Advanced CRV

Useful Tips and Tricks
by John P. Stahler

This article was first published in IRVA’s Remote Viewing magazine Aperture, vol. 30 (2017).

As with tackling any new skill, the learning curve for Controlled Remote Viewing (CRV) can be challenging. It is natural for beginning students to want to get the data right and hit the target, but that is not what you are training to do. You are learning proper session structure, the orderly stage-by-stage progression that builds on information received from each previous stage, in order to objectify the data you will perceive when given the site’s coordinate. If you get the structure right, the data will take care of itself. What follows are some common structural problems that students experience and suggestions for avoiding them.

Declaring Personal Inclemencies (PIs)

As you begin a session, your mind may contain thoughts, feelings, and emotions, which can influence the data. Called “personal inclemencies” or “set asides,” PIs can range from simple physical maladies, such as a headache or minor pain, to emotional stress from work, family, or relationships. To not be distracted by these matters during a session, proper structure requires that they be declared before beginning. Unfortunately, many students are reluctant to place their personal issues onto paper; they would rather declare “none” than have them exposed to review by others.

The simple solution is to declare PIs on a separate sheet of paper and set it apart from your session. This can be noted on the session transcript by writing “PI: Separate Sheet,” thereby informing those who review the session, and more importantly your subconscious, that a declaration has been made.

Declaring Advanced Visuals (AVs)

Before taking the coordinate, CRV structure requires that you declare any visual preconceptions or other impressions about the target as an “advanced visual” or as analytical overlay (AOL). Not doing so can pollute the session and lead to “analytical-overlay drive” (AOL Drive) or “Castle-Building.” No matter how insignificant one might think the perception is, it is important to treat an AV as you would an analytical overlay and so get it out of your head and onto paper.

Although rare, AVs can contain accurate site data. For instance, in July 2011, after a 26-year hiatus from remote viewing, retired U.S. Army remote viewer Tom McNear performed a demonstration session with his former teacher and CRV co-creator Ingo Swann. As he began his session, McNear declared a “land/water interface” as an AOL. After taking the coordinate and producing his ideogram, he described and sketched the target as a waterfall and declared a Stage III AOL of “Bridal Veil Falls.” The target: the Bridal Veil Falls on the American side of Niagara Falls. It was an amazing session—not only did he hit the target but he named it! While pleased with the result, McNear was, ironically, disappointed with the execution. He felt that his AOL of a land and water interface represented data perceived out of structure; while that might seem like a harsh self-criticism, McNear was right.

CRV Hints - 01 Declaring Advanced Visual - Land-Water Interface
Ingo Swann (left) and Tom McNear (right) | Image: Robert M. Knight

With proper structure, you should not perceive target data until you produce and decode an ideogram. AVs should only capture random thoughts and notions to prevent tainting future session data.

Executing Stage I

As there are many opportunities for missteps, ideograms are often the most difficult aspect of CRV for students to master. An ideogram is the kinesthetic response of the viewer to his or her perceptions of the target site. It is not a visual response and often does not represent visual aspects of the site; indeed, any visual images perceived should be noted and declared as AOL.

Producing the ideogram can be confusing at first. After taking the coordinate, many students freeze, with pen resting on paper and nothing more than an inky blob to show for it. It is important to let go of control and let your hand draw what it needs to draw. Some viewers describe the sensation as not quite “automatic writing” nor a willful creation, but rather a comfortable in-between that comes with experience. However, whether for your benefit or that of the monitor, there is no need to force an ideogram. You are in charge of your session; therefore, if one is not spontaneously produced, you can declare a “Miss Break” and take the coordinate again.

Once students scribble an ideogram, they often fail to decode it. Some remote-viewing schools teach that each ideogram is unique while others train students in an ideogrammatic “language” of sorts. Either way, once produced, the mark must be interpreted according to its “A” and “B” components.

Ingo described the first task, determining the “A” component, as the “feeling/motion” of the ideogram. There is no appropriate English-language word that describes the combined ideas of feeling and motion; Ingo used the two words together: feeling/motion. This is simultaneously how the target site feels to you and the motion that your pen makes as you sketch the ideogram. This basic dimensional information should be described using simple adjectives. Is it angled, curving up, wavy, or flat? How does the site “feel”? Is it hard, soft, airy, or watery? There are five basic categories of feelings: solidity, liquidity, airiness, energetics, and temperature. The first feeling that comes to mind should be noted; for example, a properly decoded “A” component for a waterfall might be depicted as “wavy, flowing, curving over, dropping down, watery.”

It is important that you only characterize the ideogram according to its feeling/motion and not its visual appearance. If you have trouble discerning the feeling/motion, you can try quickly retracing or probing the ideogram to obtain the missing information, but there is no need to force a determination. If the feeling/motion still cannot be resolved, you should declare a Confusion or Miss Break and take the coordinate again.

It must be remembered that ideograms have a way of self-correcting; if the same ideogram is sketched again, this is likely an indication that it has been decoded improperly or incompletely. If necessary, the coordinate should be taken two, three, or even more times, until you feel that you have produced and decoded the ideogram correctly.

After capturing the feeling/motion, your immediate analytical response to the target should be noted as the “B” component. Your perceptions should be reported using the best one-word description of the gestalt. Here is one of the few instances where the viewer can remain in structure and describe the target site with a noun! Keeping it simple is best. While “land”, “water”, “structure”, or “person” is good, if the concept of “desert”, “waterfall”, “city”, or “crowd” is received, that is fine too. Be careful not to “imagine” a response or else you could be creating an AOL. If no spontaneous response is received, rather than dwelling on it, the word “none” should be written down or a Miss Break declared and another attempt made.

After determining the major gestalt of the target site, students often forget to identify other aspects. If the target is a bridge, for example, the major gestalt might be “structure.” However, the minor aspects of “land” and “water” would also provide important information about the nature of the site. After properly decoding the first ideogram, the process should be repeated to identify additional aspects. Also keep in mind that multiple or composite ideograms can appear in what seems like a single ideogram. While doing the decoding, you should be aware of discontinuities or multiple marks that might indicate additional aspects.

As Stage I is the foundation of a session, it is critical that any AOLs be recognized and declared. Undeclared AOLs here can lead to AOL Drive or Castle-Building and ruin a session shortly after it starts. If an image is perceived or you find yourself saying, “it reminds me of” or “it is like,” then a Stage I AOL is being experienced. It needs to be declared!

Tom McNear performing Stage I | Image: Robert M. Knight
Tom McNear performing Stage II | Image: Robert M. Knight

Executing Stage II

In Stage I, the signal is noticeably brief in duration and narrow in aperture. Stage II is a broader and slower signal that consists of sensations and feelings which viewers might bodily experience were they physically at the target site. As the task is more familiar, students tend to have fewer problems and find it more enjoyable than Stage I. Is the target hard or soft, hot or cold, or rough or smooth? Listen. Can you hears sounds emanating from the target? Take a sniff. What do you smell? Lick your lips. What do you taste? These are sensations that people experience in everyday life; as they are experienced in Stage II, they should be written down.

While the process is simpler than in Stage I, there is room for difficulty here too. The most common issue is students going silent! Even if doing a session alone, it is important for viewers to state their perceptions aloud as they record them onto paper. The physical act of speaking and hearing one’s voice is part of a process that Ingo referred to as “objectification.” It helps to maintain contact with the signal line and is an integral part of the CRV structure.

Another frequent problem is freezing up while waiting for sensory perceptions. As in producing an ideogram, it is important for viewers to let go and put something down on paper. Students often have a perception in mind, but are reluctant to write it down out of fear of being wrong. For example, if the perception of “blue” pops into your head, it should not be dwelt upon—there is likely “blue” somewhere at the site! It should be written down, and you should then move on. Because some of the best Stage II sensory data comes in clusters, dwelling on each perception will disrupt the clustering effect and signal-line flow. It is better to aim for a new perception every second or two without a care or thought about correctness. Do not self-edit your data!

As data is received from the signal line, you might notice how sensations are clustered according to sense, or site aspect, or both. The first cluster of sensations received are often colors, but other senses are usually clumped together too. You might work through the senses one at a time as they are presented to you.

Although not as common as in other stages, AOL can creep into Stage II as complex concepts and imagery. While visual information, such as color and qualities of light, is perceivable, you should remember that sight is only one of the five physical senses; the majority of a viewer’s perceptions should be non-visual. If you see an image, it is time for an AOL Break. Likewise, if a noun or a complex concept such as “waterfall” is perceived, it is AOL. You should declare it, put your pen down, and take a break until it dissipates. If you notice that you are closing your eyes or resting your head in your hands, you may be trying to “imagine” a perception and creating an AOL. If doing so, you should take a break.

Towards the end of this stage, you should start perceiving some dimensional data leading to an emotional feeling about the site. These feelings, which can range from subtle to pronounced, should be recorded with an “aesthetic impact” or “AI Break.” As with PIs, students are often reluctant to note how they feel about the target. Nevertheless, it is imperative that you declare these feelings onto paper and aloud. Are you happy or sad, excited or scared; do you like the site or want to leave? These are all examples of how the site may be affecting you. How you feel about the site should be written down and then a break be taken. At best, a failure to declare could color the balance of the session. At worst, it will prevent you from accessing aspects of the site that you might be reluctant to view for emotional reasons. Considered the “gateway” to later stages, an AI Break must be declared and taken before you continue further.

Finally, some students attempt to sketch during Stage II. However, as the majority of Stage II data are non-visual, this can lead to AOL. If one feels the urge to sketch, it is best to note any perceptions of dimensional information and aesthetic impact as the viewer may be transitioning into Stage III.

Executing Stage III

Ingo Swann describes Stage III as a “dimensional” stage that is used to explore the physical characteristics of the target site. Often, basic dimensional words such as “tall”, “wide”, “big”, etc. will come at the end of a string of Stage IIs. The appearance of two or more dimensional words indicates the transition from Stage II to Stage III; these dimensional aspects should be labelled as Stage IIIs. Acknowledging one’s entry into Stage III helps you to maintain awareness and control of session structure. As Stage III involves sketching, it is often fun for students, but it is easy to get carried away and lose sight of its purpose. There is a fair amount of variation in the way that remote-viewing schools teach this stage, but limiting activity to simple sketches and trackers, and listing the resulting sensory and dimensional impressions, will best serve beginning students.

Stage III shares some similarities with Stage I. As much as with an ideogram, sketches should originate spontaneously from contact with the signal line and be drawn quickly. And sketches are just that—simple sketches—not detailed drawings. Do not assume any particular orientation to the site or interpret your sketch by what it looks like. Again, like an ideogram, they should be probed and traced for dimensional data and to prompt further sketching. As a sketch is probed and traced, new sensory data may appear. These sensations should be labelled as Stage IIs and be recorded in a columnar fashion either between the sketches or to the left-hand or right-hand side of the transcript page.

Another Stage III effect similar to an ideogram is the “tracker.” A tracker is like a very detailed ideogram composed of individual dots and dashes instead of a solid line. Unlike an ideogram, however, the tracker is drawn slowly and methodically, with each mark placed according to the viewer’s autonomic nervous system’s response to the signal line. A well executed tracker should follow a contour, profile, or some other dimensional aspect of the target site.

Some remote-viewing schools teach the labeling of sketches, but this can be a distraction and invite analysis. The goal is not to sketch and label the target site in detail, but rather to stay in structure, and explore and capture the overall dimensional aspects of the site. You should concentrate on general perceptions and avoid getting caught up in details.

Students sometimes forget the different role that AOL plays in Stage III. As the aperture is now wider, some AOL data will often match the target, so you need to be mindful of how or why AOL is appearing. For instance, the sketching of anything that pops into the viewer’s mind as a static image should be avoided—it is almost always false and AOL. It needs to be declared, a break taken, and something else sketched. On the other hand, data such as faint moving images, or the sense that an element of the target is similar to or reminds you of something, might be accurate, e.g., an AOL here of “Bridal Veil Falls” may indeed be a hit. It still needs to be recorded as AOL, but kept in mind during the writing of your summary.

CRV Stage III Sketch | Image: Robert M. Knight

Writing the Summary

When all the hard work is complete, it is then time to summarize your data. You may be feeling tired and ready for a break, but it is important to generate your summary immediately after completing your session. Delaying the summary invites imagination and logic to interpret the reported information. While writing the summary, there is a temptation for students to remain on the signal line and continue to record new information; however, the summary is not a stage of CRV. Additional information perceived while summarizing should not be ignored, but it is suspect and should be recorded as AOL.

Further, students often feel compelled to present a conclusion from their data. But, it must be recalled that the goals of a good session are to stay in structure, collect data, and not make conclusions. Conclusions are the job of the analyst, not the viewer. That said, the summary is your opportunity to review all of your data, including the Stage I “B” components, Stage II sensory perceptions, and Stage III sketches, dimensional aspects, and some AOLs. Stress what you believe to be the relevant information collected; if you feel that the target was a “waterfall” and there is data to support that notion, then it is best to say that it reminds you of a waterfall, rather than drawing a conclusion to that effect.

And above all else, never try to name the target in your summary! If the target’s name is found anywhere in the transcript, it should be in a Stage III AOL. Stating that you believe that the target is “Bridal Veil Falls” is out of structure. It is best to follow Tom McNear’s dictum: If data is obtained out of structure, the session is a miss—even if the data is a hit.

Tom McNear and Ingo Swann, 2011 | Image: Robert M. Knight
Final Feedback: Bridal Veil Falls | Image: Robert M. Knight

Final Thoughts 

Learning the intricacies of CRV structure can be a daunting task for a beginning remote viewer. However, the benefits of correct structure for reducing noise and increasing data quality are worth the hard work. By properly using the features built into the structure and not worrying about the content of one’s sessions, viewers can avoid the common pitfalls that lead to poor and confusing sessions. It will build confidence, result in consistently higher-quality sessions, and prepare viewers for the advanced techniques to come.


The Incredible Mr. Swann. Prod. Robert M. Knight, John P. Stahler, and Nick Cook. Perf. Ingo Swann, Thomas M. McNear. Knight Stahler Productions, LLC, 2011. Video.

IRVA 2012: Life in the Center Lane. Speaker: Thomas M. McNear (Lt.Col, USA Ret.) 2012 IRVA conference. DVD. <>

McNear, Thomas M. Coordinate Remote Viewing, Stages I-VI and Beyond. CIA Archives, Feb. 1985. IRVA. Web. 2 Aug. 2014. <>

Smith, Paul H. The Coordinate Remote Viewing Manual. DIA, May 1986. RVIS. Web. 2 Aug. 2014. <>.