Saturday, December 28, 2013

A dream I had

        So, as some of you know, I've been doing some reading about and experimenting with astral projection --otherwise known as out-of-body experiences-- over the past few months. I originally heard about it several years ago from a friend and wrote it off as some new age, devil-practice of some sort. Most people don't seem to know anything about it apart from the movie Insidious. I haven't seen it yet but I can tell by reading the plot summary on wikipedia that it's a lot of half-baked nonsense (like virtually every cheesy horror flick). I recently started investigating AP simply on a whim as I've become more interested in the whole idea of human consciousness and how it relates to dreams.

   Anyway, the concept is essentially that while the physical body sleeps you can "project" your consciousness --or a part of it-- out of the physical and experience different realms, if you will. The basic level looks nearly identical to the physical world and then there are subsequent deeper levels, worlds or frequencies that can be explored. A lot of accounts involve being connected to your sleeping body via a "silver cord" and to get back into their physical body one simply has to think about it --it's pretty trippy stuff. There are quite a lot of methods out there on how to experience it involving self-hypnosis, meditation and various relaxation techniques. There are also a lot theories that involve everything from it being mentioned in the Bible to how quantum physics might explain the whole thing but that is all lengthy and not worth getting into here. Suffice it is to say that regardless of it escaping common knowledge, the phenomena appears to go way back and is attested to in various religions.

   I haven't tried to achieve an out-of-body experience every single night, but for the past 2 months or so I've been listening to a couple self-hypnosis mp3's before bed that are supposed to help induce the state. I suspected that, even if AP was real, that I would probably dream about the experience before it actually happened as your dreams tend to involve things you are thinking about before you doze off. However, this has not really been the case. Up until the other night, I've had a few odd dreams and experiences but I never woke up thinking I had projected. In one dream, I woke up and then dozed off again to see my body flying above the Earth like superman but I became aware, or lucid, that this was a dream which caused me to wake up again. I immediately felt vibrations throughout my body and my heart was beating really fast which totally freaked me out until it subsided. Subsequent times I have tried to flow with that vibrational state a bit more and I can only describe it as feeling pure love (supposedly this involves the heart chakra). I have awoken to other strange sensations like my body being covered with energy (?) but still not actually projecting in consciousness or what have you. Other dreams have involved me floating or flying through an area but never involving my sleeping body or my room. However, the following is a slightly edited version of my waking thoughts from around 3:28 am on December 29th:

   While laying in bed I couldn't decide whether to keep laying on my back or lay on my side. Somewhere in the course of the night, I turned to my side and had an almost cartoonish sense of splitting off into two separate bodies and then flying around the room shouting, "wooo!" I heard a voice from some unknown place say, "yes, flying around is fun but you should--" I wasn't really paying attention to the voice because I was so giddy at the thought that I had achieved this state. I assume it was giving me some valuable information on what to do. I tried to stick my head up through the ceiling and then through the door but there was some type of resistance that was stopping me from passing through them. I went and tried to turn the knobs on my dresser/entertainment center and then clicked on my TV. To my surprise, it turned on and there was a scene presumably from The Dark Knight as it involved the joker so that was kind of creepy. I went towards the door after this but it was clear that it was ending and I said something like "wait, what does this all mean?" and then I remember being shifted into in some unrelated dream.

   Afterwards, I woke up in the middle of the subsequent dream and wondered, "shit, did I just project or was that a dream?" I haven't read much about interacting with actual physical objects beyond just passing through them so, it's quite likely that it was simply a dream. However, the monkey wrench is this concept I have read about called the "mind split effect" from a book I'm reading called Astral Dynamics (which I wouldn't recommend as your first read on the subject). The concept is sort of confusing on top of an already confusing, farfetched-sounding idea but basically it suggests that there are three "copies" of your consciousness --the physical body/mind, the dream mind and the projected double/energy body. These different copies can apparently experience very different things within the same time period and the stream of memories that you actually recall is really all up to a number of factors. So, my thought is that perhaps I did successfully project my consciousness but what ended up as the solid memory recorded above was my dream mind's interpretation of it or even a combination of the projection and the dream mind's. Perhaps it's a bit of a stretch but,it's just a theory. In any event, it has been fun and I'm going to keep experimenting.

P.S. If you are looking for some decent information on the subject, check out Adventures Beyond The Body by William L. Buhlman.

Monday, December 2, 2013

The Spiritual Ride

    I've recently noticed a pattern in my spiritual life in regards to the deconstruction of ideas and the reconstruction of new ones. Basically, whenever I start to strongly resonate with a particular body of spiritual ideas, it is soon smothered by deep doubts. I start to doubt myself in just about every way imaginable but doubting myself in a spiritual sense is the main symptom it seems. I'll feel like I understand something deep about myself, others and the universe, then it's like I shoot down and everything just seems very scary and I want to get off the ride --like a spiritual roller-coaster.

    Of course, I am no stranger to doubt and I see it as typically a good thing that helps us. However, I find this as more of a doubting of self that hinders me from weighing concepts from a fair vantage point. The doubt I experience in these particular instances just wants to me to call "bullshit" on everything and call it a day...which, perhaps, isn't the most logical route. This process has actually happened a couple of times for me before. First hearing about the concept of universalism in my Christian days sparked a similar "up and down" emotional phase for me. My brief journey to become a pastor and my conclusion that God was bigger than Christianity were also followed by this phase. You would think that I'd be a pro at dealing with it by now but apparently, not so much.

   Maybe a key component of the descent is just doubting my own intuitive faculties and my ability to make sense of things that-- quite frankly-- there is no proof for? I usually feel relatively comfortable with uncertainty and taking all things in regards to spirituality with a grain of salt. Yet, perhaps it is possible that I still yearn for some kind of certainty subconsciously? Not in the dogmatic sense where I unquestionably believe that I have all the big things figured out-- but more in the sense of having certainty that I can trust myself to come to conclusions that are at least in the right direction. I mean, I'd like to believe that I am somewhere in the ballpark of knowledge as far as spiritual truth goes.

    It's difficult to believe that, however, when I consider all the things that I simply don't know. No matter how much I read or try to expose myself to different practices and understandings, there will always be a plethora of things I don't know. What I do know (or think I know), will always have the possibility of being misinterpreted or misapplied in some fashion. That just seems to be the way things are and I am reminded of it whenever I strongly consider new and wonderful ideas. Yet, I don't see any other option but to trust myself -- by that I mean trusting that there is indeed something real going on when I resonate with particular ideas or experience strange things.

    Of course, trusting oneself can be scary. Many religious institutions make a lot of money off the very idea that you cannot trust yourself to figure things out. The idea is like a damned parasite on our consciousness that can take many years to remove fully. Yet, I've found that it's about the only thing that can be done when it comes to figuring out the meaning of life and how to best live it. As I've said before, to trust other people in spiritual matters is simply to trust that you are trusting the right people in the first place --it's the catch 22 of all religion. We have all been given the freedom and responsibility to make what we can of existential meaning --by God or random chance. I'd like to think that God or some force leads us to think all the things we think so that we are always right where we are supposed to be until we're somewhere else, but who knows? Perhaps it's not important for me to know everything that I don't know and figure out our existential meaning? Perhaps there is no actual existential meaning and I'm just wasting my time fretting about the details of some nonexistent thing? I dunno.

    All I can really think to do is sit back, enjoy the spiritual ride and try not to spill my coffee in the process.