Out-of-Body Exploring: A Beginner's Approach
My first big surprise was how easy astral travel was. Once I started doing the exercises outlined in the literature, I immediately experienced lucid episodes: I was able to become conscious while asleep.
From the beginning, it became clear to me that out-of-body experiences and lucid dreams were inextricably intertwined.
The out-of-body experience (OBE) can be simply defined as a condition in which individuals perceive themselves as existing outside of the physical body. They report leaving their physical bodies during which time they are able to fly, walk through walls, visit distant locations. . . . The lucid dream can be defined as a dream in which the dreamer is able to maintain full waking consciousness and sometimes control the dream environment.
Most out-of-body explorers agree that lucid dreams are, in reality, out-of-body experiences. Some feel that they are an inferior form of OBE, others feel that they are superior. Some feel that they are the same phenomenon exactly, the only difference being the percipient's interpretation.
The main difference between the two, I think, is that with out-of-body experiences, you perceive the environment outside of you as being externally created and independent of mental influences. In lucid dreams, your environment is internally created, and is composed of mental projections.
However, this theory runs into a major problem, because as all out-of-body travelers know, the astral dimensions are extremely responsive to thoughts, and while out of body, it is very easy to slip into a finer dimension and create exquisitely detailed and lifelike mental projections.
In fact, as you advance with astral travel, it becomes clear that physical reality itself involves the same phenomenon of mental projections. Despite its seemingly fixed reality, the physical world is in fact composed of mental projections. Thus the concepts of internal and external become blurred.
Still, there are differences. I have had both lucid dreams and out-of-body experiences. I have astrally projected from a lucid dream, and I have had out-of-body experiences that evolved into lucid dreams. I have had out-of-body experiences that contain some mental projections, and I have had lucid dreams that seemed to be totally real. I have also had experiences in which I honestly cannot tell the difference.
As I became more proficient at out-of-body travel, I finally discovered why there is so much confusion. But in the beginning, I tried not to overanalyze my experiences and just went with the flow.
According to Robert Bruce, advanced astral traveler and author of Astral Dynamics, ?A lucid dream is a genuine type of OBE, although the dimensional gate traveled through to achieve it is best thought of as being internal? (Bruce, p. 322).
Robert Peterson writes, "The scenery is 'artificial' in a lucid dream, but is 'real' in an OBE. . . .Regardless of what OBEs and lucid dreams are, I believe they are two separate phenomena. . . . I do believe that occasionally people confuse one experience for the other, and granted, it's very difficult to tell the difference in some cases" (Peterson 2001, pp. 201-205).
William Buhlman writes, "One of the best ways to initiate an out-of-body experience is to become aware or lucid within a dream" (Buhlman 1996, pp. 27, 182). In fact, during an out-of-body experience, he was told that lucid dreams can be considered a higher form of OBE, as they take place in a higher vibrational dimension, meaning the astral dimensions.
Writes Vee Van Dam, "[A] lucid dream is the equivalent of a projection" (Van Dam, p. 68).
In any case, the two are so similar that it can be very confusing for the novice explorer. This was true in my case. Although I was able to initiate OBE's after only a few tries, attaining lucidity was a long and arduous process. Only by combining intense effort, will, and desire was I able to become lucid in the dream state. My early experiences were invariably brief, and I had little or no control over my actions. I had already had several lucid dreams before I had the following experience in which I moved beyond the lucid dream state and closer to the out-of-body experience.
Could I Be Dreaming?
I wake up, and it's completely dark. Not even darkness--I can't see anything at all. Nor can I hear or feel. I have no sensory input whatsoever. I am fascinated, and think, "Could this be a lucid dream?" As soon as I think this, I remember the rule, "If it could be a dream, then it is."
At this realization, knowing that I am asleep in bed and yet totally conscious, I become overjoyed. This is intensely different from anything I have ever experienced. Suddenly, I feel a wave of tiredness and start to lose consciousness. I recall that LaBerge [author of Lucid Dreaming] recommended spinning to maintain lucidity. So I try to spin. I feel a very peculiar sensation of a sideways spiraling motion, as if I were a washcloth being squeezed. I feel myself folding into myself, rolling and rolling, and then I lose consciousness. (July 31, 1987)
Finally, I was getting closer. I still was unable to maintain my awareness for any length of time. My experiences therefore remained brief.
Trapped in a Dark Box
I wake up from a dream. I realize that even though I am fully conscious and wide awake, for some reason I cannot see, nor cry out. I know I am lying asleep in bed, and yet I am totally awake. I realize I am lucid, and am fascinated by the feeling of having no sensations whatsoever. It feels like I am in a dark box (my body), but I can't feel it at all. After about twenty seconds, I wake up, amazed and excited. (November 21, 1987)
These two experiences are neither lucid dreams nor out-of-body experiences. I was neither dreaming nor was I out of body. These are the types of experiences the beginner can expect. If you keep up your efforts, however, you will be rewarded with something less ambiguous.
The following experience occurred immediately after I lay down on my bed during the day, just for a short rest. I consider it my first real OBE. I was 22 years old. ...
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