember this:
  1. Nothing in an out-of-body experience can harm or kill you or your physical body.
  2. If you feel threatened, you can simply abort the OBE at any time.
  3. Fear attracts negative experiences, so just remain positive.
  4. You've got the power to overcome such things, even if you do encounter them. Believe in your own power, and they will cower in fear rather than face you.
The book has some good information and helpful hints and only one OBE technique, all of which may be found in other books. It's way too short, and it has way too much fear mongering and dire warnings. I'll give it 2 and 1/2 stars out of 5.

Bob Peterson
21 January 2020
---------------------------

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

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

Return to the index of my OBE Book reviews

Tuesday, January 7, 2020

Raising Your Vibrations

Raising Your Vibrations

by Bob Peterson


Warning: This article leverages new age theories and ideas, not scientific principles, so take it with a grain of salt.

People often ask me how to raise their vibrations. The first question I ask is, do you mean "the vibrations" which are a precursor to an out-of-body experience? Or do you mean your soul's "vibrational level?"

Pre-OBE Vibrations

If you want to know how to induce the pre-OBE vibrations, they usually come rushing in as the result of intense relaxation followed by one of the many exit techniques, such as:

That's a very deep subject, but it's not the topic of this article. What I want to talk about here is the other type: the vibration level of your astral body ("soul," or "spirit" if you prefer).

The Soul's Vibration Level

In his book, Soul Traveler, author Dr. Albert Taylor writes that negative emotions will quash your ability to induce OBEs. He says:
"Any and all negative emotions will likely stifle any attempts you make to achieve a higher state of consciousness." (pg. 90)
If Taylor is right, the converse may also be true: switching from negative emotions (anger, despair, etc.) to positive emotions (love, gratitude, etc.) in general raises your soul's vibration level, and therefore makes OBEs more attainable. But why is that?

Many new age teachers equate your emotional state with your soul's "vibration level." It goes back to the astral body's relationship to the physical body. So let's take a deeper look at the mind/body relationship.

Science says that all atoms of all physical matter vibrate, as do physical molecules. That includes the atoms that make up your physical body. When you heat something, you actually raise its molecular vibration. For example, a microwave oven heats things like food by blasting microwaves at an object; the microwaves excite the water molecules in the food, causing them to vibrate faster, so the food gets hot. In a way, you might say that heat is the physical body's vibration level, or at least one component of it.

Similarly, your astral body also vibrates, but at a much higher rate (wavelength) than physical molecules. The important thing to remember is that it resonates with the vibration level of your physical body. Many new age teachers see the astral body as tightly bound to the physical body under normal circumstances, and it is this resonance that keeps us glued so tightly to it.

You can compare your vibrations to notes (sound vibrations) in different octaves: your physical body might vibrate at a low "C1" on a piano keyboard, and your soul might vibrate at a higher pitch "C8" on the same keyboard. And if you play C1 and C8 at the same time, they sound good together because they resonate with each other: several wave forms of C8 fit perfectly inside the bigger/slower wave form of C1. But if you go up a note and play D8 together with that C1 it will sound horrible because the sound waves don't fit nicely into one another: C1 and D8 don't resonate, so what you hear is a discordant sound.

Some people believe we feel (or hear) the "out of body vibrations" when we increase the vibration level or pitch of the soul: it's like our body is at C1 but we raise our soul from C8 to D8, and what we hear--"the vibrations"--is a similar kind of discord: The waveform of your soul's vibration no longer fits perfectly within the waveform of the physical body's vibration.

Raising Your Body's Vibration Level

This is pure speculation, of course, but perhaps this is why a few OBE experts recommend being just a bit uncomfortably hot when you make OBE attempts. Kensho's book "Out of Body Experiences" recommends using an electric blanket to make your physical body a little bit uncomfortably warm. This raises the temperature of your body a little, and maybe that helps knock your astral body out of alignment with the physical.

It may also explain why it can be easier to induce an OBE when you're sick: when you've got a fever, so your body's vibration rate is higher and therefore a bit out of alignment.
[Bob briefly considers cracking a joke about the many women astral projectors who seem to have "smoking hot bodies" like Jade Shaw, Lu Banyan or Jacki Sidney, but decides it's in poor taste. Ahem.]

Raising Your Soul's Vibrations

Earlier I talked about raising your vibrations by changing your emotions from negative to positive. Here are a few exercises to raise your vibrations:

Exercise 1 - "Increasing Soul Pitch"

This is an OBE induction technique in which you simply relax completely, then imagine the "pitch" or vibration level of your soul increasing steadily until the lack of resonance forces the soul out of alignment with the physical body. Imagine your soul getting higher and higher in pitch until it's ready to shatter glass. But be careful not to let physical tension creep in.

Exercise 2 - "Music"

Another easy way to raise your vibrations is to listen to positive, uplifting music. I've made playlists of positive music on my phone. I wrote about this in this blog article from 2019: My Five Unconventional Meditations. Really, any positive uplifting music will do.

Exercise 3 - "Love meditation."

Imagine yourself encased by a bubble of positive, loving energy. Try to feel love for everyone and everything inside the bubble. Not just physical people, but non-physical entities that might be sharing that space. Not just the people, but the plants, animals and even the inanimate objects.

Slowly increase the size of that bubble to include the people in your house, then your neighbors, then your whole neighborhood.

Keep expanding the bubble until you feel love for the entire region, then the whole continent, then the whole Earth.

Keep expanding until you feel love for the whole solar system, galaxy, and Universe, and finally, All That Is: the totality of everything on all planes of existence.

"Doesn't Lowering Your Vibrations Also Cause Discord?"
Actually, yes, it does. If you lower vibrations on a keyboard from C8 to B8, you'll also hear discord.

Negative emotions like anger and hate will lower your vibrations, and also cause discord with your physical body, but it doesn't often cause OBEs. Occultists believe that the physical plane is comprised of lower vibration matter, so lowering your vibrations tends to anchor you to the physical.

However, fear is one exception: Fear lowers your soul's vibration level, and that kind of discord can lead to a feedback loop of ASP (Awareness during Sleep Paralysis) which can be harnessed to induce OBEs. If you're deathly afraid of sleep paralysis, it's very likely to happen again, and once there, you can turn it into an OBE. I talked about that in the second half of this blog article: Turning the Tables on Fear. However, fear-based OBEs often lead to negative encounters, so that's probably not a good approach.

Eliminate Negativity

You can also raise your vibrations just by eliminating most of the negativity in your life. Here are some things you can do:
  • Stop watching television news.
    The evening news can give you the idea that the world is filled with bad things and bad people. Most of the news programs directly or indirectly tell you who to hate. Don't listen to them. Believe in the inherent goodness of people.
  • Stop watching crime dramas.
    Crime dramas like "Criminal Minds" and "Law and Order" program you to see the bad in life. It's easy to believe that the world is full of rapists and serial killers. In reality, these things are rare. Again, be careful about how you let yourself be programmed by the media.
  • Eliminate negative self-talk / inner dialogue.
    This is important. Don't give yourself unconscious beatings or think negatively about yourself. If you catch yourself thinking negatively about yourself (e.g. "I can't do this," "I'll never be good at this," etc.) then counter it with positive self-talk. (e.g. "I'll get this eventually," "I'm determined to get there," etc.) and make sure your positive self-talk outweighs the negative self-talk.
  • Delete negative music from your phone or music player.This is a tough one for me. I'm a music lover, and I like certain kinds of heavy metal music, but the vast majority of that is negative programming. I forced myself to part ways with some of my favorite music. But it's well worth it. If you want to hear the very best example I know of music that portrays negativity and bad self-talk all-in-one, listen to "When" by Megadeth. Delete it, and everything like it.
  • Listen to positive music.
    It doesn't need to be flowery new-age crap-music to raise your vibrations. If you want a good example of heavy metal music that's positive and uplifting, listen to "Spirit Never Die" by Masterplan. But my absolute all-time favorite vibration-raising song is still "Awaken" by Yes because of its long length, ever-increasing crescendos, and uplifting imagery.
  • Give yourself positive affirmations every morning.
    For example, "I am a warrior of Light and my vibrations are high," "I allow only positive energy to enter my aura." And of course, "Out-of-body experiences come naturally and frequently to me."
  • Believe in yourself.
Of course, this article is a gross oversimplification of what's really going on. In reality, your physical body and astral body have multiple levels of vibration. For example, your brain waves are a type of electrical vibration too. Each cell has its own vibration, but they resonate in harmony with one another. Each atom has its own vibation too. And since your body is really a "system" more than a "thing" there's cooperation between the various components. The important thing is to focus on the positive emotions more than the negative.

So go out and raise your vibrations and hopefully that will increase your OBEs.

Bob Peterson
07 January 2020

If you have ideas for blog articles related to OBEs, send me an email: bob@robertpeterson.org.

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

Return to the index of my blog articles