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OBE (Out-of-Body-Experiences)
OBE (Out-of-Body-Experiences)

An out-of-body experience (OBE or sometimes OOBE), is an experience that typically involves a sensation of floating outside of one's body and, in some cases, perceiving one's physical body from a place outside one's body (autoscopy).

The term out-of-body experience was introduced in 1943 by G.N.M Tyrrell in his book Apparitions, and adopted by, for example, Celia Green and Robert Monroe as a bias-free alternative to belief-centric labels such as "astral projection" or "spirit walking". Though the term usefully distances researchers from scientifically problematic concepts such as the soul, scientists still know little about the phenomenon. Some researchers have managed to recreate OBE in a laboratory setup by stimulating a part in the human brain. One in ten people has an out-of-body experience at some time in their lives. OBEs are often part of the near-death experience. Those who have experienced OBEs sometimes claim to have observed details which were unknown to them beforehand.

In some cases the phenomenon appears to occur spontaneously; in others it is associated with a physical or mental trauma, use of psychedelic drugs, and other natural drugs, or a dream-like state. Many techniques aiming to induce the experience deliberately have been developed, for example visualization while in a relaxed, meditative state. Recent studies have shown that experiences somewhat similar to OBEs can be induced by direct brain stimulation. Some of those who experience OBEs claimed to have willed themselves out of their bodies, while others report having found themselves being pulled from their bodies (usually preceded by a feeling of paralysis). In other accounts, the feeling of being outside the body was suddenly realized after the fact, and the recipient saw their own bodies almost by accident. OBEs often occur during the borderline stage between REM sleep and arousal when sleep paralysis may persist and dream imagery may mingle with sensory input.

Some neurologists have suspected that the event is triggered by a mismatch between visual and tactile signals. They used a virtual reality setup to recreate an OBE. The subject looked through goggles and saw his own body as it would appear to an outside observer standing behind him. The experimenter then touched the subject at the same time as a rod appeared to touch the virtual image. The experiment created an illusion of being behind and outside one's body. However, both critics and the experimenter himself note that the study fell short of replicating "full-blown" OBEs.

The earliest recorded reference to an OBE is in the Holy Bible, 2 Corinthians 12:14, in which the apostle Paul describes this kind of experience. Many other visions of God recorded in the Bible appear to be similar in nature.

OBE's are sometimes reported to be preceded by and initiated from a lucid dream state, though other types of immediate and spontaneous experience are also reported. In many cases, people who claimed to have had an OBE reported being asleep, on the verge of sleep, or already asleep shortly before the experience. A large percentage of these cases referred to situations where the sleep was not particularly deep (due to illness, noises in other rooms, emotional stress, exhaustion from overworking, frequent re-awakening, etc.). In most of these cases, the subjects then felt themselves awake; about half of them noted a feeling of sleep paralysis.

Consciously controlled and pre-meditated OBE methods (examples of which are widely available in many popular books on the subject) are also reported. Some people have attempted to develop techniques to induce OBE's.

Falling asleep physically without losing wakefulness. The "Mind Awake, Body Asleep" state is widely suggested as a cause of OBEs, voluntary and otherwise. Thomas Edison used this state to tackle problems while working on his inventions. He would rest a silver dollar on his head while sitting with a metal bucket in a chair. As he drifted off, the coin would noisily fall into the bucket, restoring some of his alertness. OBE pioneer Sylvan Muldoon more simply used a forearm held perpendicular in bed as the falling object. Salvador Dali was said to use a similar "paranoiac-critical" method to gain odd visions which inspired his paintings. Deliberately teetering between awake and asleep states is known to cause spontaneous trance episodes at the onset of sleep which are ultimately helpful when attempting to induce an OBE. By moving deeper and deeper into relaxation, one eventually encounters a 'slipping' feeling if the mind is still alert. This slipping is reported to feel like leaving the physical body. Some consider progressive relaxation a passive form of sensory deprivation. Waking up mentally but not physically. This related technique is typically achieved through the practice of lucid dreaming. Once inside a lucid dream, the dreamer either shifts the subject matter of the dream in an OBE direction or banishes the dream imagery completely, in doing so gaining access to the underlying state of sleep paralysis ideal for visualization of separation from the body.

Deep trance, meditation and visualization. The types of visualizations vary; some common imageries used include climbing a rope to "pull out" of one's body, floating out of one's body, getting shot out of a cannon, and other similar approaches. This technique is considered hard to use for people who cannot properly relax. One example of such a technique is the popular Golden Dawn "Body of Light" Technique.

OBE's induced with drugs are sometimes considered to be hallucinations (i.e., purely subjective), even by those who believe the phenomenon to be objective in general. There are several types of drugs that can initiate an OBE, primarily the dissociative hallucinogens such as ketamine, dextromethorphan (DM or DXM), and phencyclidine (PCP). It has also been reported under the influence of tryptamine psychedelics including dimethyltryptamine (DMT) from ayahuasca. Salvia divinorum has been known to produce symptoms in which the user is said to be able to leave their bodies and travel to many places at once. Many users also claim that they feel as if their "soul" falls out of their body.

OBE's tend to fall into two types, categorized by Robert Monroe as Locale 1 and Locale 2 experiences.

In Locale 1 experiences the environment is largely consistent with reality; other common labels for this form are etheric, ethereal or RTZ (Real Time Zone) projections. The onset of this type can be frightening as intense physiological sensations may be perceived, such as electrical tingling, full body vibrations and racing heartbeat. Confusion is common in spontaneous Locale 1 experiences; the person can believe he has awakened (or died) physically and panic can be caused by the realization that ones limbs appear to be penetrating other objects.

Locale 2 experiences are less overtly physical in nature and have much subjective overlap with lucid dreaming. The subject is immersed in unrealistic worlds, modified forms of reality exhibiting physically impossible or inconsistent features. Bright and vivid colors are a common feature of this form. Robert Bruce considers this type of OBE to be an Astral Projection.

The OBE may or may not be followed by other experiences which are self-reported as being "as real" as the OBE feeling; alternatively, the subject may fade into a state self-reported as dreaming, or they may awake completely. The OBE is sometimes ended due to a fearful feeling of getting "too far away" from the body. Many end with a feeling of suddenly "popping" or "snapping" and sometimes a "pulling" back into their bodies; some even report being "sucked back" into physical form. A majority describe the end of the experience by saying "then I woke up". However it's worth noting that even those who describe the experience as something fantastic that occurs during sleep, and who describe the end of the experience by saying "and then I woke up", are very specific in describing the experience as one which was clearly not a dream; many described their sense of feeling more awake than they felt when they were normally awake. One compared the experience to that of lucid dreaming, but said that it was "more real".

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