The Basics of Astral Projection

First, a little background.

Astral projection (or astral travel), is a term used to describe an intentional out-of-body experience (OBE),  The assumption is that the soul exists separately from the physical body and is capable of “travelling” throughout the universe as directed.  The concept of astral travel is ancient and occurs in many cultures. Usually, it is in association with dreams and forms of meditation. There is no scientific evidence that there is a consciousness whose functions are separate from normal neural activity or that one can consciously leave the body and make observations, and astral projection has been characterized as a pseudoscience.

The classical, medieval, renaissance idea of astral projections is the idea that astral body is an intermediate body of light linking the rational soul to the physical body.  The astral plane is seen as an intermediate world of light between Heaven and Earth, with spheres of the planets and stars. Traditionally these astral spheres were held to be populated by angels, demons and spirits.

Planes of existence are depicted as a series of concentric circles or nested spheres, with a separate body traversing each realm.  Some claim that the subtle body is attached to the physical body by means of a psychic silver cord. In the Bible chapter of the Book of Ecclesiastes is often cited in this respect: "Before the silver cord be loosed, or the golden bowl be broken, or the pitcher be shattered at the fountain, or the wheel be broken at the cistern." Paul's Second Epistle to the Corinthians is generally agreed to refer to astral planes: "I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago was caught up to the third heaven. Whether it was in the body or out of the body I do not know—God knows”.

Ancient Egypt concepts of soul travel commonly appear in various other religious traditions. Ancient Egyptian teachings present the soul (ba) as having the ability to hover outside the physical body via the ka, or subtle body.  China Taoist alchemical practice involves creation of an energy body by breathing meditations, drawing energy into a 'pearl' that is then "circulated”.   In Hinduism, similar ideas such as the Liṅga Śarīra are found in ancient Hindu scriptures like, the YogaVashishta-Maharamayana of Valmiki. Modern Indians who have vouched for astral projection include Paramahansa Yogananda who witnessed Swami Pranabananda doing a miracle through a possible astral projection and the Indian spiritual teacher Meher Baba described the use of astral projection:

In the advancing stages leading to the beginning of the path, the experiant must become spiritually prepared for being entrusted with free use of the forces of the Universe. He may then undertake astral journeys in his astral body, leaving the physical body in sleep or wakefulness. The astral journeys that are taken unconsciously are much less important than those undertaken with full consciousness and as a result of intent.

Conscious separation of the astral body from the physical body has its own value in making the soul feel its distinction from the tangible body and in arriving at fuller control of the tangible body. One can, at will, put on and take off the external physical body as if it were a cloak, and use the astral body for experiencing the inner world of the astral and for undertaking journeys through it, if and when necessary....The ability to undertake astral journeys therefore involves considerable expansion of one's scope for experience. It brings opportunities for promoting one's own spiritual advancement, which begins with the involution of consciousness.” 

In Japanese mythology, an ikiryō is a manifestation of the soul of a living person separately from their body. If someone holds a sufficient grudge against another person, it is believed that a part or the whole of their soul can temporarily leave their body and appear before the target of their hate in order to curse or harm them, similar to an evil eye.

In some Inuit groups, people with special capabilities are said to travel to (mythological) remote places, and report their experiences and things important to their fellows or the entire community; They learn how to stop bad luck in hunting, cure a sick person etc., things unavailable to people with normal capabilities.  In the Amazon, the  yaskomo of the Waiwai is believed to be able to perform a "soul flight" that can serve things like healing, flying to the sky to consult cosmological beings (the moon or the brother of the moon) to get a name for a new-born baby, flying to the cave of peccaries' mountains to ask the father of peccaries for abundance of game or flying deep down in a river to get the help of other beings.

"Astral" and "etheric" By Definition

"Astral projection" came to be used in two different ways. For the some it is and was the philosophers' meaning of journeying to other worlds, heavens, hells, the astrological spheres and others.  The term, "etheric travel" is a useful distinction. . Visiting in different times and/or places: "etheric" is used to represent the sense of being "out of the body" in the physical world.  “Astral" connotes some alteration in time-perception.  This etheric body is usually invisible but is often perceived by the experiencer as connected to the physical body during separation by a "silver cord". Some link "falling" dreams with projection.

Other experiments describe a place that has no parallel to any known physical setting. Environments may be populated or unpopulated, artificial, natural or abstract, and the experience may be good, bad or neutral. A common belief is that one may access a mystical knowledge called the Akashic records. The experiencer correlates the astral world with the world of dreams. Some even report seeing other dreamers enacting dream scenarios unaware of their wider environment. 

The soul's ability to leave the body at will or while sleeping and visit the various planes of heaven is also known as "soul travel". The practice is taught in Surat Shabd Yoga, where the experience is mostly by meditation techniques and mantra repetition.  Edgar Cayce from the US, known as the “Sleeping Prophet”, had been practicing astral travel at Washington DC for many years.

In occult traditions, practices range from inducing trance states to the mental construction of a second body, called the Body of Light, through visualization and controlled breathing.  It is then followed by the transfer of consciousness to the secondary body by a mental act of will (intent). There are cases of patients having experiences thought to be related to astral projection from brain stimulation treatments and hallucinogenic drugs. There is no known scientific evidence that astral projection as an objective phenomenon exists. Subjects in parapsychological experiments have attempted to project their astral bodies to distant rooms and see what was happening. Such experiments have produced few clear results.  The existence of an astral plane is contrary to the limits of science. Psychologist Donovan Rawcliffe has written that astral projection can be explained by delusion, hallucination and vivid dreams.

For many, Astral projection is a natural occurrence. If you have experienced a jolt, and been startled from a half-asleep state, this is your Astral Body returning too rapidly to your physical form. There are an infinite number of realities, planes and realms in the astral dimension. It can also be consciously practiced to become aware of other levels of consciousness.

When beginning to Astral travel, work on losing your fear of the unknown. Never attempt Astral Projection while under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Start the experience with positive and wholesome thoughts about yourself, your friends and family, and your imminent experience.  Adopt a comfortable position in a quiet place where you won’t be interrupted.  This should not be done in bed, as you may fall asleep if lying down. Most recommend using meditation music without drum beats.

Clear your head of random thoughts. Focus on your breathing—in through your nose, out through your mouth.  This is harder than it looks.  Visualize yourself breathing in peace and breathing out any disharmony. Starting with your feet and finishing up at your head, focus on relaxing completely and count down from 10 to one. Many also include the use of a repetitive mantra.  If your mind starts drifting, simply return to your mantra.

Your inner self and senses become super aware but your body becomes extremely heavy and relaxed. You will enter a heightened state of simultaneous awareness and relaxation: Now, you are ready for astral projection. Clear your head of everything.  Do not be impatient--sooner or later you will seem to leave your physical form. Initially, the realization that you have projected may force you back to your body. It gets easier as you practice.

You will get the sensation of movement, as if you are in a moving a car or boat. This is the sign of your astral body beginning to separate.  Lights and colors may appear in front of your eyes. Use your thoughts to move around on your astral plane.  When it is time to return to your physical environment, just tell yourself to come back to your body; and visualize yourself back in your body. Count from one to 10, focus on each part of your body and begin to slowly move them and don’t hurry.  You may have been physically static for a long time and a bit unsteady when you come out of it.  At first, it is recommended that you not do astral travel your own. The presence of an experienced guide is always a good idea, but even a regular person being there is helpful.  They can also take notes for you to read when you “come back”.

You may be extremely skeptical about all this. Even if you have been meditating, the idea of a consciousness that possibly expands beyond the limits of your five senses and body might seem a little unrealistic.  Your belief that it is real will go a long way in successfully mastering this.

Here is a guide:

Step 1. Set your Intentions and imagine the best outcome. It’s a good practice to imagine yourself having achieved any kind of goal and what you’ll feel like having done it.  Experiment with how intentions and positive thoughts affect all of the aspects of your life.  Take a few moments to get into a calm state.

Once you feel totally relaxed, imagine your ideal outcome. Put your thoughts and self into that image.  Once it feels natural to you step one is complete.  Don’t expect it to happen easily or progress to step to until you have understood and experienced that deep level of relaxation.

Step 2. Become Aware of Spiritual Sensation.  There are various spiritual schools describe the astral body in similar but slightly differing ways. The concept is not as far off as you might thinking. For instance, take some inspiration from Neville Goddard once more.  Imagine a Tennis ball.  Maybe it’s just by the look of the ball, which is a good first step. Now imagine holding the ball, feeling how soft and fuzzy the surface of it is. Now, change that ball image into a rose or a slice of bread. Feel the difference?  How about a $20 bill? Feel the difference?  Be careful not to overthink, just experience the sensation of what you are seeing and feeling.

Because you can discriminate between all these objects, then they must exist somewhere. What you’re doing is exercising your ability to detect spiritual sensation. In order to have your first intentional Astral Projection or out of body experience, become very familiar with this process. Be sure to practice a few seconds at a time each day, and always ensure good or pleasant things when doing so.

Step 3. Deepen Your Meditative State. To achieve Astral Projection, you will return to that sleep like state you will be returning to that state and going as deep as possible without falling completely asleep. White noise, trusted hypnotic guides or recordings, or repeated the deep breathing may help.  Then your objective is to disassociate your astral body from your physical one. This that happens naturally or when you unintentionally have out of body experiences so you have no reason to be worried.

As you begin to drift deeper into relaxation, you’ll probably naturally begin to become aware of a floating sensation.  There may be a pleasant vibration. Focus on the vibration and feel it reverberating through your body and there may be a pleasant warmth along with it.  As you home in on this vibration, use it to “jiggle” your astral body and cause a separation between it and your physical body. As this separation of your physical and astral body widens, focus on “lifting” your astral limbs from your physical limbs one at a time.  Or, as you drift into deeper consciousness, you may notice a vibration that you’ll want to fill yourself deeply with. As you do, slowly begin to “twist” your astral body without physically moving.  Soon you will achieve a full separation and be on your way.

This occurs in repetitive circles or spirals.  As you make your first full circle, you may feel a little strange and your eyes may feel the need to follow your turning. If you’re struggling with this, return to deep breathing and try again once you feel completely relaxed.

Another popular technique is the “Rope” Method.  Once you are akin to sleep and are pulsing with vibrational energy, imagine a rope hanging directly above you. Lift one arm of your astral body away from your physical body and grab on to the rope.  If you see yourself physically moving, you aren’t there yet.  Go back to the meditative state and keep trying.  If it is working for you, imagine lifting the other arm and slowly pull yourself arm over arm until with the rope and then you are entirely detached from your physical body. Think of it like climbing out of a deep hole.

Once you feel you have achieved the separation of mind and body, tell yourself where to go and what to look for.  This should be a positive experience, not an investigative one.  You are going there to experience something pleasant, not work on the learning and project.  Allow yourself to simply experience rather than trying to make sense of it all or find a source for what is happening.  This may be difficult for people who are thinkers—we always analyze what we are experiencing.  If you find this is happening, direct your astral body to let go of that need.

After Care

As an investigator into all things paranormal, it is crucial you make notes when you are “back”.  These notes should include where you went (and was that where you intended?). Write a clear description of everything you saw.  Note any sensations-were you cold? Was it silent?  Did you feel any pain or nausea? Your virtual/astral body is the same as your physical one, just not tangible.  Did you see anybody or anything?  Often we glimpse a former pet or relative, or sometimes someone famous.  If you do, are these beings appropriate to the situation you visited?  Were there smells, sounds, tastes or other physical type experiences?  Don’t put off making these notes.  Do it when the experience is fresh and before you have the urge to analyze it.

Treat this like a personal, emotional experience.  Once achieved, it is a moving, almost religious, part of who you are and unlike investigations, doesn’t require sharing the details.  You are, of course, free to share your story but open yourself up to criticisms that may affect your ability to do it again because it shakes your faith.

There are a handful of things you should not do.   Don’t allow thoughts of negativity. Don’t close your mind.  Don’t spend too long on one technique—try them all for what works for your own journey.  It’s not like lucid dreaming.  In a dream, you are the author or creator and in charge of anything involved.  This is not the case for Astral Travelling.  You may encounter just about anything on another plane, none of what happens, or who you encounter do you have control over.

The most difficult part of this is confidence and faith.  You must go into the experience fully confident that it will happen and it with clear intent.  It likely won’t “work” the first few times, but with practice it will become very natural.  This is not a “let’s see if this works” kind of project.  You have to believe going in that it does or will work.  The universe sees your emotion and level of confidence and is ultimately the source of whether you will be “allowed” to her most sacred home.

This isn’t a game.  It isn’t a hobby.  Have good reason to do it, instead of just to see what it is like.  Be mentally and spiritually strong.  There are risks involved that aren’t there in lucid dreaming.  Also, steps need to be taken to care for your physical body when you are away.  Things that you would do before taking a vacation are good idea.  Lock doors, make sure candles are out and nothing is cooking on the stove.  Someone could come in to your room and stab or choke you or even shoot you.  While your consciousness is outside your body you may not even hear them come into your home.  Protect your body, your cord, and your astral self.

Some fear they can be “possessed”, particularly by a demon.   A demon can only possess you if you let it, if you intend for it, if you’re vibrating so low that you easily vacate your body just for some relief from your life.  This is another reason confidence and intent are central to the experience.  You also can’t get lost wandering through the universe.  That’s one of the advantages of having that silver rope attaching your physical self to your astral self.  It is a quick and easy road home.  You can get distracted or delayed but you will always be able to get back into your body if you want to.

For my personal experience. I never doubted astral travel was possible.  I have found my biggest challenge is not falling asleep from the meditation!  When that happens, I try another time when I am not so tired.  After more than two decades of travel if feels quite natural to me, although I still struggle with the difference between astral travel and lucid dreaming.  For me, each of those experiences are very real.  Understanding the concept of intent is crucial-when you dream it is not something you control, implying what happens during the time is not “real”.  When you astral travel, you have full ability to get back, safe from anything uncomfortable.

Take your time.  Try several different methods and locations.  Use what works for you.

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