For skeptics, astral travel is a controversial notion because of the lack of direct physical evidence. For lucid dreamers, it bears striking resemblances with internally generated wake induced lucid dreams (WILDs).
So, is astral projection real?
Well, it depends what we mean by 'real'. As a skepticital sort and a seasoned lucid dreamer, I have a unique perspective.
As a teenager I was set on having out of body experiences.
Through meditation practices, I'd already had some tantalizing experiences of passing through the "vibrational state"; a harsh buzzing sensation which marks the onset of conscious sleep.
Around the same time I began having lucid dreams.
Soon, I'd managed to separate my awareness from my body in bed, and float in my bedroom. Sometimes it was clear I was floating in a dream bedroom, in a completely different location to where I went to sleep. Other times I felt it was absolutely for real (even if it was difficult to see much) and I was aware of being in my own room.
Over time, I had more WILDs, in which I entered my dreams, consciously, from a waking state.
If I didn't imagine a dream scene in time, I'd start dreaming of my bedroom, and then I'd float out my body and out the window. It was as tangible and real as any "astral projection" experience I've ever heard about.
And so it started to make sense to me that all of these slightly different exit methods were all internally generated dream states.
When I looked at it that way, all the pieces of the puzzle fell into place.
Interestingly, the core experience of astral projection, out of body experiences, sleep paralysis and wake induced lucid dreams are very similar.
It begins when you are half-asleep in bed. You may feel paralyzed. You are aware of lying in bed, yet there are some funny sensations going on.
As you dissociate from your body, you begin to feel as if you're floating. Your mind shuts off awareness from your physical body. As long as you are awake, and your body falls asleep, you will naturally transfer your awareness to a more flexible replica body; a dream body.
You could describe this as a spirit or astral body. Or you could call it your lucid dream body. It's all about perspective. But I'm quite sure this is not a real body.
To carry the perception that you are still paralyzed, or somehow stuck in your body in bed, will almost certainly create a frustrating experience. It may even become scary - especially if you start to dream that evil entities or astral spirits have entered the room. This is a true mark of sleep paralysis.
One you "separate" from your body in bed, you can explore the room, pass through walls and windows and even fly out into the night. It's no wonder that this incredibly realistic experience is interpreted as a spiritual one.
Consider the difference between an internal experience and an external experience:
If there's one reliable principle in lucid dreaming, it's that your expectations play a leading role in your experience. This is just one way we can establish for ourselves that it's an internal and personal experience.
Equally, during an apparent astral projection experience, you might travel to different astral planes, see layers of ethereal realities shaped by energy and light. Yet one key similarity remains: in astral projection, your thoughts guide the experience.
In the same way, if you imagine a friend's house on your astral travels, you will likely zap there in an instant. If you imagine your body back in bed, you will quickly return to it. And if you expect to see the legendary silver chord connecting you to your body, it will materialize.
These are all descriptions of "out-of-body" induced lucid dreams.
Is belief in astral projection, as a real, spiritual phenomenon, somehow detrimental or damaging? Why can't people just believe whatever they want to believe?
Of course, you can. But I have good evidence to show how such an erroneous belief can actually harm you and detract from your experience of lucid dreaming.
As lucid dreamers, the expectation principle often works in our favor. We can use it to manifest dream figures and objects, change the scenery, and fulfill our greatest desires. Even if things turn sour and we experience a lucid nightmare, we remain aware that none of it is real and we are safe.
For the astral traveler, the power of expectations (both conscious and unconscious) can be a major hindrance. Not least because of the direct emotional implications of mingling with the spirit world. One example is from the blogger Erin Pavlina who described her first astral projection experience as terrifying:
Because of her spiritual belief system, Erin was convinced these visions were real. Sleep paralysis can be scary enough, even when you know it's all in your head. Imagine the intensity of the fear if you truly believed these were evil beings from a spirit world.
(Incidentally, if you do suffer these kinds of frightening experiences, I recommend Ryan Hurd's Sleep Paralysis: A Guide to Hypnagogic Visions and Visitors of The Night.)
In other words, I see no reason to plague ourselves with irrational beliefs that transform lucid dream opportunities into hellish nightmares.
To feel safe in your lucid dream explorations, I suggest you consciously recognize that any entities you perceive through sleep paralysis be accepted as dream figures.
This calm recognition will help reduce your fear and lead to better lucid dream outcomes:
This is a controversial subject. It touches on that sensitive spot where people hold their personal religious and spiritual views.
However, I believe it’s totally possible to believe in a notion of ‘astral projection’ and yet still embrace the fact that these experiences are internally generated.
In fact, I wrote a mini course on the subject, with detailed instructions on how to astral project using this mindset. You can download it now by clicking the link below.
To be honest, once you embrace the fact that astral projection is internally generated, the whole subject becomes even more fascinating.
After all, we already know that we can connect with hidden wisdom and insights via our dreams, so why shouldn’t this be reflected via ‘astral planes’ too?
We’re aware that quantum entanglement exists.
And we suspect that naturally occurring DMT is released from our own pineal glands.
You see sometimes truth is stranger than fiction – and as explorers of the dream world we need to be aware of all possibilities.
These are themes you can explore further in Astral Projection Secrets!
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Members of our lucid dream forum have been asking how to create dream characters in lucid dreams. The most common problem is having characters who look nothing like they should. Or they seem disinterested in your company. Or they fail to show up on command altogether. So, how to combat this? It's a matter of finding creative solutions that bypass logical expectations.
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