Read any book on astral projection or out-of-body experiences (OBEs) and you might think that anyone can lie down and just think about floating and suddenly start exploring the spiritual dimensions of reality.
An OBE occurs when the consciousness leaves the body for a short period, and often includes sensations of floating and perceiving events in a different location, without the physical body.
“OBEs are a completely natural event that everyone will experience at some point in their life,” says William Buhlman, author and experienced astral projector.
However, not everyone will be successful using traditional techniques that claim to have you bobbing around on the ceiling. These techniques often require the hopeful astral projector to master a deeply meditative state, whilst remaining fully conscious, and to experience all the exit-symptoms associated with leaving the body that can be scary for a first-timer. This can be extremely difficult to achieve.
I learned this the hard way. For years, I have tried to re-capture the experience after a series of spontaneous OBEs in my early teens. I have invested time and money in all sorts of programmes and books, with varying results. Even though I have never managed to simply lie down and “pop out” from pre-sleep waking consciousness, I have experienced over one hundred and twenty OBEs.
The good news is that there is a method to suit everyone. “One of the most important decisions we face in out-of-body exploration is the method we select.
Learn as many approaches as possible and then select the one that resonates with you,” says Buhlman.
Recognising the Right Conditions
The first step in learning to achieve altered states of consciousness is recognising the right psychological state to have one. Often the best time for an OBE is when still half asleep. This is because OBEs can sometimes happen when we’re not even aware we’re having one.
Dreams about flying, or wandering around the house in the dark, may be an OBE in disguise; your brain may still be dreaming or confused from all the sleepy chemicals floating around its system, yet you’ve unconsciously slipped out of your body during sleep. Both the dream and the OBE merge into one jumble.
Becoming aware of this fact may be enough to trigger awareness when you next find yourself having this type of dream. This awareness often clears away the dream elements. The OBE has sneaked up on you.
Astral Plane versus Physical Plane
There is a difference between an OBE resulting from practicing a direct meditative technique – where you go from a full waking state straight into an OBE – and one using alternative, or “stealthy” techniques. The former tends to produce OBEs that land you in an everyday environment, whereas the latter type of OBE tends to transport you to other dimensions (often referred to as the “astral planes”). These may be very similar to the world that you are familiar with, but things will be out of place. For example, lights might not switch on when you flip them, and people who clearly do not belong in your environment may be present.
It’s much easier to find your way into these vast otherworldly landscapes that are associated with astral experiences, rather than Earthly landscapes. This makes no difference to the validity of the experience. The astral planes are more exciting and provide more opportunity for self-development, and the following techniques will help even a total novice.
Lucid Dream OBEs
Sometimes we can become aware that we are asleep and dreaming, often resulting in the ability to control the direction of the dream. Learning about lucid-dreaming methods online or in books such as Stephen LaBerge’s Lucid Dreaming will help with this technique.
Before going to sleep, intend to look out for anything abnormal during the night; a primed subconscious noticing the impossible may cause lucidity. For example, a lucid dream could occur when the dreamer speaks to someone who is deceased, or when a nightmare repeats itself. Hunt for unusual events because these are your greatest clues.
Once achieving lucidity, use the expanded awareness and hyper-relaxed state to generate an out-of-body experience. Beware that although there is a distinction between a lucid dream and an OBE, it may take practice to tell these two phenomena apart. If in doubt whether you are lucid dreaming or unconsciously projecting, stick to the technique.
There are two main ways of achieving an OBE from a lucid dream. The first is to remain in the dream and affirm aloud, as strongly as you can, that you wish to experience the higher astral planes, e.g. “I’m traveling through the higher astral planes now!” may be enough. Otherwise, you may wish to set a particular task that will lead you automatically to your desired destination. This includes verbalising your desire to communicate with a deceased loved one, or a spirit guide etc.
Alternative, once achieving lucidity, attempt to regain awareness of your body on the bed (very much easier than it sounds, just thinking about your body is usually enough).
Once you feel yourself in bed, immediately express the intention to float up and away. Do not open your physical eyes. It may feel like you are physically getting out of bed when in fact you aren’t. If it’s very easy to get out of bed, if you feel strange, or very heavy, then you are most likely “out”. Expect the experience to feel as real as waking life.
Once free, test whether you’re in the OBE state. For example, try jumping in the air to see if you float, pulling a finger whilst trying to stretch it, which it should do easily, or by turning around to look at your physical body on the bed.
Sometimes you may not see a body, just a crumpled sheet that looks like someone is in it. This is very common, and may be because the projector has entered the astral planes automatically; there’s no need for two copies of the body to be present, so there’s no copy of the “real” physical self to find. The physical self belongs in the physical plane, and your consciousness is currently using its astral self on the astral plane.
Next, look around: does your bedroom look different? Is there a strange glow pervading the room? Is it lighter outside than it should be for the time of night (or day)? If so, you may be having an OBE.
Those with good dream recall have a great chance to make lucid dreaming work. However, even if this is a struggle, it still could work, because you only need to be able to perform this technique whilst you’re still dreaming. I’ve always found that recalling a dream or an OBE is a bit like recalling the name of an old classmate at school. The effort alone can trigger that eureka moment when you are washing the dishes. Keeping a dream diary or trying to remember what you were thinking about immediately upon awakening can be helpful.
Waking up in the middle of the night unable to move is horrible enough, but chilling hallucinations often accompany sleep paralysis. It’s something I began experiencing in my early teens, and the hallucinations would manifest in a way that related to my main fears at the time.
Then I learned about using this state as a springboard for exiting the body. This is because the body needs to be asleep, with the mind awake, to allow an OBE. This is exactly the state that sleeping paralysis provides. Once I realised this, the hallucinations stopped; I no longer saw the experiences as something scary.
If you ever wake up unable to move, remember you can break out of it by focusing on a single toe or finger, trying to wiggle it. Once you do that, your body will regain movement.
If you want to OBE though, go for it! Visualise or affirm that you are floating up, or just start climbing out of your body. The technique is not as important as the fact that the conditions are right to trigger the experience. It appears that OBEs from sleeping paralysis tend to project the practitioner into the planes of existence closer to the physical dimension, probably because you are consciously leaving your body from the physical environment.
I call OBEs resulting from this method “delayed-voluntary OBEs”, because although the OBE comes spontaneously, it happens because the subconscious is prepared for the experience. The trick is to fully immerse it by reading about OBEs, talking to people on forums about astral projection, visualising it happening, practicing techniques (even if they don’t work – it’s the intention that counts), affirming your readiness for OBEs, and generally keeping your motivation and interest at full volume.
If you have experienced a spontaneous OBE before, your mind already accepts it as a possibility, so you’re half way there. However, even if you’ve never had a conscious OBE, it still works.
Before you go to sleep, affirm repeatedly that tonight, at a certain time, you will find yourself out-of-body. It might take several nights to trigger a result, and this method works best when combined with the immersion technique and the alarm method as discussed below. I find this practice works on the first or second night, when motivation peaks. Don’t do it every night, otherwise you end up mouthing affirmations in your head but not really listening to them anymore. Because of this, you may find that mixing techniques up a bit produces the biggest payoff.
Remember the blockbuster Inception (2010)? In the film, foreign ideas are implanted into the mind, changing its perception of reality. Funnily enough, this is exactly what the technique aims to do. The affirmations click your subconscious into the right position to OBE because you are giving it a direct instruction about what you believe in, and what you believe is your reality.
“The biggest stumbling block that holds people back from experiencing their greater consciousness is the erroneous belief that their social identity and self-image has any reality,” says Jurgen Ziewe, successful projector and author of The Multidimensional Man. Physical life tends to erode our sense of our true spiritual selves. Sometimes to reset your thinking a little effort is required. Remember that altered states of consciousness are natural and within everyone’s reach.
You can use the inception technique alone but it works well with setting an alarm clock to go off at intervals during the night. Combined with the instruction that you will OBE at a certain time, say 4am, an alarm for 5-10 past 4 can alert your mind to start waking before the alarm, whilst still allowing for deep relaxation – the perfect conditions for an OBE. You may become semi-conscious at 4am and can use visualisation to slip out-of-body. Once the alarm goes off, the memory of what has happened will be at its clearest and most accurate. This is particularly helpful for those who struggle to remember dreams.
The main obstacle is fear of the unknown, and this naturally produces anxiety that may interfere with successful projections. The best way to deal with this is through education. Learn what to expect, such as the surprising sensations that OBEs can produce, like intense vibrations, strange sounds, or a racing heartbeat. Be prepared.
Remember that if anything unpleasant happens whilst on the astral planes, you can always call for help from higher beings, such as spirit guides, or return to your body (more often than not this automatically happens before you want it to). Protection rituals, such as visualising white light or clearing charkas before an OBE, eases anxiety and creates the right frame of mind for entering the higher dimensions.
- Avoid stress – this is almost inevitable if you struggle to see any results, but it is highly counter-productive. Don’t feel bad about taking a break. Often once you release the pressure, OBEs happen of their own accord.
- Do try direct methods – some people find that they are naturally adept at slipping into a deep meditative or trance state. Therefore, it is worthwhile to include them in your OBE programme. Even if you cannot lie still for two minutes, just the effort itself can trigger a spontaneous OBE later on.
Find out more
Stephen Laberge: Lucid Dreaming: a Concise Guide to Awakening in Your Dreams and in Your Life, Sounds True publishers.
William Buhlman: The Secret of the Soul: Using Out-Of-Body Experiences to Understand Our True Nature, and Adventures Beyond the Body, both published by HarperCollins. Visit www.astralinfo.org
Jurgen Ziewe: The Multidimensional Man, published by Lulu.com. Visit www.multidimensionalman.com