As a teenager I was into skateboarding, literature and Out-Of-Body experiences. It was the 1990s already. Maybe it would have served me better to have been into football, the New Economy and building a foundation to start a family. I don’t know- it is what it is. I want to write a little bit about my peculiar meditation practice, it might help me make a connection to modern research on kinesthetic illusions. Usually I don’t talk about this topic, even less write about it, but it’s 2023 and I guess it can be mentioned without facing to many reprimands.
So- after extensive practice with Out-Of-Body meditation techniques I was quite marvelled by the experiences and effects. At the time, as a teenager, I really wondered why hardly any of my friends and relatives knew about this. To me it seemed like one of the most amazing things ever. But as I knew stories of other kids who were put on heavy medication and looked not too well, I didn’t want to talk too openly about my spiritual experiences. I feared my parents too would turn me in and have me put on meds. Also, I didn’t feel drawn to higher authorities or religion, so joining such a group wasn’t an option either. I just didn’t think they had answers, let alone a reasonable practice. What I read about priests who had special abilities or experiences, how they had to live their lives and how they were treated sounded really awful. What could I do?
So, in lieu of finding a religious community or get medicated, I turned to our large, local library for more information. At first I read plenty of books on Eastern philosophy and folkloristic practices. In my late teens I then visited plenty of high ranking gurus—those were abundantly available and very accessible in Central Europe at that time. Their community centres seemed to sprout like mushrooms in the forest after a few days of good rain. And as a last (but not long lasting) step in my first, adolescent spiritual journey I wanted to sign up to study linguistics and philosophy at university.
However, my spiritual seeking didn’t outlast my teen years. In fact, my interest in gurus, monasteries and devotion lasted shorter than a teenager crush. By the time I was 21 years old I have already visited and spoken to a row of high ranking gurus and supposedly enlightened spiritual leaders, and to say that I was grossly disappointed by all of them—in all aspects—would be an understatement. Instead, I was now studying electronics, telecommunication and biomedical engineering. I was still into skateboarding and literature, but gradually started to replace my meditation practice with long working hours, cigarettes and alcohol. The university of applied sciences that I attended was a hard study program with a drop-out rate of over 65%, and I didn’t intend to be one of the drop-outs. In fact, I graduated with good grades and was cherished by my professors and the university’s president for my various achievements (for example I wrote one of the most downloaded touch-screen based computer games at the time.) All that despite my lost spirituality and uptake of drinking. The end of this downward spiral is another story years later, when I was 27yo and completely turned my life around and started on my second spiritual journey… which kicked off in Sedona, Arizona, but that’s another story to be told another time.
As a middle-aged teenager I pursued a two-fold strategy: next to my peek into the New Age sector and faithful practices, I doubled down on my study of Western philosophy and science. My father inadvertently helped me with that. He was a purchase manager of a large corporation and happened to bring home all sorts of fancy New Age tech, since at that time everyone who was in corporate business was buying that stuff to try to improve their business performance—from a spiritual angle. Blind goggles with flickering lights inside, magnetic pulse mats, audio equipment that produced binaural beats, cassette tapes with Hemi-Sync® tunes and positive affirmations, contraptions that allowed for hanging yourself by your feet upside-down, and so on. To me, these strange devices seemed to be far more interesting than reciting chants in Sanskrit or sitting at the back of rooms filled with devoted disciples.
My father didn’t seem to use most of these technological gadgets, but to me, as a teenager, they were more than welcome. Furthermore I participated eagerly in unusual online communities, such as the Psi Tech forums, or the email-based forums around PJ Gaenir’s Firedocs. I even engaged in snail-mail based Controlled Remote Viewing experiments with random people in the USA, some of whom I saw referenced in books and movies years later. I would say that this is quite interesting from a 2023 perspective: a teenager communicating with grown-up strangers across the globe and my parents having not the slightest inkling. Back then nothing to worry about, but nowadays such a thing could put those grown-ups in major trouble, couldn’t it?
I just found out last week that at the time my mom was under the impression that I was out playing with other kids, when in truth I was hanging out all alone in the large city library using public computers with Internet access, and wondering why I was the only kid between the endless rows of book shelves, “Jeez, what is everyone else doing? Does nobody see the treasures that are plainly available here?”
VLB – four buildings stuffed with books but usually void of people
To conclude this short and rather incomplete summary of my first spiritual journey: as a teenager, the protocol I liked best of all was the one written by Robert Monroe in his book Journeys Out Of The Body. Simply lie down on your back and move through what he called Conditions A through D… and then skip most of the obscure and absolutely ridiculous sounding instructions that followed. No equipment needed. Robert Monroe laid out the basis of his still-in-business business in his first paperback book, on a mere few pages. And with a bit of practice I had access to what seemed to be the pinnacle of spiritual experiences.
“Right now I’m aiming at increasing the distance I run, so speed is less of an issue. As long as I can run a certain distance, that’s all I care about. Sometimes I run fast when I feel like it, but if I increase the pace I shorten the amount of time I run, the point being to let the exhilaration I feel at the end of each run carry over to the next day. This is the same sort of tack I find necessary when writing a novel. I stop every day right at the point where I feel I can write more. Do that, and the next day’s work goes surprisingly smoothly. I think Ernest Hemingway did something like that. To keep on going, you have to keep up the rhythm. This is the important thing for long-term projects. Once you set the pace, the rest will follow.” Writes Haruki Murakami in What I Talk About When I Talk About Running
Actually I didn’t want to write about Out-Of-Body experiences, and in fact did indeed not write much about them. I wrote this blog post for the sake of continuity. Because I want to write about sensory illusions next, and why I think Out-Of-Body experiences might really be Inside-not-Outside experiences. Furthermore I would like to write about a study I’ve found just recently, the abstract sounds quite interesting:
“The human brain can generate a continuously changing postural model of our body [..] three brain systems [..] consistently recruited when an individual experiences various types of bodily illusions and its possible roles relate to corporeal awareness [..] and updating the body representation. Because this network is also recruited when identifying one’s own features, the network activity could be a neuronal basis for self-consciousness.” — Body representations in the human brain revealed by kinesthetic illusions and their essential contributions to motor control and corporeal awareness by Eiichi Naito, Tomoyo Morita, Kaoru Amemiya.
And since they’re talking about the brain (which is an essential part of the physical body), and thus about learning, I might guess consciousness (and self-consciousness) is something that can be learned and improved through practice… through a mix of somatic movement lessons of contemporary design, and language.
More soon. Thank you for reading! If you aren’t yet practicing with my videos please have a look on Youtube (Channel: Improving ability) and if you aren’t yet, please consider becoming a patron on Patreon (Channel: Study with Alfons).