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Astral Projection Research Paper

Tyler Uebele

Thesis: More people than ever are engaging in astral projection, and finding that it can change the overview of life and expand the mind.

I. Explanation
    A. Description
    B. Definition
II. Fears
    A. Types
    B. Conquering
III. Expanding the Mind to a New Overview
IV. Techniques
    A. Lucid Dreaming
    B. Trance
    C. Visualization

Throughout history, people have been experiencing astral projection. Commonly called out-of-body experiences (OBEs), these are events in which one's consciousness actually seems to be separate from the physical body. These are often described by people who have near-death experiences(NDEs). Until recently, they were kept secret by the people who experienced them for fear of being deemed insane by society. However, there were those few who pursued this experience with an open, yet sometimes fearful, mind. These people expanded their minds to become more open and peaceful. More people than ever are engaging in astral projection, and finding that it can change the overview of life and expand the mind.

The concept of astral projection is far from a new one. The idea that the soul may be able to detach itself from the physical body at the time of death is the backbone of most religions. For people who accept that concept, it should not be too great a leap to speculate that the human spirit might also be able to leave the body temporarily to make short trips on its own while the body is alive. Still, to people who have never had this experience, the idea of astral projection is a strange one (Duncan 14).

Most OBEs have common features. For instance, the subjects often see their own physical body during the experience, like any other object in the room. They usually report having "ghostly" bodies that can pass through solid objects during the experience. Sometimes others even see their ghostly bodies! They also report floating or flying, and often report seeing places or events that were out of eyesight. Simply put, an OBE is an experience in which the mind may be consciously apart from your body (Peterson).

A good word to describe an OBE is "escapade," which has the same root as the word "escape." According to the American Heritage Dictionary, an escapade is: An adventurous action that usually violates conventional standards of behavior. It is an escape from our bodies, it is adventurous, and it violates conventional standards of behavior (Peterson).

Other identical OBEs occur during what are regarded as unconscious periods caused by accident or injury. Mostly these are categorized as freak events and are tucked away in memory as anomalies--or something that didn't really happen. Human belief systems would not allow it to be otherwise. Some of the most striking of the spontaneous OBEs are now often identified as near-death experiences(NDEs) (Monroe 8).

The typical NDE often begins as an out-of-body experience during which the NDEer observes things that he or she could not possibly see from the location of the inert and unconscious body (Duncan 45). At age eleven, a subject from a study in Seattle experienced cardiac arrest and was without a heartbeat for twenty minutes.

    "I heard a whooshing sound in my ears," he told the doctor. "I felt like you feel when you go over a bump in a car going real fast and you feel your stomach drop out. The next thing I knew, I was in a room, crouched in a corner of the ceiling. I could see my body below me. . . . I could see doctors and nurses working on me. My doctor was there and so was Sandy, one of the nurses. I heard Sandy say ‘I wish we didn't have to do this.' I wondered what they were doing. I saw a doctor put jelly on my chest. My hair was really messed up. It seemed greasy, and I wished that I had washed my hair before coming to the hospital. They had cut my clothes off, but my pants were still on. I heard a doctor say, ‘Stand back,' and then he pushed a button on one of the paddles. Suddenly I was back inside my body. One minute I was looking down at my face. I could see the tops of the doctors' heads. After he pushed that button, I was suddenly looking into a doctor's face."
The boy's report was accurate in every detail (Duncan 45).

NDEers also seem to lose all fear of dying. In one study conducted in Australia, forty people ranging in age from seven to fifty-eight, were asked if they feared death before their NDEs. Seventy-eight percent responded that they did. When asked if they now feared death, every one of them said "No." They felt they had been given a preview of what comes next and were certain it was going to be wonderful (Duncan 47):

    "Natalie had an acute asthma attack and passed out in the office of her pediatrician. While unconscious, she suffered a seizure that nearly killed her.
    . . . She described the amazing things that happened when she was on the verge of death. She felt herself ejected from her body; then she entered a tunnel. At the end of the tunnel she saw a bright light and people waiting to welcome her. Suddenly two friendly ‘light figures' appeared, one on either side of her. Each took one of her hands, and they carried her with them down the tunnel. Natalie felt a strong desire to get to the Light and was impatient because her companions were moving so slowly.
    As they traveled through the tunnel, Natalie saw images from her childhood, one of which was her father pushing her on a swing. Then she saw an image of her mother and thought about how sad her family would be if she died. At that point the ‘light figures' set Natalie down and released her hands. Concerned about the grief her death would cause her loved ones, Natalie reluctantly turned her back on the Light, walked back out of the tunnel and returned to her body (Duncan 36)."

Common fears of people of all ranges of experience range from the fundamental fears to the more complex. As a fear of the unknown, death, falling or just plain loss of control, to specific fears such as having another spirit take over the body during projection, not being able get back in to the body, insanity, being 'attacked' by another spirit, or just getting lost. Some people who project like it to the point that they fear not being able to do it again. Others do it so much being late for school or work or enjoying it too much become concerns. There are also those who fear that God does not approve (Goodin).

The best way to overcome fears is to identify and understand them. Most out-of-body fears fade away with experience. With a little work and time, most out-of-body fears can be overcome or managed. The point is that fears are common (Goodin). However frightening OBE-practice might be, the actual OBEs themselves are not frightening. They are usually very peaceful and happy--not frightening at all (Peterson).

Mostly, it is fear of the unknown. Being put into unfamiliar surroundings with new laws, can be terrifying to anyone. However, one needs not to be afraid of OBEs if they understand the rules. Rule #1: Beliefs create the experience. Rule #2: Attitude makes all the difference. If entering an experience with negative thoughts, the OBE is likely to be unpleasant. If entering an experience with positive thoughts, the OBE is likely to be wonderful. Rule #3: A spirit cannot possess the physical body while unoccupied. Rule #4: There is no such thing as a "demon." Rule #5: The astral traveler cannot get lost or lose the physical body. Rule #6: The only thing there is to fear is fear itself (Peterson).

The first rule, that beliefs create the experience, is depicted below:

    ". . . Some unknown time in the night I woke up out of my body. I could not see in the physical sense of the word, yet I knew where I was; I was in our back alley, and I knew I was projecting. I thought, ‘Where should I go?' and immediately decided ‘To EJ' without hesitation--I had decided this before I went to bed . . . . So I took a running leap and started off in the air. I rose above the houses quickly and was shaky for a while; I remembered many flying dreams in which I have crashed. But I decided that if I controlled my mind, I would be all right. I flew higher and higher, and was touched by a little fear; I was afraid to fly too high. So I made effort to keep myself low enough for my own comfort. I could see the roofs of houses, the trees, and everything. When I first went up I realized I wasn't seeing physically, so I thought, "I should see." Then I saw everything okay. I saw my arms raised in front of me Superman-style. I started to climb too high for comfort and I became afraid of getting too far away from Earth. With that thought, I started getting lower and lower. I descended very quickly until I was forced to land. I landed okay in some street, on the slope of a hill. I thought, ‘ . . . Now I'll never get there!' The next thing I knew I was dreaming again (Peterson)."

Unknowns create fears. One may fear the darkness because he or she does not know what is there. A physical pain may create fear because one does not know what it may imply. When these Unknowns become Knowns, the fears diminish and disappear and one is able to cope with whatever is confronted (Monroe 1). A controlled out-of-body experience is the most efficient means known to gather Knowns to create a different overview. First, and perhaps most important, among these Knowns is survival of physical death. If there is a better way than the OBE of knowing that this takes place--not just hoping, having faith, or believing, but knowing--it is unknown (Monroe 10). The OBEers return knowing that not only is there more than the physical bodies, but that, without equivocation, there is survival of physical death (Monroe 8).

Most NDEs have the effect of changing completely the belief systems of the patients, providing a genuine different overview (Monroe 8). One teenager reported he was now more serious than most kids his age, but a lot happier:

    "I don't feel like partying and drinking as much as my friends do or doing a lot of stupid stuff," he said. "I know that there is a better reason for living."

A teenage girl echoed those feelings:
    "I see things differently than most people," she said. "Little things that bother others don't really bother me. I feel calmer and more in control (Duncan 47)."

A study conducted by Bruce Greyson, a doctor of emergency psychiatry at the University of Connecticut, showed that almost all people who have NDEs during suicide attempts never again try to kill themselves. In contrast, a high percentage of those who attempt suicide, but do not experience NDEs, make further attempts to take their lives. The NDE has such a positive effect that desperate people who feel their lives have no meaning return from an NDE with a renewed sense of purpose (Duncan 47).

So it must be said: the different overview that is beginning to be considered can be at most only a belief until it begins to be tested for validity within ongoing experiences during a life as an active human mind. As small beliefs convert to Knowns, perhaps larger different overview beliefs will follow the same path--until the mind is free (Monroe 15).

Astral projecting, just like any other skill, requires discipline. Unlike other skills learned here in the physical world, the factors that underlie one's ability to project are primarily psychological. Factors such as intelligence, personality, emotional make up, social upbringing, and belief systems are all going to be determinants in how hard or how easy projecting is (DeGracia).

There are two main methods of inducing an OBE: becoming lucid in a dream, and by putting yourself into a trance. A third method involves visualization exercises (DeGracia).

Every one of us dreams every night. We may not remember our dreams the following morning, but this does not mean that we did not dream. It can be taken for granted that everyone dreams at night, whether it is remembered or not. The term "lucid dream" normally refers to a dream in which the dreamer is aware that he or she is dreaming. What needs to be done, is to take the waking mind into the dream world (DeGracia). The problem is, when dreaming, one usually does not think to wake their consciousness. In fact, one usually does not recognize the dream state: the dreamer thinks he or she is awake (Peterson). A simple exercise to help one get around that problem:

    "Ask in all seriousness, 'Am I dreaming?' If you ask yourself this question every fifteen minutes today, you'll probably ask the same question tonight when you're dreaming. Daytime habits often carry over into dream habits. The more often you ask, the more likely you are to catch yourself dreaming. You can set yourself a reminder, like your watch. How often do you look at a clock? Every time you look at a clock, try to figure out if you're dreaming. It won't take long, and it could be a life changing experience."

From here the dream can become a "lucid dream," or wake out of the dream and have an out-of-body experience (Peterson).
Becoming lucid while dreaming is indistinguishable from other ways of getting the waking mind into the dream world. Still, it would be even more convincing that the experience was a "real" astral projection/OBE if there were some way to take the consciousness directly out of the physical plane without having to use dreams as an intermediary device. Happily, there is such a direct method for getting to the inner planes. For lack of a better term, this is called the "trance method," for it entails putting oneself into a trance (DeGracia).

When one is lying on his or her bed with the intent to astral project, he or she should just relax. What needs to be done at this point is to try now to put the body to sleep, but while allowing the mind to stay awake. To do this, two things are critical: concentration and relaxation. Just stay relaxed, but, as allowing the body to relax, keep the mind alert. To keep the mind alert, think about anything. Some people will say that there is a need to think about specific things, or visualize specific images, but this is not necessary. All that is needed is to stay alert (DeGracia).

The most important thing to think about is to stay aware. Keep the mind focused on the self-awareness. That is what is most critical: stay lucid. It is because of letting go of self-awareness that people eventually just fall asleep and slip unconsciously into the dream world. What is wanted is to move consciously into the dream world (DeGracia).

The best time to attempt an OBE is in the morning, after naturally awakening. The trick is to make the body tired enough to stay in a relaxed state, but not too tired. Also, make sure the bladder is empty before practice; the need to go to the bathroom can ruin a good practice (Peterson).

The third method, visualization, differs from the other methods during the actual separation. However, it is similar to the others in that it requires great focus and relaxation.

The first important condition for OBE induction is a completely relaxed physical body. Relaxation is important because, if the body is not relaxed, too much consciousness is focused on the body. One method to relax the body involves systematically tightening each muscle until there is a slight fatigue, then letting go and feeling it relax. After doing so for each muscle from head to toe, it is good to start over and check every muscle again (Peterson).

The next thing to be done is to quiesce and focus the mind. This is the single most important step. There are five key points to focusing your mind for OBE induction. They are: state of mind, realism, motion, receptivity, and passivity. The best state of mind is one that is of a quiet, completely passive, single-minded observer. Visualization is important in many OBE techniques and this passive state of mind makes it easier to visualize images a long time without the mind "wandering." The third point, motion, concerns the swaying motion felt within the body. The fourth point is receptivity. This receptive state of mind is important in calling or inducing the vibrations that help to separate the physical and astral bodies. The fifth point, passivity, is also very important. The more passive one is, the easier it is to enter the OBE state (Peterson).

The next step is to "wander the edge of consciousness," exploring the border between waking and sleeping. Start falling asleep, but then "catch" and rouse again and be sure to be fully conscious. Start to fall asleep again. This time, get a little closer towards sleep, then rouse again. Do this several times until the body is very relaxed and the mind is in that "passive" framework (Peterson).

Next, visualize a small object, such as a small cube, about six feet directly in front. Do not continue until the object can be seen clearly in the mind's eye. Then begin to move the object back and forth so that it appears to come a little bit closer and then moves back to where it began. At first, visualize only a tiny amount of movement, as if the object is merely slowly swaying toward and away. Slowly increase the distance the object sways. Try to feel as if the astral body is swaying in the opposite direction as the object. Imagine the object has a strong gravity which affects the swaying. After the image becomes very vivid, and it swings close, "grab" onto the image with the mind. As the image swings away, the consciousness will follow it and will be consciously pulled away from the physical body (Peterson).

At this point the bodies will be separated. Then "let go" of that quiesced state of mind, expand consciousness and be very wide awake and very alert (Peterson). From here one can learn to explore, wander, ponder, or just have fun. It seems that the possibilities now become endless or, at worst, limited to the imagination. After all, there is no need to hop a plane to the coast, when one can hop the astral plane to the ghost (Peterson)!

Whatever else may be said about out-of-body experiences, they open a fascinating window on the creative reaches and limitations of the human mind (Duncan 34). All of the aspects of astral projection require great discipline and understanding. Conventionally, society and the people within it are not apt to take on such a feat, but to do so seems a healthy expansion of determination and a deeper understanding of life. There are wide varieties of techniques for projecting and methods of conquering fear. It is comforting to know that others are engaging in this activity. It seems society is opening to new horizons, and new planes.