Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Review: Have an Out-of-Body Experience in 30 Days

Review: Have an Out-of-Body Experience in 30 Days

By Keith Harary, Ph.D., and Pamela Weintraub

This time I'm reviewing Have an Out-of-Body Experience in 30 Days: The Free Flight Program by Keith Harary, Ph.D. and Pamela Weintraub. There are several books out there that promise to teach you how to self-induce OBEs in a fixed time frame. This is the first one I remember. It's copyrighted 1989, and I'm pretty sure that's when I bought it.

So rewind to 1989. When I first got the book, the thing that excited me most was the authors: Keith Harary is actually famous in the field of OBEs and parapsychology. In the early 1970s, when he was still in college, he hooked up with the Psychical Research Foundation and did many OBE laboratory experiments at Duke University. He quickly became a star psychic.

Using the name Stuart "Blue" Harary (before he changed it to Keith), his experiments tried to establish veridical proof of OBEs. In some of the experiments, he would travel in OBEs to another room where his cat (Spirit) was filmed. The scientists assessed his ability to remotely affect the cat by counting the number of meow sounds it made. And they got good results. The scientists noted that when Harary was visiting the cat in his out-of-body state, it became much more quiet, which seemed to indicate there actually was a real-world component to his OBEs.

So I was excited when I first cracked open the book in 1989. Unfortunately, I quickly became bored with it and put it down. I tried several times to finish reading it, but always got bored, until it landed back on my bookshelf.

Flash forward to 2014: I decided to try it again. After all, it's a short book; about 100 pages. This is Blue Harary; it's got to be good, right? After all, I loved Ingo Swann's OBE book, To Kiss Earth Goodbye, which has a similar history.

This time I got through it, but man...I was still bored. It just didn't hold my interest. I kept finding excuses to put it down and do something else.

So what is it with this book? It is entirely devoted to teaching the skills of inducing an OBE. That's okay. The problem is: that's all it is. It's just a bunch of instructions of what to do on each of the 30 days. There are no OBE narratives, no theories, no scientific examinations, and no discussions. There are a few suggested experiments, I guess.

One problem is, most of the exercises are geared toward increasing the ability to visualize and the use of imagination. That's not a bad thing, but it felt like paragraph after paragraph of explaining how to accomplish "The Target Technique." The Target Technique, described in a few OBE books, is where you lie down, close your eyes, relax, and then try to visualize a place you are very familiar with, as vividly as possible. For example, visualize standing in your living room, or at the front door to your house, apartment or flat. Try to look around you and see all the details of that location, in your imagination. If necessary, visit that place physically a few times to ingrain it into your memory, and try again. Buhlman describes it quite well, and gives easy instructions. Harary and Weintraub take it further by immersing you in different senses: taking baths, trying to imagine the past or future of a location; all kinds of variations. It's not a bad thing. It's just...tedious.

Each day's exercise builds off the previous, which means there aren't really any new or innovative techniques or approaches. It doesn't mention the vibrations or how to induce them. It doesn't mention binaural beats. It doesn't mention herbs, drugs, crystals or things like that. It doesn't mention mantras, mudras, or chanting. It doesn't mention subconscious conditioning, really. It doesn't mention lucid dreaming. It just seemed like it was geared toward the one (Target Technique-like) approach, rather than giving a variety of techniques (as do books like mine, Buhlman's or D. Scott Rogo's Leaving the Body, for example.)

I only "flagged" two things in the book that interested me. First, they recommended an affirmation, "I'll allow myself to have an out-of-body experience." I liked that for many reasons. Unlike many OBE affirmations, this one can cut through subconscious roadblocks. It seemed...innovative...because I think a lot of people have subconscious reservations about OBEs.

Another innovative idea was an exercise in which you go to sleep at an unusual location, like a hotel, and when you awaken in the morning, you lie still and imagine you're at home in your own bed. That seemed like it was worth a try.

Another interesting thing is that, with many of the exercises, they recommend imagining your own face looking back at you from above. I can't remember other books recommending that, so it struck me as interesting.

The spelling and grammar were professional; I only recall one typo.

This book is alright, but it's not high on my list. It might be good for someone who needs to work on their visualization skills. In my opinion, it just lacks flavor.

Bob Peterson
09 December 2014

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Review: Out-of-Body Exploring by Preston Dennett

Review: Out-of-Body Exploring

by Preston Dennett


Not long ago I went into my metaphysical library and spotted an OBE book I couldn't recall ever reading. It was from 2004, a book called Out-of-Body Exploring by Preston Dennett. I just finished it, and here's my review.

First of all, there's a good amount of content. This is not one of those lightweight OBE books. It's 182 pages. The font is a little on the small size, but that's a good thing: there is lots of information packed in, and no wasted space.

I liked Dennett's style and what he was saying right from the start. First, he agreed that OBEs and Lucid Dreams are two distinct things, although they're related. As early as page 2, he states:
"The main difference between the two, I think, is that with out-of- body experiences, you perceive the environment outside of you as being externally created and independent of mental influences. In lucid dreams, your environment is internally created, and is composed of mental projections." (pg. 2)
That's very well put and it's what I've been saying for years. Later, he echoes my sentiments exactly:
 "In the lucid-dream state, we become aware that we are in fact manifesting our thoughts, and we can manipulate the dream state, thereby exploring the inner world. The out-of-body state is the flip side--you explore the outer world." (pg. 45)
Another important point he makes is that it's easy to transition from a lucid dream to an OBE. So one way to have an OBE is to first induce a Lucid Dream, then dispel the self-created hallucination of the dream. He offers solid advice on the first part, inducing the lucid dream:
"I am convinced that critical thinking is essential to becoming lucid and having out-of-body experiences. By keeping a constant awareness of where you are and what you are doing, you carry this attitude into the dream state, and hopefully not only remember what you are doing, but become aware of it while it is happening." (pg. 10)

He also talks about inducing OBEs that don't start as LDs. For example:
"What worked best for me seems to be a combination of intense willpower, desire, focus and intent. Only by obsessing myself with the subject was I able to generate out-of-body events." (pg. 8)
This goes back to the subject of motivating the subconscious mind. That's why I like to read so many OBE books: it feeds my obsession and keeps my subconscious mind trained on the idea of leaving my body. It really does help, especially for beginners.

Dennett gives lots of very short OBE narrations to illustrate the points he makes. It's not only effective at driving his point home, it also brings OBE images to your mind that influence and motivate your subconscious. I really appreciate that, and it's uncommon in the genre. I can't stress this point enough: Reading OBE narrations like this makes you imagine yourself in out-of-body scenarios, and that goes straight to your subconscious mind and helps make OBEs more likely.

In the beginning, many of his narrations illustrate the same kind of beginner problems I wrote about, like (1) difficulty maintaining lucidity and control, (2) encountering barriers, (3) learning to control emotions, (4) the almost irresistible joy of flying, and so forth. That gave the book a feeling of genuineness. It was quite amusing to hear about his playfully gobbling up astral food or going berserk and destroying things in a grocery store. At least until he learned control.

The book has many fascinating experiments, ranging from the simple to the complex. Some of his many experiments include trying to sing, making his astral arms melt away, trying to visit the site of the Titanic, flying to the moon, visiting the Akashic library, time travel, talking to his dead mom, trying to meet God, and many many more. They're all very fascinating. It's not simple wish-fulfillment or fantasy, because most of the experiments yielded unexpected results and in many cases, he did not achieve his goal.


One of his experiments had veridical evidence: on page 75, he described flying under a bridge at the L.A. river which has banks lined with concrete. In the out-of-body state, he saw what looked like two feet of dirt lining the banks. After the OBE, he visited the site physically and was shocked to find dirt lining the banks at that exact spot. This seemed to suggest that his OBE was "real" because what he witnessed directly contradicted both his knowledge and his expectations.

Also, I like his style. Dennett isn't dictating facts as an expert. He writes like we're all on the same team, and he often quotes several other OBE authors (William Buhlman, Robert Bruce, Sylvan Muldoon, and much to my surprise, even me!) to explain a point. It makes the discussion seem very homogeneous and not self-centered.

Dennett gives some very good (but basic) advice for achieving OBEs. He crams it in a bit tight, but it's more than most. He includes several basic foundations (such as relaxation) and techniques found in other books, plus a few of his own tricks, such as "The Flash" where you imagine that you are running extremely fast, like the comic book (& movie) character The Flash. It was solid, although it could have been twice as long.

The part I liked best (besides the narrations) was actually the epilogue. It's kind of like an "Oh my God, I almost forgot to say this" section. He tightly crams a lot of spiritual stuff in that one small chapter. Here's just one small example to give you the flavor:
"Today, nearly twenty years of out-of-body experiences has taught me many things. Like most projectors, I learned early on that privacy is an illusion. I learned that the universe is far more vast than I can possibly imagine. I learned that beliefs unsupported by experience can lead to delusion and retard your spiritual growth. I learned that thoughts and emotions have far-reaching effects." (pg. 174)

From the office of the grammar Nazi: this book is very well written, clear, concise, and easy to understand. The flow and organization are professional. Its grammar and spelling at both perfect; I did not find one single mistake or typo, and believe me, that's very rare indeed.

I really enjoyed this OBE book and give it a big thumbs up.

25 November 2014

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Bob's Top Ten OBE Books

Bob Peterson's Top 10 OBE Books


by Bob Peterson
11 November 2014

I've been doing OBE book reviews for two years now. I've done 32 to date. That's still only 18 percent of my collection, which is now up to 175 OBE books. That's just OBE books and does not include books on NDEs, lucid dreaming, remote viewing or other peripheral topics.

Someone recently asked me what my top ten OBE books were, so I thought I'd try to figure that out. It's really a tough call because there are different categories of OBE books. I love some of them for their spirituality, some for their scientific analysis, some for their narrations. So it's really hard to quantify; it would be much easier to give my top 3 of several categories, but I'll do my best.

Just a reminder that this is a moving target: I may have to revise my picks as I keep reading and reviewing books.
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1.  Multidimensional Man by Jurgen Ziewe
When it comes right down to it, I guess this is my number one favorite OBE book. I loved it for its spirituality. Ziewe really pushes the OBE to the limits and shows us where it can take us, spiritually. It doesn't have a very scientific approach, but it is an excellent view of the non-physical dimensions. In my book review, I wrote something to the effect that if this book had been written 2000 years ago, it would have changed the course of history and the face of the world's religions. I think today's religions are mostly based on ancient people's OBEs and their opinions of the afterlife, but its been clouded by the distortions of time and language. Today they're so cast in stone that people are unwilling to examine the evidence on which these beliefs are actually based. This book exposes the afterlife for what it is: a multidimensional multiverse. And if today's religions had been based on it, I'm convinced this would be a happier, more enlightened world. It's truly inspiring. Its biggest shortcomings are the lack of scientific method and lack of instructions.
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2. Journeys Out of the Body by Robert Monroe

This is the book that started it all for me, so I have a certain fondness and nostalgia for it. It has a more analytical approach to the OBE. This is a book of discovery. Monroe stumbled onto the OBE by accident and explored it in depth. He didn't judge it. Like an explorer standing on the brink of a new world, he explained what he had encountered and what he could conclude from it. I loved his scientific approach. He used plenty of examples and his personal OBE narratives to make points. Best of all, he said not to take his word for it, but to try it yourself; that's the best proof. It's well worth reading. I view this book as the 1970's answer to Muldoon's first book (#3).
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3. The Projection of the Astral Body by Sylvan Muldoon & Carrington

This is one of the earliest books ever written about the out-of-body experience, from the 1920s. Muldoon had lots of OBEs and he explored the state in great detail. He did this at a time when little was really known about the subject. Looking at the subject objectively (as opposed to the occultism of his contemporaries), he blazed a trail for all of us and reported his findings. I'm sure Monroe read this book when he started having OBEs, and it influenced him greatly. It was groundbreaking and fundamental in our modern understanding of the OBE, and is still very much relevant.
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4. Adventures Beyond the Body by William Buhlman

I kind of view this book as the 1990's answer to Monroe's first book (#2). Like Muldoon and Monroe before him, Buhlman gives OBE narratives and explains what he discovered in his numerous OBEs. He points out many things that aren't explained well in prior books. This book was published around the same time my first book, which I wrote for the same reasons: to point out observations overlooked by most OBE books. Since our books point out many of the same things, I've always said that if it had been published two or three years earlier, I might not have felt the need to write mine.
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5. Astral Dynamics by Robert Bruce

Aussie Robert Bruce was on the Internet promoting OBEs and methods to achieve it for a long time (for free) before publishing this book. It quickly became a classic. The book is big and chock full of good solid information about the subject. He approaches the subject with a certain amount of occult lore (and possibly some superstition) and I don't agree with everything he says, but he is an expert at OBEs and his methods are valid. This is a must-have for every OBE book collection.
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6. Explorations In Consciousness by Frederick Aardema

I loved this book, probably because it shares many of the same traits as Monroe's, Muldoon's and Buhlman's. It's one of the most underrated OBE books in the genre. Aardema induced numerous OBEs, did many very creative experiments and took OBEs further--scientifically--than the others. His narratives and discoveries were fascinating, insightful and unique. He approaches the OBE with the heart of an explorer, but the critical mind of a scientist. It displays incredible insight into the OBE.

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7. Out of Body Experiences by Akhena

Akhena has been described as the William Buhlman of France. She's been teaching OBEs for a very long time. She's adept and very knowledgeable. Her book contains some of the best evidence in the genre to indicate that OBEs are "real." It's big, and it's good. Its only shortcoming is some minor grammatical issues. Don't let that stop you from buying it.
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8. Leaving the Body by D. Scott Rogo

This book is not very big, but it's entirely dedicated to presenting OBE tips and techniques, and it explains them well. It goes into the background or history of each technique, explains how to do it, and why it works. If you want to learn how to induce OBEs, this book is a good place to start.
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9. Soul Traveler by Albert Taylor

It's been many years since I read Dr. Taylor's book, but I remember I was impressed (and as an long-time OBEr, it takes a lot to impress me). Dr. Taylor was an aeronautical engineer and scientist working on top secret government projects (such as the F-117A Stealth Fighter) when he came across out-of-body experiences. He prefers to call it "soul travel" (I don't think it's related to Eckankar which uses the same term). Taylor gave up his high-dollar career in engineering to focus on exploring OBEs and doing motivational speaking and many other things. To my knowledge, this book is the only pure-OBE book to reach #1 on the Los Angeles Times bestseller list. (I could be wrong about that). I've met Al and heard him speak in front of audiences, and he's very inspiring.
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10. Out of Body Experiences by Robert Peterson

I gave this a lot of thought: Should I include my own book in the list, or will that be tacky? People who know me know that I'm not arrogant. And I'm not trying to sell you a book here: The entire text of this book is available on my website for free. I wrote the book between 1986 and 1995 (published in 1997) because I felt like the OBE books available at the time were inadequate: There was so much overlooked, so much more that needed to be said. So I wrote the book to be as good as I could. The problem now is that it's dated. There have been a lot of good OBE books written since, and they fill in a lot of the gaps I thought needed filling. Buhlman's, Bruce's, Aardema's, Akhena's, Ziewe's and many others were all published after this one, and probably do a better job. Still, I put my heart and soul into this book, so it's still one of my favorites. Besides, it's my list and I'm allowed to like my own book! If I didn't like it, I wouldn't have put my name on it.
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There are lots of other good OBE books out there. This list is by no means exhaustive and it doesn't mean the others are bad. It just means these are my top picks.

Bob Peterson
11 November 2014


Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Review: Astral Projection & Sceptical Occultism by Nick Dutch

Review: Astral Projection & Sceptical Occultism

 by Nick Dutch
Book review by Bob Peterson

I never get tired of reading out-of-body experience books, and that's because everyone has a different perspective. This book is really different from other books on the subject, and for that reason I found it enjoyable.

When I first picked up the book, I was concerned. The back cover has a photo of the author sporting a baseball cap and looking positively angry. That's not a good first impression. Second, the cover was almost completely black: the face in the photo above is not visible unless you look really hard on my copy. On the other hand, it's 162 pages, and it's in a decent font, so there's actually a good amount of content there.

The title was intriguing. The term "Sceptical Occultism" (British spelling; for me it's Skeptical) seemed like an oxymoron: a self-contradiction. I haven't known any occultists who were skeptical (enough), and I haven't known any skeptics who were also occultists. So how can the two concepts be reconciled? It has elements of both. Sometimes the author sounds very grounded and skeptical, and yet his OBEs are just as "out there" as most books in the genre. I'm skeptical too, yet I can't deny my own experiences. That's how it works.

When I first started reading, I gained a certain amount of respect for the author for his honesty. He openly admits that we will never be able to prove things like a nonphysical world, the existence of a soul (or astral body), life after death, or anything else for that matter. We can never disprove the arguments of an atheist. All we can really say for sure is that people have the experience. Despite all the faith (or doubt) in the world, people do have OBEs, but Dutch insists that's all we can say: We can't necessarily imply the existence of a soul, the afterlife, nonphysical reality, or any of it based on the experience. But the experiences do happen. The author drives this point a bit too far, talking about it for at least the first 50 pages of the book. That's a long time to make that argument.
 "But we must always remember that "Proof" and "Evidence" are just stages in an academic debate." (pg. 47)
That's not to say the experience is without value. He argues that OBEs are still well worth having.
"...there are atheists who believe that if you criticise the intellectual fallacies of a superstitious person that is sufficient to honestly make a hard truth claim that the phenomena of which they speak or believe in, can't have any reality at all rather than just being a misinterpretation of something that could be real. To destroy an argument is not to destroy the natural phenomena in question! If you destroy an argument about what is real in the world, you have destroyed the argument, but you cannot destroy nature." (pg. 50)
In other words, even if a skeptic shoots down somebody's implications based on their OBEs, they haven't disproved anything: The person still had the experience. Even if it wasn't "real" it was still an experience, and it still has value for that reason.
 "In order to try and get these strange experiences it is quite common for the newcomer to the occult to get themselves too hard and fast involved with occultists, people who say they know, but in reality, these people who say that they know just have beliefs and a complete lack of ability to deploy scientific thinking to any strange phenomena that they might experience. Many of them are would be cult leaders and use the alleged authority of their alleged religion or beliefs to control the seeker of the truth." (pg 57).
The discussion was honest and fascinating, but it got old after a while. At first I thought the whole book might be a dry philosophical discussion, but it wasn't. The book gets much better after that. He does talk about OBEs, admitting that his major influence was the book The Projection of the Astral Body by Muldoon and Carrington (I have a book review of that one too). He talks about firsthand observations from his own OBEs, and that's where I perked up. For example:
"It is rare to see spirits in the astral world, but sometimes they do appear, and they can be summoned by calling them in the spirit world." (Pg. 66)
I don't agree. In my experience, seeing spirits is really quite common. However, there's a difference between ordinary spirits (which I often see) and guides or helpers (which I often can't see). They're not rare for me, anyway! Oddly, that's about the only place where I disagree.

Next, Dutch dives into the deep end of the pool and starts talking about how to induce OBEs. He has an excellent discussion about conditioning. He talks in detail about good relaxation methods. He points out things that are overlooked by many, like the importance of doing OBE walk-throughs:
"Rehearsal is also important. Work it out. How you are going to do the projection. Get familiar with the whole process. "Walk" yourself through it in visualisation or even physically around the flat, apartment or house where you live. Tell yourself, "As I fall asleep, I am going to start from my bed, rise parallel to my sleeping physical shell and then slide through the air from Here and then slowly descend and right myself so that I am standing up Here." (pg. 74).
I'm not talking about an OBE technique here (although it can work); I'm talking about using your imagination to impress the idea of OBEs on your subconscious mind (which is talked about by Muldoon and many other experts).

On page 89, Dutch slipped once again into his discourse about how you have to see this as just an experience, and that you can't imply anything from it about religion, etc. However, I cheered for him equally when he talked about how doing so can lead us into meaningless conjecture:
"...people go off on to the useless tangent of arguing about religion and different beliefs. Arguments that are by their very nature, arguments in a circle as no matter what, people from all sides of the debate won't be willing to concede that they might be wrong. All scientific reasoning goes out of the window and we end up with warring sectarian tribes attacking each other over cyberspace and no real scientific progression at all. Try and focus your attention on the experience and how to generate it." (pg. 90)
The "Astral Projection" Facebook group has been mired by too much of this type of useless bickering about religion, and no good ever came of it. He revisits this idea at the end of the book, stressing that focus should be placed on studying the experience itself, both scientifically and from a firsthand point of view.

I found Dutch's approach to OBEs to be fresh. For example, unlike many of the OBE books out there, he recommends using mantras to produce OBEs. He goes into fairly good detail about it. He doesn't try to make it some deep secret "occult" mystery. He explains why mantras work: they get you into the right frame of mind. He explains what to use: something simple that will give you an uplifting positive feeling. One example he uses is the mantra "HE - LI - UM". In other words, helium, the gas used to fill balloons to make them float. This is not rocket science. Helium is simple, can give you an uplifting feeling, has connotations of being lighter than air, able to float, etc. Sheer genius!

I really liked the book for its honesty. Nick Dutch is not trying to make himself out to be some kind of guru, occultist or something special. He admits that it took him a full two years of trying before he had his first OBE. He was persistent and tried everything before he found combinations that worked. And he's eager to share what he learned, without an air of superiority.

He talks about how belief is not necessary: All you need is "suspension of disbelief." Even if you don't believe in God or the supernatural, you can at least suspend your disbelief long enough to do OBE attempts, and that may indeed help you reproduce the experience. It's really kind of an enigma:
"Yes, I do believe that religious people may get more spiritual sensations and experiences, but they ascribe the experience to God, whereas I ascribe it to nature.
Incidentally, I have tried in the past, to use the concept of God to help me in reaching the state of mind for an astral projection. I chose the mantra "I am ascending slowly to reach God" and found it really rather powerful. Whether God exists is an irrelevance, the words had a degree of power to help me generate the experience." (pg 112-113).
On page 117, Dutch starts giving some of his OBE history and OBE narrations. This makes it all the more genuine. These aren't mind-blowing OBEs, but they definitely have a quality of authenticity. For example, he describes the OBEs as having "bluish yellow creamy light" and he writes about how objects in the room don't cast a shadow, and are illuminated from their own light. His descriptions are rich and often quite entertaining. Sometimes he went too far and scared himself. In one experiment, he tried to experiment with OBE-lycanthropy: trying to turn himself into a werewolf. It wasn't mind-blowing but it was interesting.

In college he was fond of going to the library to do his OBE work. He wrote:
"I probably spent more time in the library when out of the body then [sic] I did when in the body, or so it seems." (pg. 142)

Despite the word "Occultism" in the title, Dutch does not really talk about the occult. He doesn't give any incantations, spells or occult information. He doesn't talk about the history of the occult, except in passing. (Innocuous, but enough to prove he's studied the occult).

The converse is also true. Despite the word "Scepticism" in the title, he doesn't try to refute any claims, or present any scientific evidence. What he does do is tell you what he experienced and what worked for him.

It was not comprehensive. When it comes to inducing OBEs, there's a lot he did not cover, but what he did cover, he covered well: his discussions were not light-weight by any means. 

As a grammar Nazi, it made me cringe. There were probably a hundred or more typos and grammatical problems. Like so many self-published books, this one definitely needed both a proof-reader and an editor. And no, it's not just because I'm American and he's English. These are things like "then" versus "than" (as the quote above proves), or "an" where he meant "and" or "mediation" where he meant "meditation."

Despite the grammar issues, it's a decent book. I found this book to be very informative, honest and helpful for learning the art of inducing OBEs.


Bob Peterson
28 Oct 2014

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Review: Astral Travel by Bowe Packer

Review: Astral Travel


by Bowe Packer

Here is my book review for Bowe Packer's book Astral Travel: Your Guide To Understanding Astral Projection & the Effective & Safe Astral Travel Techniques.

First of all, this book is short. It's only 89 pages long, and it's got lots of white space. That's mainly because every paragraph is separated by two or more blanks lines, which is very unusual in the industry. So there's not much content.

It didn't take me long to find some points that I found questionable. For example:
"There has never been a discovery of 'hell' while traveling through astral planes. It seems that, so far as astral travelers are concerned, it simply doesn't exist. Though astral travelers for centuries have tried to find this land they have been unable to do so. Even traveling through the different realms it seems to have been impossible." (page 13).
Well, okay. Maybe. Although reports of "hell" are rare, I don't think it's entirely true. Granted, this book has a 2013 copyright, but Mary Deioma's 2014 book, Loved, talks about her finding what she thinks is "hell". Prior to that, some near-death experiencers (NDErs) have interpreted some of their locations as 'hell'. I tend to believe that our modern ideas of "Hell" come from various people's OBEs and NDEs. For example, part of Dante's Divine Comedy, "The Inferno." I personally have never seen "hell" nor have I looked for it. I've read some accounts of OBEs in which the environment was "hellish" but that's not quite the same as "hell". Many OBE authors insist that there are many "consensus hells" (and consensus heavens) and people who think they deserve punishment find themselves in these places after death: the direct result of their own beliefs. Still, he's right that the vast majority of OBE narratives have been positive, even heavenly.

A little later I found another example. After discussing dream interpretation, he writes:
"Now remember the fact that astral projection isn't a dream. That means that what's happening when you project yourself is completely real. You can't interpret the things that happen in your real life because they don't have an alternate meaning. They weren't put there by anything but chance and they have no extra meaning." (pp. 29-30)
Taken at face value, I disagree. I tend to think all our experiences (both in-the-body and out-of-body) are meaningful. I try to find meaning in every event in my life. I think everything we do can be given a spiritual or non-spiritual interpretation.

Then it occurred to me: There's another explanation: maybe the author is just not explaining this well enough. In dreams (both normal and lucid), events "play out" like a movie in front of us. We experience a self-created hallucination full of symbols and events that are symbolic of our fears, hopes, and concerns. In waking life (and OBEs), events don't "play out." We are not hallucinating; we're having objective experiences. So maybe Bowe Packer meant the same thing, but just didn't explain it well.

When I got to chapter 10, How to Project Yourself, I was very disappointed. The chapter is only five paragraphs long, and it really says nothing meaningful. In the first paragraph, he says that there are plenty of methods of astral projection that have been used throughout history,
"So look around and see what you can find out from others."
He goes on to say:
"These are the different ways that projection occurs"
He explains them as: (1) voluntary without control, (2) voluntary with control, (3) involuntary where you see yourself from the outside, and (4) involuntary  where you have conscious control. And that's basically it. End of chapter. There are absolutely no instructions--none, zero, nada, zilch--on how to induce an OBE in a chapter called "How to Project Yourself!" Maybe he just didn't name the chapter well?

Here's another prime example of the author not explaining himself well:
"Also, your physical body cannot be killed off while you are inhabiting your astral body." (page 40).
Does he mean to say that your physical body is immortal and immune from harm during an OBE; that it can't be killed? That's what he said, but he can't mean that, right? I think what he's probably trying to say is that your physical body will not be harmed as a result of the OBE. Again, a truth that seems hidden inside a poor explanation.

In Chapter 12, he talks about  psychic protection and "The Blessed Circle." He explains (in a strange tabular format) how to perform a ritual of protection. If you're Christian, that consists of drawing a circle of salt that's exactly 5.4 feet in diameter, and saying prayers in each of the four cardinal directions (plus up). Then he explains a similar ritual if you're Pagan rather than Christian. I'm sorry, but to me, this is all unnecessary. At first I wanted to say nonsense, but that's too strong of a word. In my opinion, the ritual serves only one purpose: To invoke your trust that you are protected, and that trust is what actually protects you. I believe in using psychic protection, but I don't do any rituals: it's more about controlling your fears, believing in yourself and your protection and having the confidence to handle potential threats. Since he gave both Christian and Pagan examples, he's probably trying to get to the same place, but he didn't explain that.

There were many places in this book that I flagged with post-it notes that said "What?" or "Huh?" or even "WTF?" For example, he states:
"...You'll want to have a soft mattress without metal springs. The metal has been known to interfere with your astral projection..." (pg. 54).
The reason I flagged this is because I don't recall ever reading that in any other book. Where did he come up with that? I've had hundreds of OBEs on a mattress with metal springs and it was never a problem. I remember a couple times where I sunk slowly down into my mattress and felt the metal springs piercing through my astral body. I felt like I was impaled all over my astral body by giant cork screws, but without any pain. It was very strange. It was weird. It was fun! But it was NOT a problem, and it definitely did not interfere. (I've also had OBEs in a water bed and a sleep number bed, but that's another story).

Here's another one I flagged:
"Make sure that you are taking care to get rid of these desires in one way or another. If you give in to sexual desire you will want to wait two hours before you attempt astral projection."  (pg. 56)
While it's true that you should eliminate hunger and other bodily demands before attempting OBE, I disagree with the two-hour thing. Speaking strictly as a man here: the time immediately after sexual release is ideal for inducing OBE, not two hours later, because it adds an extra level of relaxation.

Here's another oddity I flagged:
"Once you've created the circle make sure you place the foam mattress in the center of it so that you can lay your head down toward the east." (pg. 57).
Really? The East? That's the first OBE book I can recall that recommends East. In his breakthrough book Journeys Out of the Body, Robert Monroe recommended pointing your head toward the North. As I stated in my first book, I've always had the most success pointing toward the West. I suspect it's a psychological thing. And how exactly do you fit both a mattress and a body inside a circle that's only 5.4 feet in diameter? I'm 5 feet 10!

One more example and I'll shut up:
"Time of Day-The time of day that you try to project can have a lot to do with your level of success as well. It's difficult at certain times because of the moon or the sun but if you can find a good time of day it will begin to get easier for you quickly." (pg. 81)
First of all, that paragraph didn't say much, except to find a time that works best for you. What times are better? He doesn't say. (My opinion is that mid-morning is best because you're well rested and not drowsy, but still focused and close to the sleep state.) It blames the moon or the sun, but other than that, it doesn't give any justification. Why is the sun or moon a problem? He should have said something. Anything. (My opinion is that the sun triggers the body to release lots of the brain chemical DHEA, causing your body to be too awake.)

When I got to chapter 13, "Tips For Your Projection", guess what I found? Bowe Packer's OBE techniques! Shouldn't they be in chapter 10, How to Project Yourself? These were not tips, they were actual OBE techniques.

So the bottom line is that the author is not very good at explaining himself.

As a grammar Nazi, I'd have to say this book needs serious editing. The spelling and grammar were not bad, but the sentence structures and wordiness make it hard to read.

On the positive side, he gives four OBE techniques, although I could argue that the last one ("Sending an Observer") is really a remote viewing technique, not an OBE technique. The four are not very original or unique, but they are given in decent detail. On the negative side, there weren't any OBE narratives, so you can't get an idea of Bowe Packer's experiences. You can't tell his credentials or where he got his knowledge.

This book isn't high on my list. To make it a great book, it should have been five times as long, without the white-space, more succinct in style, with more clarity, and edited professionally.

Robert Peterson
14 October 2014

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Review: Yoga and the Art of Astral Projection

Review: Yoga and the Art of Astral Projection

by Jill Lowy

I recently finished the book Yoga and the Art of Astral Projection by Jill Lowy, and here's my book review.

It seems like there are two main approaches to the otherworldly: traditionalists and explorers. Traditionalists study the paths that others have followed, whether religious, mystic, or occult traditions. Explorers, on the other hand, care more about exploring and trail-blazing. Explorers rarely care about traditions, and traditionalists rarely care about exploring.

Oddly, my brother Joe and I fall into opposite camps. I've always been an explorer: I'd rather spend my time focusing on new teachings, new methods and, of course, blazing my own trail. That means I don't spend as much time studying the older traditions, valuable as they may be. I keep thinking I should read the works of Meister Eckhart or Emanuel Swedenborg, for example, because I could really learn from their mystical experiences, and yet somehow they never seem to rise to the top of my priorities.

Joe, on the other hand, is a traditionalist. He's the ultimate scholar when it comes to esoteric traditions. He could talk intelligently with you for hours about countless mystic, religious and occult traditions. Meister Eckhart? No problem. Swedenborg? Easy. Name any dead dude from the European renaissance like Johannes Trithemius, Giordano Bruno, or Dr. John Dee: he can talk about him or her for hours. All you have to do is visit one of his domains, like http://www.esotericarchives.com, to see what I mean. And I admire him more than he can ever know. (He's even published more books than me.)

What does all this have to do with Jill Lowy's book? Simply this: This book tries to bridge the gap between the two approaches. I was expecting the book to be focused strictly on OBEs and how they pertain to Yoga meditation, but I was pleasantly surprised. The book starts out with a crash course in esoterica and occultism, with depths that surprised me. I would have probably been blown away by the depth of her knowledge, except for the fact that I've already spent many hours talking to Joe about these things (No offense, but Joe could undoubtedly run circles around her).

Lowy talks about the Rosicrucians, Hermes Trismegistus, the Golden Dawn, Israel Regardie, Paracelsus and the like. She sounded remarkably like Joe, trying to give a crash course on esoterica. She doesn't stop there. She talks about Plutarch from ancient Greece, and cites St. Paul's observations from the Bible. She brings in Taoism (one of my favorite topics, which I've studied in depth), quoting from Lao Tzu. She explains about the Yoga Aphorisms of Patanjali (which I've studied). She talks about Paramahansa Yogananda (my favorite yogi, whose teachings I've studied in depth).

Then she starts to talk about the different schools and traditions of Yoga, patiently explaining how the branches differ. She moves on to explain all about the chakras.

From there, she gives an in-depth explanation of her favorite yoga meditation to induce out-of-body experiences. Then she gives some good narrations to illustrate what the experiences are like. (I love OBE narrations; I think they're an essential part of any good OBE book).

I was hoping to find a lot of information about OBEs and how they relate to yoga, and maybe some practical advice. Unfortunately, the book spends most of its time talking about yoga, its tenants, astrology and other peripheral topics, and way too little time on OBEs themselves. The information about OBEs was good (you can tell she's had a lot of OBEs). There just wasn't enough of it. If Lowy had spent as much time talking about OBEs as she did yoga, it would have been a great book. Unfortunately, she breezed through too many topics, spending too little time on each.


This book only has one OBE method, but it's explained in good detail. There again, the information was good, but I was hungry for more.

The book is only 150 pages long, which is kind of small, but bigger than many OBE books out there. However, the font is decent and the margins are very small, which means every page is chock full of information and there's little white-space or wasted space. But like I said, the information was mostly about yoga, and not OBEs.

Now, as is my custom, I have to put on my grammar Nazi hat. The book is fairly well written and succinct, although I found lots of simple punctuation problems, spelling problems and minor grammar problems. For example, in many places she has "mediation" where she means "meditation" (something a spell-checker wouldn't notice, but an editor would). Her worst offense is the misuse of the apostrophe. I'd say at least half of her apostrophes are wrong. Or maybe I just remember them more because I'm a grammar Nazi. Nonetheless, I did enjoy the book. It's definitely worth buying and reading, especially if you want some good information on the basics of yoga or esoterica.

In short, this book is everything I wanted Samael Aun Weor's book Dream Yoga to be. Weor's was ridiculous, condescending and full of misinformation. This book, by contrast, is useful and full of good information. And I'm looking forward to trying her OBE technique.

Jill Lowy would be a fascinating person to sit down with and have hours-long conversations with a cup of coffee. Better yet, sit her down with my brother Joe and watch the verbal ping-pong match! I only wish her book was two or three times as long so it didn't feel so rushed. I wish it went into more depth on each of the subjects, especially the OBEs.


Bob Peterson
September 30, 2014

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Review: Loved by Mary Deioma

Review: Loved: A Transcendent Journey


by Mary Deioma

Author Mary Deioma was kind enough to send me a copy of her OBE book Loved: A Transcendent Journey. This is my review.

This book is mostly about the author's rather extensive transcendent out-of-body experience, what led up to it and what she experienced. In that respect, it's similar to Gary Wimmer's A Second In Eternity and reminds me of some of author Jurgen Ziewe's more mind-blowing experiences. It also has some similarities to Eben Alexander's book Proof of Heaven, although Deioma was not near death. Which brings up a good point: This book is another shining example of how an OBE can be as mind-blowing as a near-death experience.

The subtitle is "A Transcendent Journey" and that's very fitting. Unlike more typical OBEs, Deioma's experience was really "transcendent". It was one of those "God Experiences," an experience in which the person has a direct experience of what we might call "God."

What led up to her experience--a bitter betrayal of love--was all very interesting and entertaining. When the OBE actually occurred, she was apparently driving! And although it only took about a second and a half of real time, the experience was out of time: Like Wimmer's, Ziewe's and Alexander's experiences, the passage of time was highly distorted: a vast amount of subjective time can transpire in the space of one second.

Her journey was not unlike the others: she experienced oneness with everything. She passed through several layers of experience, different layers of differentiation, the illusion of separation, and experienced "Love" as all that exists.

After her main "Transcendent OBE" she naturally went to a bookstore to search for answers. She studied various things, and that was an interesting journey with intelligent and insightful discussion. Then she decided to try to induce another OBE to learn more. She was successful, but she didn't say how. (That was a real disappointment. It would have made the story better.)

She did mention (in passing) her friend Dr. Albert Taylor, author of the best selling book Soul Traveler, but it was only a name-drop. She didn't say whether Taylor helped her achieve her next OBEs or where that friendship led. The only thing I didn't like about the book is that she didn't explain how she managed to induce more OBEs. There was no struggle, no conflict, no learning process; it was just "poof" and she was out of body again.

The book is fairly short, weighing in at 137 pages. It's longer than some of the fluff books out there, but there was a lot of white space. The chapters were short, as if written for today's short-attention-span audience. That made the book draw you in and kept you reading. In that respect it was very entertaining. ("I'll go to bed after just one more chapter!")

Deioma has a very interesting take on "Hell," what it is and how it relates to everything else. I was fascinated, and it definitely makes sense. Let's just say that neither "Heaven" nor "Hell" (as most Christians think about it) are anywhere close to the truth.

She did digress from the topic of her OBE near the end of the book, where she talks about some peripheral topics like visitations and prophecy, but it didn't detract from the book. I'm guilty of that too with my second book.

The author used simple language, and explained things very well: It's very easy to understand. She does a stellar job of trying to explain the unexplainable, to get some very difficult points across.

I enjoyed this book very much.

Because I'm a grammar Nazi, I usually have to say a few words about the writing. The book is well written, and well organized. The spelling is good, the grammar is good, but there were a few punctuation problems: Missing or extra periods at the end of sentences. Meh; I've seen worse.

September 16, 2014