What is Astral Projection?

3 min
Article preview picture

If you’ve seen the television series Behind Her Eyes ー based on the psychological thriller novel of the same name by English author Sarah Pinborough ー you may have come across the concept of Astral Projection (don’t worry, that’s not a spoiler!). It’s the idea that we can leave our body and travel to different places with just the mind一a concept that is also known as an intentional out-of-body experience, and closely linked with lucid dreaming. 

While Behind Her Eyes’s fictional account may have taken some creative license over how Astral Projection works and exactly how far out of the body one might be able to go, the practice has legitimate roots in several spiritual philosophies, and plenty of people have provided compelling accounts of “traveling” using this technique. There are also some powerful claims about the capacity of Astral Projection to heal past trauma, and contribute to personal growth and the path to enlightenment. Let’s look at what it’s all about.

Traveling With The “Astral Body’

Some well-known “astral travelers” that have written about their out-of-body experiences include the late American author Michael Crichton and activist Helen Keller. It is most commonly described as a feeling of flying, but the term “astral” in this context refers to the non-physical. The astral body – what can also be described as the subtle body, spirit, soul, etheric body, light body or, less mystically, consciousness – travels through the astral realm rather than the world we can touch and see. We could also think of the astral world as an alternate dimension, and the astral body as the plane or frequency of our existence that interacts with it. Some interpretations of Astral Projection claim that you can travel to different parts of the world ー the universe even ー in real time and see what’s going on. Others suggest that yes, you can travel with your mind, but only to places you have already been as a very lucid recreation of a memory. The US government even reportedly undertook investigations in the 1980s to find out whether they could use Astral Projection to spy on people.

Astral Projection as a Spiritual Concept

The term “Astral Projection” is a relatively modern concept in Western esotericism (the pursuit of spiritual enlightenment). It is understood by some schools of thought to be a route to a higher source of knowledge, otherwise known as the Akashic records – a sort of cosmic filing cabinet holding metaphysical data on everything there is to ever know. But practices of intentional out-body-experience have a tradition in many major religious philosophies and indigenous cultures, including Hinduism and Taoism. Among the supernatural attainments or siddhis of the yoga tradition are ideas around harnessing the power of the etheric body, while Buddhism explores deep states of meditation as the route to the illusory or dream body.

Astral Projection as a Scientific Concept

Astral travel appears to be very real to those that have experienced it, but there is no scientific “proof” yet that the mind can exist as a separate entity outside the body. Out-of-body experiences – both intentional and spontaneous – are widely documented, and up to one in 10 people will experience an OBE in their lifetime. The phenomenon has received some attention by researchers seeking to better understand the neurological basis for this kind of shifted body perception, but there isn’t really an answer to how it works. Ultimately, reality is in the half-empty or half-full cup of the beholder. The Monroe Institute, founded by Robert Monroe ー a broadcaster and researcher who conducted numerous studies into sleep-learning and human consciousness, offers an explanation of Astral Projection as an experience of expanded consciousness. They see it as a way to access deeper layers of the mind and everything that exists there as a microcosm of the universe; it's an internal journey to find the knowledge that lies within. It’s a compelling argument for the idea of using Astral Projection to heal buried trauma.

How To Try Astral Projection

At the very least, the practice appears to be best used not for cosmic voyeurism, but as a method for finding deeper levels of relaxation, peace, and oneness. The Lucid Dream Society has a few guides to Astral Projection, the Monroe Institute offers the Gateway method, and it is also possible to find a personal guide. There are also numerous free guided meditations and Yoga Nidra practices on YouTube designed to guide you towards the deep state of relaxation needed to start the journey. Happy travels!

---------------------------------------

All of the content on our website is thoroughly researched to ensure that the information shared is evidence-based. For more information, please visit the academic journals and other resources that influenced this article: Taming The Astral Body; Voluntary Out-Of-Body Experience; Out Of Body Experiences And Their Neural Basis; Leaving Body And Life Behind: Out-Of-Body And Near-Death Experience. 

Share this story
Read more
  • Article preview
    10 Mar 2022

    What is Quantum Healing?

    6 min

    Quantum healing is a catch-all term for a range of holistic therapies that view the relationship between the body and mind through the lens of quantum mechanics. A relatively recent branch of alternative medicine, quantum healing has been gaining momentum since Dr. Deepak Chopra released a book on the subject in 1989. Holistic practitioners that use the term ‘quantum’ in their modalities explore the relationship between energy, consciousness, and biology, through varying practices. But what does this all actually mean?

    Read full article
  • Article preview
    1 Mar 2022

    What is Sound Healing?

    10 min

    Have you ever wanted to put on the most emotive songs that you can cry to when you’re feeling sad? Felt the rush of energy from a thumping workout track that raises your heart rate and motivation in one fell swoop? Or perhaps you’ve felt the instant calm from walking into a spa, the scented air complemented by a soothing, meditative audio track playing gently in the background. If so, then you’ve tapped into the healing power of music. 

    Read full article
  • Article preview
    10 Mar 2022

    Transcendental Meditation: How It Works

    6 min

    Of the many ways there are to meditate, Transcendental Meditation (also known as TM) is reputed to be one of the most popular: According to the official website (where the method is featured with its own registered trademark), “over ten million people of all ages, cultures, and religions have learnt TM.” 

    Read full article
  • Article preview
    12 Apr 2022

    What Is Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM)?

    10 min

    Imagine that you are lying on a massage table, with a therapist preparing some needles in front of you. As they come closer to you and prick the first needle into your skin, you may be expecting pain. More needles are placed onto your hands, feet, back, and the rest of your body. To the unfamiliar, it can sound pretty scary ー but to those in the know, the sensation that comes right afterwards is not pain, but pleasure and deep relaxation. The tension in your muscles releases, and the tight feeling that was causing you pain in your back and your legs, or giving you headaches, starts to go away. This therapy is called acupuncture, and it’s one of the oldest practices from an Eastern medical system known as Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM).  

    Read full article
  • Article preview
    8 Apr 2022

    What Is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, and Can It Help You?

    11 min

    Sometimes, when life gets tough, you may hear a little voice in your head telling you, "You are not worthy," or "You are not good enough." Of course, we don't want to listen to it, but sometimes, this mysterious voice just doesn't seem to want to let us go. At first, you may not even be aware of it. You may think that if you ignore it, it’ll eventually go away on its own. But the truth is, that voice will still be there lurking in the back of your mind and affecting the way you think, feel, and even act. When you let down your defenses and give up on fighting it, chances are that it can mislead you into thinking that whatever it’s saying is true. And the result? It can negatively affect your self-esteem and self-worth, by making you start questioning them. In psychology, this mysterious voice is known as negative self-talk, and it can make people feel trapped in a cycle of negative thoughts.

    Read full article