Also known as OBEs, out-of-body experiences are states in which individuals feel like they are floating outside their physical body. In many cases the person may even be able to see their body, while existing outside of themselves. Studies have shown that at least 10 percent of the population has one or more of these experiences during their lifetime. They can occur for a number of different reasons including: brain trauma, psychedelic drugs, near-death experiences, dehydration and falling sleep. More often than not they are accompanied by a loud noise at the beginning of the experience, and a feeling of sleep paralysis throughout.
Out-of-body experiences seem to be most common when drifting off towards sleep. For this reason many researchers believe that OBEs may be extremely intense lucid dreams (dreams in which the individual is consciously aware of the fact that they are dreaming). Spontaneous OBEs happen when sleep is not very deep, often because of a life-threatening illness or extreme stress such as a near-death experience. Many people, who have come close to a physical death, describe their experience as a separation from their body and a connection with divine entities and/or deceased loved ones. This perceived spiritual connection is also accompanied by a feeling of extreme peace.
Astral projection is a type of OBE which is deliberately induced for spiritual reasons, and is still practiced in many parts of the world. There is great significance in this form of soul travel, and religious leaders and oracles return to themselves with an increased knowledge this world and others. These OBEs may be induced with the help of hallucinogenic plants and music, and many times only take place during special ceremonies and rituals.
Another way of deliberately having an OBE is to teeter on the verge of falling asleep. As the person drifts towards sleep the mind feels like it is slipping and they are able to ‘leave’ their body. This is a technique which is believed to boost creativity, and was even used by Thomas Edison for inspiration. Researchers that have monitored those who are having out-of-body experiences, notice that the brain waves created at this time can be replicated with binaural beats.
As with many other questionable happenings, there is conflict between scientists as to whether or not OBEs are real and prove that there is life beyond the physical plane that we currently occupy. Psychologists also believe that OBEs might be a form of disassociation with self or self-delusion. Regardless of the current conflicts, there are many people who believe that these out-of-body experiences are the reason why they are still among the living.
Near-death researchers Robert and Suzanne Mays have reported several of these incidents, including that of a man who almost died in an isolated car accident on a foggy night. The injured individual recalls floating out of his body, and over to a house where he was able to attract the attention of a second floor resident. This man immediately contacted the police who went to the accident scene and saved the life of the gentleman who was trapped in his car. When interviewed after, the resident reported that he had seen the injured man floating outside of his second floor window shouting for help.