If you’re interested in meditation or theories beyond the boundaries of physical science, you may have heard of out of body experiences (OBE) or astral projection. When hearing these words, you might think about a person going into a trance-like state with consciousness physically separate to their body. Or you may think that a person’s soul is physically separated from the body and yet they are conscious that it is happening. When this happens, the body is still connected through what many paranormal experts and some scientists call the “silver cord”. The silver cord is the only thing that connects a person’s awareness to the physical body. To destroy or sever this silver cord is to kill the physical body of the person. We don’t usually discuss these topics on this site, but it is interesting to know what astral projection is all about.
Some people have claimed that they have experienced astral trips, out of body experiences and astral projections. All of these people give roughly the same description – that they are floating outside of their own bodies and can see themselves as a separate entity.
One example is a woman who claimed she could do astral projections at will. A team of scientists published the study here. The subject underwent an MRI scan in order for scientists to study the phenomenon. Lets try to understand what OBEs and astral projections are.
Out Of Body Experiences Defined
OBEs are usually described as a vivid sensation of moving outside your physical body and even travelling beyond where the body is. This phenomenon commonly occurs when a person is asleep, practicing wake-induced lucid dream exercises or when meditating. According to some dream explorers, OBEs are extensions of the lucid dream experience. 1 out of 10 people have experienced astral projections at some time in their life, and some people experience them frequently.
OBEs and Lucid Dreaming
Scientific understanding suggests that OBE is a type of lucid dream. OBEs are coincidentally similar to wake-induced lucid dreams (WILD). Usually an OBE starts when you’re lying down and have recently woken from sleep. The body immediately slips back into a sleep paralysis which prevents the body from acting out dreams. However, unlike during normal sleep, your mind is awake and you’re somehow aware of your surroundings. This will give you a strange feeling of being stuck in your physical body which is lying in bed with a very strong need to free yourself from it. But in reality, when this phenomenon happens, you’re already dreaming. The sensation of sleep paralysis and continuous consciousness tricks your body into dreaming that your physical body is still in bed.
During this stage, your conscious mind is still active while dreaming and most experts call this lucid dreaming. The feelings are vivid and tactile, and many lucid dreamers have stated that it feels very real. Actually, some people who strongly believe in OBE have a hard time accepting that everything was in fact just a dream. “Teleporting” can also be possible and people have been able to go directly into a new dream. Visualising the location desired can lead to OBE travel, although this is not a literal body teleportation.
Astral projections or astral travel is defined as a spiritual interpretation of OBEs. Some believers of the phenomenon state that each person has a spirit that can roam freely from the physical body while you’re in a trance or semi-sleep state. For many scientists, astral travel is a controversial subject because of the lack of direct and solid evidence. The symptoms are similar to OBE, like the sensation of floating out of the body, watching your body when you’re “afloat” and meeting other entities. Most afterlife and astral projection believers often expect to see heavenly beings like angels, deceased spirits and God.
Although OBEs, lucid dreams and astral projections exist on different astral planes, there is still one common factor about the three phenomena – that is that a person’s own thoughts and feelings guide the experience.
Scientific Studies on OBEs
Dr. Henrik Ehrsson, a neuroscientist at the University College of London deliberately induced a type of OBE in volunteers back in 2007. The study was published in the journal “Science” that created a unique illusion that tried to mimic OBE. The head researcher used head-mounted displays to enable the volunteers to watch a live film recorded by 2 cameras behind their head. This enabled the volunteers to see their own bodies from a 3rd person perspective. Dr. Ehrsson then prodded the volunteers while moving a 2nd rod toward the illusionary chest. The volunteers reported the experience of sitting a few feet outside their physical body and they stated that they actually saw their body from a different location. This effect was created by giving the brain multiple sensory cues.
Dr. Ehrsson also added “OBEs have fascinated mankind for thousands of years and its existence has raised fundamental questions about how the human consciousness and the human body work. The invention of illusion is essential because it shows the basic mechanism that produces the feeling of being in the human body. It represents a big development because the experience of one’s own body as the center of consciousness and awareness is the basic aspect of self-consciousness.”
Are OBEs Dangerous?
Many people wonder if these experiences bring any danger to the person experiencing OBEs. There are some known dangers of astral projection such as evil entities that can take over the body while the person is coasting through astral planes. Most astral believers state that a person should take measures to protect their defenseless empty vessel by using crystals, calling angels or saying incantations. The message was clear for many spiritual believers that the non-physical and paranormal world is full of evil entities and monsters who will take over your body once you begin an OBE. There were also warnings that you can get lost in the astral plane, but as long as the silver cord is connected between you and your body, you will always be able to go back. If you cut the silver cord you will just float around between astral planes forever.
According to this blog by Melody Fletcher, the dangers lie within the fear and beliefs of the person which are mirrored back to them in a physical and non-physical way during OBE. These evil entities and monsters are manifestations of a person’s fears and doubts. While these energy representations are negative during times of anger, vengeance or even wanting to do damage, they will not be able to approach your reality unless you allow it. Fletcher believes the body is part of you and it cannot be taken over in the astral plane, just like a physical person cannot take your physical body by slipping into your skin while you’re sleeping.
Science has tried to explain OBEs and astral projection, however, it all comes down to whether or not you accept it.