Monday, November 25, 2013

Happy Hour at the Focus 21 Bar - My (out of body) experience at The Monroe Institute

It was happy hour at the nearly empty Focus 21 bar.  As I entered the elegant and darkened bar, a man opened the huge floor-to-ceiling drapes and the place flooded with light.  The light came from a spectacular nebula outside the non-window and infused the room with a glow unlike anything I’d ever seen before.  I took a seat at the corner of the bar but the bartender stayed away, he knew I wasn’t there to drink, I was seeking answers and I’d only brought questions.  Moments later I began a conversation with myself.  It wasn’t a schizophrenic in-my-head conversation but a conversation with a little boy who’d materialized on the barstool next to me; he was my five-year-old self.  As we talked I studied him, noting his little red leather shoes and his outfit of matching shorts and vest and remembered not liking how Mom had dressed me as a dandy little boy.  I don’t like the silly outfits either, my younger self said to me.  We talked for quite a while and little Dale unraveled many insights to things I’d forgotten about my childhood.  Personal things.  He mentioned that, since I’d come with questions, he’d come with knowledge.  He was offering the knowledge because after fifty years, I had finally gained the experience to understand the answers.  Little Dale looked at my wrist and said, I like your watch.  I’ve always collected watches and asked him if he’d like to have it.  No, he said.  Holding up his arms, watches on both wrists, he continued, see, I’ve already got two.  They stopped a long time ago and besides, there’s no time in this place anyway.  Finishing our conversation he jumped off the barstool and onto a tricycle and rode off right into that nebula and was gone. 

Now it seemed the bar was empty except for me and the silent bartender but as I looked towards the end of the bar I noticed another man --a ‘dandy’ like little Dale.  He was dressed in an expensive well-cut suit, with a colorful vest and necktie with a perfect knot.  He held a silver and black cane in his left hand and with his right hand stroked and outrageous moustache.  It was Salvador Dali.  I was wondering when you’d notice me he said in his thick Spanish accent.  About those questions you have; I’ve some advice for you and Dali began a monologue.  He spoke, I listened, and then he simply dematerialized, just like the subjects of some of his paintings. 

Alone now, I heard the quiet sobs of someone crying.  Glancing across the room to the dance floor I saw a woman standing alone, ankle deep in stage fog.  It was my wife.  I went to her and asked, what are you crying about?  She answered: nothing important.  I held her and as we embraced music began to play.  As the music swelled Eric Idle appeared and began to sing ‘The Galaxy Song.’  As he sang we danced, our feet invisible under the fog.  As the song ended I heard Bob’s voice in my head, the scene faded, and a few minutes later I was back in my body, sitting up in my bed at The Monroe Institute.

Everything I’ve described happened in an altered state of consciousness.  I’ll tell you how I got there and about Bob, and what The Monroe Institute is but I know many of you won’t believe me; that’s okay, this is pretty far outside most people’s comfort zone.  (For skeptics, website links are included.)  Less than one tenth of one percent of the Earth’s population seems interested in this kind of consciousness-expansion, which is too bad because I think if we could get to where maybe fifteen percent of us experienced these things we could change the world for the better. 

Robert “Bob” Monroe was a radio engineer who’d had spontaneous out-of-body experiences that caused him to intensely study the phenomena.  His audio experience and scientific aptitude led him to create Hemi-Sync™.  Hemi-Sync is short for Hemispheric Synchronization, a system where, using headphones, a tone of one frequency is played into one ear and another slightly different frequency is introduced into the other ear.  The brain tries to ‘synchronize’ the signals and creates a third tone that synchronizes the brain’s hemispheres.  By varying frequencies, different states of altered consciousness are experienced by the listener.  This is the short version; there’s more detail available on The Monroe Institute’s website.  Because the Hemi-Sync system is quantifiable, consistent, repeatable and safe, Bob founded The Monroe Institute in Faber, Virginia thereby allowing others to experience these altered states of consciousness and more.

I’d read Bobs’ first book, Journeys Out Of The Body, back in the 1980s and later read his other two follow-up books.  I’d bought some of the early cassette tapes and had experienced for myself the Hemi-Sync process.  I’d always said that ‘someday’ I’d go to the institute for training.  That ‘someday’ came last May when my wife learned The Monroe Institute was offering their introductory program, called Gateway, off-campus in California in November 2013.  Since Santa Barbara is within a day’s drive from Prescott I signed us up.

Our Gateway Voyage was a 6-day intensive program held at the Casa de Maria retreat in Santa Barbara.  It was a total-immersion experience.  After arriving we never left the place until the program was over.  Our lodgings were an austere room with two twin beds, desk, chair and bathroom.  There were no phones, TV or radio and only one small wi-fi hotspot.  No distractions.  Our meals were provided by most excellent on-site chefs.  All our physical needs were met so everyone could concentrate on the altered consciousness experience.

‘Everyone’ was 18 students with two facilitators.  The ‘students’ comprised fourteen women and four men (women seem to be more open to this sort of thing).  My wife and I were the only couple and among the younger.  I’d guess the average age of the group was about 65.  We were all ‘seekers’ and, thankfully, the group was devoid of any ‘new-age’ wackos.   I found it strange that the group was so ‘old.’  It occurs to me that this sort of thing would be most beneficial to those in their late 20s to early 30s, so the information can be used life-long.

Each day we’d gather for breakfast at 8am.  Then we’d all meet in ‘the lounge’ where we were briefed on the morning’s ‘exercises.’  After that we’d all go our rooms where we’d listen, using headphones, to the Hemi-Sync audio.  A nifty temporary FM transmitter was used so we’d all be doing the ‘exercises’ simultaneously.  Upon completing each ‘exercise’ we’d meet afterwards for debriefing.  Over the week we experienced over 20 hours of ‘altered consciousness.’  We’d do two ‘exercises’ between breakfast and lunch, take a break, and then do two more in the afternoon and one more before bedtime.

Bob Monroe was fond of acronyms and described the varying degrees of altered states as ‘Focus Levels.’  It’s an arbitrary reference system that makes discussion easier; to put it simply, the higher the number the further one is removed from normal, everyday waking consciousness.  We began at a ‘body asleep-mind awake state’ (not unlike Transcendental Meditation) and ended the week at Focus 21.  At Focus 12 awareness seems to expand.  At Focus 15 the sense of time ceases.  Focus 21 is the ‘bridge’ to ‘other energy systems’ and is quite profound.  For some, visualization is helpful.  For me, I had difficulty with the ‘bridge’ concept and perceived the Focus 21 state as some kind of a cosmic bar (hence the title).  More advanced courses continue on to level 27.  Gateway is a prerequisite.

During the week all of us reported feelings like:  weightlessness, floating out or above the physical body, meetings with ‘guides’ (often called ‘guardian angels’ by the more religious), various colors and sensations, precognition, lucid dreams, meetings with dead people and remote viewing. 

Each of us had our own personal breakthroughs.  I had mine the second night and I was so absolutely freaked-out and emotionally fried that I couldn’t attend the debriefing and had to skip dinner.  I had a private talk with the lead facilitator who assured me that what I’d experienced was actually rather mild compared to some, which greatly allayed my fears.  Luckily for me one of my fellow students, a gentle man just shy of his 80th birthday, was a hypnotherapist.  He worked with me and really helped me to understand what I’d experienced.

Oddly, the process had a detoxifying effect on the body for some of us.  By the second to last day I had the sniffles and a scratchy throat (and I don’t get sick often).  Even odder, the next day I felt great, really great!

One evening we did a group exercise in Remote Viewing, which in new-age terms is often called ‘astral projection.’  It’s a process where one can ‘see’ an object or place without actually going there.  This is not new and was developed in the late 1970s by two physicists at Stanford Research Institute.  At SRI they developed a method that made the process teachable to almost anyone.  A US government intelligence agency actually commissioned a team of Remote Viewers, aka, ‘psychic spies’ in the 70s, 80s and 90s.  (I’m not kidding, it was called ‘Stargate,’ look it up).  The Monroe Institute became involved to assist the Remote Viewers get themselves into a calm mental state quickly.  We did two brief Remote Viewing exercises using a coordinate system developed by the late Ingo Swann.  We were given latitude and longitude coordinates and asked to describe or draw what we saw at the locations.  It turns out I’ve got a latent talent for this and returned about a seventy percent success rate.  But it got even weirder for me…

During our debriefings we’d share our experiences and analyze them.  During three separate debriefings I kept describing ‘seeing’ some kind of form, or spreadsheet.  Since I have absolutely zero interest in accounting (I pay people do that stuff) I was confused.  When we got home I went through a weeks’ worth of mail and found a card from the Post Office.  A registered letter had come while we were out of town and I had to go to the Post Office and sign for it.  When I picked up the envelope at the Post Office I opened it immediately and darn near excreted a brick when I saw what the envelope contained ---it was the EXACT form I’d apparently Remote Viewed while in California!  Back at The Monroe Institute’s main campus in Virginia it just so happens that the ‘psychic spy’ who was number 001 teaches Remote Viewing.  I may have to go to Virginia this spring…

What I’ve written barely scratches the surface of what we experienced; there was much, much more with a lot of it being of a profoundly personal nature that I won’t write about.  It was an amazing experience that I’m glad I did now instead of waiting until I’m an old man, or not at all.  We all have this potential.  To put it in quasi-technical terms: perception is like a radio dial and most of us only know of a few stations.  What happened to me, and the other seventeen in our ‘class’ was our radio ‘bandwidth’ got expanded.  The audio Hemi-Sync process gave us the tools to tune in those stations that had been beyond our radios’ dial.  There’s much more than what our Five Senses (pun intended) show us. 

There’s a saying: we’re all spiritual beings enjoying a temporary physical existence.  It’s true.  Our ‘true’ selves ‘put on’ these physical bodies and then we forgot.  And then we forgot we forgot.  We can all experience these wonderful expanded states of consciousness.  You can get there quickly, like Carlos Castaneda, through the use of powerful and dangerous drugs; or you can spend a lifetime, like a Tibetan Monk.  But through the use of safe and controlled audio technology you can get there in about two days.  When you get ‘there’ the only thing you’ll find is the real you …and the rest of the universe.

Dale O’Dell
November 13, 2013
Links to references:

Questions are invited, email Dale at

Salvador Dali

Eric Idle sings ‘The Galaxy Song’

The Monroe Institute, Robert Monroe, Focus Levels, Hemi-Sync, Remote Viewing

Robert Monroe’s books on, “Journey’s Out of the Body,” “Far Journeys,” “Ultimate Journey”

La Casa de Maria retreat, Santa Barbara, CA

Remote Viewing

Stargate Project

Ingo Swann

Remote Viewer #001 (Joe McMoneagle) official website (see also Monroe Institute website)