UNWORLDING...the art form formerly known as "out-of-body-experience," "astral travel," "lucid dreaming," "phasing," "the quick switch," etc.


(a blog post which will eventually be added to my book Unworlding)

If you can dream it, you can do it.

      --Walt Disney

So I'm lying down with my eyes closed, usually with a dark mask over my eyes, and usually I can hear quite a bit of noise from all over the house and the neighborhood. My thoughts can be a lot more distracting than the noise so I have already turned the racemind down, including the cumbersome, petty, and infinitely annoying thought that other people's noise should be any of my concern; I no longer Notice it as I have firmly decided it is not a problem. If it's bedtime I usually fail to retain consciousness past this point, so let's say it's sometime during the day or in the early morning after plenty of sleep, and let's say I'm not sleepy and I even find it hard to believe that I could go to sleep right now. But the secret, unspoken goal is to experience tiny lapses in and out of conscious awareness, to experience Awakenings after each one, and to ask myself What Just Happened each time I wake up from a Little Sleep. In order to do this the easy way, I must not approach sleep directly; that would just scare sleep away. I have to sneak up on it, and often I will be asleep, in my first tiny lapse of sleep, in less than five minutes.

I am a beginner at this, and I don't practice it nearly enough. But I know better than to try to go to sleep when I am not sleepy. That would normally keep me awake. So I feed enthusiasm instead of thoughts by putting all my energy into what I'm doing.

Once I've re-established to my skeptical conscious mind, through Noticing, the non-obvious fact that the darkness behind my eyelids is definitely not solid black, empty, or irrelevant, it's time to Climb the Beanstalk. The larger context of this process has been described in detail in an earlier chapter, but I promised to describe my own customized Beanpole process, so here it is. Referring to the illustration at the bottom of this page, I start here. No need to try hard to visualize a room, a pole, the colored balls or anything else, I just put my foot on the lowest ball and climb the pole. A bare minimum of visualization is required; I don't want to get uptight about doing this some certain way. There are 5+ senses and I want to divide my energy among all 5+ of them. I might run through the activities of my Beanpole at different speeds or intensities depending on what I feel like doing.

My basic playground toy here is a metal pole with big, strong, colored balls attached to it which I will use as steps to climb up the pole into the room above through a trap door in the ceiling. The balls are in the order of the colors of the rainbow and represent the Seven (dream bodies or chakras). To make it more interesting, the balls are magic balls of solid light, spinning at an incredible speed, but as soon as I put my foot on one, it skids to an instantaneous halt, then as soon as I lift my foot, it's instantly back up to speed. I can hear the balls spinning. The spinning sounds like the Inner Sound Current, a high-pitched electrical sizzling sound. When they skid to a stop on the sole of my bare foot, I can hear and feel that.

And up the pole I go, not too fast and not too slow. I see or sense each color separately, but it doesn't matter how well, as I don't want to get bogged down in try-hard visualization. I can feel the cold metal pole as I clench it and pull myself up. I can feel my big, strong muscles rippling like Superman or Tarzan...

Just wanted to see if you were paying attention.

Don't go to sleep on me now.

At the top of the pole, I grab something up above and pull myself up. This doesn't have to be technically accurate. As a child I--the class nerd--was so good at pull-ups and climbing ropes compared to the jocks who were always kicking sand in my face that it would leave them speechless with their mouths hanging open. For this reason, PULL-UPS have become a symbol of "I-know-I-can" in my dreams. So I have incorporated this magic moment from my childhood into my Beanpole routine.

The first time I tried my Beanpole I ran into an aunt and a niece most of the way up the pole and they encouraged me to keep going. This was a Noticing, not a lapse into sleep. See why we practice Noticing before Climbing the Beanstalk?

Upstairs, I am now in the Library. This is a special place in the Unworld that contains knowledge of everything that ever will be, ever has been, and ever could be, all in musty old leather tomes that smell absolutely wonderful. If you've ever been in a room full of really old books, you know what I'm talking about. I never fail to search for this smell, as soon as I get there. So far I haven't detected it, but I will. Soon I will. The main thing is to not forget to try, and if it doesn't work, don't get emotional about it, just keep going.

The books are arranged in short rows, only about twenty feet long, or I'd go to sleep before I got to the end of one. I head between two rows of books, letting my hands run lightly along the spines of the books on either side of me. Since I'm not only a lover of huge libraries and used bookstores but also a bookbinder, I know intimately the sound made by running my finger over the stiffened spine of an old book. I can hear it anytime I want. At the end of the row I take a left and walk a short way down the corridor, letting my hands smack into shelving unit poles on either side of me, hearing the thunk of the old oak pole ends rattling in their retainers as I pass several shelves. Not to get too bogged down on one thing, I then take a left and head back down another row of books. This time I grab a book off the shelf, a different shelf than I chose last time I Climbed the Beanstalk. I flip the book open, feel the pages, smell the book carefully if it's not too dusty, run my fingers along the soft edge of the closed pages.

The first time I tried my Beanpole, I had a surprise switch to true first person perspective of the Unworld at this moment. I grabbed a book off the shelf and it turned into a tiny house in my hands. All my wife's relatives were there, smiling and encouraging me. I thought, that's odd, where the heck am I, and had an Awakening, thrilled at the results. This had been a complete switch out of here into there.

I often go to sleep accidentally at this point so I've been trying to not look at the book too long, but sometimes if I remember to, I will visualize a spiral on one page, and if I can see it well, I move it over to the facing page. My plan is to then move the spiral closer and farther away and hopefully step into the spiral, or draw it toward me and over my head, so that it elongates into a tunnel to unworlding. This is my plan, but I haven't been practicing enough due to the time it takes to write this book. The spiral is another personal symbol. I became able to see a tight, well-defined spiral at the end of a vision quest I undertook once in my past as a young explorer seeking missing parts of me in the mountains of California.

Assuming I am still awake, I put the book back on the shelf and hurry to the end of the aisle before I lose consciousness. There I find a tiny table and a little platter on it with a cube of tasty cheese speared on a toothpick. I chew the cheese up slowly, savoring the tangy flavor. Then I wash the taste out of my mouth with a little dry red wine. I guzzle the wine a little too fast so I don't go to sleep. Then I lean over a water fountain and drink plenty of clear, cold water to wash all the flavors out of my mouth and freshen up after the mini-feast.

The next phase of my Beanpole is more physical and improvisational, as it will be harder to stay awake by this time. There is a long railing that circumnavigates a huge round open area in the Library floor. Each floor of the Library is a donut-shaped terrace or large balcony. The hole in the middle is the Nothing. If I lean over the railing and look up or down, there are identical railings as far as the eye can see. The vertical tunnel running up and down the central portion of the Library is the Nothing. If I was in the right state of mind, I could jump off the railing and be transported anywhere I wanted to go, inside the Library or out. But there's also a normal elevator that is labeled by topic so you'll go to the right floor when you get in and push a button. So far I haven't gotten to use this effectively, nor have I tried taking the leap.

What I am doing these days is to perambulate the railing with my left hand or a drumstick thumping the railing rhythmically to make a ringing sound. Or I might walk on top of the railing like a tightrope or hang out over the void by my knees. It doesn't have to be something I'd do in the physical. It doesn't even have to be possible. Most importantly, I keep moving. Instead of strolling along sleepily with the railing on my left, I might run, leap, hop, skip, jump, leapfrog, roll, waddle, or spin to get from here to there. When I get tired of these antics, I find another Beanpole, climb it, and start the whole routine over. So far I've usually gone to sleep after two or three climbings. Sometimes I don't get to the Library because I go to sleep while pulling myself up into the Library for the first time.

Ideally, I will experience several Awakenings in an hour or two. I like to get up and write each one down immediately. This builds confidence in the ability to return to any desired state instantly. And the act of writing them down raises their significance in the minds of your dream bodies, causing them to pay more attention, like you are. Woe to he who thinks these little dreams are just random noise from the "brain," whatever that is. I have common encounters with my dream bodies when I make sure to experience a lot of Awakenings. I might try to write in my dream journal with my dream finger, for example. That's always fun. Or my dream body might hide my dream journal from me and make me look for it until I realize I'm dreaming and wake up. Or he might kick me and wake me up with a Jerk. If the little dream is an aurage instead of an image, anything can be turned into words. Sometimes it's both image and aurage, with feelages thrown in for fun. Rarely are the "hypnagogic phrases" completely meaningless, and often they are meaningful in a multi-layered way that I can appreciate without having to understand. But the main idea is to appreciate all unworlding experiences, especially the short ones, as they are the easiest to experience, yet the easiest to forget.

A few nights ago I went to bed in an enthusiastic mindset and energetically Climbed the Beanstalk and cavorted around in the Library more than I ever had before. Even so, I only got up two or three levels from where I'd started before I fell asleep. That night I dreamed I was ecstatically walking from Used Bookstore to Used Bookstore with my family. I was discouraged because I wanted to explore thoroughly and they wanted to keep moving, looking only at sidewalk displays--or so I thought. Turns out the "family" must have been my dream bodies in disguise (of course), since my brother, who was supposedly eager to get a move on, made a liar of my paranoid mind and showed me a book like the one I was interested in, with big gold letters on the cover.

This transported me inside the bookstore standing near a brightly lit picture window (the Nothing) where I continued looking at the book until I found a fascinating illustration of a flying gizmo invention which came to life right on the page. I became lucid and quickly woke up in the Nothing, thinking I was in my bed with my eyes closed. Fortunately I was able to keep my eyes closed and go back into the dream, where I became lucid again.

Hopefully the above description will help you to create a Beanpole of your own. Remember the purpose of this exercise is not to put you to sleep, but to get you accustomed to Awakening in the Unworld. It really has nothing to do with sleep.