Tuesday, July 26, 2022

Out-of-Body Experiences by Janet Lee Mitchell

Review: Out-of-Body Experiences

by Janet Lee Mitchell

Today I'm reviewing the book Out-of-Body Experiences: How science is helping us to understand the experience of living beyond the body by Janet Lee Mitchell. The copyright is 1981. I'm proud to say that my copy is signed by the author. 

People who know me well know that I only have two heroes I idolize: Leonardo Da Vinci and Charles Tart. Both men attempted to bridge the gap between left brain and right brain, the spiritual and the scientific. Both were (or are) scientists, way ahead of their time. Both yearned to understand the relationship between the physical and the non-physical.

Da Vinci is best known for his priceless paintings, but in fact he was an inventor who wanted to invent and sell weapons, among other things. He only painted to make money.

Tart is famous for having done some of the earliest laboratory experiments on out-of-body experiences with the likes of Robert Monroe, and "Miss Z". As a pioneer in consciousness research, and author of famous books like Altered States of Consciousness, I was speechless when I first learned that Tart wrote the foreword to my first book.

Why do I bring this up? Because if I was pressed for a third name, I would have to list the author of this book, Janet Lee Mitchell, and for the same reasons. With a Ph.D. degree, Mitchell is also author of several books on consciousness, and she's conducted lab studies of out-of-body experiences with famous psychics like (the late) Ingo Swann and Alex Tanous. And that's what this book is all about. The book covers not only her own work, but similar studies done by other scientists (including Tart, Celia Green, and many others).

Regarding Swann, Mitchell writes:

"I was convinced of his ability after about six months of working closely with him 2 or 3 days a week." (pg. 4)

Mitchell notes that Swann could make his physical body speak, even when far away from it. She would send him out on missions to report on distant locations. Later, his targets were compared by impartial judges with double-blind standards. Many of Swann's amazing successes are documented in his book, To Kiss Earth Goodbye (which I haven't reviewed) including photos of some of the targets. It's pretty convincing stuff.

One of the first questions Mitchell had to ask was: Was Swann just using ESP, telepathy, or "remote viewing" to describe the targets, or was he "really there" during his out-of-body experiences? To answer that the scientists devised special optical devices that would display different images through different filters and mirrors. If Swann described the contents of the box, he should describe a bunch of discs, mirrors, prisms, wheels, and such. But if he described the image itself, in the proper color and in the proper quadrant of the device, he must be actually "seeing" the image as through the optical box, and therefore he's more likely to have actually "been there." Well, guess what? He described the images.

The book contains a lot more than stories about Ingo Swann. Mitchell writes about OBE author D. Scott Rogo, who had OBEs himself, and how he manipulated hypnagogic images to induce OBEs. In one example, Rogo saw a hypnagogic image in which he was driving a car, so he took conscious control of the image, intentionally crashed the car, and found himself out-of-body. She also says that Rogo's book, Mind Beyond the Body (which I also haven't reviewed) is required reading for anyone interested in OBEs.

Mitchell covers the history of OBEs, with valuable information, (much like Anthony Peake's book) citing some of the earliest OBE reports in modern times, and referencing OBE books I've never even heard of, like My Experiences While Out of My Body by Cora L.V. Richmond.

She also compares OBEs to other well-documented phenomena in psychology such as autoscopy, lucid dreaming, and various body-boundary disturbances. She also covers references of similar things in folklore like the doppelgänger, fylgje, and vardoger.

But much of the book is devoted to the science. Chapter 5 is Evidence from the Lab, and it's not only her lab but others as well. She spends considerable time analyzing the statistics from various studies done throughout the years. She talks about the studies done by Dr. Karlis Osis and Donna McCormick on Alex Tanous. She talks about the studies done on Stuart "Blue" (Keith) Harary in which they counted the meows of Harary's cat, Spirit. It turns out the cat meowed a lot less when Harary was visiting Spirit in an out-of-body state. The cat meowed 37 times during the eight control periods, and not once during Harary's out-of-body visit.

There are also fabulous OBE narratives. One of my favorites is this:

"Sometimes a person will not only be able to see from another location in space but will actually be able to create an effect at a distance, if we can believe the numerous claims. The Landau case is one of the best examples of this. A Mr. Landau reports that in 1955 his wife-to-be often told him about her OBEs. One night he gave her his diary weighing 38 grams and ask her to transport it to his room in her next OBE. Early dawn the next day he awoke and followed her apparition, which backed out of his room across a landing to her room. There he saw her body asleep in bed and then watched the apparition vanish. When he returned to his room he found her rubber toy dog, which weighed 107.5 grams, lying beside his bed. He had last seen it on a chest of drawers in her room. She said the dog was easier for her to transport despite its additional weight, because she had been taught, as a child, never to handle other people's letters or diaries." (pgs. 45-46)

Best of all, Mitchell cites references. At the end of every chapter, she provides a list of references to back up what she says. This is not fluff. This is science. 

She also goes into a little of the philosophy behind the scientific findings. For example, she questions: if most scientists are convinced that we're nothing but our physical bodies, why do we speak as if our bodies are our possessions? Why, she asks, do we say things like "My head hurts" rather than "I hurt up here"?

One of my favorite quotes from the book is about the potential dangers of OBEs. I remembered this from when I first read the book in the 1980s:

"My parents did not keep me from walking or tell me I couldn't, even though they knew I might accidentally walk in front of a moving vehicle; they did teach me how to cross the street safely." (pg. 84)

Another poignant quote is a solid counter to the question, "Why in the world would you want to have OBE?"

"If our only experience is in a body, we may well continue to believe that we are a body. If one were born and raised entirely in an automobile, it might have its advantages, but one would never know the joys of being outdoors and feeling the cool grass or warm sunlight directly on the skin. It seems certain that granted the ability to get out of the car just once, one would want to do it again and again to exercise new-found experiences and freedom." (pg. 87)

The book is 128 pages, and is professionally written and edited.

I give the book four and a half stars. It's a must read for anyone interested in the scientific study of out-of-body experiences. Unfortunately, it's probably out-of-print and hard to find. I think I wrote to the editor to get my copy, and that was a long time ago.

Bob Peterson
26 July 2022

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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, July 12, 2022

Eliminating OBE Roadblocks

Eliminating OBE Roadblocks

by Bob Peterson

Even if you're fairly skilled at astral projection and inducing out-of-body experiences (inward focus, relaxation, visualization, maintaining consciousness while your body falls asleep, etc.) your OBE attempts can be completely undermined and scuttled by roadblocks.

In this article I want to talk about OBE / Astral Projection roadblocks: the little things--known or unknown to you--that may be preventing you from leaving your body, and how to eliminate them.

Limiting Beliefs

This is a biggie. According to Rick Stack, author of Out-of-Body Adventures, the most important thing about inducing an OBE is your belief system. As a student of Jane Roberts (who channeled "Seth"), Stack teaches that "Your beliefs create your reality." I concur and I'm not alone. Many OBE authors and teachers agree.

You don't need to believe OBEs are real and you don't need to believe you can induce an OBE. All you need is suspension of disbelief. When I first started on my OBE adventures, I didn't believe: I thought it was mostly self-deception or misinterpretation of ordinary (or lucid) dreams. But I gave it the benefit of the doubt. Challenging my beliefs, I said, "I'll give it a try and I'll see for myself." In other words, I had my doubts, but I took it seriously.

The bottom line is this: If you believe you cannot induce OBEs--for whatever reason--that can be enough to keep you body-bound. So change your belief system, not necessarily to believe in OBEs, but to believe it can happen to you, at least if the circumstances are right. Affirmations are a good place to start.

Not enough sleep

This is a tough one. Some OBEs are caused by over-tiredness, often coupled with too much stress. But that end of the spectrum isn't very effective for me.

I've always had more OBEs when I over-sleep. I may wake up refreshed and ready to start my day, but I force myself back to sleep another cycle. Burning the candle at both ends, staying up late at night and getting up extra early in the morning can interfere with your ability to induce OBEs. At least they do for me. You've got to get out of the habit of thinking about what you need to get done when you wake up. When you wake up, turn off your mind and make the time to shut out the world and its distractions and practice, practice, practice. Try not to focus on the upcoming day and just let your mind drift in that state between waking and sleeping.

Too much light in the room

Thanks to a million years of evolution, the physical body's natural circadian rhythms are governed largely by the light of the sun. When it gets dark, the darkness triggers our brains to produce melatonin and we naturally become sleepy. When it gets light outside, a tiny bit of light shines through our closed eyelids and tells us to wake up. So one common roadblock is having too much light in your bedroom.

The tiniest bit of light in your bedroom can interfere with your sleep cycles. It can keep you from falling asleep naturally and it can interfere with your ability to induce an OBE in the morning when you first wake up. So minimize the artificial light in your bedroom at night:

  • Turn off the back-lighting on your cellphone or flip your phone face-down to shut off the back-lighting and/or ambient display.
  • Minimize the use of nightlights. I put strips of black electrical tape over some of my nightlights to minimize the amount of light they put out.
  • You can also cover up the tiny red dots that glow from smoke and carbon monoxide detectors.

In other words, make your bedroom as dark as possible. But most important of all: When the morning comes, if it's too bright in your bedroom you may not be able to oversleep.

  • Use dark dark shades or opaque curtains on windows if you can, to block out as much sunlight as possible.
  • If you can't block out the light from the windows consider wearing a sleep mask to block all the light from your eyes.

Exposing your (closed) eyes to almost no light in the morning can trick your brain into extending your body's sleep cycles into hours when you're more likely to be fully conscious, and thus, makes OBEs more likely.

This doesn't always apply to everybody. Some OBE authors claim they have better luck if they're in a dimly lit room, not a completely dark room. So you may need to experiment and find out what works best for you.

Staring into your phone or tablet's blue light

This is similar to the problems mentioned above. A lot of people, myself included, like to wind down at the end of the day by playing a game or two on your phone before bed. But the blue light emitted by your phone or tablet's display can mess with your body's generation of melatonin and keep you from sleeping properly. So consider playing the game earlier in the evening and minimize the use of unnatural light in the evening.

Another tip: whereas it's always a good idea to read an OBE book before bed, it's best to read printed (paper) books, not a tablet. A small reading light won't interfere significantly with sleep before bed; just make sure the light bulb has a "warm" color temperature that emits more red light and less blue light. Avoid those "Daylight" bulbs that emit a lot of blue light.

Watching too much television

I don't know about you, but when I watch television at night, it numbs my brain and I become a walking zombie. It's a bad combination of unnatural blue-light to your eyes coupled with turning off your analytical thinking, and it can interfere with your OBEs. If you're going to watch TV, do it earlier in the evening and allow ample recovery time before bedtime.

Not enough alone time

This is another common roadblock. The best advice I took from Marilynn Hughes's book Odysseys of Light is to spend at least one hour a day alone with yourself. I'd like to further suggest that it be spent on introspection or other "within" tasks such as:

  • Read a book
  • Meditate
  • Listen to music or binaural beats
  • Use your creative imagination
  • Create art or music
  • Play video games

Just don't stay up too late doing so.

Animals and other distractions

Out-of-body attempts can be spoiled if you have a dog, cat, or other animal that jumps on the bed or make lots of noise in the morning. Authors like Michael Raduga advise you to not move a muscle when you first wake up, and instead go right into your exit technique before you've used any of your muscles. If an animal wakes you it may ruin your entire attempt. So keep these distractions to a minimum.

Conclusions

You still need to make an effort, practice OBE techniques, and walk the edge of consciousness: the thin line between waking consciousness and sleep.

A big part of inducing an OBE is doing the right prep work, and that includes eliminating (or minimizing) the roadblocks that may interfere with the process. Who knows? You may be on the verge of an OBE breakthrough and just need to get some of these roadblocks out of your way.

Can you think of other roadblocks that prevent OBE? I'd love to hear about them.

Bob Peterson,
12 July 2022

Tuesday, June 21, 2022

Bob's Best of Breed OBE Books 2022

Bob's Best of Breed OBE Books 2022

by Bob Peterson

The last time I published my "Bob's Best of Breed OBE Books" was in 2017, so after 5 years I thought it would be good to publish an updated list of my favorite Out-of-Body Experience / astral projection books, by category.

This time I've ranked my top ten OBE / astral projection books in these categories:

  • OBE Tips, Techniques & Instructions
  • General
  • Scientific or Analytical
  • OBE Narratives & Story Telling
Click on the links for a full book review of each book.

Disclaimer: Some books fit into multiple categories, and it was sometimes hard to choose, but I only wanted to list one book per author.

 Top 10 OBE books: Tips, Techniques & Instructions

This is what every beginner wants to know--how to do it themselves--right? These are books that have good solid OBE techniques to get you out there exploring:

1
Hacking the Out of Body Experience Robert Peterson
(2019)
I'm biased because I wrote this book. Still, with 351 pages and 77 chapters of tips and techniques I haven't found any better.
2
The Phase
(Review part 2)
(Review part 3)
Michael Raduga
(2015)
One of the best instructional OBE books out there. A wealth of tips, techniques and good advice.
3
Astral Dynamics
(Review part 2)
Robert Bruce
(1999)
Lots of good techniques and advice. Stresses energy work.
4
Adventures Beyond the Body William Buhlman
(1996)
A well rounded balance of info, theory and a variety of techniques.
5
Navigating the Out-of-Body Experience Graham Nicholls
(2012)
A good assortment of creative OBE techniques and general OBE info.
6
Leaving the Body D. Scott Rogo
(1983)
An oldie but goodie. Techniques and OBE advice abound.
7
Travel Far Darryl E. Berry Jr.
(2015)
A well-rounded book with general information and techniques. A lost leader.
8
Out of Body Experiences Akhena
(2013)
OBE Information, techniques, advice, excellent narratives, plus validation. Hard to find.
9
Astral Projection Richard Craze
(1996)
Small and compact but chock full of 22 astral projection techniques.
10
Experiencing Astral Travel V.M. Beelzebub
(2003)
Obscured by occult "cloak and daggar" but actually has lots of good information and techniques.

Top 10 OBE books: General

These books include general information about OBEs, speculation about what is "out there" and often contain some techniques and pointers. The best ones are all based on personal experience and/or observations.

1
Explorations In Consciousness Frederick Aardema
(2012)
One of the best and yet underrated OBE books. Creative and informative.
2
The Projection of the Astral Body Sylvan Muldoon and Hereward Carrington
(1929)
A classic from the 1920s, but still very much relevant today.
3
Journeys Out of the Body Robert Monroe
(1971)
The book that got me started. A classic in the field. Powerful.
4
Out-of-Body Exploring Preston Dennett
(2004)
Good solid OBE information.
5
Explorations Out of the Body Eddie Slasher
(1997)
Relatable, fascinating and innovative
6
Astral Projection and Lucid Dreaming Vincent Field
(2022)
Good overall book based on the author's experiences and creative OBE experiments.
7
The Vibrational State Maverick Vardoger
(2019)
Personal observations and techniques based on experience.
8
Exploring Your Inner Reality Jonas Ridgeway
(2013)
Good solid info and OBE advice.
9
Astral Travel for Beginners Richard Webster
(1998)
Based on experience, contains narratives, techniques, references, glossary, index, etc.
10

How I Learned Soul Travel Terrill Willson
(1987)
Follows the author's journey to learn OBEs. Packed with gems.

Top 10 OBE books: Scientific or Analytical

These books were written for the scientific, and often skeptical, person.

1
Out-of-Body Experiences Janet Lee Mitchell, Ph.D.
(1981)
Scientific study of OBEs in the lab, at its best. Think Ingo Swann, Alex Tanous, you name it.
2
The Out of Body Experience Anthony Peake
(2011)
Great. Solid no-nonsense information and history of OBEs with a scientific approach. Very well researched and well written.
3
With The Eyes of the Mind Glenn Gabbard and Stuart Twemlow
(1984)
Two professional psychiatrists compare OBEs to body boundary disturbances like autoscopy, schizophrenia, lucid dreams, etc. Fabulous. Highly recommended.
4
Beyond the Body Susan J. Blackmore
(1992)
A parapsychologist's view of OBEs. Level headed, although she became quite an outspoken skeptic in later years.
5
Flight of Mind H.J. Irwin
(1985)
Scientific and very dry, but very informative.
6
Out-of-the-Body Experiences Celia Green
(1968)
It's been a long time, but I remember it was good.
7
Convergence Barbara Mango & Lynn Miller
(2021)
Scientific comparison of extraordinary experiences, how they connect and how they affect us all.
8
Astral Projection and Psychic Empowerment Joe H. Slate
(1998)
Talks about more modern lab experiments on remote targets.
9
Demystifying the Out-of-Body Experience Luis Minero
(2012)
Solid information. Brings the subject down to Earth.
10

Traveler's Guide to the Astral Plane Steve Richards
(1983)
Unlike any OBE/AP book in the genre. Great historical references.

Top 10 OBE books: OBE Narratives & OBE Stories

These books are more geared toward telling the personal stories of those who have had out-of-body experiences, but are often light on OBE techniques.

1
Multi-Dimensional Man Jurgen Ziewe
(2008)
Moving, touching, inspiring. A heart-warming ride into other dimensions. Still my #1 favorite OBE book.
2
An Adjacent Place Clary G. Valentine
(2017)
A wild ride. Chock full of OBE narratives that seem to prove that OBEs are real, written by a friend of the experiencer.
3

Eyes of an Angel Paul Elder
(2005)
Many heart-warming, educational and entertaining OBEs from the author.
4
The Out-of-Body Experience: An Experiential Anthology Edited by Rodrigo Montenegro
(2015)
A great collection of OBE narratives, many of which have validation.
5
Soul Traveler Albert Taylor
(1996)
An engineer and former NASA employee is thrown into the world of OBEs. Very entertaining. Kept me wanting more.
6
Astral Projections Michael Ross
(2010)
Small, but well written and heart warming.
7
The Study and Practice of Astral Projection Dr. Robert Crookall
(1960)
Lots of good stories and speculation about their meaning.
8
The Astral Projection Guidebook Erin Pavlina
(2013)
Amusing and well written, although a little far-out.
9
Persephone's Journey Vicky M. Short
(2010)
A heart warming journal of personal growth and out-of-body travel.
10
Loved Mary Deioma
(2014)
A touching personal journey.

Some people ask why I collect so many OBE / Astral Projection books. The answer is: It's my hobby. Some people collect dolls or figurines; I collect OBE books.

That said, OBE books are like books about flying airplanes. They can only take you so far. They can give you hints and general principles, nothing can ever replace firsthand experience. I hope you explore the state yourself and hopefully use this guide (and my book reviews) to determine which books help you in your adventure.

Bob Peterson
21 June 2022

Tuesday, June 7, 2022

Review: Odysseys of Light

Review: Odysseys of Light

by Marilynn Hughes

Today I'm reviewing Odysseys of Light: Adventures in Out-of-Body Travel by Marilynn Hughes. The copyright is 1991.

Last winter (2021-2022) Kathy and I were in Florida and we took a motorcycle ride to the gulf coast. We found ourselves in the city of Crystal River, Florida. I told Kathy, "I should stop and get a photo of the welcome sign and post it on Facebook because there's a book called Crystal River Flowing by Marilynn Hughes. I've never read it, but I wonder if it's about this town. Seems unlikely, but humorous anyway." Kathy's not into OBEs, so I didn't pursue it, but it seemed like a gentle jab in my ribs from the Universe: I should revisit Marilynn Hughes's books. So when we got back to our home in Minnesota, I dug out my copy of her first book, Odysseys of Light, and started reading.

I had read this book many years ago but I didn't remember it at all. I've been a member of Marilynn Hughes's Facebook group "Out of Body Travel Foundation" for many years but because of its posts I always assumed it was related to some kind of Christian religious group, and I assumed Hughes was somehow devoutly Christian. Boy was I wrong! Re-reading this book brought Marilynn Hughes and her group into a new light and now I think I'd have to reclassify her as devoutely "New Age." That's not to say she isn't God-oriented. She seems deeply devoted to God, but she views God from a new-age perspective, and it's actually refreshing.

Marilynn Hughes has written many books, and as far as I know this is just the first. Since my perspective was a bit jaded, I never bought her other books.

From the beginning Hughes states that this book is just the first in a series of books, each designed to take the reader further away from Earthly reality than the last in a progression toward Oneness, or something like that. In the prologue she won my heart right away with statements like this:

"Out-of-body travel is much more than psychic phenomena, it is the process of reuniting with our higher selves, and ultimately, the Gateway to Ascension." (pg. xi)

Wow, I thought, that sounds more like William Buhlman than it does a devout Christian! A few pages later, she wrote:

"Fear is an illusion, as all there is, is love. You can create whatever reality you desire, and if you are fearful, you may create a very scary illusion. You create them because of your unrealized fears." (pg. 4)

Now I knew for sure I had mis-categorized Marilynn Hughes. In my experience, most Christian groups are fear-based, controlling their followers with fear of damnation, and the whole "Good vs Evil/God vs. Devil/Angels vs. Demons" theme. Hughes just blows that whole concept out of the water.

"Another reason the creation of reality is extremely important is the exposure that many of you may have to beliefs in negative entities. Let me make it as clear as I can that they do not exist, and if you run into a demon or burning fires or lakes, it is only your unconscious or conscious fear that you are responding to. All you need to do is confront the 'entity' or the 'hell' and it will disappear. You must confront your fear or you will never go past it." (pg. 23)

And toward the end of the book, this:

"Your physical world is an illusion. All there is, is unconditional love. You are not judged, and there is no hell. Fear is what allows you to deny this." (pg. 130)

These are more than just her beliefs. Unlike the majority of other OBE / astral projection books, Hughes makes it clear that her book is based on personal experience. And her experiences mesh with mine. For example:

"I feel more rested when I return from an astral visit than I do when I inhabit my body." (pg. 12)

This is unlike the many books that assume the (bad) attitude of "I'm the teacher; you're the student, and this is the truth" so prominent in Paul Twitchell's book Eckankar which I recently reviewed. Instead, Hughes says down-to-earth, sane things like:

"This was a lesson to me that you should never give your power away to a teacher, as the only master of you, is you." (pg. 58)

And later in the book:

"The message in this beautiful experience was to never give your power to the man on the bank (a church, or any person), as truth is your destiny to find!" (pg. 96)

On pages 13-14 she gives some interesting recommendations to help people achieve OBEs. In my opinion, this is all very good advice. In short, she recommends:

  1. Spend one hour a day completely alone with yourself! No television, radio, books, meditation tapes, just YOU.
  2. Every morning upon waking, spend five to ten minutes bringing dreams back consciously...Write down what you can remember... (keep a dream journal)
  3. Talk to your guides throughout the day. They are your constant companions so involve them in everything you do.
  4. After speaking to your guides at night, go to sleep meditating on love or oneness.
  5. Lastly, work on remembering (and resolving) your fears.

Unfortunately, as good as it is, there isn't much more OBE advice than this.

Instead of being Christian, I found Hughes to be more like Jane Roberts/Seth, who I've always liked. For example, she says:

"Remember that everyone creates their own reality, and you cannot be responsible for another's illusion. You will not help them or yourself by taking responsibility for them. In fact, you inhibit their growth by allowing them to avoid their life issues." (pg. 16)

I also loved Hughes's upbeat and positive attitude toward life and toward spirituality. Unlike so many teachers who seem so serious and devoid of humor, Hughes is just the opposite. Many people criticize me for constantly posting funny and/or irreverent memes on Facebook, making fun of our humanness and poking fun at the human condition. Marilynn Hughes gets it!

"HAVE FUN! Do not take your spiritual journey so seriously all the time. Enjoy life, as that is what spirituality is all about. Laughter is the essence of spirituality. Do not shroud yourself in solemnity." (pg. 18)

She also talks about the importance of raising your vibrations.

"Learning to operate in a higher level of vibration is an essential aspect of astral travel, as reaching higher dimensions requires a brighter light. If you enter into a dimension too high for your being, you'll be overwhelmed by the power. You can't be hurt in any way, but you may feel as though the energy I could crush you. This is why these vibrational raisings are so important. They are your key to further enlightenment and understanding." (pg. 39)

So far, this is a great OBE book. Unfortunately, in chapter 6, Hughes contacts an entity named Emmanuel, then she starts channeling Emmanuel, who point-blank claims to be the same channeled entity of Pat Rodegast, who wrote Emmanuel's Book.

From that point on, the book contains several channeling sessions. Now I have nothing against channeling. I've attended many channeling sessions myself including OBE author Kurt Leland and others I've known through the years. I've also spent countless hours studying and comparing different channelers and entities. In fact, I've got a whole shelf of my library dedicated to mediums and channelers like Rodegast (Emmanuel), Jane Roberts (Seth), Lee Carroll (Kryon), John Edwards (Crossing Over), James Van Praagh, Walter Russell (Message of the Divine Illiad), and others. But like I've said many times in the past, that's NOT what I want to see in a book about astral projection/OBEs. That's not to say Marilynn Hughes's channeled teachings aren't good. In fact, they're very good and mesh quite well with Seth and others. But still, for me it was a distraction from the OBE theme.

Hughes channels other entities, and eventually Emmanuel announces his departure, but other entities come through as well. It's interesting. It's fascinating. I'd even venture to say it's important. But again, it's not OBE.

Despite the channeling "distraction" Hughes thankfully keeps returning to the OBE theme. In her out-of-body adventures, she visits other worlds, meets various non-physical teachers, and sometimes "devolves" into teaching discourses direct from the astral plane (which I've always disliked), yet her experiences seem somewhat more authentic than others like it (Luiz Roberto Mattos comes to mind).

In some of her OBEs she deals with her own karma and works toward resolving karmic debt; something she calls "Stockpile encounters".

At some point, her out-of-body adventures start to turn into full-blown past-life encounters. In other words, after she leaves her body she is sometimes dropped into a past life and is taught lessons that way. For example:

"Passing through the vibrational state and the time tunnel, I was dropped into a lifetime during World War II..." (pg. 83)

Like me and a few other authors, Hughes has her own encounter with Jesus Christ, and it's both interesting and touching (page 140).

The book is very experience-based and is mostly OBE narratives, and you know how I love narratives. Unfortunately, the narratives don't always convey that sense of awe and wonder I still feel after every experience. Hughes makes her OBEs sound easy; way too easy. Hughes is like "After I lay down, the vibrations came and I slipped out of my body easily." I wish it was that easy for me. I still need to work hard for every experience, but I guess I still need to raise my vibrations.

If astral projection is really that easy for her, I can't fault her for conveying that to the reader, or sharing what she experienced. But I was still a bit disappointed. Just saying.

The other unfortunate thing is that except for the section described above (which is decent but too short), she doesn't give any actual OBE techniques or practical advice. The reader is left with a sense of loss, like, "Gee, I wish I could do that" instead of new things to try. (She makes channeling sound easy too).

Despite its shortcomings, I did enjoy the book. It's good enough to make me want to buy some of her other books to continue the adventure. After more than 30 years I'm sure she's got a lot more stories to tell.

The book is 142 pages. It's well thought-out, organized and written. My copy has some typos, especially near the end of the book, but it doesn't detract from the overall message. I'm giving it 3 and a half stars, but it would have been 4 if it had some solid OBE techniques and less channeling.

Bob Peterson
07 June 2022

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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, May 24, 2022

Review: Eckankar: the Key to Secret Worlds

Eckankar: the Key to Secret Worlds

by Paul Twitchell

Today I'm reviewing Eckankar: the Key to Secret Worlds by Paul Twitchell. The copyright on my copy is 1969. This book has been reprinted dozens of times with different covers, but my copy looks like the above.

I grew up in Minneapolis, which is where the "religion" of Eckankar was started by the late Paul Twitchell in 1965. Today you can find followers in about 40 countries and about 3000 members. What does Eckankar mean? According to Twitchell the word "Eckankar" means "Co-worker with God" (pg. 46) and the religion is supposedly very ancient, although no record of it exists prior to Twitchell himself.

Some time around 1980, after my first few out-of-body experiences, I was attending the University of Minnesota and hungry for answers. One day I was walking on Fourth street near the University campus toward a used bookstore when I spotted a small shop that had books and posters for Eckankar, the "ancient science of soul travel." "What's this?" I thought, "A religion based on out-of-body travel? Just what I'm looking for!" Naturally, I had to go in.

Once inside, I met some very nice people who told me their "soul travel" was superior to normal astral projection or out-of-body travel in what you can do. Their founder, Paul Twitchell, wrote several books and they encouraged me to buy some. They even gave me a free book called Your Right to Know by Darwin Gross, their "Living Eck Master" at the time. It seems Twitchell had died in 1971 and had passed the torch on to Gross. Since I was a broke college student, I decided to only buy this one book by Twitchell until I knew more.

I read Your Right to Know right away and was shocked to discover all the hallmarks of a cult. Gross's book was filled with the lunatic ravings of a cult leader: new terminology to isolate members from the rest of the world, encouraging members to forsake their family and friends who just can't understand, surrendering your will to the Living Eck Master. Gross claimed that as "Living Eck Master" he was the "Sole representative of God on Earth." What's worse, he contradicted himself several times in the book.

Run away. Run far, far away.

So I never read this Paul Twitchell book Eckankar until just recently in 2022.

Many years later I discovered Darwin Gross had been kicked out of Eckankar for scandals and abuses. But that's not all. There was another Living Eck Master, Jerry Glaskin, who was similarly kicked out of Eckankar for scandals and abuses. And their current Eck Master, Harold Klemp? I don't know much about him. I've seen shows in which he sounds reasonable, but I'm still too wary. At least Klemp has been around for many many years without scandals.

And what about the author of this book, Paul Twitchell? In a personal conversation, author William Buhlman told me Twitchell was the "real deal." He really could travel out-of-body and visit higher planes of existence. But does that make him any less of a cult reader? You decide...

This book is a curious mixture of reasonable, unreasonable, and yes, absurd teachings.

Twitchell claims to have traveled around the world and studied many spiritual traditions, but eventually found a guru in India who taught him the "ancient" "secret knowledge" and techniques of Eckankar. "Hmm," I thought, "Sounds like a Helena Blavatsky (the founder of Theosophy) wanna-be." Twitchell also claimed to have taken personal instruction from non-physical Eck masters with weird (some would say ridiculous) names like Rebazar Tarzs and Fubbi Quanz. And Eckankar, he says, may be used to dissolve karma, escape reincarnation, and travel the higher planes of existence.

Like Darwin Gross, Paul Twitchell does display some traits of a cult leader. For example, he says things like:

"Just as the moth in its desire to be near the flame is willing to destroy itself, so must we in becoming the new self be willing to destroy the old self." (pg. 14)

And this:

"The mind and heart of anyone who wishes to travel to the inner worlds will go through the threshold, or door, of the inner self, and undergo the necessary purification with the help of the ECK Master. We must put aside everything and have complete trust in him. We must bring to a halt the shaking of the mind by terror. All attachment must drop from our minds and leave only one thing for us, the love for the inner teaching, a love for the light and sound of the cosmic worlds." (pg. 40)

And this:

"You must understand then that the spiritual guide is actually the ECK master, and yet he is not the ECK master. He is the highest and the lowest and no man can resist him, should the guide reach out to take charge of the neophyte if the latter ask for such assistance. This is because he has the attitude of a father's loving care toward his child. Every soul that reaches perfection can testify to this." (pg. 42-43)

Twitchell seems to preach "Charity" or Biblical Agape (impersonal love) rather than love for other people. For example, "Rebazar Tarz" supposedly said this:

"Since the human element in man doesn't have the capacity, then he must give his impersonal good will to all, but love only those whom you must!" (pg. 21)

Other times he sounds quite reasonable and gives reasonable out-of-body advice. For example:

"When preparing to leave the body for a spiritual journey, you must deliberately focus your attention on the feeling of the journey fulfilled until such a feeling fills the soul and crowds out all other ideas in the consciousness. With this deliberate concentration the soul will slowly leave the physical body and explore other spheres before returning to its temple of flesh. Therefore, the power of attention is the measure of your success in getting out of the body the first few times you attempt soul travel." (pg. 14)

Well, I can't argue with that. Focus of attention is probably the most important thing. But then he makes claims like this one, which describes seeing your body from an out-of-body perspective:

"Having fixed ourselves in a certain position in the room, we can stand there looking down and examining the strange lump of clay on the bed. It neither breathes, nor moves, from lack of reflexes. The color of the face is usually gray, the eyes wide, staring lifelessly, and the radiation of the aura gradually fades." (pg. 212)

That's nonsense. When out-of-body, your body continues to breathe normally. Your body is in sleep paralysis, your eyes are usually closed, and the aura remains the same. When I look at my body on the bed, I normally don't see my body at all; I just see its energy field.

Chapter 3 is titled "The Perplexing Techniques of Soul Travel" and it's not bad at all. Twitchell claims there are four basic techniques: The emotional, the sound, the secret, and the master technique. Despite that, he proceeds to give more than that, and they seem unrelated to those descriptions:

Technique 1

The first technique is also called the Imaginative technique. It's basically the "Target Technique" taught by countless other authors. You close your eyes and focus on the spiritual eye (third eye), and:

"All of a sudden you will find that this is reality. You are standing in the center of that place that you were thinking about. This is the old law of the astral world which says, and I repeat here, that wherever you place your thought body, the rest of you is bound to follow." (pg. 50)

He also tells you not to be afraid, but in a cultish way:

"No harm will come to the body, for the ECK master is always near to see that nothing happens other than for your own good." (pg. 51)

Technique 2

Concentrate on a bright object like a coin. Then begin to concentrate on going out of body. As you drift off, repeat to yourself the affirmation "I am leaving the body. I am going to (whatever place desired.)" Do this over and over until it becomes reality. William Buhlman also gave that technique in his first book.

Technique 3

Sit on the floor, eyes closed, feet stretched out in front, knees stiff. Take a deep breath, and touch the feet with your fingertips by leaning forward, just as if you were performing a calisthenics drill. At the same time, chant the word SUGMAD (Eckankar's word for God). Perform this over and over.

Technique 4

The fourth technique is: Sit in an easy chair, eyes closed, and chant the word "Gopal," supposedly one of the names of the guardians of the Temples of Golden Wisdom.

Technique 5

Take a comfortable position in a chair or on the floor. Look at a spot between the eyebrows and allow hypnagogic images to flow. Establish a blank screen and the "inner ECK master" will appear in the same shape and form as "myself" (Twitchell.) Only think of the "living ECK master" and traveling with him.

In true cult-like fashion, he writes:

"He is the only vehicle through which one can reach the higher worlds, so take care and practice this technique correctly. An added feature is that you can chant his title, which will give great emphasis to the encounter with him. His title is the Mahanta, which means the sat guru or great guru, the light-giver...This will bring the living ECK master faster into your orbit to escort you into the other worlds." (pg. 59)

Later, Twitchell bolsters this title by saying:

"In other words, he is a true light-giver and an instrument of the Supreme SUGMAD which makes contact with this world of humanity. The head of ECK is called the Mahanta--which means spiritual leader, or Godman." (pg. 71)

How's that for cult-like delusions of grandeur? It gets worse:

"The ECK master is the only man, or should I say being, who is capable of manifesting individualism and universalism in their full expressions. He is a law unto himself, does what he pleases, has what he wants, comes and goes absolutely at his own will, and ask no favors of any man. No man can hinder him in the execution of his will, nor does he ask favors of others. All things are at his command." (pg. 72)

Although not as disturbing as Darwin Gross's claims, Twitchell does have some absurd teachings. For example, I found this to be completely wrong:

"It is generally understood that no man with a defective body or any serious deformity can ever become a real spiritual traveler." (pg. 72)

I call bullsh*t on that one. Here's another strange out-of-place thing I found in this book, which I happen to agree with:

"This is why socialism never works. Man must pay for everything that he gets; all debts, whether or not they are financial, must be paid in full. We cannot get something for nothing." (pg. 140)

Like Theosophy, Twitchell teaches that there are several planes of existence, subplanes, and multiple chakras in the body (although he only names six of them).

He claims there is a holy sound, but instead of the Yogic sound of "Aum" he says:

"Hu" that is "The sound Hu is the beginning and the ending of every sound in all life." (pg. 105)

In additional, Twitchell lays out a great deal of cosmology, starting with:

"There are three levels of independent workers in eternity which cooperate in the running of the worlds. First, the SUGMAD, the All-Supreme Being; second, the silent ones, who are his messengers; and third, the ECK masters who are agents of both the SUGMAD and the silent ones. The three work together." (pg. 111)

This includes a grand hierarchy consisting of a galaxy of lords, rulers, creators, and governors of all the heavenly spheres.

Twitchell also talks about nonphysical beings he calls "spiritual travelers" that are very powerful and assist people in their out-of-body journeys.

He also describes the different planes of existence in great detail. For example, he talks about the "Capital of the Astral Plane" and gives it the name Sahasra del Kanwal.

Then he says the physical plane has a capital too, a city called Retz, located on the planet Venus. (pg. 197) Oh, come on. Really? The average surface temperature on Venus is 847F / 452C. On a cold winter's night it can get as low as 820F / 437C.

The name of the Lord of this physical universe, he says, is Elam, whom many have mistaken for Sugmad (God).

He says there are seven spiritual cities on Earth named Damcar, Agam Des, Shamball, Sat Dham, Akeviz, Kimtaved, and Nampak (pg. 197). These are located respectively in the Gobi desert, the Himalaya Mountains, India, the Pyrenees Mountains, Central America, South America, and Africa. Quick, call Google Earth. On and on he gives names to different worlds, planes and places. It's not an insignificant part of the book.

To bolster his claims he cites other famous "soul travelers" such as Hafiz, the aforementioned Blavatsky, Padre Pio (famous for bilocation, not OBE) and many others, all of whom predate Eckankar itself, and none of whom taught anything resembling Twitchell's bizarre cosmology.

Again, some of the claims in the book seem reasonable, but they are overshadowed by dubious or outright absurd claims. I have no doubt Twitchell had OBEs, but I think maybe he just went off the rails at some point and got caught up in his own delusions.

Don't get me wrong. I've met some very nice people who claimed to be followers of Eckankar, so it's not all bad, and maybe Harold Klemp turned the organization around for the better (one can only hope).

The writing is good, the content is plentiful, and the OBE techniques are decent, but it's like mining in the mud for an occasional gem (or cleaning out a horse stall). I give the book 2 stars out of 5.

Bob Peterson
24 May 2022

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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, May 3, 2022

OBEs and the Gut Microbiome

OBEs and the Gut Microbiome

by Bob Peterson

The Golden Rule of OBE Eating

If you've been following my blog, you know the basic rule of eating for out-of-body experiences:
  • Eat early, eat light.
Some even use fasting for OBEs. But there's a lot more to it than that. Your diet plays a very important role in your ability to induce OBEs. The older I get, the more I learn how important it is, and it all goes back to something scientists call the "gut microbiome," the trillions of microorganisms that live inside our intestines/guts. These friendly bacteria help us break down food into nutrients needed by our bodies. In return, we provide them a steady supply of food and a safe place to live.

Dietary Considerations

In the past I've written several articles about dietary considerations and how your diet influences your ability to induce OBEs, including:

Many authors of astral projection books (Graham Nicholls comes to mind), recommend a vegetarian diet to induce out-of-body experiences. (I've never had a problem eating meat, but it may help some people).

Author D. Scott Rogo takes it a step further. In his book Leaving the Body he dedicates an entire chapter to “Astral Projection through Dietary Control” (AKA the “Keeler system.”) In short, Rogo suggests fasting or cutting down food intake ("The Golden Rule" above), not eating meat (like Nicholls), but also eating more carrots, fruits, vegetables and eggs, plus drinking plenty of liquids. But the thing that caught my attention is: no nuts of any kind are to be eaten. Rogo says peanuts are especially bad. (Peanuts aren’t technically nuts, but they should still be avoided).

And why should you avoid nuts? Constipation. In my opinion, eating a lot of cheese is also bad for OBEs, for the same reason.

And why is constipation bad for OBEs? It screws up the Gut Microbiome.

Hacking The Gut Microbiome

When people talk about "gut instincts," "following your gut," or "going with your gut" they usually mean following your intuition. But that's just the beginning. The more scientists study the gut microbiome, the more they realize how it influences our bodies and our brains. For example, a recent article in Neuroscience News (neurosciencenews.com) explains the critical role it plays in regulating sleep. (Click here to read it). The human body is not just an amazing machine; it's also a very complex ecosystem. The brain and the gut influence each other dramatically.
 
I first learned about this many years ago from a "body hacking" article about how you can drink a cocktail of raw potato starch and water (perhaps in a tea) before bed to increase the productivity of your sleep: You sleep better, have longer and more vivid dreams, and wake up feeling more refreshed.
 
The reason it works is because it feeds one particular type of bacteria in your gut microbiome. The bacteria eat the raw potato starch and produce more of an enzyme used by your body to "launder" your brain of contaminants during sleep. That cleans your brain more efficiently, which causes a shorter non-REM (nREM) sleep phase. That, in turn, causes a longer and more vivid REM phase. But that's just the tip of the iceberg.

Gut Microbiome Problems

Constipation slows down your gut microbiome and causes problems, and stops your OBEs, but eventually your intestines recover and straighten out.
 
But what if your gut microbiome is completely destroyed, for example, by radiation used to treat cancer? Then you can't digest food properly. In fact, as gross as it sounds, when this happens doctors often have to do a "fecal transplant." Resorting to the crude vernacular, they literally put shit from someone else's guts into your guts to kick-start the regrowth of your gut microbiome. And it works.

Antibiotics Hurt the Gut Microbiome

In the past, doctors loved to treat almost every ailment with antibiotics, but antibiotics take a huge toll on the gut microbiome. I believe they can completely stop your OBEs. Your guts will eventually recover, but again, this takes time.

Good Gut Microbiome Practices

So if you want to induce OBEs, maintain a healthy gut microbiome. Here are some things you can do to improve your guts with OBEs in mind:

Be Gut-Friendly

  • Avoid constipation by eating enough fiber (or "fibre"), and avoid nuts and an excess of cheese.
  • I've even gone so far as to not drink almond milk anymore. (I also avoid cow milk because I believe it's not good for you, due to hormones, antibiotics, excess fat, etc.). I use oat milk instead.
  • Avoid antacid tablets like Tums, which can also cause constipation.
  • Avoid artificial sweeteners. I've experimented with many different artificial sweeteners (Aspartame, Sucralose, Monk Fruit, etc. I don't like the taste of Stevia), and they all seem to take a toll on my OBEs. Recent studies show they are bad for the gut microbiome. Don't drink diet soda/pop (most contain Aspartame) and don't use flavored water squirts like Mio (most contain artificial sweeteners). I've never had a problem with sugar or corn syrup.
  • Drink lots of water, preferably not tap water, because it often contains Fluoride. I have a well, but reverse osmosis water is good too. Be careful with distilled water because too much can leech all the nutrients out of your body.

Feed your Gut Microbiome

  • Eat pro-biotic foods like yogurt every day (but not if they contain artificial sweeteners).
  • Drink pro-biotic drinks like kefir.
  • You can also buy various "pro-biotic" products in health stores, pharmacies and even grocery stores.
  • Some people recommend Kombucha.

Go for regular walks or runs

Walking (or running) helps your digestive tract move, which is good for the gut microbiome. Make it a regular practice.

Be Patient

Don't expect your gut microbiome to change overnight. It takes me about four days to recover from artificial sweeteners. And if your doctor prescribes antibiotics, be patient and give your gut microbiome time to heal.

Some people try for years to produce OBEs, unsuccessfully. For many, the problem might be due to mismanagement of their gut microbiome. It's definitely an avenue to explore. So carefully examine your diet and make adjustments as needed.

Finally, be patient, follow best practices (like the Golden Rule above), meditate regularly, and follow the Seven Habits of Highly Effective Astral Travelers. Above all, keep up your regular OBE practice sessions and never give up.

Bob Peterson
03 May 2022