Have you ever had an out-of-body experience? Then chances are you’re not alone as this intriguing phenomenon is more common than you may think ...
by Analaura Trivellato
Among parapsychic (i.e. paranormal) phenomena one of the most intriguing is the so-called Out-of-Body Experience (OBE). OBEs are universal and research studies indicate that they are not an experience that only the ‘initiated’ or especially gifted people can have, we’re all capable of it and as you read on you may even realise you’ve already had one!
OBE is often referred to as astral travel or astral projection and normally occurs during sleep, when the consciousness (soul, spirit or individual’s essence) leaves the body and visits subtler dimensions of existence. Think this sounds familiar? Many people confuse OBEs with dreams but it’s important to make the differentiation – an OBE is the separation or detachment of our consciousness from our physical body, whereas dreaming is a series of images and emotions we experience while we sleep which can have us believe we’ve gone on a great journey. Some OBEs may be mixed with dream components – in this case they are known as semi-conscious projections or lucid dreams.
Have you had the kind of ‘dream’ that is vivid, seems real, logical; it is somehow different from a regular dream? Perhaps then you’ve already had a semi-conscious OBE! Of course it’s difficult to be sure.
Some of the most obvious differences between dreams and OBEs can help you determine whether you’ve astrally projected:
- During a dream thought is illogical or bizarre, differing then from OBEs in which thoughts are clear
- In a dream, reasoning capacity is diminished while in an OBE intellectual capacity may even surpass the state you are experiencing right now
- During dreams we are passive spectators, mere observers of events that happen beyond our control. In an OBE, we take an active role in the occurrences
- Astral projectors may see their physical body from outside of it, which is impossible in a dream
- During OBEs we use, to varying degrees, our mental attributes, such as our decision-making ability, memory, rationality, critical analysis, will, logical thinking, comparison-making ability, among others. The more you make use of those attributes more lucid you are!
One of the most effective techniques to be lucid outside the body is to practise being more aware and lucid while in the waking state. Let’s try something: are you aware of what you are thinking and feeling right now? For example, are you curious about the OBE, skeptical, excited, afraid or anxious? It is worth mentioning that we all have dreams every night, but sometimes we don’t recollect them. The same is true for OBEs. It is important to maintain our lucidity while experiencing an OBE and then recall the experiences upon returning to the body - the OBE is a self-convincing phenomenon and can be a life-changing experience.
Let’s talk about some benefits of having OBEs:
When you have a lucid OBE you will inevitably notice that you are NOT your physical body. This realisation can break down the illusion of who you think you are - cultural background, profession, gender, and all factors of this life won’t be able to describe your essence. This knowledge also brings about a new school of thought – if we are not our physical bodies then we must be something else, something more. Having an OBE can produce a shift in thinking and a change in your principles and values from a materialistic point of view to a more all-embracing one. Having experienced astral travel first hand we can begin to see that our body is simply a tool we use to define who we are. We can begin to understand that the real essence of a person lies in their consciousness and the physical body is merely something to wrap it up in. With astral travel we can make the leap to understanding that while our physical body will die some day, our consciousness will survive.
Experiencing an OBE naturally leads us to lose our fear of death. During an OBE you may have an encounter with loved ones who have passed away. In your relaxed state this would not scare you or seem odd - everything occurs without drama or suffering, as the experience is permeated by a deeper understanding of our (and their) condition. Once the reality of the non-physical dimension of life is unveiled by personal experience, the person might spontaneously engage in a reprioritisation of life. Through OBE experiences you might have a greater understanding of what is truly relevant and what is nice or desirable but not really important. It’s certainly not uncommon for astral projectors (including those who have had near-death experiences) to become more ethical and start valuing time in a different way. Having a commitment to fulfill certain tasks is an inner feeling that many of us have. It may be translated as a feeling of having ‘something more’ to do in this life or that there is ‘something missing’ in our lives. However you choose to describe it the feeling is the same – the need to do more, be more, experience more.
For this reason the OBE can be a very useful tool for identifying our life purpose, the reason why we are here. The sort of OBE in which we gain information about our life purpose is commonly helped along by non-physical mentors or helpers. This is because they already know our life purpose. In some cases they may have even helped us plan, prior to our birth, a set of tasks that were challenging, but certainly doable. It is interesting to mention that, in the same way we may be assisted by a helper outside the body, we can also provide assistance to other consciousnesses that may be in distress or with lower lucidity than us. The assistance is normally done through our bioenergies which carry information about the consciousness’s ideas, thoughts, feelings and emotions. In other words, your bioenergies reflect everything that you intrinsically are.
Bioenergies are responsible for the majority of the sensations we have when leaving and returning to the body during astral projections. Numbness, feelings of weightlessness, swelling sensations, rocking sensations, hearing sounds that seem to come from inside the head, vibrations sweeping up and down the body, falling sensations (sometimes followed by a ‘jerk’), and sensations of sleep paralysis, are some of the most common sensations that precede the departure from the body. It is vital to understand and master bioenergies because they are a key factor in gaining more emotional balance (both inside and outside the physical body), and therefore in facilitating awareness outside the body.
There are many misconceptions and fears surrounding OBEs – and these fears may be preventing us from experiencing astral travel in the first place. But for you to gain the most value from this great journey you need to understand that you are more than your physical being – your hair colour, your height - these attributes don’t define you but your consciousness does. The most common worry is that the astral traveler may get lost outside of the body or die during an OBE, but no evidence of this has ever been revealed. In fact, returning to the body is much easier than you might imagine and probably even easier than leaving the body in the first place. Returning happens so easily that the biggest challenge of more experienced projectors is to find methods for staying projected for longer periods. When the non-physical body detaches from the physical body, part of the bioenergies remain in the physical body while part go with the subtle non-physical body, forming an energetic ‘thread’ known as the silver cord. These energies then vitalise both the physical body and the non-physical body and keep them permanently connected to each other; therefore there is no risk of not returning to the body or of dying.
Some people worry about being harmed during an OBE. The non-physical body we use to visit other dimensions is invulnerable to any type of peril or harm. This invulnerability, nonetheless, is relative, as due to our own conditionings and expectations we may feel or interpret something as harmful or painful, but it is not a real pain.
So how can you help yourself to experience the wonder of astral travel? One of the simplest techniques for leaving the body, devised by renowned Brazilian consciousness researcher, Dr. Waldo Vieira, is called mental saturation. This easy technique is designed to saturate the mind with the positive idea of having a lucid OBE. This has to be done over a certain period of time, usually around three to four weeks, to produce consistent results. This is a healthy, consciously self-induced conditioning. Many things can be done in order to generate mental saturation. A simple and effective way is to ask yourself several times during the day: “Am I sleeping or awake?” and stop yourself from answering them automatically but rather truly consider your response. You may find yourself asking the very same question while outside of the body and this will result in the realisation that you are outside the body in that moment, turning your semi-conscious projection into a conscious, lucid one.
Life is to be fully embraced to have new experiences, new discoveries, and an OBE can be one of the richest and most enlightening experiences you will ever have the pleasure to enjoy.
Analaura Trivellato is a linguist and psychologist. She has been a researcher and instructor since 1993, currently volunteering at the London office of the International Academy of Consciousness (IAC) which conducts research primarily into the consciousness, the OBE phenomenon, and bioenergy. For details of IAC courses, including free introductory seminars and the Consciousness Development Program, or information on IAC books, videos and the Campus Friends Programme, Email: email@example.com; Tel: 020 7723 0544 or visit: www.iacworld.org