In June 2008 T and I and N, (a friend or ours) attended a Monroe Institute Gateway course in Spain.
The venue was a boutique hotel just outside a beautiful little village called Buen Ventura, 120 km from Madrid. We were part of a group of eleven people who had come together for the workshop that consisted of a week of doing exercises using Robert Monroe’s Hemi-Sync technology in order to achieve altered states of consciousness without drugs.
Hemi Sync does this by producing a series of sounds known as binaural beats. According to the Monroe Institute website, the sensation of auditory binaural beats occurs when two coherent sounds of nearly similar frequencies are presented one to each ear with stereo headphones or speakers. The brain integrates the two signals, producing a sensation of a third sound called the binaural beat. Binaural beats originate in the brainstem’s superior olivary nucleus, the site of contralateral integration of auditory input. The binaural beat is neurologically conveyed to the reticular formation which uses neurotransmitters to initiate changes in brainwave activity.
In other words Hemi Sync puts us into a meditative state and fast tracks us to a state Tibetan monks have spent years of training to achieve. Amazonian shaman do it with Ayahuasca, an infusion of plants that when boiled and taken aurally or smoked, puts the user into an altered state. This is done by triggering a naturally occurring hallucinogenic chemical known as Dimethyltryptamine or DMT - a chemical found in many plants, animals and even in humans.
The proponents of these exercises claim that once they achieved the “altered state.” they are effectively having an out-of-body-experience, and have entered another dimension Ė plane Ė heaven Ė hell Ė summerland - bardo - parallel universe - state of oneness; call it what you will.
Reductionist (mainly western) scientists and skeptics claim they are just hallucinating and that the compounds or sounds or whatever is triggering the event is just neurons being activated in the brain and believe the experiencer hasn’t gone anywhere. That said, I wonder if many of the skeptics have seriously have tried it and continued to feel the same way.
Back in Buen Ventura our days consisted of waking up around 7am for breakfast and then throughout the day we would retire to our rooms, where we would don wireless headphones and listen to the Hemi Sync beats, instructions and music that were designed by the Monroe Insitute.
Robert Monroe was a pragmatic man, an American businessman who owned radio stations in the 1950’s. One day he woke up and found himself floating outside his physical body. After initially thinking he was nuts or dead he realised he was neither and with practise he learned to induce what we now call an out-of-body-experience or OBE. Since he was a radio programme producer he would often go to bed with a set of head phones on and listen to the pre-recorded radio shows to check they were suitable for broadcast the next day.
Monroe knew a thing or two about sound and he came to the conclusion that certain vibrations/sounds might induce an OBE. He hypothesized that different sounds could produce different states of consciousness. He called these states focus levels.
For instance ‘Focus 10’ is ‘mind awake body asleep;’ the Hypnagogic state between wakefulness and sleep
‘Focus 12’ is daydreaming. If youíve ever driven a car for a period of time and then realised you havenít remembered the journey, you are in focus 12. I think I spend a lot of time there. My teachers at school said I was always in a daydream.
Focus 27 is what Monroe called ‘the park’. He claimed Itís where people who have passed on often find themselves initially. Apparently it looks a lot like here but without the pollution and violence. Christians might call it heaven or purgatory, Spiritualists call it the Summerland. Monroe wasnít a religious man and maybe that’s why he referred to these states as focus level rather than attributing them to religious ‘places’.
After years of practise Monroe he found that when he was travelling in the out of body state he could go a virtually anywhere - literally anywhere he could think of, whether it be to the next room or to Mars.
He also surmised that in the OBE state time doesn’t exist as we know it, and neither does speed or distance. He could literally think of somewhere and he would be there. In the current time of escalating fuel prices this is a great tool to have.
It was 1958 when Robert Monroe, then in his forties, stumbled upon the phenomena now known as the OBE and he spent the rest of his life dedicated to studying it until he passed (hopefully to focus 27 and beyond) in 1995.
Now here I was 50 years later in a hotel in the middle of nowhere with a bunch of strangers trying to find the truth of who we are and why we are here. The question was; “Could Monroe’s techniques help?”
Our hosts and trainers were Carol and Linda, both American and both friendly, open and amiable people.
Rather than write about the whole week, which would fill a book on its own, I’ve just copied here what I wrote in my notebook/diary and any impressions I had after each exercise and then what I wrote down after the trip. I’ve omitted some personal stuff that’s not relevant.
Sunday evening. Resonant tuning exercise.
The room is dark. Shutters on the windows closed. The idea is to make a noise with your mouth, could be OMmmmmmmmmmmm. Eyes closed, headphones on.
The light was bright, I thought I was in a dream or maybe someone had come into the room and turned the light on. I opened my eyes ad the room was dark. Wow. This is weird and amazing, It’s like looking at the sun through a cloud - as if I I’m in a dream but I’m not in a dream, I’m awake.
I visualised a table with a white tablecloth covering it with lots of wine glasses filled with white wine. Again I was confused, I thought to my self, I thought there was no alcohol here, then I realised I was still in my room. It was as if I was watching the image on a TV.
The feeling from the tuning (me humming OM) was wave like.
My first observation is that the visualisation is not like imagining something. It is like being in a dream and observing. Everything is clear, possibly like a lucid dream except that I am awake and I’m not dreaming. Very exciting. I feel very calm. I’m passive; It’s as if I’m watching a movie. It doesn’t feel like I’m in any way creating the image.
I woke up in the morning and I’d had a dream. I dreamed I am awake and Iím trying to remember what I dreamed but then I realise Iím still dreaming. Itís a dream within a dream. Iím in a big building and everyone is dressed in white. The furniture is all pine. The room is full of Filipino people. They are all dead.
(Two weeks later on the 21/22 June (depending on where you are in the world) a ferry sunk in the Philippines. Around 800 people drowned. I have never had, remembered, or written down a dream about the Philippines or Filipino people before, and I have no conscious connection to the Philippines?)
Introduction to focus 10 Imagine a box. Put all issues, concerns, problems in the box and push it to one side. Then resonant tuning; then an affirmation. “I am more than my physical bodyÖ”
(You can listen to Monroe reading his affirmation here.
Visualisations. Lots of eyes - not human - some animal. My body is heavy as if it is wrapped in something. Clouds then light - definite shapes Ė comforting - going higher through the clouds.
Box, resonant tuning etc. This is done before all exercises so I won’t repeat it here.
Fell asleep or clicked out. They say we often ‘click out.’ Apparently it is different from sleep in that we are not aware we have slept, illusion of no time passing. Iím not sure I know the difference between clicking out and sleep yet.
Body feels heavy again. I forgot what I saw once I woke up.
Exercise 3 - Focus 12.
Was tired and fell asleep at first. Then awake. My hand is caught in a book. Then I remember Iím lying in the dark on my bed; there is no book, Iím visualising, and then my physical hand twitches.
I trip up but manage not to fall over, then my physical leg twitches, I open my eyes, and I realise I haven’t tripped up; I’m still laying on the bed.
An owl face is looking at me, then other owls. Then clouds, a brake in the clouds more faces, alien looking, I drew a picture - black eyes - white faces.
That evening after dinner we all retired to the main sitting room to talk and to watch documentaries about Monroe. There’s a coffee table with magazines and boxes of picture cards on it. There are reincarnation cards, tarot cards and Thoth cards. My partner T picks up a box of cards and opens the lid to take look at one. A card is stuck in the lid of the box and she tries to pull it out. She finally gets it out; it’s the only card she has looked at. She hands it to me; the image on the card is of owls and wine glasses, the two main things I had visualised that day.
(I still ask myself what it means. I have no idea but it did get my attention.)
Exercise 5 - Focus 12.
I feel different; my body is tingling all over. I saw a wall to my right then nothing. Occasional tunnels - shapes in the tunnels. Now I’m looking through the window into the garden; Iím looking at the village. Then I see a clear and defined brick wall. It has a hole in it, which is getting bigger.
The exercise was to try and get out of body by picturing rolling off side to side without physically moving.
Tried to roll to the left and then to the right, it was black. Now I’m looking at a plug socket with 2 plugs, one square and one small with round pins. The wall is on my right.
Then I saw a woman with long straight black hair parted in the centre. She is wearing a black v-neck sweater.
Iím looking at H. (One of the other guests on the course) He is scratching his arms frantically and then he eats something to stop the itching.
Later that day I found out that H suffers from very bad eczema and asthma. While we were doing the exercise he was in his room but couldn’t participate because he was struggling with his eczema and while in his room he had taken something for it.
T pointed out after the exercise that I was ‘physically’ laying on my bed on my back and the wall was on my left. I had visualised the wall on my right meaning I was laying face down when I saw the plugs. We looked behind the bed and sure enough on the bottom of the wall where my head would be if the wall was on my right were two power sockets with two plugs; one square and one small round two-pin plug.
Nothing to report but my body aches.
Iím crossing a bridge, it’s green in places, and it’s very high. Then I fell asleep. Then I woke and found myself leaving a large white house, I’m about 50 feet in the air and moving backwards facing the house but travelling away from it.
This exercise was interesting. Before it started we were instructed to intuitively pick a number between one and eleven. The number we picked represented a person in the group. During the exercise we were instructed to ask a question for the person representing the number and the answer would benefit them. For some reason I immediately thought of H as I had visualised him the day before and he seemed troubled so I though I would like to help him if I could. Of course at the time I had no idea what number I would pick or who it was allocated to.
Carol explained that the numbers had been allocated before we got to the hotel so we would not know who we were asking the question for until after the exercise and nor would they. The idea is we are providing service for someone else, maybe healing.
Carol went round the group and one by one we all called out a number. By the time they got to me most of the numbers had gone, but the nine was still available and as I have an affinity with nine I picked it.
During the exercise nothing really happened but towards the end I visualised very clearly raspberries hanging on bushes in their natural environment. Just raspberries; I was a bit disappointed.
After the exercise we gathered in the dining room and Carol called out numbers one by one and asked the person who had the number to relay to the group their experience. After we had told the group what we each had visualized, then and only then would she tell the group who each number belonged to.
What was interesting was that some people knew the message was for them even before their name was called. For instance one person read out his visualisations that included police cars and sirens and other stuff I canít recall. As Carol was about to disclose the name, A shouted, ďIt’s for meĒ, and sure enough the message was for him.
Carol then called the number nine, which was mine, and I read out my visualisation of raspberries. Carol then read out the recipient and it turned out to be H, who I had visualised and wanted in the first place. It turned out that H was a farmer; he owned a farm he had inherited from his father. He been depressed for a while and had considered selling the farm and one of the reasons he came on the trip was to work out whether he should or not. Once he told us his reason for being there I could see the “Raspberries” could have some meaning for him. For me this was a great synchronicity and further proof that the universe was showing me the way. That’s what I thought. If you’re sceptic and a gambler it was just a lucky guess at odds of 11 to 1.
Then my partner Tís number was called and she said the following; ďI saw a roulette wheel spiralling and in its centre was a key. I also saw fruit - strawberries and finally a banana presented on a big silver platter.
Carol then disclosed that the message was for me. I felt this was amazing. The chance that T would get me was 11 to 1, but the message was especially poignant. A couple of years ago after T had been to see a medium we decided to come up with something that in the event of one of us dying the other would recognise to let them know we were all right. I joked at the time that my ‘sign’ would be a banana, something we wouldnít forget, so the fact that T visualised a banana on a platter and that the message turned out to be for me was amazing.
(Now I’ll have to think of another sign) ☺
I saw children playing. Then I saw more eyes Ėlooked like a lion or gorilla, brown eyes.
Exercise 11 - Focus 15
I was looking over an enamel sink at a landscape. Then blackness. Then I was outside looking at the house we are staying in from above. I tried to get closer but I couldnít.
Exercise 12 - Focus 15
Very calm and serene; no images. Normally in this situation I would get restless (I’m not a good meditator) but I felt I could stay here all day. It seemed like a few minutes had gone by when Linda called us back. I discovered the exercise had lasted 45 minutes.
Nothing to report.
By now I had become restless. Iíd not had hardly any imagery for a day or so and I was getting frustrated. I began the next exercise.
There were lots of eyes looking at me, I didnít feel scared, I thought they were friendly or just observing me.
Then suddenly a joke about a faith healer came into my mind and I started laughing. I hadnít heard the joke for many years so it was interesting that it came through loud and clear. The joke involves a man on crutches.
After the session we reconvened in the sitting room. Carol was there with her flip chart ready to show us the next exercise. On the flip chart was a cartoon of a man on crutches.
I took the joke to mean I should have faith, it came at a time in the week when I was having doubts, ó it was right on time.
Exercise 15 - Non-Hemi Sync
This exercise turned out to be a placebo and was designed to see if people could get out of body or into an altered state with just music and verbal guidance. The theory is that after a while we can self-hypnotise ourselves even without Hemi Sync.
The exercise started and within 5 minutes I was bored. I wanted to get up and walk around. This was interesting because during all the other exercises I had completed each one easily. I had generally not got bored. If anything I could have stayed ‘under’ for longer during most of them.
This was proof to me that Hemi Sync was doing something.
Thursday Exercise 16 - Focus 15
Today Iím more relaxed and not concerned about getting visualisations. Iím happy to trust the process.
This time Iím visualising pulling away from the earth. As I get further and further away and I feel incredibly serene. I could stay like this forever.
I’m in silence and have no thoughts. Occasionally a thought comes into my mind and I just observe it and ‘watch’ it go. This must be how deep meditation feels. Iím becoming aware that the chattering person I so often identify with isnít really me, but my enthusiastic child, one of many but the one currently having the earth experience, running around here and there mistakenly thinking this is what life is all about.
In this state I feel like I am light years away, and am able to observe the game and my current ďsonĒ in it. I can be up close and participate in the game knowing I can draw back and be my-self.
I noticed that in Focus 12 i could hear the dogs in the village, I thought at first it was coming from the headphones, but afterwards realised it wasnít. Apparently during the exercises the senses are heightened, when the exercise finished I listened for the dogs but heard nothing.
Exercise 17 - Focus 15
We were instructed to ask for 5 questions to be answered.
I didnít get much. I was in a deep state and enjoying it.
Exercise 18 - Focus 15
I was in a deep deep space. No visions apart from somebody put a ham on a plate in front of me.
Exercise 19 - Focus 21.
Exercise 20 - Focus 21
Nothing to report.
Friday Exercise - 21 Focus 21
Got to focus 12 and visualised the bridge I had seen earlier in the week. Built a bridge to focus 21. Stood on it at 15 and thought about water.
Lots of eyes, all none human. Two black girls sitting on a towel on grass having a picnic, both young children.
Iím standing in the bathroom looking at myself in the mirror washing my face, then saw me with a brown cup/bowl clasped to my chest, Iím eating food out of it.
Linda called us back. I could have stayed there for much longer.
Deep blackness. I saw T in a different room. I saw some of the group going out of the front door. A is at the back wearing a check shirt. I saw ants or the shapes of ants. I saw J, one of the other guests standing in his room.
(After this exercise we congregated outside. A was wearing a check shirt he hadn’t been wearing earlier in the day. Once outside we were told that the afternoon would be spent in silence. We were encouraged to do what ever we wanted in silence. I went for a walk. After an hour or so I came across A. He was standing still, staring at the ground. I walked over to see what he was staring at. It was a colony of ants that had nested in the cracks of one of the stone paths.
Exercise 23 - Focus 21-27
Focus 23 is what some people call the lower astral. Apparently we all pass through it when we die but as long as we know whatís happening to us we often pass right through to 27, the park, but this depends on our state of mind when we pass and how we have lived and what we have thought during our life. It seems we create our own hells with every living thought and action while alive, which is why so many people who communicate after passing on stress the importance of right thoughts and actions while in the physical because when we cast off the body we find our we are the sum of our thoughts.
In focus 22-23 there are many people who donít know they have died. They thing they are dreaming, or they think they are alive but have lost track of time, which isnít surprising since there isnít any time in these states of vibration. This level is close to the earth plane and often even though people have died, other discarnate being canít get to them, they just donít sense them, and if they do they donít believe what they are sensing.
A lot of mediums in the physical act as rescuers and make contact with these beings by clairvoyant or clairaudient means. The try and explain to them that they are dead. Once they realise this they can begin to sense others around them who are then able to help move them to a better state.
22-23 isnít a fun place to be but when we went into the exercise we counted up from Focus 10; when we got to 22 I felt as if I should be there. I canít really explain it. At no other point during the week had I had this feeling, but right now I had a feeling I should be helping people in 22-23.
At some point Linda walked in and handed me a white card with something on it I couldnít read. (She didn’t physically walk in, I was visualizing) Then I saw a white tunnel, the clearest tunnel I have seen so far. I saw black shadows of people in the tunnel and as I got closer I stopped. I asked to go further into the tunnel but nothing happened. I couldn’t move any further.
Then we counted up to Focus 27. I visualised nothing there but felt an incredible state of peace. After what seemed like a long time Linda’s voice interrupted the silence and she called us back. We had only been ‘out’ for a few minutes.
During the week we had been encouraged to pick up cards on the table in the sitting room. The idea is that we pick the cards intuitively and would get questions answered.
At the beginning of the week Carol and Linda asked each one of us why we were there. My answer was that I was ďtruth seekingĒ I was searching for the truth. During the week I picked up three cards from three different packs. Each card had the word TRUTH or TRUE on it. I checked the other cards in each pack and there were no other cards with the words truth or true on them, so while I have never paid much attention to cards in the past, the truth cards combined with the owl and wine glasses cards at the beginning of the week made me think there might be more to them that I previously gave them credit for.
Overall the week was fantastic, I was relaxed, I met some nice people, and above all a found out the nature of reality is stranger than we think, and yes I think I got a little closer to understanding who we are and why we are here, but needless to say I left with more questions than answers.
I would highly recommend the Monroe Gateway course to anyone and time and money permitting, I will be going back for more at some point.