Pt 4. Pitfalls in Creating the Perfect Practice.
Now that we have explored the subtle differences between the OOBE, the LDE, and the sleep stages in which they occur; the hypnogogic and hypnopompic states, we are coming close to putting this information into practical use. Before we do, we need to address the most common limitations and pitfalls which need to be overcome, in order to insure success.
If you would like to be able to have or control anomalous consciousness experiences, and gain the most benefit from them, the key to successfully achieving this goal can be encapsulated in a word. Practice. There simply is no other way. One exception to that rule, is if the experiences are happening to you spontaneously. This is what happen to Bob Monroe initially. But it was only through practice, that he was able to explore the phenomenon to his full benefit.
Pitfall: The quick fix.
Because of my experience working so closely with Bob Monroe, over the years I have been asked about the many devices or recordings designed to induce unique states of consciousness. These range from light and sound devices, to ancient sound frequencies, or other binaural beat recordings. In truth, although I have tested many of these devices and recordings, I cannot speak to their efficacy in any real way.
If I were someone who wished to cash in on people’s ignorance and vulnerability, I would simply say, “Use The Triad Mind recordings. They are inexpensive, well researched, well produced binaural beat recordings which will entrain your brainwaves to help you go out of body or lucid dream or ”….whatever. But that’s not entirely true.
In my opinion, the recordings I am offering are the best available to help you establish a practice to achieve anything useful within an altered state of consciousness. The key words in that statement are: Practice, Useful and Altered States of Consciousness. If you are hoping that any device or recording will help you achieve your goals without practice, all I can say is best of luck to you.
Some of the things I would recommend you practice, are perhaps different than what others have shared. In the next article of this series, I will address tried and true techniques for sustaining a perfect practice. Before we do that however, we need to address the limiting factors which keep people from maintaining or succeeding in a perfect practice.
Pitfall: No Time to Practice Meditation.
If I had a dime for every time I have heard this!
By now it should be clear that meditation is the key to experiencing many anomalous states of consciousness. The notable exceptions are the LDE and OBE, which are not necessarily meditation states, but can be trained through meditation. The correlations between deep meditation and sleep have been well established for hundreds of years. Long before we had sleep clinics, Yogi’s practiced sleep Yoga.
Here’s is what I tell people who tell me that they have no time to practice meditation. Taking time to practice meditation, will not only give you the results you are interested in, but also slow down your experience of time in your physical life. This is simply because proper meditation techniques will help you create a sense of inner spaciousness. The less psychic stress you have, the easier it is to get into the true tempo of time, which is 60 beats per minute. A rather slow tempo. Practicing meditation will also help you become an observer of the following pitfalls. No time like the present to learn to become truly present.
Pitfall: Fear and Excessive Desire
Do you remember your answers to questions 3 and 4 of the last installment in the series?
They were: “Am I afraid of these experiences?” and “Do I deeply desire to have these types of experiences?”
If not, ask yourself these questions now. These questions have something in common. If honestly explored, they will help you understand your threshold for something called arousal.
Arousal: The Antithesis of Relaxation of Mind and Body
Think of arousal as an increase of the brains electrical activity to various stimuli. When aroused, the electrical impulses in the brain are heightened and run at a faster pace. When aroused, the body and mind are not in a relaxed state.
You might imagine that a relaxed state of mind and body are crucial to having these anomalous experiences in consciousness. So when trying to create and sustain a relaxed state of mind and body, emotions like fear and strong desire can actually work against your goals.
It might seem evident that if you are afraid of having an OOBE, then you are not likely to achieve the experience consciously. Fear will intrude as you enter the hypnogogic state, which is the target state for achieving the conscious OBE.
In addition, should you have what may be termed a hypnopompic OBE (or LDE), there is a very good chance you won’t be able to control the experience should it happen spontaneously. You will simply arouse yourself out of sleep.
So in short, fear is not your ally. It must be dealt with if you wish to succeed.
The same applies for desire. Some people seem to have a very strong desire to have an OBE for various reasons. This is mostly because they want to know that consciousness survives physical death, or they think it would just be cool. Many times, they have other egocentric motives which will also work against them.
Whatever the motive, one thing is certain: A strong desire towards having an OBE can actually work against your success.
If you’ve ever had to struggle with insomnia, you can relate to this. You are trying to fall to sleep, but your thoughts are restless and racing. You cannot relax no matter how hard you try. The more you desire sleep, the more sleep is kept at bay.
The same works in achieving and maintaining altered states like the OBE.
So as you continue to read on, I would like you to begin to think of arousal as something which has a particular vibratory rate. Take a moment to ask yourself, what you feel like when you are aroused, and see if you can get a sense of this vibration. The importance of this will be explained in the next article of the series.
Last pitfall: Certainty
I have been involved in consciousness research for well over two decades. I have approached the question of consciousness from the standpoint of neurology, psychology, philosophy, and of all varieties of spirituality. I have seen things and heard many stories that the purely science oriented researcher would write off as nonsense.
Not me. I prefer to remain rational, while open minded. You might consider me an open minded, curious type. At the same time, I am very serious about the topic of consciousness and often struggle with half baked ideas and beliefs expressed with certainty.
In my humble opinion, it is the pitfall of certainty which is the deepest. If you fall into this pitfall, it will take you longer to climb out of this one than all of the others combined.
As I said earlier, many people wish to have an OBE because they want to know that consciousness survives physical death. I understand why they feel as they do. The world is full of beliefs around this very large question. These are powerful beliefs, but they do not provide certainty.
Unlike the OBE, where one’s ability can be put to the test, beliefs about the afterlife through the myriad expressions in religions throughout the ages cannot. One’s beliefs on the subject cannot be proved or disproved. NDE’s provide personal experiences and are fascinating topics for research, but let’s face it, finding willing research participants who would like to die over and over in a lab are in short supply. :-). They cannot be researched in the same way as an OBE.
Pertaining to the pitfalls while creating the perfect practice, certainty is a double edged sword. Both blades of the sword should be tended to and sharpened, if the perfect practice is to be effective in helping you attain your goals. The key is wielding this sword effectively, has much to do with balance. The balance between: Objective and Subjective, Passion and Casual, Truth and Illusion.
My Grandmother had a favorite Shakespearian quote. “ Above all, to thine own self be true.” My Grandfather had a similar quote. “Don’t bullshit a bullshitter.” Both wise people with different style of communication. 🙂
In addition to these statements being an admonishment to tell the truth, the lesson for me as a youngster was to always know what my truth was. This form of certainty is an imperative and is one edge of the sword. In keeping it sharp, you will save yourself years of suffering through self denial. Know your truth.
Another old saying is “Keep an open mind.” One consciousness researcher whom I have great respect for, Dr. Charles T. Tart, wrote a wonderful book entitled: Open Mind. Discriminating Mind. The title says it all.
In short, watch your level of certainty play out as you have (or attempt to have) anomalous experiences in consciousness. Observe the experience. Observe your reactions to the experience. Do not rush to judgement. Be curious. Stay with the facts as they appear. Disregard belief structures that don’t fit the facts, while at the same time, remain open to other information as it comes. Don’t rush to certainty with regards to any experience. Ex. Perhaps the experience I just had was an OBE. Perhaps it was a Lucid Dream. Perhaps I imagined the whole thing as a result of wishful thinking.
Only you can know for sure, but to thine own self be true. Anything less will not help you at all.
Why quantifiable differences between OBE and LDE are important.
In earlier articles of this series, I attempted to point out the differences between OBE and LDE. I explained how these experiences took place in either the hypnogogic or hypnopompic states. In doing so, I equated these experiences with elements of sleep. I also brought up the phenomenon of sleep paralysis.
To be clear, this was not an attempt to rule out the validity of the OBE or LDE as merely a dream. Neither was it an attempt to equate the LDE with the OBE. While the two may be similar in many respects, to recap:
Those who attain the OBE have an unique ability to move about in the physical world without a physical body.
This was the case with Bob Monroe. It is not the same as projecting your thoughts, imagination, or visualization.
An LDE, is a dream in which you become an active participant.
Both of these can be valuable in the evolution of your consciousness for several reasons which we will explore in other articles. For now, simply absorb this: They are different experiences with different potential growth outcomes.
Personally, I believe that many people mistake their own experiences as being the same as Bob Monroe’s. They believe they are going OBE while in fact, they are engaged in Lucid Dreaming. I also believe that many people simply imagine that they are OBE, while projecting consciousness or simply engaging in flights of fancy. In being clear with these important distinctions, you will be able to create for yourself what I will call a perfect practice.
A perfect practice will allow you to achieve your goals while maintaining a well grounded sense of being in physical life. Over the decades that I have been involved in research and application of anomalous experiences, I have too often seen people succumb to delusional thinking, inappropriate loss of (or inflation of) the ego, and state chasing. These are not desirable outcomes.
If you are serious about achieving and benefitting from the OBE or LDE, you may want to keep a sharp eye out for these potential pitfalls in favor of creating the perfect practice.
So that we are absolutely clear, it’s no matter to me what people believe about themselves. I am also fine with whatever peoples experiences are. They are after all, completely subjective and have no effect on me. However, when they come to me for help and advice, I take the matter seriously. I help them address their limitations and help them process the experiences in a way that will promote self knowledge and well being. This personal philosophy comes from my years of being mentored by Bob Monroe.
Bob’s original focus was on helping people “turn their beliefs into known’s” regarding the OBE state. It was Bob’s belief that once you knew that you were more than your physical body, amazing things could then occur.
All those years ago when Bob Monroe and I would engage in long conversations about the nature of consciousness, out of body experiences and other phenomenon, I would often ask him a simple question. “Ok. I know that I am more than my physical body. Now what?” This simple question became the thrust for many of our conversations regarding what we should produce for the TMI public.
Bob understood his audience and felt compelled to continue to create programs which allowed the participant to reach “higher and higher” states of consciousness. This resulted in him creating “higher and higher focus levels” which took the center of consciousness further and further from physical matter reality. This is what people wanted from him and he delivered. But these higher states and focus levels, never answered the question…..”Now what”?
Not that he wasn’t interested in the question. On the contrary, we spoke for hours at a time on the subject. His third book suggested that the fate of humanity was to gain conscious control of this thing that we call consciousness. His one attempt at doing so, was the H+ series and a program which was called Lifespan 2000. Both were not received well by the public who simply wanted to leave their body or to go “higher”. This is the phenomenon known as state chasing.
State chasing, along with inappropriate ego enlargement, are also most important pitfalls to avoid in this work.
If you truly understand these pitfalls, you will be able to examine yourself to see how they might be playing into your interests to achieve the OBE or LDE. If you allow yourself a sincere inquiry into these and whether or not you are susceptible to them, you may be able to overcome them with a perfect practice.
The narrative of the work of Bob Monroe can be summed up in the phrase: “I am more than my physical body”. The narrative of The Triad Mind is summed up in the phrase: “I know that I am more than my physical body. Now what?”
If you choose to do a perfect practice, you will not only understand that you are more than physical matter, you will understand what to do with that information.