OOB (Out Of the Body) Experience, more popularly known as astral projection, was something that fascinated me since I was a child. Basically, astral projection meant the ability to send consciousness out of the body in spirit-form (usually invisible to the lay-man), where it could then wander the world at will unfettered by physical obstructions or limitations (walls, gravity, etc.). The astral form was connected to the physical by the Silver Cord-if this band is cut, it was said, death ensues.
I’m not sure when my first exposure to the phenomenon was. I was an avid comic book reader in my youth, and a number of super-heroes possessed the ability to astrally project at will in their arsenal of powers. Most notable among these were Professor X of the X-Men, who could do so due to his extreme-but innate-psychic talents, and Doctor Strange, who earned the ability after rigorous mystical training. I would lay in bed at night and try to force some latent mystical talent into functioning, and imagine myself, clad in the whiteness of the astral form (that’s how they drew it in the comic books, like a ghost coming out of your body) and flying over the world.
My interest wasn’t limited to astral projection. I also wanted to know about (and have) telepathy, precognition, telekinesis, you name it. I had a good friend who shared my interests and we somehow worked out that everyone had these gifts, the trick was we just didn’t know how to use them. My friend’s father (who lived in another city, his parents were divorced) was interested in mysticism and passed down texts to his children-generally, these were the Carlos Castenada books that were popular with the preceding generation. When asked about astral projection, my friend reported the answer had “something to do with lighting spheres up in the body.” Okay, I was good with that. After that piece of advice, I started to imagine spheres of light sparking up within me. Nothing still happened.
My freshman year in High School, I suddenly discovered that the bookstores in town actually had a section with parapsychological texts, along with a sampling of everything from aliens to Wicca; the silly to the nefarious. That said, it wasn’t until I was a junior in High School that I finally picked up a book titled, simply enough, “Astral Projection.” It was the first complete manual I had ever encountered, written by members of the Aurum Solis, an occult secret society with origins in Europe (stretching back, they claim, to the Renaissance). The key to the program was a sequence of meditations/visualizations that entailed building up and lighting spheres on the body! The exercise was called “Formula One.” It was easy enough-I imagined spheres of light on different centers of the body (genitals, heart, throat, forehead and above the head), and in special colors for each one. From there, you project astral material from your belly-button, shape it into a human-form, project your mind into it and voila! Astral projection.
Unfortunately, teenage indolence got the better of me, and after a few half-hearted attempts, I stopped trying. I was too busy drinking, chasing women, and getting into trouble.
When I was in my early twenties, I took an extended sabaatical from just about everything as I tried to wrap my head around my life. During this time I got serious about my spiritual pursuits and gave the astral projection thing another go. I practiced the meditations, formed the spheres on my body, no clear results. I figured it takes time to master the talent.
Then, one day, I had a lucid dream-a dream where I knew I was dreaming. And something interesting happened. I tried “Formula One” and never got past lighting up the sphere above my head. There was a ringing like a tuning fork sounding, a brilliant flash of light and I shot out of my body. But it wasn’t like the comic books-I couldn’t control where I was going. I went flying outwards, through a bizaare and phantasmagoric landscape (I later learned this was the astral plane, more on that some other time). It wasn’t frightening, so much as disorienting. A lot of time seemed to elapse and I had no idea how to get back to my physical body, which was at 760 Boulevard. I had some pamphlets at home for shamanic week-end workshops, and supposedly, these guys knew about soul-retreival. I resolved that I had to tell a friend to go to my house, get the pamphlet and contact the shamans so I could get back into my body.
Perhaps it was the extreme desire to return that brought me back-I’m not really sure. I made it back to my room, my body was below me. But someone or something else wanted to get back in as much as I did. The two of us tussled for awhile, then, I collected myself and uttered a prayer for help. Whatever it was left, and I went into my body again with no problem. Later that same day, my friend approached me (before I mentioned anything about my experience) to say he thought he saw someone in his house, and then they weren’t there.
Since that time, I’ve seen the same phenomenon happen in drum circles, during plays, at concerts, while I’ve dreamed. I’ve had conversations about it with people who can project at will (I still can’t, by the way). One of them was, in fact, a world-respected head of a Sufi Order. It is plain to me that we are more than just bodies of matter, there are gradations of ourselves, that reside into more and more sublime levels.