View of the grounds at TMI in the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia
How brave are you really? Would you dare to enter the uncharted legions and depths of your mind?
I did. Repeatedly. I’ve always been interested in how the human mind works; I should have been a psychologist. Through my personal studies, though, I’ve discovered that truly NOTHING is impossible. Whatever the mind can conceive, it can achieve–or–if you can imagine it, you can make it happen.
I just completed a six-day program at The Monroe Institute (TMI) in Virginia, called “Timeline”, which focuses on the exploration of past, present, and future lives and how they influence our current lives. Fascinating stuff.
This painting by Salvador Dali pretty much sums up the sort of things I’ve experienced during programs at TMI:
Wait–you don’t get it? No, no drugs are involved. Let me attempt to explain.
You spend most of your time in your CHEC unit (Controlled Holistic Environmental Chamber), which is more or less a bed that’s enclosed on all sides except for an opening, which allows you to crawl in and out. A heavy black drape covers the opening so that the entire unit is completely dark to minimize external sensory distractions and maximize internal focus. Through headphones, you listen to recorded exercises, which are similar to guided meditations with the incorporation of Hemi-Sync® binaural beats. (More about this later.)
The founder, Robert Monroe’s home, where the “Timeline” program took place.
What does it feel like to enter another dimension of consciousness?
(Please keep in mind that these are my personal experiences—those of others may vary.)
After a series of mental steps to help you feel comfortable and safe during your “excursion,” you are then guided to different levels of consciousness which are referred to by number, i.e. C-1 represents full, waking consciousness, followed by F10, F12, F15, F21, F27 and so on. The “F” stands for “Focus Level.” F10, for instance, indicates the state of “mind awake/body asleep” and in F10, you feel as if you’re on the verge of falling asleep, but you can still feel your body lying on the bed and you’re fully aware that you’re in a room and what you’re doing there. In F12, (the state of expanded awareness) you begin to let go a bit more, and when I “arrive” in F12, I often “see” someone waiting for me there. Sometimes it’s someone I know in my current life, or sometimes it’s someone I’m familiar with but don’t know personally. It appears that these “people” always have a personal message for me, something I’ve been ignoring and need to address because they seem to get immediately in my face and are generally very insistent.
Often the images I encounter in the different levels of consciousness are symbolic or metaphors for something in my waking life and sometimes I know exactly what they mean; other times I never seem to figure them out. So far, the meaning of the images I encounter immediately upon my arrival in F12 are pretty easy to decipher, because it’s always a person (as opposed to an inanimate object, or a sound or a feeling) and he or she instantly moves toward me as if we’re opposite magnets.
Throughout any focus level, I am always in complete control of what I’m experiencing, and I have the ability to end the session or ask for clarification on anything at any time I choose. This is extremely important, because before my initial sessions at TMI, I was afraid that I would somehow relinquish control of my mind. But this is NOT the case. Ever. I always have control, but sometimes I have to remind myself of that fact! Just like in my everyday life.
Most of the Timeline program took place in F15, the state of consciousness where time doesn’t exist. It is a very deep, meditative state and there’s a feeling of floating. During my first experiences in F15, I found it a bit difficult to breathe; it felt as if my “surroundings”, for lack of a better word, were thick and intense, as if I was floating in a substance as dense as ketchup. Once I became more familiar with it, though, I told myself to relax, told myself that I could breathe easily, and that knowledge allowed me to float effortlessly and allow experiences or realizations to come to me. It’s like having a dream, where you’re in the REM state and you’re not aware of your physical body.
What I’m attempting to relate is nearly impossible to describe in words, because I experienced a richness to my sessions, where my visuals were accompanied by feelings and the use of all (or most of) my senses, but in a much more heightened manner. My perception also varied from one session to the next. (Sometimes I would simply “click out” or fall asleep, and experience nothing! This isn’t uncommon.)
For instance, I interacted with energies that were clearly not human, but whom seemed to know me and (often) love me unconditionally, and the words “alien” or “angel” or “spirit” or whatever familiar term one might attach to it, does not adequately describe what I thought, felt, saw, or heard. The terms alien, angel, or spirit are relative terms anyway–they mean something different to each of us. TMI refers to them as “other energies or other energy systems,” a more appropriate description, because these “individuals” weren’t made of flesh like you and me, but of vibration, or energy, or thought. And just because they weren’t in human form didn’t mean they were more intelligent or advanced than we are. Now isn’t that an interesting concept?
During several sessions, I received a “knowing” that where I had requested to go (you set an intention for each exercise) required me to leave my physical body behind, and I worked very hard to make this happen. (That was my first mistake–“working very hard.” I now know that by trying to force things, it only hindered me–again, just like life.) In F15, my body felt heavy and “crispy,” and like a walnut shell that’s cracked in half, if you scoop out the nut, the empty shell remains the same shape it was in before you removed the nut, so too, my body retained its shape, but it was as if the top part had been removed, and my “insides” were rather gelatinous and began to “slosh” back and forth horizontally from head to toe like when you shake a bowl of jello. This gelatinous part of me then began to vibrate as it attempted to float upward, but it never got “out” completely. It rose up about three or four inches, but something kept it attached to my crispy shell (body).
Many who have experienced the out-of-body state, describe a vibration feeling that happens just before they leave their bodies, but some describe leaving their bodies without that feeling. I think my focusing too much on trying to achieve the out-of-body state may have been the very thing that kept me tethered at times. And although during the entire 6-day program, I never got the feeling that I completely went out-of-body, I’m certain that it happened many times without my ever realizing it, because there were times I knew I was completely immersed in another dimension of consciousness without regard to how I got there (because “how I got there” wasn’t important at the time; I wasn’t focusing on that aspect). My body felt paralyzed, in a sense, but my mind went jaunting off into other “territories”.
In addition to being limited by words to describe such experiences, another challenge is that there is no empirical proof whether the things one has experienced are real or imagined; but perhaps a more important question is: “If I just imagined all this, why did I imagine this particular scene and not something else?” The mind is a powerful tool, and when you let go of trying to control your environment, and simply allow things to come to you, amazing things happen. This isn’t just true for TMI sessions, it is true for one’s everyday waking state as well.
The Timeline program reinforced in me that I am much more than my physical body, and that “I” do not end with death. In several sessions, I actually experienced the dying process of my physical body in previous lifetimes, although I did not allow myself to feel the pain associated with it. I realize this sounds frightening, but I learned so very much from these exercises. What I experienced was a separation of spirit and body, a release similar to my being given an epidural during the births of my children, and the moment the drug took effect, the pain vanished instantly. The death experiences felt similar to that–the moment the spirit left the body, there was instant relief from pain, combined with a release from mental anguish as well. This was completely unexpected, and the “I” who was witnessing the whole scene, was surprised at the tremendous sense of relief and release.
In 2003, I had an out-of-body experience (OBE) in the middle of Sammy Hagar‘s concert, and that moment changed my life. While in the out-of-body state, I “saw” landscapes that were clearly not earth, and beings that were not human. Thousands of them. I wrote about this in Dance of the Electric Hummingbird. At the time, I assumed they were representations of alien worlds that exist beyond human comprehension. Now, after the things I experienced at TMI, I wonder if they were glimpses of previous lives that I had lived, or future lives, because there is a school of thought that considers that we may indeed, be living all of our lives simultaneously, similar to the space-time continuum theory in physics. With this theory in mind, some say that just as each of our cells makes up different parts of us, all these other lives are merely different aspects or parts of us–each being integral to the whole. And ultimately, just as these different aspects of us make up one whole that we think of as the “self”, we too, are all different aspects of what we call God–each of us connected to form one consciousness that is God.
I can certainly see now, how this could very well be possible.
I also saw that since “I” exist far beyond the constraints of my physical body and that since the boundaries of what I call “me” overlap and merge with other living and non-living beings, what I do to others (or to the earth), I also do to myself.
Too, it’s important for me to realize the blessing of existing here, right now, in this physical body, for there are aspects of spiritual growth that cannot be learned by any other means. Therefore, I shouldn’t squander my life fretting over “the small things,” because every moment is meant to be enjoyed with every fiber of my being.
I learned that if I look closely enough, and with the eyes of a child (Zen calls this “Beginner’s Mind”), I can actually see my entire essence—the very essence of life itself, in a drop of rain, the veins of a single leaf, in a freckle on a stranger’s face, the song of a cardinal, and in every being—living and non-living. All of these things are me and they, like me, since we are all fibers of God, are infinite. Time is merely an illusion; it’s something humans created to make sense of and feel in control of our environment.
At the risk of sounding presumptuous, I believe that my initial OBE during the rock concert, planted a kind of “seed” in my subconscious. This seed continues to grow the more I feed it spiritual wisdom, the sort of wisdom I uncover during TMI sessions, because these sessions put me in contact with—and enhance—dimensions of my mind (that are also in contact with higher levels of consciousness) that I previously never knew existed.
Robert Monroe’s cabin, where he wrote most of his books on his many out-of-body experiences and the exploration of altered states of consciousness
Why is any of this important when there are people starving in the world and so many other important things one could be focusing on?
The exploration of the mind and its capabilities can give us insight into the reasons we behave the way we do, help us achieve personal goals, and give us tools to teach others, thereby healing the world by first healing ourselves. Visiting some of my other lives not only explained the roles certain people play in my current life, it also showed me how and why I adopted some of my limiting beliefs. Knowledge, then, is power—the power to change and to better myself. I shall continue to explore the power of my mind and spirit, for there is much to learn, and that, I believe, is the meaning of our lives—to grow and to experience emotion in its many forms–the greatest and most important of these–is love.
Giant crystal on the property
(To read about my first experience at TMI, please click here: Gateway to Altered States of Consciousness)
**TMI is dedicated to exploring human consciousness and peak human performance with the use of Hemi-Sync® audio technology, which uses the scientifically adapted method of binaural beats to induce the meditative state and bring both left and right hemispheres of the brain into balance. The balanced brain then, is much more capable of achieving things of which it may not have previously been capable, thereby providing a tool to help listeners achieve goals such as weight loss, quitting smoking, improved concentration, stress or pain relief, and many other areas of self-improvement. For more information, please visit http://www.monroeinstitute.org/resources/hemi-sync