Ley Lines, Armageddon & the End of the World (As We Know It)?

by D.V. Gray

They’re called lung meis, meaning “dragon paths,” in China and parts of eastern Asia. Western metaphysics knows them as ley lines, which is somewhat misleading since they’re not visible lines on the earth’s surface. However, for the sake of convenience and a common terminology, we’ll stick with the phrase “ley lines.” For those who are unfamiliar with the term, this refers to a geographic area of very high energy concentration. If you could see these areas and view them from an aerial perspective, they would appear as lines, criss-crossing the countryside, often appearing as spirals or circles in areas where the energies are especially strong. By “energies” I mean the general “feel” or atmosphere or “vibrations” – though this is an admittedly rather vague definition; it’s difficult to pin down in precise language.

People respond on a subconscious and even on a subatomic level to these energies. Imagine what might happen if this could be used for things such as healing – for increasing the drive toward enlightenment rather than feeding the impulses of aggression.

Ley lines were discovered through the observations of “supernatural” phenomena. Reports collected over years, when analyzed and compared with the locations of many church sites (which had been erected on what were sacred pagan sites generations earlier), revealed that unusual phenomena seemed to manifest primarily along lines connecting these “sacred centers.” (I’m omitting many details here in the interest of simplicity; for further information, check out Mysteries by Colin Wilson, 1978, Putnam Publishing Group, NY.)

By nature of this method of discovery, it’s been generally assumed that ley lines are relatively fixed areas of high energy which affect the world and its inhabitants in certain ways. The energies seem to be of an electromagnetic nature, and may be polarized – i.e., perceived as having a positive or negative nature. A center of “negative” polarization may manifest in ways such as inability to sustain life – for example, any tree planted on a certain site, no matter how healthy and well-tended, soon dies for no apparent reason. Or there seem to be an unusual number of accidental drownings at a particular spot on a river. Conversely, at a center of “positive” polarization the grass may grow unusually thick and green even though given no special treatment over the surrounding lawn. Or anyone who moves into a house built on one of these sites may experience unusual happiness and well-being regardless of what sort of life circumstances they may encounter. These examples only scratch the surface; the ways in which the energies of the ley lines can manifest are quite numerous. At any rate, it has been generally observed that the ley lines and energy centers affect us whether we are aware of their existence or not.

But are the ley lines and their energies affected by us in turn? This is an aspect that hasn’t really been investigated – and realistically, there’s no reliable way to determine this within the scope of our present capabilities. But if we take what we do know about how the energies affect us, and apply it to the question, we can make an educated guess that the energies do, in fact, flow both ways. As the currents of the ley lines affect the physical world, so are they affected by the physical world.

When the discovery of these currents was made, it was at a time and in an area of considerably lower population and less modern technology than we now have. Since that time the population has exploded–and more people means more individual collections of energies, for after all, each of us is a small deposit of the same sort of electromagnetic energies as those found along the ley lines; the ley lines affect us by “raising the voltage” and creating an exchange of energies when someone comes close enough to be in contact with them. So the energies have increased (in the sense of becoming more widespread) upon the surface of the earth as our population has grown; and by the continuous exchange of energies between ourselves and the “subterranean” currents, the forces of the ley lines have become more highly concentrated than ever.

In addition to distributing the surface energies more widely via population growth, we have also increased the number of structures on the face of the earth… we have taken more and more raw materials (especially metals) out of the earth to be used on its surface… we have increased the use of electricity drastically just over the past half-century… we have criss-crossed the surface of the earth with railroads made from these metals and electric lines carrying currents of power… and we have created means for bouncing radio waves around the world. This is certainly not a protest against the increase of technological advances and the use of resources – but when one considers all these drastic progressions since the discovery of the ley lines, it prompts the question of whether such rapid changes might not affect the ley lines themselves in some ways. After all, we don’t know if the locations which were designated as ley lines at the time of their discovery were always such; they may have been anyplace before humans learned to intuit such things and observe phenomena in a semi-rational way.

The very nature of existence is change. It may be slow or rapid, but the energies of life are kinetic, not static. Nothing that is alive in any sense of the word remains eternally fixed; there is always change of some sort. So it is not unreasonable to assume that the ley lines, being areas of energy (which is kinetic), move under certain circumstances. We can infer that they don’t generally move very rapidly – if they did, they could hardly have been discovered in the first place.

Just to make things even more interesting, throw in the influence of astronomical phenomena such as moon phases, planetary alignments, eclipses and the like. It is well-known by now that the moon’s pull has a great influence on our oceans and other bodies of water. In doing so, human thought and behavior is affected as well, humans being made up of a rather large proportion of water and other liquids as far as biological composition is concerned. If you doubt the influence on human behavior, check the statistics. Police records indicate that a considerably greater number of murders and violent crimes are committed during times of the full moon. Mental institutions also report that their admissions rate skyrockets during the full moon. These are just two rather obvious examples that come readily to mind.

Continuing along this digression of the biology of the human body and brain, note how much of the body and its chemistry is composed of metallic substances in one form or another. Consider the relationship of electricity to water (and other liquids, to a lesser degree); then factor in the relationship of certain metals to magnets. If the energies of the ley lines are literally electromagnetic in nature, this opens up a rather large realm for speculation on exactly how these things will interact (because it is clearly certain that they will interact – the only questions lie in the unpredictability of how they will do so and what the effects will be).

Influences such as eclipses and planetary alignments are far less certain; theories are more diverse because reliable correlations have not been established in these areas as they have regarding lunar effects. So we cannot really explore those influences other than to say that they may have an effect as well, but in some very unpredictable way.

Having noted sufficiently that all these influences and energies seem to interact and exchange, let us go back now to the question of whether the ley lines move. It now seems quite likely that they would naturally shift in a very gradual way – but when rapid changes affect the surface of the earth, the ley lines may begin to shift with proportionate velocity.

To what areas would they logically shift? Considering the nature of the energies, the lines are most likely to move toward areas of high magnetic or metallic density or sites of high electrical concentration: railroad lines, electrical towers, hydroelectric dams, etc. “Crossings” would seem to be logical “power centers” (for instance, a spot where railroad tracks cross a river); the crossings of ley lines have traditionally been the sites of highest concentration where “sacred centers” have been noted and upon which churches have often been erected in later years.

It’s entirely possible that this rapid shifting and reconfiguration could cause the energies to flow in such a way as to produce very unstable effects in both the inhabitants of the earth as well as the earth itself and its atmospheric conditions. People respond on a subconscious and even on a subatomic level to these energies, and our thinking and actions are often the physical manifestations of these currents. Hence there is a general sort of global discontent and restlessness which provokes acts of violence and frustration; people act without knowing that they respond to these energy currents as well as each other.

On a geological level, the shifting energies may already be creating shifts in the material substance itself, forming new fault lines (and relocating or enlarging old ones) which make the entire global mass liable to instability and further radical shifts. In conjunction with the atmospheric changes and general global warming and so on, this also causes massive shifts in the waters upon the earth. To put it concisely, the electromagnetic energy currents shift, and while people are behaving so irrationally that there could easily be a “military Armageddon” at any moment, the very planet is changing under our feet in such a way that there may be massive flooding and earthquakes. One could speculate that if Atlantis did exist, this may have been what happened – advances on a mental and technological level were made so rapidly that the energy currents shifted radically in a very short period of time and the earth shifted in response to this, allowing the continent to flood and sink under the sea.

I do not speculate in this way to alarm anyone, only to convey the necessary sense of urgency. Things are shifting very rapidly, and it will be those who have learned to adapt quickly to the shifts who will be able to weather the coming storm. Returning to the metaphor of the lung meis or “dragon paths,” the ley lines are the routes along which the energies – symbolized by the dragons – run. The medieval idea of averting disaster by slaying the dragon will do no good, for we are the dragon as the dragon is within us; we are inextricably linked. These energies are our life force, our vitality; to “kill” them – to sit still and attempt to confine or choke them – is to commit spiritual suicide. Remember from science class, “energy can neither be created nor destroyed”? You are wasting your time if you think you can “kill the dragon”; it will only transform into something else.

And perhaps that is what we should bear in mind at this time: great transformations become possible when massive energies such as these are in a state of flux. Catharsis is facilitated; “change” need not mean that we become angry victims of some powerful force which we do not understand. Imagine what might happen if this could be used for things such as healing – for increasing the drive toward enlightenment rather than feeding the impulses of aggression.

The challenge at this time is to learn to attune to your own energies, discover your capabilities, and strive for balance in the exchanges of energy that take place between you and others, and between you and the source.

© Copyright 1998 by D.V. Gray. Republished 2004, 2011, 2015.

[This article previously appeared in SKOPOS Vol. I No. 1, and is archived here in an updated format by permission of the author.]

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The Rearrangement of Robert Plant

by Rob Colfax

A funny thing happens when you’re good at something: people expect you to do it all the time. And you have to do it exactly the same way: no embellishments, no improvements, no alterations – just do “that thing you do.” Be that person, wear those clothes, drive that car, sing that song. The problem is, an artist has a natural inclination to push boundaries, to grow beyond what they’ve become… while an audience seems to have an equally pressing need to resist change, to demand consistency.

“Stay independent and do your own thing,” says Robert Plant.

Case in point: Robert Plant, long identified as “Led Zeppelin’s lead singer,” writer of the “Stairway to Heaven” lyrics, the man of the tight trousers, golden tresses, magnificent stage presence and barechested banshee wailing. Plant’s post-Zeppelin career has now spanned over twice the number of years he spent with the band, yet each new offering is critiqued mainly in terms of how similar to Zeppelin it is or isn’t. (As an aside, it’s interesting to note that the critics who give high marks of Zeppelinicity seem to mean it as a compliment these days; Zeppelin, who always had a fanatically devoted following among their audiences, generally drew scathing reviews and disdain from music critics.)

Mighty Rearranger, for instance, has been excitedly touted by many music writers as “the most Zeppelinesque of Plant’s albums to date.” Someone even went so far as to compare its sound to “Down By the Seaside” (a track off Zeppelin’s Physical Graffiti album); I don’t know what they were smoking, but since “Seaside” is a Zep track I’m very partial to, and since I’ve listened to it thousands of times over the years, I have to say I don’t hear the slightest resemblance to anything on Mighty Rearranger. Perceptions are different for everyone, of course; the fact that someone else might hear something I don’t (and vice versa) shouldn’t affect anyone else’s enjoyment of it. Does that mean I don’t like it? Absolutely not. It’s a good, solid piece of work. I have my Zeppelin catalog to listen to; I don’t need to persuade myself that Plant’s newest release is the second coming of Zeppelin.

One thing, in fact, that I particularly like about the latest album is the general feeling that it shows Plant at a new stage of lyrical evolution while exploring some of the deeper roots of sound and rhythm. There’s an amazing diversity of musical style; the band digs into Plant’s long-running affinity for African tonalities and eastern rhythms, gives a respectful nod to the Delta blues, meanders through some lulling acoustic melodies, kicks ass, rocks hard, and even makes a successful foray into techno-land (if you leave the CD running past the apparent end of the last track) – yet all this is pulled together so consistently and skillfully that it seems almost effortless. What could have sounded like a multicultural train wreck emerges as a cohesive work of art.

While it’s good to hear that reviewers seem to like the disc, it’s a little curious to note that after all this time, they’re still measuring it – and most of his other independent work – against what he did with Zeppelin. Plant himself has expressed his concern about being “a parody of previous success” and this comes across eloquently in lyrics such as these from “Tin Pan Valley”: I live on former glory, so long ago and gone – I’m turning down the talk shows, the humour and the couch… I’m moving up to higher ground, I’ve found a new way out…. My peers may flirt with cabaret — some fake the “rebel yell”… Me – I’m moving up to higher ground — I must escape their hell.

True, Plant still includes Zeppelin songs in his live shows. So does former bandmate guitarist Jimmy Page, for that matter, but Page generally escapes the comparisons to his Zeppelin days. This may be due to his work with voices very different from Plant’s (Paul Rodgers, David Coverdale, Chris Robinson and others) – temporary alliances which seemed to indicate that Page was picking up and moving on, quietly exploring new ground away from the Zep fold – much like the archetypal hermit he portrayed in a segment of The Song Remains the Same.

It might also be due to their respective instruments: Plant’s voice has mellowed somewhat over the years and although he’s obviously still capable of pulling off the Viking battle-cry, his style has migrated into a place where conquest is accomplished more through intimacy than by sheer force. Page’s guitar, on the other hand, still sounds relatively unchanged; his repertoire and style of playing has become broader and richer, but the timbre of the instrument itself remains more or less the same.

But it might also have to do with the visibility factor; Page’s solo ventures, for the most part, have been understated in comparison to Plant’s. Page has also been more reclusive over the years, and has thus been able to sound as much (or as little) like his Zep days as he feels inclined to do on any given night without drawing much comment one way or the other. Plant, ever the extroverted Leo, has generally been more accessible and interactive with audiences who tend to remember familiar faces and want to put them in equally familiar places – i.e., dead center stage fronting Led Zep (another group of familiar faces) rather than the lineup of his current band, the Strange Sensation. Memory is persistent.

So how does one go from being part of a legendary rock band to an independent artist in search of deeper meaning? For that matter, how do any of us learn to stand apart from the crowd, think for ourselves, shed the labels that get stuck to us at every turn, and evolve as an individual?

One thing Plant did to shake off of the constraints of expectations was to deliberately take a break from playing large venues, withdrawing from the spotlight to a great extent. “When you’ve had enough,” he explained to interviewer Nigel Williamson, “you’ve had enough.” It doesn’t really matter how many people attend a show, he added, or who they are; what matters is why they’re there, and if the audience has come expecting something that isn’t what you’re working toward, then the interaction between artist and listener simply doesn’t work. (I get the impression that this may have been a concern for Plant even back in the Zeppelin years; I recall a tape I heard from a 1970 concert in Dallas where Plant, between songs, broke off expounding upon on a bit of blues history to remark on the fact that some fellow in the audience seemed more interested in groping a girlfriend.)

Another item worth noting is Plant’s move to the smaller Sanctuary Records label, possibly in order to obtain a greater measure of creative freedom. In the literary field, new writers who don’t fit neatly into an established commercial niche are now frequently urged to approach small independent presses where there’s generally more appreciation for quirky, hard-to-categorize work; perhaps Plant is applying the same general principle here. When MTV’s Bill Flanagan recently asked him to offer advice to aspiring musicians, Plant said frankly, “Stay away from the major labels. Stay independent and do your own thing.”

Aside from the occasional collaboration with Page over the past years, Plant has been making a clear effort to become his own person in a musical sense, to explore his own interests. He’s been wise enough to gather a group of musicians with sympathetic interests, he’s scaled down the recording process (portions of the tracks on Mighty Rearranger were recorded on the spot in remote locations such as a barn in Snowdonia and a carport in Bath), and overall has focused more on a simpler approach to making music. He’s also learned, over the years, not to worry too much about how his work is received. “It’s not ‘I hope it’s accepted’ but ‘I hope it works for me,” he told Williamson, adding with a laugh, “If it doesn’t, I’m going back to the desert.”

The lyrical content and overall tone of the new disc seems more optimistic than anything since Manic Nirvana. Perhaps it’s the sound of someone who’s come to terms with enough of the past to know that the struggle to be your own person and do what you believe never really stops, but that you can choose your battles, to a great extent.

“If I seem in a good place,” he told James McNair of the Independent UK, “that’s because the opportunities that are coming my way are fantastic. It’s no longer about me scrambling to get away from the shadow of a long career.”

Asked by Williamson whether his newest album signals that he’s “returned to the fray,” Plant seemed to shrug off the idea. “I don’t know whether I’m ‘back in the ring, slugging it out’ – I don’t think there is any ring. I just think there are great gigs and great songs and maybe an audience, and even if there’s no audience, it’s OK.

“In the end,” he says, “there are no laurels to rest on. There’s only what’s gonna happen in the next minute, and what might happen tomorrow.”

© Copyright 2005 by Rob Colfax. Republished 2011, 2015.

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Out-of-Body Experiences: A Review of the Literature & Discussion of Potential

by J.P MacKenzie

One of the most useful tools in spiritual growth is the out-of-body experience. Known variously as the OBE, astral projection, “traveling in the spirit” or any of a host of other terms, the basic definition is an altered state of consciousness in which you feel yourself to be someplace other than where you know your physical body to be. Like many altered states of consciousness and spiritual phenomena, it is difficult to explain or understand it fully unless you have personal experience with it. What I intend to do in this article is to give a brief history of reports and research available on this phenomena, and also include some personal comments from our staff. Hopefully, this will dispel some confusion and common misconceptions, and be helpful to those who wish to be able to use this valuable tool.

I will use the acronym “OBE” throughout the article, since that seems to be the more recognized term in recent and current research in this field.

History & Review of the Literature

Two of the earliest pioneers to document their experiences in this area of research are Hugh Callaway and Sylvan Muldoon. Muldoon’s experiences were noted by Hereward Carrington in the late 1920s; Callaway (using the pseudonym Oliver Fox) wrote up his own work in the field, probably around the same time, though the dates of his work are less certain. Muldoon was a “natural,” having OBEs spontaneously as a child. He put forth the opinion that nearly every form of “psychic phenomena” — everything from telepathy to poltergeists — could conceivably be explained by the phenomena of OBEs. There is certainly a logic to his rationale, and if one tends toward economy of explanation, this idea certainly simplifies many “unexplained mysteries.” Muldoon, however, does not assert that OBEs are responsible for all psychic phenomena, only that they are a plausible explanation for such.

Despite allegations by some that Hereward Carrington was more of a capitalist than a spiritualist and was only interested in exploiting Muldoon’s abilities for his own financial gain, the books they produced together are well-written accounts and the basics are set forth in an easy-to-understand manner. Curious students will probably find their first book to be the most helpful (The Projection of the Astral Body by Sylvan J. Muldoon & Hereward Carrington, published by Rider & Co., London, 1929). Their subsequent books are more along the lines of anecdotal collections. Projection is currently available in a paperback edition but if you’re put off by the “new-age” pastel illustration on the cover, you can still find copies of the original hardcover edition in some university libraries. In addition, with this book (as with most of the others I’ll mention), you may be able to locate various editions by checking the used books section of an online bookseller such as Powell’s.

Oliver Fox’s book is getting a bit harder to find these days than it was when I ran across it in 1983. Fox’s accounts are drawn from his own experiences and are quite descriptive if occasionally confusing for the beginner who hasn’t yet had an OBE. There are, however, some very valuable contributions as far as technique — one being what he refers to as the “dream of knowledge.” The basic idea is that Fox uses lucid dreaming as a jumping-off point for having an OBE; the knowledge during a dream of the fact that he is dreaming seems to shift his consciousness just enough to begin an OBE. Acquiring this knowledge that one is dreaming is not as difficult as one might think; what is required is to “awaken the critical faculty,” as Fox calls it, and this is most easily done by noticing some inconsistency (even a seemingly trivial one) in the dream — for instance, Fox describes noting in one dream that the stones along the curb faced one way in his dream when he knew that they actually faced the other way, and this alerted him to the fact that he was dreaming and launched an OBE. Fox’s book is Astral Projection: A Record of Out-of-the-Body Experiences; first published in the 1920s, it has more recently been reprinted by University Books, Inc., Citadel Press, Secaucus, NJ.

Again, Fox’s book will better serve the student who has already begun to experiment with OBEs and is looking for different techniques or a different perspective to stimulate thought. If you haven’t had an OBE (or have only had enough to be confused!), try Muldoon’s book first to get some basics on practical theory and techniques.

One of the more prominent practitioners of the OBE was Robert Monroe. Monroe’s first book Journeys Out of the Body appeared in 1971 (published by Doubleday & Co., Inc., NY) and has been followed by other books as well as tapes. As with Muldoon, however, the first book seems to be the most helpful one as far as actual technique; after that, Monroe starts to theorize and gets further and further “out there” (which may be helpful to some, but keep in mind that Monroe’s later OBEs aren’t necessarily what you’d expect from your own experiences — like most things of this nature, they are highly personal, individualized experiences). He also was largely responsible for setting up the Monroe Institute near Charlottesville, VA; the Institute was designed to assist others with having OBEs and is reported to have a high success rate among participants.

One of the more helpful contributions of Monroe’s first book was the observation and documentation of the vibrational state that many people experience at the start of an OBE; by learning to adjust and vary the rate of these vibrations, they can actually be used to facilitate the OBE. Monroe is also one of the first writers to work extensively with getting into an OBE from “full waking consciousness” rather than from a sleep or dream state. It must be noted, however, that there is a rather wide gap between the techniques described in Monroe’s first book and the methods now in practice at the Monroe Institute. And it must be noted as well that there is a discrepancy between the original documentation of his first OBEs (in an article which Monroe wrote under the pseudonym Bob Rame) and the description which appears in his book. (The discrepancy is in the omission of the information that Monroe’s first OBEs were probably induced by inhaling glue; this is included only in the original article and is not mentioned in his books.) However, as various drugs — such as an anesthesia used for surgery, for instance — can certainly assist in facilitating OBEs and similar altered states of consciousness, I do not feel that this necessarily invalidates his research as a whole.

For an overall comprehensive guide to the OBE, check out Leaving the Body: A Complete Guide to Astral Projection by D. Scott Rogo (published by Prentice-Hall, Inc., Englewood Cliffs, NJ, 1983). Rogo covers eight different techniques for having OBEs (including Monroe’s methods, yoga practices, dream control, etc.). Each technique is described and the basic points are summarized in a concise, impartial manner. This is an ideal introductory guide for the beginner and a good source of varied techniques for those who “haven’t quite found what works best” for them yet.

There are, of course, a number of other books available on the subject as well as numerous articles from various journals and websites; I note these in particular simply because they are some of the more accessible ones with which I am familiar. Much of the more recent material I’ve found is often a rehash of the ideas elucidated by the writers I’ve mentioned, and some of the more interesting books to come out during the past ten years or so simply don’t stand up as well as the classic texts on the subject. Others may find something useful in them, but as a general rule, I’m skeptical of the ones promising “OBEs in 8 Days!” or some similar claim. Deadlines don’t produce OBEs; in fact, it’s common to not have one until days or months after you’ve actually given up and stopped trying to do it.

Common Misconceptions

One of the more confusing points of the OBE, even for those who have had one, is how to distinguish it from a “normal dream.” Unfortunately, there isn’t a completely objective way to determine this; it is especially difficult to do so with one’s first OBEs. However, I can offer a few suggestions to help with this distinction.

#1: OBEs are generally much more vivid than dreams (varying, of course, in proportion to how vivid your own dreams normally seem to you).

#2: With practice, one can exercise a great deal of control over OBEs (although the same could be said of lucid dreams, and it is often very difficult to attempt to distinguish between the two). In a typical dream, there is no awareness that you’re in a different state of consciousness, and little to no control over the events of the dream.

#3: If one has had previous OBEs, a similar setting will be more likely to indicate an actual OBE than to signify a dream involving an OBE setting.

#4: OBEs are generally much less chaotic and confusing than dreams; they may not necessarily “make sense” but there is less feeling of needing to make sense of something or do something. There is none of the nonsensical urgency that is so often present in dreams.

#5: OBEs generally involve more senses; dreams tend to be primarily visual experiences with occasional auditory features. OBEs tend to have a fuller experience of more of the senses, often even going beyond the five senses used by the physical body.

If none of these help to determine whether your experience was an OBE or a dream, I suggest that you simply make note of the experience without labeling it as either. Be patient. Further experience may assist in revealing its nature to you.

Another source of confusion is the “silver cord” and alleged hazards connected with having OBEs. Many researchers insist that the part of you that leaves the body is connected by means of a silver cord which, if severed or tangled, could cause any number of complications ranging from a headache to death. (This seems to have been a more serious concern with earlier researchers.) I’m not saying there’s no silver cord or connection of any sort — and certainly, if you expect to see one, you might very well do so — but in an informal survey of about a dozen people who’d had at least one OBE experience, I found no one who’d seen or felt a cord of this sort during any of their OBEs.

As for the hazards associated with OBEs which some writers warn about, our experiences with these have been minimal. One person reported a few instances of OBEs in which there was great difficulty in getting back into connection with the physical body, but these resulted in no physical or psychic damage, merely annoyance. Catalepsy (a feeling of temporary paralysis in which the limbs seem unable to move) is not uncommon, but goes away of its own accord within a few minutes. A mild drop or rise in body temperature is also not uncommon, though it may be perceived from the inside as being much more extreme than it actually is; again, this phenomena passes within 15-20 minutes in most cases. If one is “brought back” abruptly, a sense of disorientation is common; if one tries to go about one’s normal physical activities immediately, there may be a certain lack of muscular coordination — almost as though drunk. However, none of these are lasting effects and cannot really be considered dangerous in any way. If one simply takes a few moments to re-orient and “pull oneself together,” the OBE has virtually no adverse effects.

Let’s address another misconception: the “viewing of the body.” Many OBEs are “local,” meaning that you find yourself in surroundings you recognize, perhaps even in the room where you recall having gone to bed a few hours ago. Many people have described looking down at their physical body. In fact this is a quite common occurrence in the “near-death” experience. Many people have also noted that seeing one’s body is often so startling that it has the effect of ending the OBE abruptly; if one is not prepared or holds any fears at all about the OBE, the cognitive shock of seeing one’s body as entirely separate from what one is experiencing as one’s self is enough to bring the experience to a screeching halt; perhaps it also taps into the fear of death that many people hold in their lower levels of consciousness. It is not, however, necessary to view your physical body to be certain you are having an OBE. If you’ve tried to do so and find the experience too alarming or unsettling, skip it. Don’t hang around in your room looking for your body. Go out and do something else. You don’t need to verify that your body’s in its place to know that you’re someplace else.

This brings me to another point: all OBEs are not “local.” Many people feel the need to verify their OBEs by finding some piece of information which they can later check when back in their body to prove that they were “really out” and experienced what they thought they did. While evidence of this type is certainly not to be ignored and should be collected and documented whenever possible, it is not necessary to the experience. If you experience going across town and seeing a friend watching TV and upon comparing notes you find a discrepancy (such as he was reading, not watching TV, or perhaps he was doing exactly what you saw but not until two hours after you thought you saw it), don’t be discouraged and write it off as a “false” experience. When unconfined by the physical body, the senses are prone to operate in somewhat different ways than they do back in the body; time perception may become distorted or nonexistent, for instance.

What if you find yourself someplace that you don’t recognize as “local” and have no conscious thought of being separated from your body? This doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re not having an OBE; it may simply mean that you’re having one which is different from the “classic” OBE. If you’re trying to have your first OBE, it is not going to be made easier by trying to remember to look at your body and gather evidence and so on; don’t worry about setting specific tasks for yourself until after you’re more comfortable with having OBEs. In the words of D.V. Gray, “You must learn to make letters before you learn to write words!”

For those who are at the point of setting tasks or exercises for themselves, however, here are some hints.

#1: If you’re looking for something to recall back in your ordinary state of consciousness, look for color or take in whole scenes — these sorts of things tend to translate most easily to waking consciousness and have a far greater rate of accuracy in recall.

#2: Trying to read in an OBE state is difficult and often alters the state of consciousness too much to maintain the OBE; if it doesn’t, and you can read what is written, chances are you probably won’t remember it accurately when you get back (if you remember it at all). If you see something to read while you’re out, I suggest you skip that and move on to something more likely to be recalled accurately.

#3: In an OBE, animals will be far more likely to recognize your presence than humans. Don’t be surprised if you venture over to your neighbor’s house and get a greeting from their dog but no one else notices you at all. Individuals who have a stronger degree of intuition, however, may be aware of your presence.

#4: As you become more advanced, try looking for a mirror and make note of how you appear to yourself in the OBE (there’s a lot of variation in response to this one — some people don’t see themselves at all).

#5: As you become further advanced, see if you can affect physical objects during your OBEs. This requires great energy and is often very draining, even for advanced and gifted practitioners; it is also relatively rare — few people can carry this one out successfully with any sort of control. However, there are those who seem to have a knack for it, and it’s worth trying if you feel you have enough control over your OBEs otherwise.

Techniques

So how do you go about having an OBE — and how do you use this tool? As noted earlier, there are numerous techniques to get you started, and of course the near-death OBE is a well-known phenomena by now. Can an OBE be induced — or does it just sort of happen? The consensus among our staff seems to be that although OBEs can certainly be induced and controlled (with practice and a little training), the first one is usually spontaneous. Even if you’re well-read on the subject and familiar with the procedure, the first one never seems to happen when you’re trying to do it. However, the first one does seem to go much more smoothly if you know what to expect, and once the first few have occurred, subsequent ones are easier to induce. There is no single foolproof formula; what works for one person may create nothing but chaotic confusion for another. However, once you have found the method that seems to work for you, sticking with that method tends to make it progressively easier.

“The trick,” says one frequent practitioner, “is to put your body to sleep and keep the mind awake. I find listening to music through headphones very conducive to ‘going out.’ Obviously, though, you have to find music that’s relaxing enough to let your body unwind but stimulating enough to keep your mind going. The headphones have the additional effect of helping to block out distractions in the room.”

Do you close your eyes? “Not usually,” says another. “If I close my eyes, I go to sleep and then I have to go through a couple of dreams before I can get lucid enough to step out and do what I want. I can do it that way, but it takes me longer. If I want to go straight out and have an OBE, I just sort of stare off into space until I’m no longer aware of the physical surroundings. They sort of fade away as your mind drifts. But I don’t think it really matters whether you close your eyes or lie down or what-have-you. You’re much less likely to just fall asleep if you’re sitting up with your eyes open, but for some people it’s much easier to go out from the sleep state.”

So how do you make the best use of this tool? “The best thing about the OBE,” says D.V. Gray, “is that it teaches you not only the practical aspects of cause and effect but also teaches you on a more abstract level about yourself and the universe. You learn the discipline of how to get from point A to point B with the least amount of energy expended. But when you’re out, you have access to much more than you ordinarily would. It’s an entirely different perspective. You can absorb ideas more quickly. Because everything’s geared to the speed of thought rather than verbal communication, you can almost instantaneously take in the gist of an idea that would ordinarily take weeks to explain. You become more attuned to your intuitive abilities and learn to trust them. After awhile you begin to realize that even though you may have no conscious recollection of it, you’re doing problem-solving exercises while you’re out as well — it manifests in your physical existence as a sudden inspiration, an impulse to try out something that works amazingly well — things like that. You may not have a full conscious memory of everything you work on during an OBE but it’s retained on a deeper level and your mind calls it up when it’s needed.”

Expanded memory capacity is one of the areas where growth becomes obvious. Stress-reduction is another; self-confidence and self-knowledge are also effects commonly experienced with the practice of OBEs. “Prompting myself to remember dreams or OBEs before I drift off at night carries over,” says one individual. “It’s almost become second nature to periodically remind myself to pay attention to what I’m doing so I can remember it later. I remember more about what I was thinking at any given time, and I experience things more intensely.”

Stress-reduction? “It’s hard to get too worked up about that guy at work who always gets your parking place if you view it from… an ‘aerial’ perspective,” laughs one person. “From that place of timelessness where OBEs happen, you can think, ‘in all the events that have taken place on planet Earth over the past 3,000 years… who cares if I parked ten feet to the right or left on a patch of asphalt that’s taking up less than a square mile of the entire surface of the earth?’ It helps to put things in perspective.”

And self-knowledge? “Most people think they know themselves,” says D.V. Gray. “They assume that they know how they’d react in any given situation, what they really want, what their fears are. Then when something happens and instinct or emotion takes over, and they do something and don’t have any idea why, it shakes them. When you work with OBEs, it’s like finding out things about yourself without having to wait for that intense provocation. The insulation is gone. Out there in the place of the OBE, you’re pure thought, pure emotion, no defenses. You get to find out what you really are. And some people need that sort of shock to the system, to see the inconsistency between who they really are and who they’re trying to be. For some, the gap isn’t that great and it becomes just a fascinating experience, seeing how they can transcend themselves; it gives them hope, inspires them to become that person they know they truly are.

“The best way to learn from an OBE is to take a good look at who you are… remember the ‘pure you’ from your OBE… and let it move you to close the gap until you achieve convergence.”

© Copyright 1998 by J.P. MacKenzie. Republished 2003, 2004, 2011, 2015.

[This article previously appeared in SKOPOS Vol. I No. 2, and is archived here in an updated form with the assistance and permission of the author.]

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