Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Frozen in Time

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Astral Projection is described as leaving the physical body and traveling through the etheric body. Also widely called out of body experiences, or the belief that a second body can emerge from our physical being attached to what has been called a silver umbilical cord that cannot be seen or felt.
Some people have claimed to have floated out of their body when they were near death to look down on themselves during serious illnesses or to see someone standing over them.
And even though these people have only traveled a few feet upward, others have claimed to travel great distances, a few even through time. Keep in mind that such experiences have accompanied some people during drug experiments, during meditation and during sleep. I would suggest those were dreams but there are enough people to argue anything I might say about any of this.
However there is a science attached to Astral Projection as well as many books that describe the experiences and methods one can use to have them. There have even been tales of a person being seen somewhere from where his physical body is in the form of an apparition, or doppelganger at the same moment.
Most of this is difficult to digest or even accept but there are those who swear it is not only true, but they have experienced it and some say they have purposely caused it using what is known as the Robert Monroe Method.
Monroe was the founder of the Monroe Institute that offers awakening through the exploration of consciousness. He was an advertising executive who lived from 1915 until 1995 who claimed that while experimenting with sleep studies in 1958 he experienced a sensation of paralysis and vibration and saw a bright light shining on him from an angle.
His book, Journeys out of the Body, published in 1971 made him a well known researcher in the field. His method for experimentation for one to leave their physical body and travel the Astral Planes consists of several steps that include breathing exercises, mental thoughts and body relaxation.
It requires clearing the mind except to focus on the ability to travel outside the body while you feel yourself nearing a state of sleep.
Anytime I have tried Dr. Monroe’s methods that are outlined in his book I have fallen asleep and defeated the attempt. Some who have followed the steps in the order he suggests claim it has worked for them but when I tried to imagine an object in front of me as written into that plan it never remained there any longer than a few moments so I reasoned that it distracted from my ability to keep my mind free and relaxed... which is essential to continue through the practice.
Each time I attempted to do this I either went to sleep or just became frustrated. I never lost the awareness of my body as I expected, and as the plan suggests I might.
However there have been more times than I can count when I did feel some of what has been described as a euphoric sense of complete relaxation and in a state of dreamland when I was very tired at night or in the first few moments of waking in the morning... two times of the day that Dr. Monroe names in his plan that are best to attempt an out of body experience.
When that has happened I tried to remember all of the sensations I felt and what I was thinking, but within a short time of getting up I could not. On a few occasions I have taken the ten steps outlined in the method before going to sleep at night.
They are;
1. Remove all jewelry or other items that might be touching your skin.
2. Darken the room so that no light can be seen through your eyelids, but do not shut out all light.
3. Lie down with your body along a north-south axis, with your head pointed toward magnetic north.
4. Loosen all clothing, but keep covered so that you are slightly warmer than what might normally be comfortable.
5. Be sure you are in a location where, and at a time when there will be absolutely no noise to disturb you.
6. Enter a state of relaxation.
7. Give yourself the mental suggestion that you will remember all that occurs during the upcoming session that will be beneficial to your well being.
Repeat this five times.
8. As you breathe concentrate on the void in front of you.
9. Select a point a foot away from your forehead then change your point of mental reference to six feet.
10. Turn the point 90 degrees upward by drawing an imaginary line parallel to your body axis up above you head. Focus there and reach out for the vibrations at that point and bring them back into your body.
I have never been able to feel anything different happening to me as I hoped I would. The entire process is far more involved than the few suggestions I have shared here but I was never able to cross over to the next exercise or stay focused on my attempt. I never felt the vibration nor could I maintain my concentration.
That is not to suggest that if I practiced these methods more or if I could somehow convince myself of the possibilities I couldn’t do it. Many people swear they have had no problem reaching another dimension by following Monroe’s plan letter-by-letter.
I have my own reasons for believing some of them and I’ll get to that later. Some of the descriptions of where a few have found themselves in this state were pretty scary while some say they reached a place and an emotion of panacea from anything that could possibly trouble them physically or emotionally.
And even though I never experienced those feelings anytime I was in a twilight state of mind I have often felt something else that has been commonly described, and that is the ability to fly.
I know that might sound pretty crazy but there have been times when I felt like I was running and that if I moved my body in a certain way I could lift my right leg higher than I might if I were in a conscious state and I could lift myself as high as I wanted and even hover above people. I would be flying, not in a prone or fixed state like Superman but still vertical as if I could walk or run at my own pace. If it weren’t for the number of times I thought I was doing this I would be satisfied to chalk it up as dreaming and I wouldn’t have much to argue that that was all it was.
But what sticks with me is when it happens it seems there is always someone else with me, either running or walking with me who asks "how did you do that?" And when that happens I am bewildered. Not that I’m doing it but because they can’t!
I can’t explain it. I feel at those times that I am with some strange person who hasn’t yet learned to walk because whatever it was I did to get up there came very naturally for me.
Where it is easy for me to explain it as a dream is that I have done this, or thought I did at times when if I hadn’t something terrible may have happened. Those details are usually foggy but I can recall such instances as being somewhere where people are shouting and the atmosphere around me is one of anger, or even more mysterious or suspicious to me is that sometimes I am following a train below me and keeping pace. It is as if I need to keep up with it and not lose sight of it.
That is an issue in and of itself because I have also had a deep fascination for trains and anytime I hear one off in the distance a feeling of peace and tranquility overcomes me. That feeling is heighted mostly at night when I am in bed but I feel pretty good anytime I hear one and regardless of whatever else I might be doing at the time I seem to pause a moment to listen and it just lightens my mental load for a few moments.
I have often told family members that when I die that anytime they hear a train horn off in the distance it will be me reminding them that I am okay. I mentioned that I have heard others talk about out of body experiences and some of the descriptions of what happened to them have ranged from all out fear to peaceful enjoyable moments.
As I began planning this book I asked as many people as I felt comfortable talking to about this subject if they had ever felt anything like this or if they knew anyone who might have shared anything that might have been an out of body episode.
I was shocked at the number who had eerie tellings of events in their lives that defied reasonable explanations. One person experienced what they believed was death while on an operating table they felt themselves leave their body and rise high enough to watch the surgeons working frantically below and another I was suspicious of who claimed to be able to control such happenings said that she regularly left her body and could sometimes do it at will.
She also said that she had been diagnosed as schizophrenic and she believed she had multiple personalities. She admitted that she was on many prescription drugs and that unexplainable circumstances happened most often when she wasn’t taking them.
At first I thought that was the explanation but then I wondered, were the drugs she took masking the reality of what was happening? That maybe the drugs only confused her and kept her away from something that might have been real. Like pain killers people take. The pain and the problems are still there but the drugs don’t allow the brain to feel any of it.
All of this is way out of reach of my understanding and because I have never been that sure of having such an experience I remained skeptical until I began really thinking about my own life and what was on my mind at the time I wanted to write about this subject.
The more I revisited my past when I was writing my last book which had nothing at all to do with this subject the more I wanted to finish it and get started on this one. I started going through old family photo albums hoping that something would trigger a memory of a time or place when something might have happened that seemed supernatural in some way.
I found nothing. I weeded through scrapbooks that I have kept through the years hoping to find the same thing and I stumbled onto a few scenarios that I wanted to share here. The first one was about something that happened when I was a third shift patrolman with the Obetz police department.
I encountered a woman who had three small children in tow late one night hitch-hiking on a dark road in Obetz. I pulled my cruiser off to the side of the road and to rescue them from what could have been a dangerous situation and got them all inside the patrol car and found out that they were homeless. Evicted from wherever they lived and Mom was a flaming fruitcake. She told me that they were being pursued by evil spirits and asked if I was “one of them.”
I left the description open for debate but assured her that I was certainly not a spirit, wondering then why my police car and my uniform didn’t offer a clue as to who I was. She asked why I was on that road so late at night looking for her if I wasn’t intending to harm her and her children and I explained that I had a job that sent me there to help people.
That turned out to be the wrong thing to say because she immediately screamed and began shaking a plastic bottle of water she had concealed under her coat at me. When I snatched the bottle away from her I had liquid dripping from my eyebrows and I asked her what was in the bottle and she stated that it was holy water.
Learning that this family hadn’t eaten in awhile I decided to transport them to an all night convenience store that had a deli inside where I could get them at least some snacks and have a table to work on as I contemplated my best options to get them some place safe.
After feeding them and completing my paperwork explaining how I got tied up and with whom, I had made the decision to take them all to Net Care, a mental health facility. There I could park Mom where she could get help and the good folks who deal with that sort of thing could take custody of the kids and make arrangements with Children’s Services for at least the night. Plus they would be out of my hair and no longer any concern to me.
On the way downtown I was driving along the same dark road I picked them up on when the woman began screaming and trying to open her locked car door.
Bone chilling shrieks rang out and she began pounding on the screen that separated the front seat from the rear seat as she pleaded with me not to take her back there. Net Care wasn’t the “back there” she was talking about; she had already agreed to go there. About a mile down the road she and the three children were letting out ear-splitting screams.
Screaming and crying and all of them pounding on the screen, then suddenly all of them stopped in unison. The cockpit of the cruiser became quiet and I thought “Okay that was different.” As we continued along I had to ask her, “What was all of screaming about?” The screams had quieted to a whimper and as she sobbed, she asked “Did you see them?” “Did you see the spirits when we crossed through the portal?”
“The portal” she saw was the Obetz Cemetery that I saw, and I tried to explain to her that I pass it several times a night every night and have never seen spirits in it, coming out of it or for that matter anywhere within miles of where we were.
But she saw them, hundreds of them marching toward my moving police car all at once. The kids saw them too and all four of them were shaking and crying and they begged me to go faster. It was one of many things I experienced as a cop that involved strange behavior by others and as I continued to dig through diaries and photos I never found anything that made me think I have ever saw something that wasn’t there or felt anything to make me believe I was someplace I wasn’t or that I had ever left my physical being.
Yet I knew there had to be something because there have been many times in my own life when I have been confused or when I knew something wasn’t right with me mentally. Not to suggest that I have ever been mentally challenged or in need of psychiatric evaluation but because my brain absorbs so much...so very, very quickly.
My good memory of things that happened decades ago seems to amaze others and I am frequently asked how I remember so many things so vividly. And when I am I tell them I guess I am blessed, either that or I am cursed! Whatever it is I do have a great memory, especially when it has something to do with my happy childhood and all that I was blessed with then and still.
And sometimes I can drift back to places and times and recall so many details of where I was and what I was doing that it sometimes startles even me. Do I leave my body, or do I leave my sense of reality when the stories I write about things like that seem to have visitors on the page like old friends coming back to help me remember?
It did seem like that when I discovered a diary I started when I was just a teenager. One that I remember being afraid to let anyone read for fear they would suggest that I was a candidate for the looney bin. A word of caution here; the following events will read like a man caught in a maze of confusion and might leave the reader in the same place.
Some of what follows is absolutely true while some of it I am not so sure of. But all of it is based on something real that has either happened before or is happening now. Finding that fine line that separates fiction from reality might be a challenge so stay focused! Out of body, Out of my mind!
A book by Rick Minerd, coming in the summer of 2011.

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