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

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