The Trigger of Out-of-Body Journeys: Robert Monroe's Out-of-Body Research

By Kevin Williams


Robert Monroe (1915-1995) was the pioneer in the investigation of out-of-body experiences (OBEs) and the author of the ground-breaking book entitled Journeys Out Of The Body. His record of out of body experiences in places unbound by time or death has comforted millions of people who have encountered paranormal incidents. Unpredictably and without his willing it, Monroe found himself leaving his physical body and traveling via a second body to locales far removed from any physical or spiritual reality he could comprehend. In the ensuing years, Monroe and his group began work on means and methods of inducing and controlling this and other forms of consciousness in their laboratory. As specialists in creating patterns of effective sound, they used this base for their research. Their efforts gradually produced significant results, and attracted International interest among people from all walks of life. In 1974, he founded the Monroe Institute and began conducting learning seminars in self-control of human consciousness. Three patents were issued to Monroe for the methods and techniques so generated, and the trademark, HEMI-SYNC, also became broad public knowledge. Other works by Monroe are Far Journeys, and Ultimate Journey. In his book, Journeys Out Of The Body, Monroe describes a technique for triggering out-of-body states. Here is a brief description of the technique:

Robert Monroe's Technique for Triggering Out-of-Body Experiences
1. First lie down in a darkened room in a relaxing position.
2. Loosen your clothing and remove all jewelry.
3. Enter into a very relaxing state and consciously tell yourself that you will remember everything that happens at this time.
4. Begin breathing through your half-open mouth.
5. Concentrate on an object.
6. When other images start to enter your mind, passively watch them.
7. Try to clear your mind and observe your field of vision through your closed eyes.
8. Do nothing more for a while.
9. Simply look through your closed eyelids at the blackness in front of you.
10. After a while, you may notice light patterns.
11. When these cease, a state of such relaxation will happen that you lose all awareness of the body.
12. You are almost in the state where your only source of stimulation will be your own thoughts.
13. It is this relaxed and refreshed condition where out-of-body journeys are triggered.
14. To leave your body, think of yourself getting lighter and of how nice it would be to float upwards.
15. With sufficient practice Monroe claims that a wide variety of experiences.

There are a wide variety of psychic and spiritual states that can result from leaving the body consciously. The traveler can find him or herself in either formed states (those containing objects) or amorphous states when leaving the body in this way. 

One type of conscious transition occurs when the traveler simply disconnects the inner spiritual self from the physical body, and moves out and away from the physical body consciously. This disconnection happens frequently in near-death experience where the injured person moves a short distance from the physical body and observes it.

This method of slipping out of the body has little drama associated with it except for the fear aroused in the individual who does not understand what is happening. Robert Monroe describes his experiences as follows:

"In 1958, without any apparent cause, I began to float out of my physical body. It was not voluntary; I was not attempting any mental feats. It was not during sleep, so I couldn't dismiss it as simply a dream. I had full, conscious awareness of what was happening, which of course only made it worse. I assumed it was some sort of hallucination caused by something dangerous - a brain tumor, or impending mental illness. Or imminent death.


"It occurred usually when I would lie down or relax for rest or preparatory to sleep - not every time but several times weekly. I would float up a few feet above my body before I became aware of what was happening. Terrified, I would struggle through the air and back into my physical body. Try as I might, I could not prevent it from recurring." (Monroe, 2-3)

The traveler can also move directly into a visualized space that is very much like a dream environment maintaining continuous awareness of the transition into this space. Though the experience talks about being in a light sleep when the transition took place, I have had a very similar experience where I was awake when the image I was perceiving turned into a three-dimensional space which I then entered via spiritual travel.

Sometimes the traveler's transition to formed environments will involve dynamic movement, and the traveler will enter the environment soaring above fields and cities, taking in vast panoramas.

In many cases, the body image of the traveler is more or less identical to his physical body but this is not always the case. A common experience is for the traveler to become a point of consciousness or a unit of awareness with no sense of a body which takes up space. Here the traveler identifies him or herself as pure observer or witness, and is more of a disembodied set of ears and pair of eyes. Sight and hearing are the two senses that usually dominate during spiritual travel.

Moving consciously into amorphous states is more difficult to describe. These states are usually areas of intense experience where the dominant reality is that of light, sound, vibration, motion or emotion.

Going from a waking state or semi-waking state into an amorphous state is usually the most dramatic kind of spiritual travel experience. In one type of amorphous transition, the traveler suddenly senses a powerful vibration or sound and is caught up in that energy. This is sometimes accompanied by a feeling of being drawn or propelled by this vibration at tremendous speed through a dark space. This experience seems very similar to the descriptions of the tunnel associated with near-death experience. Numerous people who came very close to death (no heartbeat or respiration) have near-death experiences where they have described different types of sounds or vibrations which propelled them at seemingly great speed through a dark tunnel or corridor.

Sometimes, there is a feeling of being catapulted out of the body. In these cases, the vibrations usually start at a low pitch and continue gaining in frequency and power until they become almost explosive in their intensity.

In other cases, there is the feeling of the inner sounds or vibrations but not the experience of movement and acceleration. Often, such static experiences involve hearing spiritual music or sounds, and can be quite ecstatic.

The above mentioned inner sounds along with inner lights can sometimes act as a means of transition between waking experience and some formed inner world.

Here is a transition involving inner light which starts from a waking state, moves initially to an amorphous state of energy and movement, and then to a formed state of stability. This stable state is usually a quasi-physical environment. 

Sounds which occur during conscious transitions out of the body are usually very powerful, and may result in the obliteration of the body image. I have found the nerves which inform the person of his body's weight, size and position in space seem to largely quit functioning when the sound occurs.

Some of the sounds which occur are of a spiritual or mystical nature rather than transitional sounds that carry the traveler to a different place. These higher spiritual sounds are of a heavenly nature and are ecstatic beyond description. They are therefore one of the final destinations of spiritual travel rather than a means to some other place.

Some sample sounds one may encounter are the sounds of a speeding train, a loud buzzing, a flute, or the sounds of nature like the roar of a waterfall. These sounds or vibrations are of such intensity that they seem to pass right through the body, overpowering the other senses. Here we have an example of change of identity during spiritual travel where the individual literally merges with the sound.

This report illustrates conscious transitions out of the body which may occur spontaneously, due to an accident or injury, or as a result of deliberate action and intention. The key here is that there is no loss of consciousness during the transition between the waking state and the spiritual travel.


"I now feel that my life is totally guided by God ... To me it was a case of total surrender and total freedom." - Janet, near-death experiencer

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