I speak in images. With nothing else can I express the words from the depths.
Carl Jung – Red Book
First of all I cannot overstate the importance of keeping a journal, especially for your dreams. The more you journal your dreams, the more of them you will have and the more intense and complex they will become. You may want to try to write down the general feeling of your dreams -their themes- and not limit yourself to writing just their elements. I also strongly recommend to pay attention to the message of the dream. You might not be able to figure out a message every time but if you open yourself to it, it will happen eventually. The message of a dream is like a voice that tells you something and it will most likely come to you upon waking up and writing down the dream. It is also important to not censure what comes to you as very often it will seem like the message does not make any sense, especially in the initial stages of self-introspection. The degree to which we are blind to who we really are ironically only becomes evident as we become less blind. So whatever comes to your mind in terms of your dream “talking to you”, write it down, or record it on your phone. One day you might find yourself lucid in a dream, i.e. aware within the dream and from there you will be able to have intense experiences. Should this happen just practice intent to go somewhere, or talk to someone -and keep practicing until more happens.
I also strongly advise to keep track of your life, or at least of the themes of your life, for as insignificant as they may seem. Both journalling your dreams and your life is an act of mindfulness that will permeate all of your experiences, whether you have -or wish to have- OBEs or not. This is where I want to point out one of the most important keys that I have learned so far, and that I did not know at first: whatever you practice in one world will have its effect in the others as well, and will be translated in a greater ability to navigate all waters. All growth in this world, by means of wanting to be better, by practicing mindfulness, by means of being brutally honest in self-introspection, will find you highly advanced in your OBEs as well. This is a critical point in my opinion and at the core of this is the understanding of the ways of the holistic experience.
Keeping a journal requires time and effort and this is exactly what you need to do. Oddly enough, after two years of intense dreaming, OBEs and journalling, I rarely dream anymore, and I mostly have OBEs or am mercifully left alone for a much-needed rest. The whole process is physically and mentally exhausting indeed, especially the OBEs.
It’s all about how much we grow in the process
I think it’s a misconception to believe that any practice is “it”, especially if done at the expense of working at your self-development in your daily life, where it is critical to pay due attention to the mirrors in your life. All the tools available, such as meditation, therapy, psychology, holy scriptures, etc, are only preparation for the real tests which come in the daily experiences of life. From my perspective it is a mistake to have specific goals if you’re not going to advance in the areas where you are presented with your biggest challenges. For example, if you’re a keen meditator but get irritated when you’re not meditating, or when you meet people who disturb your peace, then you are defeating the purpose of that practice. The purpose of any spiritual practice is to get us through the challenges to learn their lessons -not to be an escape-way from them, which is what most people do nowadays, what with all the childish rejection of “the negative”. And by the way, whatever you avoid confronting will have to be dealt with at some point or another -in this life or another. Be aware that all the issues that are tickling you in your current life are a sign of where you need to grow.
We need to recognize the validity of the process of growth itself. Goals are desires of the ego that will become attached to: results, the need to belong to a group, the need to be safe, the need to feel significant and therefore to be above others. The concept of finality, of getting results by which we measure and establish our value, is at the core of our frustrations. The whole point of spiritual practice is to get us closer to the understanding of -and living by- the truth of our process: that we are all learning, are all having to face great battles, and are all part of a system, a universe, that we contribute to with our growth. God is: all of us together. And the people and challenges in our lives are exactly what we need to further our growth.
So we better be very alert to determine if we take action based on the demands of our ego or because we are following the pull of our heart. In the case of the latter, it is only natural to want to expand in specific areas: but then it’s a calling. There’s a big difference between not eating meat because it’s part of a grander scheme of things in your personal life that responds to a profound desire to be healthy, for yourself, for which you don’t need to bother another human being, and believing that you will score more points towards enlightenment because you eat vegetables and annoy every one around you in the process. We need to be very honest with our intentions and why we do things because if we think that we can deceive God, we are very foolish indeed. And since we cannot deceive God, we better smart up and realize that it’s useless to try to deceive ourselves. Honesty is very important and it’s not an easy tool to use, but it brings incoherences to the surface and all the issues we need to face.
All of this I mention because I think it directly affects our ability to have OBEs and to sustain intent while in them. The spiritual journey is one that we awakens us to an urge that pulls us to unity, as opposed to separation. An example of separation is in our patriarchal society, where the masculine side of us is exalted, shunning the necessary companion on our journey to wholeness: the feminine in our human nature (refer to a previous post). You need only pay attention to all the war-themed (masculine) terminology used to promote our empowerment -whether for women or men. The spiritual path is one that brings us ultimately together, as we come to the understanding that we are all here to have an experience to evolve toward being love.
Intent is linked to honesty about yourself
I see many people trying techniques to have OBEs -or just any technique to achieve anything in life. I find that we fail to realize how holistic this experience is and that it’s an illusion to believe in achieving “success” in life through the rationalization of one of its parts. To include every aspect of our experience is very important from my point of view, especially because I have experienced its direct effect from one world to another. Whatever effort I make in regular life, by being brutally honest about how I feel and what I do, has a direct impact on sustaining intent in my OBEs.
One thing I would advise, if you have just started to have those experiences, is to just let them take you wherever they may at first. In my own experience, in the beginning I would find myself in those worlds and because I had learned that I could ask questions or ask to see people, I actually found those possibilities restrictive. I would find myself asking to see my father, but in reality I had no interest in that. And it was confusing. What happened then was that I placed that intent and was ejected back to this world. Why? My guess is that because that “intent” was not honest: I didn’t care to see my father. And in fact, I discovered later on that I didn’t care about the things of this world at all. I don’t think of the people here, or the loved ones who have died. When I’m up there, I’m something else, I know so much, I am not attached to the concerns of the physical world which are either relegated to the background or gone altogether.
Intent an important word in OBEs -but also in this life- and intent is the rudder of your ship that will allow you to be more and more in command of what you create here and what you do “up there”. For me intent is directly linked to awareness, mindfulness and honesty about myself in the physical life. I have been asked how to practice or bring about intent. Every time I hear that question I find myself at a loss for a technique or set of instructions, which is what we all want nowadays; a set of instructions on how to be happy, how to have financial success, “how to…” this or that. As if things were as simple as to be contained in a user manual. I must say though, that all in all, everything is valuable. It’s not like I reject those things, but I understand now that believing in quick solutions is a huge illusion -and a huge trap. And so what I mean is that if your heart is what pulls you to the subject of OBEs, then the entire process to get there will be of extraordinary value to you. But in the end you will have them if you are meant to have them and the techniques will have been your way to focus on the subject enough to bring about that kind of experiences.
Tiny positive or negative increments in the quality of your intent, over many thousands of choices, eventually lead to either an increasing or decreasing consciousness quality.
It is so important to understand that this life is what we came for, it’s our playground, it’s our school, it’s what we wanted, it’s a privilege, it’s something we are even addicted to: it’s an incredible experience to have. And that’s what the practice of gratitude is all about: it is the remnant of the distant knowing to revere this experience. Just think about how most people with a terminal disease will fight until their last breath: it’s because we all intrinsically know that this is a great ride to have.
I do however insist that the key to increasing awareness and intent in OBEs is to do just that in this world and for this we need to use both the psychological and spiritual tools available. And they key in this practice is to be able to look at yourself with brutal honesty and stop that childish system of expectations of reward for being “good” or giving donations, that many base their spiritual development on. The spiritual path is not a SPA retreat where you eat vegetables and feel good about yourself. It is rather the invocation to go through an extraordinary process of transformation which will break you to pieces and shatter your life in order to understand who you really are.
Of course there are many levels of awareness. But I’m going to be very clear and honest about what I think is true: accessing deeper levels requires going into deeper waters. And it’s very dark down there. Not long ago I was being attacked with the argument that pain and suffering are really useless and that maybe it’s for people who don’t advance in life and get stuck. I was going through a very frustrating moment and obviously it stopped me from going further in the conversation, as this kind of reductionism is as sterile as the need to be right. I will talk about the difficulties of our experience and their extraordinary validity in another post, but I will establish right now that this systematic discarding of the negative, especially in the so-called spiritual circles, is frankly disconcerting. Obviously those are the people I would expect to understand more than anyone the convoluted ways of life. First of all, to judge something as “negative” is itself contradictory with proclaiming yourself to be “spiritual”; and to run away from it on account of wanting only the positive, is to fail to understand one of the most powerful practices of our spiritual experience: the power of the mirrors in our lives. And you may want to think twice about running away from your mirrors.
Learn to embrace and use all aspects of your experience to understand the lessons you are meant to learn: that will serve your growth and all of humanity’s.
🙂 Marina CB – Always be brave, be free