The out-of-body experience was analogous to a party happening in a neighbor's apartment. Up to now, occasional psychic experiences were like party noises; I did my best to ignore them. Dabbling with altered states of consciousness was like walking upstairs and putting my ear up to the door. The pokes and prods were like party noises I heard from outside. My first OBE was like opening the door and walking into the party. What happened next was like going in, getting drunk and inviting everyone back to my place!
The day was November 26, 1979. Twenty-four days had passed since my first two out-of-body experiences of November 2. It had been two and one half months since I started exploring altered states of consciousness, trying to learn about the OBE. My playing with altered states had shaken me up quite a bit because of the pokes, prods, sounds and sensations I hadn't expected. My first OBE shook me up even more; It was undeniably real and made the pokes and prods seem trivial in comparison. Little did I know that my dabbling had opened some kind of psychic door.
I was living at home, while attending classes at the University and working part-time. That day, my mom had a friendly, nonalcoholic birthday party, and JP and I started talking about OBEs. He asked me to try a quick experiment: he held up his right index finger about an inch away from the space between my eyes, and he asked me if I felt anything. I felt a strange sensation there, as if part of my astral body was being pulled out of my forehead. I tried to explain what I felt, and asked him what it was. He said he didn't know for sure, but the space between his eyes worked the same for him. I hadn't read anything about the "third eye" yet, so I didn't pursue the matter.
After the party, I went to bed and made my nightly attempt to induce an out-of-body experience. After a few minutes of practice I opened my eyes and saw movements and lights in midair! I was frightened, and to make matters worse I started drifting away from my body! I panicked and tried my hardest to stay in my body! Once I was securely in my body I closed my eyes and decided not to continue. I eventually managed to fall asleep, but much later than normal.
The next morning I woke up tired with the alarm clock. I had to get up early to go to my 8:00am class at the University. I realized I was too tired to pay attention at class, so I decided to get some caffeine in my system to help wake up. Since I hated the taste of coffee, I went to the refrigerator and grabbed a bottle of soda pop, opened it up and sat down at the breakfast table. I took a sip and sat there trying to wake up and get motivated. Without warning I felt the bottle accidentally slip out of my hand and my hand closed into a fist. I was startled and expected to hear a loud crash as the bottle hit the floor, but there was no sound. I quickly looked at my hand, and the bottle was still there, securely in my hand! It wasn't psychokinesis; My astral hand had accidentally "let go" of my physical hand, but the physical hand held tightly onto the bottle. I knew right then it was going to be a strange day.
I caught my usual bus to the University and went to my usual classes. My last class got out at noon, and I needed to be at an important meeting at work by 1:00pm. I debated whether to stop for lunch. Something deep down inside me said, "It's okay, you have enough time." The thoughts seemed to be my own, and yet separate from me, like a deeper source of knowledge. I dismissed it; "That's just my stomach voicing its hunger."
I walked over to a local sit-down restaurant. I looked at the menu. Their specialty burger looked great, but it was served with a small portion of potato chips. I was very hungry for french fries, but short on cash, so I ordered the burger "as is." After the waitress left I thought to myself, "I have enough money and I'm hungry; I should have ordered the fries. I really want the fries." I didn't want to bother the waitress by changing my order, so I didn't say anything.
A few minutes later, the waitress brought my burger with a large serving of french fries! "Something strange is happening here," I thought, "This is getting weird." Was it a psychic experience? "No," I thought, "It was just a coincidence."
When I was almost done with my lunch, that same "something" deep down inside me said, "You better hurry or you'll miss your bus for St. Paul and miss your meeting." Again I dismissed it, thinking, "That's just me, worrying about being late for the meeting." Nevertheless, I rushed to the end of my meal and paid my bill. I wasn't charged for the fries.
I ran across the street to the bus stop and my bus was just pulling up. How convenient! I got on the bus and looked at my watch. It was 12:15pm. The trip from Minneapolis to St. Paul usually takes 45 minutes, so I felt confident I would not be late for the meeting. Then it occurred to me: If I hadn't rushed through my lunch, I would have missed that bus, and I would have been late for my meeting. Was it a psychic experience? "No," I thought, "It was just a coincidence."
I wasn't late for the meeting, but the meeting kept me from working on an important project, so I decided to work late. I worked that night until 9:40pm, then I went to catch my bus back to Minneapolis. By "coincidence" a bus pulled up almost as soon as I got to the bus stop. I got on the bus and sat down. I needed to catch another bus in downtown Minneapolis, so I got out my bus schedule and looked up when the other bus would be at my Minneapolis bus stop. The bus slowly pulled away from the bus stop and started sluggishly lumbering down the street at 15 miles per hour. My other bus was due to arrive downtown at 10:15pm and the next bus after that was 11:40pm. The driver kept driving at 15 miles per hour, for the next five city blocks.
Since it was 9:45pm, I only had 30 minutes to get to Minneapolis to catch my 10:15pm bus, and it was usually a 45 minute bus ride. To make matters worse, the bus driver was driving 15 miles per hour! I started to get very discouraged. I was brooding. I thought to myself, "I wish there were some way I could make this bus driver understand that I need to be in Minneapolis by 10:15pm." One block later the bus pulled up to the next stop and another passenger got on board.
Then something strange happened. The bus pulled away from the bus stop like a bat out of hell! The bus kept accelerating until he was ten miles-per-hour over the speed limit! He drove to Minneapolis at breakneck speeds--speeding the whole way--and passing up half of his bus stops! He even ran through a red light! He pulled up to my Minneapolis bus stop at 10:10pm. That was twenty-five minutes; a new world's record! I got off the bus and it tore off into the distance. "Wow!" I thought, "That's incredible!"
As I patiently waited for my 10:15pm bus home, I thought to myself again, "Was it a psychic experience?" How many coincidences can pile up before you believe that something extraordinary is happening to you? If someone off the street, or even a respected scientist, were to tell me of a series of psychic experiences like that, I would have laughed in his face. But since they were happening to me, I couldn't laugh. "All right," I admitted to myself, "things like that don't just happen 'by coincidence.' That's an excuse I've been using too long."
I had asked for Out-of-Body Experiences, not psychic experiences. Somehow I had got them both. Somehow I was becoming psychic, whether I wanted it or not. I absolutely loved the psychic things that were starting to happen, but I started to worry about my sanity: What's next--delusions of grandeur? Psychotic behavior? Paranoia? Just how important are my thoughts anyway? Can this power be abused?
"Should I tell anyone what is happening to me?" I asked myself. "If the experiences were not mine, I would never have believed them in a million years. So how can I expect anyone to believe they happened to me? No way!" I vowed not to tell anyone.
As a skeptic, I didn't want to believe in psychic experiences. I thought it was all a load of rubbish. But in the years ahead, as I kept practicing OBEs, I also kept having psychic experiences. Most days I would have three to five experiences I would classify as "psychic." They happened so often that I couldn't deny they were real.
I doubt that the psychic experiences were directly related to the out-of-body experiences. Rather, I think they were more related to the practice, during which I would induce altered states of consciousness. I discovered that when I became too wrapped up in daily life, I would have fewer psychic experiences. And if I took the time to meditate and explore altered states of consciousness, I would have more psychic experiences.
I was disappointed in the many OBE books that never mentioned the connection between OBE practice and psychic experiences. People brave enough to try to induce OBEs should be aware of the connection: When you try for OBEs, you may get more than you expect! Some of these psychic experiences can be alarming, unnerving, and sometimes even scary.
Sleep is a very complex thing. Each sleep cycle has several stages including the dream stage, or Rapid Eye Movement (REM) sleep. Most of my out-of-body experiences occur during the hypnogogic and hypnopompic states. The hypnogogic state occurs at the beginning of the sleep cycle when we're just starting to fall asleep. During this state, your conscious mind is normally "letting go" and your subconscious mind is taking over. The hypnopompic state is similar, but it occurs when you are waking up naturally (not awaken by an alarm clock).
It's very easy to recognize these states of consciousness: In both states, it is normal and natural to see mixed-up visual images, and to hear voices. Usually the voices and images don't make any sense.
For this exercise, I want you to experiment with these states of consciousness. Learn to recognize these hypnogogic images and watch them or listen to them with interest, instead of falling deeper into sleep. Just "play" with these natural altered states to get a feel for this type of experimentation with the "borderland" of consciousness. This kind of play is fun, and can induce OBEs. Since we typically have five or more sleep cycles per night, we have at least ten opportunities to have OBEs every night! That's seventy opportunities for an OBE every week, in addition to your normal practice sessions!
As an experiment, try to stay awake or prolong consciousness while you're falling asleep. Try to "walk" the thin line between conscious and unconscious. Try to get closer and closer to sleep while holding onto a thread of consciousness. Learn to hang onto that borderland state for long periods: This is a useful skill in learning OBEs.
Late one night I was using a computerized "TALK" program, talking to other programmers. I asked one guy what he was doing up so late. He said always had problems sleeping for as long as he could remember. He had a bad case of insomnia and hadn't slept for days. I told him I could cure his insomnia, and he said he didn't believe me, but he'd be forever grateful if I could. Well, I started telling him about my astral escapades, and I ended up giving him about five OBE-techniques to try. Several weeks went by. The next time I ran into him (on the same TALK program) he said, "It worked! You cured my insomnia! With your techniques, I fell right asleep! I haven't had any problem sleeping since!"
The point is, it's easy to fall asleep during OBE-practice. The best way to keep from falling asleep is to rouse yourself as soon as you recognize the first signs of sleep. In this way, you can learn to hold onto consciousness without drifting off to sleep.
Another technique is to lie down and try to fall asleep with your arm held up in the air, bent at the elbow. When you start to fall asleep, your muscles will relax and your arm will drop, waking you up again. This way, you can learn to get very close to sleep without being overcome by it. Later, you can stop holding up your arm during practice and get even closer to sleep and remain conscious.
These exercises have another benefit. By doing this, you are learning to unite the conscious with the subconscious. You are learning to keep yourself conscious during the times when your subconscious is usually in control. And when that happens, your conscious can talk directly to your subconscious without interference. Then magical things will start to happen. Your subconscious will cooperate with your conscious. Your left brain will cooperate with your right brain. Your creative mind will cooperate with your analytical mind. All areas of your life will improve.
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