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What is astral projection?

Astral projection is another term for an out-of-body experience (Crow, 2012). This means that it is seen as an experience where your consciousness (aka your soul) leaves your physical body and enters your astral body during a dream state and travels the universe. It is defined by Green (1968), Blackmore (1982) & Blanke (2004) as a “disembodiment, impression of seeing the world from a distant and elevated visuo-spatial perspective and the impression of seeing one’s own body from an elevated perspective”. Through a silver umbilical style cord these two bodies are still attached to each other and some people tend to see this connection when projecting as noted by Dr Carrington & Muldoor (2011). 

Astral projection is an ancient concept and it has been “described in the majority of the worlds cultures” (Shields, 1978).For example in ‘The Book of the Dead’ (1550 BCE) there are teachings that capture the “ka” (aka the spirit) leaving the human body of those who are asleep. Ancient Hindu, Haiti, China and Japan also make reference to astral projection. Additionally, so do philosophers or authors such as Honore de Balzac, Robert Monroe, Oliver Fox, Michael Crichton, Aleister Crowley, Kirpal Singh and many others.  This state is considered to be reached through meditation, hypnosis, under hallucinogens or while deeply relaxed. 

It falls under the category of pseudoscience and is experienced by 10% of clinical populations as well as healthy populations (Blackmore 1982; Irwin 1985). This is interesting because although this is the case there are not many scientific investigations on it and Blanke and Arzy (2005) suggest that this is because they are known to occur spontaneously, during a short duration and only happen once or twice in a life time as highlighted by Green (1968). The fact that there haven’t been many studies on out of body experiences seems to shock researchers like Blackmore (1982) due to there being so many studies on other out of body experiences such as supernumerary phantom limbs or the transformation of an extremity. These findings are evident in research by Ramachandran (1998) and Halligan (2002). 

Mainstream psychology generally tends to ignore out of body experiences due to the lack of studies on the science behind it (because of the limited scientific studies). Another reason that Cardena, Lynn & Krippner suggest (2000) is because for the last 30 years there has been a controversial debate on whether an ability to see entities should be considered as a form of psychopathology. Brauss (1986), Lock (1989) and Walker (2000) suggests that there are doubts on the possibility of astral projection because “questions have been raised about the possible direct relationships between consciousness and subatomic aspects of the brain, bringing ideas from physics, particularly quantum mechanics to bear on discussions of consciousness.” I find this interesting because there is still so much to uncover about how the brain works, which at this stage is a dilemma as there is no accurate map of the brain that captures every neuron along with its function, location and synapse activities with neighbouring neurons. A study was conducted on those who believe in astral projection and those who do not and the results showed that both sides have strong critical thinking skills (Roe, 1999, p. 92). This leaves no room to right off the believers as “cognitively inferior”, which makes this topic so much more interesting. Brauss (1952) has a thesis that “paying attention to fundamental questions about alterations of consciousness will force us to reconsider our ideas about the nature of consciousness and reality. It might lead us to conclude that the world is a more interesting place than we usually think or perhaps not.” In conjunction with this, Cardena, Lynn & krippner stress the importance of future research on astral projection due to the “important role it plays in peoples lives”.  I believe in astral projection due to my personal experience so I would find it extremely interesting to see more evidence based scientific studies conducted on it with hopes to try and gain a deeper insight into this experience. Have you ever had any out of body experiences? If so what are you thoughts about it? 

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