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

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Review: Out of Body Ecstasy by Allie Theiss

Review: Out of Body Ecstasy


by Allie Theiss
Book review by Bob Peterson

Let's talk about OBE sex, shall we? The subtitle of this book is "The Anywhere, Anytime, Orgasmic Experience", and make no mistake: this book is about sex and how it pertains to out-of-body experiences.


There's a famous saying in advertising: Sex sells. In other words, you can sell just about anything just by advertising it with a picture of a sexy woman with bedroom eyes. It works because it's instinctual. Men especially think about sex a lot. I've often thought to myself that if men would casually think about OBE as much as they think about sex, they would have a lot more OBEs. So this book sounded like an exciting new twist to the OBE. (Plus, of course I had to have it for my OBE book collection.)

The subject of astral sex is an interesting one, and there hasn't been much mention of it in the OBE literature. Robert Monroe mentioned it his famous book Journeys Out of the Body. The only other mention I can recall off the top of my head is from D.J.Conway's books, and it was kind of hard for me to take them seriously.

I had some preconceptions when I started reading this book. For example, it's much more common to have sexual content in lucid dreams than in OBEs. In OBEs it's quite rare, and when it does occur, it's usually described as an ecstatic explosion, combining of energy, or a flash of energy exchange. Monroe described it as almost casual, like shaking hands. In other words, it's not much like physical sex. On the other hand, lucid dream sex is much more like physical sex, and is often very realistic.

So what is this book like?

First it gives some foundation, like "What is an Out of Body Experience?" She explains it this way:
"Out of body experiences are short-term episodes where the conscious mind, via the energy body, separates from the physical body enabling a person to engage in and observe the world from outside their physical perspective." (Page 24).
So right from the start I have an issue: As Susan Blackmore once pointed out the experience of being out-of-body is different from the fact of being out-of-body. I think it's much more accurate to say the OBE is an experience in which is seems like you are out of your body. It's a subtle but important difference. As much as we'd all like to believe that something actually leaves the body (and there's growing evidence to support it) I think we still need to make that distinction.

On page 24, she says:
There are three different methods to launch an out of body experience: a. Telepathy...b. Dream...c. Astral.
Okay, I disagree with that too. To me, an OBE is a conscious experience in which your physical body is just another inanimate object in the room: In other words, you're completely conscious and completely out. While I do believe that some aspect of you travels to another person during telepathy, that's not an OBE. I also believe that something travels out-of-body during our dreams, but we're unconscious and I also do not count that as an OBE. (In early 2014, I gave a long talk for INACS about the differences between dreams, lucid dreams, shared dreams and OBEs.)

After three chapters of the basics, chapter 4 is about telepathic sex. In other words, making a sexual connection with another person telepathically. While this may be interesting, I don't consider it related to OBEs. (However, while it may not be related to OBEs, it's not to be trifled with. If you have sexual fantasies about another person, you will make a nonphysical telepathic connection with that person, and it can have consequences, karma, etc. So be careful with your energy.)

Chapter 5 is about dream sex. In other words, having sex dreams about another person. Her instructions boil down to basically "Intend to have a sex dream about a target person." She does talk about lucid dreaming for three pages, but it's a very brief introduction to the subject, and not very satisfying. Not after having read Robert Waggoner's book, anyway.

Chapter 6 is about astral sex, but it starts on page 125 out of 216. That means she doesn't even start talking about real astral sex until more than half way through the book.

On page 133, she states:
"It is good to note that when the astral body separates--the current astral layer world will be an exact replica of the physical world. Therefore, if it is raining out--it is raining in the astral world."
Again, I disagree. It's often very similar to the physical world, but definitely not exact. For example, people will sometimes see the shades or curtains (or a door) open when, in physical reality, they are closed. The differences have been the topic of many interesting discussions in OBE literature. Many OBE authors agree that the first layer acts like some kind of energy echo of the physical, and that the differences are due to various thought-forms floating about.

I recently attended a OBE Intensive class at The Monroe Institute. In the class, Bill Buhlman told a story about a remodeling project where he and his wife were planning to transform a particular fireplace in his home. For many weeks prior to the physical work, he saw his fireplace mantle slowly transformed in his OBEs before the actual work was done: The OBE environment had echoes of the future plans (thought forms) overlaid with the physical, but the astral mantle was transformed weeks before the physical one. So the OBE environment (when near the physical) is close to the physical, but not exact.

I was also disappointed in the author's discussion about the methods of separation. She lists them as: floating out, sit up, rolling out, pull yourself out, climbing out, top of the head, and divine aid. For example, for the first method, floating out, she says:
"Focus in on the sensation of floating and allow your astral body to drift up and away from your physical body." (Page 134).
I'm sorry, but to me, that's not an OBE technique. Once you've become separated from your physical body, then yes, you can focus on floating and drifting away. But first you've got to do the separation, and she's missing that all-important step. There's no talk about relaxation, putting your body to sleep, sleep paralysis, inducing the vibrations or any of it. (Well, she talks about the vibrations, but not how to induce them).  Just "poof" (or "allow") and you simply drift away from your body. Or "poof" and you just sit up in the astral. If it was that easy, we'd all be having OBEs every day. It's a lot more involved than simply using your imagination. You have to play mind games (like visualization and such) to trick your mind into separating from the physical and then you can sit up or roll out.

On page 151, she suggests setting your alarm clock for "10 to 20 min." And somehow that's long enough to induce the OBE, have astral foreplay, and astral sex. Again, this doesn't make sense to me: When I induce an OBE, it often takes a long time get to the proper state. Yes, on my best day, I have induced an OBE in about a minute, but that was extraordinary: most of the time it takes me 30-45 minutes to get to the proper state. Often I fall off the tightrope of consciousness and have to start all over from scratch. Sometimes I lie in bed for hours (wife permitting!) before I'm successful.

There's another problem with setting an alarm clock (regardless of how long): it's a really bad idea because it's distracting. You're likely to start worrying "Do I still have time?" "Is the alarm going to ring?" and these worries pull your mind away from where it needs to be: focused, with all your thoughts stopped, while still retaining awareness. My advice is: Never set an alarm clock when inducing an OBE.

There's another problem with the concept of using OBEs for sex: Again, it goes back to distraction. To induce an OBE, you need absolute focus. Not concentration (which is doing) but focus (which is being). So if you try to induce an OBE while you're thinking about sex, it will never work; you'll be too distracted. Any "thought" is distraction. It's the same reason it's so difficult to contact a dead loved one during an OBE: Most of the time, you're too distracted by your goal to attain the proper OBE focus. My advice is: set OBE as your focus and nothing more. Focus on inducing the OBE alone. Once you are out of your body, then do whatever you want. Don't think about sex, or dead relatives, or anything else for that matter, until you're already completely out of your body.

The book is not all bad (like the previous one I reviewed!). In fact, there are some good things to be gleaned. For example, she has a decent section about psychic protection (although not as good as Erin Pavlina's book). She seems to have good ethics and cautions the reader not to try any kind of astral sex without the person's consent (for example, no stalking of celebrities.) She also passes on sound advice from William Buhlman in the form of "Clarity Now!" commands.

She also makes some accurate observations. For example, she mentions that it's easier to attain the OBE state after having (physical) orgasm. Although I don't recall it anywhere else in the OBE literature, I can vouch for this.

She also poses some interesting questions, like:
"Is OBE Sex Considered Cheating?" (Page 28).
Her answer is that "Cheating is all in the eyes of the partner." I'll admit it's a difficult question to wrestle with, but I wasn't very satisfied with her answer.

Near the end of the book, she has a section on "OBE Sex Grids" which are various crystals, herbs and even spices, arranged in specific patterns to boost your energy.  She also briefly goes into "sex magic" and the use of herbs, oils, incenses, sachets (charms). Call me closed-minded but I've never really bought into all that. I'll buy into basic energy work (such as Tai Chi, Qi Gong, Kundalini and the like) but I'm just not into potions and crystals.

As a grammar Nazi, I'm obligated to point out that there were several punctuation mistakes. For example, in several places she uses "Chakra's" (possessive) where she meant plural ("Chakras"). I also found one place where she used "there" where she meant "their."

The bottom line: Although the thought of sexual encounters in an OBE is enticing, this book did not live up to my expectations. Although there were some ahem--"creative" (shall we say)--OBE narratives, I was left unconvinced. There just wasn't enough "OBE" in this book.

September 2, 2014

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Review: Dream Yoga, by Samael Aun Weor

Review: Dream Yoga, by Samael Aun Weor


Book Review by Bob Peterson

The last time I went out to amazon.com to search for books on out-of-body experiences and astral projection, I came across this book: Dream Yoga: Consciousness, Astral Projection, and the Transformation of the Dream State. The title was intriguing. I've never really studied Dream Yoga, so this seemed like it might be a good introduction to the topic. Besides, I had to buy it for my OBE book collection anyway.

I almost didn't publish this review. I really don't like to slam other OBE authors for their work; it's just bad form. However, in this case the author died in 1977, so I know I won't hurt his feelings or impact his income. In this case, I feel I don't need to hold back. I have to be completely honest with you: This book is likely the worst book I've ever read on astral projection.

First, the author comes across as condescending, calling the average person "intellectual animals" and such:
"Normally, the consciousness within these intellectual animals mistakenly called humans sleeps profoundly; thus, the moments in which their consciousness is awake are seldom, very seldom. Yes, intellectual animals work, drive cars, marry, die, etc., with their consciousness totally asleep, and it awakens only in very exceptional moments." (page 6).
Second, although the author considers himself a Gnostic (although in no way related to the Gnostic Christians) he just jumps randomly from tradition to tradition without a sense of cohesion. For example, on page 22, he has a picture of a Tree of Life diagram from the Kabbalah, but it's thrown in the middle of a discussion on dreams, and without any explanation why. He jumps from Quetzalcoatl to Buddha to Christ, occasionally throwing out nonsensical references, like this:
"Let us never forget Padre Prado and Bernal Diaz del Castillo who, together, observed with delight the Anahuac priests in Jinn states." (page 90).

In many cases, it seems like the author is just making things up. For example:
"Any prophecy or announcement can especially occur on Wednesdays between 9:00 pm and 3:00 am." (page 134).
To make things worse, the language in the book is overly wordy and obfuscated. For example, take a look at this sentence:
"This makes us see the urgent necessity of understanding the profound meaning of all symbolism which should be deciphered in a very precise way in accordance to our development." (Page 108).
Does that make sense to anyone? It seems like every sentence is at least two to four times as long as it needs to be.

The footprint of the book is tiny to begin with; one of the smallest books I own on the subject. It has a reasonable number of pages, but the book could comfortably fit in your pocket. Plus, if the language was trimmed down to a reasonable level, it would be less than half the size.

In a few of my book reviews, I wrote that I was in complete agreement with the author. This book is the opposite: I disagree with pretty much everything the author says in this book. Take, for example, this quote:
"The wise Law of Contrary Analogies invites us to comprehend that if thirteen subjective and negative states exist during a hypnotic state for the projection of the double, likewise, another thirteen objective and positive states also exist during a healthy and natural projection of the double." (page 152).
Not only does he seem to be making up this "Law of Contrary Analogies," he is also saying that the use of hypnosis for OBE is a negative thing, for exactly thirteen different reasons! (He doesn't enumerate them or say why.) He's also saying there are exactly 13 healthy, natural ways to induce OBE without hypnosis, although he doesn't say what those are either.

Next, he goes on to talk about the astral body:
"The Astral Body is a body of an electronic, Solar nature. The Astral Solar Body has nothing vague, vaporous, or subjective. The Astral Solar Body is a body of bones and flesh; it is made out of the flesh from paradise, not from the flesh that comes from Adam." (page 153.)
I disagree completely; I tend to think of the astral body more in terms of our ingrained body image, as discussed in Fred Aardema's book. The astral body is, in my experience, subjective: You can experience it as a sphere of awareness just as easily as a human-shaped body.

The book gets more outlandish. The author talks about how the astral body must be built or created:
"This issue related with the building of the Astral Body has been, is, and shall always be an absolutely sexual problem...If sexual union of the phallus and the uterus is always necessary in order to engender a physical body, then it is also absolutely logical to state that the sexual act is indispensably necessary in order to engender the Solar Astral Body." (page 154).
So essentially he's saying that you need to have sex in order to build your astral body. Does that remind you of a cult leader or what? It's worse than nonsense, it's disinformation.

Next, he starts rambling about Sexual Hydrogen, element SI-12, developed within the human organism according to the musical scale, DO-RE-MI-FA-SOL-LA-SI. Any student who has taken a high school chemistry class (or music class) would laugh at that. It's nonsense.

I'm sorry, but I've never read a more ridiculous book on the subject, and I cannot recommend it.

19 August 2014

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Ghost Hunting At The Monroe Institute

Ghost Hunting At The Monroe Institute

by Bob Peterson

A couple weeks ago, my wife Kathy and I spent a week at The Monroe Institute taking William Buhlman's OBE (Out of Body Experience) Intensive class. It was great fun, and I wrote about it in my previous blog, but there's more to the story.

Most people don't know this, but in addition to being an OBE author, I'm also a paranormal investigator. I started doing paranormal investigations for a group called MSPR (Minnesota Society for Parapsychological Research) in the early 1980s when I was still attending the University of Minnesota. This was long before the movie "Ghost Busters," which came out in 1984.

Today Kathy and I are in a Minnesota ghost hunting group called Nightweb Paranormal Investigations.

Before the OBE Intensive class, I had heard rumors that people "fly in" out-of-body from all over the world to visit the lab and the huge rose-quartz crystal that sits on the lawn of the complex. So I wondered: Can ghost-hunting equipment detect the astral body of an out-of-body experiencer? Could I detect any paranormal activity (or energy) near the crystal?

So Kathy and I decided to bring some of our ghost hunting equipment to the class. It wasn't much; just a couple voice recorders, a camera, and a K-2, that detects electromagnetic activity.

One day, during our afternoon break, we took the K-2 out to the crystal. We walked around, but didn't detect any electromagnetic anomalies.

When one of the TMI staff found out about all this, she asked us to visit the house she was renting, to do a mini-investigation. It turns out that she was renting one of the houses Robert Monroe had built on Roberts Mountain (he built three).

She sensed some interesting energy at the house. The energy was so strong that she couldn't sleep in any of the rooms. She smudged. She cleared. She was finally able to sleep in one particular bedroom in the corner of the house. The energy was not negative or ghostly; it was just so strong that it made it hard to sleep. Now she asked us to investigate.

So one afternoon, during our afternoon break, we grabbed our ghost hunting equipment and rode home with her.

It was surreal to walk around one of Robert Monroe's homes where he had so many OBEs described in his first book, the book that started my spiritual journey. It was a modest two-story home, now broken into two apartments. We were only allowed into the upper part.

We walked around the place with our voice recorders and K-2, trying to get readings. We didn't find any evidence of ghosts (so maybe the clearing had worked) but I could feel a very strange and powerful energy in that house. I couldn't detect any electromagnetic energy on the K-2, but I could feel powerful vibrations, especially in one area, but no intelligence behind it.

My honest opinion? I think Robert Monroe built that house on top of a powerful energy vortex. I haven't finished going over the evidence, so there may be more to report later. I would have loved to spend a night there, but there simply wasn't time.

Later in the week, a group of us were allowed to go into the OBE lab where many of their experiments are done. People have reported all kinds of paranormal activity there. Our K-2 unit registered what I'm assuming was lots of electromagnetic noise from the lab equipment, but when we got to the isolation booth--which is electromagnetically shielded by a Faraday cage--it registered nothing.

For several minutes, Kathy and I sat in the pitch black isolation booth, trying to make contact with any kind of nonphysical intelligence. There was nothing.

The idea of gathering paranormal evidence at The Monroe Institute is a good one; we just didn't have enough time to do it justice. We spent most of my time focused on the OBE class and its exercises, so we never had time to do further experiments.

I'm not giving up on the idea. Next time we go to The Monroe Institute, I want to bring more sophisticated equipment, like maybe a REM-POD.

05 August 2014

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

William Buhlman OBE Intensive at TMI

William Buhlman OBE Intensive at TMI


by Bob Peterson

Kathy and I just returned from a week-long class at The Monroe Institute (TMI) called "Out-of-Body Experience (OBE) Intensive" taught by William (Bill) Buhlman, author of Adventures Beyond the Body and others. I wanted to share my experiences so people would know what to expect from the class.

My spiritual quest began in 1979 when I read Robert Monroe's book, Journeys Out of the Body. I was thrilled when he started The Monroe Institute to study consciousness beyond the physical and thought about taking TMI classes, but never did. First, they were expensive; for that much money I could (and did!) go to much more exotic places. Second, traditional TMI classes were always about "Focus Levels" and they stated up-front: Don't expect to achieve an OBE, because that's not what they're trying to achieve. Third, I eventually developed my own OBE techniques without TMI, so I didn't need them.

Fast-forward to 2012. I found out that Buhlman had started teaching an OBE Intensive class at TMI. It sounded fun, but it still seemed like an unnecessary expense. Plus, my wife Kathy had no interest in OBE at the time and I didn't want to sit around alone in a classroom full of strangers without her. Besides, as a fellow OBE author, I didn't want to step on Bill's toes or butt in on his business.

Then Kathy and I spent the winter of 2014 in Austin, Texas, where we made a great bunch of OBE-oriented friends. One of those friends, Mike, told us he was going to the OBE Intensive class in July. Kathy suggested we both join him. She didn't have to say it twice: we called the Monroe Institute right away. Sadly, the July class was already full. I was bummed.

When I told Mike the bad news, he countered with good news: a friend of his had reserved a place at the class, but now had to back out. If I played my cards right, I could take his place in the class. When I called TMI to make the switch, they told me they were able to fit both Kathy and I into the class. I don't believe in luck, fate or coincidences; I believe in synchronicity, so this all seemed well-planned by a higher power. Somehow it all just magically fell into place.

On Friday, July 11, a TMI representative picked us up at the airport in Charlottesville Virginia and drove us to the TMI campus on Roberts Mountain. As soon as I walked in the door, a man with a sparkle in his eye approached me and said, "Tell me something. Do you believe in coincidences?" I said, "Well, actually, no I don't. I believe our higher selves plan our lives very carefully." The man said, "I signed up for this class three months ago." He pulled a piece of paper out of his pocket and showed me the proof. Then he turned the paper over and showed me his signature. My jaw dropped. It was Ian, a long-time friend and supporter of my books for many years. To protect his privacy, he never posted photos of himself, so I never knew what he looked like. Now suddenly, we met face-to-face at TMI. All I could say was "Wow!" That higher power really pulled some strings!

We were given a short tour of the facility and shown to our room, which included our two CHEC units: individual enclosed beds where we did all our OBE exercises.

We only had to follow a few rules, such as: No alcohol, be respectful, and reduce our technology as much as possible. I checked my email occasionally, my facebook rarely, and I didn't even carry my cell phone. I only used my laptop to keep a journal of what we did. I'm a music lover, so giving up my music was definitely a hardship, but I think it helped.

There were 24 people in the class, from all backgrounds and walks of life, from the shy to the boisterous, from the mystic to the geek. There was a real sense of camaraderie and adventure. By the end of the class, many of us became good friends, because we had the common bond of OBEs, which is--let's face it--weird by most people's standards.

Our schedule was...well...OBE intensive: wake up at 7:00am, optional yoga at 7:20am, breakfast at 8:00am. Starting at 9:00am, we alternated between dialogue and OBE exercises. Sometimes Bill's assistant, Patty, would also lead us through energy exercises, chakra tuning, stretching and so forth. Lunch was at 1:00pm, followed by a two-hour lunch break. Then we resumed our dialogue and exercises at 4:00pm. Dinner was at 6:30pm, and after that, we were back at it. We usually didn't quit until 10:30pm. We often did OBE meditation seven or eight times a day. After that, many people chatted and shared experiences, but I just went back to my room to write in my journal.

The dialogue consisted of three parts: First, Bill would ask the participants to share what they had experienced during the previous exercise. Second, he and Patty would answer questions and talk about different aspects of OBE. Lastly, Bill would explain the next exercise and we'd be given 5 to 10 minutes to get back to our CHEC units to make the next attempt. Every CHEC unit has a "ready" switch to signal when the participants were ready for the exercise, which were often done under headphones.

The talks were great, and included a wide variety of OBE-related topics: psychic protection, planes of existence, astral and etheric bodies, death, lucid dreaming, Shamans, drugs (like DMT and galantamine), religion and the afterlife and, of course, OBE tips and techniques. I was in 100% agreement with Bill, and his experience meshed perfectly with mine.

Here are a few of my favorite quotes from Bill's talks:
"There's not a man-made belief that isn't flawed."
"Try to stay calm when all hell breaks loose." (i.e. when the vibrations come, etc.)
"Personal responsibility is about energy responsibility." (Both in OBE and in waking life).
"What is your state of consciousness? That's the only thing that matters. We must take total control. Drop looking to the external for negativity. Each of us is creating our own lessons."
"You've got to get out of your head." (In other words, you can't over-analyze it. You've got to leave that head-space. It's better to feel than to think. I call it being passive.)
Of course, Bill emphasized his signature techniques for gaining clarity and lucidity: "Clarity Now!" or "Awareness Now!" He talked about the importance of being forceful and using "Now" in your request. He also suggested some great experiments like "Higher Self Now!" He also had countless amusing stories and creative ideas, like "Balance my karma now!"

Bill had us do a wide variety of OBE exercises; it was a very good sampling. As much as I'd love one recipe that can induce an OBE in everybody, it doesn't work that way. Different people respond to different things. An exercise that works for one person is often incompatible with someone else. For example, I'm highly resistant to hypnosis, so those methods don't help me. Because every exercise was different, there wasn't enough time or consistency to produce many OBEs at the facility. The idea was for everyone to try a sampling so everyone learns what works for them. Then, upon returning home, they practice it for 30 days to develop their OBE skill.

Some of the exercises were more visual (e.g. visualization techniques), some auditory (e.g. binaural beats), and some more tactile (e.g. to induce rocking or floating sensations). Some exercises included TMI's hemi-sync technology and some didn't. Some had binaural beats and some didn't. Some had hypnotic induction and some didn't. We also tried a relatively new technology developed at TMI called SAM (Spacial Angle Modulation). Some of the early exercises included setting intentions. We would visualize carving our intent into a block of granite, such as "Now I have a conscious OBE."

We also did a lot of what I think of as bonus exercises. For example, everyone received a cheap reminder-bracelet that says, "Am I Dreaming?" to reinforce lucidity through our habits. Also, in the middle of the night, hemi-sync played lightly on speakers in our CHEC units and every twenty minutes, it would make a "ping" sound, which might trigger lucidity in some people.

But that's not all. Every day, in the early morning hours, Bill would come on the speakers and wake us up in an attempt to perform "Wake Back To Bed" (WBTB) exercises. It was never a rude awakening. It was just a simple, "Please begin your OBE exercise now" but you'd never know when he'd wake you. Sometimes he did it twice in the same night, which made a lot of people tired the next morning. I remember one particular morning after Bill had woken us up twice. I slung my feet off the bed of my CHEC unit and held my head in my hands, trying to gather my wits. When Kathy poked her head out, she saw me and said, "Oh my God. Are you okay? What's wrong?" I told her, "I'm just tired. I keep saying, 'Coffee Now!' but it's not working!"

Don't get me wrong: It wasn't all hard work. It was also lots of fun. We spent lots of time listening to Bill's OBE stories and world view. He and I are so much alike, it's scary. Many times we all (including Bill) laughed so hard our sides began to ache. He often playfully bantered with some of the staff and also the Canadians in the class.

The facility is all-inclusive, which means they provide all the food and drinks. The food was good (not fabulous), offering choices for meat-eaters and vegetarians alike. It wasn't new-age hummus and tofu. That's not Bill's style. It was tacos, pizza and baked fish, vegetables and salads. Breakfasts were often big, complete with scrambled eggs, bacon, sausage and veggie-sausage, juices, and all.

There were enough bathrooms and showers for everyone. One of the bathrooms was out of order and they put up a sign on the door that read "OBE: Out of Bathroom Experience (Thank you for your patience)."

At the end of the class, we were all given handouts, a certificate of course completion, and three CDs with different exercises and/or sounds to help us maintain the momentum we had gained.

Here's a picture of Kathy, Mike, Me, Bill and Patty, near the crystal:


Now you're probably wondering: Did I have an OBE using the exercises? It depends on your criteria. Many times I got very close to an OBE state; I got onto that "balance-beam of consciousness", only to fall off. Several other times I felt my consciousness shift a good two inches one direction or another. Another time, I felt my awareness expand until it was about six feet (two meters) wide. One time it seemed like my astral arms became detached from my physical arms, but not the rest of me. There was also an exercise in which my awareness was literally sucked forward about six feet out, then I was zapped back into my body. I managed to do this at least four times during the exercise. So yes, I consider these all a success, even though none of them came close to rivaling the more involved OBEs from my first two books.

But what about a beginner? Did an newbie like Kathy have an OBE? During one of the rolling techniques, she actually rolled astrally away from her body and felt a falling sensation. It may not be much, but it's a start, especially for someone who's just starting on her OBE journey.

I highly recommend this class for anyone interested in developing OBE skills, but you better not wait too long: these classes fill up nearly a year in advance. The problem is, Bill has a contract with TMI to teach a certain number of these classes, and that contract is running out. I suppose he might renew his contract when it expires, but let's face it: Bill is at retirement age now, and due to his throat cancer, his voice doesn't have the lasting- power it once had. You can't just assume the class will be taught next year, because you never know.

July 23, 2014

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Review: Spirit Guided Lucid Dreaming by Nick Barrett

Spirit Guided Lucid Dreaming


by Nick Barrett
 Book Review by Bob Peterson

Author Nick Barrett was kind enough to send me a copy of his book, Spirit Guided Lucid Dreaming and I recently finished it. I had heard of Nick before, from facebook. Whenever I saw his name, it would unconsciously bring to mind a silly song by Alestorm titled "Barrett's Privateers". (Alestorm is a Scottish heavy metal band that sings about pirates and their misdeeds. It's not even one of Alestorm's better songs; "Keelhauled" is much better.) So without knowing anything about him, I had already envisioned Nick Barrett dressed like a pirate. When I looked in the back of the book for the section titled "About the Author", I found a photo of him, and guess what? He does kind of look like a pirate! Yar har!
Okay, enough silliness.

This book, which I'll abbreviate SGLD, was a bit of an emotional roller-coaster for me. It's not just the OBE- versus-Lucid-Dream thing; it's the subject of spirits in general. Sure, if you can harness the power of spirits (or your spirit guide), it can be a big step in your spiritual evolution (spoiler: that seems to be the whole point of the book). Yet anyone who's read my book, Answers Within, knows that I've always been cautious, paranoid, and even downright mistrusting of "spirits." At the same time, I still developed a very close rapport with my "inner voice." For years I struggled with whether my inner voice was external--a "spirit"--or whether it was part of my own psyche; a communications channel to my higher self. After many years of hard work, my inner voice has earned my trust, but spirits in general are another matter. So let's talk about spirits.

Some overly religious people say that what we do--out-of-body experiences, astral projection, lucid dreaming, and the like--are all tricks of the devil. They say that we're surrounded by demons and devils (spirits?) whispering in our ears, trying to lead us into sin. This is complete nonsense, I know, but it's something I've heard my whole life, so I've always approached spirits with extreme caution.

My distrust of spirits also comes, in part, from my Catholic upbringing. Having read the Bible, I knew full well that it forbids interacting with spirits. For example, Leviticus chapters 19 and 20 forbids communicating with them. Of course, I'm not so sure how seriously we should take Leviticus; it forbids a lot of things people do today, such as body piercing or even shaving the wrong way, while at the same time it seems to condone slavery. Nonetheless, it affected me when I was young and impressionable.

There's another reason why I'm paranoid about spirits: I'm also a paranormal investigator; a ghost hunter. I first started doing ghost investigations around 1980 when I was at the University of Minnesota. Today I'm an active member of a team called Nightweb Paranormal Investigations. Ghost hunters are a lot like cops: cops often become jaded because they only see the negative side of society. That also adds to my distrust of ghosts and spirits.

So yes, I'll admit I am very jaded and overly cautious when it comes to spirits. That's my problem, my limitation, not Nick Barrett's, and I've always been that way. And it did affect how I viewed this book.

In my out-of-body travels, I've basically encountered two types of spirits: ordinary spirits, and helpers (or "guides").

Spirits in the first group are just like you and me: ordinary people who have crossed over--died--and that makes them no better or worse than us. You can see them, talk to them, and they go about their business like ordinary people. They may have different perspectives than us foolish incarnates, but they have their own motivations and values. Like ordinary people, they may have good intentions or bad. They may want to help us or harm us. They need to earn our trust.

The other kind of spirits are the helpers, or guides. They seem to have a strict non-interference policy, and won't do anything unless you ask. If you ask, they're always willing to help. They can take you anywhere, show you anything, and they'll gladly answer your questions. But the strange thing is: they're always invisible, at least to me. Over the years, I've come to trust these invisible guides because they have always shown spiritual motivations, spiritual intentions, and spiritual lessons.

Now getting back to SGLD: When Nick Barrett talks about his spirit guide, he talks about someone he can see (at least in his lucid dreams) and that makes me think of the first kind of spirit, which makes me automatically cast and eye of suspicion and mistrust. Sadly (for me), this is the mindset I had going in to the book.

My first impression of the book was the image on the front cover, which made me feel very defensive. It looks like a teenage girl, kind of goth, and she's embraced by a ghostly white figure. I'm sure this is supposed to look angelic, and I'm sure the spirit is surrounding her with loving protection. It's a powerful image (and good artwork!) But to me--paranoid about spirits--it seemed downright eerie. A normal person might think this girl is all "I'm loved. I'm guided. I'm protected." But I was thinking, "This girl is in the clutches of a ghost! Somebody help her!" Yet diving in, Barrett sets good expectations on the very first page of his foreword:
"...Paradoxically speaking, this voice is already a part of your higher self. The higher self is incredibly wise and has ascended to the celestial domain eons ago. A cosmic guru if you will, that has been evolving for thousands and thousands of years. This voice is, in fact, you and the essence is from an omnipresent source. Although it may appear that its energies could be located outside of your being, this is not the case. The spirit or higher-self part of your spiritual makeup knows you extremely well, overseeing your every thought, action and dream..." (pg. 7)
"When you and your higher self come together consciously, the connection becomes stronger and unbreakable..." (pg. 7)
Then, at the very end of the book, page 126, he reiterates his position:
"The help and guidance you seek is within you right now and has always been there, even as you're finishing this book! Your spirit guide is always present, and is internally within you, not outside of you. The spirit is you, and you will always be spirit. It is one and the same." (pg 126)
From this discussion, it sounds like Barrett is talking about his "inner voice," not about a "spirit" as an external entity. Yes, I realize that picture is colored by my own worldview, but that makes me feel more comfortable with the idea. Elsewhere in the book, he's not so clear; his spirit guide acts like a separate person.

My spirit paranoia reared its ugly head again when Barrett used language like this:
"...Low self-esteem became a barrier and I thought way too much of what others may (or may not) be thinking. This demon within me affected my relationships, my career and my close friendships." (pg. 30)
Now, I absolutely know at an intellectual level that Barrett's talking about the problem of low self-esteem as having been his inner demon. But just the language, "demon within me," made me all paranoid and defensive. It conjures up negative images in my mind. Another example:
"Then I met my spirit guide. All of my inner fears and demons came to the surface and showed themselves to me." (pg. 31)
Again, I know what he's is trying to say. It can be quite enlightening to face yourself and your fears. But the way he said it just made me defensive. Here's another example:
"I can safely say that my life truly began to be awakened when I finally sealed the bond with my spirit guide." (pg. 44)
I firmly believe in cooperation and trust, especially with my inner voice. I enlist the help of the "guides" all the time in my own OBEs. But "sealed the bond" sounds too final, too immutable. It sounds a bit too much like writing contracts with the Devil or something. I know it's meant to be innocent. My intellect interprets the words correctly, but the wording just brings too many negative emotions to my spirit-distrusting mind. I would have chosen different words.

Another problem I had with the book was a slight lack of organization. It wasn't anything major, it was just little things. For example, on page 68, Nick uses the acronym "WBTB" but it isn't spelled out as "Wake Back To Bed" until page 71. If you're already familiar with the genre, no problem. Other readers might feel a bit lost.

But don't let me give you the wrong impression. I enjoyed this book a lot. It intrigued me, partly because of my spirit-paranoia, and partly because of my own relationship with my inner voice.

There were a lot of good things in there to talk about. For example, Barrett talks about spirituality being more important than religion, and I agree wholeheartedly. Nick's spirituality is not unlike my own; it seems more Taoist than anything, and that really resonates with me. The Tao Te Ching is one of my favorite books of all time. Plus, Taoist philosophy is unusual and refreshing in the genre. I've actually described my own personal philosophy as somewhere between "Seth Speaks" and "Taoism."

Here's something else I liked: On page 17, he writes:
"Selling my television was the best decision I ever made." (pg. 17.)
That right there gave me a lot of respect for Nick Barrett. He goes on:
"I took long walks out into nature not knowing where the trail ended and connected to Mother Earth's beauty. Old friendships an acquaintances that were not in accordance to my higher self gradually diminished. I documented my dream entries daily..." (pg.17)
Man, did that ever sound familiar! In Answers Within, I wrote about how I developed my inner voice, often by taking long walks in nature. It seems that Nick Barrett and I have a lot in common.

Where this book really shines is the techniques. He has a good long section of useful techniques that are different from most books in the genre. Much of this assumes a working knowledge of conventional lucid dreaming techniques, but he goes the extra mile with some really creative ideas. He even talks about lucid nightmares, which was fascinating. (Nightmares often cause me to become lucid, but I always dispel the illusion of the dream environment and find myself out-of-body.)

Another plus: His discussion of polyphasic sleep is fascinating and unique in the genre.

He also talks about synchronicity and seeing numbers: He often sees the number 8 everywhere, and he talks about its spiritual significance to him. My experiences and philosophy are very similar, but I always see the number 414. I was born on April 14, and I see that number constantly. Just last weekend I saw a police car with number 414 painted on it, and received a phone call from a guy whose phone number ended in 0414. But I digress...

From reading this book, I get the impression that most of Nick Barrett's spirituality was self-taught, much like Graham Nicholls and me. Nick has developed an unprecedented level of cooperation with spirit, whether you want to call that your "inner voice" or your "spirit guide." It's interesting then, how similar our home-spun philosophies are.

As to the content: The book is 127 pages, with decent-sized pages and a small enough font, which means it has a good amount of content, unlike some of the ultra-thin books in the genre. The spelling is stellar, but the grammar, not so much (but not bad for a pirate!). It has good information and good techniques. It has some personal experiences, but I would have liked many more. Barrett says he has benefited greatly from his relationship with his spirit guide, but in my opinion, there were too few narrations of his spiritual adventures in the book.

If you're not spirit-paranoid (or if you can use logic to overcome it), you can get a lot out of this book. All in all, this is a good book, and I do recommend it, though I do wish he had worded things a bit differently at times.

Bob Peterson
July 10, 2014