In We Are Forever I mentioned that if you have ever gotten out of your body, you know you are not your body. This is all fine and good to read, but what good does it do you to take someone else's word for it. This will be the first in a series of articles on out of body experiences, or astral projection as some people call it, and lucid dreaming.
What Is An Out Of Body Experience?
What do I mean by an out of body experience (OOBE) and a lucid dream. In lucid dreams you come awake in a dream. Your normal ego consciousness suddenly becomes aware, and you realize you are dreaming, but continue to be able to interact with the dream but are no longer a passive participant. You can be active, and even change it. In an OOBE you never loose awareness. From the start of the experience to it's end you retain your normal ego consciousness. The world you experience can be the normal physical world, a dream world, or some combination of the two.
How I Became Interested
I have been fascinated by dreams and sleep for as long as I can remember. One of my earliest sleep memories is a recurring dream I had as a child. In the dream I am on a hillside in the middle of the woods in the fall. I'm alone. There are no animals, buildings, or people anywhere in sight. Suddenly I am shot in my stomach. The wound hurts, but doesn't knock me down or kill me. I wake up, and often still feel the pain. I had this dream for four or five years several times a year. It wasn't a nightmare in the usual sense of the word, but as I got older it made me wonder how we could experience things in dreams that we had never experienced in waking life.
Another thing I thought from the time I was a teenager was that sleep is a terrible waste, especially sleep in which we have dreams that we can't remember. What good is it, I thought, to experience something and not remember it? I felt there had to be some way to maintain consciousness from sleeping to waking and back again.
As a result of this fascination with dreams I read all I could about the sleep process and dreams. I kept dream journals faithfully, working to understand my dreams and relate them to my daily life. Eventually I was remembering three to five dreams every night. At that point, I stopped keeping the journal. It just got to be too time intensive. Looking back later I decided this was a mistake and started working with my dreams again. While I don't spend as much time on it, dreamwork is still an important part of my life.
Eventually I found out about out of body travel. Great! A way to go to sleep while still remaining conscious! I assiduously worked on having an OOBE until I succeeded in finally getting out. Such a sense of freedom!
How Will An OOBE Help Me?
Learning to get out of your body has two major benefits. The first and most important of these is, as I said above, you know from personal experience that you are not your body. You don't know that you are immortal (though it is hard to not believe you will survive the death of your body), but you do know that you are not the byproduct of a few gray neurons that seems to live in your eyes. This knowledge has a profound effect on your belief structures and sense of self.
The second major benefit learning to get out of your body is the increased freedom of consciousness that is your reward. You no longer identify with your body. You can travel in a world that has nothing to do with daily reality, going on a nightly adventure, or you can make the effort to go somewhere in this world and maintain contact with the people you love who are far away. While your body sleeps you can do some of the things you just don't have the time to do during the press of the minutia of daily life.
Can I Learn To Get Out of My Body?
Yes! Approximately one in ten people have had a spontaneous OOBE, ninety-five percent of whom would like to repeat it. Out of body travel isn't necessary for biological survival the way being able to walk is, so if ten percent of the population has spontaneously gone OOB, the chances are it is an innate ability we all have. With work, you will be able to do so. It may take months, but it is like learning to ride a bike. You practice and practice, until one day things just click into focus and you are out of your body.
In my next article in this series I will give some methods of learning to get out of your body and also to increase your chances of having a lucid dream. In the meantime, you can read the OOBE Faq for further information.