Selection from “Meeting Bob Monroe:”
When I approached the residential house, Nancy Monroe, Bob’s wife, met me at the door. Clearly, Nancy was a southern belle. Wearing a beautiful print dress, tasteful jewelry, and fresh nail polish, she exuded a gracious, ladylike manner. She spoke with a gentle southern accent and a leisurely segue from word to word that mysteriously focused one’s attention and stirred the fires of the soul. Her eyes sparkled from within, as though an inner bright light, a knowingness, was somehow leaking out. With a broad smile, Nancy welcomed me into the house and guided me through various rooms and out to a small patio where Mr. Monroe was waiting. This screened-in patio area was part of the house and perhaps a step or two below the main floor level.
Mr. Monroe, sitting on a divan in the patio, wore sweatpants, suspenders, slippers, and a partially unbuttoned, coffee-stained shirt. His appearance presented an interesting departure from Nancy’s. As he brushed cigarette ashes off his shirt, he looked up and calmly said, “Well, hello.” No southern accent here. No pretentious social niceties either. I thought, as a first impression, that perhaps he was more interested in who he was when “out-of-body” rather than what I might think of him or how I might perceive him in the physical.
I introduced myself, telling him that I had read his book and was fascinated with his work. Nancy graciously offered me some iced tea, then withdrew quietly into the main house and left us alone to talk. Thinking back, this was very typical and quite appropriate for a proper, southern lady raised in the mid-twentieth century.
Bob spoke freely and openly about his book and his personal experiences. At times, an occasional glance from his penetrating blue eyes seemed as though he was seeing beyond my overt military persona and speaking directly to my soul. I felt uneasy about this, and somewhat vulnerable because the official purpose of my visit was considered classified.
Bob asked me to walk around outside with him in the sun-warmed spring air so that we might enjoy the picturesque and fragrant spring blossoms. He showed me the greenhouse and the gardens, and we eventually settled down to continue our talk on a grassy slope near his laboratory and offices. Sitting there at the base of a flowering fruit tree, I found myself thinking about my own out-of-body experiences that I remembered from childhood. Bob encouraged me to share my thoughts with him.
I started by telling Bob about my earliest remembered out-of-body event, which had to do with the fact that I was a bed-wetter until I was about ten years old. I do not remember my parents or my sisters ever ridiculing me or teasing me about bed-wetting. They would casually remind me to go to the bathroom before going to bed. If I had an accident at night, I just told my mom who would tell me to take a shower or bath and she would change my bed or ask me to put my bedding in the laundry so it could be washed. Even though I was not criticized at home, there was talk at school about bed-wetting and I knew enough to keep this bed-wetting thing a secret.
As I grew up, I began to have fewer and fewer bed-wetting incidents, but each time it happened it made me angrier. I became more and more frustrated. I did not like wetting my bed and I did not like that funny, brown, rubber mat Mom always put under my sheets to protect the mattresses. One final time, I woke up wet, yelled out in frustration, and began to cry. Mom came running into my room and asked what was the matter. I showed her my wet pajamas, sheets, and blankets and began to scream at her, “I went to the bathroom. I went to the bathroom. I went to the bathroom.” She told me to calm down and tell her exactly what had happened. I told her that I knew I needed to go to the bathroom and I went in there and sat on the toilet. But when I started to pee, I woke up in my bed and I was all wet. Standing there in my wet pajamas, my crying subsided, only to be replaced with fitful anger.
Mom reached out to me and gently put her hand on my shoulder, smiled, and said simply, “Oh!” I wiped away my tears and asked her what had happened to me. She said that when I went into the bathroom, I must have forgotten to take my body with me. I asked her what she meant, and she explained that I only spend part of the time in my body and when I had gone into the bathroom, I probably just went without my body. Somehow, this made sense to me and I never did wet the bed again.
Bob smiled and asked if this was the only time that I remembered being out of my body. “No,” I said, and went on to tell him that after my mom had told me about being apart from my physical body, I began to pay attention to what happened when I went to sleep at night. I attended some kind of “night school” with others which I recognized. If I did not focus too much on this “night school,” I could travel out-of- body and go play with neighborhood friends.
When I got a little older, these nightly sojourns changed. I visited school friends and approached people, girls especially, outside the confines of an adolescent social structure that severely limited my interactions with the opposite sex.
I became particularly interested in a blue-eyed girl with curly, auburn hair named Kathy. I found out where Kathy lived by following the school bus to her stop and then casually riding by on my bike while she walked to her house. She lived farther from school than I did but in a familiar area. At the time, I had a paper route and delivered the town paper throughout her neighborhood.
From then on, I could always find her house when I traveled out-of-body. Late at night, I would float in the air outside her house and hope that she would come out. A couple of times, I drifted through the house trying to find her. I never did.
I went on to tell Bob that as I moved deeper into my teenage years and fantasized about living apart from parental oversight, I began to have nocturnal out-of-body sojourns to a particular house in a forested area. I explained to Bob that I would always approach the house from an altitude and was able to see it surrounded by trees on a forest-covered mountainside. As I swooped down to ground level and moved closer to the front of the house, I noticed that it had board-patterned siding (i.e., not stucco or cement blocks) and was nestled into the woods.
Through the years, I visited this location repeatedly. On several occasions, I drifted into the house and discovered that it had an antique-looking desk downstairs at the foot of the staircase. There was also a greenhouse attached to the side of the house. I thought I saw two small sets of stairs leading to the greenhouse from the main structure. At the time I was telling Bob of this out-of-body experience, I did not realize that the structure I was describing was to become my future home, a house I would build myself, very near The Monroe Institute.
Having taken considerable time telling Bob about these and some other childhood out-of-body experiences, I felt I had said enough and wanted to get on to the purpose for my visit, which, because of military secrecy, I could not fully disclose. I started thinking about how I could turn the conversation.
We sat in silence, which felt awkward to me, for a minute or two. Then Bob began to explain that he had developed a sound technology, a stimulus that allowed people to have experiences under laboratory conditions—experiences that were like what he had written about in his book and to those I had been talking about myself. He said that many of these people could talk about or report their experiences while they were happening.
I could not imagine how this could be done, given the memory of my own childhood out-of-body experiences. I asked how it was possible, and Bob replied, “Well, kid, I guess we’ll just have to show you.” And with that, Bob invited me into his laboratory and offices. We had not yet visited this building, and I had been wondering why he had not taken me there during our walk around the property. As we worked our way up the slope toward the building, I thought, “Maybe he is going to show me an out-of-body experiment in progress. There must be an ongoing experiment in the lab and he is going to let me observe.”
As we entered the building, I said a polite hello to the receptionist and followed Bob down a hall, passing a room with a lot of recording equipment, switching panels, and audio-mixing boards.
We turned into a small room with a bed. Bob told me to lie down in the bed and he would play some sounds for me. I was startled by his suggestion and looked quickly around the room.
It was a plain, very plain, room without windows or any regular furniture. The bed did not stick out into the room but was seemingly built into the wall. It was recessed back into the wall surface so that it did not take up any floor space in the rather small room. I moved toward the bed and asked hesitantly, “Do you want me to lie here?” He told me to lie down and put on the stereo headphones that were on the pillow.
As I complied, I asked what kinds of sounds I would be hearing. He said that he would first play some music for me so that I would be comfortable. Reclining with the headphones on, I noticed something hanging down in front of my face. I asked what this was. He told me not to worry about it, that it was a microphone so that he would be able to hear me in the other room; meaning, I guessed, the room with all the equipment we had passed going down the hallway. He asked me if I was comfortable, then turned out the lights in the room and closed the door.
Within a minute or so, I heard music through the headphones. This was not music that I had heard before and I thought it rather strange. (I learned later that the music was from a composer named Tomida, who became well known for his baroque, new-age music.) I relaxed a bit, and after a while the music faded into the sound of waves crashing on the beach.
Bob, speaking through my headphones, said, “This is the sound of surf. It represents the natural power of sound and is a symbol here at the Institute.” I liked the surf sound. It reminded me of the beach and of happy times in California, where I grew up. I imagined the waves crashing up on the sand and receding back into the sea, and I thought I could even hear the popping hiss of bubbles in the beach sand when the water receded.
The sound of the crashing waves faded, leaving a warm hiss reminiscent of the gentle whoosh of bubbly foam as it soaks into the beach sand. I waited, thinking there might be another wave, and I began to experience an unusual auditory sensation, a slow, rhythmic throb. I could not tell where it was coming from. It seemed to be in the background, behind or underneath the warm, hissing noise. At one point, I was sure that the throb or pulsing was coming from inside my own head.
But I quickly forgot about the sound and my thoughts began to drift—until I noticed that the bed seemed to be moving up toward the ceiling. The sensation of movement was unmistakable, but I could not hear the mechanism working to raise the bed. This was very interesting.
I assumed that Mr. Monroe had control of the bed from the room with all the equipment. I thought the mechanism must be like the hydraulic lift that mechanics use on cars when they do an oil change. But I still could not hear an air compressor or any other mechanical noise. I wondered how such a device could have been installed at a private residence and thought maybe someday I could have such a device in my garage. As these random thoughts dissipated, I discovered that I was traveling.
My kinesthetic sense of motion (like the feeling one gets when flying in an airplane) was accompanied by a visual perception. Visually, I seemed to be moving through a white tube or tunnel (like in a near-death-experience). The tube walls were lined with crystalline forms. My impression was that I must have been flying down the middle of a Flavor Straw. I was going quite fast. In Star Trek terms, I would estimate my speed at about warp seven.
Bob’s voice came to me over the earphones. “What’s happening?” “I seem to be going somewhere.” “Where are you going?” “I don’t know.
By this time, I had forgotten all about the room and the strange bed. My journey through this passageway continued for what seemed to be a long while. Eventually, I sensed that I was coming to the end of the imagined Flavor Straw and I arched my back, following the upswing curve of the tube and feeling as though I was transitioning to another realm. Above me, I could see a vast, open, white area.
Just as I began to exit the conduit, I unexpectedly appeared to be in a boundless white space; watching myself emerge. At almost the same moment, a knowingness, a revelation, filled my mind. I had, theoretically, traveled all this way, only to discover that I Am was already here.
Realizing this, I must have exclaimed, “Oh!” or something similar, because Bob immediately spoke to me through my headphones, asking, “What happened?” His voice startled me. I had forgotten all about him. For a moment, I thought he must be in this white space with me somewhere or somewhen. I regained my composure and answered Bob’s question in my headphones by saying, “I’ll have to tell you later.”
I explored this white space for some time, but today I do not consciously remember much of what I found there. I am sure it was meaningful in some way, but I cannot recall the particulars. Perhaps an alternative way to phrase this might be “the particulars remain in my subconscious.”
Bob startled me again. He said that it was time to get some lunch and that we should finish up. The very concept of lunch seemed strange to me in the vast white space. My feeling was that they don’t do lunch here, wherever this is. But then Bob changed the sound patterns, and I became aware of being back in the room in the building in the Virginia countryside. I felt myself, or perhaps the bed, being lowered back down. Again, the sense of motion was obvious, very gentle, and I could not perceive any mechanical noise or vibration. I wondered how a hydraulic lift could be so smooth.
The lights came on in the room and I felt disoriented. For a moment, I could not quite figure out where I was. Then Bob came into the room and started urging me to get up and move out into the sunshine. I sat up, turned, swung my legs over the edge of the bed, and rested my feet on the floor. I bent over and raised the blanket that was draped over the edge of the bed and looked under the bed. There was no lift mechanism, just a floor. The bed frame was rather crudely built out of two-by-four framing lumber and a sheet of plywood.
Seeing me bent over, Bob asked if I had dropped my wallet or watch on the floor. I looked up at him and told him no. Again, he urged me to stand and walk outside. As we went down the hall toward the exit, he kept asking me what I wanted to eat for lunch. At the time, his voice seemed loud and somewhat annoying. I told him that it did not matter to me. Secretly, in my mind I was thinking that if I could get a ‘six-pack’ of whatever had just happened to me, I would take that for lunch.
We ate at a restaurant a few miles from Whistlefield on top of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Bob explained that I had experienced a sound technology he had developed and patented. He called this technology Hemi-Sync because the two halves of the brain worked together, or in synchrony, to enable the auditory beating or pulsing I had experienced. He said that many people had been able to experience a wide range of expanded states of consciousness with this technology. When I told him about the sensation of rising to the ceiling, he smiled and assured me that the bed did not move. Recognizing only then what had really happened to me, I asked if everybody had out-of-body experiences with this Hemi- Sync sound. He said that not everybody remembers or reports such experiences and that the Hemi-Sync sounds only encourage a mind awake, body asleep state, not necessarily an out-of-body experience. He said that the experiences people have in this mind awake, body asleep state depended on their intent and motivation and can be limited by their fears and belief systems.
At the time, I did not understand all he was saying and I wondered why I had floated out-of-body so easily. I asked Bob if the Hemi-Sync he had used with me in the laboratory was special in any way. He said that the sounds were not special and that he suspected that I would be able to get out-of-body rather easily based on what I had told him about my childhood experiences. He went on, “From what you told me, you must have been in contact with or guided by something greater than your physical body for some time now. Surely, you have a sense of self that is greater than your physical body? Children intuitively know this until such awareness is subdued by social conditioning. This knowing, this awareness of a greater self was not discouraged during your upbringing.”
I understood what Bob was talking about. We all grow up thinking, believing, and knowing that in whatever circumstance we find ourselves in, it is normal. Poor folks do not think of themselves as poor. They see themselves as normal. Children in horribly dysfunctional families establish a comfort zone of normality in such relationships and strive to recreate similar family units for themselves in adulthood. Heterosexuals think of themselves as normal and measure others’ lifestyles by their own frame of reference. Until some authority from outside tells us there is something wrong, or different, or strange about our family or us. We grow up under the illusion that we are normal.
I knew my family and myself as normal, regular just like everybody else. I still know that to be true today as an adult. But, in the intervening years between then and now, there were mindful reflections, some remembering, as in realizing wholeness again (conscious of a dimensionless realm of All That Is), and this awakening out-of-body experience at thirty years old with Bob Monroe was helpful, too.
As Bob said at lunch that day, I had a sense of self greater than my physical body, some form of Guidance, greater than my physical ego-centered self. But just what is this thing called Guidance anyway?