Friday, March 25, 2016
In my very first experience reaching what I assume to be the Astral Planes, I was surrounded by what looked like carvings, sculptures, or relics of some sort. They looked like they were made of stone and bronze and had patterns, etchings, and symbols carved into them. Below are drawings of the two that I had a chance to look at most clearly during my experience there.
I bet you thought I was done with this mind awake, body asleep stuff right? Well, so did I, until I reread some posts by a guy named Frank Kepple. Frank spent years commenting on a forum called the Astral Pulse. At some time, someone took all of his posts and compiled them into a single PDF which documents his progress and experiences over the years as he is learning to project. As it so happens, one of the techniques he talks about, one which I have never personally had success with, takes advantage of this mind awake, body asleep state.
William Buhlman also talks about a similar technique in his book Adventures Beyond the Body. William has decades of experience and if he says that this is an effective technique for many folks out there, who am I to argue? I will present this the way I understand it and will update my description later if by chance I am ever able to gain success using this method.
The idea of both William and Frank's accounts of this technique is that you need to disassociate yourself from your body. You need to transfer your consciousness to another location, and this is done through creative visualization and engaging your five senses. William calls this his Target Technique.
To employ this technique, in the physical, go to a place you are very familiar with. William uses his mother's living room. Once in this room, take in everything, engaging as many senses as you can. What color are the walls? What is the texture of the ceiling or the floor beneath your feet? Are there any smells that are unique to this location? Are there any sounds that you associate with this location? Once you have a good grasp of this room and can really feel every aspect of it with your senses, locate three objects. William recommends that you select objects that are meaningful to you. Maybe they have sentimental value. William uses the example I believe, of a figurine that he created in school as a child that his mother has kept on a shelf. Walk up to this object and pick it up. Scrutinize it from every angle. Look at it up close. Feel every inch of it. Memorize its texture and weight. Does it have any flaws? Now put down that item, again, take inventory of everything in the room with your senses, then move on to item number two and repeat this process of scrutinizing every minute detail. Now repeat with object number three. Repeat this entire process over and over until you are confident that you can rebuild this entire room and each object in your imagination.
Go to bed, put your body to sleep, and reach this void state that we have discussed previously. Now begin walking through your selected physical location in your mind. Reproduce each sensation you experienced earlier with your senses. Pick up each object and look closely at them. Weigh them in your hands, feel every inch just as you did in the physical. Repeat this process over and over again, making it as real as you possibly can.
At some point, you should experience a shift. Your consciousness will transition to the location you have been imagining and you are out of body.
Frank's approach to this is very similar. Frank does not emphasize the need for a location you are familiar with. In fact, your location can be completely imagined. In Frank's approach, the use of your five senses is paramount, but it doesn't matter specifically where you use them. Frank recommends selecting a task that will engage each sense that is repetitive. The example he provides is sitting at a wooden table and peeling potatoes. Imagine this. You are sitting at a wooden table with a paring knife or potato peeler in front of you. To your left is a bucket of unpeeled potatoes. To your right is a bucket of water where you will place each potato once it is peeled.
Now, in your mind, once you are in that void state, begin peeling potatoes. Pick up a potato. Notice any dirt. Notice the texture of the skin. Pick up the peeler and listen to the sound as you drag it across the potato. Feel the wet smooth potato in your hand once you have it peeled. Smell that starchy smell. Now drop it in the bucket of water and hear it splash. Pick up another potato and repeat the process.
Take inventory of what is around you. What does the table look like? Is it old beat up wood? Is it new and glossy? Are the peelings falling directly onto the table or are you peeling over a bowl or plate? Make this scene as real and convincing to your five senses as you possibly can. As with William's target technique, at some point, you will make the shift and you will be the one peeling potatoes; your body left far behind.
This technique has some benefits for those that can't seem to get used to the jarring sensations associated with normal exit techniques. From what I have read, this results in a much more controlled gradual phase shift. No violent vibrations, noise in your head, and no feeling as though you have just been ejected from your body at full speed, landing who knows where.
I would imagine that like anything that requires visualization, this one is bound to take some practice. Give it a try, and please let me know how it goes for you.
Tuesday, March 22, 2016
I think we left off in that mind awake, body asleep state, with our consciousness, just floating in that peaceful empty void. Something worth mentioning once you've reached that void state is that keeping your mind awake suddenly becomes substantially easier. Robert Monroe talks about learning to reach the borderland state that you can hold indefinitely. That is this state. Once you have successfully taken your body out of the picture, your mind seems to snap awake with a renewed clarity. It is as if your mind simply had a job to do, put the body to sleep, and now that it's job is complete it is ready to resume in its usual capacities. As Monroe states, you could literally hold this state indefinitely. Without the nagging exhaustion, you felt just moments before, remaining conscious suddenly seem laughably easy.
In my experience, there are a couple of options once you have reached this state. There is the road of those who prefer to wait for the magic and the road for those who wish to try to give the process a little help. Waiting it out for me is the more reliable of the two methods, but I will cover them both below as they tend to lead to slightly different experiences.
If you choose to just allow the process to develop on its own, all you need to do is continue to relax and try to sink further and further inward. Try to become less and less aware of the physical world around you and more and more aware of the nothingness you are becoming a part of. At some point, if your experiences are on par with my own, the next phase of this experiment will begin. For me, this takes the form of regular energetic rushes. This feels like a rush of energy that moves up to my head. At first, they are so faint that they are almost imperceptible, but if ignored in just the right way, as if you have no real interest in them, other than a mild curiosity, they will build in intensity. These energetic waves soon take on an audible quality. The sound of these rushes is like a pulsating static, that again, if ignored in just the right way will begin to build in volume and speed. The static will continue to build in volume and speed as the energetic waves build in intensity and frequency. The moment the static become one continuous roar comparable to that of a jet engine in your head, the vibrations hit in full force.
As I mentioned in my post about the vibrational state, this procedure starts out as an incredibly delicate process. You have to approach it as though you are indifferent to every sensation. Keep your breathing steady, keep your emotions under control, and just surrender completely. If you can do this, you will reach a point where it is as if you have reached the top of a hill and are now on the downward slope of the opposite side. At this point, it is difficult to stop the process even if you want to. The vibrations will become smoother, and build in frequency as the sound in your head turns from a roar into more of an electric hum. This is the point where I personally can now see through my closed eyelids and my mask. This is the moment where all that is required is to sit up or roll out. The movement will feel just as if you are moving your physical body, but you will quickly find, you are no longer residing in the physical world.
So lets say you want to try to give this process some help. This will require some practice and some creative visualization. Once in the void state, without pushing too hard, you must begin a visualization that generates the feeling of movement. A popular approach is to picture yourself climbing a rope. I personally have more success when I use a visualization where I am being forced to move rather than initiating the movement on my own. I have two favorite methods, both of which generate the same sort of movement. Several months back I found a first person perspective video on YouTube of a roller coaster called the Ring of Fire. Some of you may be familiar with this. It typically resides at small fairs and carnivals. Once you are in the car, it simply does loop after loop. Then it will do the same, but in reverse. I watched this video for about an hour, over and over again, memorizing the scenery at every point in the ride, remembering times I have ridden this myself, trying to remember the sensation in my stomach and the feel of the wind in my face. Since then, I have used this visualization of being on this roller coaster many times.
The second method I use is to imagine a dot on my ceiling. I make this dot travel across the ceiling in the direction of my feet, down the far wall, across the floor, and then under me. I watch this dot through its entire progression around my room causing my imagined self to do a sort of summer salt. This has the same effect as the roller coaster. For me, the upside down motion is critical. I have never been able to produce results with imagined swaying as if in a hammock or just imagined forward or backward motion as if in a car.
I want to emphasize that you need to do more than see yourself performing these actions and these movements. Visualized sight is a good start, but in order for this to work, you need to be able to visualize what these movements actually feel like. Feeling the movement is the key.
So what does all this visualization do for you? This for me accelerates the bringing on of the vibrations. I never reach the energetic waves, I never hear the pulsating static, I go from the void straight to jet engine in my head and massive vibrations just at the flip of a switch. It hits so suddenly that all I have a chance to feel to prepare me for it is one rush that goes from my lower spine up to my head in a fraction of a second. The other biggest difference between this method and the slower more controlled method laid out above is that this technique always results in me being ejected from my body at a high speed. It is like that movement that I have started gains momentum and carries me to some unknown location. These are always locations that look like they could be part of the physical world, but places I don't recognize. As you can imagine, this is a little harder to grow accustomed to than the gradual onset of these sensations, which always leave me in my own room after the exit.
I would recommend doing your own experiments. Try the gradual onset. Try the roller coaster. Try climbing a rope. Just remember, it is the feeling and not the visual aspect of these imagined scenarios that is important.
Friday, March 18, 2016
During my projections, I always try to have a plan. Time in the astral is valuable and I want to be sure to use it to its full potential. This leads me to my latest experiment; meditation while out of body.
I left my body as I do, found a spot on the floor near my kitchen table, sat in the lotus position and closed my eyes. It all came with surprising ease. Reaching the void state that can require a great deal of preparation and effort int he physical was almost instantaneous. I turned my attention inward, and almost immediately felt as if I were falling into myself. As that falling sensation intensified, I entered the vibrational state. Feeling the vibrations once out of body is rare for me. As the vibrations intensified, I could feel my pounding heart and I began to feel the buzzing, phasing sensation building in my head.
In the early days, I used to lose focus and react to the sensations that occur while trying to leave the physical body. Just as I lost control in those days, I lost focus and control here and I was pulled back. I was not, however, pulled back to the physical. I was pulled back to the astral. I opened my eyes and there I was, still in the lotus position on the floor, next to the table.
I had a sudden epiphany. I was so excited by the prospect of what I had almost accomplished. I was sure I had almost left my body; my astral body. I closed my eyes once again and turned my attention inward, but my excitement and emotion, just as they have been detrimental in the physical, halted my progress now.
Shortly after, I was pulled back to the physical by my alarm.
I spent the day contemplating what I experienced. I have read many accounts that talk about the different levels of the astral and its various planes or realms. I have never experienced the astral planes in that context. Every one of my projections has resulted in a visit to a world that looks very much like the physical; what Robert Bruce calls "the real time zone". Could it be that projecting a second time when already in the phase could lead to a second exit and result in a visit to one of these astral planes or astral realms that I have read about?
I don't know, but I intend to find out.
This will be the first in a series of posts that will cover all the "How to's" of phasing. There are literally hundreds of techniques out there that have been talked about over the years to reach the out of body state. What I have found is that all of these can be grouped into one of three categories. This post will focus on the first of those three categories. "Direct Techniques". The term Direct Technique was coined by Russian Author Michael Raduga and while this is one of the more difficult approaches to experiencing the phase, it is also probably the most widely known and most commonly talked about. What sets Direct Techniques apart from all others is that there is no lapse in consciousness as you shift from the physical to the astral. You are awake, you achieve the required level of relaxation, you put yourself in the proper state of mind, and you make the transition. There are those who have been able to achieve this through meditation. Personally, I have only experienced this through what Robert Monroe calls the "Mind Awake, Body Asleep" state.
What is it that makes this approach one of the most difficult to become proficient in? Because evolution has wired our minds and bodies over thousands, maybe millions of years to let our minds drift to sleep before our bodies. I personally had to break a 30+ year habit in order to reverse that cycle. Perhaps you are starting to grasp the difficulties that this presents. I spent literally months trying experiment after experiment, trying to develop new neural pathways that would allow me to reach this state. In the end, I am unsure which of my experiments worked. Most likely, it was the combination of more than one that did the trick. That being the case, I will share with you everything I tried and you can take the pieces that resonate with you.
I will start with those things that I am most sure about; things that I still do to this day, and save the more experimental measures for last.
The first, and probably most important thing is to get rid of all distractions. Put your phone on silent. Lock the pets out of the bedroom. If necessary, wear an eye mask and earplugs. The more you can deprive your physical senses the easier it will be to turn all of your attention inward and focus on this monumental task. I found personally that it can be incredibly frustrating as you are learning this process if you share a bed with a partner who tosses and turns at night. After months of frustration, I found a solution, albeit somewhat extreme, that I would highly recommend if space and money allow. We got rid of our bed and bought two twin beds. They are positioned about half an inch apart, but with their own box springs and own supports. No longer having my achieved state broken by every little movement has turned out to be one of the biggest contributing factors to my success.
Second, lie down in a position that is not natural to sleep. I typically sleep on my side, so when putting my body to sleep, I always lie on my back. This will help you slow the transition into sleep and retain more control over it.
Third, remain absolutely still. Take time up front to find a position you can hold for an indefinite period of time because any movement, once the process is underway, will start you back at square 1. Movement in my experience includes everything from the more obvious, like scratching an itch and rolling over to the less obvious like swallowing and looking around under my closed eyelids. The urge to swallow was a hard thing to overcome. What I found was most effective for me was to prop my head up almost to the point where I am looking down at my toes. This keeps the spit from pooling in the back of my mouth and prevents the swallowing reflex. As far as what to do with your eyes, this is a tricky business. Close your eyes for a moment, select a spot to look at, and try to keep them still. Now hold that for one minute. Now hold that for five minutes. You will find that it is an incredibly difficult thing to do. They are always twitching this way and that, almost as if they have a mind of their own. For this, I have found that letting them gently roll back and towards the center of my forehead tends to be effective. This position is natural to sleep and gives me a target to look at so I can reduce the unintentional movements.
Fourth, those #@$%&* itches! There will come a point where your body starts to wonder if you are still awake and its methods of verifying your level of consciousness can be incredibly difficult to ignore, not to mention annoying. Just when I am starting to feel good about my progress, it happens.The feeling of a spider web strung across my face, particularly around my nose. Tiny pinpricks of tickling, itching insanity that I have lost my progress to more than once. The good news is that these are not ordinary itches that will remain until scratched. If you ignore them for 10 or 15 seconds, placing your attention firmly elsewhere, your body will be satisfied that your mind is asleep and they will simply fade away. An interesting note about these itches. On those occasions when I have lost the battle to those itches, the instant I reach up to scratch them, they are gone. They disappear before my hand can even reach my face. My body has won and I have fallen for its trick. All I can advise here is learn to ignore them and they will go away.
Fifth, relaxation is crucial. You may ask, "why is relaxation fifth on your list?". It is fifth because, at the beginning, relaxation is not too difficult. We all fall asleep every night, and you have to be relaxed to do so. Relaxation only becomes a challenge when you begin to make progress. Up front, the things you will want to consider revolve around general comfort. Is it too warm? Too cold? Too warm and you will fall asleep too quickly, too cold and you will never reach the required state of relaxation. For me, this usually means a light blanket or just a sheet, along with comfortable loose fitting clothes. All other relaxation concerns will not come into play until the sleep process begins. The sensations when your body is falling asleep are anything but mundane. I found that my initial involuntary reaction to many of these sensations was to tense muscles, or clench my jaw, or hold my breath; all of which will wreck any progress. The solution to this is practice. As you start to feel that lead blanket feeling creeping up your legs, begin taking inventory of your body and various muscle groups over and over. Start at your feet and evaluate each muscle, moving your attention slowly up your body. Ask yourself as you get to each muscle, is it relaxed? Is there any tension? Can I let that body part sink any further into the bed? Once the answer is "no", continue to the next body part. Repeat this process as you progress.
Sixth, let's talk about breathing. What do you think about when you think of breath in relation to meditation or astral projection. If you have read the same books I have, you probably think of very deep breathing, or pot belly breathing, or pranayama breath holding. While this is great for relaxation in general, I find that for me it is not the most effective way to breath when trying to bring on the mind awake, body asleep state. The reason for this, as I briefly discussed in the vibrational state post is because once the sleep wave reaches your chest, that heavy sensation that presses down on your lungs makes it feel as if you are straining for breath. This can lead to discomfort, modification of your breathing pattern, or even panic, all of which are bad news when it comes to progressing deeper. Instead, I try to keep my breathing shallow, short, but very importantly, comfortable. You don't want to feel like you are depriving yourself of oxygen, but if you can keep from expanding your lungs fully, it will make it easier to adjust to the weight on your chest when you reach that stage in the process.
Seventh, keep your mind busy with something repetitive and monotonous. This is the final piece of solid advice I can give you. If you have ever spent a night thinking about a bad day at work or an upcoming vacation, you are familiar with the fact that racing thoughts can easily prevent sleep, sometimes for hours on end. Your goal here is to keep your mind busy, but with something much less interesting than your upcoming trip to Cancun. Repeat over and over again "mind asleep, body awake", or count backward from 300 to 1. Every time you find yourself losing your place, just start somewhere and continue. It isn't important that you think every single number, just that you keep returning to that repetitive thought whenever you realize you have started to lose concentration.
And now into the realms of experimentation and guesswork.
One of the skills that will come in incredibly handy in this process is the ability to let yourself dip into sleep and through intention alone, pull yourself back out. There are times when no matter how long you lie still in bed, nothing will ever happen. Perhaps your mind is too active or perhaps your body is just not tired enough. In situations like this, if you can let your mind bob up and down in that borderland state, maintaining control to pull it back out every time it slips under, you can take that frustrating scenario and move your progress forward at a surprising rate. This, unfortunately, as it seems with all things projection related, is no easy feat.
My first experiment came at the suggestion of Robert Bruce. Robert recommends propping your elbow up on the bed, fingers facing the ceiling, and letting yourself fall asleep over and over again. As you drift off, your arm will start to fall, waking you. You then return your arm to the initial position and repeat this process over and over again. I was not successful with this technique. I found that with my arm in this position, it is simply impossible to relax enough to ever make it anywhere near sleep. That problem intensified after holding this position for 45 minutes to an hour. The muscles in my arm started to ache and burn and I was not able to dip into sleep even once. The idea was a good one, but in my opinion, it was not effective in its current state. I needed to improve upon it.
My first attempt at improving upon this idea was to create an Android app (did I mention I am a geek?) that would very simply, cause the phone to vibrate any time you let go of the volume down button. At first, this seemed like it was going to work. I laid there in bed, phone in hand, thumb on the volume button, and as I started to drift off, my thumb lifted, the phone began to vibrate, and it pulled me back into consciousness. In the end, however, I am sad to say that this method suffered from the same problem as Robert's technique. Fatigue. My thumb started to get tired and eventually I couldn't hold consistent pressure and the phone was just vibrating non-stop. I needed something else. Something that didn't rely on muscle tension that could potentially lead to exhaustion.
I came across an interesting article about Thomas Edison. As it turns out, Edison found that he could access inspiration and untapped creativity in the hypnagogic state. He would sit in a straight-backed chair, steel ball bearings in each hand, metal pans on the floor beneath the bearings, and he would let himself fall asleep. As he drifted off the ball bearings would drop into the pans and wake him up. He would repeat this process, allowing him access to this borderland state. This gave me an idea. I went into my garage and found a small steel weight that I could tie a string through. I tied that small weight to my finger and held it in the palm of my hand. That night, I laid in bed, letting my hand hang just off of the bed, and let myself fall asleep. It worked. As I was falling asleep, my muscles relaxed, the weight fell, and the string pulled at my ring finger, waking me back up. Even better, with the string being fairly short, I could pull the weight back up while remaining in that semi-relaxed state and repeat the process. I did this night after night, over and over again.
The last thing worth mentioning is daytime practice. I devoted an hour at least three times a week for over a year during my lunch breaks to developing this skill. I would go to my van at lunch, put down a sleeping bag and pillows in the back, lay down, and try with nothing more than the intention to pull myself out of sleep over and over. I would set an alarm to go off every 15 minutes or so just in case I lost control and dipped too far into sleep. The alarm would wake me back up so I could continue.
So what is the end result of all of this? The end result is, now I am able to lie down in bed, put my body to sleep, and enjoy the void-like borderland state almost every evening. I have not yet discovered if this is similar to riding a bicycle or not. If I were to stop my daily practice, would I retain this skill? After so many months of hard work, I don't want to find out. I have made putting my body to sleep before bed my daily routine even on those nights when I have no plans to attempt projection.
That seems like a good place to stop for now. Next time we can go into some more detail on what the opportunities this state provides
Friday, March 11, 2016
Question: Is astral projection dangerous.
Answer: The short answer is "No". If that is enough for you, please enjoy the rest of your day. If you would like more explanation, please feel free to continue reading.
This is a question I have never personally asked, and I have always wondered why others do so. It has always seemed strange to me that something non-physical could even be considered even remotely unsafe. There is absolutely no physical harm that can possibly befall you when you are projecting. You are as safe when you project as when you are just lying in bed asleep.
So, you might say, "no physical danger. Got it. What about non-physical danger? What if I can't come back? What about the severing of this silver cord I hear about? What about demons possessing my body while my soul is out gallivanting through the known universe?". Here are some general thoughts on that. Once you experience astral projection you will quickly realize that the challenge is not in coming back, but in staying out. The worry that you might get stuck out of body will quickly vanish. The "silver cord" connecting the astral to the physical has been reported by many practitioners, but I have never personally seen it. It does seem to be the general consensus, however, by those who have seen it, that it will only be severed at the time of death and you could not break it if you tried while you are in the out of body state. That brings us to demons. I am sure my answer will not be popular or satisfactory to some, but here goes.
There is no such thing as demons.
I am not a religious man, so if the previous statement caused you a twinge of annoyance and you internally threatened to stop reading my blog, forgive me. If it helps ease your mind a bit, Robert Monroe projected for 30 some odd years and was never possessed. He was also not a religious man. The common thread that I have seen is that religious people tend to be more susceptible to seeing these things because, one, they believe in them, and two, the astral is a very thought-responsive place where your thoughts can quickly become manifestations. I would recommend approaching this endeavor with an open mind and a positive attitude. Optimism goes a long way in the astral.
Question: What are some of your scariest experiences in the phase?
Answer: There is no doubt, even knowing that there is no danger, the astral can scare the bejesus out of you. I will share my three most alarming, scary, and otherwise bizarre experiences that left my heart pounding.
1. I am lying in bed on my side, putting my body to sleep like I usually do at night before I let my mind drift off. My body falls asleep as usual. The familiar lead blanket works its way up my body. Nothing strange here. Just the usual sensations. My sight and hearing click off as usual shortly after the wave of sleep has reached my head. It precisely the moment when my ears shut off to the physical world that I start to hear footsteps crossing my carpet. The side of my bed sinks down and I feel something or someone climbs into bed behind me. This being wraps its arms around me and I feel the front of its knees pressing into the backs of my own. This thing is spooning me. I am trying to keep cool, trying to keep my breathing steady, trying to just ride the experience out to see where it goes when all of a sudden, this creature takes its left arm off of me and reaches down from behind and starts pushing its hand between my legs towards my genitals. That was enough. I jerked out of my trance state, got out of bed, and didn't sleep much the rest of the night. This thing did not feel inherently dangerous. In fact, it felt more like it just wanted to be close to me, but it crossed a line and it was not a line I was prepared for it to cross. This thing has never returned for a second encounter. Perhaps it doesn't handle rejection well.
2. I am in a bed and breakfast in Ireland and I have just put my body to sleep. The vibrations begin surprisingly quickly, probably due to the level of physical exhaustion I am feeling after a couple of 20-mile hikes. The vibrations build in frequency until they are the familiar smooth hum that means it is time for me to get out. I sit up in bed, looking at the beautiful light shining through the window and radiating off of everything in the room. Motion to my right catches my eye and I look to the rocking chair that sits by the wall. There is an old woman with cataracts yellow, blind-looking eyes rocking. She notices that I am awake and with surprising speed, she moves toward me and stops with her face just an inch from my own. With a jolt of panic, I lay back down into my body and end the experience. Again, this did not feel like a dangerous situation, but another invasion of my personal space in an abrupt and unexpected manner. Maybe she was near-sighted and she just wanted to get a better look at me. I wish I would have had the courage to remain there. I am sure we could have had an interesting conversation.
3. I get out of body through the usual method and I start to walk around my house. I look into the bathroom as I walk passed and there is something moving on the floor. As I take a closer look, it is a creature that looks like it is composed entirely of black static, almost like television static, but black. This creature was about two or two and a half feet tall and had no face. Its head was shaped a little like a lopsided boomerang, and it's arms and legs came to points rather than hands or feet. I stood there, staring at it, more curious than scared. This was not a large creature and it was odd, but didn't really frighten me. I walked over to it and quickly snatched it up by the neck. Holding it at arms length, the hand I held it in started vibrating violently. This shortly resulted in a return to my body. What caused these vibrations? Was this creature vibrating at a lower frequency than I was and that difference in frequency caused this sensation like two gears out of sync with their teeth grinding together? I would be interested if any of you have seen this little guy. Here is a poor artist's rendition of my little friend.
Have you seen me?
Wednesday, March 9, 2016
I thought this would be a good time to introduce one of the most common and yet one of the most inexplicable and exciting parts of the Phasing process. This is known as the vibrational state. This is a state that is commonly reported to occur just before the projection experience begins. I have been asked; "how do I know when I have reached the vibrational state?". My answer to that is if you are not sure whether or not you have reached it, then you have not reached it.
Let me describe this state a little bit for you. The first time I ever experienced this was when I was 13 years old. I woke in the morning, completely immobile, locked in sleep paralysis, with the literal, very much physical feeling that someone was jabbing me in the lower back with an electric cattle prod. This electrical current radiated from that point in my lower back throughout my upper body. I was terrified and struggling against this unseen force as hard as I could. As I finally broke free from this state of paralysis, the vibrations faded and I was genuinely scared to roll over and find out what was behind me that had just put me through this ordeal. When I did roll over, my room was empty. I was alone. Completely stunned by what I had just gone through. This experience was to remain unexplained for another 20 years.
January of 2014, two decades after that first encounter with what would soon become my obsession, I finally discovered what had happened to me all those years ago. As I made my first attempt to astral project I was hit once again in the lower back by what could have been a live power line. This was such an intense experience that as much as my curiosity urged me onward, anxious to see what would come next, there was a part of me that wondered just how long I could hang on in this current state. Just as I started to seriously consider breaking this state I had somehow achieved, a clearly audible male voice made it clear that it was now or never. This was the moment when I first left my body. The instant I was free, there were no more vibrations; no more sound. Just profound silence accompanied by the excitement of endless possibility.
To my knowledge, there is no scientific explanation for what causes these vibrations. Esoterically minded individuals might say that this is something like a Kundalini awakening; energy rising through the chakras (primary energy centers of the body). Robert Bruce's description of raising Kundalini actually matches my own experience with these vibrations almost perfectly; the energy building at the base of the spine and then erupting toward the crown of the head, resulting in a form of enlightenment.
At this point, I have no problem admitting that I don't know exactly what these vibrations are. Maybe they are the result of chemicals mixing together in the brain combined with a free-floating state of mind. Maybe they are the result of an unseen serpent coiling its way through my central channel. For now, all I know is what these vibrations are capable of and I have a moderately good idea of how to induce them, (assuming they are something that can be "induced"). There is a theory, again, more accepted by those who are esoterically minded, that these vibrations are always there. We are simply unaware of their existence during our day to day life. Imagine physical reality as a radio station. Now imagine that the next station over is the Astral. The vibrations would be the static between the two stations. All three states exist at any one point in time, but you only perceive the station your radio (consciousness) is tuned to. If we could, learn how to raise our energetic frequency, and change that station at will, holding onto that frequency somehow in the waking state, the vibrations or phase state could be experienced at any time. Imagine for a moment, if this were true, the possibilities would be truly endless. In my current state, this seems like an impossibly lofty goal, but if one day I uncover the truth behind any of this, you will be the first to know.
Since my first phase experience two years ago, I have encountered the vibrations dozens of times. Sometimes they are harsh and violent like I am holding onto the handle of a rattling chainsaw and other times they are like the pulsing vibration of a cell phone. Just as distinct, but higher in frequency and more comfortable to endure. Learning to not only accept these vibrations but anticipate and even enjoy them was quite a stumbling block for me. When I finally reached the point where I was no longer scared, my fear was replaced by excitement; an emotion equally detrimental to projecting. The trick is to learn to quietly, optimistically wait for them with sort of a detached desire. Say to yourself "I don't care if the vibrations find me tonight", while internally holding onto your intention to achieve the desired state. When the vibrations do arrive, notice them as if you were noticing something out of your peripheral vision. Say to yourself, "oh, that's nice", and then simply relax into them.
Robert Monroe, in his book Journey's out of the body, instructs the practitioner to control the vibrations; to consciously direct them to various parts of the body, then to oscillate them from head to toe. Developing this skill is high on my to-do list, but as of yet, I can't say I have the required level of control. After two years, all I can say is that I am finally to the point where I can remain calm while I passively enjoy the sensations. I simply let them do their work as I anticipate my next adventure.
I still have such a long way to go.
Wednesday, March 2, 2016
For those that have read my previous posts and who are interested in braving the potential of insomnia, I thought I would share how I set up my ramp timer. This tutorial will be very Android-centric, but I imagine that you could do something similar with an iPhone or any other MP3 player that allows the creation of playlists.
Step 1: Download the ramp timer files from the Lucidology site. These will come in a variety of different MP3's all wrapped up in a zip file. While at first you may think, "What is this nonsense? You mean I have to create my own ramp timer using these files?", in the long run, I really love the way Nicholas has provided the files so that they can be customized easily to accommodate different periods of silence, different numbers of beeps, and so on. Nicholas provides us with 12 audio files and a readme.txt. As I mentioned above, this provides us with a great deal of flexibility when creating our timer setup. The audio files are grouped into three different categories. First, you have silence in one minute, two minute, four minute, and one-hour intervals. Second you have beeps. These are exactly what they appear to be. Audio files that beep one, three, or nine times. Finally, you have some pre-made ramp intervals for what Nicholas calls "Rhythm Napping". These work well if preceded by a block of silence so you have a chance to fall asleep before they start going off.
Step 2: Decide what sort of setup you think will be most useful to you. Based on my own experience, backed up by the all-knowing internet, it is best to try this sort of thing in the wee hours of the morning. I personally have had most my successes between 2 and 4 AM. Personally, I have four different setups that I use depending on how long I expect to be able to sleep, and how often I feel like being woken up. I would say a good place to start would be, create a configuration that allows for 4 to 6 hours of silence, and then follow that with one of the pre-made Rhythm Napping timers. You can always tweak things as you go.
Step 3: Upload your files to the cloud of your choice. I am an Android user so for this example, I will be uploading my files to Google Play. If you don't have an iPhone or Android, any MP3 player that allows the creation of playlists should suffice.
Step 4: Build your playlist. Take the silence MP3s and repeat them a few times until you have the desired amount of silence preceding your beeps. Then add the desired beep files. The names of the Rhythm Napping files describe the intervals and length of the track. 2-minute-base-73-mins, for example, would be a 73-minute long audio track that uses two minutes as its base interval.
A note about Rhythm Napping. These files are randomized somewhat. A two-minute interval might beep at two minutes, then four minutes later, then 16 minutes later, then back to two minutes. The theory behind this is that your brain doesn't like to be jolted awake. Think about those days when you wake up with an alarm. I personally almost never sleep until the alarm goes off. My inner clock wakes me up 10 to 15 minutes before the alarm will go off because it doesn't appreciate being yanked out of sleep so abruptly. The same applies to Rhythm Napping. As your brain starts to anticipate these beeps, your mind will preemptively wake up and if you can remain still, your body might just stay asleep. This puts you in a prime position to experience the phase without hours of relaxation beforehand.
Here is an example of one of my playlists. This starts with six hours of silence and then moves into the 73 minute, three-minute base interval configuration.
Step 5: Don't give up. This can take some trial and error. I would recommend saving this endeavor for a night where you can sleep in the following morning since it is likely to seriously screw with the restfulness of your sleep.
Good luck dreamers! I would love to hear about any experiences you have.
Tuesday, March 1, 2016
After my last post, I decided it was a bit rude to give you a glimpse into the end state I was able to accidentally achieve while withholding all the details of how I actually got there. Fortunately, my friends, I care a great deal for manners so I will spend this post entirely on the "wheres", "whats", and "hows" of my first Phase experience.
I first came across the term Astral Projection while searching YouTube for videos on Lucid Dreaming. (also a great topic, but we will get to that another time). In January of 2014, if you were to type "Astral Projection" into the search box on YouTube, the top videos slots were home to a series produced by a man named Nicholas Newport. He calls his series "Lucidology". Watching his videos, he described a method that he deemed "the underachiever method". This method of achieving mystical experiences was meant for those who are not interested in putting forth a great deal of effort. Bingo! That was the technique for me! In a single night, I could quickly employ this technique, debunk Astral Projection and go back to my studies on Lucid Dreaming.
This method requires the use of what Nicholas calls a "ramp timer". A ramp timer is nothing more than a series of beeps that are set to play in your ear while you sleep at predefined intervals. The instructions were to sleep for 4 to 6 hours, at which point, the ramp timer should be set to beep, wake you up, and your only job is to go back to sleep. Easy enough right? I have always prided myself on my ability to sleep . Being the party animal that I am, I typically hit the sack about 9:00 PM. I set the ramp timer to go off at about 3:00 AM, laid down on my back, put my earbuds in, and quickly did what I do best, drifted off to sleep.
At 3:00 AM, as planned, the first interval of beeps went off in my ears. I woke up slightly annoyed, a little confused, very groggy, and then remembered my experiment. Sticking to the plan was a piece of cake at 3:00 AM. I simply laid back and went back to sleep. Here is where things began to get unexpectedly bizarre. I almost immediately entered a lucid dream. I was enjoying the wind in my face as I soared over the rooftops of my neighborhood when the next round of beeps went off in my ear. I sat up in bed, excited about what had just occurred. Sure, I didn't get out of body, but I did have a lucid dream, which you may recall, was my real goal to begin with anyhow. I walked to my dresser, picked up my dream journal and began to write. I looked up and noticed something out of place. My mattress was hanging half way off of my bed and onto the floor. "That's odd", I thought. How on earth did that happen? Noticing other irregularities in my room, it didn't take me long to realize I was not really awake. I had read about these, but never experienced one. This was a false awakening. No sooner did I get my bearings, then the next interval of beeps sounded in my ear.
I woke up, sat up in bed, thinking about my lucid dream followed by my false awakening. This had truly been an eventful night. I was on my way to write down my experiences in my dream journal when it occurred to me that I wasn't sure how long I had been listening to the ramp timer. It felt like morning, so I skipped the dream journal, saying to myself that I would write in it later and headed to the bathroom to shower and get ready for work. I walked into the bathroom, but when I walked through the door, I wasn't in the bathroom. I was outside standing on a grassy hill. Here we go again. This was another false awakening. Just as I realized I was still sleeping, the ramp timer began its next interval of beeps in my ears. I had six false awakenings in all. Over and over again I thought I was awake, started my day, only to wake up again. Near the end, I started immediately questioning my state of consciousness each time I awoke. It was the final beep that woke me finally back to reality and to an overwhelmingly intense flood of auditory hallucinations and uncontrollable electrical vibrations that were coursing through my body.
Oddly enough, I have only had a small handful of ramp timer induced successes. The saying "beginner's luck" definitely applies here. The challenges I have found with the ramp timer method are threefold. First, once I had experienced its potential, I had an incredibly hard time going back to sleep when it first sounded in my ear. My adrenaline would start pumping and I would be filled with excitement at the prospect of another astral adventure. This emotion never failed to ruin the state. Second, the morning after a night of experimentation, successful or otherwise is never an easy morning. You have just endured a night of disrupted sleep and will spend the following day catching yourself dozing off at the keyboard in your cubicle, and quite possibly, a bit cranky if your attempts lead to nothing fruitful. Finally, most the time it just doesn't work. Maybe the time of night is wrong, maybe I am not relaxed enough, maybe the volume is too loud or too soft, or maybe there is just a certain amount of luck when it comes to employing this method.
Despite the difficulties that this method presents, it did provide me with my first experience, and in that, it changed my life and I will never be the same.
You may ask at this point, "what is this Phase that you speak of and why the heck would someone devote an entire blog to it?". "The Phase" is a term I believe was originally used by Robert Monroe, but more frequently used by Michael Raduga, a Russian author, teacher, and Phase practitioner. It is really more of a category than a noun. Think of it as a grouping of dis-associative experiences. Anytime we talk about lucid dreaming, astral projection, out of body experiences (OBEs), near death experiences (NDEs), we are talking about one of the many facets of the Phase.
Now, to answer your second hypothetical question, "why should you care?". That one is easy. Because it is mind blowing. Because it is incredible. Because it is the closest thing I have found to magic in this world and the child in me can barely contain the shivers of excitement that still give me goosebumps every time I think back on the moments I have spent in these states. These are experiences so profound that a single accidental experience has lead this writer to devoting thousands of hours researching, meditating, practicing, and even to spending a week at the Monroe Institute (a center for the exploration of consciousness), all in an attempt to develop the skill set required to enter this state on command or at the very least, to make visits more frequent.
This all started for me a couple of years ago. In January of 2014, January 3rd to be exact, I came across the term "Astral Projection". I had never heard of Astral Projection and all it took was a quick trip to YouTube to decide that this was undeniably a load of absolute nonsense. I had recently escaped 30 years of brainwashing in a fundamentalist religion and that sort of thing tends to leave a bad taste in your mouth for anything that cannot be seen or scientifically proven. I was so determined to expose this phenomenon for the obvious B.S. that it was that I decided to try it out for myself. I found some basic instructions, laid down that night knowing it would be like any other night and fully expecting to have a good laugh in the morning followed by a well deserved "I told you so".
Needless to say, since I am here, two years later, still obsessing over this topic, there was no "I told you so" the following morning. That night, during the process of trying to induce the described state, I was hit in the lower back by what felt like an electric cattle prod. While my body shook uncontrollably, the voltage spread, and a pulsating static in my ears built to a roar comparable to that of a jet engine. I heard an audible voice clearly through the deafening noise. It was a male voice. It said, "if you don't get out now, you won't get another chance". Instinctively I sat up and the world was quiet. The violent, almost painful electrocution was over. I was in my room, but it was different. Everything had a gentle ambient glow of purple light radiating from it. I was awake, but I couldn't be awake. I was fully conscious, fully aware, but at the same time I knew had to be locked in some sort of hallucination or incredibly vivid dream.
That first experience didn't last long, but the impact it had on me was permanent and profound. I didn't sleep the rest of that night. I laid there, awake, staring at the ceiling, going over and over in my head what I had just experienced. I had discovered something incredible. I had experienced something that somehow had eluded my attention in over 30 years on this planet. I didn't know what it was, but I did know two things. I had to learn everything I could about it and I had to do it again.
That my friends is the Phase.