Saturday, March 29, 2014

Review: Astral Projection, by Sylvia Jacobs

Review: Astral Projection, by Sylvia Jacobs

Book review by Bob Peterson

I finished reading the book Astral Projection: How To Have An Out-Of-Body Experience In 30 Days by Sylvia Jacobs, and I wanted to give my thoughts and observations about the book.

The first thing to note is that this book is small. It's only 113 pages long, its font is big and there's lot of white space, so it only took a couple hours to read. Compare that with my previous review of D. Scott Rogo's Leaving the Body: that was 190 pages but took me a month to read, in several carved out blocks of time (I'm a busy guy). Although Rogo's book is not even twice as many pages, it took me at least ten times longer to read, due to the small font. What this means is: Rogo's book has ten times the information.

The book makes a lot of assumptions, primarily related to occult beliefs about the out-of-body experiences. The author echoes what many of the other books say regarding vibrations, the astral body, chakras, spirit guides, Akashic records, etc. I can't say I disagree with what she wrote, but I think that many of these subjects aren't treated as in-depth as they deserve. For example, in the Questions and Answers section, she addresses the question "Why do I only see darkness in my astral body?" Her answer is:
"It is common to see darkness when you exit your physical body. This is called astral blindness. Most people are not used to their astral bodies at first, so this can happen during your first few projections.
First try opening your eyes just as you would in your physical body. Sometimes that is all it takes to start seeing with your astral eyes. Moving away from your physical body also helps to get rid of astral blindness."
While I don't disagree with any of this, there's a lot more that can (and should) be said. First, there's the whole discussion of the "cord activity range" proposed by Sylvan Muldoon, which affects astral sight. Second, there's the whole discussion of the different kinds of eyesight people experience in an OBE: I documented four in my first book and had several paragraphs to talk about it. Third, there's another whole discussion regarding the darkness and/or blackness experienced by a lot of people (such as author Frederick Aardema) described as "the void," a jumping off point for different realms of experience. So the bottom line is that the information is good, but it's "light reading." It's not in-depth, at least not for me (but I'm admittedly biased).

Jacobs does, however, give lots of good OBE advice and several solid techniques for inducing OBEs. There's nothing new or innovative as far as I'm concerned, but she does give the basics of many good OBE techniques. Some would argue she should have gone into more depth on each of these (like D. Scott Rogo did).

The subtitle is "How To Have An Out-Of-Body Experience in 30 Days". Do I think that's possible? Well, yes, the author seems pretty focused and gives a lot of techniques, and she does set reasonable expectations: to accomplish it, you need to stay focused, be persistent, follow directions, etc. It's not an unreasonable subtitle.

One problem I had with the book is this: Except for two small paragraphs on page 4 and 5, there are no personal stories, which means it's not as entertaining as some of the other OBE books out there. She speaks with the voice of authority, but she doesn't give much for credentials to say where her knowledge comes from, where she learned it, who her teachers were and what her level of experience is. However, the book is informational and concise. It is a bit dry and therefore a little flat, without a lot of personality.

You can tell that this book is self-published. The font, spacing and overall experience just aren't professional quality. On the positive side, the cover is better than a lot of them in the genre; kudos there. It's also well organized and the author stays on track. The grammar is very good (she's a good writer) but I found several typos; she could have used a proof-reader/ grammar Nazi like me to review it. These are mostly things a spell-checker wouldn't have caught. Having self-published two of my own books, I know how this works: As an author, you get too close to the work. As you proof-read your own work, you mentally read back what the book should say, not what it actually does say. That's why it's always good to get an impartial third party to review it.

This is an entry-level OBE book: "OBE 101". The information is basic, but solid. I would have liked more content: stories based on personal experience, some justification for her occult-based beliefs, better credentials, and more "personality." It's a good place to start if you're a beginner, but if you're already knee deep in OBE literature, other books may better satisfy your quest for knowledge. If you're only in it for the OBE techniques, it's a good place to start (but that's a dangerous attitude; there's a lot more to consider than the techniques).

29 March 2014

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Review: Leaving the Body, by D. Scott Rogo

Review: Leaving the Body, by D. Scott Rogo

Review by Bob Peterson

D. Scott Rogo's book Leaving the Body: A Complete Guide to Astral Projection is an oldie-but-goodie from the 1980s. It's been almost 30 years since I first read it, so I decided to re-read it and post a review.

D. Scott Rogo was a parapsychologist who wrote a few books on out-of-body experiences. He was also an experiencer, so unlike many in his field, he believed there actually is a non-physical component to OBEs.

When I first read this book, it was the most practical, straightforward and no-nonsense book in the entire genre. That's not saying much, because there were so few books on the subject at the time. Now that the playing field is level, and there are lots of OBE books on the market, I can honestly say: even today, very few books can top this one for providing practical techniques for inducing the out-of-body experience.

Weighing in at just 190 pages, it gives detailed instructions of eight different techniques for inducing an OBE. The eight are:
  • Projection through dynamic concentration
  • Projection through progressive muscular relaxation
  • Projection through dietary control
  • Projection through breathing, yoga and mantra
  • The (Robert) Monroe techniques
  • Visualization techniques
  • Projection through dream control (lucid dreaming)
  • Projection through guided imagery
The first method, dynamic concentration, basically talks about the importance of impressing the subconscious and putting the subconscious will into action. This was a popular technique of Dr. Charles Lancelin, Sylvan Muldoon, and other occulists of the early twentieth century. Basically, you use these techniques to impress on your subconscious the desire to have OBEs.

The second method, progressive muscular relaxation, is more of a passive technique. Many OBE authors (myself and Robert Monroe included) stress the need for complete relaxation as a prerequisite to OBEs. Sometimes that's all you need for an OBE. Rogo describes this in detail.

The third method, dietary control, addresses the subject of restricting your diet. This is something many OBE books do not address, and or at least not adequately. The rare exception is Graham Nicholls, who addresses the subject very well in his book Navigating the Out of Body Experience.

The fourth method is a grab-bag of breathing techniques and yogic techniques. Again, this subject is rarely talked about in other OBE books. Dr. Robert Crookall gave a fair amount of attention to breathing techniques, and even devoted an entire book to the subject.

The fifth is the procedure Robert Monroe described in his first book, Journeys Out of the Body. It's the technique that gave me my first vibrations.

The sixth method, visualization techniques, is where most of the OBE literature spends its time. Rogo treats the subject fairly.

The seventh method, changing lucid dreams into OBEs is another method used by some of the occultists like Hugh Calloway (aka "Oliver Fox") in his book Astral Projection and others.

The last method Rogo covers is projection through guided imagery. Rogo gives most of the credit to Sandor Brent, although this is also described by few other books (although at the moment they escape me). Basically, this is when a facilitator does a guided meditation in order to induce OBEs.

There are also chapters dedicated to the potential of OBEs and its practical applications. It's also chock full of tidbits of OBE history, which I find fun and fascinating.

For people who want to induce their own OBEs, but having trouble getting there, this is a must-have book. The information is concise, straightforward and no-nonsense. Yes, it's old and outdated, but it's mostly just OBE techniques, and the information is solid.

Thumbs way up on this one.

Robert Peterson, 2014 March 9

Index to my book reviews: