Dreams and Out of Body Experiences
By Thomas Leichardt, L.Ac., DMQ (China)
Conscious out of body experiences present us with an incredible and unique opportunity to learn more about ourselves and our multidimensional universe. It is incredibly liberating to be free of our physical vehicle for a time, while exploring and experiencing other quite as legitimate dimensions of consciousness during an out of body state. Following this transformative experience, we return to our physical lives refreshed and revitalized. The old paradigms that we once identified with as certain and solid no longer feel so solid anymore. A dimension of spaciousness enters into our view of ourselves, our universe, and our fellows, opening us up to a much broader perspective. Direct knowledge of ourselves as multidimensional beings, and our ability to travel within these other dimensions, greatly adds to our experience of physical life, enriching it in innumerable ways.
In this article, we’ll spend some time exploring this mysterious art which is as ancient as humanity itself. But rather than a dry treatise on the history of out of body experiences, or their use in ancient cultures or tribal nations, this will be a highly practical guide to astral travel that you can use today. We’ll cover some of the basic “anatomy” of an out of body experience, and then we’ll launch into a technique that you can try for yourself. I’m an advocate of radical and direct personal experience. Theory can only take us so far in our understanding. At best, theory describes reality. However, no amount of theory can substitute for direct personal experience, in the same way that a long treatise on the biochemical properties of honey will never truly hint at its flavor nor adequately describe its taste. It is my hope, then, that this short article may help you taste the sweetness of your own multidimensional nature.
Let me add here briefly, that out of body exploration is in no way meant to be seen or used as a means to “escape” physical reality. We are here for a reason, and that reason is to learn to take responsibility for the contents of our minds, the direction of our thought, and the effects of our focus, as reflected through direct physical and tangible experience. Our physical “schoolroom” is a training ground that prepares us to enter other dimensions of experience. It is a highly useful venture that has the most immense and immediate value. Therefore, out of body experiences are useful and insightful to the degree that they help us feel the preciousness of our intimate daily lives. And indeed, they do that and so much more!
My definition of an out of body experience (or OBE for short) is a state in which we have full conscious awareness that we are no longer in our physical body, and that instead we find ourselves in another vehicle of consciousness. As we begin to awaken to our multidimensional nature, we come to realize that the physical body is just one of many vehicles of awareness. Just as our physical body is geared to operate within the physical realm, each vehicle of consciousness is geared to operate within a certain dimension of reality, operating, just as an analogy now, within a certain range of the electromagnetic spectrum. Generally speaking, as we move into the interior of the universe, we progressively don vehicles of lesser density. In other words, our body becomes less dense the deeper we travel.
There are innumerable planes of awareness, as each state of consciousness generates a unique field of reality within which it can know itself and find value fulfillment. A useful analogy to understand this phenomenon is a radio dial. We can think of physical reality as one frequency on that dial. Our physical body is equipped to operate within that one narrow band or frequency, namely, the physical realm. Our body operates within this “frequency” through the five senses, producing its unique picture of reality. The body, being tuned into this one frequency, necessarily ignores all the other frequencies, or dimensions, while it exclusively focuses within its own reality. Each vehicle of consciousness, then, operates at a different frequency on that dial, and faithfully abides within its given field through the use of senses that are equipped to operate within that particular frequency. It does this to the exclusion of all other frequencies, generally speaking. In other words, each vehicle has senses that are designed to operate within its unique dimension of reality while generally tuning out all others. Just how many of these vehicles we can travel in is unknown, as there are no hard and fast rules, only gradations and continuums of consciousness.
There are literally infinite gradations of consciousness and infinite planes of existence. However, for the sake of an easy discussion, it helps to create some conceptual containers and categories. These concepts can be used to take us to a deeper level of understanding, after which they must be dispensed with entirely. Therefore, all divisions are artificial and for the sake of discussion only. We are unlimited beings, and all boundaries, being self created, are ultimately an illusion.
That being said, there are three basic levels of reality, namely, the physical plane, the astral plane, and the causal plane. Beyond all these, is the experience of pure oneness, of merging with source energy or All-That-Is. These various levels of reality are reflected in yogic teachings, as well as Daoist inner alchemy; however, it is highly important to understand that all divisions are artificial and that we must dispense with them once a certain level of comprehension results. Otherwise, these concepts will preclude deeper realizations if we hold onto them too tightly and beyond their intended usefulness.
The physical world, of course, is everything perceived through the five senses. Our physical body is geared to operate at this range of reality. Beyond our dense physical realm lies the astral plane. As we have a physical body to operate within physical reality, so we also have an astral body to operate within the astral plane. Beyond the astral, we have a causal body which operates within the causal plane. Now, the degree of density decreases as we move “up” these levels, therefore, our vehicle becomes progressively less dense. Applying this understanding, our physical body is the densest of all, followed by the astral body, being less dense. The causal body is the least dense of all. Our three levels of reality follow the same pattern, with physical reality having the greatest density, followed by the astral plane, having a lesser density, with the causal plane exhibiting the least density.
As your travel toward the interior of the universe, not only does density decrease, but so does all form also dissolve. In other words, each plane of reality progressively relies less on external forms, and more on direct experience. The astral planes are therefore filled with forms, all of which are less dense than physical objects, however they are still for the most part well defined and tangible. Some of these forms are energetic counterparts to physical objects and places. The astral plane is a realm where ideas take form and substance.
The causal plane, however, does not rely on form but rather on a more direct experience. This dramatic difference is one way in which a traveler can tell roughly to which dimension he or she has projected themselves. Advanced travelers often report being able to project or transfer consciousness from their denser astral vehicle to their formless causal one, and thereby finding themselves in a completely new dimension of existence. Most conscious projections, however, occur within the astral plane, as it is the closest to our physical universe, vibrationally speaking, and one we can more easily travel within as we are accustomed to dealing with form and substance.
An entire book can be written (and many have been written) on the various planes of existence, and the many experiences that can be had within them, for each level, be it astral or causal, can be subdivided into an infinity of various planes and sub planes. Such an endeavor to explain all these various planes is not the purpose of this article, however, so we will swiftly move on to other matters.
One spiritual truth must be understood in order to have fun and rewarding experiences in any plane of reality. A call to self responsibility, this basic truth is that you create your own reality. It has been stated and restated in innumerable ways over the years, including: “you bring about what you think about,” “focus determines experience,” and “you get what you concentrate upon.” It has also been explored extensively in terms of the law of attraction.
While the physical realm provides a buffer of time before manifestations occur in our daily lives, many other planes of existence operate under laws of instant manifestation. Once we enter many of these planes, the contents of our minds are directly and immediately translated into external experience. This means that whether we are in a light or dark mood, our inner vibrational and emotional reality is immediately translated into “external” experience. While this may sound daunting, it simply means that we must learn to get a handle on our inner state before we go traveling into these more subtle, thought responsive systems of reality.
Qigong, yoga, taiji, and meditation are all wonderful practices that help an out of body explorer in two important ways. First, these practices help acquaint us with the contents of our own minds. Secondly, they help us develop focus and deliberate intention. Both of these qualities are extremely necessary and important in out of body states. Therefore, anyone who truly wants to devote themselves to this kind of inner exploration, should also strongly consider investing some time and energy into any of these practices.
When we do have a handle on our current of thought, focus, and inner vibration, out of body experiences are exceedingly delightful and fun. Some of my favorite OBEs involve forming thought into form. Witnessing inner vitality immediately translate itself into any form we can think of, which is then immediately real and palpable to our energy body, is an absolute delight and joy. Levitation and flight also rate high on the exhilaration list, as the feelings of freedom and expansion are literally “out of this world.” The word of caution here is, however, that if we don’t have a handle on our inner vibration, we may unknowingly create dark, ominous, or gloomy landscapes and entities to deal with. In this case, we are still “creating our own reality” in that our inner states are being projected outward and are immediately translated into form. We lose our power, however, to the degree that we are not able to change our inner vibration and thus our outer experience. We then must deal with whatever forms and projections we created within the terms that we cast them into. Demons, monsters, and unsavory characters all fall into these categories, and are best “confronted” internally, by acknowledging and resolving the fear or resistance that is their origin. Another way to reawaken or recover our power in an out of body state, is to face whatever situation we created with the determination to know and understand what the forms represent, and at the same time reaffirming that we do create our own reality. When we face the shadows that have been haunting us, and finally see them for what they really are, projections of fears, doubts, and untapped abilities that we’ve disassociated from, dramatic healing often takes place. Vast reservoirs of energy that were previously blocked or denied may be released into our lives in the form of inspiration, new creative endeavors, an upsurgence of vitality and an amazing sense of being alive, as we reunite with aspects of ourselves that we’ve long held in denial.
There are many techniques for projecting out of body. In the interest of time and space, we’ll cover just one technique in this article. Referred to as the “Target Technique” by William Buhlman, this process is fairly common in many projection exercises. To begin, you’ll want to get yourself comfortable in a semi horizontal position. It is important for you to be able to fully relax your body so that your consciousness can travel inward without physical distractions that pull you back into corporal awareness. Once your body is comfortable, begin to imagine yourself in another room of the house, or in any location to which you feel naturally drawn. This will be your target location, and it should be a place that you are fairly familiar with and feel a natural inclination towards. Your relationship to this space helps build the bridge used by your consciousness to actually go there.
Imagine yourself standing in this new location, while your physical body falls into deeper and deeper relaxation. Feel and allow yourself to let go of physical awareness, while you imagine the target location as vividly as you can. Feel your feet against the ground or floor. Feel the temperature of the space. Notice any smells. Focus your imagination consistently in this space as your physical body drifts off into a deep and relaxed state. Let yourself feel the sensations of your target location. See the detail. You may want to imagine extending your imaginary arms out to feel various objects. If you do this, concentrate on feeling their texture, temperature, and weight if you pick them up, and any other attributes that make the experience increasingly real. You may notice moments when your imagination “accelerates,” becoming more vivid. Simply relax and continue the exercise, as getting too excited may cause you to lose your precious focus. If you do lose your focus for whatever reason, simply bring yourself back, refocus and continue the exercise. You may get “lucky” and be successful on your first attempt, but generally it takes about 30 days of concerted focus and deliberate practice of this technique before results begin to show themselves. So relax, expect results, but don’timpatiently demand them. It is highly important to be playful in your attitude. Let go of the need to perform or to prove anything to yourself or to anyone else, and simply enjoy the process. You’ll have many “mini experiences” along the way to let you know you are on the right track.
This is just one technique for getting out, and one that I use regularly. Daily practice is essential, for you have to let your inner being know through consistent focus, that you really want this experience and that it is important. Even if you are “unsuccessful” in your daily attempts, you may notice that you carry this intent and focus into your dream life, in which case you may notice your dreams becoming more vivid. I often project from the dream state, even when very little happens during the target technique proper. Take care not to judge your progress, therefore, as often a lot is happening at other levels before it percolates into our experience.
Once we are out, there are no limits to what we can do. We may choose to explore our house, yard, neighborhood or the galaxy if we prefer. Time travel is another option, as time is basically nonlinear especially when out of body. Being playful and having fun is the most important. Do remember to relax and take your time, allowing your natural abilities to unfold gracefully and naturally. If you can’t shoot the moon the first time, don’t worry. Just like anything else, these skills generally take time and patience to develop.
To be a successful explorer, there are many aspects of the experience with which we should become familiar. Having an awareness of the various sensations we experience while separating from the physical body is very important. These sensations can serve as signals that we are about to enter into another reality, but they may also be startling and even frightening to someone who is not prepared for them. Locomotion out of body is another area we should become familiar with, as movement occurs at the speed of and in the direction of our thought. It is also important to know how to maintain our lucidity and focus within an out of body state. This prevents us from drifting off into “unconscious” dreaming, therefore losing our clarity and ability to remain “awake” within our experience.
There are many tips and tricks for traveling, and pitfalls to be avoided. It is important to remember that this is a very short article on a very large topic, covering only the surface of what amounts to a massive body of knowledge. Therefore it would be advisable for anyone interested in pursuing out of body exploration to refer to more in depth knowledge on the subject. To that end, I have well over five hours of audio lectures on OBE available for purchase here, as well as a list of independent references that delve more deeply into this fascinating and riveting activity. I’ve found all the sources listed there to be the most clear and free from cultural and religious distortions, and therefore providing the most clear and comprehensive explanations that are sure to get you out there and exploring. The best book by far is William Buhlman’s Adventures Beyond the Body.
We often consider outer space to be our final frontier. However, today I would like to finish this article by presenting another idea. Our final frontier, truly, is inner space, inner travel and inner exploration; for within each of us, lies a door to dimensions and experiences in the face of which outer space travel pales in comparison. Within each of us are worlds waiting to be discovered, explored and experienced. For indeed we are multidimensional beings, and we are just barely beginning to understand this fact. A courageous explorer goes out into the unknown, bringing ideas and insights back to the rest of humanity, which rests comfortably in that which is already known. The time has come, when courageous individuals will set out into uncharted waters, into strange lands, and into unknown realities and far reaches of the psyche, propelling us into our next giant leap for mankind. The time has come for us to reawaken to our multidimensional nature, and from that vast vantage point, to understand our precious physical lives like never before, to savor the sweetness of our moments in corporal existence, and to honor ourselves and our fellows on this grand, sacred, and wondrously mysterious journey of life.
Audio lectures on out of body exploration are available here.
About the author: Thomas Leichardt is available for consultations in all things energetic and spiritual. As a holistic medical practitioner, he applies various modalities to help restore his patients’ natural alignment with health, vitality, joy, and clarity. Thomas has an acupuncture and energy medicine clinic in San Jose, CA. He also teaches classes in energy medicine and is faculty at Five Branches University.