Vibrations in OBE-ing and Mysticism

by Alfred Ballabene

Vibrations seem to be an elementary feature in OBE-ing and mysticism and there has been speculated a lot as to them. Now you have some more speculations in this article. Some of which are my personal unconventional insights. Although in the conclusions of this article many observations are interpreted less imaginatively as this is done usually, I am not a materialist. I do not think that esoterics should be considered as opposed to science and that science has to be counterbalanced by imaginative interpretations. I have realized that physical world is fantastic as well and everything, if subtle or nonsubtle belongs to a great unique world. There are speculations whether vibrations initiating or sustaining OBE´s are physical and/or subtle. In my experiments I successfully have used physical vibrations to sustain OBE-ing and as well I have experienced etheric waves when kundalini has been arising. Therefore I dare say, that in the field of OBE-ing and mysticism both kinds of vibrations, physical and subtle ones are existing. Below I shall give the most well known theories on vibrations and some personal conclusions.

Materialistic Interpretation Based On Vibrations Of The Physical Body:

At the skull or inner surfaces of brain vibrations are reflected, enhanced and focused, resulting in locations of different energy densities, stimulating special areas of the brain. The kind of energy, which might influence biological material is the weakest point of this postulate (for instance magnetic or electrical fields are postulated), Bentov 1). The emotional and visual sensations caused by overtones and Bija Mantras (nasal sounds) are explained in this way as well. Acoustical sensations in the state of vibrations are explained physically by direct sensory perception via the auditory system. The physical theory includes all kinds of frequencies - felt or heard - since it states that slow rhythms - as caused by heart beat for instance - are transformed in the head to vibrations in high frequency ranges.

Concerning vibrations interpreted as being subtle there are two traditional esoteric theories, both existing side by side without excluding each other: the mechanistic explanation (Theosophy, Occultism) and the spiritual explanation (Theosophy, Yoga).

Esoteric Mechanistic Interpretation Based On Different Movements Of Physical and Subtle Body:

According to this theory the subtle body gets out of alignment with the physical body, resulting from non- identical movements of both bodies. This situation occurs when the subtle body moves asynchronously to physical body or when the subtle body vibrates synchronously but at higher amplitude in a prefered direction (sustained by imagination). The degree of dissociation depends on the amplitude of vibration. The amplitude of vibrations can be increased actively by imagination, which causes a loosening of the subtle body. The final step of body separation is done by will or by automatisms induced by autosuggestions at the beginning of the exercise.

Spiritual Interpretation As Provided By Theosophy And Yoga:

According to a hinduistic myth the god Shiva created the universe by emanating the sound OM. In the saga the first stage of universe was a large ocean. On the surface of this ocean consisting of the substance "supreme consciousness" (Sanskrit: chitta, personified as Shiva) this vibrational force OM (personified as the female aspect, called Shakti) caused waves (called chittavrittis). These waves were the first traces of individualism. By differentiation of these waves the diversity of forms and matter of universe originated. In the course of evolution of universe Shakti descended to the lowest form of "vibration", the physical matter. This state is associated with the lowest form of consciousness. In human body this evolution is reproduced as descendence of Shakti (the inner power) from the top of the head down the spine to the base of abdomen (Mulhadhara Chakra), creating an awareness more and more linked to the physical matter. This evolution of soul is thought to have happened in past aeons. In theosophic philosophy evolution of soul is independent of the evolution of biological life and the above mentioned first step evolved not in physical but in subtle worlds. The aim of the Yogis is to elevate Shakti from chakra to chakra by means of meditation, by sound exercises (Shabda Yoga) and energetic exercises (Kundalini Yoga). Each chakra is characterized by a category of sounds, by a special colour of inner light and by special forms of transcendental awareness. In a certain respect the kind of subtle body separation depends on the kind of activated chakra:

  • Mulhadhara Chakra .... Shakti is sleeping in the material world
  • Svadhisthana Chakra .... dense, mediumistic body separation,
    accompanied by paranormal phenomena
  • Manipura Chakra (navel) .... etheric body separation
  • Anahata Chakra (heart) ..... astral projection
  • Vishudha Chakra (larynx, throat) ....?
  • Ajna Chakra („third eye“, between the eyes) ..... mental projection
In Theosophy and Yoga philosophy activation of a higher located chakra is indicated by sounds becoming higher. In Kundalini Yoga all three kinds of sensory perceptions can be obtained in each activated chakra though in different qualities. With higher chakra location frequencies are increasing: sounds become higher, and light is changing from red (Mulhadhara Chakra) to orange- yellow (Anahata Chakra) and to bluish white (Ajna Chakra). This statement is based on my own observations and on those of the yogis of ananda ashram (in accordance with the observations of Leadbeater 2)). In modern literature chakras are described in all kinds of colours, but I think this is uncorrect. The respective statements are produced by different "clairvoyants" who want to demonstrate their individual better sight. (I don't like chaos which is caused by seminar leaders who try to make money by creating an "outstanding" individual way.) The basic experienced phenomena of sensory perception - tactile, acoustic and light - are explained in Kundalini Yoga by three different qualities of kundalini. These three qualities of kundalini correspond to the three shells (subtle bodies): etheric, astral, mental.
  • etheric shell (prana): kundalini is activated in the "tube" Sushumna
  • astral shell (rajas): kundalini is activated in the "tube" Vajrini
  • spiritual (chit): kundalini is activated in the "tube" Chittrini
All three qualities of kundalini (qualities of vibrations respectively, see above) may be superimposed and therefore can exist simultaneously. Based on this philosophy in esoteric field the terminology "higher planes" and "higher vibrations" was established. The spiritual theory seems very mythological and unrealistic, but its practical implications work very well. This is why chakra meditations have become so popular in modern esoteric field. Because of the OM theory the above quoted philosophy cannot discriminate between vibrations and kundalini arousal. Following I shall try to provide arguments supporting the assumption that vibration and kundalini arousal have to be considered as different phenomena, though both can occur simultaneously.

Vibrations: Personal Theory

A) Difference Between Kundalini Arousal And Vibrations In OBE-ing

Despite similar effects between kundalini arousal and vibrations (acoustic perceptions, energetization and warmth), both phenomena seem to be different. As I believe kundalini arousal and vibrations in OBE-ing can be distinguished by the kind of movement of etheric substance, in respect to the vertical axis of the human body, the spinal column. The vector of upwards moving etheric force can be:

  • Vector of 0 (zero) degrees in respect to the axis of body (upwards streaming or longitudinal waves): Examples are the well known slow energy circulation (upwards on backside, downwards on frontside), furthermore kundalini arousal (without overlapping vibrations).
  • Vector between 0 and 90 degrees to the vertical axis (more or less transversal waves): Kundalini motion in the form of waves moving upwards at the backside. This most common form of kundalini arousal is accompanied by acoustic perceptions, sensed heat adjacent to the spine, very strong energy flow, euphorization, inner light perception (mostly in gold and white) and is sometimes accompanied by paranormal effects.
  • Vector of 90 degrees to the axis (vibrations): There is no upward motion of force. The vibrations are felt locally (f.i. breast) or in the whole body and are independent of energy flow in the spine. Vibrations are sensed as frequently on front side as on back side. Very often warmth is felt and sometimes acoustic phenomena are perceived. The 90 degree vector is facilitating a loosening of the etheric double. Practically only these vibrations are important for OBE-ing.
In both kinds of phenomena, kundalini arousal as well as vibrations, sensory inputs can be perceived as in normal awake state, as in trance, as at the border of sleep or as in sleep (producing special dream symbols like fire, volcanos, earth quakes etc.). Since sensory perception may be experienced in all states of consciousness, it is difficult to define kundalini phenomena and vibrations as either physical or subtle. Therefore theories - if materialistic or spiritual - can be based on arguments each of them conclusive in the respective paradigma. Therefore a wide range of possible interpretations is legitimate.

Kundalini Experiences:

Kundalini experiences published so far tend to describe highlights like "cosmic consciousness". However, in most cases experiences are less divine, but nevertheless very interesting for basic understanding. Altogether a wide range of experiences can be made in waking state, as well as in trance or in sleep.

Some Notes Out Of Diaries:

3-14-1977 (Alfred)
I was dreaming something I can't remember, when all of a sudden I became lucid and got aware of lying in a wide unknown room. It was dark, but by means of concentration I became aware of some contours. Thus encouraged I increased concentration and by doing this I got the impression that the walls got cracks and light was shining through. Suddenly I felt kundalini arising in form of hot waves, moving upwards the spine. The next moment it criss-crossed up to the shoulder-blades and thereafter moved again straight upwards the spine. Instantly I could see: I was lying in bed, surrounded by bizarre, demonlike creatures, staring at me and approaching. There were so many of them, that they filled the room, to the rear piling up to the ceiling. I felt myself keeping them away at a distance of about 1½ meters making use of an inner force, which required a tremendous amount of concentration. They were standing there without moving and stared at me. One of them in front of me was imposing by his long claws. I tried to scare them away by mantras but they echoed disharmonically. Since all my efforts were in vain I turned to awake state as speedily as possible, turning my body around still out of trance state. Later on I was amazed how fast I had been able to leave trance and to move my body. The experience was very vivid and vigorous and moreover I liked adventures. Subsequently my back, especially in the region of the spine, felt strikingly heated.

August 1982 (Alfred)
In trance I had the inner sight of the Anahata Chakra (breast). It was a shallow whirl of energy and kundalini moved out of its center like a chain of small fire-balls, creating spirals in the whirl and finally spreading out over the body.

April 1981 (Somadatta)
The past months, while awake, I frequently felt energy circling up and down my body; this happened spontaneously, whilst I did no aim for it deliberately. The experience changed in a remarkable way the day I started light-exercises on my Anahata Chakra. An emotion of cosmic love arose and I felt something like small inner flames, originating at my feet and moving upwards in spirals. Then the stream of the golden flames became vertical and my body was forced to bow forewards (in Yoga called kriya). Afterwards I felt strengthened and “high“.

B) Significance Of Different Frequency Ranges For OBE And Esoteric Mysticism.

General Considerations:

Based on vibration frequency range I propose following classification:

  • tactile perception -- etheric OBE-ing, mediumistic phenomena.
  • sound perception -- astral OBE-ing
  • light perception -- mental OBE-ing
Slow motions below 1 Hz (cps)

Swaying imaginations are a good help for autohypnotic states as basis for "floating out of the body" methods for etheric OBE's, because swaying motions are typical for this kind of OBE after body separation.

1 Hz (cps) and 2 Hz

These frequencies are very easily produced in a sitting or lying body position in which swinging motions caused by heartbeat can be amplified. However I did not use these frequencies for OBE and other exercises in order to avoid disturbance of heart rhythm.

4 Hz (cps) - ca. 200 Hz

This is a frequency range in which vibrations still can be perceived by the tactile sense. From 16 Hz upwards the tactile range is overlapping with the range of deep sounds. This frequency range favours OBE-ing in the form of "stepping out of the body". I prefer to use this kind of vibrations for OBE's, performed in the state of false awakening. I start these vibrations used for OBE-ing at day by imagination exercises and recall them at night, when starting OBE-ing. In order to induce vibrations by will (see below) I need at least one hour or more the first day and less time the following days. When there is a break in daily exercises I have to start from the beginning. The vibrations seem to be physical and I do not try to gain subtle awareness while exercising with vibrations. Brief periods of concentration during day help to sustain a latent tendency for vibrations. When I start OBE-ing at night I need to start vibrations immediately, because long and intense concentration would keep me awake. There are different exercises I use to induce vibrations, all of them supported by vibration imagination:

a) Imagination of warmth and vibrations, concentration circling up and down the spine in the rhythm of breathing.

b) Imagination of warmth and vibrations in the breast in the rhythm of breathing, supported by the imagination of humming (as it is heard near the trafos of power stations) or supported by the imagination of the purring of a cat. Emotion is a source of energy which increases inner dynamics and alertness. Therefore these vibration-exercises have to be combined with emotions, otherwise they won´t work. Emotionalization is best obtained by mystic orientation especially by creating a feeling of love.

Frequencies In The Acoustic Range:

Deep sounds, still in the frequency range of sensed vibrations, facilitate etheric OBE-ing (see above). However, the higher the frequency increases, the more the amplitude of vibrations diminishes. Finally the dissociative effect will be too small to get the etheric body out of alignment. With higher frequency rates the state of consciousness becomes astral. In mysticism it is intended to achieve this state of awareness while still in the body (in trance). A typical indication of change of consciousness is, that sounds become complex. The perceived sounds are no longer natural sounds, but they change to sounds of musical instruments and often change into melodies, concerts and songs. This inner music has nothing to do with cosmic or astral sounds, but is of hypnagogic origin and a kind of border mark before entering astral state. Exercises based on sounds are very common in mystic disciplines:

  • Cabbalistic vocal exercise by Weinfurther 3), 4), 5), 6).
  • Shabd Yoga 7)
  • Mantras 7)
Frequencies generating inner light perception A frequency range higher than the acoustic one causes inner perception of light (this does not relate to the frequencies of light). It may be the response of the brain to strong stimuli and can be in form of light flashes or bright colours or mosaics or even objects and landscapes. These experiences I consider as border phenomena, perceived between physical and subtle consciousness. OBE´s starting out of this state are mental-travelling and other high-planes-travellings. For mental-travelling the inner state of consciousness has following qualities (according to my own observations):

The state is mentally dominated. The word "mental" in mysticism has nothing to do with thinking. It is a kind of clear, strong inner sight, without disturbances by thoughts. In mental travelling (mental OBE's) you find yourself sometimes in planes which shine in splendour of light. The mental plane is not heavenly in the Christian sense, because despite all the glamour love is missing. There are no emotions at all but instead of them there is an everything-penetrating-sight. Sometimes awareness of time is missing and you live in a kind of eternity. I tend to believe that all sensory perceptions in the state when vibrations are felt are hypnagogic border phenomena (sounds, music, light flashes etc.). Out of the body usually all these sensations vanish.


Experiences With Slow Swinging Motions (Etheric OBE):

1979 (Alfred)
Lying flat on my back in a relaxed state I became aware that synchronously with breathing my subtle body swung to and fro, leaving the body rhythmically at the top of my head by as much as ca.2 feet. I tried to induce the same process at the end of my feet, but this way I did not succeed. Therefore I directed my awareness again to the top of my head. I began to breathe deeper and more slowly which increased the amplitude of swinging, so that finally I gained full body separation. With my subtle body set free I left the house to have a walk along the street, which appeared quite different from what it used to look like. There was a wonderful bright blue sky and sunshine made the area look colourful and bright rendering my walk a highly enjoyable experience.
Non-hypnagogic Sound And Light Sensations:
2-13-1981 (Narayan)
After a brief sleep period I slowly became aware that the swaying motions I registered originated from beginning body separation. Getting more and more conscious I began to hear a high rushing as the sound of wind. Otherwise I was wrapped in darkness. After a short while in this state I felt myself sink down and I registered that breathing was irregulary. Without any black out in consciousness I slid back into the body.

2-11-1979 (Alfred)
I relaxed lying on the floor, when I heard a rumbling which developed to thunder every time when relaxation became deeper. At these moments I was alarmed to waking state, thus shifting periodically between being deeply relaxed and being awake. The sounds oscillated in this way for about 5 minutes. Subsequently I succeeded in stopping this oscillation and was left with a continuous rumbling, which was superimposed by a higher-frequent buzzing. Unfortunately this state seemed to be not deep enough for trance, because after some time rumbling vanished, I became fully awake and the intended body separation was not accomplished.

3-4-1979 (Sumirana)
In the evening, lying on my back, I actively relaxed. Suddenly I heard explosion-like sounds and was very alarmed. Reflecting upon this situation I remembered what different sounds could be accompanying floating out of the body and I relaxed again. The explosion-like sounds started again in chaotic sequence. After some time the sound developed to a drumming like that of rain. Now I felt ready for OBE-ing and for that purpose I tried to sit upright with my subtle body. I was successful. I stood up and walked across the room. Unable to see anything I became aware that the eyes of my subtle body were closed and therefore I tried to open them. But tiredness made my eyelids heavy (commentary: the state of physical body was transmitted to subtle body by repercussion) and soon I felt so tired that I accepted to be pulled back into my physical body. Back in body I heard the drumming again and felt an intense circulation of energy, producing an euphoric state of mind. Shortly afterwards I fell asleep.

6-5-1980 (Shanita)
One morning feeling comfortable in my warm bed I decided to sleep longer and turned aside. Shortly afterwards, however, I heard a roaring, which seemed to be outside of me. Next I felt myself loosening and then separating from the physical body. I recognized to have no control of my subtle body, because my double turned head down in a looping and slid head foremost into the floor. This experience frightened me and instantly I was pulled back.

Hypnagogic Sensations Before OBE:
2-16-1967 (Alfred)
I lay on the floor and relaxed. After some time I heard a sound as of a water fall. Somewhat later the sound ceased and I began to see colourful landscapes passing movie-like in front of me. Some time afterwards it became dark and I felt elevated upwards by a kind of wind, by which I was swayed to and fro. Subsequently I had the feeling of being carried away by the wind in my original lying position. All of a sudden I felt to be set down and I was able to see. I slid along the street of an unknown village where I started a sightseeing tour. Though in my everyday life I might have felt lonesome there, because I saw only few people and no traffic, I rather felt euphoric.

2-4-1967 (Alfred)
Lying on the floor I tried to fall in trance by relaxing, using a step by step method initially inducing heaviness of body and limbs, thereafter listening to my blood pulsating in the bloodvessels, then by feeling warmth and following all these steps by distracting my awareness from the body towards inner space. I began to hear a rushing. Thereafter the rushing vanished and I saw very colourful mosaics attracting my attention. After a while the mosaics disappeared and it became dark and silent and very peaceful. Then I heard the laughing and screaming of many children, initially the sounds were faint as if far away; then they seemed to be approaching. When they seemed to be very close I had the impression of dissociating from my physical body. In lying position I drifted through a short tunnel, which I could not see, but of which I had a space feeling. When the tunnel was passed, all of a sudden, I stood on a meadow. There was full daylight and I saw a swimming pool just in front of me. Meadow and swimming pool were crowded. I went to the swimming pool to have a better look and there I saw a lot of people splashing and diving through the clear water. After I had looked for a while, I thought it would be interesting to test the possibility of influencing matter and rules of this other world so vividly felt. I took a long stick, I found nearby, obviously left by an attendant. To find out, if I could change the consistency of this water by my will, I set one end of the stick on the surface of water and bent forward leaning upon the stick with all my weight. The tip of the stick did not dip into the water which seemed solid like ice, though nearby people were swimming. Content of my experiment and interested to see more of the surroundings, I left and turned to a street. Walking there, after some time I had passed the town. Far in the distance I saw a forest and beyond there were high mountains with snow. A wonderful bright orange sunball was shining from the sky, so wonderful that it gave me a feeling of ecstasy. I was somehow hypnotized by this unearthy beauty of the sun and steadily walked forward, attracted like a moth by the flame. After a long walk I was pulled back into my physical body and I felt a sadness for having lost this overwhelming shine of eternal home.


1) Bentov, I. Micromotion of the body as a factor in the developement of the nervous system. in: Kundalini Evolution and Enlightment, page 316 - 339. Editor: White, J.; New York: Anchor Books, 1979

2) Leadbeater, C.W.: Chakras

3) Weinfurter, K.: Der brennende Busch

4) Heller, H.: I-E-O-U-A, Esotera (journal), Oct. 1970

5) Zeisel, J.: Von der Magie zur Mystik, Esotera 1983, p.257 ff.

6) Zeisel, J.: Entschleierte Mystik; Freiburg, De.: H. Bauer Verl., 1984. p 100-123

7) Woodroffe, J. (Avalon, A.): The Garland of Letters (Varnamala); Madras: Ganesh and Co.

-- Alfred Ballabene