One of the most fascinating and lesser known types of dreaming is known as astral projection. In layman’s terms, astral projection simply means that one has left their body while in a dream state and is able to travel away from the physical being.
Also known as astral travel, this type of otherworldly experience qualifies as being an out of body experience, which is similar but not identical to a near death experience. This concept of an ascent into the afterlife is extremely common in major religions and spiritual beliefs worldwide.
Even though the term is now associated with New Age followers, examples of astral projection can be found dating back into ancient times. Both Plato and Aristotle believed that outer space was made up of the four earthly elements (air, fire, earth and water) and also a fifth ethereal element. They both stated that the human mind is comprised of these same elements. They based the possibility of astral travel on our deep connection with the cosmos.
Some people are well seasoned astral travelers who can control when they want to leave their body, while others are completely unaware of their power to do so. The involved party may or may not find the experience to be enjoyable. Some report that traveling to a higher plane can be quite scary, especially if it occurs on accident. Other thrill seekers study astral travel in the hopes of trying it out for themselves.
The most commonly reported visual from this phenomenon is watching yourself sleep from above your own body. Some experts theorize that this “self” is really a doppelganger who is sleeping in an alternate or parallel dimension. This theory raises a whole new set of questions about the validity of us having other identical selves in the time space continuum.
Travelers claim to have all of their sense intact during this state and are therefore able to smell, taste, touch, and see the physical world. Just like the human experience in the everyday waking world, astral travel is extremely subjective to the person who is personally partaking in it. There is no physical evidence left behind as proof, so the word of the traveler themselves must be taken as fact or fiction.
Although astral projection primarily occurs in people who are in a traditional sleep induced dream state, many instances occurring during meditative and drug induced states have also been documented. Consequently, the highest numbers of recorded astral projections were reported in the 1960s and the 1970s. Up to 8% of the population which was polled during those decades claimed to have firsthand experiences with astral projection.
People who astral project and stray far from their own bodies are said to have ventured into the mysterious and vast “astral plane” or “astral world.” This is thought to be the birthplace of life and also the passageway for souls after death. Many travelers speculate that this astral world is the intermediate place between Earth and Heaven and is also where spirits and angels dwell.