What is Astral Projection?
Call it what you like — dream body, astral body, energy body, Buddhist light body, Taoist diamond body, Egyptian ka, Tantric subtle body, Hindu body of bliss — and in Christianity, the experience of different “heavens,” i.e. “I know a man who was caught up to the third heaven. Whether it was in our out of body, I do not know,” from Corinthians 12:1-4. The subtle body is a universal human experience, and apparently part of our standard human design like toenails and kidneys. It is this subtle body that projects astrally and is active during unconscious and lucid dreaming; astral projection and dreaming often go hand-in-hand as “out-of-body” experiences, or OBEs.
The subtle body, when cultivated, can survive the physical body as a matrix for consciousness, and astral projection and lucid dreaming are part of spiritual training paths for subtle body cultivation. Neophytes confuse the subtle body with the soul or spirit, two additional aspects of multi-dimensional humans.
Out of Body Experiences and Astral Projection
The OBE can be intentional or involuntary, as with near-death events when people report finding themselves floating near the ceiling of their hospital rooms, perhaps observing medical staff attempting to revive them. Trauma, illness, or water and food deprivation, as with Native American vision quests, can trigger OBEs. Lucid dream states are opportunities for intentional OBEs. For the purposes of this article, OBEs may be spontaneous, and astral projection a conscious choice, though some would argue otherwise.
Essentially, the OBE begins with an experience of leaving the body and consciously observing it from a detached perspective. With practice and lucidity, awareness can be directed to locations or activities like flight. Yes, flight. If you’ve had flying dreams — literal flying, no 747 required — or being in the sky, you’ve had OBEs. Some say that we have regular OBEs during sleep, often hovering a few inches over our physical bodies.
Neuroscientists are puzzled — while the experience is no longer dismissed out of hand by medical professionals, science holds the view that OBEs involve neurological or brain dysfunction. After his own experience, Dr. Raymond Moody MD became interested in near death OBEs, and for decades interviewed hundreds of experiencers and collected data, defining common qualities of OBEs. Moody identified nine common elements of a near-death OBE — some experiencing all, some, only two or three.
Benefits of OBE
The tantrics mastered lucid OBE and dream states to overcome the fear of death by learning that we are not our “bodies.” They also discovered that the physical body can experience deep healing during OBEs — the mind can be tough on the body. And rather than losing time to practice meditation during sleep, yogis continued working through the night while the body rested.
Some athletes learn lucid dreaming to practice and visualize their game. By working in a dream or out-of-body, not only do they visualize, they have a “felt sense” of their practice, and can actually acquire the muscle memory for winning habits. Others benefit from the opportunity to explore past lives as well as accelerated personal development.
Astral Projection Methods
There are dozens of methods to learn conscious OBE and astral projection. There are two approaches — one is to keep the mind awake while the body falls asleep. It’s tricky — the mind wants to do what the body is doing. The goal is to take the body into deeper and deeper states of relaxation without drifting into unconsciousness. Yoga Nidra is one method. Once the body enters sleep state, practitioners simply “roll” out of their physical form.
Ancient yogis would tie two frogs together before sleep. Once tied, the frogs would continuously croak— a yogi would use the sound to anchor awareness as the body drifted into sleep, and either leave the body, or enter lucid dream states. If, during a dream, the yogi could no longer hear the frogs, he/she knew lucidity had been lost, and could “wake” again within the dream.
How to Astral Project/Travel
Monroe Institute Steps
Bob Monroe, founder of the leading research organization in the field of human consciousness called The Monroe Institute, penned a body of work titled “Journeys Out of the Body” in 1971 in which he provides a detailed outline for how to astrally project one’s self in seven steps:
- Step 1: Relax, both physically and mentally.
- Step 2: Enter a hypnagogic state, or half-sleep.
- Step 3: Deepen the state by prioritizing mental sensation over physical sensation.
- Step 4: Pay attention to the presence of vibration in your environment, which becomes apparent in a state of deep attention.
- Step 5: Incur the vibration in your physical body, and relax into its presence. The purpose of this is to gently jiggle the subtle body out of the physical body.
- Step 6: Focus your thoughts on leaving the limbs and the torso, and try to do so one at a time.
- Step 7: Known as “lifting out,” focus on effortlessly drifting out of your physical body.
The Astral Projection Rope Technique
From the work of Robert Bruce, founder of the Astral Dynamics movement, the rope technique is regarded one of the most accessible astral projection methods.
Step 1: Relax the physical body by visualizing each muscle.
Step 2: From your space of relaxation, enter a vibrational states; this should feel like an amplified version of a cell phone’s vibration mode pulsations coursing through the body.
Step 3: Imagine a rope hanging above you.
Step 4: Using the astral, or subtle, body, attempt to hold on to the rope with both hands. The physical body remains completely relaxed.
Step 5: Begin to climb the rope, hand over hand, all the while visualizing reaching the ceiling above you.
Step 6: Once you are aware of your full exit of the physical body, you are able to explore the astral plane.
Lucid Dreaming Techniques
Again, there are numerous lucid dreaming techniques. Some are designed to train the sleeper to wake within the dream, others offer methods of staying lucid while letting the body fall asleep.
A Nootropic Approach
Yes, it’s sounds weird. Nicotine has specific actions on brain chemistry — but no, it’s not about smoking. Considered a cognitive enhancer, nicotine is gaining fans among biochemical brain hackers.
Many, using nicotine patches to quit smoking, have inadvertently discovered what happens when they forget to remove a patch before sleep. Nicotine can induce hyper-realistic, but bizarre dreams that are so outrageous that many simply say to themselves, “Omg. This MUST be a dream. It’s too nuts to be anything else.” And voila — lucidity is attained. This is not an endorsement of the method, as many report nightmares when using nicotine.
Lucid Dreaming With Habit and Repetition
We attain lucidity the instant we recognize we’re in a dream state. Some people train by asking themselves, several times a day for days or weeks, “is this a dream?” The question eventually gets stuck in the place songs and jingles get stuck and are hard to unstick — things like “Afternoon Delight” by the Starlight Vocal Band. You know what we’re talking about.
The premise is that the question begins to habitually repeat by itself, and that eventually the mind will ask during a dream. When the dreamer answers, “why yes, this IS a dream!” they achieve lucidity.
The best opportunities for becoming lucid within a dream are during REM (rapid eye movement) sleep. This stage happens in the first two hours after we fall asleep and before we wake up. By waking and going back to sleep during the night we increase REM sleep time. Some use the sleep/wake method by setting interval alarms during the night, getting up for a few minutes, and going back to sleep with an intention of keeping the mind awake. If awakened during a dream, immediately go back to sleep — if possible, re-enter the dream with lucidity.
Philip K. Dick's Communication with Valis and the Evolution of Humanity
Valis, Philip K. Dick, and the Evolution of Humanity
When Philip K. Dick went to the dentist in February 1974, the acclaimed science fiction author did not know that his view of reality was about to change. He was in a lot of pain with what turned out to be an impacted wisdom tooth, and was sedated with sodium pentothal while the dentist removed the tooth. The pain afterwards was fairly severe, so the dentist ordered a painkiller, Darvon, for delivery to his patient’s home later that day.
When the courier arrived, Dick answered the door and was suddenly taken aback by a pendant she was wearing. It was a fish ornament, which she explained Christians adopted as a symbol of their religion. He saw a “red and gold plasmic entity” coming from the pendant and, as he reported it, immediately experienced “crystal clear” vision and “sudden exposure to a vast amount of knowledge.”
This was not his first experience with visions and hearing voices. The voice he heard was the same voice he had heard years before while in college. He also began channeling an alien presence he called “Vast Active Living Intelligence System,” or “Valis” for short. The intense visions lasted for two months, leading him to refer to this period of his life as “2-3-74,” for February and March 1974. During the next eight years, he wrote thousands of pages about his visions and voices. His novels were more autobiographical than they were science fiction.
Dick died suddenly in 1982, shortly before the release of the movie “Blade Runner” based on Dick’s book, “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?” Many of his other books are now movies, as well. He is now known as the “most influential writer of science fiction in the past half century.”
But, was it all science fiction? He received multiple communications from Valis, had dreams and visions about the future, and spent the rest of his life trying to understand why he gained such supreme knowledge. He claimed to have “total recall of the future.”
Philip K. Dick: The Pre-Valis Years
Philip Kindred Dick was born in December 1928 during the cold Chicago winter. He had a twin sister, Jane, who lived for only about eight weeks. She died mysteriously, some saying she had an allergy to her mother’s breast milk. Whatever happened, Dick went through his life always missing his sister and blaming his mother for her death. His father left the family when he was only 5 years old. Shortly after that, he and his mother moved to Berkeley, California, where he lived most of his life.
First published when he was just a teenager, his first short story marked the beginning of a prolific writing career. Although he successfully published a number of his stories, he was not such a success financially. He was always running out of money and seemed to live from advance to advance.
Dick’s life was not emotionally easy and he seemed troubled throughout his entire life: married five times with three children, thought to use drugs and experiment with LSD, and frequent visions of his own death. Despite drug use allegations, he was able to continue writing. By the time of his death, he had published more than 120 short stories and 44 novels.
As early as 1954, Dick wrote about precognition in his novel, “The World Jones Made.” Based on his own experiences, the main character in that book was a “precog” who could see one year into the future. His books often referenced precognition, and Dick believed he himself had this ability.
He also heard voices, or at least a voice. As a young man taking the physics portion of a college entrance exam, Dick found that he did not understand eight of the 10 questions. Suddenly, he heard the voice explain to him, in a completely understandable way, what he needed to know. As a result, he received a perfect score on the test.
He heard the same voice again years later, when it explained to him what was happening in a television documentary that he had had difficulty understanding. In 1974, the same voice returned when he had his life-changing vision in response to the fish-pendant worn by the pharmacy delivery girl and he began his regular communications with Valis.
Philip K. Dick: The Valis Years
Although Dick reported only sporadic communications with the voice until 1974, after that date, the communications became fairly frequent and routine. Valis gave him advice on improving his health, his appearance and his financial situation. Dick credited the voice with saving the life of his young son by describing the medical condition the boy suffered from and urging Dick to get the child immediately to a doctor. He convinced his wife of the need to take their seemingly healthy boy to the doctor where they discovered the child had the exact condition the voice described to Dick. Prompt surgery saved the boy’s life.
Dick believed the voice he heard was from God, or at least from some higher power. He wrote continuously about what he experienced. He ended up writing thousands of pages and hundreds of thousands of words in his attempt to make sense of it.
He intended his 1981 book “Valis” to be a trilogy. It was more of a biographical presentation of Dick’s visions and voices than it was a book that fit in the science fiction genre. As one reviewer put it, “He’s not looking for aliens; he’s looking for the meaning of life.” Due to his sudden death in 1982, at the age of 54, Dick never completed the trilogy.
The Death of Philip K. Dick
In February 1975, Dick wrote a letter to a friend telling her about a dream he had just had where he saw “a stark single horrifying scene, inert but not still; a man lay dead, on his face, in a living room between the coffee table and the couch.” He followed the letter with another one in May 1975 in which he said he was “scared.” He added, “What scares me most Claudia, is that I can often recall the future.”
Almost exactly seven years after the first letter, Philip K. Dick’s dead body was found face down in his living room, wedged between the coffee table and the couch. Without realizing it, he had accurately predicted the circumstances surrounding his own death. Some reports say he died of a stroke. Others claim it was congestive heart failure. Others regale in the mystery of why he died so young.
Philip K. Dick left behind, in addition to his short stories and novels, his influence on other sci-fi writers and pop culture, as well as many mind-bending films. Unfortunately, he did not live to see his work on the big screen. He died before the release of his first movie, “Blade Runner;” however he saw about 20 minutes of the finished product and seemed pleased that the filmmaker preserved Dick’s vision. Other movies based on his books that were made after his death include: “Minority Report,” “Total Recall,” “A Scanner Darkly” and several others.
He also left behind more than 8,000 pages about his experiences with Valis since his 1974 vision. The pages had narrow margins and were mostly single spaced with numerous handwritten journal entries. Dick referred to this body of work as his Exegesis. The papers were edited and published in 2011 as “The Exegesis of Philip K. Dick.”
Was Philip K. Dick more than just a legendary science fiction author? Check out Mysteries of the Solar System, part of Gaia’s Deep Space series, and watch the conversation between Open Mind’s host Regina Meredith and her guest, Anthony Peake, on Scanning the Future with Philip K. Dick.
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