Is it really possible to “get out” of one’s physical body, separate one’s consciousness from the body, or is it just a sensation induced by a particular mental state, a “lucid dream”? Does your spirit leave when you sleep?
These are some of the frequently asked questions about our sleep and the dream realm, but what’s the truth behind these questions?
Let’s learn more about it together with this article.
- Does your spirit leave when you sleep?
- What is an OBE?
- How to manage an out-of-body experience?
Does your spirit leave when you sleep?
Yes. Some people experience the sensation of their spirit leaving them and floating outside their physical body and, at times, of perceiving the presence of their body from a point outside it, as if the consciousness were projected beyond body boundaries.
What is an OBE?
Throughout history, numerous written testimonies can be found of people who have experienced out-of-body experiences, described as events in which the person sees himself from an external perspective, as if he were looking at someone else, and therefore far beyond the simple sensation of being outside your body.
OBE has always been considered a medical mystery, and as more and more patients have begun to report experiences of this type, the scientific community has begun to carefully consider the phenomenon, dedicating various studies to it.
Scientific explanations of the OBE
As I am intrigued by this topic, I did some research about the topic and this is what I’ve learned. In 2007, Scientific American, one of the oldest and most prestigious popular science journals, reported on a study in which neuroscientists used a virtual reality video camera and glasses to induce a sensation described by most of the subjects who were tested as an out-of-body experience.
In 2009, three Belgian neuroscientists published an article dedicated to out-of-body experiences, in which they highlight the link between OBE and activity of the temporoparietal cortex, thus reinforcing the theory that the cause of this type of experience is physical and is located somewhere within the brain itself.
Another traditional biological explanation traces out-of-body experiences to sleep paralysis and circadian rhythms.
Numerous sleep studies show that people go through an intermediate stage of sleep, between wakefulness and REM sleep, in which the REM system produces paralysis. In certain individuals, the malfunctioning of the REM system can cause this paralysis while the person is still in the waking state, inducing sensations of fluctuation outside the body, in conjunction with vivid dreams.
Although the various scientific studies have found different biological explanations for the phenomenon of out-of-body experiences, it is still a mystery as to how it is possible that the subjects who try these experiences are able to describe, with the smallest details, places or events they witnessed during their OBEs, but which in “physical reality” they have never seen.
Beyond science, there are numerous religions and meditation practices around the world that, over the centuries, have traced OBEs to spiritual causes. Hinduism, for example, supports the concept of astral projection and spiritual travel outside the body, as an effect of reaching a deep meditative state.
Many pagan religions also believe it is possible to induce the spirit to separate from the body and explore the world on the astral plane.
Many practitioners of New Age philosophy believe that the ability to travel to the astral spiritual realm is a natural human gift, which should be cultivated and developed through deep meditation.
All these beliefs are united by the belief that the OBE phenomenon is induced by an altered state of consciousness, in which one is able to consciously exist and travel in a spiritual form, even when the body is not dead.
OBE during near-death experiences
In many cases, out-of-body experiences are linked to the broader phenomenon of near-death experiences (NDE). These are very profound psychological experiences, reported by a third of the people who have found themselves on the verge of death.
In all of these cases, people have described sensations very similar to those of out-of-body experience: a state of profound well-being, the impression of separating from the body, traveling to a tunnel of light, interacting with spiritual entities, and, finally, a sense of deep stillness.
Does it happen to everyone?
No. Some people are more sensitive than others and more open to becoming aware of this experience.
How to manage an out-of-body experience?
Regardless of the true cause of an OBE, this type of phenomenon is uniquely described as a very powerful experience physically, emotionally, and often spiritually as well. Although it can be a non-positive experience for people who are too weak or highly conditioned, in general, most of the subjects who have had an out-of-body experience describe it as a positive and uplifting event.
Often we have a hint of our spirit leaving when we sleep through our dreams.
But how can we manage our dreams and see if they truly are there to manifest our OBE? Here comes a few ways to connect with our dreams and become aware if your spirit leaves when you sleep.
Pen and paper on the bedside table
Practical and functional advice is to take notes immediately after waking up, instinctively noting everything you can remember about the experience. Alternatively, you can take advantage of a voice recorder, including that of a mobile phone, and recount the dream experience verbally. It may be interesting to compare all the notes at a later time, trying to bring out common traits, recurring dreams, and situations that recur in dreams, night after night.
During this phase, it is good to remember that writing down your dream does not serve the purpose of making sense of it for others, but to help yourself remember. Only write what you really dreamed of, however irrational it may seem. Sometimes the deepest meanings of dreams lie precisely in the most twisted and inexplicable aspects.
If possible, try to wake up in the sweetest and most natural way possible, without trauma or hasty movements that would displace anxieties and attention on having to hurry to go to work and would constrain all efforts in this perspective, removing the memory of the dream you just had. Many people claim that they remember dreams better when they wake up slowly and gently, especially without invasive alarms.
The Post-it technique
Place a Post-it Note on your bedside table or alarm clock reading “What did you dream about?” in large letters, so that it is the first thing you see when you open your eyes.
Adjust the sleep cycle
Going to bed early enough to ensure a sufficiently long and regular sleep can be a valuable help in preparing us for the dream and the possibility of remembering it the following morning. A disturbed, too short, or restless sleep makes us too tired to reflect on what we dreamed, as well as being an obstacle to the dream itself. People who sleep less than six hours often have trouble remembering dreams.
Think back to the experience and the dream you had before getting out of bed
Before getting up for good, try to take a few minutes by staying in bed and concentrating on what you dreamed of. Generally, we tend to remember only the last dream we had before waking up.
Take advantage of nocturnal awakenings
Since usually only the last dream is remembered in chronological order, you can take advantage of nocturnal awakenings. Sometimes it can happen that you wake up in the middle of the night, following a very intense dream.
You could therefore take advantage of the opportunity to write a note and thus be able to remember it the next morning. This advice is only appropriate for those who have no trouble falling back asleep.
If not, it is best to avoid this and try to sleep continuously.
Keep a dream journal
On the basis of quick notes taken immediately after waking up, try to elaborate more detailed writing that traces as many elements as possible of the dream, in an orderly and systematic way: basic plot, characters, places, emotions, dialogues, etc.
If you can remember some dialogue, it is good to write it down immediately, because the words are quickly forgotten.
And when you just can’t remember anything …
If you really can’t remember anything about your night experience, try writing the first thing that comes to mind after waking up, as even a single word could trigger the memories. Alternatively, you can try to write the feeling you get; often a dream leaves an emotion, whether positive or negative.
The emotions that occur in a dream usually remain, even for a short time, so if you wake up elated or down in the dumps, it’s good to start asking yourself questions.