Out of the body

A phenomenon which is reported worldwide and since thousands of years are the so-called out-of-body experiences (OBEs), sometimes also referred to as astral travelling or astral projection – although the latter two terms are far more specific, whereas OBE is a more generic term.

It is a term for several kinds of experiences which suggest the existence of a kind of "soul body" which is independent from the physical body. No matter from which part of the world or from which time they are reported, they show significant similarities. In all these experiences, the person describes to float out of the physical body during sleep and then wandering about in what is mostly called astral body. In many cases, the reports include the persons seeing themselves in the physical body, being able to touch through solid objects in their room and even to fly. The experiences do not always happen in a completely lucid state, but often the persons are as aware of themselves as they are during the day, which is one thing that makes OBEs completely different from dreams.

Of course, these experiences clearly suggest that we live on after death, and no researcher of this topic would ever doubt the existence after death. In fact, the existence on earth is only a temporary state, and everyone is returning to what we might call the world beyond or the afterlife.

Robert Allan Monroe (1915-1995), an American radio broadcast executive, is known for his books on OBEs. Although his later developed method of Hemi-Sync – a patented audio technology that is thought to help inducing OBEs – is rather controversial, his reports in his book "Journeys Out of the Body" are very clear and he worked very thoroughly and in a scientific way.

His first experience out of the body is quite exemplary, which is why I will bring it here. For quite some time, Monroe experienced strange vibrations when laying down on the sofa or in bed. He tried to analyse the whole thing, although it seemed a bit frightful to him and he even asked several doctors for advice. After a few weeks, he has the following experience:

"Some four weeks later, when the ‘vibrations’ came again, I was duly cautious about attempting to move an arm or leg. It was late at night, and I was lying in bed before sleep. My wife had fallen asleep beside me. There was a surge that seemed to be in my head, and quickly the condition spread through my body. It all seemed the same. As I lay there trying to decide how to analyze the thing in another way, I just happened to think how nice it would be to take a glider up and fly the next afternoon (my hobby at that time). Without considering any consequences – not knowing there would be any – I thought of the pleasure it would bring.

After a moment, I became aware of something pressing against my shoulder. Half-curious, I reached back and up to feel what it was. My hand encountered a smooth wall. I moved my hand along the wall the length of my arm and it continued smooth and unbroken. My senses fully alert, I tried to see in the dim light. It was a wall, and I was lying against it with my shoulder. I immediately reasoned that I had gone to sleep and fallen out of bed. (I had never done so before, but all sorts of strange things were happening, and falling out of bed was quite possible.) Then I looked again. Something was wrong. This wall had no windows, no furniture against it, no doors. It was not a wall in my bedroom. Yet somehow it was familiar.

Identification came instantly. It wasn't a wall, it was the ceiling. I was floating against the ceiling, bouncing gently with any movement I made. I rolled in the air, startled, and looked down. There, in the dim light below me, was the bed. There were two figures lying in the bed. To the right was my wife. Beside her was someone else. Both seemed asleep.

This was a strange dream, I thought. I was curious. Whom would I dream to be in bed with my wife? I looked more closely, and the shock was intense. I was the someone on the bed!

My reaction was almost instantaneous. Here I was, there was my body. I was dying, this was death, and I wasn't ready to die. Somehow, the vibrations were killing me. Desperately, like a diver, I swooped down to my body and dove in. I then felt the bed and the covers, and when I opened my eyes, I was looking at the room from the perspective of my bed."

(Robert Allan Monroe 1977: Journeys Out of The Body. Doubleday, New York, London, Toronto, Auckland, p. 17)

Monroe’s report shows a couple of very common characteristics which are typical for OBEs, especially for the first few experiences:

  1. The vibration of the body, which is the subtle body vibrating and not the physical,

  2. Floating upwards

  3. Seeing one’s physical body lying in bed

  4. The whole experience occurs in a quite clear state of consciousness: one is able to think and reflect (something which cannot be said of dreams)

It is a pattern that repeats throughout many reports of OBEs. Doubting persons may say that this could be imagination or it is only a lucid dream. But in this case it would be very strange if thousands of people would have exactly the same dream. And in connection with what we can read e. g. in reports of contact with deceased relatives or near-death experiences (NDE’s), the notion of a soul or soul body existing independently from the physical makes much sense.


Sylvan Muldoon (1903-1969) and Hereward Carrington (1880-1958) were among the first people to do scientific research on OBEs, and as the topic naturally goes with the issue of an afterlife, they wrote about it as well. Although Muldoon happens to have an unfortunately pessimistic view on life, he states that his own experiences out of the body have made clear to him that the conscious human being exists independently from the physical body. He writes the following:

"[…] I wish to say that, once you experience the projection of your astral body, you will no longer doubt that the individual can exist apart from his physical body. No longer will you be forced to accept theories. No longer will you be forced to base your belief in immortality upon the word of the Medium, the Pastor, or the Holy Books, for you will have the proof for yourself – as sure and as self-evident as the fact that you are physically alive.

For my part, had a book on immortality never been written, had a lecture on ‘survival’ never been uttered, had I never witnessed a seance or visited a medium; in fact, had no one else in the whole world ever suspected ‘life after death’, I should still believe implicitly that I am immortal – for I have experienced the projection of the astral body."

(Sylvan Muldoon & Hereward Carrington 1929: The Projection of the Astral Body. Rider, London, pp. 237-238)

Reports on OBEs can be found easily on the internet and in many books, although the one who wishes to read more about it should be aware that there exist a lot of false reports declared as OBEs. Genuine authors and researchers are for example Sylvan Muldoon and Hereward Carrington, Oliver Fox, Robert Crookall and Robert Monroe.

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