An out of body experience, or OBE for short, is an experience which involves the feeling of floating outside one’s own body. This can go as far as looking down upon your own body, which is known as Autoscopy. An out of body experience can also be known as spirit walking. Although this phenomenon is thought to be rare, it is thought that one in ten people will experience an out of body experience at some point during their lifetime. The chances of experiencing an out of body experience can be increased by using certain psychedelic or dissociative drugs, or by placing yourself into a dreamlike state of mind.
Recorded out of body experiences often appear to occur under certain situations. One of these is during major surgery, and there are many stories of people seemingly leaving their own body during the surgery and watching the procedure from above. Another is during traumatic events, such as a road traffic accident or near death experiences. A majority of out of body experiences are felt during sleep. These can be felt during sleep or just before a person falls asleep, and is often thought to be the result of a lighter sleep state that usual, caused by a variety of factors such as illness, stress, or a noisy environment.
Typically those experiencing out of body experiences will go through the same processes. These include a withdrawal in attention from the physical environment with an increased attention paid to the sensory environment, a feeling of paralysis, a feeling of separation from the body and for some a sense of freedom in the environment away from the body. Finally, there is a desire to return to the body and an awakening from the out of body experience.
There are many ways in which people can induce an out of body experience themselves, which do not involve putting their lives at risk or experiencing high levels of stress. One of these ways is to practice meditation. Meditations thought to increase the chances of an out of body experience are particularly deep, and often involve visualising various methods of removing oneself from one’s body, for example by floating out. Another method commonly used is through lucid dreaming, a technique in which a dreamer is able to tell that what they are experiencing is only a dream, and not in fact real. One this technique has been mastered, it is thought to be possible to direct the content of the dream in the direction of an out of body experience. This technique is thought to be useful due to the paralysis of the body caused by sleep.
There are of course more medical methods of inducing out of body experiences, often used in scientific experiments investigating the phenomenon. These include magnetic or electric stimulation on particular areas of the brain, and audio stimulation on the brain, which in turn causes the brain to experience certain states. Certain drugs too can be used to induce an out of body experience. There is the danger that with these drugs any experiences felt are a hallucination and not an actual out of body experience.