I have been using astral projection for over a decade. It wasn’t the smoothest of learning experiences and I struggled a great deal. However, I eventually learned not only to astral project but do it almost at will. At one point I was projecting 4 to 6 times a week. But why? Why practice it so passionately? What is astral projection like? As a longtime practitioner of astral projection, here are my experiences.
The problem with scientific descriptions
If you place the question “what is astral projection like?” into a search engine, information is sparse. Most of the results give neurological descriptions of what might be going on in your brain descriptions of the brain give no insight into this question. To ask the question “what is astral projection like” results in unhelpful answers. What do I mean by this? We, at this point in time, don’t have the language to describe subjective experiences.
In a very important article, Thomas Nagel askes a seemingly strange question: “What is it like to be a bat”. He asks us to imagine ourselves living in the dark, hanging upside down and emitting high pitched sounds. maybe this is what it’s like to be a bat. But this is completely false. We have no actual idea of what it is like to be a bat.
The problem isn’t solved by giving neurological descriptions of a bat’s brain either. We can describe a bat’s brain and other organs, but it doesn’t answer the question. We don’t know what it’s like for a bat to be a bat, we simply don’t have a way to describe it.
The same problem arises when you ask the question “What is astral projection like?” The tools to give accurate descriptions are simply not there. This means that if I want to answer this question, I have to use examples, comparisons, and metaphors. These comparisons and metaphors don’t exactly match the experience. You must experience it for yourself. The exact techniques I use are described in this article.
What is astral projection like? The 4 stages to an OBE
The relaxation stage
During the relaxation stage of projection, the body enters a state of deep physical and mental relaxation resulting in a type of trance. This state of relaxation is so deep that the mind straddles the edge of falling into true sleep; this state of consciousness is the hypnagogic and hypnopompic stage of sleep. Most people fail to accomplish out-of-body-travel because they cannot relax enough to attain the necessary trance state to project.
This stage is absolutely crucial. Without a deep trance state, you cannot project at all unless you are extremely talented at this art.
To experience a deep level of relaxation and trance there is a powerful technique that isn’t hard to learn but will take a little practice. This technique is biphasic sleep. Most people make use of monophasic sleep.
Monophasic sleep involves simply going to bed and sleeping for 7 to 8 hours in one session; biphasic sleep involves splitting your sleep cycle into two. The type of biphasic sleep used in this article is more commonly known among the lucid dreaming community, as the ‘wake and back to bed technique’.
What this technique does is amplify your REM sleep that results in waking up slightly at the border of being asleep and awake. This is the hypnopompic state and is virtually identical to the hypnagogic stage of sleep. This is the perfect time to practice astral projection. The trick is to train your mind to identify this borderline between sleep and awake and perform your projection technique.
The vibration stage
When you achieve sufficient relaxation, your mind and body will enter the vibratory stage. William Buhlman describes the different symptoms of the vibratory stage in his book Adventures Beyond the Body as follows:
• Hearing buzzing, humming, or roaring sounds
• Unusual tingling or energy sensations
• Voices, laughter, or your name being called out
• Heaviness or sinking
• Numbness or paralysis in any part of your body
• Weightlessness or spreading lightness
• Any internal vibrations out of the norm
• An electrical sense of energy
• Footsteps or sounds of another person’s presence
• Internal rocking, spinning, or movement of any kind
• Arms or legs lifting while you are asleep
• A surge of energy flowing through your body
• Any noise out of the norm: wind, engine, music, bells, and so on
The vibration stage
This stage of an OBE is often among the most emphasized stages in astral projection literature. The reason for this is that many practitioners notice extreme vibratory phenomena just prior to successful astral projection. This has resulted in an overemphasis on these symptoms while neglecting proper relaxation. For this reason, many students get stuck at this stage and can progress no further. So, what is happening to you during this stage?
When the body and mind are deeply relaxed, your brain will cut off signals to your body that deals with movement when your brain starts to enter REM sleep; this phenomenon is sleep paralysis. This is necessary so that you don’t act out your dreams while you are asleep. In fact, your brain does this every night, but you aren’t aware of it because normally, you are asleep. If you’re awake, however, this is experienced as the vibratory stage of an OBE. Full sleep paralysis can be extremely frightening for most people, but it’s during this stage that out-of-body experiences become virtually inevitable with the proper techniques.
The separation stage
During the exit stage, you use the vibratory stage to project your consciousness beyond the confines of your body. To do this successfully you must create what neurologists call an extra-corporeal experience.
I will be lying in my bed on the edge sleeping and waking. My body usually feels amorphous, or it feels like I’m floating. When I notice this experience, I perform an exit technique.
If I’m successful at inducing an OBE, it literally feels like you leave your body. You sense your physical body lying in bed, but you’re somewhere else. In my case, I’m usually near the door of my bedroom when I complete the exit.
What types of experiences can you have? There are many. They depend, however on how long you’ve been projecting and what you’re doing during the OBE.
The experience feels extremely real. I have a sense of gravity, mass, and inertia. But they are slightly off. I might feel lighter than usual, I can for instance make myself float. However, if I don’t maintain my concentration, I will hit the ground with a thud.
The exploration stage
When you ask “what is astral projection like?”, what you’re also asking about is the range of experiences available during the exploration stage.
The environment I first find myself in is always my apartment, but it’s different. It looks and feels very real, but objects are out of place or absent. When I leave my apartment, the trees in my neighborhood appear large and extremely bright. In fact, everything appears larger than life and more intense than usual.
What’s absolutely fascinating, is how unstable your surroundings are. If I start walking, buildings and scenery morph and change until I find myself somewhere else. The Hermetic Kabbalah describes the astral world as having the quality of water. The physical world has the properties of the earth. It’s fixed rigid, and stable. The astral world is more unstable, it flows and morphs in response to your mind.
An interesting phenomenon is finding what you’re looking for. If you want to go look and find a temple, it will appear out of nowhere. If you want to find a landscape, the landscape will appear. But they appear fully real. If you inspect these environments, they are vivid and detailed.
What I just described to you is one kind of experience, there are others that are far more fantastical. The results are very different when I practice pathworking or any other kind of mystical technique during astral projection. When I go looking for mystical knowledge, the impact is profound.
As a beginner, the visions tend to be quite random. You can experience anything and this makes the visions hard to interpret. This is a problem because you can’t understand the nature of your experience.
The biggest problem with unstructured astral visions is the lack of context. You have no frame of reference to work so the visions grab whatever’s in your mind. The results? Visions with little practical application.
This isn’t a problem for the beginner, but it is for experienced projectors. Beginners are mostly content with the wonder of the experience. The things you see and experience are beautiful and majestic, and you can explore your fantasies. After this initial phase, things change.
You astral project so often, that it becomes a normal part of your life. You don’t become bored with astral projection, but you do get used to it. At this point, you want to do more than just explore the environments. You want your OBEs to have a goal. This is where practices such as astral meditation and symbols come in.
These techniques are geared towards steering your OBE into a specific direction. You may want to contact spiritual guides. In order to contact the type of guides you want; you can use special symbols. If you want to learn about music or art, then using the astrological symbol for Venus would be appropriate. Or perhaps you want to learn about leadership, then the symbol for Jupiter would be a good choice.
When I explore a symbol or a place like Kabbalistic sephirah, I leave my body and stand on my balcony. I would then lie on my back and begin to meditate. The environment changes into nothingness. I’m not surrounded by darkness, it feels like I’m in a deep sleep, floating in pure stillness.
When the experience is deep enough, I will then recall the symbol or place I wish to visit and state my destination out loud. Then things get interesting. I will then be suddenly accelerated at incredible speed. It feels like I’m being pushed by a massive force or wind.
This will go on for several seconds. I will then slow down and feel my feet touch the ground. I will then be greeted by fantastical imagery themes, and experiences. The imagery depends on what I chose to explore. I don’t feel very comfortable sharing these experiences due to their personal nature. To have an idea of what these experiences are like I recommend looking at the artwork of William Blake.
Reentry is very simple. You simply think about your body and you wake up. In fact, if you think about your body any time during the exploration stage, you will wake up. This is very annoying when you first learn astral projection. This is one of the main reasons you can’t get stuck during astral projection. Anything can wake you up. Loud noises, pets, or your arm falling asleep. Everything that will normally wake you up will trigger premature reentry.
As you can see answering the question “what is astral projection like?” isn’t easy. You are trying to convey experiences that are very different from waking reality. As strange as astral projection experiences sound, they are immensely beautiful. The best of all is you know that a world of beauty and wonder is only a session away. Once you know how to astral project, you will understand