Astral travel: In your body or out of it?
Posted on Thursday, 14 September, 2006 | 6 comments
Columnist: Ken Korczak
Few phenomenons hold greater fascination for me than out-of-body travel, or astral travel, as some call it. Though I consider myself a scientific-minded person, sometimes you don’t have that simple luxury of being a hard-nosed skeptic. That’s because when I was 10 years old, I was nearly killed after being shot through the stomach with a hunting rifle. It was a bitter cold January day in northern Minnesota -- about 15-below zero (Fahrenheit). As I lay crumpled and bleeding on a frozen farm field crusted with icy snow, I suddenly lifted out of my body like a hand slipping out of a glove. Floating free like a duplicate ghost of myself, I felt a wondrous blissful calm -- a dynamic stillness that was yet electrifying and dazzling. On the ground I was dying, but floating above, I was hyper-alive! I was razor aware! I felt fantastically expanded! Also, to be suddenly released from the stunning, exploding pain which had shattered my being just seconds before was like the relief of salvation itself! But most of all, to find myself so obviously and clearly detached from the body which I previously thought was “all of me” was an astounding experience which changed my life forever.
My near death experience is long story, and perhaps I’ll tell it fully another day. Suffice it to say, however, that once you have had the experience of leaving your physical body behind with some other aspect of who or what you are, simply brushing that experience aside and dismissing it is not easily done. Thus, I was launched on a life-long journey to understand what happened to me that day. I wanted to know if what I experienced was a kind of elaborate illusion produced by those natural defense mechanisms which protect the human body from severe trauma -- or if it was something more, such as evidence that we possess a soul, an astral body -- or some kind of electromagnetic version of ourselves that can exist independently of the physical form.After all these years, and more than two decades of intense experimentation with out-of-body travel, I am still undecided if the OBE is literal, objective soul travel, or something than can be explained in more scientific terms. Let me just say, I now believe that absolutely anyone, with some effort, can induce and experience an OBE. Many good methods exists. There are even tools on the market that can help you achieve “astral travel.” Some of the best tools are provided by the Monroe Institute, founded by famed OBE advocate Robert Monroe, author of “Journeys Out of Body.” Monroe developed an elaborate series of audio technologies called “Hemi-Sync” which purportedly forces the two halves of the brain to work together in greater synchronization, providing greater power of focus, and thus making it easier for you to project yourself out-of-body. I’ve experimented with Hemi-Sync extensively and my conclusion is that it works fantastically! (And I’m not saying that because I’m on their payroll).Other avenues to the OBE exist as well. One excellent way to trigger an OBE is by way of the lucid dream -- a dream in which you know you are dreaming. Here again there is technology to help. The Lucidity Institute based at Stanford University has developed a series of ‘dream masks” which you wear to bed at night, and which will send light and sound signals to you into the dream state, prompting you to “come awake” in your dreams. Once you achieve a lucid dream, it is a short step from there to launch yourself into a full-blown out-of-body experience.
I have experimented extensively with the “NovaDreamer” model, and am delighted by how well it works.But I achieved my own first consciously-directed OBE without using any of these kinds of technologies. Rather, I experimented with methods that have been handed down through the centuries by dream yogis, Sufi masters, shamans of many cultures, and other more recent practitioners of the OBE, such as author Rick Stack and most notably, Jane Roberts, writer of the famous Seth books. It was my feeling that if I could trigger an OBE in a safe and conscious way -- without having to nearly suffer a near-death trauma -- then the issue would be finally resolved in my mind. I thought: “If I can have a bona fide OBE, I will have then determined if there is something more than just the physical body, that there is life after death, and that our physical existence is not all that there is.”Well, I was not only able to trigger an OBE in a comfortable and directed way, but I also developed the ability to do it again and again, almost at will -- but the result did not bring be the final resolution I had hoped for. Indeed, my experiences with OBEs only created more questions than answers, although the journey has been fun, fascinating, mind blowing and mind expanding along the way!Why did my OBE experiences produce more questions than answers? Here's the thing: If one is going to approach this in an objective and scientific way, the many alternate explanations that exist for what we are experiencing in the out-of-body state must be considered. Even though the astral travel experience seems extremely real -- that it seems like we are literally floating around above our beds looking down upon our sleeping bodies -- a strong case can be made that we are not actually, objectively “out-of-body.” Instead, we may be experiencing an extremely vivid lucid dream, or an event that is entirely rooted within the brain. Sleep researcher Dr. Stephen LaBerge, author of “Exploring the World of Lucid dreaming,” offers a very good explanation of the OBE phenomenon.
LaBerge puts it this way in his book:“Out-of-body experiences often give us the compelling impression that we have two distinct and separate bodies: the physical, earthly body and the more ethereal, astral one. In fact, a person experiences only one body, the body image -- the brain’s representation of the physical body. The body image is what we experience anytime we feel embodied, whether in our physical, dream or astral out-of-bodies.”Of course, the folks at the Monroe Institute and others strongly dispute this, and point to experiments in which subjects, via their astral bodies, have been able to identify targets placed in other rooms. Yet, as far as I know, these kind of target identification experiments are shaky and inconclusive best, and no one has never been able to consistently demonstrate the ability to “remote view” objects, people or places by way of astral projection. Again, Monroe researchers and others dispute this, and I will say, some of their research and results are compelling.As for myself, I remain on the cusp. I tend to tilt toward the LaBerge explanation of what is going on when we experience OBEs -- an yet -- and yet -- there have been so many times when I have been in the out-of-body state, and the experience can be so real, so amazing, so exotic, so unexpected, so solid -- it just seems there is no way that what I experience could be a “brain only event.” A case in point is something I have come to call “The Starry Tunnel Ride.” Very often when I induce an OBE, I float out of my body, only to be sucked into a vast, whirling vortex, very much like the “worm holes” encountered by the Star Ship Enterprise on Star Trek. I find myself blasting along a seeming whorling rend in the very fabric of space, stars zipping by, a whining buzz engulfing my senses. And where do the tunnels lead? Sometimes to amazing places -- alternate dimensions, strange planets, ancient castles, exotic forests, different time periods -- but other times, I pop out right back in my room! The whole Tunnel ride seems to have been for nothing. Why? It’s all so weird, and yet so tantalizing! The Starry Tunnel Ride never fails to be an unpredictable cosmic crap shoot!I’ll put more of my OBE adventures on my blog, including a deeper description of the Starry Tunnel and where it leads, but let me conclude here for now by saying that my experiments continue. And at this point in my study of the OBE, I'll say this: On Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, I am convinced that astral travel is just that -- real soul travel. On Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays, I’m convinced astral travel can be explained in more mundane and scientific terms. On Sundays, I rest.
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Article Copyright© Ken Korczak - reproduced with permission.
Ken Korczak is the author of Minnesota Paranormala: