Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Review: An Adjacent Place by Clary G. Valentine

An Adjacent Place

by Clary G. Valentine

Today I'm reviewing the book An Adjacent Place by Clary G. Valentine.

I received a copy of this book from the author way back in July of 2017, but I never found time to read it until now. (I'm still working through my backlog!)
I love love love this book! I'm getting goosebumps just writing about it.

At the end of March, I reviewed a book called Astral Projection as a Bridge to the Spiritual World, and at the time I complained that the title was misleading: I had hoped for a book that used out-of-body experiences to visit the spirit world and bringing back information. Well, An Adjacent Place, gave me all that, and much more.

Why is the book titled "An Adjacent Place"? Many OBE authors talk about the "Real Time Zone" or the "Shadow World" or something similar; a place that's almost like Earth, but not quite. Many of the experiences in the book seem to have taken place there.

Just to make it clear: There are really no OBE tips or techniques in this book. It's pretty much autobiographical, all narratives, and supposedly all true. To protect their identities, the author changed the names of everyone in the book, including his own: He's writing under a pen name.

At the start of the book, it's February, 2014. The author, Mr. Valentine, is a Englishman living in the Philippines and he learns that his good friend, a Filipino woman whom he calls April has started to have "clear dreams." He's not sure at the time whether these are lucid dreams, out-of-body experiences, or something else, but they seem to be incredibly vivid to her. These experiences are preceded by a rushing energy sensation that starts are her feet and sweeps through her whole body. 

Valentine seems to be fairly skeptical (or sceptical, if you're British) and level-headed about April's experiences, but he takes them seriously and documents them. And he's smart enough to ask for lots of details from April.

April is a simple woman with a very basic education, a charming innocence, an almost photographic (or near-eidetic) memory, and above average artistic talent. So she's not only able to describe her experiences in vivid detail; she can actually draw them with reasonable accuracy.

Early in the book, April is taken out of her body and meets an old woman who introduces herself as Clarissa. Clarissa explains that she is April's maternal grandmother. April never knew her grandmother because her mother had a major rift or falling-out and they had become estranged. Naturally, April calls her mother and asks her grandma's name, what she looked like, etc. She's surprised to learn her grandmother's name was Clarissa, and looked exactly as her mother described. Hm. That's an interesting coincidence, right?

Soon, April is having "clear dreams" almost every night, and usually her grandma, Clarissa, is there to greet her and take her on out-of-body journeys. She introduces April to several more of her relatives she had never known. Her maternal grandfather, Ben. Her great aunt, Merissa. Merissa's elder daughter, Mely, and many others. She learns from her mother that these were also all real people who had passed on. Valentine figures that April must be dredging all this information up from her subconscious: things she had heard from her mother as a child.

Clarissa takes April on OBEs around the world to places she's never visited, like Clarissa's home town of Iloilo. They visit various homes, churches and landmarks and meet various people along the way. At Valentine's suggestion, April comes back with specific names, dates, and addresses. He's then able to verify that yes, these places do exist (or once existed), and these people were real people. What's more, April spends an hour or two drawing a church or landmark in great detail (the book's cover is one) and Valentine verifies the accuracy. Valentine takes more precautions, like checking web browser history and such, but apparently there's been no cheating.

Often, April doesn't know where she's going, and can't really pronounce the names of these places, so she gets Clarissa to spell them out. For example, they visit the town of Dyrehavsbakken, a place neither of them had heard of. Valentine is shocked to find out it's the name of a real place, and all the details of April's visit seem to match.

In one case, April thinks she's in the Philippines near an active volcano. She asks Clarissa to spell out the name of the place, and Clarissa spells out "G-U-A-T-E-M-A-L-A". It turns out they are near the Santa Maria volcano in Guatemala! Valentine has no idea where April is getting this information, but he starts to take more precautions to make sure she's not using her cell phone to look things up in the middle of the night.

Valentine decides to ask April to do some experiments and she agrees, just for the fun of it. He asks April to determine something neither of them knew: the name of Pluto's moon. He fully expects her to fail, but in the morning, he finds she had sprawled two things on her note pad in the middle of the night: "Charon 1978". He looked it up on the Internet and found out one of Pluto's moons is named Charon. It turns out 1978 was the year of its discovery! This is getting so good it's absurd. Okay, maybe she had heard it once and buried it in her subconscious.

He tasks her to find out the moons of Jupiter, and she comes up with the four largest moons: Europa, Io, Callisto, and Ganymede!

Soon she's visiting strange buildings in strange countries and coming back with very specific information, and in many cases, she makes detailed drawings. And Valentine finds out that, as far as he can tell, it's all factual. For example, in an OBE, she's taken to a building in some city neither of them know. She's introduced to a man who gives her many details about his life: his full name, the year he was born, the year he died, his wife's name, his children's names, etc., and it all ends up checking out. Then she sits down and draws an amazingly accurate rendition of the building from memory.

In many cases, Valentine thinks the information she gets is wrong, but further research later proves it's not. For example, she visits a royal palace in England, and does a beautiful drawing. Since it doesn't match any of the royal palaces Valentine knew, he thinks it's incorrect. But further research proves it to be an actual royal palace after all.

She visits royalty, talks to servants, and gets loads of stunning details, all verified.

This book is not some strange man making fantastic claims about his astral escapades, and their significance, from a position of superiority. He's not pushing an agenda nor selling anything. This is a level-headed ordinary guy who's absolutely incredulous and dumbfounded at what's happening to his dear friend.

The book kept me fascinated and I found it very hard to put down. Almost every page I thought to myself, "Wow, this is fantastic!" and it just kept getting better til the end. Several times throughout the book, I got chills up my spine.

The book is very well written. Valentine's writing style is very British, which means it's prim, and proper, and yet very approachable. Every sentence is well thought out and expertly crafted.

The book is 240 pages, with a smallish font and slim margins, which means there's a satisfying amount of content. I found only two small mistakes in the book, so the editing was professional quality.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book and give it 4 1/2 stars.

Valentine tells me April has been having experiences since the book was published, and he now has enough material to write a sequel. I can't wait.

Bob Peterson
24 April 2018

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Review: The Secret Life of an Astral Traveler

The Secret Life of an Astral Traveler

by Luna Star Van Atta

First of all, I want to give a big shout out to Grace Osora Erhart and Dale Ann Litalien, who led an awesome workshop Kathy and I attended last Saturday on drumming and active dreaming in the style of author Robert Moss. I thoroughly enjoyed it. It was cool to actually meet someone who reads my blog! <3

Today I'm reviewing the book The Secret Life of an Astral Traveler by Luna Star Van Atta.

A few weeks ago, Kathy and I were driving through Sedona, Arizona, a haven for New Age people. As I drove past a shop called Sacred Light, I got the urge to go in. I turned around, drove back to their parking lot and went in.

Inside the shop, I noticed a sign that talked about an Astral Projection class! I thought, "Isn't it wonderful how the Universe always guides us to where we're supposed to be?"

I asked the woman behind the counter about it. She said, "The class is still going on. It should be almost over by now. If you want, you can just wait a while until the class is over."

Wait, I thought, the class is almost over? Maybe the Universe steered me in here too late after all. I said, "Crap! I wish I had known about this class; I would have signed up. Where do you find out about these things? I checked Kudos and meetup.com and never saw it." I never did get a good answer.

After Kathy and I waited in the store, looking at crystals and such, the cashier looked at her watch and said, "The class is probably over now, so you can go back and talk to Luna. But be careful not to interrupt the class if it's still going on."

We proceeded down the long hallway. When we got to the classroom in the back, the class had ended and the students were hugging and saying goodbyes. I introduced myself to the class instructor, Luna Star Van Atta, and gave her my business card. I explained that I had a blog about astral projection and did out-of-body experience book reviews, had done more than 70 of them, and if she gave me a copy of her book, I'd review hers too. She was happy to do it.

As we drove away, I wondered: Who is Luna Star Van Atta and why haven't I heard about her before? Why has her book escaped my attention? Still, the book is pretty new--copyright 2016--so I cut myself some slack.

The book opens with a bang: Chapter 1 is the very emotional, touching, and well written story about the death of the author's husband and soulmate, Michael Van Atta, from cancer. Then the book rewinds back to an earlier time.

Chapter 2 tells the story of Van Atta's near-death experience (NDE) and how it opened her up as a psychic and healer. It also inspired her to try to seek more out-of-body experiences, to try to reconnect to Source/God/Whatever label you want to give it. First she turned to J.H. Brennan's Astral Projection Workbook, then to other sources.

Finally she takes a class on remote viewing (RV) where she meets the RV teacher, Michael Van Atta, a student of David Morehouse. She states:
"Although he was teaching Remote Viewing, which is a military application of astral travel, he did not focus on the rigid military protocols." (pg. 36)
From then on she seems to treat OBEs as a form of remove viewing. I disagree. I wrote about this in other places, such as my review of the book Out-of-Body Workbook: The Ultimate 5-Step Guide to the Astral Projection Experience by Dr. Jill Ammon-Wexler. When I'm in an OBE, my physical body is just another inanimate object in the room. With remote viewing, I'm completely in control of my physical body. A bit further on, she says basically the same thing:
"Remote Viewing is basically a military term for a type of astral travel." (pg. 88)
On the next page she writes:
 "Morehouse defines Remote Viewing as: 'The learned ability to transcend space and time, to view persons, places or things remove in space-time; to gather and report information on the same." (pg. 89)
"There are only small differences between Remote Viewing and astral travel as far as I am concerned." (pg. 89)
I guess I shouldn't be so black and white. After all, it's all a matter of how much conscious awareness you place "there" versus "here" right? It's variable.

After a few more chapters it dawned on me: What Van Atta is describing are basically "Focus Level" experiences like the Monroe Institute teaches, but she's calling it astral projection.

At the RV class, Michael and Luna hit it off right away. There's just one small problem: Both she and Michael were married to other people. Ooops!

Luna finds out that she's actually pretty good at Remote Viewing, and so is Michael. So they basically start seeing each other--a love affair--in an agreed-upon location they designed in the astral plane!

Were they just fantasizing about each other? Maybe, but in many cases, they corroborated each other's stories of what they saw and what happened.

Eventually, after a lot of time passes, they divorce their respective spouses and marry each other. Then the real adventure begins.

That leads to some lively tales of psychic marriage, true intimacy, relationship building, astral romance, astral sex, remote healing, mediumship, and even using remote viewing to help the police solve murders and other crimes. (It helps when you get information directly from dead murder victims.)

Though the book is anchored in New Age philosophy,  there's a certain reverence, acknowledgment, and head-nods to God throughout.

There are no tips or techniques for achieving out-of-body experiences, or even remote viewing, so it's mostly just narratives. But the stories are good.

The book is average size, 199 pages, and decent font, so you won't feel short changed on content. The writing is very good, and I found very few typos and grammar issues.

I'm giving this book 3 stars out of 5. The book is entertaining and the stories are amusing, although the lines are too blurred between astral projection and remote viewing for my taste (but I'm a stickler for such things.)

Bob Peterson
10 April 2018

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Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Review: Astral Projection as a Bridge to the Spiriual World


Astral Projection as a Bridge to the Spiritual World

by Luiz Roberto Mattos

Today I'm reviewing the book Astral Projection as a Bridge to the Spiritual World by Luiz Roberto Mattos.

I received a copy of this book from a Facebook friend who thought I might like it. I'm going to be honest with you: I was disappointed. With a title like that, it had so much potential, but unfortunately, it didn't live up to it.

The premise is good: the author uses astral projection to visit the spirit world where there are unlimited opportunities to learn. On the back cover it says "This book is an autobiography..." so I expected some good OBE narratives.

It tells the story of how the author, Luis Roberto Mattos (nickname Beto) grew up in South America. He was influenced by the Spiritist religion (as in Allan Kardec), and studied metaphysics, yogic meditation, Rosicrucianism, and many spiritual traditions. Then he became interested in astral projection. He gave up eating meat, opting for very light evening meals. He gave up all his bad habits, alcohol, etc., and took up a spiritual life. Then he quit school to pursue his spiritual adventures full-time.

He meets a spiritual master named Sana Khan on the astral plane, who begins to teach him spiritual lessons. Unfortunately, the book quickly devolves into only that: the teachings of Sana Khan. Sana Khan teaches Beto lots of lessons about birth, life, sex, death, the afterlife, reincarnation, and how spirits interfere and influence the living. In a way it reminded me a lot of the movie Astral City, but from the perspective of someone who is still in-the-body.

For the most part, it's all pretty standard New Age teachings. Well, except for one or two things that contradict modern science. For example:
"There are four hundred million stars in the Milky Way, master," I said with some astonishment, demonstrating my awe at the immensity of our structure." (pg. 156)
According to google, there are 250 Billion stars (with a B) in the Milky Way Galaxy, give or take 150 billion. That's 940 times more. But who's counting?

Here are some other things I disagreed with: Mattos talks about how spirits need to be shrunk down in size in order to fit into the tiny human egg at the time of conception:
"And the Spirit will bind to the egg immediately after sperm penetration." (pg. 270)
I tend to favor what Jane Roberts / "Seth" says about the topic: That spirits heading toward birth only visit the womb from time to time. Mattos says the spirits are also affected with amnesia, and he talks about how abortion is a serious spiritual "outrage" (his word) like you're robbing a spirit of its incarnation and denying it an opportunity for spiritual growth. I prefer Seth's suggestion that all these things are carefully planned out in advance, including births, deaths, the lessons, and yes, even the abortions, at a "Higher Self" or "Oversoul" level.

The thing is: I didn't want New Age teachings. I already know all that stuff. I wanted to know about the author's astral projections: how he learned it, the techniques he used, the discoveries he made, what weird quirky things he encountered "over there." But the whole book was almost exclusively just discourse: Sana Khan took me to this place. He said this. He said that. The dialogue was flat; the author breaks up the dialogue by saying things like, "This is interesting, master."

It wasn't just that. It also lacked a feeling of authenticity. If you've had OBEs, you know what it's like. You can tell when someone is describing a real OBE: the strange otherworldly atmosphere, the foreign 360-degree eyesight, the strangeness of how gravity doesn't affect you, the fog floating around; all that "delicious eeriness" Michael Ross talks about. This book lacked all that. The author's OBEs all sounded too..."physical." Sure, he acknowledges the dialogues were telepathic instead of talking, but the dialog was too Earthly. The OBEs were too three-dimensional.

Maybe I'm being too critical. Maybe Mattos was just targeting an Earthly audience. Or maybe because he's from South America, it was just cultural differences (I thought the movie "Astral City" was too physical too, for example). Whatever it was, it didn't work for me.

Another problem is that the dialog was too long and detailed to have taken place in genuine OBEs. There's simply no way anyone (short of eidetic memory) would be able to remember and quote word for word what someone said in an entire half-hour lecture. Not even in real life, let alone from an OBE. I'm lucky if I remember just a few sentences.

Here's another tip-off: the author's story takes place over the course of several weeks, but night after night, without fail, he just effortlessly pops right out of his body to have his nightly lesson with Sana Khan. Anyone who's studied OBEs knows it's just not that easy; not even for the most proficient OBE experts: not William Buhlman, not Robert Bruce, not Akhena, not anyone. It was just too effortless. If Mattos wrote about struggling to achieve the proper focus, or occasionally losing focus during the process of separation, or getting sucked back into his body prematurely and having to leave it again, or having a cat jump on his body while he was out, it would be more believable.

There's enough content; just not enough OBE-related content. The book is 325 pages, each of which is a decent size. The font is somewhat big, so it's an average-sized book.

Except for the preface (not by the author) the writing was pretty good, but it needed weeks of serious editing and proof-reading. The book was obviously scanned in from an older printed manuscript. It's obvious because there were lots of mistakes that would be caught by any human proof-reader, but not by a computer spellchecker. For example, instead of the pronoun "I" the text had, in many places, the number "1." Or "he" instead of "The". Another example: anytime the original text had "rn" it was converted to an "m". So the word "modern" was printed as "modem" (like the old computer modulator-demodulator device). These are the hallmarks of OCR (optical character recognition) from a scanner to a document that was never proof-read. There were glaring mistakes on almost every page.

I'm sorry, but I can only give this book 2 stars out of 5. Most of the New Age teachings aren't bad, but this isn't an OBE book as much as it is New Age 101. There are no OBE tips, techniques, or pointers, except for eating light vegetarian meals.

If it was titled "The Lessons of Master Sana Khan" it would live up to its title. But really, it has almost nothing to do with astral projection.

Bob Peterson
27 March 2018

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Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Using OBE to Contact Dead Loved Ones

Using OBE to Contact Dead Loved Ones

by Bob Peterson

Sooner or later we all experience the death of a loved one. Often, people desperately search for ways to contact the dearly departed, and that's what leads them to discover OBEs. So a lot of people ask me, "Can I use an OBE to talk to my dead husband/wife/child, or other dead loved one?"

The answer is yes, but it's not easy.

Surprisingly, encounters with the dead are rare in OBE literature. In his book Vistas of Infinity, author Jurgen Ziewe talks about meetings with the dead, including his own deceased mother. The meetings are somewhat matter-of-fact and unemotional, at least compared to Ziewe's other OBEs.

Another encounter is described in the book, Astral Projections, by Michael Ross  who used OBEs to contact his dead son, Murray, who had committed suicide. This was a much more emotional encounter than Ziewe's.

Rodrigo Montenegro's book The Out-of-Body Experience: An Experiential Anthology also has an encounter with the dead. Also, Preston Dennett's book Out-of-Body Exploring has an OBE in which he meets his dead mother. The late French OBE expert, Akhena, also described encounters with dead people she knew, in her book Out of Body Experiences.

I've had my own encounters too. In chapter 19 ("The Mind During OBEs") of my first book, I wrote about an OBE from 1982 in which I saw and spoke to my dead father. I wasn't trying; it just kind of happened spontaneously. Like Ziewe, the encounter was meaningful, but a bit unemotional.

In the year 2000, my wife Kathy's best friend, Pam, died under some really strange circumstances that I described in an article on my website called The Spirit Carries On. Her death was particularly tragic because she was still in her 30s and had two young kids. After her death, I decided to use my OBEs to try to contact Pam and see if she wanted me to convey any messages to Kathy or her devastated husband, Al.

In my first book, I described how I had trouble traveling to specific locations, but thankfully, I had long since learned the trick and knew how to travel pretty well. It's not easy to describe in Earthly terms, but basically you "feel" for the distant location or person, then mentally "pull yourself there" along that connection. So finding Pam should be easy, I told myself, right? Wrong.

For a full year, I spent every OBE trying to find Pam. Despite that, I just couldn't seem to contact her. It felt like there was nothing to grasp on the other end. It was like I was being blocked by some unseen force. Eventually, I gave up and decided Pam just wasn't ready to talk.

So when people ask me if they can use OBEs to contact a dead loved one, I tell them yes, but the dead person needs to be receptive to it and cooperate. It has to be a mutual decision between you and the dead person.

By far the biggest problem with contacting a dead loved one is that the goal tends to kill your focus. To induce an OBE, you need to be very focused and single-minded. If you're distracted by thoughts of your dead loved one, it will probably distract you enough to keep you from inducing the OBE state. You need to learn to set aside your goal and focus only on achieving the OBE itself. Once you're safely in the out-of-body state, then focus on your goal.

So now you may be wondering: Have I had any other encounters with the dead since I wrote my OBE books? The answer is yes. I've seen my mother on more than one occasion after she died. It was a long and very emotionally charged series of events that shook me to the core. It's hard for me to talk about it and I've only shared it with my wife, my sister and her husband. Someday I may write a book about it, but that's all I want to say about it now.

Let's just say that contact with the dead is not an easy road. You've got to have a lot of patience with yourself, and with your dead loved one.

Bob Peterson
13 March 2018

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Review: Vibrational State and Energy Resonance

Vibrational State and Energy Resonance

by Nanci Trivellato

Many OBE authors, such as Robert Bruce, talk about the manipulation of non-physical energy as an important component for inducing OBEs and other altered states of consciousness. It's not a new concept: The Chinese call it "Chi" or "Qi" and have done exercises like Qi Gong and T'ai Chi Chuan for thousands of years. Yogis in India they have other exercises to cultivate it, such as Kundalini Yoga.

Most of us also know that OBEs are often preceded by "The Vibrations" but what do we really know about them? What's the relationship between the Chi manipulation and the vibrations, and how do they fit together? Author/teacher Nanci Trivellato of the IAC (International Academy of Consciousness, an international non-profit organization dedicated to the scientific study of consciousness) tries to answer these questions in her book Vibrational State and Energy Resonance.

Last Spring, the author was kind enough to send me a copy of her book. Why haven't I reviewed it until now? Partly because (as I said in my last book review) I didn't spend much time reading last summer, but mostly, because it's huge. How big? It's almost 500 pages, and each page is larger than average. There's a LOT of information. That's not a bad thing, except it's highly technical and difficult to read, so I could only digest ten or fifteen pages at a time. In fact, it's so big, I may split this review up like I've done in the past.

I feel conflicted about this book. (I guess I say that a lot, don't I?) On the one hand, this book contains a lot of very useful information. On the other hand, it's so technical that it's difficult to read. I told one guy it's like reading a car shop manual from cover to cover. Better yet, it's like reading a technical computer manual. (Believe me, I've read a lot of computer manuals cover to cover. Like the CDC Compass 6400 Assembly Language reference manual. Or the Pascal Language reference manual. They were highly entertaining to me back in 1979. Until I discovered OBEs. But I digress.) So this book is like a technical manual. Trivellato tries to take a very scientific approach. That's good. Unless you're a layman, or expect the book to entertain you. So you should go into it with the right expectations.

A lot of the book is about VELO, an IAC acronym that stands for Voluntary Energetic Longitudinal Oscillation, which is a non-physical energy exercise designed to induce "The Vibrations," which they call the VS (short for the Vibrational State).

How does it compare to other metaphysical energy systems?

With Kundalini Yoga, you draw energy up through the spine to activate each of the chakras, and the Chi energizes and exits through the crown chakra at the top of the head. (Bob starts humming the song Serpent Is Rising by Styx, "Serpent is rising, uncoiling in your spine, bringing you light from the depths of your mind".)

Robert Bruce, author of Astral Dynamics, condones a system much like the one taught in T'ai Chi Chuan and Qi Gong, where energy starts at the Tan Tien (the belly-button energy center/chakra, two inches below the navel) and is circulated down to the root chakra, then up the spine, over the top of the head, and back down through the third eye chakra, the heart chakra, and back to the Tan Tien to make a complete circle.

Akhena (The "William Buhlman of France"), author of Out-of-Body Experiences recommends alternating the focus of the Chi between the root chakra ("The Fire") and the third eye chakra ("The Diamond").

With the IAC's VELO exercise, the energy is rapidly and repeatedly moved up and down the entire length of the body, creating an energy resonance. In other words VELO makes a smooth continuous sweep of the entire area from the top of your head to the soles of your feet. It's almost like you envision your body enclosed in a big tube, and the energy flows like sound waves up and down through the entire tube. NOTE: Trivellato spends a lot of time describing the technique technically and accurately, so if you just follow my description, you'll probably get it wrong.

In my own OBE practice, I usually recommend you imagine your physical body is like an empty bottle with water sloshing back and forth. Except for the speed, this reminds me a lot of VELO, so VELO is not that different from my technique.

I was surprised to find Trivellato references the writings of Robert Monroe, author of Journeys Out of the Body, as well as Waldo Vieira, with regard to some of the earliest writings about the vibrations.

You can induce out-of-body experiences (something they call "Lucid Projections") through the VS, but that's only one of the many benefits of performing the VELO. So a lot of the book describes the benefits of using the VELO, the positive effects it has on personal energy and health, how to do it correctly, and so forth. Trivellato loves bulleted lists of everything, including benefits.

Like the other IAC books I've read, such as Luis Minero's book Demystifying the Out-of-Body Experience, this book is overloaded with IAC terminology (lingo). Trivellato states:
"For the same critical reasons cited above, gratuitous creation of terminology is not appropriate." (pg. 36)
Despite that, this book contains more IAC lingo than ever before. I've complained about this in at least two other book reviews. To give you an idea, the book contains a glossary of terms that spans from page 409 through 447! That's 38 pages of glossary defining IAC terms like thosene (an acronym for Thought + Sentiment/Emotion + Energy), which is basically like an thought-form or energetic imprint.

Why do they need so many new terms? For starters, in the IAC world view, people have multiple vehicles of consciousness, similar to the teachings of Theosophy, but they call the physical body the "Soma," the astral body the "Psychosoma," the etheric body the "Energosoma," the mental body the "Mentalsoma," and so on. Put all of these vehicles of consciousness together and you get something they call the "Holosoma." Well, it's not quite that simple. Trivellato says that the Energosoma cannot be used as a vehicle of consciousness; that it's more or less an energy grid and foundation for the chakras and/or silver cord.

Thank goodness I had read other IAC books, so I could actually understand what I was reading, because the AIC terminology quickly leads to complex and hard-to-follow discussions of Intraconsciential restructuring, self-vibrostasiometry, Morphothosenes, Xenothosenes, Energometry, and a whole lot of other words you won't find in any English dictionary. So I hope you experience despertopolis and retain your holosoma rather than desoma after you exit the cosmoconscientiarium! Okay, I've made my point.

The book is all very technical. That does not mean it's bad, it's just not written for a layman. It is meant to be technical and informational, not entertaining.
Here's a good example of how technical the book gets:
"In other words, upon improving one's basal and/or inherent bioenergetic fluidity and one's condition in the current lifetime, by the same process of intervehicular transmission of information described above, this more balanced and fluid energy will reach the psychosoma with the ability to contribute, in some cases, to the gradual change of one's paragenetics and, consequently, to the liberation or improvement of the condition of one's manifestation." (pg. 53)
In other words, performing the VELO exercise helps you in many ways, including balancing your non-physical energies, protecting yourself from harmful energy influences, and so forth, presented like a technical manual.

But as Trivellato says:
"Don't allow yourself to be intimidated by the form in which information is transmitted. Use your discernment and see, beyond the words, the true content being communicated." (pg. 36)
If you can do that--ignore the terminology and find the message conveyed--then it is good information.

I do have a serious question, though: The IAC uses the prefix "para" to indicate the non-physical. So the astral body's brain is called the "parabrain." But the astral body itself is the "psychosoma." Why is that? Why don't they call it the parasoma? Or conversely, why don't they call the astral brain the "psychobrain?" I suppose that has too many bad connotations?

The book is organized into multiple parts:Part 1 is "Foundations for the Study of the VS" and it basically gives you the basics of the AIC beliefs.
Part 2 is "The Vibrational State Phenomenon" and it talks about the VELO, the vibrations and the phenomena associated with them.
Part 3 is "The VELO Technique" and it's all about the subtleties of the VELO technique: How to do it properly, common mistakes, etc.
Part 4 is "Attributes of the VELO."
Part 5 is "Advanced Topics."
Part 6 is "Vibrostasiology."

On page 28 there is an interesting discussion of the IAC and how it all started with the teachings of prolific OBE author Waldo Vieira. The group of people who followed and tried to expand Vieira's work were more focused on out-of-body experiences (which they call "Projectiology"). Eventually the IAC's research, techniques and beliefs diverged from the other people who followed Vieira's work. I get the feeling the IAC is more science-based, and they're more focused on the study of consciousness and energy than the OBEs themselves.

The IAC paradigm is:
"Founded on the underlying assumption that the consciousness is a primary component of reality, independent from matter and energy." (pg. 41)
So what is the book trying to convey? According to Trivellato:
"The goal of this book is precisely to contribute to increasing the percentage of success when trying to produce the VS." (pg. 76)
The bottom line is: According to Trivellato, regular practice of the VELO technique will help you maintain good energetic health, increase your amount of loose or free energy, as well as inducing the Vibrational State.

So how does the VELO cause the Vibrational State? According the Trivellato:
"The vibrational state happens when there is a great bioenergetic activation and looseness, producing a clear, intense, pleasant, and distinct sensation of vibration throughout the entire body, resulting from the resonance of all energetic centers [chakras]. In other words, it happens when the activation of these centers reaches a level that produces a feedback or "contagion" effect between them, generating a chain reaction that produces a simultaneous condition of increased vibratory amplitude and activation in all of the energosoma." (pg. 72)

I would have liked a more in-depth discussion about how the Vibrational State leads to and triggers OBEs, but that's about all she says about it.

In my opinion, the biggest shortcoming of the book (besides all the technical lingo) is that it didn't spend enough time comparing the VELO to other metaphysical energy systems. Only a mention or two in passing.

For example, I've read stern warnings about the improper use of Kundalini yoga that can lead to all kinds of negative (or at least powerful) energy sensations, like pain shooting up your spine, neck, or the top of your head. My T'ai Chi master (Sifu) used to warn us students about energy loss (and other dangers) if the Chi isn't moved in a complete circle, and only stopping at the Tan Tien.

Robert Bruce similarly warns about energy conservation, storing the Chi there. I would have loved to read a nice long chapter about all that, but this book doesn't really say much about any of those things. It did, however, discuss the shortcomings of other offshoots of Waldo Vieira's work, and how VELO is a superior technique. That was a good discussion.

After reading this book, I tend to think that in terms of electricity, circulating Chi is like DC (Direct Current) whereas the VELO is more like AC (Alternating Current): The reason our electrical grids all use AC is because AC travels better and DC causes too much power loss for long distances (and you can thank Nicola Tesla for that). Perhaps it's the same with Chi and maybe someday Nanci Trivellato will go down in history as the Nicola Tesla of OBEs. Only time will tell.

Still, I guess I can't really argue with anything the author says, except her assertion that the energy body (what most people call the Etheric body, but the IAC calls the "energosoma") cannot be used as a vehicle of consciousness. But that's not a point worth arguing.

As they say, the proof is in the pudding. In other words, if the VELO technique works, and doesn't cause negative energetic side-effects, then I'm all for it. I've been using it for a while now, and so far it's been beneficial, with no bad side-effects. I don't think I've used it long enough to give it a fair assessment.

So I applaud Nanci Trivellato and the IAC for their contributions in helping us understand metaphysical energy/Chi and how best to manipulate it.

The writing, organization, and grammar were outstanding. Top-notch professional. I really only found one mistake in the entire 494 pages. That's amazing.

I'll give the book 3 out of 5 stars. I would have enjoyed it more if it had been only 200 pages, presented in layman's terms, and a lot less technical. But as I said, the book was meant to inform, not entertain.

Bob Peterson
27 Feb 2018

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

"I Can't Seem to Focus My Mind"

"I Can't Seem to Focus My Mind"

By Bob Peterson
(Image by Victorgrigas - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=28921827)

I hear this a lot: "I can't seem to focus my mind. Do you have any suggestions?"

In order to self-induce an out-of-body experience from a conscious state (as opposed to transitioning from lucid dreaming, etc.), you need to focus your mind down into a tiny pinpoint of awareness. It's like the old Zen Buddhist saying: "We cannot see our reflection in running water. It is only in still water that we can see." So you need to learn how to turn off all the noisy thoughts in your head.

In my first book, I called it "quiescing" the mind. It starts with eliminating all the monkey-chatter inside your head and ends in crystal clear focus. But how do you do that? It's similar to concentration, but with concentration, you're directing your mind to a specific task: It's what neuro-scientists call "goal-directed task" thinking. What I mean by "focus" is not as goal-directed. Sure, your goal is to achieve an OBE, but it's more like shutting down and eliminating all thoughts and feelings until you become just an observer, and nothing more. Someone like Eckhart Tolle might call it "Being" instead of "Doing."

I often describe it this way: Ordinarily, your mind--or conscious awareness--is like a balloon, but instead of air, it's filled with thoughts and feelings. Trying to achieve an OBE is like trying to get that balloon to the other side of a huge impenetrable brick wall that's missing one brick: The only way to get to the other side is to deflate the balloon (reduce the number of thoughts and feelings) so it can fit through the hole. At the same time, it's also important not to let your mind wander (lose focus), or you'll simply fall asleep.

Here are two techniques I often use to clear and focus my mind into the proper state:

"A Sound is About to Play" Technique

This is the primary focusing technique I've taught in OBE classes (don't get your hopes up: I've only taught a few in the last 25 years). The idea is to pretend that an important sound is about to play, and so you listen for it intently. For example, if there is a flash of lightning, you might expect to hear the rumble of thunder within the next minute. 

Sometimes in my classes, I would dramatically turn on a sound system (like a boom box, PA system / Tannoy, etc.), point to the music app on my phone (or other device) and say, "I'm about to play a sound for you, so close your eyes and listen." But then I wouldn't play anything. I'd just let them sit there for about a minute until they got suspicious.

The point is: When you listen intently, you tend to focus your mind and shut out most of the stray thoughts. So just pretend to listen for a sound, with no expectations. That's non-goal-directed focus.

The Thick Line-to-Dot Technique

AKA The "Television Turn Off" Technique

Lately, I've been using a new technique to focus my mind. I call it the Thick Line to Dot technique. What I do is this:
  1. Try to focus my mind entirely to visualize a thick white line on a black background. It doesn't matter if the line is vertical or horizontal. The line is maybe a foot and a half (half meter) long, and an inch (2cm) wide. (Note that this is a two-dimensional object because it has length and width). The line is just sitting out in front of you a couple of yards/meters.
  2. Hold that visualization stable for about 20 seconds.
  3. Pretend that the line narrows until it's very thin.
  4. Hold that visualization stable for about 20 seconds.
  5. Pretend that the line shrinks in length until it is only a single dot. (Note: You can think of this as a no-dimensional object, since it has neither width nor length.)
  6. Hold that visualization stable for about 20 seconds.
  7. Pretend that the dot slowly shrinks into nothingness and finally disappears until it's absolutely nothing, so you're left with a blank visualization, staring into nothingness.
I also call this the "Television Turn Off" technique because to me, this is like a much slower and longer version of this video of an old fashioned television turn-off effect.

Moving Through The Wall Without Trying

There's one more important key to this puzzle. At this point, you might be asking yourself, "How am I supposed to get my balloon (of awareness) through the hole in the brick wall if my mind is completely quiesced and not goal-directed?" That's where your subconscious enters into the equation.

Before you perform these mind focusing exercises, take about fifteen seconds to do these two things:

Step 1: Relax your body completely and try to just forget about it

Step 2: Pretend your non-physical body is floating weightlessly

Pretend your non-physical body is floating weightlessly inside your physical body, like gentle waves on a lake that never stop, or like a bottle half-filled with water that is rocking back and forth, causing the water inside to slosh around.

Step 3: Pretend and affirm that this floating will continue forever

Tell yourself that this gentle weightless floating will continue always, no matter what; even if you fall asleep.

Step 4: Perform one of the focusing techniques above.

What should happen is that your awareness should shrink to a tiny size, and the affirmed gentle rocking/sloshing should give you momentum to leave the body. What often happens to me is that as my mind shrinks, the rocking tends to increase automatically until I'm in propelled into the out-of-body state.

Bob Peterson
13 February 2018

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

"I've Been Trying To Achieve OBE For Years"

"I've Been Trying To Achieve OBE For Years"

by Bob Peterson

On a somewhat regular basis, someone posts a plea to the Astral Projection Facebook groups that goes something like this:
"I've been trying to achieve an out-of-body experience (OBE) for two years, but still can't get out. Any suggestions? What am I doing wrong?"
I also get a lot of emails that say the same thing. I usually ask, "What have you tried and what was the result?" They usually reply, "I do this [some particular technique like "Rope"], but it doesn't work." And I think to myself, "Wait. You've been doing the same thing over and over for two years? That right there may be your problem."

Change It Up

Everybody is unique. We've all got our own stubborn in-the-body programming we need to overcome. What works for one person doesn't always work for another person. So you need to change it up. You need to experiment. You need to find out what works best for you.

Some of the better OBE books actually suggest you try an OBE technique for two weeks, and if that doesn't work, change to a different technique. Change your OBE technique every two weeks until you're successful.

Here is a short list of some OBE techniques you can try:
  • My "swinging hypnagogic objects" OBE technique, described here.
  • My "almost move" technique, described here.
  • Some of the "motion-based techniques", described here.
  • My "feet zoom" technique, described here.
  • My "sneaking past the gatekeeper" technique, described here.
  • Robert Monroe's "Lines of Force" technique, described in his book Journeys Out of the Body.
  • The "Wake Back To Bed" (WBTB) technique, described here.
  • William Buhlman's "Target" technique, described in his book Adventures Beyond the Body.
  • Robert Bruce's "Rope" technique, described in his book Astral Dynamics.
  • Salvatore Caesar Scordato's "Visualize a tunnel" technique, described in his book, You Can Fly.
  • Michael Raduga's "Technique Cycling" described in his book, The Phase.
  • Preston Dennitt's "The Flash" technique, described in his book, Out-of-Body Exploring.
  • Try the IAC's "Velo" technique to induce the vibrations. There's a good introductory video about Velo by author Luis Minero here.
Even if you find a technique that works once doesn't mean it's going to work again. I had immediate success the first time I tried Robert Monroe's "Lines of Force" technique back in 1979, but then it stopped working. It only worked once for me, so I was forced to find other techniques.

There are literally hundreds of OBE techniques out there; you just need to do the research and try them one by one, until you find combinations that work best for you. There's a lot of free information on the Internet (like my blog and my website, robertpeterson.org, and the "Files" section of some of the Astral Projection groups in Facebook).

Sometimes the problem is not that they're trying the same thing over and over, but they have a specific problem to overcome. Often, they don't tell me what it is, and it's very difficult to pry it out of them; sometimes they don't even know.

Below is a list of five common OBE attempt problems and how to overcome them.

Problem #1 - "I always fall asleep"

I've heard this countless times: "Every time I try to get out, I fall asleep." If you fall asleep during OBE practice, modify your technique:
  • Practice in the morning when you're fully rested (like on the weekends).
  • If you still fall asleep, you may be starting too early. Try later. 
  • If you still fall asleep, try staying awake for ten minutes before trying again.
  • If you still fall asleep after that, try drinking a caffeinated drink like coffee before trying again.
  • Practice away from your bed, like on a couch. We're often too pre-programmed to fall asleep in our beds. 
  • Try your OBE technique sitting up in a recliner or comfortable chair. Sometimes people are too preconditioned to fall asleep when their body is horizontal.
  • Try lying on your back. Sometimes people are too preconditioned to fall asleep when they lie on their side.
  • Try your OBE practice during a mid-day nap, rather than morning or night.
  • Experiment with how much light is in the room when you practice.


Problem #2 - "I stare straight ahead and nothing happens."


Whenever I hear, "I just stare straight ahead and nothing ever happens." Sometimes I need to ask, but sometimes they voluntarily tell me "If I try to move, my physical body moves."

This is a very common problem and it means you're not going "deep enough."

This problem is usually caused by people being too afraid of falling asleep during their OBE attempt, so they keep themselves alert, conscious, and ever vigilant. The problem is: You need to get closer to the sleep state than that.

With OBEs, there is a VERY delicate balance between "too awake" and "too asleep." In my second book, Lessons Out of the Body, I use the analogy of walking a tightrope: You've got to maintain a delicate balance between waking and sleeping. You've got to narrow your focus down to a tiny thread of awareness, but still not lose consciousness. I've fallen off that "tightrope" at least a hundred times for every successful OBE, so you need to be persistent and keep trying. Don't be afraid of falling asleep; just pick up the pieces and try again next time. You've got this!

During OBE practice, if you start to see images and hear strange voices, that's good: Those are hypnagogic hallucinations, an important milestone on the path to OBE. If you never see or hear those hallucinations, you're probably not "deep" enough and should allow yourself to edge (drift) a little bit closer to sleep.

Problem #3 - "I can get the vibrations but they fade away"

If you can induce "the vibrations" that's an important milestone. If you don't know what to do from there, I wrote an article that may help called What Should I Do When The Vibrations Hit.


Problem #4 - "My body snores but I never go anywhere."

If you don't get any vibrations, don't worry about it. Sometimes (and for some people) the vibrations are so mild they don't even notice them. So don't think you need to get vibrations before you exit. You'll very likely know when it's time, even if you don't feel any vibrations.

Instead of vibrations, you might just become aware that your body is snoring. This still happens to me from time to time. I'll be completely awake and aware, while my physical body is fast asleep and I can even hear it snoring in the background.

Often when this happens, your body is asleep, and you are in the out-of-body state but just don't realize it. You feel conscious and normal, so you never actually attempt to move away from your sleeping body.

The solution is: try to sit up, stand up, or move away from your body, just like you would physically. If your body moves, you're still not "deep" enough (see problem #2). If you're in the proper state, your physical body won't move, but your non-physical body will. If it doesn't move, and you're paralyzed, keep reading.


Problem #5 - "I can get out but then I'm stuck--paralyzed."

This is another important milestone. It means your physical body has gone into sleep paralysis, which is a normal, natural thing. The secret to transition from this state into a full-blown OBE is contained in a short article on my website called "What Everyone Should Know About Sleep Paralysis, ASP and OBEs.


Other Common Rookie Mistakes


Problem #1 - The rut of practicing halfheartedly

After you've been trying to achieve OBEs a few months, some people tend to get into a rut of making halfhearted OBE attempts. You've got to be passionate about this. You've got to try hard. You've got to keep pushing. Do you ever find yourself thinking, "I'll just spend my X minutes doing technique Y today, then I can say I made my daily OBE attempt"? That's the wrong attitude. That's a rut. You need to go into it with the expectation of success. If you've failed for two years, that's no reason to do it half-heartedly. You need to keep the passion.


Problem #2 - Not writing down your dreams


It's very easy to get stuck in a pattern of not writing down your dreams. I get it. You're busy. You don't have time to write down your dreams. You may tell yourself that you'll remember them later, and that's enough. Well, that may be so, but if you shortcut this, you'll make OBEs a lot less likely.

I've said it many times: The dreams themselves are unimportant (well, maybe they are important, but that's another topic for another day). What is important is this: When you write them down, it reinforces a neural connection in your brain related to "paying attention" to what's happening while you sleep.

If you wake up and immediately forget your dreams, you're basically telling your subconscious, "What happens over there (on the other side of the veil) isn't important" and that trivializes and minimizes your potential OBEs. When you write down your dreams, you're telling your subconscious, "What happens over there is important to me" and that implies dreams, lucid dreams, shared dreams, and out-of-body experiences.

You need to reinforce that brain circuit that pays attention to what happens on the other side of sleep.

Problem #3 - The rut of not thinking about OBE until you attempt it

This is another common rookie mistake. You don't think about OBEs all day long, then when you go to bed, you decide to attempt it. The trouble is: if you only think about OBEs once a day, your subconscious interprets that as a relatively low-priority, unimportant task to work on. You need to bump the priority.

To bump the priority, think about OBEs often throughout the day. Maybe you can use a reminder or an app on your phone, and when it goes off, just pause to think about OBEs, and how much you desire it. Or think about OBEs every time you visit the bathroom/WC. Or think about it every time you open your refrigerator door.

Be passionate about it. Have a burning desire to achieve it. Don't be complacent. Ask yourself, "Which OBE technique am I going to try next?" Ask yourself, "When I'm out of body next time, where am I going to go?" Just think about it as often  as you can. Make your desire burn.

Tweaking the Variables

There are a lot of variables when it comes to inducing an OBE, and it often helps to try adjusting these. For example, some people need total darkness/complete blackness to induce an OBE. If your room is too light, try wearing an eye mask to shut out the light. Other people need a little bit of light: light shining through closed eyelids can stimulate the production of consciousness chemicals in the brain. So find out what works best for you.

The same goes for noise. You can't induce an OBE if it's noisy. Dogs barking, lawnmowers roaring, and other noises can distract you too easily. So experiment with earplugs, noise-canceling headphones and/or white/pink noise (or just the noise of a fan blowing) to counteract a noisy environment.

"But my problem is something different!"

If your problem is not in this article, don't lose heart: there's a solution for every problem, so do some research and ask questions on OBE forums and Facebook groups.

The most important thing is that you strongly desire an OBE, are persistent in trying to achieve them, and never ever EVER give up.

Bob Peterson
23 January 2018

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