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