The Most Important OBE Skill
by Bob Peterson
Out-of-body experiences can happen spontaneously without any prompting, but to deliberately self-induce OBEs takes a variety of skills, such as relaxation and careful use of the imagination. But if I had to name the most important skill of them all, I'd say it's inward focus.
Many years ago neuroscientists discovered there are "hubs" or sets of interconnected regions of the human brain that communicate with each other. When people focused on performing a task, like solving a puzzle, a certain set of hubs fired neurons to communicate with each other. They named it the Task Positive Network, or TPN. Between tests the scientists told the subjects to stop focusing on the task and let their minds drift. The scientists expected the brain activity to go quiet, but instead they saw something peculiar: when the subjects turned off their TPN, another network activated in its place. They called this the Default Mode Network or DMN, and when it activates, your focus turns from outward tasks to inward tasks. So the brain switches between the TPN and DMN as people change their focus from outward tasks to inward tasks.
As out-of-body travelers, the problem is that our society has become more and more TPN-based: we feel as if we constantly need to focus on something external. We focus on our phones, our televisions, on driving, on our jobs, and a million other things.
To make matters worse, our attention has become more and more fragmented, diverted and stolen: We visit a website and our reading is quickly interrupted by a pop-up that wants us to agree to accept cookies. We're interrupted again by pop-ups that want us to sign up for their newsletter.
Television shows are interrupted by annoying commercials or ads. We get text messages on our phones that interrupt us again. We focus on formulating and sending a reply. The cat jumps on our lap. Sirens interrupt our thoughts as the police pursue their latest crime outside. Even our meetings at work too often devolve into a flurry of rude interruptions with everyone scrambling to voice their opinions. Our TPNs are so badly-fragmented that we give more and more priority to our focus on the external world. We even drink coffee or energy drinks to help us focus more. Some people even resort to more drastic measures like cocaine.
To self-induce OBEs you need inward focus, not outward. You need the DMN, not the TPN. But we're taught from an early age that time spent in the DMN is a waste of time. We need to change our focus: we need to learn to focus on inward events to the exclusion of everything else. We need to shut out the external world and turn our focus inward.
We need to stop the glorification of "busy" because busy only makes us unhappy. There's a well-known quote:
"Happy people build their inner world; unhappy people blame their outer world.” —T. Harv Eker
Here are some tips to help you get more focused on inward events:
- Give yourself "alone time" where you can just be alone with your thoughts: Introspection is an important tool.
- Meditate at least 20 minutes daily. It strengthens your DMN muscles.
- Spend some time away from the interruptions, distractions, and temptations of your cell phone and tablet: Put them on airplane mode for a while. Go offline.
- Use your active imagination more. Do more pretending.
- Learn martial arts like Qi Gong and Tai Chi which is sometimes called Moving Meditation, or even yoga.
- Set aside time to simply listen to music and let your mind drift.
- I especially love to try to visualize music as I listen.
- Spend time at a beach just listening to the waves.
- Spend time in nature just listening to the sounds of birds and other animals.
- Be creative: draw, paint, color, doodle, or create something. Creating things like art are a natural way to focus inward as we conjure up items from our imagination and cast them into the physical world.
- Do more daydreaming.
- Try to become more "absorbed" in what you're doing to the exclusion of everything else. Psychologists call that "absorption." Psychologists have known for a long time that people who have a high degree of absorption are more easily hypnotized.
- Learn to shut out and/or ignore distractions.
- And of course, practice your OBEs.
Most out-of-body teachers agree it's better to practice OBEs in the early morning when you first wake up. That's because when we come out of sleep, our focus is naturally inward and it's easier to focus on inward events before we drag our focus back to the TPN.
I do believe that inducing OBEs takes more than activating the DMN. If it was that simple, all you'd need to do it daydream. But OBEs are so much more. I once wrote that OBEs may involve activating both the DMN and TPN at the same time, and that's what makes them so difficult for most people.
Still, if you learn to focus your attention completely inward, ignoring the external world, you've won most of the battle and OBEs will be a lot easier.
25 October 2022