Thursday, October 4, 2012

Charles T. Tart: Hovering on the Threshold of the Dream World

Here is an article by Charles Tart that describes a technique for maintaining the hypnogogic state. I think it is quite interesting because it seems to corroborate the method of psychic development I have described on my web site.

Lie down comfortably on your back, eyes closed. A quiet, fairly dark room helps. You can let all of your body relax except for one forearm, which is held vertically upright, resting on its elbow. You’ll quickly find tactile vertical as the position in which it takes almost no effort to keep your arm balanced there. The hand can also be kept balanced vertically too, but sometimes I find it easiest to just let my hand fall to some relaxed position. It’s the forearm position that matters.

Now you just calmly observe your mind as you continue to relax. If your forearm starts to tilt to the side, gently bring it back to vertical, to the minimal effort position. As you slide toward sleep, the imagery of the bhavanga, from vague, amorphous shapes and colors to full dreamlets, will manifest.

The skill you eventually learn is to keep a little attention on the forearm, such as by lightly checking on it every few seconds, and when it starts to tilt – this happens as you start sliding too far down into the bhavanga – gently make it balanced again. You now have a biofeedback device, your forearm, that enables you to hover on the threshold, far enough into the bhavanga or hypnagogic state to observe a lot, but which gives you gentle feedback if you sleep too far into the falling asleep zone, and which gives you even stronger feedback – the arm falling and hitting the bed – if you go all the way.


I came across this technique while still a teenager, reading old journals on psychical research and parapsychology. I can’t find the exact reference, my journals don’t go back that far, but I think it was a little article titled something like the “Four-eyes Technique” in an issue of the Journal of the American Society for Psychical Research in the early 1900s. The author had figured this balancing technique out and was using it because he thought it would help ESP messages get through when they couldn’t penetrate the everyday noise of his conscious mind.

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