OBE or OOBE or OBEE (chose your acronym of preference):
Note: I will use OBE to mean Outside (or Out) of body experiences in this post, I am entering any current discussion of their relation to NDE or Near Death experiences at this stage. Please also note OBE and lucid dreams are generally considered distinct to one another (though you can slip from one to the other).
Hypnagogic imagery and OBE are a petty big topic. Although (Cortex 45: pp. 236–242, 2009) tells us there is now a fairly clear distinction between the two states, Blanke and Mohr (1,2) also let us know that there is much to be studied in this area. It is pretty much cutting edge science from that point of view. New studies on this topic are often hard to find in peer-reviewed literature and without full text access to major neurology and psychology database (the best I can do is Informit and Google scholar which are great but not brilliant for this really cutting edge stuff). One however is at a loss to discus one without the other.
For OBE’s Many older “How to do it” publications confuse the two simply either due to lack of knowledge or the fact that at that stage science had not even studied such brain activities. Of the most comprehensive “how to do it” books Ophiel (3) is by and by the outright winner, listing no less than five different ways to achieve an OBE. More recent authors such as Barham and Greene (4), Eby (5), and Peterson (6) have all made fairly useful reading for a good background to the modern day OBE practitioner and the science behind the activity of achieving this stage. Rincpoche (7) talks about “Dreams of clarity” but as his methods are culturally specific I don’t choose to compare them to the others, all of which fit in with modern 70’s to 00’s western culture. There was some rumor that someone had perfected a method to obtain OBE scientifically using machines, but I have never been able to find any real facts behind this claim which are either easily obtainable or cost noting I am not unfortunately a very rich man and I can’t waste my money on every “guaranteed to work” method that, unsurprisingly doesn’t work. I do understand that those who make these methods need to eat as well, but its not for me to test them all, maybe someone else will.
Hypnagogic imagery is less of a “clear” part of this discussion, its mostly classified as the a state which the body goes into between awake and sleep (or sleep and awake which some call Hypergogic imagery, Eby goes on a major rant about this in her book) and pretty much its left as just that. Its really hard to define what is and is not hypnagogic imagery and what is an is no OBE due to this fairly poor definition. Essentially always most people will experience hypnagogic imagery before getting OBE, and one major hypnagogic imagery is the old granny syndrome of which I talked about in this post. False awakenings (FA) can sometimes also be a type of hypnagogic imagery, they are often experiences just before awakening and often contain almost “reality” duplicate to the real life you currently live in their imagery and content. False awakenings are the bane of many a dreameworker and dealing with them can be a major pastime for some who experience them as a problem in their lives let alone in their dreamwork, the “falling dream”, “naked at work/school dream” and the “can’t find a toilet dream” are all classic false awakenings.
Dreamworking with OBE
From a dreamwork point of view, OBES have been something many dream workers have been working with or obtaining for many years, getting better at coming up with new ways to reach a state of OBE or one like it. Another other than those already notes is the work of those who have come up with Binaural beats. Science has little to say so far for “hemispheric synchronisation” via “modulated strophic beats” (this is what scientists call them) but its practitioners often praise it like the holy grail of all dream working tools. I myself remain skeptical, I have tried it and found that it, like a lot of methods requires a specific set up and methodology which was fairly hard to consistently use for the length of time I needed to produce useful results for myself, let alone give me any solid data. I find it is far more useful during meditation and use it frequently for that purpose.
I have had naturally occurring OBE, and have been able to control them with a number of standard lucid dream methods such as the questioning methods: “what was I doing just then?”, “am I dreaming”, “is this my hand?”, ” what is the time? is it still the same time?”, “can I breathe with my noose blocked” (note: the “pinch my arm” method rarely works for me) and the continual statements of affirmation “I will remain lucid” “I will continue dreaming” etc. We will return to these tools in later blog posts as they apply to lucid dreaming as well as OBE.
My most trustworthy method has been the “Light body” method which Opheil (3) calls “The body of light” and his method is neither new nor hard to modify, I have found no less than 6 unique versions of his method in different places in the world of dreamwork and out of it as well and thus its likely you can find one that works best for you (or read these and other OBE books and find one that does work for you).
Unfortunately like all dream phenomenon there will be some of you who will be unable to achieve OBE states for whatever reason, some medical, others simply due to lifestyle or even stress levels, its hard to ascertain without exploring every different possibility and some we simply don’t know about yet.
1. Blanke O, Landis T, Spinelli L, and Seeck M. Out-of-body experience and autoscopy of neurological origin. Brain, 127: 243–258, 2004.
2. Blanke O, Mohr C, Michel CM, Pascual-Leone A, Brugger P, Seeck M, et al. Linking out-of-body experience and self processing to mental own-body imagery at the temporoparietal junction. Journal of Neuroscience, 25: 550–557, 2005.
3. Ophiel, The Art and Practice of Astral Projection, Weiser, 1974
4. Barham, M. J., Greene, J. T., The silver cord : lifeline to the unobstructed, DeVoss & Co, 1986
5. Eby, Carol., Astral Odyssey : exploring out of body experiences, 1996
6. Peterson, Robert., Out of Body Experiences : how to have them and what to expect, [Unknown], 1997
7. Rinpoche, Tenzin Wangyal, The Tibetan Yogas of Dream and Sleep, Snow Lion Publications, 1998