We have done ourselves a great injustice in this field of unworlding by using terminology that is as close as possible to the things we think we know but at the same time, it is terminology that we take for granted without actually having any understanding of it. Here is an important example that should be near and dear to everyone's heart: "mind awake, body asleep."
This phrase, invented by the great pioneer of unworlding Robert Monroe, is comprised of four glosses. A gloss is a word that refers to something without saying what it is. Sort of a slight improvement over "ya know" or "whatchacall".
I understand and appreciate people's need to communicate with each other efficiently without always analyzing all their terms first. We know what we're talking about when we use these four terms--supposedly. Problem is, the terminology we're stuck with then limits us to saying things that aren't quite true when we start talking about new experiences in unknown territory.
So because we first mention "body asleep," we then have to talk about "getting out of the body". And worse, the supposed strategy becomes abbreviated as the acronym "MABA" which is completely devoid of any ability to explain itself, and then we wonder why we aren't attaining our goals. Because of wrong terminology, frustrated students of "OBE" all over the world are trying to pry their minds out of their bodies and many gurus gleefully sell them methods for doing just this. Methods which usually only work for the person who discovered the methods and people a lot like him. For a reason: the way the method is explained, which boils down to naturally misapprehendable terminology.
So instead of talking about minds, bodies, sleeping and waking up, we should be talking about specific real things which relate directly to our goals. That's why people are wrong when they say we need to eliminate all beliefs. Most people need to eliminate most of their beliefs, but only because their beliefs are wrong, as evidenced by the results they're getting. When you find the beliefs that get you where you want to be, I wouldn't throw them away if I were you. All experience is 100% personal, so while I also will suggest certain strategies that I am fond of, you will have to find your own way to some extent, no matter how good my suggestions are.
I am having some success at finding the belief system I need in order to talk myself into having abilities that sound impossible but are coveted by a great many people including me. I am presenting my simplified picture of the basic elements of reality because it works for me. If it doesn't work for you, then keep searching. But as you do, I think you will bump into my "harmonics of awareness" everywhere you turn, because these things are, in fact, the basic building blocks of reality and you won't be able to escape them. You can't drink water without ingesting hydrogen and oxygen.
Why academics seem to be looking for a solution that is intricate, abstract, and technical, I don't know, unless it's because the money's better? Let's start with some basic, simple, easy-going facts.
The mind does not dwell in the body, the body does not dwell in the world, the world does not dwell in the universe, and the universe does not dwell in infinity.
We're fond of maps as an aid to navigating the unknown, but we have unfortunately fallen for the old trick of mistaking the map for the territory. This is natural because maps are about places and even in our dreams we project qualities of place as descriptions of qualities of being. But states of mind are not places. The mind cannot be contained in something because it is not made out of matter. So it is not "in" the body, nor is containment of mind by body a halfway decent analogy.
The mind is real and the body is real and it's possible to experience a process of separating the mind from the body. I know because I've had the experience myself. But what is mind? It's not a thing. The mind in its most basic form is a channel, portal, or filter for awareness. A so-called OBE exit then actually consists of separating awareness from the body. Becoming not aware of the body. Removing attention or focus from it. This is a key process that "mind awake, body asleep" just glosses over. In fact, the method is supposedly something like, first you "get to" MABA (as if it were a place), and then you "leave" the body (as if you were "in" it to begin with). Can you see why it's so hard to accomplish our goals? We need to define all our terminology first, before pushing methodologies on our students, poor things.
OK, so what is a body, really? It certainly is not a container. Anything you pour in at one end will soon be coming out the other end in a digested form as something we hope to never see again. It's ridiculous to assume that a "spirit" enters and leaves a "body". I won't even try to define "spirit" or "soul" in this chapter, but we'll tackle all these hairy notions eventually. For now, I would like to know what a body really is, and we have already agreed, I hope, that it is not some sort of high-tech tupperware for awareness.
But we're after the essentials, the elements, the basics, not the details. We don't want anything like, "It's a liver plus a spleen plus a brain..." We want a single simple statement that is true about the body as a whole. That's what basics are.
I can only give my opinion, and if it were the same as everyone else's, then why bother? So here goes.
A body is mostly 2ness + 3ness + 4ness, in varying quantities of each, according to the configuration of the individual who claims said body. With a dash of thisness and thatness thrown in, according to taste and habit.
Yes, I must confess: I am starting with the conclusion: that there is such a thing as elements of reality. How could there not be? Then I am giving names to these so-far undiscovered elements. Then I am going in search of what these names refer to. For example, I have decided that 7ness has to do with information. I call it wisdom or knowingness for short, but for even shorter, I call it sevenness or 7ness. Kinda like Taoists call infinity "Oneness". I call it "awareness" but even that is just a description. For each element there are many "just descriptions" which hint around as to what an element of reality is without actually pinning it down. Because, as harmonics of infinity, they can't be pinned down.
But... starting with the conclusion? That's not scientific!
You are correct. I am not a scientist. Scientists like to make things difficult and I like to make things simple. I'm more like an inventor than a scientist, and inventors like to reinvent the world in their own terms, because it helps motivate them to discover new ways of doing things that they would never become aware of, if they were trying to be someone else and think someone else's thoughts. Would you rather wait for physics to come up with a simple explanation that you can actually understand? You wouldn't? All right then, you're stuck with me. I am about to define the nature of experience for you in terms you will be able to understand. The nature of reality is really simple, and it explains everything, even politics. Even how to unworld.
The body manifests twoness or individuality, and the world is its complimentary partner in this dichotomous behavior. In order to be a separate person, first we need a notion of separateness, which is 2ness itself. This gives us identity. Then to prove we actually exist, besides the identity or separateness provided by twoness, we need something more solid that that. We need solidity. And we need a framework, an explanation, so we can understand what's going on. But in terms of twoness, infinity as we know it splits up into you and the rest of the world. Your body and your world, the latter separated from you by the largest organ in your body, the ever-moving skin. As bodies, we are skinjobs crawling the earth. Not high tech tupperware for awareness.
Besides having an owner--which is you, which is 2ness, your identity--your body has solidity. Its parts can be touched, measured, photographed. This is what junior scientists might call the three dimensions of length + width + height. In my opinion, solidity is when the parts (2ness) connect to each other (3ness).
Another description of 3ness is agreement or belief. In the world of consensus, reality is solidified by people agreeing about it. That's why scientists, using the scientific method, insist on gathering evidence to support their hopes and beliefs (theories and hypotheses): if no one agrees with them, they might not get paid. Agreement and physicality are the same thing. If many people agree that X just happened, then maybe X just happened. Good chance of it. But collect descriptions of X from each of those many witnesses, and all hell breaks loose. As it turns out, we agree on very little when we go beyond glossing over everything in order that we can agree to agree. But in order to express our very identity and establish our self as a force to be reckoned with and remembered, we need a relatively solid format to do it with. And that instrument is the body. Which we then assume is the be-all and end-all of reality, in spite of the fact that nothing short of Groupthink and Hivemind can prevent most people from disagreeing with each other about pretty much everything. Which, unfortunately in our overpopulated world, seems to be good enough for most people.
But identity and solidity are not enough. On top of 2ness and 3ness, we need a good dose of 4ness, and once again your local amateur scientist probably already knows that the so-called fourth dimension is time. Well "dimension" is a confusing term to us laymen, when referring to anything you can't measure with a ruler, so unlike advanced physicists, I don't use the term "dimension" except when measuring stuff with a ruler, where it makes sense. For example, a two-dimensional image that possesses only length and width but no depth is in reality a three dimensional object with a thickness or depth equal to zero. So let's keep dimensionality where it belongs: in the physical world, the 3D version. That is 3ness. Physicists who talk about nine or ten dimensions might know what's going on, but they ain't telling. Not in a way that's going to help most people.
On the other hand, "time"--the ordering of moments--is in fact one of the most important descriptions of 4ness. Not the only one. Fourness amounts to order, arrangement, hierarchy, value, that sort of thing. With awareness or infinity split up into separate parts (2ness), which then connect to each other (3ness), to understand and use all this we need for these connections to exist in some kind of system or arrangement or framework: 4ness. The body for example is comprised of not just "you" (2ness) and "meat" (3ness), but also many processes and formations (4ness) so it all sort of begins to make sense, at least long enough to encourage us to keep trying. In the end, the body has its many mysterious and unfathomable routines and habits, without which it would not be "you" or "meat" for long.
Unlike awareness, the body is a temporary thing. But it is you, or at least it represents you in the physical world.
But, you say, none of this information is going to help you "get out of your body".
Did I happen to mention that you are not IN a body to begin with? In order to get what you think is you out of what you think your body is, you must replace the notion of "high-tech tupperware for awareness" with a belief that will help you get that experience you crave. And I'm telling you, a body is youness made solid and put into working order so you can have a life: a collection of memories, a string of moments, a bundle of habits. What I'm trying to get across is that your body is not what you assume it to be. It is unfathomable and unknowable, and please don't cut it open to prove me wrong. Our so-called solid reality never holds still for one second. The moment is the least apprehendable phenomena that awareness ever came up with. The harder you chase it, the quicker it gets away.
But I know what you're saying. All this theoretical jibber-jabber is neither here nor there. So maybe what we should be trying to do is to limit the description of the body to the matter at hand. Rephrasing then, "What do we mean by 'body' when we say "mind awake, body asleep"?
Ah heck, that's easy. The term "body" is completely redundant within that phrase. It was just used by Monroe because it sounds good. He said "mind" in the first part, and therefore it sounded clever and even elegant to say "body" in the second part, because then his slogan is symmetrical. Monroe scores again as a highly intuitive knower of people. The self-made man strikes again; the professional broadcasting executive knows how to market an idea: with a great slogan! Fortunately, his books were worth marketing. Unfortunately, his marketing slogan got us all into a big stew of frustration.
What else is there, besides a body, that could ever hope to fall asleep? Was Monroe implying that normally our mind falls asleep at the same time our body falls asleep? Well maybe he was, but he was implying wrong. Because minds can't fall asleep. A mind, by definition, is aware. It is awareness itself. Awareness is not limited by time, so when the mind appears to have been asleep, it's just that it actually transcended the time or 4ness wherein our bodies happen to be stuck, which it does routinely and effortlessly, like the flip of a switch, thus appearing to not generate memories for a period of "time". But the mind doesn't sleep. If it were not aware, it would not be awareness. So when we go to sleep, what really happens? Monroe assumed that the body goes one way and the mind goes another. They separate. Or more likely, the body just lies there and rests while the mind goes somewhere else.
Not so. This is the stew of frustration all over again. Minds don't go anywhere. Bodies do, except when they're sleeping, hopefully. The analogy of the mind going somewhere is fine for seasoned journeyers who fly around any "where" they want because they already know how, but for beginners trying to obtain the skill of unworlding for the first time, the notion of going somewhere is nothing but trouble. So obviously, we have to define sleep with a better analogy, at least. Otherwise the mapmakers will continue to get our money at the new age bookstore while our minds continue, naturally, to go nowhere.
States of mind are not places, they are experiences. Experience is the function of awareness. Experience is a function of the body too. "Real life" is when the mind and body experience stuff together, stuck to each other by the rules of the physical world. Unworlding, which we used to call OBE, dreaming, or phasing, is an experience not limited by the rules of the solid world that our body appears to dwell in. And what do these rules give us? Solidity, agreement, connection, communication, memory, association, imagination, thought... 3ness is the law when the body is awake, and 3ness gets turned way down when the body goes to sleep. The general situation when the body is asleep is to act as if we have NO experience, with some seemingly random leakage which we call "dreams". So instead of saying the body goes to sleep, we should be talking about the mind having an experience, because the body and whether or not it is asleep is irrelevant to awareness when awareness is experiencing something that is against the physical rules.
Speaking of the nature of experience, what normally causes us to be aware of the body and its accustomed environments? The 5+ senses. Without sensation, we are asleep or unconscious. There is your simple answer.
So all we have to do is go to sleep...
That is exactly our problem. "Mind awake, body asleep" would have us doing the only thing our mind ever does anyway--being aware--while paying close attention to the thing that we don't want to have any awareness of at all: the body. That's the very definition of an unsuccessful attempt at unworlding. Which, among scads of wanna-be OBE'rs in these times of rampant escapism, is the status quo. "Wish I could get out," "Wish I could get out easier," "Wish I could get out more often." Blame the techniques; this field is still in its infancy.
These techniques, including the wondrous and ubiquitous MABA, are screwing us up by putting all our efforts on the body, the very bit of tupperware we are trying to escape from, when the only way to escape from it is to effectively forget that it exists. If I lie down, intending to go to sleep... guess what? That's what I do! I'm good at going to sleep, I've been practicing for several decades. And the guru gets off easy by saying I just did it wrong, I was supposed to go to sleep "but". Well, this tail-chasing abstraction has given me the run-around long enough.
What we have to do is to stop thinking about the body, and the way to do that is to give the 5+ senses something to do while we ignore the thing we don't want to be aware of: the body.
Knowing as we do that awareness is the veritable fabric of the universes, when we give the tools of awareness (the senses) something to do, they will give us experiences. With the body completely out of the picture, these experiences will not be limited by the body's rules, and the environments that these experiences create to happen in will not be limited to the physical world. Experiences of expanded awareness are thus a function of bypassing limitations that only apply in the solid world. To bypass these limitations, all we have to do is ignore the solid world since it has no jurisdiction in the rest of the universe. Anyway, the core process of existence--its fundamental element--is awareness, and if we try to put the body to sleep in any way whatsoever, the body will generally tend to obey the awareness that drives it, by going to sleep the way it's accustomed to going to sleep. So the concept of going to sleep, like the body it belongs to, must be completely ignored in order for the practitioner to develop any reliable abilities in unworlding, unless you plan to spend ten years at the beginners' level by using a hit-and-miss method that shouldn't work at all. The short version: "going to sleep" is a physical phenomena and that's not what we're all about, so forget about going to sleep. You will go to sleep when you need to.
Do I then think these unworldings, formerly known as OBEs, or "experiences of expanded awareness," are only imaginary? Self-hypnosis? Lucid dreams?
Hell no! I think EVERYTHING is imaginary, except awareness! Awareness dreams up everything in existence for its own amusement. Such is my belief, and I am not alone in this. Solidity happens to be one of the important elements that give us our sense of whether or not something is real. As any journeyer will tell you, some experiences are more real than others.
So the first thing you have to get rid of is your guru, who profits from your inability to have experiences of expanded awareness prolifically and proficiently and profusely and profoundly. Experience is 100% personal, and you must be willing to separate your desired and useful belief system from what you assume is real to other people, in order to begin learning to experience the unknown. To do this, you have to spend a lot of your precious time noticing things that are not necessarily real from every possible perspective, replacing the usual objects of your senses with non-solid phenomena, stuff that others don't, won't, and can't see, hear, feel or otherwise sense. So lying down and closing your eyes is a good idea, but intending in any way to go to sleep is a bad idea.
To experience beyond the limits of physical reality, ignore physical reality and keep the 5+ senses very otherwise busy a lot of the time, night and day. Notice every experience of expanded awareness, especially those that nearly slip between the cracks because they were so unexpected. Forget the body and do not try to go to sleep. Ignore the notion of sleep completely and focus on paying close attention, being aware, Noticing.
Believe what you must believe in order to dismantle the world you are used to. For example, stop what you're doing and thinking many times a day to wonder how you ever managed to get stuck in such a long and solid dream. This odd sort of behavior rubs off on the even stranger belief systems you have inherited from the pushers of physicality as the be-all and end-all of existence.
If you must continue studying the techniques of "OBE" teachers, here are some pitfalls and booby traps to watch out for:
--methods that focus on the physical, such as sleep paralysis and extreme relaxation;
--methods that focus on going to sleep, such as "mind awake, body asleep";
--pronouncements of when or how it has to be done or can't be done, such as "meditate or else"; "vibrations first"; "gotta clean them chakras," etc.
Additionally, the finely honed techniques of someone who has been unworlding for years or decades is not the technique which that person used when he was learning the skill. Watch out. He is presuming that he knows how beginners should do things, when in fact, unworlding has become easy for him and he can use, or recommend, any technique that makes his book more marketable, and still be totally convinced of himself in spite of barely remembering how he learned the skill himself. He might even think of the field as an exclusive club, while consciously or unconsciously feeding you information that will prevent you from joining him in the inner circle, whose members are able to sell books and seminars. Who needs the competition? Worst of all is the teacher who began unworlding spontaneously, without effort. These lucky Joe-Bobs have no idea how someone else should go about learning to unworld, unless they heard it somewhere or read it in a book.
In this vein, here are some things that don't matter, IF you have an understanding of what unworlding really is:
--time of day;
--noise in the environment;
--whatever "bad habits" you think you have that make you less "spiritual";
--how other people--including I--think you should or shouldn't go about it;
In other words, never listen to the naysayers, never never never. What makes you able to unworld at will is your ability to believe you can, and your desire to do so, and the amount of time you actually spend--daily--enthusiastically pushing awareness into new shapes with the physical senses as your tools of perception. The firmness of your intent is a kind of self-confidence that comes quickly with practice, but is easily softened by reading and studying and letting all the gurus confuse you. In fact, looking for another internet guru or book to read is usually an excuse to not do the practice, which is just you slowing yourself down or stopping yourself completely. It's normal to be afraid of losing your mind, but you must be willing, in theory, to do so. There's nothing to fear unless you're already crazy, in which case you have nothing to lose anyway.
In summary, then, let me briefly remind you of how to set the stage to learn unworlding with the greatest efficiency.
At all times of the day and night, no matter what else you happen to be doing at the time, actively and honestly wonder how you ever managed to find yourself experiencing such a big, wild, scary, wonderful, infinitely varied and detailed dream, and try to remember what it was you told yourself to do, when you last thought about what you should do upon finding yourself in such an expanded state of awareness. This is called "becoming lucid" and you can fearlessly practice it all day and all night.
Final word of wisdom: one drop of real confidence, one drop of unfeigned desire, or one drop of joyful anticipation is worth more to your actual progress than an oceanfull of effort invested in the wrong direction.