I wanted to share my first-time experiences with Michael's method. I finished reading the book a few weeks ago and have been re-reading Part I almost every day since. I have been trying the indirect techniques for a few weeks now. And while nothing seems to happen right away, whenever I faithfully perform the techniques, I later awaken already in the phase, complete with vibrations, rushing noises, auditory impressions, and an internal sense of movement. This has happened now several times. Last week, I did the cycles of 4 techniques and later awoke to strong vibrations that culminated in a rolling sensation which brought me out of bed and landed my feet on the floor. I clearly saw the striped rug on the floor beside my daughter's bed. (I had fallen asleep in her bed that night, after she decided to crowd me out of my own narrow twin!) Just as I was about to stand up, however, I was awakened by the cry of "Mommy!" from the adjacent room! Every night since has seen some level of sleep disruption or a foiling of my plans to awaken at 5 am, not an uncommon occurrence for an insomniac with a 4 year old child!
Last night seemed like a good night to try again. I made a very deliberate effort to go to bed at a reasonable hour so that I could wake up and try the deferred method. And I vowed to follow the book's instructions for entering the phase as closely as possible. My follow-through wasn't 100%, but I was nevertheless rewarded with multiple entries and at least one partial separation from my body.
I had decided before bedtime that I would use the techniques of forced listening/imagining sounds, along with imagined movement (in my case, pedaling on an exercise bike) and sensory-motor visualization (visualizing walking around my bedroom). At 2 a.m., I awakened briefly to a sense of inner movement and tried to separate by rolling and then by levitation, without success. Struggling to contain the desire to "just give up" and to maintain a positive attitude, I managed to stay awake long enough to complete the 4 cycles, all the while fighting to bring my full intention and assertiveness to the process. Nothing seemed to happen, and I fell back asleep. I realize now that, it being only 2 am, I was still extremely tired and probably just not primed to enter the phase.
My cell phone alarm was set for 5:15 a.m. After awakening to it, I went downstairs to get something to eat. Altogether, I spent about 20 minutes awake before lying back down. As I lay there, sleepless, I tried imagining sounds (or picking up on faint internal ones) as a way to fall asleep. I am always looking for ways to relax and let my mind drift. This technique seemed to work very well for that purpose.
After that, I clearly remember waking and trying the cycle of techniques on a number of occasions. Nothing seemed to transpire at those instances. However, after falling back asleep following the second or third attempt, I experienced at least two instances of awakening spontaneously to classic phase sensations. The first time, to a feeling of being underneath a rocket about to launch. My midsection was filled with mild-to-moderate vibrations, there was a loud roaring noise, and my heartbeat was extremely rapid and seemed unusually loud in my ears. I didn't feel afraid but I did lose precious time by wondering whether to try amplifying the vibrations and sounds first or to proceed directly to attempting to separate. In the end, I tried to separate and felt a surge of energy and effort, as though my perceiving body was straining against the anchor of my physical one. But the sensation soon faded and I became too alert to continue. I fell back asleep using the auditory hypnogogues again.
Then, I experienced what must have been a lucid dream since I don't recall any period of waking beforehand. My father-in-law and I were standing next to a large rock pillar set into a red Chinese-looking pedestal. I stood observing the rock for some time before realizing that perhaps this, too, was the phase---that the rock was in fact right next to me in my bed (evidently, I had some combination of lucidity and "dream logic" going on here)--- and that I just needed to deepen. Actually, in hindsight, the phase was probably deep and vivid enough already and I should have just started carrying out my plan of action. However, I began putting my attention on touching and observing the detailed lattice of minerals threaded through the rock face. Even as I attempted to deepen, though, the dream faded and I fully awoke.
I had another lapse in awareness. Some time later, I woke up again to a tingling sensation. Once again, I felt inner motion, as if my non-physical body were floating around in its physical container. It felt like the phase again, so I attempted separation. What happened next still had the quality of a lucid dream, but this time I knew that I was in my bed and could even sense the covers lying on top of me. My perception shifted in orientation as I attempted to push my perceiving self up into a seated position. I felt myself push down with my hands to lever myself up, and I felt my body rise, yet somehow I continued to remain aware of being in the horizontal position. The sensation was bizarre, almost as if I possessed a certain amount of consciousness in both bodies. Though my physical eyes were closed, I could see the outlines of the bookcase and the door, although the room remained quite dark. And in the course of pushing myself up, I must have rotated, because the angle of the room shifted so that I was looking at the window on the wall perpendicular to the door. However, I couldn't quite manage to separate from the awareness of still being supine.
When my efforts to wholly feel and see myself seated upright failed, I became uncertain and dropped out of the phase. I opened my physical eyes and realized that I was lying not on my back, which is how I would have to lie in order to see the door, but on my side, facing the window. I absolutely know that no physical rotation occurred during this experience because real movement unfailingly brings me immediately and fully awake.
Almost immediately, it seems, though, I was able to try again. Perhaps I never dropped out of the phase, despite having opened my physical eyes. (I'm not sure how this could have happened; maybe I lost waking consciousness for a minute or so, but the feeling of being awake seemed continuous.)
This time, I decided to try lifting just my non-physical arm. I feared very much the possibility that I would lift up my physical one instead and foul. Also, I could still sense my physical muscles and how they would twitch ever so slightly as I attempted to exert my non-physical ones. But I went for it anyway, trying to lift what I perceived was my physical arm. And....what I was *entirely convinced* was my physical arm rose up out of my body and remained outstretched there, probably quite comically, for what seemed like a minute. At that point, I knew that I had partially separated, and decided to try asking for help, i.e. for another non-physical hand to come grab mine and help pull me out, but nothing happened. After a while, the phase faded and I awoke fully. My physical arm was, needless to say, lying totally inert and passive alongside my body, full of that sluggish sleep feeling. My hand was tingling fiercely, though. And my left temple was throbbing with a strange, intense energy. (I've never read or heard about this phenomenon anywhere else but feel compelled to mention it, as I have been getting these highly localized headaches for about 2 months now. They correlate closely with times when I lie down and meditate. Often I can "force" the sensation to crop up simply by focussing attention on my temple. I don't know if this is an individual quirk of my own wiring, or if anyone else can speak to their own experience with this. However, one of my goals following my first successful separation is to go observe this part of my head in a mirror.)
I awoke this morning feeling absolutely great, and I can't wait to try again tonight! Unfortunately, I have to bundle my "OBE attempt nights" together during the weekend and then take a long break during the work week. In the meantime, I'll keep reading up in the book and on the discussion forums to see how others have dealt with the problem of non- and partial separation, and also how much effort to spend on amplifying sensations like vibrations before trying to separate.
This is all so cool! Thanks so much, Michael. Your method really works!