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I had my first spontaneous astral projection experience back in the fall of 1975 in Devil's Lake, Wisconsin:
"One moonless dark night, I had just curled up in my
sleeping bag. I had just begun to drift off into sleep
when suddenly I found myself outside the tent, kind
of walking/floating around in the dark. I became alarmed
and felt really disoriented. I could not figure out how
I had gotten outside the tent and what I was doing there.
I cried out for my cousin who was in the tent sleeping.
But he did not hear me. I went into the screen tent
looking for help. I yelled as loud as I could and in the
next instant I was back in the tent dripping in sweat."
This experience was not a dream, and was my first encounter with our innate ability to leave our physical bodies. My experience shook the foundations of my belief about reality. I started to question my normal perceptions about life and began to investigate the mystical arts. I studied yoga and learned about meditation. Later, I was initiated into Lotus Temple where I learned about the esoteric and mystical arts.
Following my initiation into Lotus Temple, I began practicing Astral Projection techniques that were based on ancient yogic teachings. After several months, I had my first fully conscious astral projection experience:
"I had been practicing the astral projection technique
for about thirty minutes when I felt myself falling
asleep. I concentrated on maintaining my awareness
while allowing my physical body to fall asleep. I
continued to practice the technique and visualized
myself leaving my body. I then felt a sudden inrush
of energy and knew something was beginning to
happen. I tried to maintain my calm as I could feel
the energy moving faster and faster. Then suddenly,
I was moving through a tunnel like a freight train.
I let myself flow with the energy. I felt my astral body
twisting away from my physical body which was a
very strange sensation. Then suddenly I was free!
I had a feeling of ecstasy. I began to float around my
room and spent time closely examining objects on
my dresser. I picked up a wooden pentacle that I had
made with the four elemental colors. The vibrancy of
the colors was striking and the wooden grain was more
beautiful than I remembered. I hovered over the dresser
mirror where I looked at myself. I appeared to be like
a ghost without much definition. I then decided to
return to my body and with that thought immediately
found myself back in my physical body. I noticed a
strong current of energy still swirling around my palms."
This was my first consciously directed astral projection experience. It was much different than my first spontaneous astral projection experience that I had back in Wisconsin. During this astral projection, I was conscious from the very beginning, when I began to practice the astral projection technique, until I returned to my physical body. I was very elated, following the experience and I felt a sense of joy several days afterwards.
During my spontaneous projection, I had felt scared, disoriented and really thought I was losing my mind. My consciously directed projection was totally different. During this experience; I felt elated, calm, and almost euphoric. There were no feelings of disorientation or fear. I was much more in control during my conscious astral projection and more in tune with my surroundings. I was completely aware that I was projecting; I could see my physical body lying in bed and it did not cause me any fear or alarm. During my spontaneous projection, I did not know I was astral projecting. Although, I was aware of my surroundings, I didn't know what was happening to me and just wanted to return to normal.
I think the differences between spontaneous and consciously directed astral projection are very important. For most people, I think spontaneous astral projection is just a disorienting and interesting phenomenon. Whereas, consciously directed astral projection is a broadening of one's horizons and self understanding.
I know many people that have experienced spontaneous astral projection. Many of them, found the experience very threatening to their sense of self, and for the most part, never wanted to have that experience again. I also know other people who have experienced consciously directed astral projection. They see the experience as a chance for exploration of the inner planes or consciousness. I find it interesting that most people who practice consciously directed astral projection have a much more positive experience and see it as an opportunity for self discovery.
In summary, spontaneous astral projection is when there is a separation between the physical and astral body that just happens without the subject's control. It may be characterized by feelings of disorientation, fear, anxiety, helplessness and lack of control. Consciously directed astral projection is when there is a separation between the physical and astral body that is directed by a subject's will, through meditative or other yogic techniques. There may be feelings of ecstasy, joy, well-being and awe. It is generally more of a positive experience with self-control and less feelings of disorientation or helplessness.
Jill Lowy is the author of Yoga and the Art of Astral Projection, which
can be seen at: www.TheAstralYoga.com.