The Looking Glass

The Looking Glass

The Department of Psychology


Rick Rodriguez

Regarding out-of-body experiences, many good accounts have been written in Europe and the United States. Many people have had isolated out-of-body experiences, and some of these experiences have been collected and published by researchers. However, there are also books written by individuals who have had many out-of-body experiences, and have done so spontaneously without the aid of meditation, drugs, or other means. They are called projectionists because they are self-aware while projected away from their bodies, and they remember their experiences long enough to record them.

In 1920, the personal account of Hugh Calloway, who used the pseudonym Oliver Fox, was published in a British journal. About two decades later Fox wrote the book Astral Projection, which recounted his experiences more fully. Fox was a lucid dreamer.

Fox had his first lucid dream at the age of sixteen in 1902. He dreamed he was standing outside his home. In the dream, the nearby ocean was visible, along with trees and nearby buildings; and Fox walked toward his home and looked down at the stone-covered walkway. Although similar, the walkway in the dream was not identical in appearance to the real-life walkway that it imitated. During the dream, Fox noticed this difference and wondered about it. The explanation that he was dreaming occurred to him, and at that point he became self-aware. His dream ended shortly afterward.

After his first lucid dream, lucid dreaming became a frequent occurrence for Fox. He would be asleep and dreaming and at some point he would become conscious in the dream. Fox noted two interesting things about his lucid dreams. First, he could move about within the dream -- such as by gliding across an apparent surface. Second, the substance that formed the objects in the dream could be molded by thought.

Fox's lucid dreams were typically short, and he did his best to prolong them. He would feel a pain in his dream-head, and this pain signaled the need to return to his body. As this initially weak pain grew, he then experienced a dual perception consisting of his dream sensations and his body's sensations. A sort of tug-of-war resulted, with the body winning.

Unlike Fox, most lucid dreamers never report having a choice, since at some point the lucid dream just ends without any warning, and the dreamer awakes. In Fox's case, the perceptions he felt of his physical body were communicated from bions still in his brain to bions in his mind-piece, using the learned-program send and receive statements. Similarly, the communication can go in the other direction, as demonstrated by sleep-lab experiments where the physical body can show various movements and other responses that correlate with events in the lucid dream.

Fox had wondered what would happen if he resisted the warning-pain signal and delayed the return to his body. He decided to experiment. About a year after his first lucid dream he became self-aware in another of his walk-around-the-town dreams. He felt the warning pain and ignored it. The dual perception occurred and he successfully willed to retain the dream perception. Next, the growing pain in his dream-head peaked and then disappeared. At that point Fox was free to continue his dream.

As Fox's lucid dream continued, he soon wanted to awake, but nothing happened; his lucid dream continued. Fox then became fearful and tried to concentrate on returning to his body. Suddenly, he was back in his body but found himself paralyzed. His bodily senses were working but he was unable to make any movements. Fortunately, this condition did not last long and he was soon able to move again. However, immediately afterward he was queasy and felt sick for three days. This experience deterred him for a while, but a few weeks later he again ignored the warning-pain during a lucid dream and the same pattern resulted. He says the sickness was less, and the memory of the dream was lost. After this second experience, Fox no longer fought against the signal to return.

Fox remarks that years later he learned that if he had only relaxed and fallen asleep when he was paralyzed in his body, the subsequent sickness would have been avoided. If the mind-piece is away from the brain for too long, then some time is probably needed for that mind-piece to restore to par performance those brain neurons that it normally inhabits. Hurrying this restoration process, and possibly ending it prematurely, might explain the sickness Fox experienced.

During his teens and twenties, Fox continued having lucid dreams, and he noticed a pattern. Often his lucid dreams never reached the warning-pain stage because he would do something that would cut the dream short and cause him to awaken. Fox gives some examples of what he means: After ordering a meal in a restaurant and then eating it, trying to taste the food he was eating caused him to awaken. While watching a play in a theater, a growing interest in the play would cause him to awaken. If Fox encountered an attractive woman, he could converse with her, but when he thought of an embrace or such he would awaken. To prolong a lucid dream, Fox suggested the following projectionist's motto: "I may look, but I must not get too interested -- let alone touch!"

A typical end to a lucid dream is when the person tries to react to the dream in some personal way. This ending happens because the mind-piece of a lucid dreamer is not the complete mind available to that person when awake. When the lucid dreamer tries to think or act in a way that requires involvement of the missing mind part, the two mind parts are automatically rejoined to fulfill the functional request. The two mind parts are the mind-piece and the remainder of the mind left behind with the brain. A rejoining, of course, means a return to the body where at least some of the bions in the other mind part remain by necessity.

Sight and hearing are the two senses of the lucid dreamer that work as well in the lucid dream as they do in the body. The typical lucid dreamer sees clearly in color, and can hear and talk by means of telepathic communication, although conversation during a lucid dream is typically infrequent. In contrast to sight and hearing, the other senses are noticeably absent. The lucid...

(This very interesting and well written article will be continued or included in its entirety in the next issue of The Looking Glass.)

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