Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Review: How Enlightenment Changes Your Brain

How Enlightenment Changes Your Brain

by Andrew Newberg and Mark Robert Waldman

I haven't written a book review since July. I feel bad, but there are two reasons: First, I didn't read much this summer; I was swamped with other things. I always read more in the winter (Kathy works for H&R Block, which goes from January to April, and when Kathy works, Bob has more time to read!) Second, I did a few polls to ask whether people would rather have OBE articles or OBE book reviews, and the overwhelming response was for the articles.

A funny thing happened with this book. I started reading it last March. I got 98 percent of the way done, but when I got to the "good chapters" at the end, I stopped. Why? I wanted to go through them slowly and carefully, but I never found the time until late December.

This book is not about OBEs. It's more geared toward brain and consciousness research, and for that reason, I almost didn't do a book review. Still, it takes a completely unique approach to altered states of consciousness (as opposed to traditional OBE books), and I liked that. The book is an approach to "enlightenment" and altered states of consciousness from the point of view of a neuroscientist or a brain scientist, so in a way, that's even better. In fact, I liked the book so much, I flagged a lot of pages. That means a long book review (sorry!), but one full of good exercises, which I hope makes up for it.

First, the authors tried to define enlightenment. They broke it into two categories: big "E" (Enlightenment) and little "e" (enlightenment). The little "e" is for "eureka" moments of insight. The big "E" is for life-changing experiences that completely rewire your brain and alter your way of thinking: radical transformation. They' are not talking about experiences of divine oneness, unity, Nirvana, or Satori. They're talking about radical rewiring of the brain: The difference between an ordinary person and a person like Buddha or Christ.

The authors studied the enlightenment experiences and altered states of several groups of people, such as Buddhist meditators, Franciscan nuns, mediums, and Pentecostals. They had some fascinating observations. For example:
"What makes these experiences so different from contemplative meditation is the time factor. In our studies from Franciscan nuns and Buddhist meditators, it takes about fifty to sixty minutes to create these same kind of neurological changes. The Pentecostals and mediums took far less time, sometimes only minutes, to enter such altered states. This suggests that it may be very easy to prep the brain for transformation simply by picking up a pen and asking for advice from an entity or sage, living or dead, imaginary or real. By giving up habitual control, we may gain access to deeper wisdom within and beyond the boundary of everyday consciousness." (pg. 120)
For example:
"Another interesting finding arose from our research on automatic writing. My Brazilian colleagues analyzed what was actually written during the psychography practice and during normal writing. The results showed that the written content was much more complex during psychography. This is fascinating because you would think that more complex writing would require more activity in the usual language areas [of the brain.] But somehow the experienced mediums were able to produce more richness and variation--much like how a great poet composes a line of verse--even without the usual language areas." (pg. 122)
Later in the book (page 220) the authors give instructions on how to do automatic writing.

Some of their findings are surprising, but they match both my experience and my understanding from other research and self-study I've done. For example, it might be tempting to think that enlightenment might be associated with increased (or decreased) activity in a certain region of the brain, like the pre-frontal cortex. But their research suggests that enlightenment is associated with a sudden drop in activity in the pre-frontal cortex.

I can't stress this enough, so I'm going to repeat it in bold type:

Enlightenment is associated with a sudden drop in activity in the pre-frontal cortex.

I've read brain research papers that suggest OBEs are also associated with a similar drop. So it's not the activity, or lack thereof, but the drop itself that's important. This is a revolutionary concept, and we can definitely use that to harness not only enlightenment, but OBEs and other mystical states. It's as easy as this:
  1. Increase the activity in your brain's pre-frontal cortex using some kind of brain and body exercises, then:
  2. Cause a sudden drop in frontal lobe activity. And the authors give clear instructions how to accomplish that.
The book suggests several exercises and practices to produce these altered states. Often, these are given in easy step-by-step instructions, corresponding with different levels of achievement. For example:
 "Step 3. Now for the fun part: write down the craziest sentence you can think of. Imagine that you are a lunatic, or stoned, or drunk, and write down something ridiculous (for example, there's an elephant wearing a diaper sitting in my refrigerator). Keep writing down crazy, wild, silly sentences until you feel a sense of abandonment. It doesn't matter if you scribble gibberish or make up meaningless words. You are now exercising Level 4, creative imagination. This, by the way, is a common warm-up exercise used by many writers to break through writer's block." (pg. 124)
This quote struck home for me:
"...Now think about an issue or problem you are currently struggling with, and imagine that you are someone else--the world's greatest problem solver, like Freud or Einstein, or Harry Potter--and begin to write a response to your problem as if you were that other person." (pg. 125)
What's remarkable about that quote is it's almost exactly what I was doing when I first learned to speak to my inner voice, as described in detail in my book Answers Within. In fact, later in the book (in the context of learning to do automatic writing) they suggest exactly what I did that first time, right down to the letter:
 "If you still don't hear anything, ask yourself, 'What would ___________ say?" and fill in the blank with someone--alive or dead--who you consider knowledgeable and wise." (pg. 222)
Needless to say, this got my attention! Later in the book, they also talk about your inner voice and how it relates:
"Listening to your inner voices increases frontal lobe activity, but the exercises in the next chapter turn them off. In order to create the greatest neurological shift, we recommend doing mindfulness immediately before and after the intense practices we are about to describe." (pg. 208)
One of the exercises the book suggests is called Dhikr, which is an ancient Sufi practice, like a meditation or a prayer. I think I've mentioned elsewhere that the Sufis are an order of mystics from the religion of Islam. The most famous Sufi was Rumi, who is often quoted in New Age circles. Here is an example Dhikr meditation from another famous Sufi mystic, Hafez:
"I ruminate on God
And my old self falls away.
Am I a Christian, a Hindu, a Muslim, a Buddhist, or a Jew?
I do not know for Truth has set fire to these words.
Now they are nothing but ashes.
I ruminate on God
And my old self falls away.
Am I a man, a woman, an angel, or even a pure soul?
I do not know for Love has melted these words away.
Now I am free of all these images
That haunted my busy mind. (Hafez)." (pg. 164)
According to their research:
"Throughout history, spontaneous experiences of Enlightenment have happened to people in every culture. And as we have seen in previous chapters, many different states of consciousness can provide paths toward higher state of consciousness (Levels 5 and 6 in our Spectrum). But our research suggests that people who actively seek Enlightenment are far more likely to experience it than those who don't believe in the concept." (pg. 165)
Let me be honest here: A lot of the book is boring, even to me. Still, it has several very interesting ideas and new approaches to mystical states, and that makes it all worthwhile.
"But when we ask our students and subjects to listen to their intuition, we are guiding them into Level 4, creative imagination. The same person will often "hear" or receive a different definition, like this: 'I see enlightenment as a ball of light filling my consciousness.' or 'Enlightenment, for me, means to be free of my past.' Then, by reflecting on both the logical and intuitive answers, you engage in a more comprehensive form of self-observation associated with Level 5 awareness, where the brain processes information visually and symbolically rather than with abstract concepts and words. Sometimes this exercise alone can lead to a small 'e' enlightenment experience." (pg. 167)
According to the authors, it's important to want to change:
"First, you must genuinely desire insight and change, knowing that it could shake up some of your most cherished beliefs." (pg. 194)
It's always tempting to keep doing what you're doing and not change, because:
"...the human brain doesn't like ambiguity or surprises. It's willing to go after pleasurable experiences, but anything new and intense stimulates the danger circuits in your brain that are designed to shut down the higher states of consciousness, creativity, and imagination. But once you understand the process of resistance, it's easier to overcome. (pg. 196-197)
As far as trying a life-changing transformation for yourself, they recommend specific steps. Step 1 is "The desire to change and the life transformation inventory." Basically, you use your own memories to prepare your brain for positive change:
"Visualize all of the past events that in some small or large way made your life feel more meaningful and purposeful. Think about books you have read that changed your outlook on life, or a teacher that showed you a side of yourself you had not recognized. Think about the people who have inspired you, or opened your heart, or taught you how to feel more connected to yourself and others. Deeply recall previous spiritual insights along with those 'aha' moments that occurred while studying something new." (pg. 199)
Be cautious about negativity and counter it with something positive:
"As Barbara Fredrickson and other research psychologists discovered, if you want to build optimism and self-confidence, you have to maintain a 'positivity ratio,' where every negative feeling or thought needs to be offset by a minimum of three positive ones." (pg. 202)
Step 2 is "Preparing your body and mind." Here's where things get interesting:
"Super-slow movement will increase frontal lobe activity, but the following exercise, which involves relaxing your mind, will cause it to drop (remember, the greater the change, the more powerful the experience). (pg. 204)
So that might explain why slow-motion exercises like Tai Chi Chuan can help produce mystical states like OBEs (Remember that I practiced Tai Chi for 7 years and still do some of the exercises today).
"Very slow movements also rapidly increase frontal lobe activity, and if you do this before and after the more intense exercises described in the next chapter (which decrease neural activity), you'll generate more powerful shifts in consciousness." (pg. 205)
Here's another surprising finding: yawning can help change your state of consciousness.
"Try this yawning exercise right now and notice how it changes your conscious awareness of your body and the environment. Begin by slowly yawning ten times, even if you don't feel like it. Fake the first few ones, making a sighing sound as you exhale, and soon you'll naturally begin to yawn." (pg. 204)
Here's another exercise that I found very interesting:
"...All you need is a white sheet of paper. You can place it on your desk, or tape it to the wall, placing your chair in a way that you can comfortably look at it.
   First, close your eyes, relax, and bring yourself in the present moment by paying attention to the natural rhythm of your breathing. Do this for several minutes, and then open your eyes and gaze at the paper using your fullest concentration. Explore it and study as many details as you can: the edge, the size, the whiteness of the paper, etc." (pg. 218)
That reminded me of an exercise I sometimes do where I stare past an image on my computer monitor with my eyes open. Somehow I can go into a somewhat deep trance just by doing that. If I close my eyes, I'm knocked out of the trance.

Another exercise they suggest to "lower frontal lobe activity" is used by a lot of proficient meditators, including Jurgen Ziewe, which is repeating the sound of "Om" or "Aum" (One of my favorite meditations is Ziewe's "The Far Countries: Multi-Dimensional Man" meditation.)

They give several good suggestions, including things like Tai Chi.
"You now have a 'formula' for consciously raising and lowering activity in different parts of your brain, and if you alternate between slow and fast movements, slow and rapid breathing, and reciting sounds in either a melodic or monotone way, you can create the greatest increases and decreases in neural activity. You can, at will, deepen your consciousness or obliterate it, stimulate your brain or calm it down, thus giving you more conscious control over your feelings, emotions, and thoughts." (pg 226)
Jason Kish recently posted in one of the Astral Projection groups on Facebook that he recommends taking several rapid, deep breaths before lying down. That definitely fits. "Breathe deeply and relax completely" are the opening words of one of William Buhlman's guided OBE meditations.

On page 228, the authors give instructions for what they question might be "The most powerful ritual in the world?" It involves combining several elements of rituals, such as:
  • Rhythmic body movements (like Tai Chi, Hatha yoga, or Qi Gong)
  • Repetition of a meaningful word or phrase (like mantras)
  • Counting your breaths
  • Intense concentration and immersion in the experience
  • Meaningful sounds
Do this for 10 to 50 minutes to reach a high level of intensity in which:
"...you might feel strong emotions or tingling sensations in different parts of your body. When you reach this point, begin to slow everything down: your breathing, your movements, your chanting, etc. You can even go super-slowly, noticing the tiny shifts in feelings and sensations. This will increase neural activity, and it is during this swing between high and low neural activity that Enlightenment experiences are most likely to occur. Don't spend more than an hour, and when you've finished your ritual, do another series of relaxation exercises." (pg. 229)
The authors also stressed that intention is important. You need to intend to have a mystical experience. The good news is that:
"I believe that Enlightenment is absolutely attainable by anyone. In fact, if the human brain is built to explore and understand our world, it would seem that the movement toward Enlightenment is an essential drive within every brain." (pg. 245)
Perhaps my favorite quote in the book is from one of the author's students, who made this observation:
"We are all like un-popped popcorn sitting in the bottom of a pot on a stove. Then the heat of transformation is turned up. One person will pop first, and just like a bag of popcorn, everyone else will be encouraged to pop." (pg. 248)
In other words, this isn't necessarily a solitary journey. By raising your level of consciousness, you affect the people around you and raise theirs as well. There's value in doing these exercises in groups.

I really liked this book because it's scientific, logical, no-nonsense, and gives outside-the-box exercises for radical transformation of consciousness. Some of it was slow, but I'll give it 4 out of 5 stars.

BTW, I'm still working on read Nanci Trivelatto's book and hope to review that next. But it's big and I'm still only halfway through it.

Bob Peterson
09 January 2018

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

"I Really Have Trouble With Visualization"

"I Really Have Trouble With Visualization"


By Bob Peterson

Let's face it. Most of the techniques for inducing an out-of-body experience rely heavily on visualization: You're supposed to visualize your front door (William Buhlman,) a tunnel (Salvatore Scordato), energy moving (Robert Bruce), a swinging octahedron (Robert Peterson. Hey, that's me!), an expanding energy ball (Graham Nicholls), or any number of things. But a lot of people have trouble with visualization.

In this article I want to give you some alternatives, some advice, and strategies to overcome this obstacle so you can start exploring the out-of-body state.

Strategy #1: try to "pretend" or "imagine" more than "visualize"

A lot of people get hung up on the word visualization. They think they need to actually "see" their intended target as clearly as they do with their physical eyes. While that's an ideal to strive for, it's not entirely necessary. All you really need to do is imagine intensely.

I'm not saying that OBEs are imaginary (See my article OBE: Imagination vs. Experience). All I'm saying is that if you use your imagination vividly, that might be enough to trick yourself into the OBE or pre-OBE state.

If you're in a relaxed and focused state, vivid imagination can unexpectedly take on a sudden vivid and realistic quality, so the problem takes care of itself.

I can't speak for women, but I'm pretty sure most men are pretty good at imagining sexual encounters. So redirect that ability to something more OBE-oriented, like a tunnel with a light at the end.

Strategy #2: Use imagined sounds instead of sights

Many years ago, after college, I had a roommate named John who invented an OBE trick he used once or twice: Instead of visualizing an object, he used imaginary sound. He imagined a song was playing that he knew really well. For example, Stairway to Heaven by Led Zeppelin. He tried to recreate the entire song in his imagination note-for-note. At some point in the song, the vibrations hit and he was able to leave his body.

Strategy #3: Use "tactile imagination"

This strategy was invented by Robert Bruce, author of Astral Dynamics. Bruce was inspired to create his "Rope technique" when a blind man asked him for an alternative technique. The technique hinges on using your imagination to feel the sensations of climbing a rope: imagine the rope's course texture in your hands, how it digs into your skin, how your hands grasp around it, etc. So just pretend you close your non-physical eyes and keep them closed, then climb up that imaginary rope blindly, using the sense of touch alone.

Strategy #4: Harness the hypnagogic (pre-sleep) state

The hypnagogic state is the state we naturally enter right before we fall asleep. The vast majority of people are unconscious before they hit the hypnagogic state on their way to sleep, but without too much effort, you can learn to retain conscious awareness into that state.

In the hypnagogic state, you will naturally start to experience very realistic hallucinations. These are often short bursts of imagination that come from the subconscious. In my experience, these are mostly hallucinated sights and sounds: You may hear a very realistic voice saying part of a conversation, or you may see an object float by your closed eyelids. It seems totally random: it might be big like a pencil, medium-sized like a car, or very big, like a football stadium.

So with this strategy, you edge yourself bit by bit toward sleep, being careful to retain awareness (not fall asleep) into the hypnagogic state, then wait for a visual hallucination to cross your field of vision. You use your imagination to grab onto that image and try to control it consciously. Then you start swinging that object back and forth to gain momentum, eventually riding that momentum to propel you away from your body.

Don't be surprised if the hypnagogic object dissolves and disappears when you try to grab it. I'll often "drop" five or six objects before I'm able to grab one and make it stable.

This is the main OBE technique I use. I made this article, along with a video, to describe it: Video: Bob Peterson's OBE Technique

Strategy #5: Harness the hypnopompic (post-sleep) state

This is what author Michael Raduga suggests. The hypnopompic state is similar to the hypnagogic state, but it consists of mostly visual and auditory hallucinations when we come out of sleep rather than when we go into sleep.

There are several advantages to using the hypnopompic state rather than the hypnagogic:
  • Your body is already completely relaxed from sleep and in the perfect state
  • You're just emerging from REM sleep, so your brain's visual hallucination circuits are already activated.
  • You're less likely to fall asleep because you just completed a sleep cycle.

Strategy #6: Keep a dream journal

When you wake up in the morning, before you even get out of bed, try to stop and remember what you were dreaming and jot down a few words to trigger your memory. Later that day, when you have more time, try to flesh out the details. The dreams themselves aren't important. What's important is that when you keep a dream journal, you train yourself to retain those mostly visual memories from your subconscious to your conscious mind. And that will help you conjure up visual images for your OBE exercises.

If you can't remember your dreams, try taking a "Super B Complex" vitamin before bed, or a Vitamin B-6 supplement for a couple days. Don't take more than one, because it can damage your body if you take too much. I often remember more dreams when I stop (not start) using vitamin B-6. Also, before you go to sleep, tell yourself "Tomorrow morning, I'm going to remember my dreams."

Strategy #7: Read more stories

When you watch television or a video, you feed your brain with visual and auditory information. When you read a story, you feed your brain with words, but your brain is forced to interpret the words. In doing that, it often conjures up visual images, however short in duration, of the scenes portrayed in the story. This is good exercise for your brain. It keeps your brain's visualization centers strong. Bonus points for reading OBE narratives instead of fiction.

It all goes back to this: If one OBE technique doesn't work, try something different. You are trying to trick your brain into letting go of its rigid sense-driven interpretation of physical reality and become open to a new set of data. These techniques, in various combinations, can help you achieve that goal.

Bob Peterson
12 December 2017

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Self-Labeling and Self-Talk

Self-Labeling and Self-Talk

by Bob Peterson

I've said it many times: your subconscious mind can take you out-of-body very quickly and efficiently. If my subconscious wants it to happen, boom, it takes 10 seconds, whereas normally I might struggle for more than an hour to force my conscious mind into the proper state. That's the power of the subconscious.

In past articles, I've talked about how important it is to impress your desire for OBEs onto your subconscious mind and how the subconscious is not a mindless drone subservient to the conscious will, but rather, a highly intelligent and cooperative second self.
 
There's a well-known phenomenon in psychology called Labeling: people often accept a label that's been placed on them.

Normally that has a bad connotation: If you tell a child he or she is stupid, they'll start to "own" that label and become stupid. Don't do it. It also works in reverse: if you tell a child he or she is artistic or talented, they will take ownership of that too, and pretty soon you've got a very talented child.

Children are especially susceptible to labeling because they haven't solidified their role in the world, and they believe what adults tell them. So be careful about the labels you place on a child; it affects their entire life.

In fact, I can carry this forward and boldly say that labels are a major source of conflict in our society as a whole: they can easily cause divisions between us. For example, if a nightly news anchor a "person" killed another "person" that's an event. But if the same show applies labels and says a "white cop" killed a "black man" that's a form of labeling that creates division. It implies "us" versus "them." That's not to say there isn't a problem. All I'm saying is that, as a society, we shouldn't create divisions. If our children are taught that people are just people, there would be a lot more harmony in this world. If OBEs teach us anything, it's that our physical bodies shouldn't define who we are. But I digress.

It's also very important to control the labels you place on yourself. Learn to "see through" the labels people put on you, and consciously accept or reject them: only you define who you are.

In fact, take it a step further: harness this principle to induce out-of-body experiences: if you want OBEs, label yourself as an OBEr.

I've talked about how I'm highly resistant to hypnosis, so I had to find other more subtle ways to influence my subconscious. I talked about one method in my article Kissing Your Way to OBE. I also talked about it in my article Using OBE Narratives To Induce OBEs and other articles as well. I can't stress it enough.

So another way to influence your subconscious toward OBEs is to label yourself an "Astral Projector," "Out-of-body Traveler," "OBE Explorer," or something similar. I even wrote about this in my Fourteen OBE Letters which pre-dates my first book.

The more you accept the label "Astral Projector" about yourself, the easier it will be to achieve OBEs.

This is harder to accept if you've never had an OBE yourself: you can pretend to claim the title of "OBEr" but you may not really believe it at a subconscious level until you've actually had an OBE or two. Once you've had an OBE, it's easier to claim the title: "I've had an OBE, so that makes me an OBE explorer."

This goes back to a fundamental teaching of Jane Roberts / Seth that says "You create your own reality based on your beliefs." (Later appropriated by other new-age teachers: The Secret, Law of Attraction, etc.) Your subconscious is happy to put your beliefs about yourself into action. So if your subconscious really believes you are an OBE explorer, it will conspire to make it happen.

The same goes for "Self-Talk". This is the inner dialog we all have, and it can be about any little task in life, like cooking a meal. Sometimes it starts out small, like when you think to yourself, "Crap. I screwed that up," but then it escalates to something negative like "I'm no good at this."

Don't do that!

Negative self-talk reinforces the negativity. Whenever you catch yourself doing it, stop and send yourself a positive message: "It's not that I'm bad at this. I'm actually quite talented. I'll do better next time."

Take it a step futher: Use positive, OBE-affirming affirmations every morning as soon as you wake up. "I am an astral traveler."

The subconscious is also heavily influenced by the music you listen to. I wrote about this in my book Answers Within. Even if you fully realize a song is making a negative statement to call out the negativity, it still can influence you in a bad way.

I really disliked most of the "Seattle Sound" music from the 1990s because of its overwhelming negative lyrics. It negatively influenced millions of subconscious minds for years. For example, look at the song "Smells Like Teen Spirit" by Nirvana. It has lyrics like:
"Here we are now, entertain us,
I feel stupid and contagious,
Here we are now, entertain us,
A mulatto, an Albino, A mosquito, my libido, yeah"
Drawing attention to the negativity, and the labels, just reinforces them.

You don't need to say, "Bob, you missed the whole point of the song!" No I didn't. I get it. I know the sentiment of the song.

I grew up with the heavy metal bands of the 1980s. The same can be said for most of those lyrics too. Songs like "Two Minutes to Midnight" by Iron Maiden exaggerate the negativity on purpose: they portray war as an ugly, negative thing (and it is).
 "As the reasons for the carnage cut their meat and lick the gravy,
We oil the jaws of the war machine and feed it with our babies."
Admitting there's a problem is kind of like the first step to recovery, right? But those negative lyrics still influence your subconscious.

Negativity can be impetus for positive change, but that's where its usefulness stops.

So be very careful with the music you listen to and how it influences your subconscious. Try to reduce or eliminate the negative music in your life. Then replace it with positive music.

One of my favorite songs by the group Kansas is Hopelessly Human, and what I like most is its lyrics. Lyrics like:
"No reason to doubt: It's easy somehow what once was illusive is calling me now."

Meditate on that. At the risk of repeating myself, let me reiterate: your subconscious, plus your "higher self," "guardian angels," "spirit guides," and the "Universe" actually conspire to go the direction you give them. Make it a positive direction.

Eliminating negative music from your life doesn't mean you have to give up heavy metal music. There are plenty of loud, fast bands with positive lyrics. Bands like Stratovarius, Masterplan, Arven, and Dream Theater. Even bands with negative lyrics often have occasionally positive songs.

All I'm saying is: analyze the music you listen to and see how it affects you subconsciously. Choose wisely.

So here are four ways you can influence your subconscious for OBEs:
  1. Label yourself as an astral traveler. Accept the label and make it yours.
  2. Watch your inner dialog. Don't accept negative self-talk. When it happens, counter it with positive self-talk.
  3. Give yourself positive affirmations every morning, like "I leave my body easily...It happens all the time." or "I become conscious in my dreams." 
  4. Read OBE-suggestive books and articles, especially ones with OBE narratives.
  5. Listen to music with positive and/or OBE-suggestive lyrics. Songs like:

"The Answer" by Ashes of Ares
"Over the Mountain" by Ozzy Osbourne
"Master of the Wind" by Manowar
"Reach for the Sky" by Slaughter

Bob Peterson
14 November 2017

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

The Guardian on the Threshold

The Guardian on the Threshold


by Bob Peterson

It's Sunday morning and you're lying in bed, trying hard to produce an out-of-body experience. You're in the perfect state, relaxed, focused and single-minded. You're just a hair breath away from an OBE when all of a sudden you hear a familiar voice, convincingly real in every respect. It's your mom, dad, wife, husband, or other voice of authority and they say something like "Come on. Get up! Get out of bed. We've got to go! Right now!" You may even hear banging or knocking on your bedroom door. The sense of urgency is palpable, but what horrible timing! You were almost there, right?

Sometimes the voice may sound angry. "You lazy-ass good-for-nothing. You've been lying around in bed all morning! I've been waiting more than an hour for you to get up. Get the hell out of bed right this minute."

It may appeal to your sense of urgency. "It's your little sister! Something got caught in her throat and she's choking! I need your help! Please hurry!"

Or maybe, "Your boss is on the phone and she sounds pissed. You better get up and take this." You think to yourself, "Why in hell is she calling me on a Sunday morning? How urgent can it be?"

Or maybe you hear loud banging on the door and a booming voice that says, "This is the police. Open up. We've got a warrant to search the premises. Let us in or we'll break the door down."

Or my personal favorite, "The house is on fire! It's a matter of life and death! You've got to get up right now!"

Finally, with a deep sigh, you abort the OBE attempt and get out of bed to see what's so damn urgent. Then you discover there's nobody there. Nobody is at the door. Nobody is on the phone. The house is not burning down. There is no emergency.

You were pranked.

The Shadow Man

It can be much more menacing than just a voice. More sinister versions probably stem from episodes of ASP (Awareness during Sleep Paralysis) in which your subconscious fears and insecurities are manifested as very realistic hallucinations, like:
  • An old hag who wants to sit on you (known as "hagging").
  • A sexual demon (incubus or succubus) who comes to rape you in your paralyzed and helpless condition.
  • A dark menacing shadow figure whose face is not quite visible.
These are all basically the same thing. This is a phenomenon known as the "Dweller" or "Guardian" on the Threshold. If you've tried to produce OBEs for any length of time, you've probably encountered it in one of its many forms.

According to Wikipedia:
"The Guardian of the Threshold is a menacing figure that is described by a number of esoteric teachers. The term "Guardian of the Threshold", often called "dweller on the threshold", indicates a spectral image which is supposed to manifest itself as soon as "the student of the spirit ascends upon the path into the higher worlds of knowledge". 
What is the Guardian?

In my opinion, the Guardian is a big collection of subconscious scare tactics. It's a subconscious defense mechanism. Basically, it comes from within your own mind: your own subconscious fears and insecurities.

What does it want? What is its purpose?

I believe its purpose is to make sure you don't achieve out-of-body experiences until you're psychologically prepared for it. It wants to make sure you're cool enough to remain calm and in control when faced with unexpected or frightening circumstances.

Variations (Alternate scare tactics)

"My heart starts beating out of control"
Another common variation is when it seems like your heart starts beating wildly out of control, like it's going to explode in your chest. This one's a little more tricky. On the one hand, it could really be your heart: it's easy to believe an adrenaline rush may have pushed your heart into atrial fibrillation ("a-fib") or some other fight-or-flight response. I'm especially vulnerable to this because my heart does occasionally go into a-fib (not in OBEs, but under normal circumstances).

However, on many occasions, I've forced myself back to full consciousness only to find it was another false alarm: my heart was, in fact, beating normally; often even more slowly than normal.

"OMG, I stopped breathing!"

Another variation is when it seems like your physical body stops breathing. One minute it seems like your body is breathing normally: you can hear the breath coming and going from your lungs, then suddenly everything goes silent. It seems like you stopped breathing. So you get scared that you're going to suffocate. But when you abort the OBE, you discover your body is still breathing normally. This can either be a manifestation of the Guardian or simply because you've lost awareness of your physical body as your conscious awareness shifts focus to the non-physical environment.

How do you stop it?

The key to stopping this nonsense is understanding exactly what it is, why it's there, and what it wants.


The guardian (your own subconscious) is testing you. To get rid of it, you simply need to pass the test. You need to ignore it and continue inducing the out-of-body state. You need to just ignore the distraction and think to yourself, "Nice try, but I'm not going to fall for it this time. I'm not going to let it stop me."

You need to realize and understand that the voices are not "real" and if there is a real emergency, you won't have to stop and think about aborting: you'd already be jarred out of the pre-OBE state automatically. If a real emergency had happened, there would be no reason to hear the voice in the first place.

Once you learn to ignore the Guardian and continue with the OBE, you will have "passed the test" and leveled up. Your subconscious will realize you refuse to be manipulated and will no longer bother with the scare tactics. Then you can fearlessly start exploring this strange new world.

Bob Peterson
31 October 2017

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

The "Feet Zoom" Technique

The "Feet Zoom" Technique

by Bob Peterson

This is relatively new OBE technique; I developed it in the past year or so. It really messes with your sense of "up" and "down." It's similar to my motion-based OBE techniques.

Be forewarned: I'm going to get really technical in this article.

According to neuroscientists, our brains have a mechanism (evidence suggests it's the right-temporo-parietal junction, or rTPJ) that determines our spacial location and orientation. It does that by making educated guesses based on input from our senses, plus a bunch of assumptions (like what's up and down and how gravity behaves.)

Other parts of our brains take the sense data, plus information compiled by the rTPJ, and formulate what I call a "story of experience." This is true whether you're dreaming and waking.

At this point, we normally use our "internal dialogue" to repeat our "story of experience" to ourselves. I believe the inner dialogue is fed back to the rTPJ to help determine spacial location. For example, if your story of experience is "I am standing," your body must be vertical in its orientation.

To induce an out-of-body experience, you need to temporarily redirect that "spacial location" mechanism of the rTPJ, at least until you're completely out. To do that, you first need to reduce the data it gets from your physical senses:
  • Total relaxation greatly reduces the data from the sense of touch.
  • Darkness, near-darkness, or uniform vision (e.g. Ganzfeld redirection) reduces data from the sense of sight.
  • Silence, near-silence, or redirected sound (e.g. white noise, binaural beats, or other sounds that don't match physical reality) reduces data from the sense of hearing.
  • When analyzing spacial location, the rTPJ doesn't give much credence to the senses of smell or taste, so redirecting them isn't as important. Some occult traditions use incense to swamp the sense of smell. I believe this may be more psychological than sensory: the ritual aspect defines the story of experience with its intent, assumptions, and sense of purpose, but as long as it works, who cares, right? I could probably write another blog article on just that.

Next, you need to use your imagination to replace the missing sense data with false information that's so credible to the brain that it redirects your awareness and tricks you into a different "story of experience:" the out-of-body experience.

So after the sense data is reduced, you can use:
  • Visualizations (imagined sight; the majority of OBE techniques) to replace the missing sense of sight.
  • Tactile imagination (Robert Bruce's "Rope" technique) to replace the missing sense of touch.
  • Imagined sounds (my friend John's technique: as vividly as you can, imagine a song playing) to replace the missing sense of sound.
  • It's most effective if you can do two or more of these at the same time.

With its primary sense information reduced to a trickle, and fed with false data from your imagination, your rTPJ has to rely upon the other data I mentioned earlier: that "bunch of assumptions" I talked about. They can also be overridden with the imagination.

The Technique

The foundation of this technique is based on one simple fact:

I really never look at my shoes and feet unless I'm standing up. 

Well, maybe I do on rare occasions, but that's not important. Whenever I see my feet, especially my shoes, I'm almost always in an upright position, looking down. I'm either standing or walking. This is pretty much ingrained in my subconscious; it's one of those fundamental assumptions.

So here's the technique:
  1. Stand up (physically) and stare at your feet/shoes for a while to really get a good visual memory from that point of view.
  2. Lie down and relax completely, cutting off all sense data.
  3. Imagine (pretend) you're staring at your feet/shoes again. Visualize this as best you can.
  4. Pretend that you zoom them in and out repeatedly like the graphic above.
  5. Alter your inner dialogue to match this information. Think to yourself, "I'm standing upright, moving toward my feet, then back."
  6. Repeat this over and over.

With little sense data to go on, your rTPJ will eventually start to interpret this as reality: "I'm not lying down. I must be standing up."

Once your rTPJ has been jarred out of its normal "spacial location" and into another story of experience paradigm, you're basically in an out-of-body experience and free to roam, at least as long as you're able to maintain it. You no longer need to imagine anything. Just do whatever you want and "experience" whatever happens.

Bob Peterson
03 October 2017

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Turning the Tables on Fear

Turning the Tables on Fear

by Bob Peterson

Whether you're dabbling with altered states of consciousness, suffering from Awareness during Sleep Paralysis (ASP), or trying to achieve OBEs, it's easy to succumb to fear, whether it's fear of the unknown, fear of death, fear of getting lost, or fear of being possessed.
Many people ask me: "I can get this far (the vibrations or whatever), but I always get scared at the last minute, chicken out, and abort the OBE. How can I get beyond the fear?"
Not only can you get beyond the fear, you can actually turn the tables and harness your fear to actually induce OBEs. Let me explain.

Lessening Fear

You can't be successful at OBE if you let fear stop you. So it's important to get beyond the fear, if not conquer it completely. First, I'm going to give you several lines of defense ("defence" if you're British) against fear:

Defense #1: Fear is a bodily thing, not a spirit thing.

The first important thing to know is that fear is natural, but it's a defense  mechanism built into your body. It's a product of human evolution. In my book Answers Within I made this analogy:
"Fifty thousand years ago, the cavemen who were fearless and walked boldly into every cave were sometimes mauled to death by the bears or tigers who slept there. Their genes were taken out of the gene pool. The other cavemen, who had that uncomfortable subconscious feeling and a solid fear of the unknown, approached the cave with more caution. They're the ones who survived and that trait was passed on to their children in their genes, and eventually to you. Lucky you: now you have to overcome it." (pg. 105)
So fear is natural, and has its place in human evolution, but since it's a function of the physical body, it doesn't need to apply to out-of-body experiences. Your physical body can't be harmed by anything you encounter in an OBE. You're just too used to thinking in terms of a body image. So the more you tell yourself there's nothing to be afraid of, the less scary things you'll encounter.

Likewise, nothing in the OBE state can harm your non-physical body. It is probably misleading to say it's indestructible like many books in the genre. It probably more accurate to say it doesn't even really exist. What you perceive as an "astral body" is just a "body image" ingrained into your subconscious. You're conditioned from physical life to think in terms of a body-image that does the acting. In reality, this is just a device for a much greater reality that cannot be harmed.

Defense #2: Rationalizing your fears

When I first started doing this, I was scared too. I wrote about it in my first book in Chapter 8 - Overcoming Fear. You can't really overcome fear (which is an emotion) with intellect (which is not), but you can come close by rationalizing them. In other words, you can use your intellect to override your emotions, and move forward anyway.

You can try to reason with your fear by asking yourself what you're afraid of. For most people, there are really only four major fears about OBE: fear of the unknown, fear of dying, fear of demonic possession, and fear of getting lost (not finding your way back.) I'll address them one by one:
  1. Fear of the unknown.
    This is a tough one, and hard to get around. In an OBE, I guarantee you will encounter the unknown, the unexpected, and the unusual. With each new OBE, you will experience these things, and as you do, the unknowns become knowns. As you explore, you'll become more and more familiar with the people, places and things that are "out there." Gradually, you'll tell yourself, "That wasn't so bad. It's not scary out there at all." And if you do encounter something scary (like sudden scary faces jumping at you) and it sends you back to your body, you'll gain more confidence: Tell yourself, "See? I got through it. It was a little scary, but no harm came of it." In other words, it gets easier with time.
  2. Fear of dying.
    This is another tough one. Obviously, if anyone died during an OBE, they never got the chance to give us any warnings, right? So in a way, you just have to take this as a matter of trust until you gain confidence. Take comfort in the fact that thousands of people have reported thousands of OBEs without having died. No harm has ever come to me in the 37 years I've been doing this.
  3. Fear of demonic possession.
    When you're out of body, it's natural to wonder if someone--or something--can enter your vacated body. I had a friend once named Lisa who told me about an OBE in which she returned to her body to find the spirit of a woman unsuccessfully trying to animate it. She got angry, yelled at the spirit, and the spirit fled. The bottom line is that a portion of the subconscious still keeps tabs on the physical body and makes sure it's alright. For example, if there's any perceived threat, like if your phone rings, you'll be slammed back to your body. I believe we have a "Higher Self" that's invested a great deal of time and energy to produce your physical body for purposes of spiritual growth, so it's not going to give it up that easily.
  4. Fear of getting lost.
    This fear isn't as hard to deal with as the others. Yes, in an OBE, you can get "lost" and have absolutely no idea where you are, but you will always return to your physical body. Again, your "Higher Self" is not going to just abandon it. In one of Richard Bach's books, he talked about wanting to just induce an OBE when he felt like leaving this Earthly existence, but it doesn't work that way. In my opinion, if you're still here in this physical reality, you're going to keep waking up in this physical body as long as you still have spiritual lessons to learn. No matter how far you wander, eventually, you'll just lose consciousness and wake up in your physical body again.

Defense #3: Understanding / Knowledge lessens fear.

You can try to rationalize away your fears all day long, but in the end, only experience trumps fear. You can ease into this at first by using someone else's experiences. You can read books about other people's OBEs and find out if they're generally scary or not. Having read almost every OBE book out there, I know the general consensus is that the vast majority of OBEs are wonderful, pleasant, and not scary at all.

Yes, it may be scary to face the unknown. You don't realize how "real" it can be until you're actually standing there, facing the situation. You can try to steel yourself and  say "I'm going to be brave," but your situation doesn't hit home until you're really there. But each time you do it, your fear becomes less and less.

Defense #4: Understanding Bravery and Self-Bargaining

Someone famous once said that bravery is not being unafraid. Bravery is being scared and doing it anyway. You don't let your fear stop you. And with an OBE, you can do that gradually. So when you're in that situation, tell yourself "I'll just stick around a few more minutes and see what happens. If I see anything scary, I can always bail / abort."

Confront Fears Directly

Confronting fears is a lot like getting into a lake or swimming pool. If you start by dipping one toe and carefully submerge each body part, it will be a slow torture until you're completely wet. But if you jump in all at once, there will be some initial shock, but you'll resolve the situation much quicker, with less overall discomfort. It's the same with fears. It's best to confront your fears directly.

I used to be terrified of bears. I used to have nightmares several times a week about bears chasing me. My fear got better when I went to Africa in 2002 and found other much more dangerous animals to worry about; bears seemed trivial by comparison. Still the nightmares persisted.

Then one day in 2014, I had the opportunity to hand-feed an un-caged grizzly bear cub. The cub was about ten months old, and 150 pounds (68 kg) of dense muscle, and very hungry. Although it was small, it had huge white fangs capable of ripping me to pieces. Its jaws were so powerful that the apples we fed it literally exploded in its mouth with the force. It had long sharp claws that could have cut me wide open. It wanted food, it was not to be bargained with, and it was powerful enough to get its way. Still, I forced myself to do it, my heart pounding the whole time.

The whole event was so incredible and surreal that a professional magazine paid me to publish the story.

Here are two photos. The photo on the left is another volunteer, Marilyn, who also helped feed the grizzly some grapes. I was very worried about poor Marilyn as the bear started being aggressive with her, nearly climbing her torso. Lucky for her, we managed to distract him with other food.

The photo on the right is the grizzly bear's claws on my hand, reaching for an apple.


After doing this, my nightmares about bears pretty much stopped. I've only had one since. Maybe I'll repost the original version of the magazine article in my blog sometime.

The Positive Side of Fear & Harnessing It

Even if you don't resolve all your fears, you can turn the tables on it. You can actually harness your fear to induce OBEs. Let me explain.

A lot of people experience Awareness during Sleep Paralysis, or ASP. They wake up paralyzed and gripped by fear. They plead, "It's so scary it's exhausting. What can I do to stop it?" What they don't realize is that:
  1. In most cases, the fear is actually causing the ASP in the first place. They're so scared it's going to happen again that it does.
  2. ASP is just a breath away from OBE.

Keep in mind (or should I say "bear" in mind!) it's easy to turn an episode of ASP into an OBE simply by closing your eyes and pushing forward with your consciousness as hard as you can, as if you're walking underwater, while imagining that you're moving forward.

ASP: The Self-Fulfilling Prophecy of Fear
There's a self-fulfilling prophecy with regard to ASP that goes like this:

In most cases, you can break the cycle simply by learning to not be afraid. So if you want to get rid of ASP, conquer your fear.

But if you want to have more OBEs, harness that fear: realize that your fear is actually a good thing because it can induce the ASP state, and from the ASP state you can get directly to the OBE state.

Instead of being afraid, you can take the attitude of "Ha! I know what's going on! I'm just in the ASP state!" and take control of the situation.

Harness Fear for Lucid Dreams

I also use fear as a trigger device to induce lucid dreams, and transition from there to the OBE state. In other words, I've conditioned myself to question whether I'm dreaming any time I experience any kind of fear.

If I feel afraid for any reason whatsoever, it probably means I'm dreaming. I think, "Wait a minute. If I'm afraid, so this might be a dream!" When I do the reality check, I often find that I am dreaming and become fully lucid. Once lucid, I turn the lucid dream into an obe.

So condition yourself to question reality whenever you're afraid, especially if you have frequent nightmares.

There's another fear generator called the "Guardian on the Threshold" that can throw scary (or at least very concerning) things your way. It is, in fact, your own subconscious mind, and can be safely disregarded. But this article is too long already, so that's another topic for another day.

If you do all these things, it will lessen the grip of fear, and eventually the fear goes away.

Bob Peterson
19 September 2017

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Motion-Based OBE Techniques

Motion-Based OBE Techniques

by Bob Peterson

Recently I got an email from a guy who asked: Which of Michael Raduga's "cycling" techniques do I find most effective?

In his book The Phase, Raduga recommends the WBTB technique, then upon awakening, "cycling" for 3 - 5 seconds from these exit techniques:
  • Rotation - Imagine you are spinning around inside your body.
  • Observing images - Watch hypnagogic images that appear before you.
  • Hand visualization - Visualize your hands.
  • Swimmer technique - Pretend you're in the water, swimming.
  • Phantom wiggling - Try to imagine a part of your astral body is moving; a little at first, but then it increases. He recommends your little finger.
  • He offers some alternates, but these are the main ones.
He also recommends starting every cycle by trying to instantly relocate to your mirror, which is a variation of the "Target Technique."

Well, I never really use the Target Technique. It's never worked for me. I also don't visualize my hands. The problem with these two techniques is that there's no motion. Even the "observing (hypnagogic) images" technique alone isn't enough to take me out-of-body: I've got to use them for motion (more on that later).

The bottom line is: I've always found it most effective to use motion-based OBE techniques, since long before I read Raduga's book. I always need a feeling of motion to dislodge me from my body:

Prerequisites

Before I begin any technique, I do three basic things:

First, I relax my body completely. I relax it to the point where I can't even feel it anymore.

Second, I approach the edge of sleep and try to hold my mind as blank/still and single-minded as I can. I "quiesce" my mind. (Do not let your thoughts wander or you'll be drawn down into sleep).

Third, I pretend I'm swaying. I imagine I'm in my astral body, gently floating and swaying inside my physical body, like a liquid sloshing back and forth inside a half-full bottle.

If done well enough, this can be enough to induce the vibrations and subsequent OBE state. More often, though, I tell myself that the swaying sensation will continue without any conscious effort, then I begin my exit technique.

My Motion Techniques


Long before Raduga, I was taking techniques like "phantom wiggling" to a greater extreme. So instead of "phantom wiggling," which I usually find too subtle, I do one of these techniques:

Rocking Motion Forward-Backward


I imagine I'm rocking more and more, like in a rocking chair or I'm taking a bow. This is an extension to the swaying/sloshing sensation I mentioned earlier.

Rocking Motion Side-to-Side


This technique is very similar, but I imagine I'm rocking from side-to-side. For example, I imagine I'm standing, but leaning to the right, then to the left, repeatedly.

Swinging Arms


I imagine swinging both my astral arms in large swooping motions (my physical arms remain immobile at my sides.) This motion is similar to what a cross-country skier does with his or her poles.

Elbow Push


I imagine someone is forcefully pushing my right elbow down into the bed, then the left elbow down, then right, then left, repeatedly. In other words, I alternate my arms so I get a sense of being rocked from side-to-side. It's almost like being rocked in a baby cradle.

Yoyo Technique


I try to imagine not so much a yoyo, but non-physical energy (chi, prana, etc.), extending from my third eye area, then retracting again, in a repeating motion.

I have another technique that involves my feet, but I'll save that for a later article.

Like Raduga, I often cycle through these techniques. If the first one gets no results, I switch to another. Raduga recommends switching every 3 to 5 seconds, but I tend to focus on a technique much longer, like 15 or even 30 seconds each.

I often cycle through many of these techniques at random, unlike Raduga, who recommends you focus on just two or three. I tend to not plan which of these motion techniques I use; I just flip randomly between them.

Often, my brain wants a reason for my (imagined) rocking or swaying. So I provide it with a "plausible enough" explanation, not with words, but with an idea, like "I'm swaying because I'm swinging my arms" or "I'm rocking because someone's pushing on my elbows."

More than Observing Images


More often than not, I fall back on the technique described in chapter 24 of my first book, which involves controlling a hypnagogic (or visualized) object and swinging it back and forth. Again, this is like Raduga's "observing images" but I'm controlling the images, not just observing them.

I imagine a strong gravity between my non-physical swaying and the object's swaying. Then I swing it closer and closer until it's close enough to pull me out-of-body with its gravity. With that method, the explanation idea is "There's an object and its gravity is pulling me out."

Technical Notes

There's no magic here. Your brain determines your spacial location and "story of experience" from the data it receives. Total relaxation cuts off almost all input from the senses, so they can't be used to determine spacial location. Your imagination provides the brain an alternate set of data to interpret.

All OBE induction techniques are just a way to trick your brain into changing its "story of experience" to trigger the separation.

Once separated, you can return your mind to its normal state of thinking and feeling, and you're free to consciously roam and explore the out-of-body state.

No, I'm not saying it's all inside your brain. I'm saying you need to fool your brain's spacial location mechanism in order to get to the proper state of mind. All these visualizations are just a way to trick your stubborn and over-conditioned brain into trading stories of experience from a physical to a non-physical one. They're just a means to an OBE-end.

Bob Peterson
29 August 2017