Saturday, January 31, 2009

First attempts at Out of Body Experiences


By now I was in college. Once, prior to me telling my girlfriend JM about any of my experiences, I woke up to the familiar sensations. I had been working at this point to move the vibrations around over my body, just to be aware of them everywhere, and make them stronger than they were. I worked them up to my head, and down to my toes, and back to my head. Soon, they were oscillating back and forth pretty much on their own, with me just adding to the power of it. At some point, I started thinking about JM, and then the entire mass of power that had been building, exploded out of the top of my head. I actually thought I saw a ball of energy leaving me. The sensations quickly faded, and I opened my eyes. I could see JM’s window from my room. I glanced up towards her room, and the light came on. JM appeared at her window, and l could tell she was looking down towards me. When I asked her the next morning how she had slept, she told me that she slept OK up to a point. She said she suddenly woke up out of a sound sleep, thinking about me. I mentioned I had seen her light come on, and after this, I told her about my funny experiences I had. I also promised not to wake her up that way anymore.

She was intrigued by my story, but her science training would not let her think of it as anything more than dreams, even though she related an experience to me that made me wonder. When she was younger, she had wanted to stay up with the grown-ups instead of going to bed, but had been told she could not do that. She “dreamed” she got up, and went to her kitchen and spent time in there listening to what the grown-ups were talking about. She had thought it odd that they did not see her, or tell her to go back to bed. I am not sure at this point if she had verified that she had actually heard anything they had discussed after she had gone to bed. I think she was a bit nervous at even remembering as much as she had remembered.

During a phone call, my mother told me that she had heard a guy on a radio talk show on KGO, San Francisco who was talking about experiences he had, that reminded her about those I had talked about one night at home. She did not remember his name. She just wanted me to know that there was someone else who was just as crazy as I was. No, she did not really think I was crazy. Not because of this anyway. I think she must have heard an interview with Robert A. Monroe publicizing his new book about what he had termed “out of body experiences” or OOBEs. But, I did not know about him or that book then.

Some time later, JM and I were passing one of the many book stores near campus. I glanced at a display of books in a window as we passed. The cover photo on a display of books made me stop in my tracks. What had stopped me was a copy of Monroe’s “Journeys Out of the Body.” I went in, and found the sales area for this book. I opened to a page at random, and read a description of my own experience, happening to someone else. The description of the experience was so much the same as mine; I thought I could have written it. Reading this really hit me hard. I started to shake right there in the store. I can not emphasize enough how this felt to know that I was not alone in having had this experience. I bought the book, and suddenly, other reading assignments I might have had were forgotten for a while. I can not possibly recreate all of the experiences I have had over the years since then. But, I will touch on a few that are memorable, just to describe their range.

Around the time of reading Monroe’s first book, I had a typical start to an experience. I was aware of hearing my room mate talking out in the hall. In this experience, instead of my trying to get out, “someone” was there to get me out. It seemed I did not have a choice this time. I remember being grabbed and the sudden rush from increasing acceleration out of the top of the dorm complex, seeing the city recede quickly under me, then the earth. The acceleration was so great; I actually felt heat from going so fast. And then I (we) were out in the far reaches of the solar system. We stopped. I was turned to my left, and there was a huge screen showing a representation of where we were, and where the earth was in relation to us. An object appeared on the screen, and moved a short distance towards the sun. A brief notation was displayed above the object, and it moved a short distance in towards the sun. Another description appeared above the object- as if they were showing me the trajectory change of an object approaching earth or the sun. This was repeated, as if to reinforce it as being important. I was suddenly back in my room, opening my eyes.

I am not sure what any of that meant. In my notes I took at the time, I entered that some time later, they announced the discovery of a new comet that was supposed to put on quite a show around Christmas. It was a dud though. Either the course they had was not accurate, or something changed they had not been aware of. Sure, I did it. No, I do not think that. Maybe I just somehow picked up on the fact that the trajectory they thought was true actually was not. Or maybe it is just a coincidence-. After all, I did not know the name of the comet from my experience.

With my friend JB’s OK, I was attempting to visit her in this odd dream state. One trip, I remember being first out on the street, and then going towards a building, and into it. It was obvious to me it was a restaurant. It had brick walls, and separate walled booths with tables. I got to one booth finally, and there JB was with a couple of other people. I do not remember recognizing them. JB looked at me, and asked me what I was doing there? It quickly ended after that. She had no memory of seeing me in any place like that, but there was a restaurant where she lived at the time which she did go to regularly. When I eventually visited her, I saw this place, and it did seem a bit familiar to me. Maybe she had been dreaming she was there that night? Ah, this brings up the possibility of shared dreams. Would that actually be possible?
Once I had a feeling as the sensations started that I was supposed to meet someone, but I was not to go to them. If I was to meet them, they had to attempt to get to me at the same time. I have no clear memory of this being anyone I knew at the time. I do remember finally meeting with a woman who had long reddish hair. I remember being taken out, with her- almost like we were on a shuttle bus or commuting to a job or school. At present, my “significant other” JR has red hair, I am not sure if this was actually JR. Although she knows I have these experiences, I am not aware that she has ever had memory of anything like it ever happening to her. That does not mean it could not have been her. Who knows? Maybe I was just registering a subconscious thought that I liked women with red hair, or with names that start with J.

One time when I was trying to get to JB, I found myself in a yard outside a small bedroom window. Of course, thinking it must be JB in there, I went in. It was not her though. I might have thought it was initially. I remember a multi-colored cover on the bed. I told whoever it was there, that I was out of my body, and in order to prove it, I floated up to the ceiling and back down again. The person laughed, like that was the neatest trick they had ever seen. I did it again. I talked to her for a short time, and it ended. I only mention this on the odd chance that it may have been JR I had seen that time. When I met her, she had a multi colored quilt on a bed that may have been what I had seen. She also had a very small bedroom with a narrow window. When I later was outside that window for real, it did have a feel to it that seemed similar to what I had seen that night. Actually, the first time I was visited the town; quite a bit of it seemed familiar to me in an odd way.

Friday, January 30, 2009

Fear no More- (most of the time)



The experiences did not go away. But the paralysis and loud sounds were mostly gone. And, the more I experienced this new lack of total fear, the easier the experiences were to deal with. I even began to look forward to it after a while.
I got curious about it.

I had noticed a sensation on occasion that was like part of me seemed to be floating. One time during the experience, I noticed that I was feeling a bit dizzy, and it felt like my arms were moving. I concentrated on actually reaching my arm out away from me. It felt like I had done it, even though, at the same time I was doing this, I was aware that my arm was not actually moving at all. I could feel it against me, under the covers, and I could feel it reaching out. In fact, I could almost see it out there where it felt like it was. I was just getting used to this dual sensation, when I felt something grab at the arm that was reaching out. It was like a hand shake, but it felt like it was holding more than my hand, like it would be if you gripped someone at the wrist. As this started to take hold of my awareness, I heard a voice calling to others someplace, “Hey, Come over here and look at this. . . “

Think I am crazy yet?

I was suddenly aware that there was a small group around me, and that whoever they were; they were interested in what I had been attempting to do. I was then aware that the vibrations had changed a bit. They were smoother than normal, and a bit easier on me. I heard one of them say “Try more yellow,” and I instantly saw yellow light. The vibrations were really easy now, and quite strong. I heard a sharp POP in my head, and then saw a grouping of geometric shapes, all just slowly rotating in the yellow light, and then it was over. When I opened my eyes, I still felt a bit dizzy, as I usually did in these times after these experiences.

These two experiences, the one with the glowing energy sphere, and this one with the yellow light, turned me around in how I thought of the experiences, and what they might mean to me. Sure, I still wondered if I was going crazy, but at least it was not so scary anymore, and it had actually gotten to the point that it felt quite normal when it happened. How could this have ever been scary? It felt like it was a very natural state to be in
.
I still had a lot to do to explore this, if that was my intent. What was it good for anyway? Part of the SP experiences earlier, had included a sensation of flying, or floating above the bed. It occurred to me that I might someday be able to have an experience like that which I completely controlled, instead of having the fear generated in the SP actually paralyze me. This had its own new element of fear to overcome though. In short, it is the ultimate in separation anxiety. I know the majority of you would think I am overstating the fear part of this, because to you, this all seems just like a dream. And, I am not saying it is not ultimately a dream, or at least a relation to a dream. But, when it is happening to you, it is the most real thing you can imagine. It almost seems like it is the essence of reality. Senses seem sharper. The mind seems to be working very well, for the most part, and you feel totally awake and in the experience. It actually feels like you are there in the same sense you are sitting there reading this right now. If it is feels so real, you could be doing it, but how can you do what it feels like you are doing? You can not really be reaching out your arms to beings that no one else can see or hear, but there they are. You feel them, and you hear them. Maybe if you were better tuned in to them, you could see them too. It is hard to separate something that seems so real, which you experience when you feel you are totally awake, from what you know is possible in the real physical world. This sets up a struggle with what you experience, and how the conscious mind reacts to it. It does not want to give up its control over your life, and one way to fight to maintain that control, is for it to try to scare you to death so you will stop this nonsense. You can not be doing this. It is not real. You are going to die. Stop this at once, I am in control.

I have gone though all of this, and I have seen it happen to other people who have experienced things that they could not quite explain. Because I had gone through extensive experiences dealing with my SP episodes already, I was more open to making a leap that it would be possible to leave my body during one of these experiences. Whether that is what is going on or not does not really make a difference here. That is what it feels like, and that is the mind set you have to be in to explore the experience. It feels that way, and you have to accept that could be happening, or it will just be a bad dream you want to wake up from.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Confrontation


People also describe sensations of feeling wind blow over them, or various kinds of vibration sensations. I had both at times depending on how deep I was into the experience. When I was around fifteen, as far as I can remember, the experience started to change a bit. I seem to remember there was a long time that it did not happen at all, and then it returned. It returned and was just like before. One time, I decided that I had had enough of it. When I felt that all too familiar “knowing” that I was about to be assaulted again, I decided to sit up and confront whatever it was that had been tormenting me. Of course, I should not have been able to sit up, since every other time; I have been physically unable to move. This time, I did not think of the impossibility of movement, I just knew I had to sit up and be ready for whatever was coming to me. I sat there in bed, waiting. Before much time passed, I saw a bluish pulsating sphere of energy floating down towards me. You may wonder about my sanity at just saying this much. But, there is a lot more to it. I had a feeling that this thing was aware of me, and I could hear it trying to speak to me. I had to concentrate to make sense of it. The words had a sharp super clarity that is not a part of everyday experience, and however they were being communicated to me, I was hearing them in the center of my head.


What I remember of the experience is that this entity was a bit surprised and even more than happy (almost proud) that I had been sitting there waiting for it when it arrived. It was as if I had passed some sort of a test, or more aptly, an initiation of some kind. It communicated to me, that it had been attempting to get through to me for a very long time, and that it had been with me from my beginnings. It expressed this alliance in terms that made sense to me then, but I do not remember the actual phrasing. It seemed to be relieved that I had finally acknowledged it. I remember attempting to ask it questions- Oh, like, “who in the hell are you, and why are you doing this to me”? That sort of thing. I was not very good at communicating. It took more concentration than I had control of at that point to talk back to it. I felt lucky to be able to hear and understand what it was saying. And then, if you do not think I am crazy enough yet, it escalated a step further.
It approached me, and I was OK with that. It almost seemed familiar to me at that point, as if I could trust it to not kill me, or make me lose my hearing. 

The next thing I remember was that we were flying off to some place. I know- it is only a dream of some kind. I can not fly in real life. But you have to remember, I was still convinced at this point that I was fully awake. It is hard to think in dream terms when you experience it at a level of consciousness closer to full waking. We went off to some “where” and some “time,” and had a long talk, sort of a talk and "get to know you" sort of thing. I know that in the experience, it told me things about who I was, and why I was here, and why it was also here with me. I had questions, and it had answers. It was easier to communicate “where” we had gone. 

Then, I remember that we were returning to my physical location, and it was warning me that I would of course not be able to remember anything of substance that it had just related to me, but also that some time in the future, there would be a time that I would remember. And, even as it told me that, I could feel the memories of the middle part of the experience beginning to drain out of me. I was back. It was gone. And then the experience ended. The sensations faded, and I opened my eyes. I remembered the beginning, and the end, but nothing in the middle part, just as it had suggested. The blankets were tucked in tight, and there was no physical way I could have been sitting up earlier.

So, you might tell me that of course, it was just a dream. And, it may have been. The thing again, is that to me, I was fully awake when it happened. Maybe it was one of those auditory and visual hallucinations. Could be. But, it could also be that in that state of consciousness between full awareness, and sleep, you can access levels of the mind that are not accessed usually. Maybe on those levels, this sort of thing happens every day. It will always be labeled as a hallucination or dream by science, until they figure out a way to measure it physically. I am sitting here listening to musical sounds that are being grabbed out of the air by a tiny plastic box of circuits and flowing electrons. At one time in our history, if anyone had made a statement like that, people would have locked them up. Some still may think that I am too far off the deep end in this, and that it is only getting worse the more they read. But actually, this was the beginning of this experience getting better. I no longer lived in absolute fear of that sensation. I no longer feared I would never live through each instance of it. In fact, the instances of the so-called SP went away for the most part.

The beginnings of strangeness before Out of Body Experiences

From the age of five or so on, I remember having strange experiences I thought of as dreams. Sometimes it does not seem like these are dreams to me at all, but that I am totally awake during the occurrence. Maybe it is a state that is related to dreams on a certain level. The first strange thing I ever remember happening at a time I should have been sleeping, or dreaming about childhood things that everyone else probably dreamed about at the age of five, happened when I was not really asleep at all. At least I remember thinking I was awake at the time. I was lying there, trying to sleep. I could hear the television on in the next room. I was youngest, so I had to go to bed while everyone else was still up and watching TV. As I was trying to not hear the TV, I started to hear a very loud siren type sound in my head, similar to the “attention” alarm that phones used to make when they were left off the hook. This used to freak me out when it happened. I would turn over, and it would stop. Eventually, I would sleep for real, and dream. Sometimes I had standard scary dreams. Sometimes the dreams I had were terrifying, but more than the usual nightmares, because it seemed to me I was awake during them.

Sometimes my “dreams,” or what happened in them, seemed to be beneficial. Once, when I had had a very loud and obnoxious cough that would not go away, I had an experience that to me seemed like it happened while I was totally awake. I had been asleep at night, and woke up with a severe coughing spell. It would not stop. I became aware that someone had come to help me. I assumed, when thinking of it later, that it had been one of my parents. Whoever it was, helped me out of bed, and guided me down our long, dark hallway, to the bathroom. I had been having a tendency to cough so much that I would get spasms that made me choke, and cough up small amounts of liquid- or maybe it was the choking that made me cough. I had choked a few times in my sleep due to this earlier in my illness. I was now in the bathroom, coughing, and leaning over to the toilet bowl, just in case. Suddenly, the light went on, and one of my parents was there. I do not remember which at this point. I thought that they had been with me all along. How else would I have gotten there in a dark house? The spell gradually subsided, and I went back to bed. The next day, after talking to my parents about this, they informed me that they had not gotten up until they heard me in the bathroom. I remember being guided, with whoever it was holding me by my shoulders, from behind. Many years later, this experience came up in conversation with my brother. We had shared a bedroom at this point, but had not talked about this at the time it happened. He told me that from his perspective, he had been awakened by my coughing, which had been a frequent occurrence. This time, he said that I was talking (in between coughs) to someone. He could not tell for sure what I was saying, or at that point, it was long gone from his memory. Did I dream that someone came to help me to the bathroom, and actually end up there? I know I did not truly wake up until the light came on, but I thought I was awake the entire time up to that point. I write that about being sure I was awake then, but you know, I am still not convinced I was not awake at that point. The thing that changed was that the light came on. It really exploded in my head when it came on, and that jolt I think made me more aware of where I was. But, I still feel I was awake the entire time. I have not ever been a sleep walker, but I guess this one instance could be close to that.

I remember one dream from around the age of five. How many my age remember a dream from when you were five? In this dream, I was in our back yard. Suddenly, I saw a ghost floating towards me. I realized I must be dreaming, and tried to wake up, but I could not. This thing kept coming closer and eventually got to me. It touched me, and immediately, the dream scene vanished, and I was enveloped by shrill sounds, and wind, and vibrations all over my body. I struggled to wake up, and even though I know this was only a dream, and should not be able to hurt me, I really was afraid I was going to die before I could wake up. I could not move. I tried my hardest to move, and finally I jerked my head to the side, and woke up. Even though I was awake, and looking around in the room, I could still hear that sound, and felt slightly like I was floating. Images blurred in the darkness, and floated around me. Gradually, the sound faded, and I could see a bit more clearly. I used to think that if I could think about a scary dream enough, it would lose its control of me. In the case of these dreams, that did not always work. I would think about it, and finally settle back into bed to try to sleep. Immediately I would hear that same shrill sound in my head, and realize that I could not move again. I would once again struggle to move until I could force myself to wake up. But how could I have gone to sleep and started dreaming again in just a relative few seconds that this all took? Again, I was only five or maybe going on six at this time. Maybe, I thought, just maybe everyone goes through this, and it does not mean there is something wrong with me. Thinking back on my childhood, this is probably among the top issues that impacted me at that time, aside from school, or dealing with parents. And it was a major impact.

The night would start off like any other night. I would be in a dream as stated above, and suddenly, I would just know that something out there in the dream was different. After a while, I knew that the noises and vibrations would start soon, if I could not wake up first. I had a dream once that I was in a large house, and suddenly I knew it was about to start. I was terrified. Then I had a dream that I was walking across a bridge where we vacationed at the Russian River, and a large truck went by. The wind from the truck passing started it. The dream may vary, but the end result was always the same. I would struggle to get out of the sensations. I would wake up, and the sensations would sometimes still be going on as I struggled to fully wake up. Once it all stopped, I would lay there for hours, afraid to sleep again. I would allow myself to sleep, and it would happen again. I would again struggle to get out of it, and the cycle would repeat. Sometimes it would happen three or four times in a night. It definitely impacted my sleep for a number of years. But, it was not an every night thing. I would go for a few months with nothing happening, and then one night- boom. It was back. Maybe it would happen for a few nights consecutively, and then it would be gone again for a few months.

Sure, I had typical nightmares too, but they were common, dull dreams, and I knew they were not the same thing. But, I still used to think of these experiences I would struggle with at night as nightmares, if it happened to me in a dream. Sometimes things happened to me when I thought I was still awake too. It is hard to think of an experience as a dream if you are convinced you are awake when it happens.

In these instances, I would be awake. I might have just gotten into bed. Maybe a minute has passed, and suddenly I would have that “knowing” feeling I described having had in a dream. I just would know that something was going to happen. And the same sensations, the same noises, and the same struggle to get it to stop would follow. And all through this, I would hear the same sounds in the room that I had been aware of before laying down. It is this continuity of full consciousness that started to really make me wonder what was happening to me in this experience. Since then, I have seen that experiences like this are generically referred to as being caused by sleep paralysis, or SP. SP, I later learned, is a process that everyone goes through in the natural course of falling asleep. It is the mind’s way of protecting you from physically acting out any dream that you may experience. Of course, the majority of people usually are asleep before the process happens, or are usually unaware of it when it is happening. One common occurrence in SP episodes, for those of us who are aware of them, is for the person to experience auditory or visual hallucinations. Of course, I did not know any of this when I was younger, and if I had, it still would not have helped to stop the experience. If I had mentioned this to any doctors at the time, I am sure if they knew anything at all about it at all, or thought that they did, they would have prescribed some sort of pill to attempt to get me to sleep better. What I know now from others who have the same experience, and have had doctors try to fix it in this manner, is that it does not work. The pills dull you out and you may sleep better for a while, but the experiences still happen.

Back then, I did not feel I could talk to anyone about any of this. Either it was common for it to happen or people would think I was weak because I was having a problem with what to them would be trivial, or no one would know what I was talking about, and I would be labeled as “crazy.” Neither one seemed to be a good choice. It was clear to me when talking very carefully to friends about the things they experienced in dreams, that they either did not have similar things happen to them, or if they did have them, they did not feel comfortable talking about it with me. I did eventually bring it up to a good friend, just after high school. But I still had a number of years to go before anyone else knew what happened to me at night.

The SP experience has some constants, and other things that can vary. One constant, is a very loud grating noise in the center of your head. People have described it as being similar to what you might have heard if the amplifier speaker for Jimi Hendrix’s guitar was inside your head, or what it might feel and sound like if someone started a gas powered chainsaw while you had your head against it. I am not sure I would say my experiences were exactly like what these, but it will give you an idea of what it can be like. I remember thinking that I was afraid my hearing would be damaged by this and wondering why no one else could hear it and come help me. My own experiences were closer to the guitar in general, but with the overtones of the chainsaw in the mix. Imagine hearing a sound that you could not identify, that was loud enough for you to be sure you were going to go deaf from being exposed to it, and then realizing you can not move and no one else was going to help you. This is how some of my nights went when I was between five, and around fifteen years old. Then one night, all of this changed.