Tuesday, July 28, 2015

What Should I do When the Vibrations Hit?

What Should I do When the Vibrations Hit?

By Bob Peterson
28 July 2015

This is one of the most common questions I hear from people learning to induce out-of-body experiences:
"I've spent lots of time learning to relax my body and focus my mind. I've reached the stage where I can get the vibrations, but then one of three things always happens:
  1. The vibrations fade away quickly.
  2. I'm paralyzed and completely unable to move, or
  3. It seems like my heart is racing uncontrollably.
Eventually I snap out of it. What should I do to turn this into a full out-of-body experience?"
The most important thing is to remain calm. When the vibrations hit, you need to stay completely 100% passive. Don't think. Don't feel. Don't try to encourage the vibrations because that will cause them to fade away. Just keep your mind as still, unmoving, and passive as possible. Just wait and "watch what happens". Yes, I know that might seem nearly impossible: it's like trying to totally ignore your own electrocution. In one of my books I wrote that it's like ignoring getting slapped in the face, but it is essential. And yes, it can be scary as hell.

When the vibrations reach their peak intensity, try to physically sit up, stand up, roll out, or otherwise get up out of bed. If it's the real OBE vibrations, your physical body won't move, but your astral body may move. If your physical body moves, it wasn't the right vibrations and you probably weren't in a deep enough trance. Either that or you waited too long and the vibrations have already faded away.

If your astral body won't move, or is paralyzed, pinned or stuck to the physical body, try again physically to move in a different direction. If you can't sit, try to roll left. If you can't roll left, try to roll right. If that doesn't work, try to do a backward somersault.

If you've tried everything and still can't get unglued from your physical body, here's what to do:
  1. Close your (astral) eyes and keep them closed.
  2. Try to push forward with your consciousness and just imagine that your consciousness is moving forward.  Even though you may not feel any movement, your consciousness will move forward in your astral body.  If you have doubts that it's working and open your eyes prematurely, your awareness will zip like a ball on a rubber band back to your body.  So keep your eyes closed and have faith that your consciousness is moving forward.  
  3. Keep pushing forward with your consciousness in your imagination as hard as you can, just like walking underwater, until you are about fifteen feet (five meters) away from your body. Visualize that the walls or ceiling in front of you are getting closer as you imagine moving forward. Of course, since your eyes are closed, you can only guess your progress, so don’t obsess on the distance, just take a best guess. 
  4. Once you are safely fifteen feet away from your body, you may open your eyes, and you will be in your astral body and free to roam.
If this sounds familiar, it may be because I've given this advice before in an article on my website called "What Everyone Should Know About Sleep Paralysis, ASP and OBEs".

The "racing heart" thing is often a manifestation of fear or anticipation. You should let that all go. It's almost never your real physical heart that's racing anyway; sometimes it's scare tactics from your subconscious. It's usually an energy sensation associated with your non-physical body, not your physical body, so don't be concerned that your heart is going to explode, etc. Just do your best to ignore the sensation.

Bob Peterson
28 July 2015

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Review: Easy Astral Projection by Keith Morgan

Easy Astral Projection

by Keith Morgan

This time I'm reviewing the book Easy Astral Projection by Keith Morgan.

This is a small book: Just 21 pages. The font is small but so are the margins, so there's not a lot of content. Its copyright is 1992, so it's not ancient.

Although it doesn't say it on the cover, the subtitle is "Simple techniques for travelling in the Astral planes." I've read so many books that claim to make astral projection "Easy" or "Simple" that I've become a bit cynical about it. Inducing OBE has always been a long process for me, and never easy, so it makes me feel like they're luring me in, and I'm always disappointed.

I disagreed with this book on several points. For example:
"...this altered state of consciousness that we consider to be Astral Projection is the same altered state of consciousness that is considered to be termed as being 'Hypnotism' that of an auto suggested state of being that is different from the normal pattern of behaviour that is more commonly found within an individual." (pg. 2)
Yes, OBEs involve a kind of trance state, but to me it's completely different from a hypnotic trance.

Early in this book, the author starts using the term "magick" and "magickal" as if to give out-of-body experience some kind of special 'occult' mystique. In my opinion, there's nothing magical about it. It happens to common folks every day.

So let's talk about the author's OBE techniques. They're not bad and not without merit. They are, however, a bit obfuscated.

The first technique is "Visualisation of a Deity." These are run-of-the-mill visualization techniques, and not bad in themselves. The important thing in my opinion, is:
"Concentrate upon the image as a whole being & see it as a manifestation of such & of the Astral planes, but most of all, believe in what you are seeing, as a being of the element which is being invoked & as a being of your own magick." (pg. 10)
In other words, visualize the image as realistically as possible. The second technique, which is important enough to have its own heading, "Development of Clairvoyancy," is obscure. In fact, he says:
"This method is known as scrying, & is simply, expanding your consciousness through a medium of reflection, this looking into the deeper you, any reflective surface can give good effect, such as a still pond etc, it is a meditational device and nothing more, through these personal meditations deeper things can be learned." (pg. 11)
I'm sorry, but in my opinion, scrying is a lot different from astral projection. In my opinion, with astral projection your physical body is just another inanimate object in the bedroom, and your awareness is elsewhere. With scrying, your consciousness stays firmly planted in the physical and you're using your mind's eye to do something akin to remote viewing. If you want to do remote viewing, there are plenty of good books about it. If you want to do scrying, there are good books on that, too. For example, Donald Tyson's book "Scrying For Beginners". But in my opinion, OBEs are not the same.

There's another separate section of OBE techniques called "Astral Projection & Altered Consciousness Methods." It's small and unimpressive. It talks briefly about relaxation, slowing down your heart rate (and breathing), energizing the pineal gland and chakras, using a mirror, fasting and auto-suggestion. It's scant and not very detailed.

Toward the end of the book, he makes another dubious claim:
"The Void is the primal void of chaos, that is DAATH on the Cabbalistic tree of Life, out of the turmoil of the firmament all is born, it is a start & a re-birth.
TAKE NOTE: travel to the void is not recommended! There is excellent documentation of experimentation of Astral Projection into the Void, as a cabbalistic friend of mine once told me,
 "You will emerge, Mad, Bad, dead or enlightened!".......& he meant it!" (pg. 19)
Few authors have written about "The Void" but this is the only one I can recall that's negative. It seemed like needless negative superstition to me. Frederick Aardema's excellent book, Explorations In Consciousness has an excellent discussion of the Void, without the occult and/or kabbalistic connotations, and it's certainly not negative.

This book's grammar is poor and careless (as you can see from the quotes above). The content is small and often obscure and veiled in occult labels. And in my opinion, the information isn't very good. Although the book is cheap, there are a lot of better OBE books out there. I'd pass on this one.

Click here for a complete list of all my OBE book reviews.

Bob Peterson
14 July 2015

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Review: Mental and Astral Projection by Robert E. Moser

Review: Mental and Astral Projection

by Robert E. (Bob) Moser

Today I'm taking a trip down memory lane and reviewing the book Mental and Astral Projection by Robert E. Moser, an oldie from 1974. It's a short book; just 55 pages.

I first read this book in August of 1980. I had only had 21 OBEs then, so I was a newbie and I was eager for more. The book didn't stand out in my mind at the time, but after just re-reading it, I'm amazed to see just how much it influenced me.

Moser starts by explaining mental projection and astral projection, and the fact that mental projection is easier than astral projection. In my opinion, the author's "mental projection" is what we now call "remote viewing."

I remember how disappointed I was with Moser's OBE technique. After spending a considerable amount of time relaxing your physical body:
"Now, if you wish to [astral] project....simply use your imagination to lift yourself free of the body....to go where you have selected....knowing, at all times....that the natural protective mechanisms of your body are working normally...." (pg. 35)
That's pretty lame. He's advocating the use of imagination to induce OBE, and granted, imagination is an important step. But the process is so much more complex than that. I got nothing out of this. By the way, the overuse and abuse of the ellipsis "...." is the author's, not mine. :)

He expands on this technique later in the book. You use your imagination to visualize a doorway with a fancy door, a keyhole, and a key. You customize the door to make it "yours". Only you possess the key, and each time you induce an OBE, you imagine unlocking the door and locking it behind you to keep any foreign entities out. You always take the key with you.

The book didn't make a lasting impression back in 1980, but I did take a few things he said to heart: First, to keep a journal of your experiences. Second, that other entities can't control your body unless you allow them access. Third, the importance of keeping a dream journal and learning dream recall:
"The importance of the effort to receive full dream recall cannot be overstressed." (pp. 43-44)
This book may have also unconsciously prompted my earliest communications with my inner voice:
"Another point I would like to stress is that it is my firm and proven belief, that the superconscious mind has the answers to the information we seek, if we but look inward. It is in me, it is in you. This is our higher self, our God-Consciousness that has all the memory of time within it. We must seek inward and communicate there for the information." (pg. 44)
It probably also fueled my distrust in spirits:
"I do NOT advocate the use of guides on the astral planes. We have no way of knowing or judging who or what may be trying to either help or harm us. On the astral, since we are faced with a different set of values and a new set of rules, we can easily be misled by some entity who is trying to use us." (pg. 47)
In fact, Moser takes this a step further. He stresses not to interact with the astral plane. He advises us to merely observe what we witness. But to quote the 1980s rock song Blinded by the Light, "But mama, that's where the fun is!"

Maybe this book was just what I needed in 1980: A healthy dose of caution, a little esotericism, a dash of distrust in spirits, a few clues about my inner voice, and a few hints on how to self-induce OBEs. There are many OBE books that are far better than this, but I don't regret having read it.

30 June 2015
Robert Peterson

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Review: Travel Far by Darryl E. Berry Jr.

Travel Far

by Darryl E. Berry Jr.

I can't believe it's almost been a month since my last OBE book review. A barrage of crises and obligations left me little time to read. Sigh.

This time I'm reviewing the book Travel Far: A Beginner's Guide to the Out-of-Body Experience, Including First-Hand Accounts and Comprehensive Theory and Methods by Darryl E. Berry, Jr. That's a mouth-full.

The author was kind enough to send me a review copy and I really enjoyed it. Unlike most books in the genre, this one is "just right" in many respects. It's 220 pages: a good amount of content. It has good size paper, good margins, and a good font size. Its grammar and spelling are--you guessed it--good. That's refreshing, especially after the last book's many errors.

I always like to start off addressing the negative things about a book so I can end on a positive note, but in this case I don't have many negative things to say. It's just a good, solid well-rounded OBE book with good content.

The book is divided into two parts.

Part 1 is about the author's personal experiences, and you know how I love OBE narratives. The narratives were interesting, but somehow lacked emotion. Whenever I have an OBE, no matter how mundane, there's an element of, "Oh my God! This is so incredible!" even after 35 years. These narratives somehow lacked that element, so they felt a little "flat". Still, they were fascinating and unusual, even in this admittedly obscure genre. For example, in one OBE, Berry encounters "fire beings". In another, when he was 7 years old, he found himself in "The Desert World" for a solid week! This reminded me of my own childhood experience where it seemed like I had lived in another world for centuries (although it wasn't a desert world). He also writes about encounters with extraterrestrials; an important topic, but rarely found in the genre. Plus another important topic that's often neglected: time travel OBEs. It makes for some fascinating discussion. I can't go into detail here, but check out this quote:
"My perception is that I entered (or made) an alternate universe, a different reality stream or timeline, and lived in that alternate timeline for that duration of time." (pg. 73).
Part 2, "Theory and Methods" is where Berry gets down to business. This is where I perked up and starting flagging pages. He begins by explaining brain waves and states of consciousness. He addresses the topic well. I didn't agree with everything he said (but I rarely do). For example:
"Delta is the state of deep physical sleep, and home to the out-of-body experience." (pg. 83)
I've always believed that OBEs occur during deep theta brain waves, not delta, which agrees with Dr. Charles Tart's experiments on Robert Monroe and "Miss Z." I believe that lucid dreams occur during delta. But who am I to judge? I've never been hooked up to an EEG machine.

In reality, it doesn't really matter, because brain waves are old-school. They only measure what's happening on the outside (cortex) of the brain. Modern neuro-scientists don't give as much credence to brain waves as they do newer technology that addresses the whole brain: fMRI imaging, brain blood flow measurements, and so forth. But that's another topic for a future article.

Berry's approach to OBE practice makes a lot of sense:
"The general goal is to consistently practice so that you move this threshold of awareness at least through the deep theta state. From there you can initiate an OBE." (pg. 85)
In other words, you teach yourself--through practice--to retain conscious awareness deeper and deeper until you can get to the OBE state. It doesn't get much more practical than that. That's kind of how I learned to do it.

Another thing I liked is how the author sets up a clear division between OBE "Basics" exercises and "OBE Initiation." He makes it clear that his "OBE Basics" exercises are more important than the OBE attempts themselves. In fact, he says:
"As a general rule, for every hour you spend practicing to have an out-of-body experience you should spend 1 or more hours practicing one or more of these basics." (pg. 90).
The "basics" are not too different from the exercises of Robert Bruce in Astral Dynamics, but Berry is not so regimented. It was more relaxed and not as serious, and I liked that. It just felt right.

One of the things I liked most about Berry's exercises is that it took a Taoist approach to energy work, which is what I've always used because of my early Tai Chi training. That's unlike (1) traditional Hindu meditation which sends energy straight up the spine and through the chakras and out the crown chakra, (2) the IAC's "velo" technique, which pushes energy up and down in a oscillating fashion, and (3) Robert Bruce's technique which is similar, but focuses on storing the energy in the Tan Tien (navel / belly button chakra). Berry's Taoist method circulates the "chi" up the spine and down the front of your body: in a continuous circle.

He also talks about OBE Asanas (yogic body positions) and even gives photos to demonstrate them, which is a nice bonus. He also talks about OBE mudras (hand positions); something I've only seen in one other OBE book, also with photos.

On page 128 is his list of OBE techniques, and it's a pretty good list. It includes his own techniques as well as borrowing from other experts in the field. He covers all the basics, including his signature technique, the "Relax-Move Technique." He also suggests some unconventional techniques, such as the "Sleep Signal Focus" technique, which is a method to overcome sleepiness that often overcomes us during OBE practice:
"Become aware of or imagine the sensation of sleepiness and dive into it...You can attempt to 'stay ahead' of sleepiness, diving into it and keeping awareness ahead of it before it drowns you in unawareness. This is a signature technique of my friend Louis." (pg. 131)
One of my favorites is his "Creative Visualization" technique:
"Use your imagination to visualize something that holds your attention. One visualization of mine is to imagine myself engulfed in a flame, as if I'm the wick of a candle, or to imagine a flame in my third eye area." (pg. 138)
The book isn't all dry technique and business. He has just a dash of spirituality too. My favorite quote from the book is:
"All of our limits are ultimately self-imposed." (pg. 198)
This is a good solid OBE book; a well-rounded mix of narratives, theory, techniques and spirituality. The author is not pretentious or esoteric. He comes off as your good friend, not Severus Snape.

I give it a big thumbs up. It may not dethrone any in my list of Bob's Top Ten OBE Books but maybe I'll call it #11.

Bob Peterson
16 June 2015

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Review: You Can Fly

Review: You Can Fly

By Salvatore Caesar Scordato

This time I'm reviewing You Can Fly: How to Astral Travel: A Step By Step Guide to Out of Body Projection and Movement by Salvatore Caesar Scordato. This review is long, but that's because the book is informative and has a lot to talk about.

My first impressions were from the cover. There's a photo of the author on the back that reminded me of Severus Snape from the Harry Potter books: wizard extraordinaire and teacher of defense against the dark arts. You be the judge:
Maybe it's a cultural thing, but I guessed that the author was going for a certain mystique, and he nails it. Throughout the book, he comes across as a teacher of the art of astral travel, but he doesn't really say how he acquired his knowledge, except through experience. However, he's not overbearing or arrogant at all. He's not an occultist or a magician (as far as I know), but he is a pretty decent OBE teacher.

The book is 166 pages (not counting promotional pages at the end of the book) and the margins are small, which means there's a lot of content (that's a good thing). Almost all of the book is dedicated to teaching you--the student--how to do astral projection. In that regard, it's kind of like a classroom book. Although I disagreed with Scordato on many of his points, his methods and techniques seem pretty good.

The positives of this book outweigh the negatives, so I'm going to talk about the negatives first. The worst thing about this book is the grammar: not just minor rookie mistakes, (like its vs. it's or changing tense) but missing words, incorrect words and combined sentences. Mr. Scordato really needed a proofreader. Badly. There are so many grammatical problems it was distracting, at least for a grammar Nazi like me. The mistakes were much worse than Akhena's book, which I had previously complained about. After a few chapters, I started playing a little game: count the number of major errors on each page. Most pages had two to three major grammar problems, but I counted as high as six. I only encountered one or two pages where I did not spot a problem. Enough said: I don't need to harp on it.

The second negative is that the book didn't have any OBE narratives. The author spends a lot of time talking about how you can use OBE to unlock the secrets and mysteries of the Universe (in fact, he's a little redundant on that topic), but he doesn't give any examples of what he's seen or done.

Those are the only two complaints I have about the book. That's not to say I agreed with him on everything. In fact, I found several points of contention. But disagreements are healthy, right? They make for a good healthy OBE discussion. So let's talk about some points of contention.

Early on he talks about what astral projection is, planes of existence, as many books do. On page 41, he has a diagram of the Universe that shows three levels (As opposed to the traditional seven), corresponding to the Christian concepts of the Trinity: The Earthly plane (the Son), the Astral Plane (the Holy Spirit), and the "Greater Physical Realm" (The Father). His diagram shows God residing outside these three levels. He never does explain the Greater Physical Realm or what it is. I tend to think of "creation" as being more multifaceted and multidimensional (as per Ziewe's Multidimensional Man).

Second, he talks about exploring the Universe, but being limited by the speed of light, which contradicts a lot of other OBE books. This had me concerned, but later in the book he amended this by talking about advanced methods of astral travel where you can fold space, and thereby go anywhere in the Universe. (However, this is not taught in the book). None of the other books in the genre talk about folding space or needing to do so.

Third disagreement:
"Of course when I say this is limited only by the laws of this universe I mean that you can not travel outside this plane of existence into the spirit or after life plane." (pg. 23).
A multitude of OBE books beg to differ. He reiterates this later on:
"Although it is possible for our souls to travel from the Earthly Plane through the Astral Plane and into The Greater Physical Plane and back, we can never travel outside the Greater Physical Realm for so long as we live." (pg. 39)
That seems to fly in the face of many other OBE books. Fourth disagreement:
"...And that God does not exist within the same universe but outside this plane of existence." (pg. 25).
I tend to believe that God is everywhere, as an integral part of all creation, at all levels.

Fifth disagreement (the grammar mistakes in the quotes are his, not mine):
"What is the Astral Plane? I will not dispute what other people's perceptions and theory's are about what the astral plane is and where it exists? What I will do is tell you what I know to be the facts."
"The first firmament about the Astral Plane is that subsist within our Earthly Plane of existence. It is not another dimension but rather an extension of our dimension much like how our souls exist within our bodies and we live inside a house." (pg. 38).
After his discussion of the dimensions, the book gets better. He talks about the benefits of OBEs: How it opens and expands your mind, opens your creativity, gives you better understanding of the Universe, etc. I agreed with most of that discussion.

Next, he gets down to OBE instructions, which takes up the rest of the book. On page 52, he talks about "Morning Commands" which are basically OBE affirmations done at the very razor's edge of consciousness when you first wake up on the morning. He recommends refining this until your affirmations are your first thoughts of every day. A lot of books recommend affirmations. I wrote about how important it is to do them in the early morning (especially in Answers Within) but Scordato takes it to the next level, and I liked what he wrote about it.

I disagreed with him when he wrote:
"The disorder that is commonly called Sleepwalking is really not a disorder at all. It is the trapped soul attempting to leave the body." (pg. 62).
In my opinion, sleepwalking is a physical disorder caused by a malfunction in the normal sleep paralysis process.

Next point of contention:
"Ghosts are believed to be the souls of the dead who have irreconcilable troubles or concerns or deeds. But the fact of the matter is that all dead spirits can not return to this plane of existence in spirit form. That door is shut and no matter what anyone has put forth as to prove the existence of Ghosts, None can be proven. They simply do not exist." (pg. 64)
As a paranormal investigator, I have to disagree with this too. I've seen too much evidence of ghosts to make such a blanket statement.
"Although you are able to be hypnotized into remembering past lives, you can not be hypnotized into leaving your body." (pg. 67)
Again, I disagree. Although it's rare in the literature, there are cases of using hypnosis to induce an OBE state. Way back in the 1980s, Dick Sutphen was peddling OBE hypnosis tapes. Some would even call some of the Monroe Institute's products a form of hypnosis used for OBE.

Now let's talk about something more positive, shall we? Let's talk about Scordato's technique. This is where the book really shines, even though he describes only one primary OBE technique. It's primarily a visualization technique.

First, he talks about relaxation. Many books casually mention in passing that relaxation is the most important part of OBE induction, and I have to agree. Scordato emphasizes this better than most books. He recommends spending 30 days practicing nothing but relaxation and taking it to an extreme degree, using candles, music, bath salts, massage, massage oils and massage chairs, white noise machines--even masturbation--to learn how to achieve the deepest possible level of relaxation while still retaining consciousness. It's a good discussion, and treated well.

Next, he talks about learning to visualize a tunnel with a tiny dot of white light at the end, as often described in NDE (Near Death Experience) books. This is a pretty basic OBE visualization, but he insists you keep practicing it until your visualization is flawless.

Next, you visualize yourself walking slowly down the tunnel, toward the light. It's important not to visualize the light coming to you, but see yourself going toward it.

Next, he talks about dream awareness (lucid dreaming) and how to assume conscious control in your dreams by commanding your dream self to make a noise, grunt, or vocalization.

He also talks about WBTB (Wake-Back-To-Bed) although he doesn't call it that.

He talks about programming your dreams by falling back asleep (after you wake up) while saying to yourself, "I have fallen back asleep."

Although Scordato has some good ideas and a solid technique, I disagree with him when he wrote:
"This image of a dot of light at the end of a long circular tunnel is the key and essence of everything you have been trying to master. Think of this combined image as the magic words that will unlock the universe and all its dimensions to your commands. Without being able to create this image, you will not be able to leave your body." (pgs. 105-106).
I like his tunnel visualization, but I think he's giving it a bit too much importance. There are a lot of techniques out there, and every out-of-body traveler has different needs. I personally find that movement (imaginary floating coupled with a visualized object that is swinging) is the most important factor. But I definitely plan to try the tunnel visualization.

In his questions and answers section, he writes:
"Will I remember everything I encountered and will encounter on my journeys?"
His answer is:
"Yes, vividly. All the experiences you thus far been through will be forever etched into your memory." (pg. 118)
This directly contradicts Robert Bruce and other experts who insist that OBE memories, like dream memories, can be fleeting and learning to recall them (or "download them" as Bruce says) is an important key to having OBEs. However, other experts (for example, psychologists Gabbard and Twemlow in With the Eyes of the Mind) insist that OBEs stand on their own as very memorable: There's something memorable that sets them apart from ordinary dreams. My OBE memories have never been fleeting, so I'm siding with Scordato on this.

Scordato has some unique ideas. I don't agree with everything he says, but he's got some pretty good instructions, tips and techniques. I'm giving this book a thumbs up, despite the awful grammar.

Bob Peterson
19 May, 2015

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Review: Astral Dynamics by Robert Bruce - Part 2

Review: Astral Dynamics - Part 2

by Robert Bruce

This is part 2 of my book review of Astral Dynamics by Robert Bruce. If you haven't read part 1, it's available on my blog: http://obeoutlook.blogspot.com

Flag 17: In part 1, I talked about astral projections, lucid dreams, and something Bruce calls "lucid dream projections" which he claims is some kind of hybrid I don't understand. Chapter 24 talks about yet another kind of experience which he calls "Virtual Reality Projection." The idea here is that you enter into a mirror, a picture, a painting, etc., from the OBE state. In other words, you use it as a gateway into another level of experience.
"The projector then moves into the target rather than passing through it. This seems to trick the subconscious mind into creating a virtual astral realm around the projected double, identical to that shown in the picture or mirror being approached." (pg. 337)
It makes me wonder if this is just another form of passing into a lucid dream, a self-created hallucination.

Flag 18: Here Bruce talks about movement, and he gives a helpful hint I've never thought of:
"Imagine that every direction you want to move in is downhill and that you are wearing roller skates, and you will just start rolling forward whenever you want to move." (pp. 346-347.)
Flag 19: Bruce describes the astral planes as having a grid-like appearance.
"The surface of an astral plane is two-dimensional and covered with perfectly straight horizontal and vertical grid lines. This makes for a uniform checkered appearance over the entire surface. Each square contains a brilliantly multicolored geometric design, repeated endlessly in every other square. The surface of each astral plane has its own unique pattern, completely different from that of any other astral plane's surface pattern." (pg. 367)
Well, maybe I've spent most of my out-of-body explorations in the "real-time zone" but I've never noticed a checkerboard pattern anywhere in my travels.

Flag 20: Bruce talks about the structure and layout of the astral planes. He notes:
"The fringes of these area are not dangerous, but are decidedly unpleasant. The very bad lower subplanes are dark, shadowy areas populated (more aptly polluted) with all kinds of demons, monsters, and nightmarish figures. The lowest of these dark areas could aptly be called hellish dimensional areas." (pg. 373)
Again, I've (rarely) seen horrible looking scary creatures in my OBEs, but nothing I would describe as hellish. The vast majority of OBEs--both mine and other people's--are pleasant.

Flag 21: Bruce talks about making the transition from a "real-time" projection to an astral projection; in other words, how to get to the astral plane from the Earth-plane. He says:
"The method I use and recommend for getting into the astral planes is this: Starting near ground level, aim midway between the horizon and straight up and take off. Fly at the greatest speed possible. Start moving upward and feel  and become aware of the star-filled universe spread out before you...Fill your mind with the feeling of enormous distance and shoot for the stars. The incredible acceleration this causes makes your vision blur momentarily, and you may experience a brief tunnel-of-light effect." (pg. 386).
Flag 22: Bruce and I are in agreement with regard to the silver cord, although I tend to believe the cord is a purely psychological device:
"The silver cord, as far as I can ascertain, is invulnerable and therefore unbreakable...If it were possible to be destroyed by severing the silver cord, I would certainly have died many times over. Nor can it be damaged simply because a projection is suddenly ended, no matter under what circumstances or how abruptly." (pg. 401)
Flag 23: Here Bruce talks about the Akashic Pulse, the astral wind (which can pick you up and blow you to random locations) and "consciousness seeds" which are supposedly energies that "profoundly affect the lives of each and every incarnated spirit in the universe." I've never heard of consciousness seeds, except in this book. He makes it sound like a bunch of dice in some cosmic game of craps. I'm not sure what to make of that.

Flag 24: Starting on page 432, Bruce talks about Deja Vu, a strong sense of having relived a sequence of events before. His theory is that it may have something to do with the consciousness seeds which influence our lives. I have a different interpretation (which is beyond the scope of this article) but his observations about deja vu (for example, that we have the power to change the future) match mine.

Flag 25: Bruce talks about "Confusing Astral Effects". He says, in part:
"You do not have a real body during an OBE. You are an infinitesimally small point of consciousness, a spark created by the pure energies of your consciousness. You have no real size or shape." (pg. 457)
I agree with this. I, too, have experienced OBEs in which I was a pinpoint of consciousness. I really liked what Fred Aardema wrote about us identifying with a "body image" out of habit, because that's what we're used to. Or as I sometimes like to call it, "Schrodinger's Astral Body"...It's in an indeterminate state until you observe it. Bruce supports that on the next page (Flag 26) when he says:
"The subtle body parts that appear seem to be created by the subconscious mind. The mind of the projector does not seem able to accept the total nonexistence of its body, so temporarily creates body parts when they are looked for." (pg. 458)
Flag 27: I thought this was interesting:
"A brief glance at the hands during an OBE, for example, causes a small shock wave between the projected double and its physical counterpart that helps stabilize the projection. A longer observation often shifts a projector from real time straight into an astral realm." (pg. 459)
I've never really needed to glance at my hands to stabilize my OBEs, nor has it ever shifted me to another dimension.

Flag 28: I laughed when I read this, because I've often said very much the same thing when asked about different levels of the astral plane:
"Higher dimensions also do not have signposts in them saying 'Welcome to the Astral Planes--Ta ... Daaa!' or 'Mental Planes--Watch Your Mind!' or 'Buddhic Planes--Love One Another!'" (pg. 469)
It's just "poof" and you're in unfamiliar surroundings; who knows where.

Flag 29: Starting on page 472, Bruce has descriptions of different levels that he's visited. I found them interesting and informative, although I think the descriptions in Jurgen Ziewe's book Muldimensional Man were better.

Flag 30: Here Bruce gives one of his few OBE narrations. In this experience, he apparently meets with his dead son, Jeremy, who greets him with:
"You did it, Daddy, you did it! I told them you'd come...I told them you could do it!" (pg. 474).
This was a very touching moment in the book, and it reminded me of my own meeting with my dad after he'd died. This is the softer side of Robert Bruce, whereas most of the book is down to business with regard to OBEs.

Flag 31: Bruce surprised me with this one: He says:
"The best way to cultivate high-level contact, and to speed this moment along a little, is through regular, meaningful spiritual service and development, complemented by energetic and psychic development, in that particular order of priority and effort. (pg. 483).
Throughout the book, Bruce doesn't show much "spirituality." In fact, some people are quick to judge him or label him as an "occultist" with some amount of disdain. This soft spot in the book proves that he's actually a spiritual guy.

Flag 32: Bruce talks about "Lower Subplane Wildlife," a term he likes to use with regard to negative entities. His advice on how to deal with them meshes perfectly with mine: be fearless and, if you have to, aggressive. His discussion is thorough, so I don't want to short-change it. It's well worth the read. Still, I found this amusing:
"I have seen entities the size of polar bears run screaming when 'BOO!' is said to them." (pg. 491).
Flag 33: Bruce talks about how his mother was a Spiritualist, and compares how she dealt with negative entities to his own methods.

Well, I guess that's all I have to say about Astral Dynamics. It's long. It's complex. It's thorough. Its energy exercises are well thought out and worth doing. The book is well worth the time and the money.

Bob Peterson
23 April 2015

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Review: Astral Dynamics by Robert Bruce - Part 1

Review: Astral Dynamics - Part 1

by Robert Bruce

Every so often I like to re-read a classic in OBE literature. It's been a while since I've done this, and Astral Dynamics by Robert Bruce is a well-deserving classic I've not reviewed yet. It's surprising, since I listed it as #5 in "Bob's Top Ten OBE Books."

First I need to apologize in advance for the length of this review: the book says a lot, so I need to say a lot about it. For that reason, I decided to split the review into two parts, and I'll post part 2 in my next blog entry.

The previous book I reviewed seemed like a cheap ripoff of Astral Dynamics. I had recognized many of these elements because I'd just spent the past several weeks re-reading Astral Dynamics. It also explains why my recent reviews have covered small books: I needed a buffer zone while I got through this hefty volume.

The first thing to note is that it's big: Not only is the physical footprint big (6 by 9 inches), it's also 560 pages. It's not to be undertaken lightly. But it's worth the effort. I like to flag interesting parts in every OBE book, and this time I added 33 flags; a new record.

The first time I read this book back around 2001, I wasn't impressed. Yes, it was good, but I thought it was a little boring, and I didn't agree with everything Bruce said. This second time through, I liked it a lot more and found very little to disagree with. With no further adieu, here's what I flagged:

Flag 1: In chapter 2, Bruce talks about nonphysical bodies, such as the "Real-Time" Body (for Near-Earth OBEs), the Astral Body (for Astral Projection), and so forth. He describes the Etheric body as a bioenergetic body, closely associated with (and inseparable from) the physical body. Not many OBE books talk about this, but it matches my experience with ASP (Awareness during Sleep Paralysis.) It's a good discussion.

Flag 2: On page 53, Bruce talks about his theory of "Shadow Memory". He makes it seem like your non-physical body (whether "Astral" or "Real-Time") has completely separate memories that are "downloaded" to the physical brain when you return to your body. At the same time, he says, your physical body is also producing memory imprints, and the most dominant memory becomes permanently stored. All others are permanently lost. So there are tricks you need to do to allow your astral experiences and its "shadow memory" to be "downloaded" and become dominant in your brain, otherwise you're likely to lose the memory of your out-of-body adventures. I'm not sure I agree with this theory. I like to think of any "human experience" as more integrated than that, but I can't prove it's wrong either. Dream memories often fade away quickly if you don't reinforce them, but OBEs are usually pretty memorable, at least for me. I've never noticed any kind of download process. At the very least, this shows the depth at which Bruce treats OBEs: most OBE authors don't even talk about these important matters. Bruce revisits the topic again on page 298 (flag 12) and page 300 (flag 13).

Flag 3: On page 102, Bruce talks about blind people who have OBEs, which is, again, something you can't find elsewhere in the literature. In my first book, I wrote about a mode of sight I call "Astral Mind Sensing." It's hard to describe, but you can feel everything around you with your mind, kind of like a bat's echolocation. Compare that to this fascinating description from an OBEr who has been blind from birth:
"The area around me is extremely vivid in my mind, in all directions, and is very detailed. This awareness is much stronger than my normal awake perceptions are in my own home. When I project it's like I can feel everything around me, as if I am continually touching everything with my fingers, with my mind, with my senses..." (pg. 102)
It made me wonder: Is that how a blind person would describe "vision" without any experience of it? Or is it my "astral mind sensing"? Intriguing.

Flag 4: On page 250, Bruce talks about doing "Bounce Loosening" exercises. This is where you use your imagination to pretend to bounce your awareness away from your body. This is similar to many exercises I sometimes do to improve my OBE skills (for example, see the yoyo exercise I gave in chapter 9 of my first book). This is good stuff:
"Again, once you get this bounce action going, allow the feel of your physical body to slide into the background and concentrate on the exterior bounce action." (pg. 250)
Flag 5: On the next page, I found an exercise I also liked a lot. He talks about "Breathing Loosening" exercises, coordinating your imagination with your breath:
"At the end of the OUT breath, briefly feel the spacial coordinates of the entire room as being far, far away, as if you were a minute point of consciousness, a tiny spark in a giant, oversized room." (pg. 251).
Flag 6: On page 254, Bruce gives his now famous "Rope Technique" which is "tactile imaging" (focusing more on the sense of touch than vision). This technique was pioneering and has helped a lot of people achieve OBEs, especially those who don't visualize well. Most OBE techniques in the literature (including mine) focus on visualization, but not everyone can visualize well.

Flag 7: Bruce talks about motivation and enthusiasm. Early OBE pioneers like Muldoon and Lancelin emphasized this, especially motivating the subconscious. Bruce says:
"The most important ingredients for any successful projection are enthusiasm and motivation. Without these, there will not be enough mental energy to succeed; you will either fail the exit or give up and fall asleep." (pg. 260).
Flag 8: He talks about the "racing-heartbeat sensation" which is a scary thing that happens in many early OBEs, but is hardly mentioned in the OBE literature. His advice is the same as mine: "Totally ignore this. It will not hurt you in any way." That's because it is a sensation of your nonphysical body (and often a subconscious scare tactic), not the physical body.

Flag 9: Like me, Bruce has been asked many times to assist others out of their body. His beliefs (and experience) exactly match mine in this regard:
"I do not believe it is possible to directly assist another person out of body. I have tried many times and it does not seem to be feasible." (pg. 277).
Flag 10: He talks about traveling out-of-body to meet a specific person. In my first book, I wrote about my many failed attempts at this when I was a newbie. Many OBE books claim all you have to do is think about a person and you'll be magically transported to him or her. My experience has shown it's more complex than that. I eventually learned the trick, but it's extremely hard to describe: You have to "feel" for the person at the other end, then mentally pull yourself there. Bruce describes it like this, but words fail him as well:
"When you are in the trance state and/or close to the exit, imagine your target person. Everyone has a distinct essence of personality. This feeling can be used to tune in to and locate other people. Hold the image of your target firmly in mind and call his or her name several times, voicing this strongly in your mind." (pg. 279)
Well, calling out someone's name never worked for me either. It's just something you have to learn by trial and error.

Flag 11: He talks about lunar cycles, which you normally don't find in the literature. I've never noticed a correlation between the moon cycles and my OBEs (and yes, I've analyzed it), but it matches what some people (for example, Jason Kish on Facebook) have said:
"I find the best time for OBE to be the week surrounding the full moon, with the first night of the full moon being my prime projection time." (pg. 291)
Flag 14: He talks about lucid dreams and their relationship with OBEs. I've written, blogged, and lectured about the differences (and similarities) between the two. In a nutshell, I believe a lucid dream is an OBE in which you're trapped inside a self-created hallucination (an almost completely subjective experience). Bruce says a very similar thing:
"A lucid dream is a genuine type of OBE, although the dimensional gate traveled through to achieve it is best thought of as being internal." (pg. 322).
Flag 15: He also writes:
"Lucid dreams differ from OBEs in that they often seem much more substantial and realistic. A powerful lucid dream can be indistinguishable from reality, even if entered from the full waking state." (pg. 324).
By comparison, OBEs often have a strange quality to them, even though they are often just as conscious and lucid.

Flag 16: Bruce talks about another kind of lucid dream:
"One of the most powerful experiences I know of results from deliberately projecting into a lucid dream environment from the full waking state, with no break in consciousness. I call this mind-blowing experience lucid dream projection, although others have also called it WILD (wake induced lucid dream). Although this is technically a lucid dream, it can aptly be called the ultimate out-of-body experience as it has many similarities with a conscious-exit OBE."
"A lucid dream projection is essentially no different from a conscious-exit projection...The only difference of note is that lucid dream projections are far more realistic and true to life than are projections or normal lucid dreams." (pp 329-330).
I'm not sure I agree here. In my point of view, a lucid dream is an OBE in which you're trapped, as I said, inside a self-created hallucination. So my question is: which is it? In this "lucid dream projection" are you in a separate objective reality or a self-created hallucination? It doesn't seem possible to have it both ways or half-way in between (despite the fact that there can be bleed-through both ways: dreams in which astral events disrupt the dream, and also OBEs in which unintended dreams elements disrupt the OBE). So I'm not sure what to make of this claim.

Flag 17: Chapter 24 talks about yet another kind of experience which he calls "Virtual Reality Projection." The idea here is that you enter into a mirror, a picture, a painting, etc., from the OBE state. In other words, you use it as a gateway into another level of experience.
"The projector then moves into the target rather than passing through it. This seems to trick the subconscious mind into creating a virtual astral realm around the projected double, identical to that shown in the picture or mirror being approached." (pg. 337)
It makes me wonder if this is just another form of passing into a lucid dream, a self-created hallucination.

I'm halfway through my flags, so I'm going to cut it off here and save the rest for next time.

Astral Dynamics is a classic in OBE literature and well worth reading. It's chock full of techniques, exercises, and good information on OBEs. It's also very well organized, professionally edited and comprehensive. In other words, it contains just about everything you need to know about astral projection.

This book is not fun, exciting, entertaining or amusing. There are just a few (four or five) OBE narratives; just enough to keep it interesting and not stale. It is, however, very informative. If you want to learn about astral projection and how to accomplish it, this book is an excellent resource for any serious OBE student. Even though I listed it as number 5 in my top ten, if you only had enough money to buy one OBE book, you would not go wrong spending it on this volume.

I'll post part 2 of my review next time.

Bob Peterson
14 April 2015