Al­tered states of con­scious­ness, no psychedelics re­quired. Jour­ney­ing to a place us­ing only your mind is pos­si­ble

Trav­el­ing for lazy bod­ies with ac­tive imag­i­na­tions (and de­press­ingly limited funds)


Icould’ve sworn it was Pro­fes­sor X who walked into the room that first day of class. The en­tire lot of us were still and quiet as he walked up to the teacher’s podium. I’m guess­ing we were all try­ing to con­trol our thoughts, think­ing that he could tap into our con­scious­ness at will.

His name is Fr. Jaime Bu­latao—Fr. Bu, for short—a Je­suit priest, a renowned psy­chol­o­gist, and our pro­fes­sor for the most in­ter­est­ing class I would ever have in col­lege: Hyp­no­sis and Hyp­nother­apy.


I’ve al­ways been drawn to mys­ti­cal and su­per­nat­u­ral sub­jects ever since I was a kid, raid­ing those big black En­cy­clo­pe­diae of the Un­usual and Un­ex­plained in the li­brary and im­mers­ing my­self in ac­counts of spon­ta­neous com­bus­tion and other seem­ingly su­per­hu­man psy­chic abil­i­ties. See­ing that course ti­tle on the list of avail­able elec­tives sent shiv­ers down my spine. I had to get into that class.

It was more than I had ex­pected. Hyp­no­sis and hyp­nother­apy, as we learned, were rooted in what Fr. Bu in­tro­duced to us as transper­sonal psy­chol­ogy—a branch of the sci­ence that in­ves­ti­gated the spir­i­tual and tran­scen­dent as­pects of the hu­man ex­pe­ri­ence. Not to be con­fused with para­psy­chol­ogy, though, transper­sonal psy­chol­ogy is more con­cerned with the well-be­ing of per­sons, fus­ing “time­less wis­dom” such as med­i­ta­tion with sci­en­tific method­ol­ogy.

The class re­ally opened my eyes to a dif­fer­ent field of psy­chol­ogy, learn­ing about al­tered states of con­scious­ness and the like. We had a ton of fun with lessons and ses­sions, from watch­ing Fr. Bu hyp­no­tize one of our (more skep­ti­cal) class­mates into a par­tial paral­y­sis, to go­ing into a trance to un­cover past lives, to even re­ceiv­ing as­sign­ments he’d send psy­chi­cally (we had to go into a trance at a cer­tain time of the day to re­ceive them.)

But my fa­vorite, by far, was an ex­er­cise called Re­mote View­ing.


Re­mote view­ing is an ex­er­cise that al­lows a per­son to project their con­scious­ness into another phys­i­cal place. Ac­cord­ing to Gilda Dans-Lopez, PhD, who was Fr. Bu’s as­sis­tant for our class, re­mote

view­ing is sim­i­lar to dreams—the royal road to the un­con­scious, as Sig­mund Freud would say.

“Dream­ing, as with ide­al­ism, is also the gift of youth. To dream and make your dreams come true is a beau­ti­ful thing. That was what Fr. Bu was

tap­ping on,” says Dr. Dans-Lopez. At the risk of dumb­ing it down, re­mote view­ing is pretty much very sim­i­lar to as­tral pro­jec­tion—that oft-talked about spir­i­tual oc­cur­rence when your soul leaves your body to wan­der around.

The thought of trav­el­ing and see­ing other places has al­ways in­trigued me so much. Be­ing able to do it with the mind was just beyond riv­et­ing that when Fr. Bu asked for vol­un­teers for the demon­stra­tion, I raised my hand like the ea­ger beaver I was.

He had the class sit in a cir­cle, with me seated in a chair in the mid­dle. He placed an empty glass bot­tle in front of me. “This will serve as your launch­pad,” I re­mem­ber him say­ing. It was sup­posed to be a tool to help me fo­cus, so that when he said, “Go,” I could en­vi­sion my­self pro­ject­ing my mind onto the launch­pad, and then leap­ing off of it to go wher­ever he asks me to. Here’s how it works: in an al­tered state of con­scious­ness, you’re able to tap into the col­lec­tive un­con­scious of the peo­ple in the place you de­cide to visit, and sort of see what they have seen.

For the demon­stra­tion, we agreed that I would be vis­it­ing the lobby of the build­ing where we held our class. On his sig­nal, I was to project my con­scious­ness to that place, look around, and then de­scribe the peo­ple I saw in the lobby. A class­mate of ours would then go out to ver­ify if what I saw was re­ally there, kind of like a lit­tle psy­chic game.

GAME FACE ON. We started with a re­lax­ation ex­er­cise first, to help slip me into a trance. Fr. Bu guided me through it, in­struct­ing me to fo­cus my

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