Do the Astral Plane. I did (I think?).
I continued reading the book. Although I still questioned many of the claims, it was interesting enough, and it had quite a bit of good advice for meditation. As I read more, it dove further into the premise of astral projection. The idea of astral projection is to separate your physical being from your astral body; it's basically an out of body experience (all of this comes from memory, I'm not doing research until that google ad money starts rolling in, so if anything is inaccurate, I apologize, but it's your fault for not clicking on the ads on my page!). One exercise I tried was to project my energy/light outwards from my solar plexus and try to envision a "being" several feet in front of me. They stressed that you should not imagine the being as yourself when getting started. Basically, I think, the idea was that if you envisioned it enough, you would eventually be able to project your conscious, astral body outside of your physical body. They also mentioned that this exercise would project any issues/problems/concerns you were having outside of yourself, making them easier to deal with by gaining new perspective. I don't think I ever really believed it would work, but I wanted to try because it was interesting, and the previous exercises truly seemed to help me.
So I went through the process of the glowing chakras, and when I was completely surrounded in the light of my energy, I focused on my solar plexus (belly button area). I followed the book's instructions, and envisioned a grey cord slowly extending from my belly like an ethereal umbilical cord. I pictured the cord extending for about 5 feet, then, as per the instructions, I envisioned the cord coagulating into a grey blob, hovering in the air in front of me. After a few deep breaths, I was to envision the shape dissolving, and the cord retracting, and then go through the chakra process in reverse.
This step was a little harder. I had trouble keeping focus on the grey matter as it floated in front of me. One problem I was having was that it felt ridiculous. Glowing chakras is one thing, but an amorphous blob of energy suspended in air is a whole 'nother ball game.
But I kept at it for a week, and like everything else, it became easier. Basically, you can envision anything in your mind. I never had a problem with that, the problem was believing it was actually there. And I didn't really believe it, but it was a good mental exercise and very relaxing overall. I wasn't really trying to have an out of body experience anyway.
At the time of all this, I was going through a class to become an EMT. I had never done anything like it before, but I was really excited about it. I wanted to help others, plus I wanted to know more about the human body and how to treat it during various emergencies. A part of me was a bit nervous because as I said, I had never done anything like it before. I didn't know what to expect, which was riveting and frightening. Needless to say, there was a lot on my mind regarding what I would be doing as an EMT, and the things I would see. It was a good time to be meditating.
One day, after I had passed the certification, I started to meditate. I went through my entire routine, all the way up to the floating umbilical cord. Up to that point, I had never been able to envision any "being" in the grey floating blob. I tried, really hard, to picture something, anything, but it didn't feel natural. It wasn't natural, I was forcing it, and that never works with meditation. On this day, I expected no different. My light surrounded me and the grey cord ventured out from my solar plexus and I remember the feeling of oncoming disappointment. Another day, another grey, shapeless blob levitating in front of me. The blob appeared before me as usual, but this time, it started to grow larger, seemingly forming into some kind of defined shape. It continued to morph until it became the shape of a small child. I could not make out any distinguishing features of his face, but e seemed sad. I looked at him and it felt like he was looking back. During this spiritual staring contest, my thoughts turned to my future work as an EMT. For some reason, I believed that this shape, this spirit, represented the spirit of a child who had passed, or possibly even a child who would pass. As this thought occurred to me, another thought appeared: there was a good chance that some emergency that I responded to would involve children. It was a fact that my conscious did not come to grips with until that moment. Immediately, the reality of becoming an EMT set in. People's lives would be dependent on my ability to help them. I would be directly responsible for helping people in desperate need, including children. It was something I had been thinking about for a while, but the reality of that notion never hit me, until that moment.
And at that moment, any fear or reservation I was having left. The child was sad, but not scared, or angry. I truly felt as if this was the spirit of a child that I would one day encounter as an EMT, and be unable to save. I wanted to reach out and apologize, but I had the overwhelming feeling that he understood. It was as if he was there to tell me that it was okay, I wouldn't be able to save everyone. Death is sad, but inevitable, and not to be feared. If I was going to be an EMT, I could not let death, or the fear of it, interfere with me doing my job.
Tears were rolling down my cheeks. The child's outline started to wobble, and the shape in front of me returned to a globular grey mass, then slowly retracted to my solar plexus. I finished my chakra routine and ended the session.
It was incredible. I can't even describe what I felt, except it was like every positive emotion all together at once, with all fear and doubt removed. It was very surreal, and something I had never even imagined before.
Not long after, when I was a little removed from the experience, I gave the incident some more thought, trying to analyze what happened. Some would say analyzing an experience like that takes the magic out of it, but I don't think that's true at all. Just because I have a better understanding of something doesn't mean I can't enjoy it, and it certainly doesn't devalue what I was feeling at the time. Anyways, here is what I came up with after much deliberation:
This experience occurred well after I started reading the book. I read each chapter over and over, as each chapter was a step in the process of astral projection. The last chapter I read was very intensely focused on the exact incident I described, I just added my own personal back-story to the vision. It literally took me through every step of the way. So having read that over and over, and attempting to visualize it several times, my subconscious mind eventually projected the vision to my conscious. I basically rewired my brain circuitry so that my mental image became "real".
That's my theory anyway, and Michael Crichton has similar theories. In that book, he talks about his experiences with meditation. I read that book a long time ago and I'm certain it influenced my "vision" as well.
That doesn't take anything away from my experience, or what it did for me mentally and emotionally. It doesn't change the fact that it helped me deal with the stress I was feeling over becoming an EMT. Interestingly enough, I stopped meditating shortly after that. Maybe I thought I reached a pinnacle and figured I didn't need to do it anymore, or maybe the experience bugged me out, or maybe I just didn't have time for a few days and then I lost the motivation to continue and those few days turned into weeks, then years. Or maybe it's all of those reasons. I don't know, but I do know that I want to get back into it, and I highly recommend meditation for everybody. You don't have to go the astral projection route, but some kind of meditation (guided helps). It takes effort, though, so you'll need to stick with it. It's probably not for everybody, but humans are incredibly adaptive, and I think that if they tried hard enough, they could accomplish anything. I may have just read that on a poster in an elementary school, but it doesn't make it any less profound. Besides, meditation isn't that hard, and it's definitely worth the effort.
Besides, the worst thing that could happen is that you relax for ten minutes or so. We could all use more of that.
I Love You All...Class Dismissed.