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Astral projection is the act of separating the astral body from the physical body. Normally this occurs as part of the sleep process, usually at the deepest dream level. It also can occur in a trance state. When the person is conscious of this separation it is called conscious astral projection. The separationalso is called Etheric Projection or Out-of-the-Body Traveling. To be conscious of this act or event is a highly sought after goal in neo-Paganism.
Through conscious astral projection one is able to remember events occurring during an astral journey. On such journeys the conscious mind travelingwithin the astral body can explore not only various earthly places, but also different realms within other dimensions. The conscious astral projectioncan be induced through deep meditative states. Some individuals exit their bodies from the solar plexus area, while others leave from the third eye(see Chakras, particularly the crown), or simply discover themselves looking down from above at their physical body.The experience of traveling while in this astral state can be accomplished by methods such as a dream-like flight or by visualizating the destination that the individual wishes to visit.
Most everyone has heard of astral projection, but why should anyone want to experience this phenomenon? Well, I think there are four good reasons to practice astral projection. Let me first just say that I have experienced astral projection many times in my own life, so I do have some expertise on the subject. I have also written a book on astral projection and taught many courses, and workshops on astral projection. One of the questions that I have been asked many times is "Why should I want to experience astral projection?" Yes, it is an interesting phenomenon, but what can it do for me?
The first reason to experience astral projection is to know that you are more than your physical body. Most people identify totally with their physical bodies and have no idea that their consciousness extends beyond their physical being. The majority of people in today's society are preoccupied with their physical bodies and their physical appearance. This is all well and good, but what happens when our bodies begin to fail us, or when we get old. Then what happens? Many people become depressed, despondent and think their lives are over. But this does not have to be the case. Once you have experienced astral projection, you know that your consciousness can exist apart from your physical body. During an out of body experience, you can see your body lying peacefully in your bed, while you are floating above it. This is important to know because than you are not so attached to your body. It is more like a home where you reside during waking consciousness. You gain a new awareness that the real you extends beyond bodily consciousness, so you are not so caught up in the illusions of the physical body. When you get older, it is your body that gets older, not you. When you have a cold or illness, it is your body that needs healing, not you. So you are more at peace with the many changes that may affect your physical being. Many things will still affect you, but they will not affect you so deeply because of the awareness that you are more than your physical body. So, this is the first reason to experience astral projection. That is, to know that your consciousness can transcend your physical body and that you are more than your body.
The second reason to experience astral projection is to learn more about the universe within you. There are inner dimensions to the universe that we are normally unaware of during our everyday consciousness. Many mystics, yogis, saints and astral travelers have experienced this inner dimension to the universe and have written about them. Old Testament prophets, like Ezekiel, or yogis, such as Parmahansa Yogananda, and saints, like St. John have written about their experiences on the inner planes. There are many wonders to experience there and many things to learn. For instance, I found the force of gravity does not work the same on the inner planes as it does on the physical plane. Gravity is intimately connected with your mind and your beliefs there. You can fly on the inner planes as long as you believe it. If you do not believe that you can fly, then you cannot. It is very interesting!
I remember one astral projection experience that I had on the astral plane: I was flying in a clear blue sky and I looked down to the ground far below me. I thought to myself "gee, it would really hurt if I fell from this high up." At that same instant, I started to fall towards the ground, faster and faster. I panicked for a few seconds and cried out. But then, I remembered that I could fly. As soon as I focused on the thought that I could fly, I stopped falling and began to fly again. I learned quickly that things on the inner planes respond to our thoughts and beliefs.
On the inner planes, you can learn more about yourself and the universe. You can also take advantage of your experiences and knowledge gained there to use on the physical plane. Many people do this without even realizing it. For example, Albert Einstein obtained his theory of relativity while in a dream state (which is connected with the inner planes). Many other people have found solutions to their problems through their dreams or in a relaxed state, where they have access their intuition and knowledge from the inner planes. So, by learning to astral project, one can learn more about oneself and the infinite universe, and use that knowledge to improve things on the physical plane.
The third reason to experience astral projection is to raise your consciousness. Once you astral project, it is easier to meditate and reach higher planes of consciousness. While on the astral plane, one is free of many of the hindrances that keep one from reaching higher states of consciousness. On the physical plane, there may be bodily discomfort, environmental noises and intrusions that can prevent you from reaching ecstatic states of awareness. On the astral plane, there are no physical obstacles to meditation, so one is freer to rise to higher levels of consciousness. Yram, The Art of Astral Projection talks about how he was able to reach very high states of consciousness while astral projecting. I have also experienced higher states of bliss while astral projecting. I have been able to use my experience as a beacon in my normal meditations to help raise my consciousness on the physical plane.
Last, but not least; the fourth reason to astral project is to diminish the fear of death. Most people that I know are afraid to die. They have no idea what may happen to them and fear the unknown. Astral projection can help to alleviate the fear of death because you know that your consciousness can exist apart from your physical body. The process of astral projection is very similar to the process of dying. The difference is that when you astral project, you leave your physical body temporarily; when you die, you leave your body permanently. But after you experience astral projection, you know for certain that your consciousness can exist apart from your body, so you are no longer afraid of dying. Of course, you may be apprehensive of where you will go, but it is more like the beginning of a new journey. Life does not end with death; it is a transformation and a new beginning.
Jill Lowy is the author of Yoga and the Art of Astral Projection, which
can be seen at: www.TheAstralYoga.com.
Sources: 9, 101; 78, 25.