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Out Of Body Experiences

Because out of body experiences occur while the person is apparently asleep, they can be considered as manifestations of sleep phenomena, but they do not have the same characteristics as a typical dream. Dreams are seldom verifiable observations of external events occurring at the same time as the dream. Out of body experiences (OBE’s) frequently display an accurate observation of external events, not available to the sleeping person except by extraordinary means. This suggests that human consciousness is not limited to the limited range of awareness the body senses give.

Example: ‘At about two or three in the morning my wife Brenda and I were suddenly awoken from sleep by a noise. As we lifted our heads to hear we identified it as the handle on our children’s bedroom door being turned. The house only had two bedrooms, and the children’s room was directly opposite ours. Both of us had the same thought – ‘Oh no, it’s the children again.’ Much to our annoyance they had been waking in the middle of the night claiming it was morning and time to play. We had tried to suppress it, but here it was again.

As these thoughts went through our minds we heard the sound of feet clomping down the stairs. This was strange as the children usually stayed in their room. Brenda got up determined to get whoever it was back into bed. I heard her switch the light on, go down the stairs, switch the sitting room light on, and I followed her via the sounds of her movement as she looked in the kitchen and even toilet – we didn’t have a bathroom. Then up she came again and opened the children’s door – strange because we had assumed it had been opened. When she came back into our room she looked puzzled and a little scared. ‘They’re all asleep and in bed’ she said.

We talked over the mystery for some time trying to understand just how we had heard the door handle rattle then footsteps going down the stairs, yet the door wasn’t open. Also, the door handles on our doors were too high for the children to reach without standing on a chair. There was a stool in the children’s bedroom they used for that, yet it wasn’t even near the door when Brenda opened it.

Having no answer to the puzzle we stopped talking and settled to wait for sleep again. Suddenly a noise came from the children’s bedroom. It sounded like the stool being dragged and then the door handle turning again but the door not opening. ‘You go this time’ Brenda said, obviously disturbed.

I opened our door quickly just in time to see the opposite door handle turn again. Still the door didn’t open. I reached across, turned the handle and slowly opened the door. It stopped as something was blocking it. Just then my daughter Helen’s small face peered around the door – high because she was standing on the stool. Puzzled by what had happened, I was careful what I said to her. ‘What do you want love?’ I asked.

Unperturbed she replied, ‘I want to go to the toilet.’ The toilet was downstairs, through the sitting room, and through the kitchen.

Now I had a clue so asked, ‘Did you go downstairs before?’

‘Yes’ she said, ‘but mummy sent me back to bed!’.’ Tony C.

This is an unusual example of an OBE. Mostly they are described from the point of view of the person projecting and are therefore difficult to corroborate. Here, three people experience the OBE in their own way. From Tony and Brenda’s point of view what happened caused sensory stimuli, but only auditory. Helen’s statement says that she was sure she had physically walked down the stairs and been sent back to bed by her mother. Tony and Brenda felt there was a direct connection between what they were thinking and feeling – ‘get the children back to bed’ – and what Helen experienced as an objective reality.

OBE’s have been reported thousands of times in every culture and in every period of history. A more general experience of OBE than the above might include a feeling of rushing along a tunnel or release from a tight place prior to the awareness of independence from the body. In this first stage some people experience a sense of physical paralysis which may be frightening. Their awareness then seems to become an observing point outside the body, as well as the sense of paralysis. There is usually an intense awareness of oneself and surroundings, unlike dreaming or even lucidity. Some projectors feel they are even more vitally aware and rational than during the waking state. Looking back on ones body may occur here. At this very first stage of complete independence some people experience intense fear. This is most likely due to fearing that one is dying. I believe there is an unconscious connection between the exteriorisation of ones awareness and death.

Example: Then I looked down on my sleeping body. Suddenly I was terrified. I didn’t at the time understand this terror, but the thought came to me in a flash that this what was I had read about – i.e. people leaving their body in projection. The fear immediately vanished to be replaced by uncontrollable laughter. Looking back I think the terror arose because I was certain I was dying. The laughter came at the realisation this was not so, and was a release of tension brought about by the terror.

Then I was travelling across the German countryside where I was living, curled up with my knees to my chest. I could clearly see the countryside below me, and I noticed what were like radiations coming form certain points below. I wondered at the time whether they were from people praying or sending thoughts.  Then I was over the sea and could observe shipping, but suddenly I found myself standing in our sitting room at home in London. It was such an astonishing experience I stood in shock looking down at my body, feeling it and trying to understand.

My body felt solid and real and I was dressed in outdoor clothes not my pajamas. Then with great enthusiasm I looked up and saw my mother sitting alone knitting, our Alsatian dog lying asleep in front of the gas fire. I felt sure my mother would see me because I felt physically present and absolutely and vitally awake in a way I had never experienced before. So I called out to her, “Mum, look what has happened.” She stopped knitting for a moment but obviously didn’t see me or hear me. So I felt if I shouted this would reach her. “Mum” I shouted, “look it’s me Tony”.
My dog Vincent in front of the gas fire – 1956

There was no obvious sign that she had heard me, but two things did happen. One was that I saw or realised that she had an upstairs side of her and a downstairs side. Her upstairs (conscious) side had no awareness of me, but her downstairs side (unconscious) gave me a wonderful welcome and I had the awareness of us knowing each other in a formless love. Then at the same time my dog must have heard me shout because he woke and came rushing to me and was so full of love for me he rushed around where I stood barking and showing his joy. I later heard from my mother saying she had had been alone that night as my father was out, and she had seen the dog get up and bark and jump around for no apparent reason.

I learned enormous and important lessons from that. I saw that because I was  present without a physical body my mother couldn’t hear me. She needed physical sound to know I was present, but yet another part of her knew and responded.  So I saw that if she had thought of me and spoken to me in thought I would know, even though she might not be able to hear my reply – unless she was a medium or learned to listen to thoughts. The reason being that in the body most people cannot communicate via thoughts.

Once the awareness is independent of the body, the boundaries of time and space as they are known in the body do not exist. One can easily pass through walls, fly, travel to or immediately be in a far distant place, witnessing what may be, or appears to be, physically real there.

Sir Auckland Geddes, an eminent British Anatomist, describes his own OBE, which contains many of these features. See: second example in spiritual life in dreams.

Example: Becoming suddenly and violently ill with gastro-enteritis he quickly became unable to move or phone for help. As this was occurring he noticed he had an ‘A’ and a ‘B’ consciousness. The ‘A’ was his normal awareness, and the ‘B’ was external to his body watching. From the ‘B’ self he could see not only his body, but also the house, garden and surrounds. He need only think of a friend or place and immediately he was there and was later able to find confirmation for his observations. In looking at his body, he noticed that the brain was only an end organ, like a condensing plate, upon which memory and awareness played. The mind, he said, was not in the brain, the brain was in the mind, like a radio in the play of signals. He then observed his daughter come in and discover his condition, saw her telephone a doctor friend, and saw the doctor also at the same time.

As OBE’s often occur at times of stress, a near-death-experience, great pain, or in deep withdrawal, they may have a link with such human and animal situations. In other words, OBE’s may have developed as an evolutionary or survival method to deal with death, near death, pain or stress.

For instance, many cases of OBE occur in a near death situation, where a person has ‘died’ of a heart attack for instance, and is later revived. Because of this there are attempts to consider the possibility of survival of death through study of these cases. In fact many people after experiencing an OBE have a very different view of death than prior to their experience. From the opposite point of view, that of the external observer who is not asleep, many OBE’s have been witnessed by relatives of people actually dying through war or accident. During the two world wars, many cases were reported and later corroborated, of seeing the dying person appear, and of them telling of their death, or silently communicating it. I believe this points out the deep connection between an OBE and dying, pain and stress. I have felt that the OBE is in fact the remains of something that existed in primitive animals as a survival mechanism. It was a way of communicating the cause of death to those with genetic bonding. This awareness would help in avoiding the same death.

Early attempts to explain OBE’s suggested a subtle or astral body, which is a double of our physical and mental self, but able to pass through walls and transcend the physical limitations of distance. It was said to be connected to the physical body during an OBE by a silver cord – a life line which kept the physical body alive. This is similar to the concept that the people we dream about are not creations of our own psyche, but real in their own right. This theory has limitations as it can be observed that many people in this condition have no silver cord, and have no body at all, but are simply a bodiless observer, or are an animal, a geometrical shape, a colour or sound. Analysis of many OBE’s therefore suggests that the ‘body’ and many of the other aspects of the experience are as much a creation of ones psyche as are the objects and people in a dream. It is tempting to think that we are our body, and any attack on it in dreams is an attack on us. But this is not so. See: identity and the dreamer.

Example: Had a very unusual dream last night. I was in an outdoor environment. It seemed a bit dark, or maybe morbid is the right word. I was with other people but none of them stood out to remain in memory. There was a definite awareness though of being near to a place that was haunted, and that a man was in trouble in the haunted place.

I decided to go and see if I could sort out the problem. I walked down a slope to where the centre of the haunting existed. It was an open space with an old double-decker bus in it. The only person on the bus was a middle-aged man who was sitting on the top deck leaning out of a window on the right hand side of the bus. I stood beneath him and looked up. He was staring in a glazed way and didn’t see me. I could see and feel that he was being hit by fantasies or hallucinations by whatever was the source of the haunting. This invasion of his mind was grabbing his attention so fully that he wasn’t aware of his surrounding or of me. I was sure that if he went any deeper into this mind stuff he wouldn’t be able to pull out. I waved my hand in his line of vision and banged my hand on the bus to make a noise and get his attention. At first it didn’t seem as if I would bring him out of it, but after a while he looked at me.

I shouted at him to pull out. I said that he had a wife and some more years of his life to live, so why lose himself into this entrancement. This didn’t seem to grab him so I shouted again and said that he would eventually slip into this empty mind world anyway – at death – so why not live with his wife the remaining years of his life. I was sure that if he lost awareness he would let himself starve.

I was aware that what he desired was to slip away into the void, into the awareness of the one life in which he lost any awareness of self. But I banged and shouted and he became more ‘present’. I then felt I had to confront whatever was the source of the powerful ‘haunting’ that was pulling him into the inner mind. I turned away from the man and saw just to my right a short distance from the bus an animal that was the ‘haunter’. It was a mammal of no particular type – a bit like a mixture of dog, rat and guinea pig. It seemed very ordinary and tame, and stood looking at me. I walked toward it and stretched out my hand. It was a tan colour with short fur and gave a feeling of being okay to approach, so I touched it to stroke. This was okay and I was thinking there was no problem when the creature leapt at my throat in a flash of movement and ripped my throat out.

This sounds disturbing but I simply observed this and thought to myself that stroking and trying to be friendly was no way of dealing with this thing. It was as if I was in command of the imagery in that I simply formed another body. The creature ripped out my throat again and dived into my body to eat it. I woke at this point and went for a pee. When I went back to sleep I carried on with the dream. The only way that felt as if I might deal with the creature was to have the meditative state of not having any goals, and not feeling panic at it’s attacks. In fact apart from the gory imagery, there was nothing to be frightened of, as the creature was only attacking my dream image of myself. As I wasn’t identified with that, it couldn’t hurt me. That was the end of the dream.

This means the person’s own unconscious concepts of self seem to be the factor which shapes the form of the OBE. If, therefore, one feels sure one must travel to a distant point, then in the OBE one travels. If one believes one is immediately there by the power of thought, one is there. If one cannot conceive of existing without a body, then one has a body, and so on. The silver cord, from this point of view, exists simply because the ‘dreamer’ feels it is necessary. If the second example is read, it can be seen that Tony at one point travels, then suddenly the travelling through the air ends and he is immediately hundreds of miles away in London. Also, although his sleeping body was in pyjamas, his projected body is wearing outdoor clothes, showing he is not experiencing himself as an ‘astral double’ or copy of his sleeping self. He has no sign of any silver cord, and his own impression afterwards was that the experience was largely a creation of imagery to suit his own beliefs, except that in some way it interfaced with reality. Therefore any theory about OBE’s needs to explain the mixture of reality and subjective experience in such events. For example, in this instance, Tony’s dog had an awareness of him, verified by Tony’s mother, and yet Tony’s experiences were not a part of the ‘real’ world in the usual sense.

In a nutshell, the world of the OBE is created by the concepts of the ‘dreamer’. This world is experienced as physically real, in a similar way to the world of dreams. Yet it is neither a dream in the usual sense, nor is it a dream in which the person is highly lucid. There is a different quality about it than either dreaming or lucidity. The difference is that during an OBE the physical world can also be experienced and witnessed. So in trying to analyse events during an OBE, we must discover what aspects are created out of unconsciously held concepts, and what are witnessed physical world events or objects. Whatever the answer, this view of the OBE suggests there is no need for a person to travel to a site, or to have a silver cord, or in fact any sort of body at all. What emerges is that consciousness can at certain times completely go beyond the limitations of space, location and time we usually accept. For instance it is very real for us to accept that if we wish to personally experience the streets of Tokyo or New York we will have to transport our body to those locations. If we go to New York we cannot at the same time experience Tokyo. With an OBE these rules do not apply. Consciousness does not have to travel. In some way it is already a timeless blanket throughout space. The OBE appears to be a process in which the person focuses on a particular spot, or several spots at once, within that three dimensional blanket. To accomplish the focusing they may utilise personal forms of imagery such as travelling to the spot, or going down a tunnel to the site, or having a projected body. But this imagery, although deeply experienced, appears to be only an aid to focusing awareness away from ones usual physical senses onto the ‘timeless blanket’ of consciousness pervading all space. See Big Bang.

This approach explains many aspects of the OBE, but there is still not a clear concept of what the relationship with the physical world is. If there is survival of death, then the OBE may be an anticipatory form, or a preparatory condition leading to the new form.

Many people mistake various other sleep experiences for an OBE. In fact the concept of a soul or spirit distinct from the body arose in pre-history from the experience of a dreamer going to a distant place while they slept. The dream of the distant or strange place was assumed to mean the dreamer actually travelled to somewhere else. But of course, actual experiences of OBE also occurred as frequently to our forebears as they do to us today.

The mistaken OBE can take many forms, as already explained. One of the most convincing however, is that occurring during the feeling of paralysis during the dream state.

What happens is that during the lucid experience of sleep paralysis the body senses are shut off and the person feels that they have left their body. But that is a symptom of lucidly being aware of the sleep state. See bodiless- sleep yet awake; paralysis while asleep.

See: altered states of consciousness; archetype of death and rebirth; death and dreams; ghost; hallucinations and hallucinogens.

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Comments

-Cara 2012-02-07 14:48:52

I have had a few dreams of OBE. ONE I was high up in a tree and I was electrocuted by a power line & fell to my death, I arose out of my physical body and seen my physical body laying lifeless as my spiritual self was hovering way above and became more distant from it as people rushed to my body then I awoke. Another dream of OBE I was in a pottery class, molding clay and I was on the outside of myself watching the moment of.death. my physical body was sitting molding clay then I lifted my hands up and I literally seen a translucent light coming up from my physical body. Then I awoke. I’ve also had dreams of loved Ines who have past and revisited to give me a message to others of warning or encouragement . I can confirm only because of what happened after I told the person to whom the message was for. I’ve also consciously in my sleep been to Ireland. I’ve never been physically but it was bliss when I went in my dream state. I was high on a cliff in a rather large grassy field, below was the ocean. I was sitting in this field and felt the Breeze on my face and the warmth of the sun. I’ve also had very demonic type dreams where an evil entity was just tormenting me like a mosquito flying about and around ones face. Those dreams were horrible. Finally, by speaking the word of God in my dream state to the entity those type.of dreams have stopped but other dark ones have occurred. Quite an interesting article you’ve written. I can relate to the stress aspect as a possibility for some but for the other dreams I have no answer.

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-tom 2012-05-14 17:11:17

Hay Guys, I freaked my self out a little this morning I dont know what it was but this is what went down: I was dreaming of being in this room, there was white smoke or something in the corner of the room. I asked out loud what is that, at that vey second. a white 5ft ish like totonpole with a mayan type face on it shot up out of the floor were the smoke was ,during this a was hearing a loud and getting louder like vibrational hum like sound (Like the tardis in dr who) . then a crack or bang’ish noise, then boom it felt like my spirit shot out of my body. this whole thing only last a few seconds during this I felt a little like i was awake because I said under my breath “o shit” however it was not scary and I felt like I had done this before. I then completly came round. I would Like an understanding of this if you can help that would be great. Thanks, Tom.

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    -Tony Crisp 2012-05-16 8:27:17

    Tom – When we dream we are in a completely different world with very different possibilities than when awake. Most dreamers tend to stay within the framework of experiencing themselves as a body – as silly as feeling when we are driving a car that we are the car. So you began to experiencing a tear in an apparently real world, a tear that allowed more possibilities in – different dimensions of experience.

    The Mayan totem pole and face was probably your attempt to give meaningful images, and mean that something strange and not of your belief system was emerging into consciousness. See this http://dreamhawk.com/dream-encyclopedia/questions/#SymbolDream as it will explain something of how your mind works.

    Then the vibration is a sign of another energy working on you. To explain this see http://dreamhawk.com/dream-encyclopedia/what-we-need-to-remember-about-dreaming/#Two Powers

    It explains that we have two major powers acting on us – our waking will, and another we take for granted and most people do not know its potential. When this power starts to move us – apparently against our will – we often get frightened or even terrified. You didn’t react like that and so it opened a door for more of that power to act on you and transform you. See http://dreamhawk.com/body-and-mind/peoples-experiences-of-lifestream/ Other dreams will continue the work – maybe it takes time.

    Tony

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-keith 2012-06-06 22:03:17

i dream a lot of seeing myself, i fall of a tall building them get up and see my body dead

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    -Tony Crisp 2012-06-10 12:31:57

    Keith – This is a learning dream. You are learning about the secrets of dreams – that you cannot die – and about death. You saw that even if you did die you would still survive.

    So if you accept that you should move and learn something else.

    Tony

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-wesley patterson 2012-06-20 20:21:12

do you have to be dieing to have an OBE?

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-Beth 2012-07-19 15:49:44

My name is beth, and i’ve been dealing with severe depression and anxiety and i’m 19 years old.
I have out of body “Dreams” but it’s dreams of my memories. i feel like my consciousness gets pushed to the side during a memory or i watch myself. it happens mostly all the time. what exactly does this mean?

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-Nicole 2012-08-19 6:18:59

what does it mean when you dreaming that you keep on waking or your trying to wake up but something feels like its holding you down and you start to see like shadows in a distance? I mean this happens several times and i never knew what it meant. Like i keep wanting to wake up and i feel i do but it nevers happens till i actually wake up.

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-Josie 2012-09-27 2:55:20

About 15 years ago I was in bed and had fallen asleep, I remember awakening and opening my eyes and realized I could not move or talk. I could feel my husband’s arm alongside mine but I was paralyzed. At that moment I felt myself floating up to my ceiling I remember touching the ceiling lightly and pushing myself off of it. I felt like I was in a weightless room. Suddenly I thought this must be an OBE and I thought if I can leave my body I can do anything so I thought about seeing my father who had recently passed away; in the doorway I saw a man dressed in white but it did not look like my father, but somehow I knew it was him and I hugged him. Then I woke up. I came to the conclusion that it was just a beautiful dream. But it has happened many times since then. About 3 times a year I have the same experience. I call them “dreams” because I’m not sure if it is really an OBE. Each time, during this “dream” I remember the last experience and what I was able to do in the “dream”. For instance I fly around my house but in one “dream” decided not to ever leave the house for fear of not making it back and thus dying. It happened again last night. It’s very strange and I feel silly telling anyone about them. I told my husband and he thinks I’m weird. Is this a dream or something else?

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-aprill lizotte 2013-03-02 19:55:52

I’ve had a lifetime of out of body experiences so powerful and real since early childhood . a major sense of having absoulutely no physical ability to turn on light switchs , tv , or to even physically awake my family by touch or voice , a continuois sensation of being fully awake while hovering around only to see my body asleep in my bed ,time travel to other centurys in the past mostly and some very futuristic , realize now this has been past on to my 27 yr old daughter , we never talked about it for sometime both of us for the same reasons you dont talk about it to many people as they look at you as if your crazy

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    -Tony Crisp 2013-03-03 10:13:08

    April – What an amazing thing to happen to you and your daughter. If ever you feel like writing about your experiences I would like to see it.

    Have you learned anything from your experiences – such observations of things not usually seen, like auras around people, future events, other people also out of the body, god like being or great spirits, etc?

    Tony

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-justin 2013-04-27 14:43:46

Tony, if you give me some insight on your opinion on this dream I had it would be very helpful.

So last night i had an OBE dream, in which I remember riding in an ambulance and seeing the hospital. Then laying there on the table dead, i watch the nurse or whom ever call my mother ( then i had a dual screen, like a replay you’d see on sports the live broadcast then the replay) and I seen my mother answer the phone and her whole world crushed as she heard that her son was dead. It even went as far as seeing the affect it had on her months later.

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-Albert Sanchez 2014-01-08 18:19:49

last night while sleeping i remember feeling an out of body experience i felt like i was floating away from my body in my room. I heard a loud sound and felt like i was in a room with a lot of echo i kind of tripped out and felt as if i woke up. I wasnt really scared just in shock and went and told my mother in her room, it felt way too real. Funny thing is when i woke up i realized i went and told my mother in my dream. Ive had lsd trips before sort of remined me of one.

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    -Tony Crisp 2014-01-12 12:00:27

    Albert – LSD releases the dream process that usually only occurs in sleep. Experiencing it while awake opens the possibility of understanding the process IF you see what it happening as a waking dream.

    Of course you can dream you had an out of body experience, and the only way to check if it was a dream or an actual event is to check it against outer events. Did your mother feel or realise anything when you visited her in the dream?

    Tony

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-cordella Rubin 2014-02-21 4:10:29

I have many out of body experience. I can travel anywhere with my mind and body. What is this do I have is there a name for it?

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