|In Brent’s program, students gather in a relaxing atmosphere, either sitting in comfortable chairs or lying on the floor, while the lights are dimmed to ensure a minimum of distractions.
Members of the group are encouraged to talk with one another so that they can develop a sense of trust and comradery. Then the group leader (sometimes known as the "tour guide") takes over.
He explains that the participants are about to experience a "mental world" that exists outside them and is as real as the physical world. He points out that purely physical perception is extremely limiting, and affords human beings only a tiny view of a larger cosmic reality. We demand that all reality conform to our expectations of what it is and of what it consists. But participants in the experiment are able to break out of that tiny perceptual corner and explore other ways of seeing.
The first exercise involves the transference of consciousness to different parts of the body. Participants visualize their conscious selves in their feet, abdomen, hands, shoulders or elsewhere in their anatomy and for a time "see" everything from those vantage points. In due course, consciousness moves upward to the head. Next, participants scan their bodies seeking tense areas. When they find them, they "release" the tension until at last their bodies are totally relaxed.
At this point the guide directs the subjects to release their consciousness by projecting it through the tops of their heads. Participants stand outside their bodies and observe them carefully; then they move on to leave the room and the building. The leader instructs them to rise into the air and to ex-amine the landscape beneath them, and will eventually direct them into outer space. The "trip" ends when the guide tells participants to visualize themselves entering a great void or white light.
In his early experiments Brent was disconcerted to learn that some of his students weren’t "coming back." They were either intensely absorbed in the experience or literally could not find their bodies. Some reported classic near-death experiences (in which, typically, the participant found himself entering a realm of beautiful, overpowering white light and encountering discarnate or angelic beings). Brent had to devise additional steps to help his participants retrace their psychic footprints until they located their physical selves and merged with them.