First post of this blog, originally published August 23, 2014
About six months ago, I picked up working on a novel I’d started writing about ten years ago. In it, the main character has spontaneous Out of Body Experiences (OBEs). In order to write about them in more depth and with greater understanding, I began to research the subject.
The notion of astral projection has long fascinated me. Imagine! Being able to leave your body at will and travel anywhere in the world you want to go! Screw you, American Airlines, with your $25 per bag handling fee!
Over my lifetime, I’ve had several extremely detailed dreams in which I visited places which seemed and felt entirely real. In a few cases, I later found myself in these places and recognized them from my dreams. Had they been spontaneous OBEs?
Back in junior high, I dreamed about a lake in the mountains. Overhead, was an impossibly clear, high, cerulean sky. Lavender-colored mountains, ringed with mossy green, spilled into the purest aqua water! The colors were so vivid, they were surreal; I’d even say emotional. When I awoke I felt compelled to sketch it out, in full color pastel chalks (which didn’t at all do it justice. No artist’s medium could have captured the intensity.) My drawing remained in my desk drawer for years as a “snapshot” of my trip. (It may even still be with my old papers.) I felt I had absolutely been there and seen it with my own eyes, even though I didn’t believe such a perfectly beautiful, beautifully perfect place could actually exist on this planet.
After college, I traveled for eight months around Europe and lived for a while with a man in Athens. When I got home, we remained in touch, sending letters back and forth across the Atlantic (this was long before email.) Initially, the letters were weekly, then dwindled in frequency to monthly, until finally, it had been nearly nine months since I’d heard from him.
One night, in a dream, I went to visit him in the tiny apartment in the Ano Ilisia section where we’d lived together. I was “informed by neighbors” he no longer lived there; that he’d moved to a different neighborhood – an area where several of his friends lived and which we’d visited together on a couple of occasions. I “flew” to the new neighb and tried to find him, without luck.
The very next day, I received a letter from him telling me he’d moved from Ano Ilisia to a new apartment, in the very area where I’d been looking for him in my dream!
In my mid-30’s, I traveled for a while in Tibet. Most of the roads there are carved into the sides of mountains, with a precipitous drop off the other side. One afternoon, the bus I was traveling on came to a stop behind a long line of traffic. Way ahead of us, a truck had fallen halfway off the mountain. Other drivers (who seemed used to this kind of thing) had attached thick ropes to it, and were attempting to pull it back onto the road before it tumbled into the abyss.
Clearly, this was going to take several hours, so I (and others) got out of the bus to stretch our legs and have a little walk-about. And there, just ahead, around a bend, was my lake, just as I’d pictured it! In the thin air of the high altitude, the colors shimmered with the same intense clarity they had in my dream! It was very literally, a mystical experience because of the dream, because of my own journey, because of where I was (in the Himalaya, for dog’s sake!!!) and because of the incredible intensity of the color. The intensity was made even more jarring and poignant, by my having just spent half a week bouncing across the bleak, colorless landscape of the Tibetan plain. This lake was like a miraculous view of heaven; as if I’d been blind and suddenly was able to see again!
I have always accepted these and other similar dreams as spontaneous OBEs but of course, I had no control over my itinerary.
At various times in my life, I’d made half-hearted attempts at astral projection without success, but finally, I felt I was spiritually mature enough to re-tackle my goal.
I read books and articles, visited websites, and I listened to recordings embedded with binaural tones at specific frequencies which were supposed to facilitate OBEs. I spent many hours, over the course of a couple of months, attempting to fling my consciousness out of my corporeal form and into the ether. I usually got as far as the pre-flight indicators — vibrations along my entire body; heart palpitations; a sense that my limbs were in different positions than they physically were — but I don’t believe I ever achieved lift off. Anything I saw or felt in that condition could easily have been explained as a fantasy or a dream or self-hypnosis.
On several occasions, while listening those recordings, it felt as if my conscious mind were separating from my body, but I could never get it to go anywhere. Every time I tried to turn around and look back at myself on the bed, I still felt my consciousness inside my own head. (No doubt I wasn’t separating at all but just in an hypnotic state.)
What I was expecting — what I wanted –– was for my mind to travel at will, with control. I wanted to visit a place far from home and witness things which could later be verified (as had happened during my spontaneous travels). Although I very much wanted to have a “real” OBE, my criterion for judging whether I’d actually had one was (and continues to be) very high. If my experience can be explained in a simple, logical, scientific or psychological way, I am always inclined to accept this versus some mystical justification. Still, I was always hoping for the mystical; hoping to have an experience which I could not explain in another way.
After a couple of months without lift-off, I gave up further attempts at OBE. I assumed that would be the end of it.
But then some strange things began to happen…
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