To be honest, I started out not believing that OBE’s, or Out of Body Experiences, are real. I’m still not sure how to interpret these astral travels. A lot of people claim to have had experiences where they have come out of their body and some have even gone and visited other people or places and supposedly verified that the event actually occurred. It’s hard to know whether these people had an experience that took place entirely inside their mind - some variation of a lucid dream - or if they are actually leaving their bodies in some way. Either way, it is fascinating.
My First OBE Experience:
I had my first OBE a few years ago. I was sleeping on my bed when I suddenly opened my eyes but was completely paralyzed and unable to control my breathing. I was experiencing sleep paralysis - something that I have suffered from since I was 18. If you have not experienced sleep paralysis, consider yourself lucky. It can be terrifying and extremely uncomfortable. But the strange thing about sleep paralysis is that it is by far the most common segue into an OBE.
As I was struggling for breath, and trying desperately to wake myself up, I suddenly sat up. I looked back at the bed and saw myself laying there asleep. The surprise and confusion I felt are hard to describe but I was so relieved at not having to struggle for breath that it took the edge off the fear that I may otherwise have felt. I decided to stand up and see how far from my body I could go. I thought I would go out of my bedroom and find something that was out of place or unusual in another room, take note of it, and then check in the morning to verify that I had actually left my body and was not just in a dream.
As I stood up, I found that leaving the room was not going to be as easy as I first thought. You know that feeling you get when you stand on the edge of a steep drop-off or a tall building? You feel fear of falling mixed with the strange curiosity of what would happen if you just jumped. I felt that same type of feeling. That very unsafe, unstable, but exhilarating feeling - like something horrible might happen if I wasn’t really careful, but I was also very curious and excited.
In the end, I walked a few feet from the bed and then was overcome with a feeling of dread, so I went back, laid down into my body, and immediately woke up.
I was left to wonder whether what I had just experienced was something real, and some part of myself, my spirit or my consciousness, left my physical body and moved around independently, or if this was just a strange dream.
I've since had several of these experiences and they have each left me wondering what truly is happening with the mind, or perhaps the soul. It's also made me wonder at times, what is consciousness? - can my consciousness actually exit my body? - or can this somehow be explained psychologically?
Perspectives on OBE's:
You can find many first-hand accounts from people who have had similar experiences. As you read a few, you may begin to notice some strangely symmetrical themes between accounts, which adds perplexity to the topic. People often begin in paralysis, experience feelings of vibration, for whatever reason, many people report seeing a silver chord that reaches into their back.
People even claim to have proved to themselves that they had really left their body by doing what I had planned on doing - finding something out of place and then going back to check if it was really out of place.
And some people have Out of Body Experiences regularly and say that the feeling of dread (which trust me, can be a feeling of dread) goes away the more accustomed you become to it. I recently met someone who said that he routinely goes to other people’s houses when this happens - pretty creepy. He was actually telling me how he once went to a friend’s house and noticed that he had new carpet. Later he called his friend in the morning and who confirmed that he had, in fact, just replaced his carpet... and it was the exact color described!
While I’ve heard many explanations for why this phenomenon occurs, and many of them are very interesting, at the end of the day, no one really knows for sure what is going on. Everyone that experiences an OBE tries to fit the experience into their current belief system of spirituality, rationality, etc. but the mystery remains.
Out of Body Experiences Vs. Near Death Experiences:
The connection between Out of Body Experiences during sleep and Near Death Experiences (NDE’s) is pretty crazy, too. People leaving their body and seeing themselves from an outside perspective is something that many people who have been on the brink of death or even clinically dead have reported. One key difference between sleep induced OBE’s and Near Death Experiences is that NDE’s are often associated with seeing a tunnel, speaking to deceased relatives and seeing beings of light, whereas OBE’s are typically not.
How to have OBE's:
Extreme fatigue, dehydration, emotional stress, can sometimes promote OBE’s but with practice you can actually experience them intentionally. They can be induced through very similar methods as lucid dreaming. One key difference is that in order to exit your body, you typically have to enter into a state of sleep paralysis first. Once this has been achieved, it's usually just a matter of letting your "spirit" exit your body. Sleep paralysis can be achieved through proper relaxation strategies but there are all kinds of strategies for this. OBE’s can also be initiated through the use of Binaural Beats. Check it out if you haven’t heard of them. It’s pretty cool.
Are OBE's Real?
Whether they are real or not, you have to admit, no matter what your religious beliefs are, the topic is fascinating. Psychology experts would likely believe that this is a purely psychological phenomenon and that nothing is actually occurring outside of the mind while others believe that this experience is as real and literal as waking life. There is no denying that the feeling of an OBE is creepily real.
Lucid dreaming was once in a similar realm of uncertainty, but starting in the 1970’s scientists began researching the subject successfully and ultimately proved that it is a real phenomenon. It will be interesting to see if OBE’s become a topic of research at some point in the future. Perhaps one day we will know what is actually going on and whether OBE's are actually real or just extremely powerful projections from the subconscious mind, but for now we are all left to wonder.