The following week Bob and I went through the production techniques for the H+ series.
The job was easy. Somewhat boring, if I may be frank. There were three tape machines involved. One contained a sub mix and was in VHS audio format. I was told that his sub mix had voice and Hemi-Sync.
Another cassette recorder contained what were called voice inserts. My job was to put both of these through a mixing console, which blended these two audio signals and outputted that blend to another master recorder.
I did a test run and watched the levels on the master recorder. Once satisfied there would be no distortion, I pressed play and record simultaneously on that machine. Bob had given me a cue sheet with a set of instructions. I was to watch the timer and wait for the music intro to fade down. Once it did, I was to fire the first cassette insert. “This is your H+ function exercise to learn to relax.” Bob voice boomed from the cassette. So far, so good.
I had about 30 seconds before the sub mixed voice track on the video recorder continued with Bob’s narration. “To prepare for this H+ function exercise, move now to make your body comfortable. Whatever is best for you.”
He continued this narration over what sounded to me like noise and a mild humming in the low frequency range. I imagined that this was the aforementioned Hemi-Sync. It sounded like noise to me, but I was listening from the perspective of a recording engineer whose job it was to eliminate white noise and hum from musical recordings. Here, at the Monroe Institute of Applied Sciences, they seemed to want this sort of thing on their recordings. The narration continued, with Bob counting from one to ten. When he reached the count of ten, the listener was supposed to be in a state of mind awake and body asleep. Focus Ten, he called it.
As he counted slowly, my ears were immediately drawn to what sounded like a cricket chirping. I switched the audio from my headphone output to the Advent speakers hanging precariously above my head and looked around the studio, trying to find it. We were in the country, after all, and it was not inconceivable that one was in the room with me. I didn’t have much time to go cricket hunting, since my next cue was coming soon, so I put the headset back on.
About 17:00 minutes into the recording, Bob said something about an H+ access channel being opened. This narration was accompanied by a sound that reminded me of an airliner taking off. I identified this sound as white noise being flanged, which created a mild doppler effect. This Hemi-Sync was getting more bizarre by the moment, I thought. As the airplane sound began to fade, Bob’s narration continued, “Here is the instruction to all of you.”
This was my cue. I fired the cassette deck once again, which contained “the instruction to all of you.” In a soft , slow voice, Bob would give the instruction which would always begin with, “From this moment on………” When the instruction was finished, if there was enough time, I would rewind the cassette and fire it again, giving the “instruction to all of you” twice.
At about 20:00 real time, the sub mix would once again take over the narration. Bob would close the “Access channel” with a reverse of the airliner sound going in the opposite direction and begin counting to 20. When he reached 20, the listener was supposed to be sound asleep. My job was to lower the cassette volume in the mixer to a barely audible level, and fire the cassette over and over again. The purpose was to give “the instructions to all of you,” while the listener was in the sleep state. This would happen over the course of about six minutes, until Bob counted them to wakefulness.
I finished a few of these masters on the first day. I noticed that each time Bob counted to ten, the cricket would start to chirp again. Coincidence? I thought not. I decided to stop mastering and closely listened to the sub mix Bob had given me. Sure enough, there it was. Right there on the master. There was no way I could remove it from the mix. I decided that like the other strange sounds, this too was intentional.
Bob showed up at the day’s end and I presented the mixed masters to him. “Well, what did you think, Kid?” he asked with a gleam in his eye. I told him I thought the cricket was a nice touch. I had heard nature recordings were sometimes used in relaxation tapes. He didn’t seem amused.
Apparently the cricket had made it’s way on to the voice track mix and he didn’t want to redo it. He thought no one would notice, but I did. Others have reported hearing it over the years but no one seems to mind. It’s just there participating in the process. Bob was impressed enough with the volume of work I could manage in a few hours time and asked if I had listened to the exercises experientially. I hadn’t, but promised that I would in future sessions.
I returned a few days later and repeated the process. This time I would give the mix an experiential listen after completing my work. I had a lounge chair and a set of headphones, which is the optimum environment for listening to Hemi-Sync.
I let Bob count me through the relaxation process and tried not to let the cricket distract me. This was just meditation after all, something I had done for the past decade or so. The “airliner sound” didn’t toss me quite as badly as I thought it would, although I didn’t find it very pleasing.
Over all, the recording was quite relaxing and having Bob narrate my meditation experience was also fine. I really hadn’t expected that. My meditations had always been about quieting the mind and being in quiet surroundings. Guided imagery wasn’t for me. However, this man had a very unique and trustworthy style of delivery. I came out of the experience feeling refreshed and hopeful that some helpful, functional command to “all of me” had come through. It was a nice experience, but not what I was used to in my meditation practice.
Over the weeks I continued making more of the H+ series. From time to time, I took the opportunity to listen experientially. On perhaps the third or fourth time I had done this, something dramatically different occurred. I noticed that as I was relaxing with Bob counting me to ten, that there seemed to be some sort of unusual vibration occurring within my body. I couldn’t really explain the sensation at the time. It didn’t disturb my experience, but it was certainly different.
As the listened, I would begin to drift into some sort of vignette or dream-like experience. I was no longer hearing Bob give his “instructions to all of me.” I was no longer aware of the cricket or the airliner. I was drifting into another state of awareness that was very different from what I had been used to. It was quite enjoyable, but the diffuse imagery had me a little perplexed. It was much like being aware in a dream, yet knowing that this was not a dream.
All of a sudden I heard a most disturbing sound, accompanied by a rattle in my own throat. I had snored and I heard myself do it!
My wife had complained about this from time to time, but I never heard myself do it. It shook me right out of the experience. “WTF? I snore? How does one hear oneself snore?” My mind was full of questions. I wasn’t asleep. I was aware. This was most unusual. First the vibrations and now this?
Suddenly, I understood what Bob had been verbally encouraging the listener toward in this Focus Ten experience. It was an experience of the mind remaining awake while the body sleeps. As weird as these recordings seemed to me, I could only believe that they were effective.
I told this story to Bob when we met later that day and I delivered the masters. I told him about the vibrations, the imagery and the snoring. Once again he got that look in his eye and a smile came across his face. “Kid, that’s only the beginning. Stick around. There’s lots more in store”. I got the feeling he wasn’t joking.