In a previous post I discussed my encounters with lucid dreaming. This is the ability to become aware that I’m dreaming and to have some control over the content of the dream. I’m still not able to produce this experience on demand, but lucidity in the dream state is happening more regularly for me these days. My interest in dream lucidity has led me to investigate other topics – most notably the out of body experience (OOBE/OBE).
Going Out of Body
There is no doubt that people do have out of body experiences. They are too widely reported to be easily dismissed – it is estimated that 35 out of every 100 people will experience an OBE during their lifetime. The most well known type of OBE is the near death experience (NDE). This is where people who have reached the border of death (some would even have been considered clinically dead) feel like they are floating above their body. The OBE is only one element of the near death experience, but it is one of the most commonly reported. There are some scientific theories for what is occurring when people have an NDE but no final conclusions have been reached.
Approaching death is not the only way to experience an OBE. Some people describe and event where their consciousness just popped briefly out of their bodies for no apparent reason – although in most of these cases it will be associated with some type of trauma. It is also possible for people to trigger the out of body experience using meditation and other techniques.
Out of Body or Lucid Dreaming
There are definite similarities between the out of body experience and lucid dreaming. This has led experts such as dream researcher Stephen LaBerge to conclude that they are most likely the exact same thing. There is good reason to suspect that an OBE might be a wake induced lucid dream (WILD).
– Lucid dreamers become lucid because they realize they are dreaming. The person who is having an OBE does not feel as if they are dreaming.
– The OBE can occur in states unrelated to sleep.
– The people who have these experiences can be dramatically changed by them.
I haven’t made my mind up about what is happening with the out of body experience, but I want to make a judgment based on personal experiences. That is why I’ve been working hard for the last three weeks to trigger an OBE. I right away ruled out copying the characters in the movie Flatliners who created NDEs by stopping their own hearts. My wife has a terrible memory and she might forget to use the defibrillator to shock me back to life. Instead I’ve decided to use safer methods for producing the out of body experience.
Out of Body with the Monroe Institute
Bob Monroe is considered a pioneer of the out of body experience. His 1971 book titled Journeys Out of the Body is credited for making the OBE such a well known phenomena. He developed a technique using binaural beats (called hemi sync) that has helped many people achieve the OBE state. Monroe died in 1995, but the Monroe Institute continues to promote his programs.
I’ve been wanting to shake things up with my meditation practice for a while now. I know that a temporary change in direction can lead to new and important discoveries – it can also give my motivation a boost. For the last few years I’ve stuck with insight meditation, and I’ve achieved some good progress (as far as I can tell). I have no intention of abandoning this type of meditation but a change is as good as a rest as they say.
I first came across the Monroe Institute’s Gateway program a few months ago, but at the time I dismissed it as too expensive. The idea has been niggling away at me so I’ve bitten the bullet and bought the first three parts of the program. I don’t begrudge the money – I just have to remind myself that a few years ago I would have spent 100 Euros a night on booze and not thought twice about it.
My Gateway Experience
I’ve been using these guided meditations for three weeks now, and I have had some reasonably impressive results. I found it eerie at first to be guided by a dead man (it is Bob Monroe on the audio), but now the voice feels like a trusted friend. I’d been warned that this method does not seem to be effective for everyone, and that you only get out of it what you put into it – where have I heard that before. I’ve been spending two hours on average a day listening to these guided meditations.
The one thing that I’m pleased with is that the audio so easily guides me into specific meditative states. These are levels of consciousness that I’m familiar with from meditation, but I’ve not been able to produce them at will. The first of these states is what Monroe calls Focus 10 (body asleep –mind awake). It is from this state that it is possible to explore out of body.
Since I’ve started the Gateway Experience there has been a dramatic increase in my lucidity while dreaming. I’ve also had one event that was tantalizingly close to an OBE. I felt my body leave the bed and move around the room. The problem was that I couldn’t open my eyes to see what was going on – so I’ve labeled it as a near miss. It did feel far more intense than my usual lucid dream so it’s certainly encouraging.
The Joy of New Adventures
I expect that some might consider these explorations into consciousness to be a bit barmy, but I just feel drawn towards this type of thing. I see my continued exploration of my mind as an amazing adventure. My current experiments might be leading me down a blind alley, but it is still an adventure. I promise to add future updates so you can judge my progress.