Yin Yoga, by Paul Grilley
White Cloud Press, 1883391439, 118 pp. (incl. bibliography.), 2002
Admittedly, my study of yoga has been mostly superficial: I’ve read a few books, but never studied with a professional teacher. However, I do enjoy the few asanas (poses/postures) that I do practice regularly, and was glad to receive an opportunity to expand on them.
Grilley combines Chinese mysticism with Indian philosophy to create yin yoga, incorporating the Modern Meridian Theory of Dr. Hiroshi Motoyama and Dr. James Oschman. This theory postulates that the meridians run through the connective tissue of the body, representing the yin energy, whereas the muscle tissue represents the yang. Included are several colour diagrams of the body and connective tissue to illustrate this point. The main difference between what Grilley calls ‘yang yoga’ and ‘yin yoga’ is that the postures in the latter are held longer, with the muscles relaxed, rather than the straining of ‘yang yoga’.
A large variety of poses are illustrated with photographs and detailed explanations on the benefit and suggestions for the novice and more advanced student, giving a range in the degree of difficulty. Three sample routines are included with various emphasis on spine, hips and legs and then a combination. The sample routines are arranged in such a way that the transition between them feels smooth and natural
Several sitting postures are detailed as well, with brief descriptions of the chakras, and a variety of pranayama and meditation techniques, including Sushumna Purification, chakra and kundalini meditation, Bija or “seed” mantras, etc.
Regarding chakras, Grilley brings up an excellent point often overlooked:
‘When trying to describe where a chakra “is” one is in a dilemma. Common language suggests that they are physically located in the spine but the reader should bear in mind that this is both true and false. A “broken heart” is a real experience that indeed seems cantered in the heart but that is not where the feelings “are”. The chakras have a physical correspondence but they are more than physical. Bear this in mind when reading about “where” a chakra “is”. Don’t be limited by only physical conceptions.’
I found the practical section to be effective and the theory is as sound as any. This is definitely a book I value, and suggest it to anyone looking for a different perspective on yoga.
From: khladky[at]nessie (Karel Hladky)
Subject: Lists of Five [Repost]
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It would seem that this post didn’t quite make it, here it goes again:
After reading the recent discussions, I dug up some old notes. Perhaps someone might find it useful.
The mind is also capable of functioning to a greater degree of inner strength and purpose, so that it is less at the mercy of its surroundings.
This mode of functioning is, in abhidhamma, also described in terms of a group of five.
- Directing the mind to the object (vitakka)
- Examining the object (vicara)
- Energisation (piti)
- Harmonising (sukha)
- Unifying of the mind (ekaggata)
Like many abhidhamma lists, the different factors can be understood in one way as forming stages of a process:
- Vitakka – the initial movement of the mind to a new object
- Vicara – the mind, now firm in its direction, can examine the object in more detail
- Piti – continued contact with the object draws together energies which were previously scattered
- Sukha – the energisation settles down and pervades the mind in a harmonious type of happiness
- Ekaggata – the mind, now in harmony, can be unified and stilled at a point of focus
The factors can also be understood in terms of the five elements. Vitakka is the way in which the mind is extended to objects (earth). Vicara is the cohesion between the mind and the object (water). Piti energises the mind, raising its ‘temperature’ (fire). Sukha is the harmonious vibration of the mind (air), while ekaggata, in limiting the mind to a particular focus, creates a new field in which it can act (space).
These intensifying factors are not described as skilful of themselves. They may be aspects of the functioning of the mind in both skilful and unskilful states. Perhaps because it is their nature to intensify experience, it is possible that they may become out of balance and misused, thus forming the basis for those aspects of malfunctioning of the mind called the five hindrances.
These can therefore be seen as the result of ‘too much’ of the five intensifying factors, which is brought out by placing the two groups side by side:
- Dulness and drowsiness Vitakka
- Wavering of the mind Vicara
- Dislike Piti
- Restlessness and anxiety Sukha
- Motivation based on attachment Ekaggata
Thus dullness and drowsiness are opposed by and dispelled by the application and extension of the mind in vitakka which gives it a skilful purpose. But if there is too much vitakka, the mind has a strong impulse to action without being able to do anything, causing bewilderment and fear or ‘wavering’. Wavering is thus opposed by harnessing the mind to the object. However too much vitakka and vicara force the mind to do something that it does not really want to do. Dislike of the whole process, the next hindrance, is the inevitable result.
Dislike is opposed by piti, which creates an enthusiastic interest in the object, but if there is too much energy, the mind does not know what to do with it. The energy vibrates in an unskilful way and the mind becomes restless and anxious. These states are opposed by sukha, which harmonises the energy. If the mind then finds this harmony too enjoyable, this action becomes transmuted into action based on attachment. This is characterised by anything from over-exuberance to a subtle form of excitement, which is remedied by stilling the mind at a point and focusing its energies.
The drawback of this process is that it may overreach itself, focusing the mind down too much, so that it becomes dull and drowsy once more.
**Dr. Karel Hladky*(email@example.com)*Tel-44-612366573*CAPCIS Ltd.**
The fact that psychedelic drugs induce a greater sensitivity to subtle spiritual and psychic energies, and speed up the influx of impressions from deeper levels of consciousness, raises the immediate question of how these energies can be properly understood and handled. Obviously, if these energies are not guided, they can do more harm than good. The application of traditional Yoga meditation techniques while under psychedelic experiences, provides a constructive solution to this problem.
According to Yoga philosophy, the most spiritual and powerful aspect of man’s nature is the faculty of attention or consciousness. The most fundamental aspect of man’s free will is the choice as to what he allows his attention to dwell upon. The attention always has to be on something, but we can choose what we allow it to dwell upon.
The goal of all Yoga practices is to discover and directly experience what the attention or faculty of consciousness in man is. The yogi seeks to know that principle by which all else is known. This goal is achieved by observing the observer or placing the attention on the attention itself. This may at first seem very abstract and hard to grasp in terms of practical application, but there are workable, time-proven methods for achieving this state of pure consciousness which when consistently applied and practiced are bound to yield results.
It should be constantly remembered during a psychedelic session that whatever perceptions, thoughts and even hallucinations occur, they are all the creations of one’s own mind and consciousness, and are filtered through one’s own instrument of perception. These perceptions are patternings of our own psychic energy. We give energy to whatever thoughts and feelings we allow the attention to dwell upon. Wherever the power of attention is focused, it generates mental and emotional energy in the form of its own lower overtones, thus feeding and energizing the thoughts and emotions which the attention dwells upon. It becomes clear that the key to remaining in control of a psychedelic experience is in controlling the flow of attention. Distractive experiences can be avoided in the first place, and the flow of attention can be properly directed by the use of Raja Yoga techniques of meditation. The following is a description of several such techniques which can all be applied while under the influence of LSD, marijuana, mescaline, DMT, hashish, psilocybin or other consciousness-expanding drugs.
At this point, let us consider a basic rule to apply in case of paranoia or other unpleasant or frightening experiences while under the influence of a psychedelic drug. Realize that whatever you may be thinking, feeling or experiencing is being experienced by the consciousness within you. Then place your undivided attention on that consciousness which is experiencing whatever is happening to you. This process returns your consciousness to its own pure nature and disengages mental and astral thought forms. These destructive thought forms then dissipate and are dissolved back into the homogeneous, vibrational energy of the plane of energy substance from which they were originally molded. The strong light released by consciousness observing itself, helps to quickly dissolve and dissipate destructive thought forms. This happens because the strong lower overtones of pure consciousness which are generated, cancel out the discordant, out of phase vibrations of destructive thought forms.
If the attention wanders while practicing any of these meditation techniques, immediately bring the attention back to the process of meditation, and do this as many times as is necessary until the attention remains centred on the particular form of meditation which you are practicing. Inexperienced meditators have a tendency to fight distractions, which in itself, becomes a distraction. The attention can only dwell on one thing at a time. Simply bring it back to the thing you are meditating on.
Another way of stopping distractions is simply to temporarily suspend the breathing process by neither breathing in or out. Since breathing is intimately tied to every biological process in the body, the instinct to survive (developed over billions of years of evolution) will interrupt the flow of attention into distractions and bring it to centre on the awareness of the cessation of breathing. It is then an easy matter to resume normal breathing and to centre the attention on the particular form of meditation being practiced.
Sound Current Meditation
Focus your full, undivided attention in the centre of your brain where the pineal gland is located. Listen with your attention for whatever sounds present themselves. After awhile, you will hear sounds of various tones and pitches. At first, you may only hear the low hiss of random molecular noise in the ears, but in time, definite tones will present themselves like sustained notes on an organ. This sound is perceived directly by the brain and the subtle bodies themselves, and not through the outer physical organs of the ears. It is the sound of the vibration of conscious energy as it flows through the physical body and as it vibrates and circulates within the subtle bodies.
You should focus your entire undivided attention on the sound of highest pitch that you can hear, and let it draw you up into higher and higher states of consciousness; also let the sound reveal and intensify the spiritual light. The better your concentration is, the louder and more distinct the sound will become.
Experience the vibration of this sound expanding until it includes your whole head, your whole body, and ever-expanding volumes of space surrounding you. By this means, you will tune into the music of the spheres, and your whole being will become a receiver and transmitter of the harmonious rhythm of the universe. When you open your eyes after such a meditation, you may find your surroundings filled with blazing light.
In the beginning, the sound current may appear in one localized part of the head; most likely in one of the ears. You should not listen to the sound current in the left ear because this is psychically harmful. Listen to it in the right ear, and gradually try to move it to the centre and top of the brain. From this vertex centre, known as the Sahasraram Chakra (whose associated gland is the pineal body), allow the vibration of the sound current to fill the entire head and to then expand beyond the head into the surrounding space. This is one of the classical methods and can lead to the highest type of experience.
Meditation on the Light in the Head
To practice this form of meditation, close your eyes, and observe your inner field of vision by focusing the attention at the point in the centre of the forehead, just slightly above the point between the eyebrows. This location is called the Third Eye Centre or Agna Chakra. It is related to the faculty of clairvoyant vision. The physical manifestation or anchorage point for the Agna Chakra is the pituitary gland, which is located in a bony cradle in back of the root of the nose.
When you close your eyes, look steadily into your inner field of vision until light, colour and patterns begin to appear. (This is looking with your attention and not with the physical eyes which should remain relaxed.) When most people close their eyes, initially they see a black void, but by looking steadily into this void, various colours and patterns will begin to appear. When this happens, simply observe them with your full, undivided attention as if you were intently watching a movie. Then periodically focus all of your attention within the smallest point that you can see in the centre of your field of vision, and pierce through that point. After you have done this, the light will again blaze forth from the point in a new burst of energy, and you will find yourself at a higher rate of vibration or plane of energy. With continued practice of this form of meditation, you will become immersed in a blazing sea of light; and you will become a centre from which that spiritual power is radiated.
By concentrating the attention in the Sahasraram Chakra or Thousand-Petalled Lotus, located at the top of the head, an experienced meditator can release an even more powerful radiation of light and spiritual energy. (It may take more work to activate this chakra; the beginner can get more immediate results by looking through the Agna Chakra or Third Eye Centre.) The Sahasraram Wheel is the highest chakra; called the “Doorway to the Infinite” and the Brahmarandra or Hole of Brahma, it is the most powerful and spiritual of all the centres that can be awakened in man (with the possible exception of the Heart Chakra which is considered by some yogis to be of equal importance). When the Sahasraram Chakra is fully activated in a perfected yogin or saint, the white fire of Cosmic Kundalini descends upon him and blends with his own rising kundalini force, and the white light of spirituality radiates for miles around.
Meditation on the Chakras
By focusing the attention on various locations within the body, where the chakras are located, it is possible to activate these chakras and facilitate an increased flow of energy between the higher planes of energy and the subtle body, thus releasing an increased amount of spiritual energy. There are seven major chakras in the body which link together the physical body and the subtle energy bodies.
The chakras are revolving vortexes of energy which act as mechanisms for the absorption and radiation of spiritual energy. In the physical body, they relate to glands and major nerve centres. In the etheric body, they are like wheels with flower petals which are created by a sort of stroboscopic effect of the revolving energy. The etheric chakra flowers are connected by a sort of funnel-like stem to the gland or nerve plexus to which they belong. In the astral body, the chakras appear as whirlpools of energy, like the eddies in a stream of water or in a basin of water when the stopper is pulled out. In the mental body, they appear as converging lines of light.
The Muladora Chakra is at the base of the spine and is the seat of the Kundalini Fire Wheel when aroused, which in the advanced stages of yoga, rises up through the centre of the spine and activates the highest chakra in the cerebral cortex called the Sahasraram Chakra.
The next chakra is called the Sacral Centre or the Swadisthana Chakra. It relates to the adrenal glands and is related to the absorption of pranic vitality, which is in the air. The air absorbs this energy from solar radiation. There seems to be some differences of opinion between various texts as to whether the Muladora Chakra or Swadisthana Chakra relates most directly to the sexual functions.
After the Swadisthana Chakra, comes the Manipara or Solar Plexus Centre which relates to the digestive functions and vitality of the astral desires and feeling emotions.
Next in ascending order is the Anahala or Heart Chakra, which relates to the source of spiritual energy and the higher emotions of love, altruism and benevolence.
The next chakra is the Vishudha or Throat Chakra, which is related to the thyroid gland and has to do with the power of speech and relates to mantra yoga and the capacity for artistic creativity. This centre is activated by chanting and singing.
Next we have the Agna Chakra, which is located on the forehead, just slightly above and between the eyebrows. It is related to the pituitary gland and the subcortical areas of the brain. The Agna Chakra has to do with the higher mind faculties of clairvoyance, scientific reasoning, willing and philosophical thought. Development of the chakra awakens the ability to see and regulate astral and mental forces on the superphysical level.
Above the Agna is the Sahasraram Chakra or Thousand-Petalled Lotus, which is related to the pineal gland and the cerebral cortex. It’s located at the top of the head. It relates to the sound current and the faculty of clairvoyant hearing, and is the most spiritual of all the chakras. When this chakra is fully developed, union with God-consciousness is possible, and Illumination takes place.
By focusing the attention in any one of the chakras, the lower overtones of the concentration of consciousness in that location activates that chakra and increases the energy flow in it, making possible a conscious entry into the superphysical planes of energy. Meditation on the first three chakras, namely the Muladora Chakra, the Sacral Chakra and the Solar Plexus Chakra is not recommended because this can arouse lower emotions and sexual passions. This can allow entry to undesirable astral influences and cause psychological unbalance. It is better to work with the Heart Centre, the Agna Chakra, and the Sahasraram Chakra because these are the most directly related to the unfoldment of superconsciousness; and when awakened, will automatically develop the lower chakras by changing the glandular balance of the body and by circulating new pranic forces through the energy channels or nodies of the etheric body as well as purifying and strengthening the astral and mental bodies.
The hormones which the pituitary gland secretes, regulates the other glands in the body including the thymus gland, the thyroid gland, the adrenal gland and the sex glands as well as other glands. Once the pituitary gland is fully activated by the development of the Agna Chakra, all other glands are brought into proper chemical balance, thus helping to properly develop and raise the vibratory rate of all the lower chakras.
In Kundalini Yoga, an advanced yoga practice, concentration is done on the Muladora Chakra at the base of the spine in order to arouse the Kundalini Fire and bring it through the centre of the spine to activate the highest chakra, the Sahasraram, at the top of the head. If however, the Kundalini Fire is prematurely aroused and not properly directed, great damage can be done to the nervous system and to the etheric body. If the Kundalini force is not properly directed upwards, it can revert downward causing abnormal sexual desire and perversion. Therefore, arousing the Kundalini should only be done in advanced stages of yoga when a great deal of purification of the subtle bodies has taken place and soul control over the personality is well established.
When doing Om chanting or other mantras, it is possible to activate various chakras. By chanting at varying pitches, you will make different tissues in the body vibrate, thus stimulating the nerve centres and the glandular centres, and activating the chakras associated with them. With a bit of experimentation, you will find which tones or pitches vibrate which parts of the body and which chakras. When this has been ascertained, then chant with full force while meditating in the chakra you wish to activate.
The sound waves create vibration patterns in the etheric, astral and mental atmosphere, which you can develop the ability to see. They are multicoloured and very intricate and beautiful, sometimes forming geometrical patterns and mandalas made out of threads of light. Music will have a similar effect. Just listen to the music during a psychedelic session while observing the inner light through the Agna Chakra or Third Eye Centre. Then watch the colour patterns change and develop with the music. Classical music and Indian ragas are especially good for this purpose.
Meditation on the I Am Principle
In the practice of this form of meditation, consciousness is made to dwell upon itself. When properly and successfully practiced, this is the most powerful and highest form of meditation. While focusing in the Heart Chakra or in the Sahasraram Chakra at the crown of the head, place the attention on the attention itself. If any distractions come in the form of thoughts and perceptions of a specific nature, then immediately concentrate your attention upon that consciousness in you which is the experiencer of those thoughts and perceptions. Even the manifestation of spiritual light and sound current should be regarded in this way. The sound current and the light are merely the lower overtone manifestations of the pure consciousness upon which you are meditating. The more you hold your attention steady in concentration upon itself, the more the light, sound current, electrical sensations in the body, feelings of magnetic force, sensations of weightlessness, etc. will manifest automatically. If, however, you allow your attention to become distracted by any of these manifestations, then you will be subject to the limitations of the thing by which you have been distracted; and the focusing of pure consciousness will be interrupted so that all of the things which are the lower overtones and by-products of the focusing of pure consciousness, possibly including the psychic manifestation which distracted your attention, will also stop. Seek ye first the kingdom of pure consciousness and all of these other psychic manifestations will be added unto you.
Placing the attention on the attention itself can be done in any location in space since pure consciousness, which is the same as God, is an omnipresent principle. In the beginning, it will be found easiest to do this in one of the chakras, preferably the Heart Chakra or the Sahasraram or Head Centre. The Agna Chakra or Third Eye Centre located on the brow, can also be used with good results, but it is better to use the Sahasraram Chakra if you can activate it.
With practice of this form of meditation, your pure consciousness will experience itself as a blazing sea of white light extending infinitely in every direction. The pure consciousness itself is crystalline and colourless, but it generates the white light which is the simultaneous presence of all of the colours which are the specific lower overtone rates of vibration, which the pure consciousness generates.
The placing of the attention on the attention itself in a specific chakra, brings about a condition in that chakra, in which its vibration structure is harmonically and geometrically aligned in all of its planes of manifestation or rates of vibration. This creates common node points in the inner plane structure of the chakra. Vibrations of different frequencies and different wavelengths all begin and end together at these common node points. This is made possible by the fact that the wavelengths of the various vibrations and their frequencies all bear exact mathematical rates to each other, like the notes in a musical scale. Any vibrations which are out of phase in terms of their spatial distribution or vibratory rates are automatically canceled out by interfering with other waves at the common node points. Where several wavelengths, both short and long, begin and end their cycles together, it is possible to slip through the dimensions and to experience the higher spiritual rates of vibration and approach the Atman, which moves with infinite speed. At these common node points, the exchange of energy from one octave or plane to another, also becomes possible, allowing a flow of energy from the higher dimensions into the lower dimensions. Thus, a transmutation of those vibration patterns which exist on the lower dimensions into the higher ones becomes possible. The soul is then able to control the personality structure, making it a fit instrument of spiritual expression in the affairs of men. This form of meditation develops one-pointed concentration.
Since the use of psychedelic drugs stimulates the flow of a great amount of energy from higher planes into the lower planes, any thought and emotion patterns created during a psychedelic session are strongly imprinted and have a great deal of energy incorporated into their vibration structure. These thought and emotional patterns then act as powerful unconscious conditioning factors in our daily lives. It is therefore of the utmost importance that constructive imprints are made during a psychedelic session. Remaining in control of the attention can ensure this.
In this regard, I would like to give a few final points of advice. Try not to focus the attention from one thing to another too quickly. Stay with a thought or meditation process until it is complete. Don’t panic if frightening visions or hallucinations occur. Fear will make you concentrate on them all the more and thus feed them with the power of your attention. Remain detached and place your attention on that consciousness within you which is experiencing the hallucinations. Remember at all times that God exists in you in the form of your own power of attention and that power when properly directed, will control all lesser forces.
It is believed by some researchers that psychedelic drugs stimulate the secretion process of the pineal and pituitary glands, which are known by yogis and occultists to be related to the Sahasraram and Agna chakras (which are also called the Thousand-Petalled Lotus and the Third Eye Centre). This stimulation increases the flow of energy between the etheric body and the physical body. It may be that psychedelic drugs place the cells of the physical body under stress so that they must speed up their activity to overcome the stress. When the cells increase their activity, their vibratory rates increase, thus putting them harmonically in resonance with the higher rates of vibration on the subtle superphysical planes of energy. This process makes possible the expression of a higher level of consciousness through the glandular system, brain and nervous system.
The increased physical cellular activity requires more work and activity in the etheric body to sustain the stepped-up activity of the physical body. The vibratory rate of the etheric body is thus accelerated, requiring an increased activity in the astral body to sustain and remain harmonically in tune with the etheric body. The increased vibratory rate of the astral body requires a stepped-up activity and increased vibratory rate in the mental body. This in turn more fully tunes the mental body in to the power, love and wisdom of the soul. Thus an alignment of the whole being on all planes is facilitated, and a more rapid exchange of pattern imprints and energy between the various octaves or planes of energy takes place.
It may also be that psychedelic drugs have a chemical structure such that they are perfectly in resonance with the lower overtones of certain key frequencies in the higher planes and can therefore act as a point of entry for the reflection of these vibrations in the physical body. They would therefore help to create common node points in the vibration structure of several different dimensions.
Not only is the love, wisdom and power of the soul brought to bear in the life of the personality, but the fine organization of the physical body, the etheric, astral and mental bodies, which have been produced by the evolutionary process, are harmonically reflected and preserved in the soul. While the physical body is the least permanent, the densest and composed of the substance of the lowest plane, it is in terms of evolution, the newest and most highly organized in terms of structure. Therefore, a complete replica of it made out of the energy substance of the subtle planes, is an evolutionary gain for the soul and subtle bodies. When the physical body is sufficiently vivified by the influx of energy from the higher dimensions, it begins to create higher overtone reflections of itself in the akasha or energy substance of the higher planes, and thus its pattern is preserved and made immortal.
Therefore, when properly used, psychedelic drugs help to speed up the evolutionary process. When man has evolved to superman, he will, under the direction of the superconscious mind in accordance with God’s will as it manifests in evolution, take an active part in the molding and directing of the evolution of the mineral, vegetable, and animal kingdoms. Even today, his vibrations intimately affect for good or bad, those kingdoms in nature.
The following article originally appeared as an uncopyrighted set of mimeographed sheets sometime during the late 1960’s, which was freely distributed on a limited basis, probably in San Francisco. Feel free to make copies of this article and to distribute them to those interested to keep this information alive, otherwise it will disappear into antiquity. [gracious thanks to Panoptes for sharing this essay!] Note from Magdalene: I have worked with similar techniques for most of my life and found that yoga has really opened my sexuality. I suggest experimenting with these techniques (though, of course, I do not advise breaking any local laws by partaking of illegal substances).
Astral projection (OOBE, out of the body experience) is a popular area of occult literature; for travelling to see other worlds and places while the physical body sleeps or is entranced is an exciting notion. Astral projection is not dangerous. It is as safe as sleeping. Most dreams are probably unconscious astral projections, anyway. Although there has been quite a bit written on the subject, astral projection is difficult for many people. The main difficulty is the tendency to forget dream consciousness upon awakening. Accordingly, the successful practice of astral projection requires work.
Modern psychology discounts the idea of actual OOBE (that the spirit temporarily vacates the physical body). However, the idea is very ancient. The Tibetans have an entire system of yoga (dream yoga) based upon astral projection. And here we have an important assumption: you are involved in an OOBE (at least to a degree) whenever you dream. What sets it apart from a full OOBE is your hazy consciousness during the experience and poor recall afterwards. Many people forget most of their dreams completely. Learning astral projection requires a kind of inner mental clarity and alertness.
Dreams are a door to the subconscious which can be used for psychological and spiritual insight, and sometimes for precognition. Dream content is influenced by external sounds and sensations. For example, a loud external noise (such as a train) will likely appear in your dream (if it doesn’t wake you up!). Dreams are also influenced by events of the previous day, by your moods, and by suggestion. Everyone normally dreams 4 or 5 times a night (about every 2 hours). The longest dreams occur in the morning. Everyone dreams. You are more likely to remember the details of your dream when you first wake up. By keeping a dream diary you will improve dream recall. Have writing equipment or a tape recorder at your bedside for this purpose; also a light which isn’t too bright. Suggest to yourself several times before you go to sleep, “I will awaken with the knowledge of a dream.” Then when you do awaken, move quietly (sometimes just turning over drives the idea away). Remember first, then write the dream down, and th en add as many details as possible. The next day check for objective facts and expand if you can (by remembering ‘what happened before that’). Once you start remembering your dreams in this way, it will become easier to do so. (If you are unsuccessful at this, and *really* want to remember your dreams, you could arrange for someone to sit by your bedside all night long with a dim light on. Then when he sees your eyes moving back and forth — rapid eye movements, a sign you are dreaming — he can wake you and ask for a dream report.)
Forms of Astral Projection
Astral projection may be subdivided into three basic types: mental projection, astral projection (proper) and etheric projection. And your OOBE may shift between them. Mental projection is really simple clairvoyance (‘remote viewing’), and ‘travelling in your mind’. Imagination plays a key role. The experience of mental projection is not particularly vivid, and you will more likely be an observer than a participant. Nevertheless, mental projection is an important ‘way in’ to astral projection proper.
During mental projection and astral projection you are able to travel through solid objects, but are not able to act directly upon them or to move them (if they are in the physical world). This is not true during etheric projection. Whether it is simply subconscious expectation, or whether it is a true etheric projection which in theory means that part of your physical body has been relocated with your projection (the etheric or vital part) may be difficult to determine. Etheric projections generally travel at or very near the physical world. There are even cases reported (very, very rare ones) in which the entire physical body is transferred to another location (teleportation), or cases in which the physical body exists and acts in two separate places at once (bilocation)!
But our primary interest is astral projection proper, and mental projection to a lesser extent. Astral and mental projection are not confined to the physical world. Travel in the mental and astral realms is feasible, and often preferred. Nor are astral and mental projection restricted to the realm of the earth (you could even go to the moon and planets).
States of Consciousness
The electrical activity of the brain has been observed and classified with EEG (electroencephalograph) equipment; signals picked up from the scalp by electrodes, then filtered and amplified, drive a graph recorder. Brain activity has been found to produce specific ranges for certain basic states of consciousness, as indicated in ‘hz’ (hertz, or cycles/vibrations per second):
delta — 0.2 to 3.5 hz (deep sleep, trance state),
theta — 3.5 to 7.5 hz (day dreaming, memory),
alpha — 7.5 to 13 hz (tranquility, heightened
beta — 13 to 28 hz (tension, ‘normal’ consciousness).
As you can see, some form of physical relaxation is implied in the alpha, theta, and delta consciousness. These states are in fact reached through deep breathing, hypnosis, and other relaxation techniques. OOBE occurs during these states, and delta is probably the most important for it. The problem is really, as we have said, one of maintaining mental awareness and alertness while experiencing these altered states. Experimental subjects hooked to an EEG do not show a discrete change from drowsy to sleep; it is very gradual.
At the threshold between sleep and waking consciousness is a drowsy condition known as the hypnogogic state. OOBE seems to occur during this state, or a variant of it. By careful control of the hypnogogic state (not going beyond it) it is possible to enter OOBE directly.
Most methods of astral projection are methods of conditioning. Some form of trance or altered consciousness is always involved. No one ever projects consciously while fully awake (some may think that they do). Although there are many techniques used to produce an astral projection, they boil down to nine of them. They all sort of overlap.
- Diet — Certain dietary practices may aid in OOBE, especially at first. These include fasting, vegetarianism, and in general the eating of ‘light’ foods as discussed in a a previous lesson. Carrots and raw eggs are thought to be especially beneficial, but all nuts are to be avoided. Over-eating should be avoided. And no food should be eaten just before an OOBE attempt. If you intend to practice during sleep, for example, allow 2 to 4 hours of no food or drink (except water) before bedtime. In general, we see here the same kind of dietary restrictions advocated for kundalini yoga.
- Progressive muscular relaxation — This is one of the basic methods used in hypnosis and self-hypnosis. Physical relaxation can assist one in attaining the requisite trance state. These techniques involve beginning at the toes and tensing, then relaxing the muscles, progressively up the entire body.
- Yoga and breath — Yoga, mantra, and breathing exercises similarly aim at physical relaxation. The practice of kundalini yoga is particularly relevant, since it is concerned with altered consciousness. In fact the arousal of kundalini requires a similar state of consciousness to OOBE.
- Visualization — This involves a type of extended clairvoyance or picturing of remote surroundings. If you can experience the feeling of being there, so much the better. Although this technique is essentially mental projection, it is possible to deepen mental projection into astral projection through (you guessed it!) visualization. Crowley taught a similar technique: a) visualize a closed door on a blank wall, b) imagine a meditation symbol on the door, c) visualize the door opening and yourself entering through it. And J.H. Brennan describes similar techniques wherein the door is shaped and coloured like a tattva, or alternately, a chosen tarot card is visualized and the student visualizes entering into it.
- Guided imagery — In many respects similar to visualization. Except in this case, there is a guide (or perhaps a voice on tape) directing you by means of descriptions. As with visualization, mental rather than astral projection is most likely.
- Body of Light — The old Golden Dawn technique. Imagine a duplicate (mirror image) of yourself in front of you. Then transfer your consciousness and sensation to the duplicate (‘body of light’).
- Strong willing — Sort of like creative visualization experienced in the present. That is you express your strong desire to project through your willpower while you visualize yourself doing it.
- The Monroe techniques — These are a series of steps developed by Robert Monroe: a) relax the body, b) enter the hypnogogic state, c) deepen the state, d) develope the senstation of ‘vibration’, e) separate from the body. The Monroe Institute has developed some cassete tapes which are claimed to help in this.
- Dream control — This is one of the most important techniques. It involves becoming aware that you are dreaming. There are several ways to do this. Oliver Fox says to look for descrepancies in the dream to realize you are dreaming. One occult student I know of visualized a white horse which he could ride wherever he wished to go. After a time, when the horse appeared in his dreams it was his cue that he was actually dreaming/projecting. Don Juan tells Castaneda to look at his hands while he is dreaming. And even the tarot and Cabala may also be used as dream signals. Another method is to tell yourself each night as you go to sleep, “I can fly”; then when you do, you will know you are dreaming. Once you know you are dreaming you can control your dream/OOBE and go anywhere you want. Repetitive activities will also likely influence your dreams. For example, if you are on an automobile trip and spend most of the day driving, you will probably dream about driving. You can condition yourself to be aware you are dreaming by doing a repetitive activity many times (walking across the room or a particular magick ritual, for example). Then when you dream about it, you will know you are dreaming.
Although all these techniques may appear straightforward, they all require effort. Astral projection is generally learned.
The astral world is the “ghostland” into which one passes after death. It is sometimes possible to visit with the dead, or you might be called upon to reassure and assist those who have just passed over (died) or those who are consciously projecting for the first time. Many spirits, elementals and ghosts exist in the astral world. The magician should feel comfortable there. Tibetan belief is that through proficiency in OOBE, you no longer need reincarnate after death. The astral world is extremely changeable and subject to your thoughts. Your will can control your movements in the astral world, and if you seem to be going somewhere non-volitionally (‘astral current’) it is probably your true will causing it anyway. You might also experience heightened magical ability while in the astral realm.
- What is the relationship between astral projection and dreams.
- What is mental projection?
- List the nine basic methods of astral projection.
- H.P. Battersby, Man Outside Himself.
- J.H. Brennan, Astral Doorways.
- Robert Crookall, The Techniques of Astral Projection.
- Denning and Phillips, The Llewellyn Practical Guide to Astral Projection. Oliver Fox, Astral Projection.
- Gavin & Yvonne Frost, Astral Travel.
- Celia Green, Out-of-the-body Experiences.
- Richard A. Greene, The Handbook of Astral Projection.
- Herbert Greenhouse, The Astral Journey.
- Jack London, Star Rover (historical occult novel).
- Janet Mitchell, Out of Body Experiences.
- Robert Monroe, Journeys Out of the Body.
- Robert E. Moser, Mental and Astral Projection.
- Muldoon and Carrington, The Projection of the Astral Body.
- Ophiel, The Art and Practice of Astral Projection.
- A.E. Powell, The Astral Body.
- D. Scott Rogo, Leaving the Body.
- J.M. Shay, Out of the Body Consciousness.
- Susy Smith, The Enigma of Out-of-the-body Travel.
- Brad Steiger, The Mind Travelers.
- Yram, Practical Astral Projection.
Phil Hansford, 4/88 Mysteria (818) 353-8891 (modem)
P.O. Box 83 Tujunga, CA 91042
Copyright (c) 1988 by Phil Hansford. This article is licenced for free non-commercial distribution only.