What the Books Didn't Tell Me

As I began having more out-of-body experiences I naturally set about doing my own type of scientific experiments. In my travels I encountered some peculiar things that weren't mentioned in the many OBE books I had read. Other peculiarities were only touched on by these books, but not explained to my satisfaction. Here are some of my findings:

I. Getting Stuck to the Physical Body.

The first undocumented thing I ran across was the problem of getting "stuck" to my physical body. In several OBEs I found myself seemingly "glued" to my physical body, unable to move away from it. A typical instance was my third OBE:

12/09/79 Sun - OBE #3

...I was partly out of my body. My left arm was free. I waved it back and forth and looked at it to make sure it was really happening, and I wasn't dreaming. I tried to move more of my limbs, but they wouldn't budge. I tried to use my free left arm to push the rest of me out, but the rest of me was secure (I couldn't move my physical or astral legs. They were cataleptic.) I felt that if I put my left astral arm back in its physical counterpart, I would leave the astral state. But [being almost paralyzed] I had no other choices. I waved my left arm again, and looked at it, to once again make sure I wasn't dreaming. Then I returned it to its physical counterpart. That brought me back to the physical world, and I came to.

After some experimentation I found a few ways to "unstick" myself and pry away from the physical body. A good example is given below.

01/22/83 Sat - OBE #88

...My first problem was...to get away from the physical body that usually claims some sort of hold on my astral counterpart. This time I had no problem: I turned over so that I was face down (my body was face up). Then I pushed myself up until I was on my hands and knees. My hands, knees, and legs were still in coincidence with the physical body. Then I just withdrew my limbs one by one, and climbed off the bed. I was free from the body.

Most OBE books agree that out-of-body "reality" is mostly governed by thoughts, fears and expectations. In one OBE, I used my fear of falling off the bed to counteract my expectation of being stuck, thus freeing myself.

Despite my limited success I still haven't found a satisfactory solution to the problem of getting stuck to my body, but I do have a word of consolation: This happened to me more often when I was first learning how to consciously get out of my body. As time went on I had fewer experiences of being stuck.

II. Getting in the Body Backwards.

This has only happened a few times, but it's an interesting experience when it happens. The first time this happened I was at my parents' lake cabin in northern Minnesota. I was feeling a bit under the weather and I was tired. I went into my bedroom to lie down for a bit. I was lying flat on my back with my head to the West and my feet to the East. I induced the vibrations and floated about three feet above the body. My astral body seemed completely paralyzed and I had no control at all:

09/21/80 Sun - OBE #23

...I tried to go up, but I couldn't. I wanted to go forward, but couldn't. Finally I wanted to turn around, and I rotated, so that my astral head was above my physical feet and vice versa. I started going down into my body the wrong way! Try as I may, I couldn't stop it. Finally I went into my body and blacked out for a second. When I came to again, I was disoriented; I thought I should be facing East like my astral body was, but woke up facing West in my physical [body]. In one instant I was in my astral body, looking at the West wall of the room. The next instant I opened my eyes and saw the East wall. I felt intensely disoriented, which was like a dizziness, but it seemed more physical than mental. In other words, it seemed as if I were still physically feeling the spinning or reorientation my astral body. About one minute later, the dizziness went away and I felt normal.

Since no harm ever came from these incidents, "getting in" the wrong way was never a problem.

III. The Blackout on Exit and Reentry.

Many books on the out-of-body experience claim that when a person leaves his or her body, there is usually a split-second blackout. The same blackout happens when the person reenters the body. What is this blackout, why does it happen, and what can we learn from it?

The split-second blackout that usually precedes and follows OBEs is a great concern because it may make the experiences seem more subjective and less objective, less "real."

Skeptics may say that the blackout suggests a loss of consciousness during which the person might actually start dreaming. They would say that the blackout is some kind of shortcut to the Delta brain wave state that accompanies our everyday dreams. Therefore, they would say the OBE is just a dream, with only subjective reality.

Some theories claim that the blackout is necessary. Crookall believed the blackout is caused because neither the physical nor astral bodies are available as a vehicle of consciousness during the transference of consciousness. Some people believe the blackout happens because only the subconscious self can separate the soul from the body; therefore, the consciousness of the individual must give up all control to the subconscious during the transference. Others maintain that the blackout occurs because during the actual separation process, the physical brain is unable to interpret the experience. Or, perhaps the brain can interpret the experience, but for some reason or another, the portion of the brain that is responsible for memory in unable to function.

Despite the theories, I have experienced OBEs in which there was no lapse of consciousness during the separation process and OBEs in which there was no blackout during reentry. The first time this happened was on my fifth OBE:

01/01/80 Tue - OBE #5

...I looked at my astral hands. They were gently waving back and forth....I thought my waving must be interfering with my travels. I slowed myself down. It felt like I was drawn closer to the physical body. I felt more physical. Then I dropped into my body and immediately opened my eyes (no blackout). [There was] no split-second of unconsciousness. I was fully conscious the whole time. I gently floated down [into the body]. I felt myself become more solid. I immediately took charge of the physical body and opened my eyes, wide awake....

In my 54th OBE, I was fully conscious for the entire exit and reentry:

10/31/81 Sat - OBE #54

...I got really comfortable, and started to "mind-sway" myself gently. I was extremely relaxed, and my mode of thought was perfect: PASSIVE.

I went deeper toward the unconscious state, but I never got there. I felt a strange electrical-type of sensation one third of the way up my spinal column. I also became alert, and at the same time I became restless. I was on my back but [my back was] curved around my pillow, and I felt uncomfortable with that position. I turned over so that I was on my stomach, but I felt that my body didn't move with me! Only my astral body turned! I didn't let this bother or excite me, because I knew that the separation process was not finished. I knew I was half in and half out of my body.

I also knew what I had to do next [to finish the process]. I gently and carefully pushed myself down a little bit, away from my body; About one inch of me was out. I instinctively knew that the vibrations would come to me then. Sure enough, the vibrations came filtering down into my head from above. When the vibrations were at their peak, I took [that as] my cue, and lifted out of my body, twisting at the same time so that I was heading for my bedroom door. I mentally noted how clear my consciousness was again. When I got to the bedroom door, I looked and realized that my astral self was curved around an astral pillow, just like my physical body was curved around its pillow. I reached over with my astral right hand, and tried to pull the pillow away. That is when I noticed that I was dressed in the same clothes as my body--my pajamas. I pulled on the pillow, but it wouldn't come free.

I got frustrated and turned so that I was facing west. I was going to look at my body to the northwest, but I stopped turning when I looked to the west and saw some lights. I tried to look at the lights and study them, but I noticed that my sight was strange. Everything looked as if it was tilted back 45 degrees. It was as if my astral body was leaning at a 45-degree angle. I wanted to see those lights better, so I tried to upright myself. But no matter how hard I tried, I was still at a 45-degree angle. It was like I was halfway between lying down and standing up. I thought to look at my physical body, but when I thought about my body, I immediately went into it without getting a chance to look at it.

I was now semi-physical in my body, and I made a great effort to stay awake. I kept saying to myself, "I will stay conscious." Then I thought that if I opened my eyes again it would help me stay awake. So with a great effort, I opened my eyes and everything was blurry. But I was awake. Then it seemed like I was in the cataleptic state. Very, very slowly my sight became more "real" until I was fully back in my body. I was fully physical again. When I rolled over and looked at the clock it was 9:35am, so I estimate the projection to have started around 9:30am.

Here is another example:

09/18/82 Thu - OBE #81

...Then the vibrations swept into me, and I was cataleptic. I tried to move, but I couldn't. I struggled to get away from my body but I couldn't. I opened my eyes. I could look around, but could not pull away from my body. My astral body was obviously separate from my body, and it felt free. I felt weightless, and yet I couldn't move. After trying to roll out of my body to the right and was unsuccessful, I looked at my bookcase. I looked around some more. Then I went to try to roll out to the left. Then I noticed a blur of red to my left. It was my clock, with a digital red display. I had heard that some people believe that time moves differently while out of body, so I tried to look at my clock. The clock was just barely out of my field of vision; my body was pointing straight up. So I tried to turn my head.

After a great deal of effort, I managed to turn my head to the left. It was very hard to turn. But as my head turned, my whole being solidified. I was turning my physical head. With no break in consciousness, I felt my whole being getting bound into my physical body. By the time I finished moving my head, I was no longer astral, but I could see the time: 9:30am.

I've had many more fully-conscious exits than reentries, for a simple reason: I usually try to make my OBEs last as long as possible, so I don't let the experience end until I black out or lose consciousness.

We may never know why the blackout usually occurs. Perhaps science will discover the reason, but not until the OBE is given serious scientific research.

IV. Pain During an OBE.

I have learned some interesting things about pain while I was out of my body. All the OBE books said that during an OBE it was impossible to feel pain. They said only the body feels pain. So I was very surprised when I had the following experience:

04/26/80 Sat - OBE #14

I entered my astral body and suddenly felt a pressure at my astral rib cage on both sides, as if someone were poking me there! I couldn't stand the tickle/hurt feeling and, as if I were being tickled, I twisted and put myself back into my body. Once in my body I felt all right.

I left the body again and the same thing happened! I tried to ignore the poke-pressure, but was overcome [with the pain] and had to go back again.

I was determined. I tried again. I swayed my astral legs once again. This time I noticed something strange. I didn't use my eyes nor my astral eyes, but I could feel my astral limbs with my mind! I could also see them partially with my mind's eye, just like visualizing a thought! This time I also noticed my astral arms. When I got out, I wiggled my fingers. Again, I felt the tickle-pain in my rib-cage on both sides. It wasn't as bad this time, and I also did a better job of ignoring it and withstanding the pain. I felt a hand grab my right wrist. It gently tried to help me away from my body, but once again the pain-tickle took its toll and I had to return to my body. When I came back to my body for the third time, I suddenly became very dizzy, and had to abandon the attempts....

This experience was the only one in which I felt "pain" in the true sense of the word. As I described, it felt as if someone were poking me in the rib-cage very hard.

I didn't get around to actually experimenting with OBE-pain until 1983:

01/09/83 Sun - OBE #86

...I clapped my hands in front of me as hard as I could. It made a sound, just as I had expected. I had hit my hands very hard, and I felt the pain in them for a second, but the pain was a painless-pain! I clearly recognized the sensation of pain in my hands, but I swear it didn't hurt!

I've experienced this painless-pain or mock-pain several times. For instance, instead of floating up above my body on one occasion, I decided to float down under my body:

04/27/80 - OBE #15

Sometime this morning I found myself conscious out of my body, but very near it. My first instincts were to get away from it. So when I thought about getting away, I drifted down, through my bed underneath my body. I could feel the bed as I went through it.

What I experienced was the sense of thirty or forty bedsprings piercing through my astral body as I went down beneath my body. The sensation wasn't painful, but I did feel the dull, throbbing sense of mock-pain.

In another OBE, I very much expected to feel pain, but I didn't:

05/25/84 Fri - OBE #109

I woke up astrally. I had been dreaming that something was attacking me on my left side. I woke up [in the astral body] and found myself swinging my right astral arm wildly hitting at the imaginary attacker on my left side. Although I was hitting my left side as hard as I could, I didn't feel any pain at all. I became fully conscious and continued to swing my arm, but only to gather momentum to swing away from my body. Soon I blacked out.

The subject of astral pain, especially unexpected lack of pain, may very well be another way to clearly tell OBEs apart from dream states.

V. Making the Body Move During an OBE

The books I read on out-of-body experiences led me to believe that it was impossible to move the physical body during an OBE. I found out that it might be difficult, but possible.

Several times I have apparently forced my body's eyes open during an OBE, yielding some interesting results. I have written more about that in the next chapter.

Although I have no way to prove it, I have apparently made my body move in other ways during a few OBEs. For example:

11/08/80 Sat - OBE #25

...I started myself astrally swaying again. I tried moving my feet, and my physical ones moved! They felt very heavy. The foot I moved was not the swaying astral limb, but the physical one, and I could sense it move with my mind-vision. About then I blacked out and came back....

I have also apparently made my body speak during an OBE. For example:

10/04/81 Sun - OBE #51

...I was really in my astral body again, stuck to my physical body. I tried to say, "It's just not fair," but I couldn't! So I tried to telepath it, and I heard it faintly in my inner hearing. Disappointed that I couldn't "say" it physically, I tried very hard again. Then I heard my [physical] voice say it, but the voice sounded distorted, as if someone said it for me. Or as if the transition from the physical sounds to the astral sounds made it sound squeaky, distorted.

I've also had OBEs during which I've put all my energy into trying to make my body speak, without success. Again, only scientific experiments can prove whether a person can affect his body during an OBE.

VI. OBE Myths

There are many myths about the out-of-body experience passed down through the ages, many of which cause people unnecessary concern.

A. State of health:

Some books on OBEs say that OBEs are easiest when the subject is in perfect health. Other books say that OBEs are easiest when the body is physically weak, sick or exhausted.

I've had OBEs in sickness and in health, for richer and for poorer, for better and for worse, till death do I part! Most of my experiences were done in good health, but as a rule, my body's state of health hasn't affected the experiences, nor my ability to induce the experience.

B. Lying on your stomach.

Many books caution the reader not to attempt an OBE while lying on their stomach. At first I had some concern about it, but the concern was short-lived:

04/05/81 Sun - OBE #38

...I rolled over onto my stomach. I headed off to sleep. I wanted to project, but I was too lazy to make any effort. I was almost asleep when I found myself waving. I thought, "Good. Now I can project." So I increased the waving. I was almost ready to come out of my body when I thought, "Wait. I read that you're not supposed to project while on your stomach. Maybe I shouldn't." Then the waving slowed down. I thought, "Maybe I should turn over." Then I thought, "No! That might ruin the whole attempt. I should take the opportunity while I still have it." So I started waving again. The waving got big enough, and I went up out of my body....

I've projected many times while lying on my stomach, and never had any problems or discomforts from doing so.

C. Attempting to have an OBE with your legs crossed:

Many OBE books caution their readers against attempting to have an OBE with their arms or legs crossed, or their body in any unusual positions. Supposedly, there is a danger of blocking the flow of energy in the body, which could possibly harm the physical body or astral body. Some books claim it's difficult for the astral body to leave the physical body in strange positions.

I've left my body in many unusual and awkward positions, and there have been no bad side effects.

It is important that your body be comfortable and relaxed during OBEs, and if you are comfortable and relaxed in an awkward-looking position, don't hesitate to use it. I would, however, recommend using only positions that allow good blood circulation. When some people sleep, they look like a squashed ant, or like an airman whose parachute didn't open on time. My general rule is this: if you can sleep in such a position, it is safe to leave your body in that position.

Some body positions do make it easier to leave the body. I've found that when I lie on my sides, I am sometimes too comfortable and therefore fall asleep instead of leaving the body. When I lie on my back, it seems easier to control my state of consciousness.

D. Usage of Energy During OBEs

I've often had people ask me if I came back to my body feeling drained. Not surprisingly, several books on OBEs claim that the experience requires a great deal of energy, and is therefore rare and difficult to achieve.

My experience has been just the opposite. I've never come back to my body feeling drained of energy. Rather than being tired, I return to my body feeling refreshed and happy. When I return to the body, I'm often exhilarated because the experience was so exciting and uplifting.

Although there have been many myths and legends about the out-of-body experience, there is still much to be learned. There is only one way to break through the barriers of fear, superstition and prejudice that keep us from broadening our knowledge and expanding our consciousness: to test the myths, to explore our outer limits and to bring that information out in the open.


Head Rocking

Sit up straight (not leaning back), close your eyes, and very gently and slowly start nodding your head, "yes." Don't analyze any of this, just try to feel that rocking sensation. Memorize that feeling of gentle swaying. Pretend that your whole astral body is also swaying just like your physical head is swaying.

There is a point where your head is balanced front to back, and if you nod your head with your eyes closed, you will probably lose that balance and feel slightly disoriented.

Do this several times at different practice sessions, spending at least a full minute each session. As a variation, try moving your head in small circles instead of nodding.

This exercise is good for many reasons. First, it will get you used to the feeling of being disoriented. OBE exercises can sometimes leave you disoriented. Becoming familiar with that feeling makes it easier to handle. Second, if you memorize this feeling of rocking, you'll be able to trigger the pre-OBE state easier, which may have its own rocking sensations.

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