Astral projection from the physical body is a type of mental phenomenon that is related to lucid dreaming. Many people who have been successful in lucid dreaming for a long time say that it can be a springboard to achieving astral projection experiences. Astral projection requires the same kind of mental focus, physical relaxation and enhanced awareness that form components of lucid dreaming practice. It’s unclear what separates astral projection experiences from passive wake-induced lucid dreams, in which your body falls asleep before your mind has transitioned into a dream scene. In passive WILDs, you ‘wake up’ into a dream version of your bedroom and may have to imagine yourself floating out of your body before you can interact with the dream. For as many people who say astral projection is a kind of lucid dream, an equal number might claim that we astral project every night in our dreams.
As well as being consciously induced, astral projection experiences can be triggered by minor accidents, medical situations, intense pain or distress, illness (especially with a fever) or deep meditation. Some people have used astral projection to break sleep paralysis by imagining themselves floating out of their paralyzed body and then reentering it, which usually breaks the paralysis and fully wakes them up. There are a few accounts from people who found that having a fever triggered their astral projection experiences; experienced astral traveler Robert Monroe also suggests that warming the body by covering yourself with a blanket makes astral projection easier. This suggests that an elevated temperature might be correlated with achieving astral projection.
Some other hallmarks of astral projection experiences are a sense that your body is vibrating and that you are floating or rolling out of it. A few people have described sensing the entire room around them vibrating, as though they could feel the movements of air molecules around them as they left their bodies. Sometimes you might also hear a high-pitched whine in your ears, changing in intensity or volume along with the vibration. As you float away from your physical body it might feel hard to breathe at first, as though there is a weight on your chest; this is probably a residual feeling of sleep paralysis. Breathing through your nose and centering yourself with some breathing meditation can help ease this feeling of tightness. Astral projection experiences usually commence in a version of the room you lay down in, usually in a space that looks like your bedroom. From there, experienced astral travelers can choose to travel to different places in our world or teleport themselves to a different plane entirely. As in lucid dreams, traveling and doing things in an astral state requires clear mental focus and intention. There are lots of accounts of people who lost their clear intention or focus and found themselves whisked back into their bodies.
While astral, people have reported encountering various entities that seemed both benevolent and malign. Regular practitioners of astral projection often talk about these entities as angels and demons, or good and evil spirits, and recommend that anyone who wants to astral project take steps to protect the astral body against malevolent influences. I’ll leave the question of whether astral projection really involves travel to another plane for other people to answer; however, like a lucid dream, expectations play a large part in shaping astral projection experiences. If you expect that you will be menaced by demons in the astral plane, chances are you will encounter some scary presences; however, if you believe you’ll be protected and guided by friendly spirits, these forces will be available to you when you astral project. I often find that those people who regularly report astral projection demonic encounters are regularly spending time in their waking life thinking about or researching dark forces. So, of course, in their astral projection experiences demons come up when they are unconscious. Those people who are more focused on positive, life-focused energy during the day are more likely to have positive astral travel experiences.
What you see when you astral project is also influenced by your expectations: if you began an astral projection in your bedroom, you will probably emerge into a version of that room. Locations that you journey to while astral will also incorporate whatever and whomever you expect to find there. If you decide to visit a friend’s house, it will look exactly as it has on your in-person visits, and you will probably encounter your friend and his or her family members there. If you visit the dark side of the moon and expect to find a secret military base there, you will probably not be disappointed. If nothing else, astral projection experiences reveal the incredible power of the human brain to create a self-sustaining model of reality for us to inhabit.
People have used astral projection to conquer their fear of death or the unknown, to travel to far-off places on Earth, space, and the astral plane, and to increase their daily self-awareness and energy. Practiced as part of a regimen to increase your level of self-awareness, astral projection can be an aid to meaningful meditation and the induction of lucid dreams. Like lucid dreaming, astral projection can be fun and interesting. It can teach us a lot about how our minds work, and the potential for the mind to create and inhabit a space that is very different from normal everyday life.