The Story of the Oakland Workshop, by Joe Meboe.
Intro - It Begins
On Saturday, June 17 2000, I joined 14 people from the San Francisco bay area at a two-day Exploring the Afterlife workshop in Oakland, California. Hosted by Jasmine Indra, the event was held at a pleasant healing center (a house, actually) on a busy Oakland street. Only traffic noises interrupted our concentration.
I had flown down from Seattle for the weekend. My two purposes were to see if I could learn to do what Bruce teaches and to prepare myself to host Bruce for a workshop later this year in Seattle.
The 15 of us and Bruce gathered at 8:00 AM that Saturday in a medium sized room. As he began the workshop, Bruce removed his shoes and many of us did the same. I found that I felt more connected to the group energy without the barrier of my shoe material between me and the floor.
Bruce's style is that of a relaxed discussion leader, although this is not primarily a discussion exercise. From time to time he consults an outline, then talks. He usually announces his topics ("Intent," "Heart Intelligence" etc.) to set our focus. He mostly talks, with some examples mixed in. Occasionally he solicits responses from the group, encouraging our interaction. However he keeps things moving on his track. And we get to do exercises, preparing us for the retrievals, which is the main focus of the workshop.
At the beginning we all shared why we had come and what our expectations were. One man had been doing retirement planning and had realized that he needed to do some planning and preparation for what was to follow the retirement phase of his life. Exposure to Bruce's work ranged from people who had read his and Robert Monroe's books and had been to the Monroe Institute down to people who a week ago weren't aware of Bruce and his work. Although I had read Bruce and Robert Monroe's trilogies several times, I still found that Bruce's talking held my interest.
I divided the weekend into four parts, corresponding to half of each day.
Part 1 - Getting Started as a Group
Starting Saturday morning, Bruce reviewed the Hemi-Sync model of consciousness from the Monroe Institute, then covered energy gathering, affirmation, placing intent, heart intelligence, and guidance. We did lots of exercises, learning how to relax, how to gather energy from below, how to recognize intent (something new to the 57-year-old) as well as how to place it. The exercises, including a special finger exercise, were important in that they helped us to be more than passive observers.
Bruce gave us a lunchtime assignment, which was to get alone somewhere and ask our Guidance a question out loud. Bruce had shared a personal example of how he had stumbled onto this technique while washing dishes (men, take note!). Our lunch break was 90 minutes and all the fixings (bread, sandwich meats, cheeses, fruits, chips, pop, water, coffee, teas) were provided by Jasmine as part of our workshop, so that no one had to break the flow of the day by going out to eat. No one did.
Part 2 - More Preparation
The afternoon session felt more relaxed. We knew each other, we understood Bruce's techniques and what was expected of us. Bruce talked about the Perceiver and the Interpreter; state specific memory; beliefs, doubts and identity; and how to change beliefs. Bruce shared some amazing stories from his published books and from his next book. The group energy flagged somewhat as there were no exercises during the afternoon. Bruce promised us lots of exercises for Sunday and left us with the assignment to work on the finger exercise. I had never heard of this but now that I understand its role in helping learn how to identify and place intent, I'll be doing it. What's the finger exercise, you wonder? Come to a workshop and learn to do it where the group energy will help.
The Evening - Relaxed Conversations
We broke for supper at 6:00 and almost half the group assembled at Jasmine's nearby house where we fed ourselves with the same foodstuffs we had enjoyed for lunch. We had a comfortable evening filled with interesting discussions. Bruce contributed to but did not lead the evening. Among other things he shared with us how the first animal retrieval had come about in Australia and this lead to an interesting discussion thread about people (who build up these belief systems and fears about the afterlife) and animals (who one assumes do no such thing) and the relative need for retrievals. Several of the women there that evening do animal communication and have a business helping people with their animals.
Part 3 - The Build-up
Sunday morning started again at 8:00. Everyone seemed quite relaxed, anticipating the buildup to the retrievals. Bruce introduced a new exercise, energy gathering from above, and we worked on remembering and holding the feeling of love. One very meaningful exercise was to do the 3x3x3 relaxation technique (explained below), remember and hold the feeling of love, fill an area in our chest region with that love energy and project it out to a person or situation. I chose my wife, who was in Wisconsin for a few weeks, caring for her aged mother.
Bruce talked at length about using imagination as a means of perception. We're so locked into being human (naturally) that this is a bigger stretch than one might think. He covered the fantasy-reality spectrum, non-physical senses (we have at least five but we're not used to using them), why pretending is a tool for exploring, focused awareness, and the function and value of partnered explorations. He spent some time discussing the Monroe Institute focus levels, majoring in the area of isolated self-created realities (Focus 23) and the areas of group-created realities (Focus 24, 25 and 26). These areas are the hollow heavens and hollow hells that are the focus of Bruce's next book, due out in the spring of 2001 (can't wait!).
We got quite comfortable doing the 3x3x3 relaxation exercise. Take three deep breaths and feel yourself relaxing as you do it. Then imagine a pool of energy sparkling below you and take three energy gathering breaths, drawing the energy up through the soles of your feet to your head and allowing it to shower down around your body. Then take three energy gathering breaths from a pool of energy above your head, allowing the energy to disperse into your body.
Lunch was 60 minutes this time. Bruce told us not to eat to heavily, so as to not be groggy for the afternoon. I wolfed down my third meal from Jasmine's fixings and went upstairs for a nap on a couch. However the afternoon was anything but sleep-inducing.
Part 4A - Helpers and Their Role in Retrievals
Sunday afternoon came in two parts. First Bruce talked at some length about Helpers, who they are, what they do for us, what they do for the people we would retrieve, and why they (the Helpers) need us to work with them. Although I've read the literature on Helpers, this discussion was particularly informative, answering a number of questions.
Bruce described some of his early retrieval efforts, how frustrating and unrealistic they seemed. He stressed how he had used pretending as a tool to get things started. He described asking for a Helper to come and sensing nothing. A later experience produced maybe a faint perception of a Helper. Later he felt as though one was coming. Then a dim spot of light that seemed to be approaching. Then he experienced a big light, then the presence of what appeared as a physical person. These are experiences that stretched out over many months, I believe, as he worked at it. Even if he couldn't see the Helper who was represented as a physical person, he came to know that the Helper was there.
Bruce acknowledged a tendency to back out of early retrieval efforts due to non-perception on his part. So he would pretend that a Helper was there and act accordingly. If he couldn't sense a soul needed to be retrieved, he would ask into the darkness and play along with any resulting conversation. He would write things down and when he began to get facts he could verify, his doubts began to fade. This process took years, as documented in his first and second books.
Here are the steps that I recorded that Bruce recommends we follow when doing a retrieval of a soul stuck in its own reality:
This last step can be about the retrieval, or a place you haven't visited yet, or any question about anything you desire, including other realities.
We took our last break before starting the retrievals, which was the second part of the afternoon. Just before we broke, I announced to the group that I felt an unusual sense of excitement and anticipation. It was different than most such feelings and it had certainly gotten my attention. I'll say that I had been quiet through most of the workshop and had not always had luck keeping my attention fully focused on the exercises. But this was going to be different, I could sense it.
We completed our break, then Bruce had us all close our eyes as he took us directly into the first retrieval. He guided us to each activity, starting with our now familiar relaxation and energy gathering routine. I immediately begin sensing a light coming toward me, which I knew to be a Guide or Helper. This light was diffuse, hazy, tall and oval but not resembling a person. I began replaying a scene from a recent hypnosis session, then I dismissed that and a different scene began to play out. I found myself on a golf course watching a man to my right putting. He was just putting, never doing anything more. Why was he doing this, I asked? Nothing else to do, he replied. I tried to get some factual information (where born, where living etc.) but the most definitive thing I got was his first name, Bob. I asked him how he died, which is not necessarily something you would ask right off, as many stuck souls don't know that. He showed me an image of a lightning bolt splitting his head. Since this is not how it actually works, I took that to mean he had been killed by a lightning strike and he had felt pain or a splitting in his head. As Bruce told us to introduce the person and our Helper, my Helper materialized on my left as a younger golfer than Bob, quite nattily dressed and eager to meet him. I don't recall that Bob recognized him but Bob was happy to see him as well (I believe Bob found a fellow golfer lots more interesting than someone asking questions about where he had been born!).
I watched them converse a bit, then the Helper took Bob by the arm in the way that a man might do it and directed his attention away from the putting green. As he did, a long fairway going uphill opened up and they began to move up it, with me following behind. Shortly they came to what looked like a standard golf course, with lots of golfers. "Bob!" exclaimed several golfers on the right, coming to greet him. There were lots of grins, some back slapping and good natured guffaws, as they all laughed together, particularly when Bob replayed for them the lightning strike as I had perceived it.
My Helper and I withdrew from the happy scene, drifting alone in the darkness. I asked why Bob was stuck and the answer was, that golf was his whole focus in life. I asked if Bob was part of me but the answer was no, that he was just a practice exercise. I didn't ask whether a retrieval had just taken place or whether the whole thing was an exercise. It seemed to me that a retrieval had taken place. I thanked the Helper and Bruce had us open our eyes.
Several of us excitedly shared our stories. I was particularly struck by the happy account from a lady who had tried to leave the day before but stayed after Bruce met with her. She couldn't believe what she had just experienced.
I didn't share this with the group but I noticed that occasionally my focus would shift to this reality, without me consciously deciding to do it. For example I would all of a sudden be looking with my physical eyes into the back of my eyelids. As soon as I noticed it, I would shift my awareness back into the scene of Bob, the Helper and me. How I was able to see entire scenes without the use of my physical eyes was one of the wonders of this workshop.
Bruce led us through two more retrievals. The second was less dramatic and as it was a different golfer retrieval, it introduced some elements of doubt into my understanding of what was going on. The story was different, though, as was the ending. Afterwards one of the men asked if I was a golfer but I never golf (once a decade, maybe). The first experience was close to easy, this was more challenging and I had to work at believing it. More than once I found the images morphing into the Bob scenes and as I rejected them, they were replaced by other scenes that supported what was going on with the second gentleman.
Footnote. As I write this, I recall working at Allstate Insurance Company in Northbrook, Illinois, back in the 1970s. One of the high level executives had died on a golf course and what was reported back to us was that he was experiencing a heart attack but had such a good round going that he didn't want to interrupt it to seek medical attention. I wonder how many men react that way.
Retrieval number three was completely different, a 27-year-old Hispanic male who knew he had been stabbed several times in an alley and was waiting for his buddies to come back, to avenge the injuries done to him. He was slumped against a wall and was so focused on thinking about getting revenge and the return of his buddies that he was unaware that he had been killed, or on how odd it was that he was just waiting in a timeless state in an alley that never changed. I got a name, a city, a date and details that might be verifiable but could be true of many gang rumbles that resulted in a stabbing death. His first name was Jose.
Jose could see me, of course. After we had talked for a bit, my Helper materialized on my right and Jose could see him as well. He looked stereotypically Hispanic (I am half Hispanic) and Jose stood up, real happy to see him. After some conversation between the two of them, we all looked down past me towards the end of the alley where another Hispanic looking Helper was gesturing to all of us to come and pointing down the street where we couldn't see. We all headed that direction, turned the corner and began to float up, but moving, not just floating. Jose seemed to want to head back to the alley but quickly a Hispanic neighborhood materialized, with homes close together as I have seen in some southwestern cities. A playground was there and Jose seemed to lose some years, back to around ten years old. I got the sense that it was a safe and happy time in his life. There were lots of kids there and he joined right in, swinging on the swings and having fun. I believe he was so taken with having something different to focus on that he completely forgot his former state and blended right in with this friendly, non-threatening group of kids (other Helpers?). I watched as he focused his attention on one cute, dark haired girl and then the Helper and I left.
I asked to see my soul group, as I had seen them briefly in a hypnosis session a couple of months ago. I saw the same scene I had viewed them, this time with more definition. I felt as though I walked among them but was unable to focus in on any one individual. Perhaps it wasn't important. I felt that more definition would come when I was ready for it.
In an unusual contrast to every other multi-day gathering that I recall, no one wanted to leave. We finally broke up around 7:00 Sunday evening, with people still exchanging stories and marveling at what had taken place.
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