Those of you who have not seen ‘Behind The Eye’ or ‘Doctor Strange’, you have our permission to leave this page. We say this with a heavy heart, but there are spoilers ahead.
So, read at your own risk. The concept of astral projection has been greatly explained in ‘Behind The Eyes’, which has been adapted as a Netflix web series from Sarah Pinborough’s 2017 novel under the same name.
The narrative of the series revolves around certain childhood traumas, marital issues, and addiction problems placed in juxtaposition with witchcraft, murder, and also the supernatural element of changing the souls from one body to another.
Now, this phenomenon explained in the series is a bit of a stretch, but astral projection and lucid dreaming are considered to be real phenomenons, often discarded by the scientist after heavy expostulations, keeping in mind the lack of evidence favoring it.
Similarly, in Doctor Strange, where the doctor indulges in astral level, beginning with lucid dreaming. The primal difference between the two is the former is achieved while you are still awake whereas in the latter you are ostensibly sleeping.
However, these theories do not fail to beg the question of whether they are the truth or not? Before we talk about what is astral projection and whether it is real or not, let’s understand the related topics to it for clarity.
What is an Out-Of-Body Experience (OBE)?
An out-of-body experience, also called OBE, is considered to be a dissociative episode where you feel your consciousness moving outside of your body. These dissociative episodes are generally caused by stress, trauma, or a near-death experience.
An out-of-body experience provides you with an external vantage point where, unlike normal circumstances, you feel as if you are outside yourself. This is generally mentioned in a lot of poets romanticizing their accidents or traumatic incidents when they say that they are not themselves.
However, an out-of-body experience is a bit different from an astral projection. Astral travel is an intentional effort from your side to move your consciousness out of your body. This intentional effort to move your consciousness out of your body is generally executed to reach a more spiritual plane and gain insight.
On the other hand, an out-of-body experience is more of an accident, that is, it is unprecedented. In an OBE, your consciousness is not intentionally traveling around some plane, rather, it is just hovering above your body.
Recently, OBEs and astral projections have caught the attention of different coterie of people. The former is more a study taken into consideration by the medical community and scientists whereas the latter is studied by the spiritual practitioners, yogis, and gurus.
Before we get into the fundamentals of astral projection, there is one more related subject that is quite similar to it. It is called lucid dreaming, as was mentioned earlier.
If you have an out-of-body experience, you will feel your consciousness floating above yourself.
What is lucid dreaming?
Lucid dreaming is often considered to be the bridge that you will have to pass to master astral travel. The concept of lucid dreaming was expounded in Christopher Nolan’s movie ‘Inception.
In this phenomenon, a sleeping person is conscious of the fact that the person is dreaming. In addition to this, he is also bestowed with the authority to take control of the dream and change the narrative.
It is often used to deal with stress and any damage associated with the nervous system. If you have seen ‘Behind The Eyes’, you will know that all the characters in the series initially try lucid dreaming, to get over their nightmares.
Concerning OBE and astral projection, lucid dreaming is simple to achieve. You will find a plethora of easy ways to achieve that. The key here is to constantly use certain objects or habits that will help you keep track of your reality, commonly called keeping a reality check.
In Inception, you will notice that all the characters will have their totems to help them realize whether they are in a dream or a real world. On the contrary, if you see ‘Behind The Eyes’, you will gain insight that the characters used to pinch themselves or check clocks to make sure where they are.
Now that we are clear about the out-of-body experience and lucid dreaming, let us understand astral projection.
Is Astral projection real?
As mentioned earlier, the phenomenon of astral projection has more of a spiritual undertone and less of a medical touch to it. On the contrary, an out-of-body experience and lucid dreaming are associated with the medical field, which is often caused by near-death experiences, stress, trauma, or sad events in one’s life.
Astral projection is more of a conscious effort to allow your consciousness or soul to travel outside your body to achieve spiritual grandeur. Unlike lucid dreaming, astral projection is not that simple to do. Although there are several books, podcasts, or video lectures for the amateurs, it requires practice and dexterity over lucid dreaming primarily.
What’s interesting is, that the phenomenon of astral travel also appears in several religious scriptures such as Qur’an and other Hindi texts. In Ancient Egyptian culture, the soul is separated from the physical body and it divides itself into 8 different parts, each of them is called ‘Ba’.
Although scientists do agree with the fact that astral projection is more associated with spiritual enlightening, doctors and scientists find it hard to believe this phenomenon due to a lack of enough evidence. Not only that, but the astral projection is often associated with Theosophy which was created by Madame Blavatsky in the 1890s, which lacks any evidence to prove its truism.
However, concepts such as astral projection, an out-of-body experience, or lucid dreaming, make one question the existence of the soul.
So, does the soul exist?
According to Dr Claude Messier, a professor from the University of Ottawa’s Brain and Mind Research Institute, the concept of an out-of-body experience does nothing to assure the existence of the soul in our bodies. He adds that it is just one way that our brain functions.