Tuesday, April 30, 2019

Review: Astral Travel by Gavin and Yvonne Frost

Review: Astral Travel

 by Gavin and Yvonne Frost

Today I'm reviewing Astral Travel: Your Guide to the Secrets of Out-of-the-Body Experiences by Gavin and Yvonne Frost. For the purposes of this review, I'm using the 1982 paperback edition shown below. My edition has a more captivating cover that features bare boobs. I guess sex sells, right?
Beyond the cover, this is a very interesting book, and different from most in the genre, but not in a good way. The book is copyright 1982, which means the information is a bit outdated. The authors, the late occultist Gavin Frost and his Wiccan wife, Yvonne Frost, have a decidedly unapologetic attitude toward witchcraft and the occult. And they're proud of themselves. They state upfront:
"We believe the instructions we give here are the most comprehensive, the easiest to understand and follow, that have ever been offered to the public." (pg. 14)
Um, no. I didn't find their instructions comprehensive nor easy to understand.

They claim to have started two organizations: the "Canterbury Institute" and "School of Wicca" which supposedly trained lots of people astral projection, then used them as research tools to study and document the phenomenon. They present themselves and this research as the final authorities on the subject, and give some very interesting "findings." I don't agree with a lot of them, though. For example:
"When you astral travel, you are voyaging to real places. In your first astral trips these will most likely be in your own neighbourhood in the present time-frame. There are differences between the astral present and the physical present, but those differences do not involve symbology. You are seeing what is literally there." (pg. 37)
That's not always the case. There are plenty of examples where things appear one way in an OBE and another way in physical reality. For example, in a recent OBE (18 April, 2019), I couldn't find a bucket I had placed in the bedroom to catch a leak in the roof when it was raining; it just was not there. When I returned to my body, I discovered that in physical reality, the bucket was still there, right where I had placed it. (This also underlines the fact that OBEs are not the same as lucid dreams: in lucid dreams, your expectations determine your reality. In this OBE, I fully expected the bucket to be there, and it wasn't. Unfortunately, that topic is beyond the scope of this article.)

There's been a lot of conjecture about why OBEs sometimes don't match reality. Many travelers say it's because you're basically seeing "an echo" or "thought forms" or a premonition of the physical plane, and not the actual physical things. Either way, evidence suggests that the Frosts are wrong, or at least misleading.

The book talks about sleep phases, but in my opinion, they get a lot of this wrong too. For example, they simplify sleep into just two states: The "D" state (Dreaming), which takes a quarter of the time, and the "A" state (not dreaming) which takes the other three quarters. The say:
"When awakened from the A-state sleeping, subjects report realistic, thought-like dreams that resemble waking experiences." (pg. 41)
That's a gross over-simplification, and inaccurate. Scientists have identified several phases: hypnagogic, non-REM (nREM), REM, hypnopompic, and so forth. In nREM sleep (which takes most of the sleep time), it's much harder to wake someone, and subjects usually don't report any experiences at all during that phase. Now the hypnagogic and hypnopompic states are where things get interesting. But I digress.

As for astral projection tips and advice, they recommend some interesting things:
"Get plenty of sleep: for good dreams, at least ten hours a night." (pg. 35)
Some people seem to have more OBE success with broken sleep or a bit of sleep deprivation, but I've always had more success when I over-sleep, so I agree with them there.
"Bed position - Head to the east seems to work best." (pg. 45)
That's interesting, because I've always had more success with my head to the West. Head to the East is my second most successful position. Robert Monroe (and many others in the genre) recommend head to the North. Nobody seems to like head-to-the-South. Either way, the Frosts are counter to what everyone else says.

They state that OBEs are easier near the full moon. In their own variation of the WBTB (Wake Back To Bed) technique, they recommend:
"Seven days before full moon, start setting your timing device so that you will be awakened three hours after lights out." (pg. 47)
That's interesting, because a number of authors recommend you set your alarm six hours into your sleep, not three. Three hours seems much too early to me: That's into your night's third sleep cycle, so I'd think you're likely to be too groggy. At three hours, you'll be too groggy.

They have some questionable dietary advice that's quite different from all other books in the genre:
"A small but growing number of students report that travel is made easier by a meal of two eggs, a small steak, and a fresh green salad just before the attempt." (pg. 53)
I've never before encountered an OBE book that recommends eating a heavy meal, especially meat, and never before an OBE attempt. The vast majority of OBE books recommend an empty stomach, and only a very light meal late afternoon or early evening before the attempt. Several books recommend a vegetarian diet (Graham Nicholls' book comes to mind). But steak and eggs? Really? C'mon. I'm a meat eater and I can't even imagine...No words.

As for time of day, they recommend:
"The twilight zone between waking and sleeping that occurs when you first go to bed is the best time to attempt conscious astral travel. In the evening, somewhere between 10 and 11 p.m., is the best time to prepare for your work." (pg. 54)
Again, that goes against conventional wisdom. If you try for OBEs before bed, you might be programming your subconscious (which is good), but you're also more likely to fall asleep, because that's what you've been doing all your life. Plus, your brain is saturated with the sleep hormone melatonin, which will make you too sleepy to retain the consciousness you need. I recommend early morning when your brain is fresh.

The authors also employ a bit of fear-mongering, with statements like:
"It is possible in such cases for your body to become possessed." (pg. 56)
I don't believe that for a minute. It's your body and nobody's going to take it from you unless you just happen to be a spirit medium, in which case your energy (some say "etheric") body is more mobile than most people. Your "Higher Self" (for lack of better words) has invested too much time and energy developing your physical body for your Earth lessons, and isn't going to give that up as easy as they make it sound.

They also give rituals of protection (one version for pagans and one version for Christians) and give stern warnings in all capital letters:
Fear mongering, and completely unnecessary. As for traveling to remote locations, they say:
"Think yourself at the place where you want to be. Instantly you will be there." (pg. 59)
This is a pet-peeve of mine. I've harped about this many times in the past. It's not as easy as "Think yourself there." You need to set an intention and pull yourself toward it. I've spend countless frustrating OBEs trying to "think myself" to a person or place, to no avail until I got the knack for it.

The authors do use interesting terminology. Throughout the book, they use "I" to refer to your conscious self, and "me" to refer to your physical body, and all that it entails. So they talk about the "I" leaving the "me." It's actually a pretty convenient way to talk about it.

What techniques do they teach? They give a couple techniques, and they're pretty archaic. One involves--believe it or not--drawing a chalk circle on the floor in the centre of your space, dragging your mattress into the circle. Ritually set aside all your cares by writing them down and putting the list in the oven. They recommend dim lighting equal to the light of one lighted candle. Then, they claim, you need to establish an unsatisfied need or "Defined Necessity" (such as hunger) to use as motivation for your astral body to depart the physical. They even suggest that you take a shower, and beardless men should shave beforehand. (Pages  76 - 80). Definitely some weird ideas.

They also recommend having training yourself with "controlled distractions" like practicing with tight or uncomfortable clothes, and such. The idea here is to condition yourself to ignore the distractions. Personally, I don't think this is a good idea at all. Yes, it's good to learn to shut out distractions, but purposely imposing distractions just seems counterproductive to me. Author Daniel Kai's book Astral Projection recommends slight discomfort, but not to the point of distraction. No other author recommends deliberate distractions.

The book makes some dubious claims. For example, they differentiate between two different kinds of astral projection: "Twilight Zone" and "Meditative State". At first glance it sounds rather like "Etheric" versus "Astral" projection, but no, that's not what they mean. Although they claim the "Twilight Zone" technique is the easiest and most natural mode, it "Cannot be done on demand, for it requires the presence of a protecting Guide who will look after 'Me' while 'I' is out (pg. 100). The 'Me' (body) is asleep when 'I' is out. But the "Meditative State":
"...is more difficult than Twilight Zone. Can be done on command, in response to key signals. Protection is done in the physical plane; consequently no Guide is required. 'I' and 'Me' are both awake. 'Me' is homeostatic; that is, most or all of 'Me's' demands are satisfied. An urgent Necessity is required to get 'I' out." (pg. 101)
So if I'm interpreting them correctly, it's more like "Twilight Zone" is normal out-of-body experience whereas "Meditative State" is more like what the Monroe Institute calls "Focus Levels." But...Who says you need any kind of guide to watch your body? And who says the first kind can't be done on demand?

The authors break experiences into "five astral realms" which are:
  • Here-Now - Like "Etheric Projection" but, they say, "It is congruent with the presently existent physical world." (But in my experience, it's not always, as previously noted above.)
  • Time - Time-travel OBEs
  • Cosmic - Far realms of the physical world
  • Here-Now Guidance - Teaching realms
  • Spiritual - A joyful place of spirituality
They claim each of these five astral realms have gates, which are described. For example, the gate to the "Spiritual" realm is called "Beauty itself." It doesn't say much about where to find or how to use these gates. They just kind of drop it.

Another dubious claim they make is about time travel:
"Just as in the case of colour, so other sensory inputs change in intensity as you move forward in time. All become more intense as you move forward and less intense as you move back into history. The increase in emotional energy levels is particularly distressing to many of our more sensitive researchers." (pg. 117)
Sorry, but that directly contradicts my experience. Granted, I've only had one Time Travel OBE, supposedly to the year 2049, but in that OBE, the intensity of colors, sounds, and emotions was not any different at all from my normal OBEs (If you can call them that!).

Another dubious claim: They claim to have witnessed groups of three discarnate (dead people) spirits that somehow meld together and disappear to form a permanent new entity. (pg. 119). Really? Sounds a little fishy to me.

Another dubious claim the authors make is that "there are no animals on the astral." (pg. 158) Well, I guess I've not seen any (I have seen incarnate animals, like my dog Spirit) from an OBE, but not actual non-physical animals, at least that I can recall.

One thing I really did like about the book is when they described the ancient Egyptian gateways between realms. Maybe it's just superstition and lore, but they described a confession required of a person to gain admission to the next level which has seven parts (page 156):
  • I have not cursed Thee nor taken Thy name in vain.
  • I have obeyed the laws of man.
  • I have not borne false witness.
  • I have not stolen, nor have I been deceitful.
  • I have put out new cakes and ale so that a Ka [spirit body] may feed.
  • I have not made any afraid.
  • I come in peace.
Following that they have a brief discussion of the passage "I have not made any afraid." Although this book was written in 1982, and the confession supposedly written in ancient Egypt (some 2500 years ago) I found it to be a message our society really needs to take to heart. I believe fear is one of the biggest roadblocks to spiritual progress, and conquering it, the most liberating. A natural consequence of this belief is that terrorism, which uses acts of violence to incite fear, is the biggest evil in the world today, and runs counter to spiritual progress.

The book talks a bit about possession and non-physical entities getting attached to astral travelers (with just slightly more fear mongering than necessary). Their solution to pesky astral pests is exactly the same as mine:
"...Then assume some terrible Guide-guise aspect, and threaten the possessing or attached entity with painful and dire results if it does not promptly leave. The more terrible and the more imaginative your threats, the more quickly will the possessing entity leave." (pp. 181-182)
That's exactly right. In my blog article Turning the Tables on Fear (under "Fear of demonic possession") I talked about my friend Lisa, who confronted a spirit this way who tried to take over her body. That's probably where I heard it first.

Then. You're going to want to sit down for this. Believe it or not, they suggest using astral projection to possess, or inhabit the bodies of other people, to your advantage (page 192)! That sounds like very bad karma to me. No, no, no, bad, bad, bad. Apparently they're unconcerned with Karma, because they write:
"The whole theory of the threat system called 'karmic debt' appears to be a myth invented by the Law-Giver Manu." (pg. 209)
They also say:
"It is especially true that prayer should be avoided, if it indeed ruins the spiritual landscape." (pg. 211)
The book also talks about using Astral Projection to influence world leaders, and they have a cavalier attitude toward the whole thing, which I didn't like.

Lastly, they claim that "hell" does not exist. They say they've tried to find it, but it cannot be found, because it does not exist (page 213.) I believe the concept of "hell" was invented to keep children and ignorant people under control. This instilling of fear is, in essence, terrorism, and therefore, counter to spiritual progress. Still, some people claim to have visited "hellish" places in out-of-body experiences, especially as part of Near-Death Experiences (NDEs). Granted, those instances are very rare, but they probably provide the basis for the myth.

They don't really provide any solid out-of-body techniques in the book, except for setting intentions and such.

The book is 240 pages, with small print, so there's enough content, but I found myself disagreeing with a lot of it. The grammar and spelling are both good, but I did find an occasional mistake here and there.

I'll give the book only two stars, mainly because I felt there was a lot of misinformation and things I disagreed with. This is probably one of the "disinformation" books that helped me decide to write my own book.

Bob Peterson
30 April 2019

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

Vitamins, Herbal Supplements and Probiotics for OBE - Part 2

Vitamins, Herbal Supplements and
Probiotics for OBE - Part 2

by Bob Peterson

Here is part 2 of my article "Vitamins, Herbal Supplements and Probiotics for OBE". To read part 1, click on this link.

I sometimes drink a caffeine drink (like a can of soda) in the evening, and it doesn’t keep me from sleeping. However, I’ve noticed extra lucidity and can often remember my dreams better when I do. For what it’s worth, Keith Morgan says to avoid caffeine,5 but my experience is just the opposite.

Michael Raduga suggests you keep a cup of coffee or energy drink like Red Bull or Monster by your bedside. When you wake up in the middle of the night between sleep cycles, drink the caffeine drink and go back to sleep immediately. He claims to have a 60% success rate with this method.6

Caffeine with Melatonin for Lucidity
Melatonin is a natural brain hormone you can buy in the United States as a supplement.7 Some people take it with caffeine right before bed for OBEs. The caffeine stimulates consciousness and the melatonin promotes sleep, and thus, conscious sleep.
Consult your doctor before taking melatonin. Start out with 3mg right before bed, but beware: It may make you unusually drowsy the next morning. Never take melatonin before driving a car or operating heavy machinery, because it will make you sleepy. If 3mg doesn’t affect you, bump it to 10mg. If 10mg doesn’t affect you, try 20mg, but don’t go higher than that. If 10mg hits you too hard, you can also try a smaller dose. I haven’t experimented much with melatonin.

Caffeine plus Alcohol for Lucidity
I’ve never been much of an alcohol drinker. I drink maybe one alcoholic drink a month, if that. Some people say you can sometimes induce OBEs by drinking both a caffeine drink and an alcoholic drink right before bed. I’ve never tried it, so all I can is report what people say. Some research indicates that both alcohol and barbiturates suppress OBEs,8 but Akhena insists that a moderate amount of alcohol is not a problem.9

Galantamine and Choline for Lucidity
Galantamine is a drug used to treat Alzheimer’s disease, because it enhances memory, but some people use it to induce lucid dreams. It is an acetylcholinesterase inhibitor (AChEl), which means it blocks the breakdown of the neurotransmitter acetylcholine, a molecule that supports memory. I’ve tried taking it twice and didn’t notice any effect. Some claim galantamine produces “poor quality” lucid dreams, but it’s better than none at all. Consider it a way to “jump start” the process. You can buy it as a commercial product called “Galantamind” which combines galantamine with vitamin B-5 and choline, a nutrient from which the brain synthesizes acetylcholine. There’s also a product called “Galantamind Plus” that contains a cocktail of other vitamins (including B-6 and B-12) as well as galantamine.
It’s best to take one galantamine tablet in the middle of the night when you wake up before one of your last sleep cycles of the night. If you take it too early, you might have problems getting to sleep.

Huperzine-A with Vinpocetine
Daniel Kelley recommends taking Huperzine-A with Vinpocetine for OBEs.10 Like Galantamine, Huperzine-A is used to treat Alzheimer’s disease and is a reversible acetylcholinesterase inhibitor that inhibits the breakdown of the acetylcholine. Do not take Huperzine-A if you’re on beta-blockers to decrease heart rate because it’s been known to reduce the effectiveness of common pulmonary and cardiovascular drugs.11 I’ve never tried it because I’m on a beta blocker.

Dream Leaf
Another product you can buy for lucid dreaming is Dream Leaf. Each bottle contains several red pills and blue pills. (These are NOT the same pills as the movie The Matrix, but the manufacturer apparently wants that mystique.) The pills contain Mugwort, 5-HTP, Huperzine-A, Alpha GPC, Choline, and Bitartrate.  

To use dream leaf, take one red pill before bed. Next, use the WBTB technique (chapter 57.) When your alarm goes off six hours into sleep, you take the blue pull to induce lucidity and go back to sleep. I’ve only tried Dream Leaf once, and it had no effect on me. I believe the red pills contain mugwort (among other things) and the blue pills contain galantamine (among other things).

Mexican Calea (Calea ternifolia)
Mexican calea, also known as calea ternifolia or “dream herb” is a species of flowering plant in the aster family. It’s sometimes used in Mexico to treat intestinal problems like diarrhea. People also use it to induce lucid dreams and to remember their dreams because it’s a natural oneirogen (it enhances dream-like states of consciousness). The leaves are smoked or brewed into a tea. It has a bitter taste, and can have some undesirable side-effects like nausea and vomiting. I’ve never tried it.

African Dream Root (Silene undulata)
Another oneirogen used to induce lucid dreams is African Dream Root. The Xhosa people of Southern Africa consider it a sacred plant and use it in their ceremonies. Like Mexican Calea, it’s commonly cut up and brewed into a tea. I’ve never tried this either, but I have friends who have.

African Dream Herb (Entada rheedii)
African Dream Herb is a large woody nut / seed about one inch in diameter. It’s also known as snuff box sea bean and cacoon vine (in Jamaica). It’s used in traditional African medicine to induce “vivid” dreams (although I haven’t heard of it specifically used for lucid dreaming) and to communicate with spirits. It’s common in many coastal places of the world, but not the Americas. The inner meat of the nut can be chopped up and eaten or ground into a fine powder and added to tobacco which is smoked just before sleep.

L-Theanine is an amino acid found mostly in tea leaves. You can buy it as a supplement from health food stores to promote relaxation and stress relief without drowsiness. Unlike Mexican Calea, there are no known bad side-effects. Some people claim to induce OBEs by taking L-Theanine along with caffeine. I’ve tried it a couple times, but it never induced lucidity.

Cannabis / Marijuana
I’ve never used cannabis (marijuana), so again, I’m speaking out of ignorance here. Some people claim marijuana encourages OBEs. Susan Blackmore had her first (and very lengthy) OBE after smoking marijuana.12 I’m not aware of any other authors who claim to use it for OBEs. Marijuana is considered a mild hallucinogen, so it interferes with normal processing of the TPJ. But as with all hallucinogens, can you really trust what you experience?

Before you take any of these supplements, talk to your doctor about drug interactions and side-effects. Research the supplements and how they may affect you. Most of these over-the-counter supplements are not regulated by the FDA or other government organizations. In other words: PLEASE BE CAREFUL AND DON’T DO ANYTHING RISKY. OBEs are not worth risking your health.

16 April 2019

5 Easy Astral Projection, Pentacle Enterprises, Keith Morgan, 1992, pg. 15. “Never drink tea or coffee or caffeine related drinks such as coca cola.”
6 The Phase, Michael Raduga, obe4u.com, 2015, version 3.0, pg. 155 – 156.
7 Melatonin is considered a prescription drug in some countries (e.g. Germany), but may be purchased over the counter in the United States.
8 Seeing Myself, Susan Blackmore, Robinson, 2017, pg. 196.
9 Out of Body Experiences, Akhena, Channel Soleil Publications, 2013, pg. 47.
10 Behind the Veil, Daniel Kelley, 2018, chapter 5, Dream Recall.
11 http://www.naturallivingcenter.net
12 Seeing Myself, Susan Blackmore, Robinson, 2017, pg. 293.

Tuesday, April 2, 2019

Vitamins, Herbal Supplements and Probiotics for OBE - Part 1

Vitamins, Herbal Supplements and
Probiotics for OBE - Part 1

 by Bob Peterson
Recently someone in one of the Astral Projection Facebook groups asked for information on supplements that may be helpful for OBEs and/or lucid dreaming. This article is comprised of excerpts from two chapters of my as-yet-unpublished new book Hacking the Out of Body Experience. Due to the length, I broke it into two articles.
(Shown in the photo above: the supplements in the back are what they say. The objects in the front are (from left to right): Mugwort, Boron (white capsule above), African Dream Seed, and African Dream Root.)

Bob Peterson
02 April 2019
* * *
Introduction to Brain Hacking
In ancient religious, spiritual, and occult traditions, devotees obtained altered states of consciousness like OBEs only through years of meditation and hard work (or purely by accident). There were no shortcuts.

There’s nothing wrong with years of hard work and meditation. There are still many purists who believe it’s the only “proper” way to achieve mystical states. Yet many of these so-called purists are already brain-hacking without even realizing it. They wake up every morning to an alarm clock: a device that artificially breaks their sleep cycle. Then they stumble to the kitchen and drink coffee: the brain stimulant caffeine. They listen to music on the car ride home from work: consciousness altering sound technology. They come home and use artificial lights in their homes: mind altering light technology. Then they stare into the artificial blue light of their cellphone to play a game before bed, which alters their sleep patterns. Yet they still think of themselves as purists.

Indigenous people probably invented the first forms of early brain hacking: things like sweat lodges, trance drum circles, ecstatic dance, vision quests, starvation, hyperventilation and special breathing techniques. Later, brain hacks like hypnosis, Kaballah and Kundalini yoga were born.

Some time later, healers and shamans seeking natural medicines discovered “brain hacking” plants that either caused powerful hallucinations (like mescaline) or unlocked expanded states of consciousness like ayahuasca, and psilocybin (magic mushrooms). The authorities of these societies quickly realized that if the common folk could induce their own mystical states and gain access to their own religious truths, they could usurp their authority and control. So they declared these plants “sacred” and locked them away from the common folk. They could only be used by shamans or the religious leaders as part of special ceremonies. They controlled the common people by keeping them in the dark.

In the modern era, science and medicine have uncovered remarkable secrets of the human body and brain that enable us to take shortcuts. I like to think of these as “brain hacks” because to a computer guy like me, it seems a lot like computer hacking. In fact, many people like to think of the human brain as a kind of complex biological computer, but there are many differences that go beyond the scope of this book.

We’ve already talked about several brain hacks already. Things like flotation tanks, sleep masks, and “Koren helmets.” You could even say that meditation is a form of brain hacking because it knocks your brain out of its usual din of internal chatter. In fact, almost all the OBE techniques in this book could be considered brain hacks. But what I’m talking about goes much deeper. I divide brain hacking into roughly five categories:
    • Breath work (like hyperventilation)
    • Sound technologies (like binaural beats)
    • Light technologies (like Nova Dreamer)
    • Dietary considerations (like a vegetarian diet)
    • Vitamins, herbal supplements and probiotics (like galantamine)

Vitamins, Herbal Supplements and Probiotics for OBE

I’ve done a fair amount of research on various vitamins, supplements, herbs and probiotics and their affect on OBEs and lucid dreams. In many cases I’ve tried these myself to see their effectiveness. 

Dream Recall and Vitamin B-6
As far as I know, most vitamins do not enhance your ability to induce OBEs, but there is an important connection here. As I said in chapter 60 (on keeping a dream journal) vitamin B-6 seems to enhance dream recall, which in turn is linked to lucid dreaming, which is linked to OBEs. I’ve done some experimentation with vitamin B-6, and I recommend you either:
  1. Take a “Super B Complex” or “B-Stress” vitamin supplement that has a decent amount of B-6 every day. I have pretty good dream recall if I just take this every day and keep a dream journal.
  2. Take a larger dose Vitamin B-6 tablet, but never more than 100mg per day or it may cause liver damage. Don’t take B-6 every day. Take it for four or five days, then stop cold turkey for another four or five days, then go back on it again. For some reason, I seem to have better dream recall when I’m either starting or stopping vitamin B-6. If I’m on it too long or off it too long, the effect is nullified. So a “Super B Complex” is a better way to go.
I currently use a B complex that has 50mg of B-6, 50mg Thiamine (B-1), 50mg Riboflavin (B-2), 100mg Niacin, 100mg B-12, 400mcg Folic Acid, 100mcg Biotin, and 75mg Choline, plus a few others.

Vitamin D and Sunlight
There may be a connection between OBEs and vitamin D deficiency. In my first book, I wrote that “Strangely, I usually have fewer OBEs in July. I suspect that’s because July is when I have the least amount of time to practice.”1 Making time to practice might be only part of the problem; the other problem might be more “normal” levels of vitamin D in my body. Let me explain.
Vitamin D is very important for good health, but according to a 2011 study, 41.6% of adults in the US are vitamin D deficient.2 Many scientific articles associate vitamin D deficiency with sleep problems that affect sleep quality and quantity, including broken sleep,3 which is often associated with OBEs.
Vitamin D is manufactured by the body from cholesterol when your skin is exposed to sunlight, which means it is also a hormone as well as a vitamin. Our ancient ancestors spent a lot of time outdoors, hunting and fishing for food, which means the human body evolved to require relatively high levels of vitamin D. Even a hundred years ago, most people spent many hours a day outdoors farming, which triggered solid vitamin D production. Today, many of us have a vitamin D deficiency because we spend most of our time indoors, out of the sun.
Even if you spend a lot of time outdoors, exposure to sunlight in the colder months might not be enough. Here in Minnesota, November is the cloudiest month, averaging just 5 sunny days, and 6 partly sunny days, and the other days are cloudy. December isn’t much better.
On the other hand, July is the height of summer in the Northern hemisphere, which means the sun is strong and the days are long, especially in my native Minnesota. People usually don’t have school commitments in July and take vacations from work, which often means they spend more time outdoors, exposing their bodies to sunlight, triggering the production of vitamin D. That might explain why I have fewer OBEs in July: OBEs might be exacerbated by vitamin D deficiency.
It’s interesting to note that Michael Raduga, the champion of WBTB and broken sleep, also comes from a place pretty far North of the equator—Siberia—which also has long dark winters, so maybe many of his “Phase” experiences were also aided by a vitamin D deficiency.
Do not try to deliberately starve your body of vitamin D for the sake of OBEs because that can lead to many serious health problems, such as depression. All I’m saying is that if you take a vitamin D supplement, it may artificially reduce or inhibit your ability to induce OBEs.
I’ve experimented taking vitamin D supplements. In general, I really like how vitamin D makes me feel, but I definitely feel more “otherworldly” and OBE-prone when I’m not taking it.

Raw Potato Starch for More Productive Sleep and Longer REM
In chapter 6 I talked about our 90-minute sleep cycles and how nREM sleep is like laundering your brain, but that’s not the end to the story. Research suggests that taking raw potato starch before bed makes nREM sleep more productive (and therefore shorter).4 It’s like adding more detergent to the laundry. It gets your brain cleaner, but in less time. Technically, it acts as a probiotic, feeding the bacterium in your gut that produce short chain fatty acids (SCFAs) used to clean the brain. The bacterium produce two cytokines that regulate sleep. Since the length of the sleep cycles doesn’t change, when you decrease the amount of nREM sleep, you therefore increase the length of REM sleep, which means you have longer dreams.
I’ve taken raw potato starch before bed several times. The bottom line is that I wake up in the morning feeling more refreshed, and I have longer and more vivid dreams.
You can buy it in almost every grocery store in the baking aisle, or buy it online. What I recommend is one or two tablespoons of raw (uncooked) potato starch, dissolved in a glass of water. You may want to add a flavor squirt like Mio or Tang because it has a chalky taste, like bread flour.

Mugwort for Lucidity
The herb mugwort (Artemisia Vulgaris) has a long history of medicinal uses. Many people call it the “dreaming herb” because it can cause strange dreams, flying dreams, and sometimes lucidity. In the past some people have associated it with witchcraft, but there’s nothing magic about it. It’s just ordinary chemistry

You can buy it from herbalists, a new age stores, and some health food stores.
I’ve tried mugwort a few times. The first time I used one tablespoon of dried mugwort leaves in a quart of water. It seemed to have no effect. The second time, I doubled the amount and used two tablespoons, with about one quart of water. It gave me vivid nightmares, but in all fairness, they bordered on lucidity. The third time I followed the same formula, but once again it seemed to have no effect. Many people report success with mugwort for lucid dreaming, so try it yourself.

To use mugwort, boil a quart of water, then add a tablespoon or two of dried mugwort leaves to water and make your own herbal tea. It helps to use a tea infuser ball, but you can also use a coffee filter and tie it at the top. Let the tea steep for at least 30 minutes before you drink it, and only drink it immediately before bed. It has a strange taste, but it’s not offensive.
(To be continued on 16 April 2019)

02 April 2019
1 Out of Body Experiences, Robert Peterson, Hampton Roads Publishing, 1997, pg. 218.
2 Prevalence and correlates of vitamin D deficiency in US adults, Forrest and Stuhldreher, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21310306
3 For example, https://www.thesleepdoctor.com/2016/02/26/low-on-vitamin-d-sleep-suffers/
4 For example, http://searchingsleep.com/resistance-starch-and-sleep/