The Mentalist’s Handbook; Part Two

I have been working full-time over the last month, so it has been difficult to balance the time between working on the exercises in the Mentalist’s Handbook with work, but I have indeed been doing it!  I’m making an intent to not let this book keep staring me down from my book shelf, plus I’d like to not get an overdue library fine, haha.  So I picked up where I left off (my last post was all about basic meditation) in lesson one of the book.  After the basic meditation exercise, next comes an exercise in visualization.  Visualization is completely new to me, but I must say I have picked up on it quite easily and I attribute that to my meditation practice over the last four years.

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The author first gives you a simple visualization to do, which is based on an optical illusion.  He gives you an image that you stare at (as seen in the picture above) while counting slowly to thirty and then you quickly shift your gaze to a white or light-colored wall to see if you see the afterimage of the picture on the wall.  After doing this exercise a few more times, he then recommends that you try to visualize the same image upon the wall without staring at the picture of it first.  After managing that, it is recommended to play more with your visualizations such as trying to visualize it against different walls, suspended from a wall or adding parts to the image (adding extra fingers for an example and then taking them away.)

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After the simple visualization, exercise number three comes where you are to imagine the aetheric plane.  Doing this exercise basically feels as if you are making layers over what you see in the “real” world.  I did this exercise out on one of my hikes as I was sitting on a boulder staring towards a group of bushes.  I took the scene of bushes in, including all of the detail that I could pinpoint such as raindrops hanging off some of the vegetation of the bush and the intricate detail of the leaves on some of the bushes.  I took a deep breath, closed my eyes and then brought the landscape of bushes that I was just looking at into my imagination, trying to remember all of the details I could.  As instructed, I then imagined the whole scene to made of light and then colored everything blue so that it seemed to have a translucent glow to it (the author instructs that you pick any color of your choosing to give it the glow.)  After holding that image in my thoughts, I popped open my eyes and superimposed my mental landscape onto the actual scene as if it was wrapping around it as a shell.

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After doing exercise number two and three, I was feeling much more confident in my visualization skills.  Armed with visualization confidence I thought going into exercise number 4 would be a piece of cake, but I stumbled with it a bit.  This exercise is entitled “The Scupltor’s Studio”  where you envision yourself literally in a sculptor’s studio.  Before this, you do a basic 10-minute meditation (following the in/out breath) and then you bring yourself into the sculptor’s studio.  You envision everything in the sculptor’s studio, including the sculptor himself turning into clay.  Once everything is clay, you envision the sculptor being able to work with everything that has become clay and sculpting everything into new things.  I had a lot of fun with it for about 5 minutes, I smiled as I imagined the sculptor pouring himself a cup of clay coffee from the clay coffeemaker.  Eventually though, my mind got a bit A.D.D. and started thinking about other things, such as things I had to do later in the day bringing myself out of the scene.

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Excercise number five is the last exercise I have worked on (hoping to do number six after I finish typing up this post :)!)  In exercise number five, you again start it out with ten minutes of basic meditation and then you visualize yourself in a big open field.  It’s your aetheric (or astral) body.  Once you get a good feel as your astral self, you envision that field fading away and you find yourself in one of your favorite places to be.  You stay in this place for a little while recalling as much of it as you can and try to imagine if it is clear, hazy or anything else you notice.  You then transfer over to another place, a favorite store or restaurant of yours and do the same, observing it as if you are really there.  With this one I did a recording right afterwards and posted it below.  I did notice that all of the previous exercises really helped pave the way for my imagination to be very lucid in the beginning of this exercise.  K, I am headed out to work on exercise number 6 :)….wish me luck and more on that one later!

The Mentalist’s Handbook

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On a recent stop to one of my favorite indoor locales, the library (nerd alert!)  I came across the book, “The Mentalist’s Handbook” pretty randomly while I was trying to find a good beginner’s book about meditation for a friend.  As I laid my eyes on the picture that was on the front of the book, which was a girl with eyes connected to a light bulb (as seen above), I was intrigued.  The picture looked eerily familiar to a collage that I had made almost ten years ago.  I thumbed through the first few pages and was instantly hooked when I read the author’s introduction.  It almost felt as if I was reading my own words.

I’d been fascinated with the power of the human mind and it’s purported ability for astral projection, communication with the spirit world, and psychic feats for as long as I could remember, reading any related books I got my hands on and talking to whomever would share with me stories of their own experiences.  I was sure there was a reason for such phenomena to exist, and I had a sense that it was all related somehow.  But no one could explain any of it to my satisfaction.  Could this all be true?  I was insecure too, about being called a fool for questioning the limits of human knowledge in the rational world that we live in today.”  —Excerpt from “The Mentalist’s Handbook.”

As I stood there in the library reading parts out of the book, I lost track of time.  I was so eager to get started on the exercises that the author shares to help you reach the “aetheric” plane (yep, the author spells it with an ‘a’ in front of it, as they did in the 18th and 19th centuries), which the author explains as: “There is another world beyond, yet inside, the material world you and I know and inhabit.  This place is at once different from and the same as ours.  Everything in this other world looks as though it is made of light.  In fact, all things on the aetheric plane are made of a superfine substance known as aether.”   To me, the word “aetheric” is synonymous with “astral” (see definition below) which is the term I am going to use from now on when the author states “aetheric” because to me ,that’s just easier.  What can I say, old habits die hard!

The meaning of the word “Astral” per Oxford Dictionary:

1. {attributive} Relating to or resembling the stars. ‘astral navigation’

1.1 Relating to a supposed non-physical realm of existence to which various psychic and paranormal phenomena are ascribed, and in which the physical human body is said to have a counterpart.  ‘spiritual beings from the astral plane’

After I brought the book home, it stayed on my book shelf for weeks, staring me down.  One rainy afternoon, after moving into a new place that doesn’t have a T.V. or anything else to distract me, I finally took the book down off the shelf and started reading it as eagerly as I had when I first looked at in the library.  I completed the first three exercises that the author recommends, but I didn’t record any of them.  Then I placed the book back on the shelf and another two weeks went by until I picked it up again.  Picking it up this time, I decided that I would actually take the author’s recommendations and record what happened for me doing the exercises.  I downloaded a free recording app on my phone and started the book all over again.

For the first exercise in the book, I recorded what happened for me, I did one recording before the initial exercise and one recording after I performed the exercise.  If you’re interested to hear the recordings, just click the two icons at the bottom of this blog post, they are just a couple minutes each.  In this first exercise the author basically asks that you find a quiet space in your home to sit and strictly focus on nothing except for your breathing as it enters, fills, and exits your body.  The author also recommends that for each documentation that you do for each exercise, you should record a brief play-by-play of your general state of mind, your diet for the past twenty-four hours, any thoughts weighing heavily on your mind, and any abnormal external conditions that may affect your session.

For me, this first exercise was fortunately pretty easy because meditation is something that I try to practice every morning for about twenty minutes.  I had ate a pretty healthy diet for the twenty-four hours leading up to the meditation, although I still wasn’t feeling completely 100% myself because I had drank too much wine the night before.  I notice that when I am slightly hungover or tired when I meditate, my mind constantly wanders and can’t seem to stay focused on the breath.  I had a couple distinct things occur for me in the fifteen minute meditation, the first one was a strong tonal change that I felt on my right ear about ten minutes into the meditation.  The second thing that happened for me was that I felt a ton of activity on the crown of my skull, it felt as if it had opened up and was merging with the air in the room.

I am excited to check out more of this book and see how I do with it.  I understand that me posting about this might come up as controversial to some, but this excites me and I have learned to follow excitement without reservation.  The author asks in the beginning of the book to record what happens for you in the exercises and then to send him your recordings afterwards.  So between my recordings and blogging I plan to eventually send this all in to him.  I plan to still write my regular blog posts in between this, but plan to see more postings about this book in the future and thanks so much for following my journey!

Peace!  🙂  Ohhhhhhh and P.S.  If you do listen to the audio below, I am just warming up to this whole audio thing, so I’m hoping the recordings will get better as I do them more! 🙂

Some Notes from the Astral World

Swoosh!  All of a sudden I was up in the sky and not in my bed anymore.  I was comforted in a blanket of light all around me, I was floating and feeling at one with everything.  I realized that somehow, I had been given this opportunity to explore the vastness of the universe while still remembering who I was as a physical body.  I had been given this lucky chance to explore the sky and above.  I realized that I was at one with the stars.  As I started to move about so freely, a loud buzzing similar to the sound of television static overcame my ears and I fell into my body again.  My eyes flipped open and I realized I was lying in my bed.  I closed my eyes again, drifted back to sleep and heard the loud buzzing again.  I was back in the expanse of warm light and stars, but then the buzzing started and I was lying solid in my bed again.

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I grabbed a bottle of water resting next to me on my night stand and chugged down the remainder of it.  I had heard about out-of-body experiences (OBEs) before, in fact I had a few off and on since I was a child, but this one in particular seemed the most lucid.  I got up out of bed and walked on the cold wooden floor toward my bay windows.  I yanked on the curtain cord, dust flew about and streaks of sunlight poured into my large bedroom.  I pulled my notebook off of my black dresser and started writing down the experience that I just had.  I had remembered in one of the lucid dream books that I had checked out from the library years ago, it had mentioned to always write down your dreams when you wake up in the morning, no matter if they are lucid or not.  By writing your dreams down, you have more of a chance to give your subconscious mind opportunities to provide future lucid dreams.

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One month prior I had a different experience with an OBE while I was traveling in Southeast Asia for a month.  It was in a hostel room that I was sharing with Katie, a fellow traveler from the United Kingdom who had tagged along with me and my American friends.  Katie and I were sharing a twin-sized bed, as to make the already thrifty hostel even more of a bargain for us.  I was lying next to the window and Katie was next to the door of the room.  I had been dreaming that I was back in Minnesota visiting family and friends when all of a sudden, as if by a click of a switch, I realized that I was floating above the bed that Katie and I were sleeping on.

As I was floating above the bed, my rational mind was completely lucid, I knew that I resided in Saigon, Vietnam and what my name was.  I knew that my physical body was below me, lying there alongside Katie who was snoring softly with her arm flailed above her head.  I heard the construction work outside of our window, which had been going on since we checked into the hostel two days prior. I saw the white “Zen Plaza” sign on the side of the tall building across from our hostel.  All of a sudden I panicked and a wave of paralysis took over my whole body.  I thought to myself, I don’t want to die in Saigon, Vietnam!  I haven’t lived up to what I have intended!  I can’t die here, this isn’t right.

The view from our first hostel in Phnom PenhThe view from my hostel room in Saigon, Vietnam.

My eyes darted open and I took the deepest breath of my life, as if I was a deep sea diver that had lost her oxygen minutes ago and finally got above water.  My whole body felt so heavy, it hurt to get up.  I looked over to my left, Katie was still snoring and her arm was still resting above her head just as it was when I was viewing it from above.  The construction workers outside were still making noise and the white “Zen Plaza” sign was smack dab in my line of vision as I peered out the hostel’s double windows.

Before that experience in Southeast Asia, the last dream of that kind was in the fall of 2007.  I had rested my eyes as I was lying down reading a book and I drifted off into a dream.  In the first part of my dream, I was running around the cardiology clinic that I worked at in real life.  I was feeling very frazzled as multiple doctors kept asking me to draw blood or to perform electrocardiograms on patients.  I was then in the kitchen of the duplex that I rented at the time and my roommate Rachael was talking with me in the kitchen as she was grabbing food off the bottom shelf of our fridge.  Then something sounded like it snapped in my head and there was a loud buzzing.  I remember the distinct feeling of being very free and comforted by beings whom surrounded me.  They started giving me information about the nature of reality at an alarming rate, they playfully laughed, as in “awwww, she’s just a cute ol’ human being that thinks at a slower vibration than us….”

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Everything started happening incredibly fast, I was traveling through these alternate realities and in between these alternate realities, I was floating in outer space.  I was surrounded by stars and comforting beings, they were palpable and they felt so comforting.  They kept throwing information to me at an alarming rate, telepathically.  It is very difficult to describe in words what had happened to me during this experience as there were no words being communicated—all information was being given to me in what felt like the speed of light, they would think something and in an instant I would feel what they were conveying.  They kept flashing images of my life prior to up to that moment and then they started giving me images of people that I would be meeting in my future.  They kept expressing immense gratitude and love towards me.

When I awoke from this dream, I gasped for air and felt the heavy lump of my body lying in my bed.  I took a few deep breaths and felt stunned, I felt uncomfortable in my body.  My body felt so dense compared to where I just was.  I glanced over at my alarm clock that was resting on my night stand.  I couldn’t believe my eyes, I felt that I was asleep for hours, but I discovered that I had only been asleep for a total of ten minutes.  I felt overwhelmed and went downstairs to be around my roommates, I didn’t tell any of them what happened for fear of being sent to an asylum, but I just knew I wanted to be around people at that moment.  I remember smiling a lot the two days after that experience, I felt in awe and gratitude that I got to experience something so profound.

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Lucid Dreaming

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“All that we see or seem is but a dream within a dream.”

–Edgar Allan Poe

I have had a bit of time off of work, so I have finally gotten to catch up on one of my favorite past times: reading!  I have been holding onto this book, “Exploring the World of Lucid Dreaming”, for almost two years since a friend so kindly lent it to me (I’m usually not that bad with borrowing stuff, but what can I say, he’s a nice friend….) I have been into all things metaphysical since I was a young child, lucid dreaming being on the top of my list.  I started jotting my dreams into journals when I was eight years old.  When I was a teenager, I would have piles upon piles of metaphysical books underneath my pillows and to the side of me.  I recently joked to my sister that my mom never had to worry about me sleeping with boys when I was in high school, however she maybe should have been worried that I had the book “Life After Life” by Raymond Moody tucked under the covers with me for the majority of my 17th year on this planet.

I would try to bring up metaphysical subjects with my mom or grandma growing up, but they would usually either leave the room or tell me that I “shouldn’t be thinking that way.”  That was when I started writing in dream journals, regular journals and then finally finding a few others with similar mind sets as me in junior high to discuss all things metaphysical with.  It was great to be able to find these kindred spirits and to not feel as if I had to hold back on discussing things that had bothered me since I was a child.  To be able to ask my friend “what if there was just absolute NOTHINGness, like….not even the color black or white because if it was true NOTHINGness there wouldn’t even be colors…” and to not be looked at as if I was crazy was just great to me.

Now that we are living in this huge technological era, I have discovered there is a plethora of people that think like me and have been questioning the same things.  It’s so wonderful in this blogging community to come across metaphysical subjects so readily and have long drawn out conversations with someone across the world about “why in the hell are we here?”  I feel that in general, the world is opening up to metaphysical lines of thinking.  I feel that five years ago I would have been way to shy to be writing about what I am about to write.  What I really want to do in writing this is to help someone, even if it’s just one person reading this right now, to let them know that they are not alone.

I opened up “Exploring the World of Lucid Dreaming” last night, read the first chapter (which included one detailed exercise on becoming aware in the precise moment of wherever you are while reading the book) and fell asleep.  It was a shock to me, but I experienced a lucid dream immediately (I guess I have a knack for it?)  I had quite a few lucid dreams in the last few years, but this one in particular had both the lucidity and the feeling of a very thin veil between dimensions.  I wrote it down right away after I awoke and this is word for word from my journal:

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Okay, I am for SURE going to need to get a separate dream journal!  I only JUST started reading this lucid dream book last night and as soon as I fell asleep I already had an experience!  It started with me drifting off to sleep (having random thoughts) and then as clear as day, the song “Black” by Pearl Jam came into my head and then the White Stripes “Hardest Button to Button”, it was really rather goofy.  And then a strong awareness came over me, I realized that I was lying in my bed and that I was in my new studio apartment that I just moved into.  I got the sensation that, especially compared to my old apartment that I just moved from, I was in a space that has very good energy.  I felt wrapped up in a warming loving energetic embrace and realized I was up near the ceiling and saw my body in the bed below.  And then there was what felt like a shift (kind of when your ears pop when you’re rising in an airplane) in frequency and I felt incredibly light and free.  I felt as if I had a gigantic smile on my face, I felt so excited and then I darted across the room to pet my cat.  As I was petting him, I noticed that my arm was transparent and I realized it was just made of light.  I started to get so energetic and fascinated that I could roam free anywhere I wanted, but then a voice softly said as clear as day “we can hear you, but calm down, you’re going to wake people up” and then I darted awake.

So, take that as you will (yes I’m hearing voices, but at least it’s while I am asleep ;)) I just couldn’t stop thinking about it all throughout the next day.  It seemed so incredibly real to me and I know in the past lucid dreams had always been like this, it’s almost as if they feel more real than “real” life.  Now that I have all this time off for the next few weeks I am going to try a few more of the exercises.  As I have paged through the book, I have noticed that a lot of the exercises consist of meditations, so it will be interesting to see how deep I can go doing my regular 20-minute morning meditations along with the meditations in the book.

“I believe in everything until it’s disproved.  So I believe in fairies, the myths, dragons.  It all exists,even if it’s in your mind.  Who’s to say that dreams and nightmares aren’t as real as the here and now?”

–John Lennon