You might have heard that the techniques for astral projection have at least one common objective: to put your physical body to sleep while you – the consciousness – stay awake. Since we go to sleep every night, you might think, “Hey, I already have half of what is needed every time I go to sleep!”. Although just being asleep is not necessarily half of what is needed, if you want to know how to have an out of body experience when sleeping you will need to understand and train your lucidity in order to “wake up” as a consciousness without waking up the physical body.
First things first, what do we mean by lucidity? In the framework adopted by IAC, lucidity means to be aware, cognizant, and able to process information and perceptions in a coherent manner, similar to what happens when you are in the waking state. We avoid the word “awake” to avoid confusion with the state of the physical body. You, consciousness, do not need to sleep, your physical body does.
Lucid to Out-of-Body
We can experience small variations in lucidity in the waking state if we are tired, sleepy, or distracted, we would have a higher chance to make mistakes such as leaving our home and forgetting something important behind. On a slightly lower lucidity state we could enter a daydream, where we would be more deeply involved with our thoughts, more detached from the surroundings, sometimes at the point it feels like you are someplace else. In the daydream state you may miss part of a class while you were thinking about that nice holiday you are looking forward to, or miss a sentence in a conversation you are not particularly interested in while thinking about what you will have for dinner.
When you are out of the body, the lucidity can vary a lot more, to the point that you stop processing external perceptions and integrate dream-like images and your imagination in your experience.
Techniques to Increase Lucidity Out of the Body
Most people condition themselves to “switch off” lucidity when going to sleep every night. Some even develop a small “ritual”, lying in bed facing upward, then thinking about the day, then finally turning to one side and going to sleep. The person gets conditioned to “switch off” lucidity when turning to one side. If this is your case, a technique to have an out of body experience while sleeping would be to try to fall asleep while lying face up. The lack of the unconscious “lucidity-off cue” (turning to one side) would allow you to get to the sleep state while staying aware, in control of the experience.
Another technique is to condition yourself to make “lucidity checks” throughout the day. You can use post-it notes around the house with a question such as “am I awake or am I asleep?” Every time you see the question you would stop for a second and try to sense your current lucidity state, trying to assess if that is a waking state experience or if that is a dream, for example. If you make this a habit, chances are that you will do this automatically after naturally disengaging from the physical body during a night of sleep. If you do, you will realize that you are not in the ordinary waking state and your lucidity will go up, starting a lucid out-of-body experience.
Lucidity in the Waking State vs Out-of-Body
You can also try to be more lucid during the waking state in general, avoiding doing things mechanically or in a “mindless” state. Training your attention and concentration can also help. If you tend to jump from one thought to the next without finishing most of them, constantly switch to a new task while in the middle of another one, or catch yourself asking “what did I came here for?” after entering a room in your house you may have room for improvement in your day-to-day lucidity.
You can work with exercises along the lines of mindfulness, where you try to be fully and deeply aware of all the sensorial input your physical body provides. You can do it while you are still, for a few minutes, or when walking down a hallway for instance. The idea is to experience a higher state of lucidity in the waking state in an attempt to use that skill when you are out of the body, during the sleep state.
As we become more familiar with our lucidity in the waking state we will be more likely to trigger a lucid experience while sleeping, opening the door to extraordinary experiences that include the OBE and lucid dreams.
How do you Know You are not Dreaming?
Many people ask how do you know if you are having an out of body experience. Sometimes, depending on your level of lucidity or self-awareness while having an altered state of consciousness such as dream or an OBE, it might be difficult for you to be sure that you are indeed having an out of body experience and not an ordinary dream.
There are some important aspects of an OBE that make this phenomenon unique and different from any other phenomenon (mainly dreams). During an OBE you will feel present within the scenario you find yourself in; meaning that you are part of the story, not only an observer like in a dream. You will feel the interaction with the place, with other people, the communication etc.
Another common aspect of an OBE is your mental capacity and attributes. If you think, decide and criticise then you are most likely having an out of body experience. The feeling of disconnection, levitation or floating sensation… these are also characteristics of an OBE.
An OBE is also a much more logical experience in general than a dream, because it is felt as you feel life: with a beginning, a middle and an end. Some people also report vibration (the sensation of the entire body vibrating); and afterwords they feel that a very lucid dream has occurred, which can also an OBE.
In essence, an OBE differs from an ordinary dream in that we are actually out of our physical body; we are still lucid; our memory, logical process, all mental capacities… are still with us. But we are not using the physical body, but a much lighter body; therefore the experience might trigger very peculiar type of sensations which the practitioner will be able to differentiate in time.
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