Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Navigating the Out-of-Body Experience by Graham Nicholls

By Bob Peterson

As I pointed out in my Sylvan Muldoon blog entry, one important key to having OBEs is convincing the subconscious mind to do it. For that reason, I've amassed a collection of more than 150 OBE books (OBE-only books, not including books on related subjects like NDEs). I like to re-read these books occasionally to keep both my conscious and subconscious motivated. Recently, I decided I should start writing about these books and what I got from them. That way, years from now, I can revisit the books and what I thought of them quickly, plus I can share my opinions on them with the world.

I recently finished reading Navigating the Out-of-Body experience: Radical New Techniques by Graham Nicholls. It's a very good book. Here's my report.

What I liked most about this book is the author's holistic approach to the subject. It's not a step-by-step "Here's what you've got to do" method to achieving an end. Rather, it views the human being as a system, and it talks about different factors that influence the system: diet, sleeping habits, meditation, subconscious programming, transforming beliefs, breath work, etc. The reader is urged to determine which personal profile best describes them, then they are given several techniques to mix and match, based on that profile.

Another good thing about the book is that the author takes a healthy and informed middle-ground between old-school (occult traditions) and new-school (pseudo-scientific). I've read way too many OBE books that peddle occult practices with "matter of fact" assumptions, most of which I dismiss as superstition. As in religion, it's hard to discern the grains of truth buried beneath the dogma. On the other hand, most other OBE books completely ignore the occult traditions, even though they may give us valuable history and insights.

At several points throughout the book, I found myself surprised that I had been doing many of the things Nicholls recommends for years, some of which I did with no regard to an OBE connection. A non-OBE related example is a "push hands" technique he gives, which I used to do when I practised Tai Chi Chuan years ago. Regarding OBEs, he extensively talks about manipulating visualized geometric shapes. He suggests moving visualized triangles, pyramids and spheres. In my first book, Out of Body Experiences, in chapter 24 "How to have an OBE" I recommend using a cube, which I sway back and forth toward you and away from you. In Lessons Out of the Body, I refined that a bit and suggested keeping the cube spinning to solidify the image. Often times I use an octahedron (which can be thought of as two pyramids glued top to bottom, similar to the 8-sided die used in role-playing games) in my visualizations.

I made another interesting observation. On page 186, Nicholls gives his "Introductory Vibrational State Technique" in which you imagine floating a beach ball in front of you, glowing with light and energy. Although he didn't say it, I immediately thought of repeatedly bouncing the ball up into the air. At some point you move it directly above your head. What strikes me about this technique is its similarity to Robert Monroe's technique, from Journeys Out of the Body, of visualizing two lines of force that are pushed outward, then pivoted to the point of being on top your head. In my technique, I use the cube or octahedron in a similar way, but I push it out and back rather than up in the air.

I thought the similarities between Monroe's technique, my technique and Nicholls' technique was pretty interesting. Really, these visualizations are all just ways to accomplish several things at the same time:

1. Focusing your mind inward.
2. Achieving a state of heightened focus.
3. Focusing psychic energy at the crown chakra.
4. Creating momentum to carry your awareness away from your body.
5. Creating a kind of pivot point, a fulcrum against which you can pry your awareness away from the body.
6. Calling the vibrations.

Nicholls also writes about time travel within OBEs, a subject that not many books have breached. In Lessons Out of the Body I mentioned that I had never had a time-travel OBE. That changed in 2001. But that's another story for another day.

The only thing negative I have to say about the book is the fact that I found the subtitle, "Radical New Techniques" a bit misleading. I found nothing radical in the techniques. As for "new" there are some good ideas. Some of these, such as audio-visual subconscious programming, ganzfeld, etc., are not new to parapsychology, but are a new approach to OBE. He suggests using immersion in the form of sensory deprivation, and while that's a great idea not covered in other books, my brother Joe was doing that in the 1980s with his own home-made float tank, so it wasn't new to me. Using physical exercise to shapen the mind while tiring the body is something I suggested in exercise 19 of my first book, but Nicholls carries it a bit further. He also talks about massage and partner exercises, which is a different approach. His 3D Tattva approach is very cool.

His approach was fresh and insightful. All in all, a very good book.

2012 December 5

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