Tuesday, December 12, 2017

"I Really Have Trouble With Visualization"

"I Really Have Trouble With Visualization"

By Bob Peterson

Let's face it. Most of the techniques for inducing an out-of-body experience rely heavily on visualization: You're supposed to visualize your front door (William Buhlman,) a tunnel (Salvatore Scordato), energy moving (Robert Bruce), a swinging octahedron (Robert Peterson. Hey, that's me!), an expanding energy ball (Graham Nicholls), or any number of things. But a lot of people have trouble with visualization.

In this article I want to give you some alternatives, some advice, and strategies to overcome this obstacle so you can start exploring the out-of-body state.

Strategy #1: try to "pretend" or "imagine" more than "visualize"

A lot of people get hung up on the word visualization. They think they need to actually "see" their intended target as clearly as they do with their physical eyes. While that's an ideal to strive for, it's not entirely necessary. All you really need to do is imagine intensely.

I'm not saying that OBEs are imaginary (See my article OBE: Imagination vs. Experience). All I'm saying is that if you use your imagination vividly, that might be enough to trick yourself into the OBE or pre-OBE state.

If you're in a relaxed and focused state, vivid imagination can unexpectedly take on a sudden vivid and realistic quality, so the problem takes care of itself.

I can't speak for women, but I'm pretty sure most men are pretty good at imagining sexual encounters. So redirect that ability to something more OBE-oriented, like a tunnel with a light at the end.

Strategy #2: Use imagined sounds instead of sights

Many years ago, after college, I had a roommate named John who invented an OBE trick he used once or twice: Instead of visualizing an object, he used imaginary sound. He imagined a song was playing that he knew really well. For example, Stairway to Heaven by Led Zeppelin. He tried to recreate the entire song in his imagination note-for-note. At some point in the song, the vibrations hit and he was able to leave his body.

Strategy #3: Use "tactile imagination"

This strategy was invented by Robert Bruce, author of Astral Dynamics. Bruce was inspired to create his "Rope technique" when a blind man asked him for an alternative technique. The technique hinges on using your imagination to feel the sensations of climbing a rope: imagine the rope's course texture in your hands, how it digs into your skin, how your hands grasp around it, etc. So just pretend you close your non-physical eyes and keep them closed, then climb up that imaginary rope blindly, using the sense of touch alone.

Strategy #4: Harness the hypnagogic (pre-sleep) state

The hypnagogic state is the state we naturally enter right before we fall asleep. The vast majority of people are unconscious before they hit the hypnagogic state on their way to sleep, but without too much effort, you can learn to retain conscious awareness into that state.

In the hypnagogic state, you will naturally start to experience very realistic hallucinations. These are often short bursts of imagination that come from the subconscious. In my experience, these are mostly hallucinated sights and sounds: You may hear a very realistic voice saying part of a conversation, or you may see an object float by your closed eyelids. It seems totally random: it might be big like a pencil, medium-sized like a car, or very big, like a football stadium.

So with this strategy, you edge yourself bit by bit toward sleep, being careful to retain awareness (not fall asleep) into the hypnagogic state, then wait for a visual hallucination to cross your field of vision. You use your imagination to grab onto that image and try to control it consciously. Then you start swinging that object back and forth to gain momentum, eventually riding that momentum to propel you away from your body.

Don't be surprised if the hypnagogic object dissolves and disappears when you try to grab it. I'll often "drop" five or six objects before I'm able to grab one and make it stable.

This is the main OBE technique I use. I made this article, along with a video, to describe it: Video: Bob Peterson's OBE Technique

Strategy #5: Harness the hypnopompic (post-sleep) state

This is what author Michael Raduga suggests. The hypnopompic state is similar to the hypnagogic state, but it consists of mostly visual and auditory hallucinations when we come out of sleep rather than when we go into sleep.

There are several advantages to using the hypnopompic state rather than the hypnagogic:
  • Your body is already completely relaxed from sleep and in the perfect state
  • You're just emerging from REM sleep, so your brain's visual hallucination circuits are already activated.
  • You're less likely to fall asleep because you just completed a sleep cycle.

Strategy #6: Keep a dream journal

When you wake up in the morning, before you even get out of bed, try to stop and remember what you were dreaming and jot down a few words to trigger your memory. Later that day, when you have more time, try to flesh out the details. The dreams themselves aren't important. What's important is that when you keep a dream journal, you train yourself to retain those mostly visual memories from your subconscious to your conscious mind. And that will help you conjure up visual images for your OBE exercises.

If you can't remember your dreams, try taking a "Super B Complex" vitamin before bed, or a Vitamin B-6 supplement for a couple days. Don't take more than one, because it can damage your body if you take too much. I often remember more dreams when I stop (not start) using vitamin B-6. Also, before you go to sleep, tell yourself "Tomorrow morning, I'm going to remember my dreams."

Strategy #7: Read more stories

When you watch television or a video, you feed your brain with visual and auditory information. When you read a story, you feed your brain with words, but your brain is forced to interpret the words. In doing that, it often conjures up visual images, however short in duration, of the scenes portrayed in the story. This is good exercise for your brain. It keeps your brain's visualization centers strong. Bonus points for reading OBE narratives instead of fiction.

It all goes back to this: If one OBE technique doesn't work, try something different. You are trying to trick your brain into letting go of its rigid sense-driven interpretation of physical reality and become open to a new set of data. These techniques, in various combinations, can help you achieve that goal.

Bob Peterson
12 December 2017


  1. Thanks for all your suggestions - there are quite a few I had never heard of before!

    I am one of the (40-60%) of people who struggles with visualizations. Fortunately it has not prevented me from having hundreds of OBEs. Up until very recently I never had any visual/auditory hallucinations during the hypnagogic/hypnopompic states - just a black screen until I fell asleep. I was very puzzled when I read about other people's vivid imagery during these states (as an aside I don't experience any hallucinations during waking sleep paralysis either).

    In preparation for an OBE retreat a couple of years ago we were asked to do some homework beforehand: practice the "image streaming" technique. Obviously a bit of a challenge to someone like me..

    Instead I created my own version where I would describe to myself a scene I experienced during the day. It was very simple, e.g. taking a walk in my garden, doing laundry or similar. I would recall every little detail involving all of my senses, record for 15 minutes and then listen to the recording afterwards.

    I did this exercise every day for 40 days. An then something magic happened: I started experiencing imagery during the hypnagogic state!! It was absolutely amazing! And so much less boring falling asleep :-) Best of all, it seems to be a permanent 'awakening' of this ability. Although I'm probably not 'very good at it' compared to some, I am immensely grateful for what I can do.

    I guess what I'm trying to say is that it definitely seems possible to improve the skill.

  2. 7mileboots seems to have partially cured his/her/their Aphantasia, the condition where a person can't see imagery in their mind's eye. The giveaway was the use of the word black or blank. I have this condition and know it well. There's simply nothing visual. 7mileboots' technique is absolute gold, in itself, as a step toward an Aphantasia treatment. Bob I'm glad you treat the condition with respect. Many people, including a PhD Psychologist friend of mine, thinks I'm mistaken, delusional or lying. Some friend, eh?