Although the two are different, they share many similar characteristics and are considered to be experiences outside of the normal everyday realm of existence. Truth be told however, according to various studies approximately 1 in 10 people have had such experiences.
An out of body experience involves the sensation of your consciousness being separated from your physical body. Those experiencing this phenomenon often report floating above their bodies and gazing down upon them. The term “out of body experience” itself was popularized by Robert Monroe in his 1971 book Journeys Out of the Body.
Sometimes considered synonymous with astral projection, an out of body experience focuses more on the projection of consciousness within the material world, as we know it. Astral projection also deals with traveling in the everyday world, but its goal is to journey to the astral plane and realms beyond earthly ones.
Astral projection is more concerned with soul travel and gaining spiritual insight. Essentially, astral projection is a form of OBE.
So how do out of body experiences occur? They often occur spontaneously, generally while you’re in a semi-sleep state. Most people report experiencing an OBE while on the verge of falling asleep or shortly after drifting off.
In many cases a sense of sleep paralysis is felt, where they can’t move their bodies in that quasi-awake state. In some cases OBE’s can occur when involved in conditions of intense physical activity such as hiking at high altitudes. In such cases, people often describe that they feel a sense of bilocation.
OBE’s are not only experienced spontaneously, they can be induced. Many people use mental techniques to reach that stage where the body is asleep but the mind remains somewhat awake. History has shown that creative geniuses like Thomas Edison and Salvador Dali tried to mentally induce OBE’s to inspire their work.
The idea is to fall asleep yet initiate a trigger to arouse the mind. Some OBE experts suggest keeping your arm raised as you drift off and as it drops it can help induce an OBE. Others use meditations, visualizations or mechanical means like binaural beats to manipulate brainwaves into an OBE receptive pattern.
A near death experience is a special form of OBE that occurs near death, as the name implies. Generally this phenomenon occurs under extreme physical trauma such as an accident or surgery. Oftentimes the person is pronounced clinically dead.
Among the descriptions noted are sensations of floating, hovering above the physical body and feelings of peace and serenity. Numerous other accounts mention a bright light or a tunnel of light as well as interacting with spiritual beings.
Near death experiences like out of body experiences, show that consciousness can and does exist outside of the physical body. Many people believe that NDE’s unequivocally prove that life after death exists. While most scientists and skeptics would disagree, there are those who are coming out on the side of the afterlife.
Dr. Eben Alexander, a once skeptical neurosurgeon is now among the believers. Due to his own NDE in 2008, he was thoroughly convinced that an afterlife exists. He detailed his experience in his book Proof of Heaven: A Neurosurgeon’s Journey into the Afterlife, released in 2012.
Whether or not you believe in OBE’s and NDE’s, one thing is for certain—there is still a great deal waiting to be discovered about the realm of human consciousness.