So, Is Astral Projection Real Or Imagined? Let's find out!
"Is it real, or do we just imagine that we can astral travel?" There is still so much about astral projection that psychiatrists do not understand and cannot prove. In the absence of any solid scientific proof one way or the other, the APA (American Psychiatric Association) cannot and will not give a definitive yes or no to the question, is "astral projection real or imagined?"
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Endorsing Astral Projection
If the APA can't or won't endorse astral projection as being real, who will?
Who, other than the APA, has the authority to say if astral projection or out-of-body experiences are real or not? I have identified one other possible organization whose opinion on the subject would possibly be accepted and respected by the majority of the general public in America, and that is the TSA (Theosophical Society of America).
Failing that, I suspect this topic will continue to be a dinner-time discussion point for years to come and it will be decided individually based on personal experiences.
The lack of any kind of official endorsement, except by certain eastern religions, one way or the other, has left the western public confused and undecided on whether astral projection is real or not.
What Does The APA Do?
In essence, their mandate is to improve and verify research and investigation into all aspects of mental or psychiatric disorders. They are to investigate their causes, their prevention, and their treatment.
Why Does Their Opinion Matter?
Their opinion matters because, as well as investigating mental or psychiatric disorders, they also compile and publish the DSM-IV (The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders).
Should they not be convinced that astral projection is real, the experience will not be entered into the DSM-IV, as a mental or psychiatric disorder.
If astral projection is not in the DSM-IV, it cannot be officially recognized by psychiatrists in America and worldwide as being real.
The phenomenon, identified as an OBE (Out of Body Experience), is well known and accepted by the APA. But here we are talking about the floating above your body kind of Out of Body Experience, not astral projection in the astral plane.
The APA does not have the scientific evidence it needs to officially recognize that astral projection is happening and that it is real.
To quote Dr. Susan Blackmore, a psychiatrist and world-renowned expert on the subject.,
“The bottom line is that I think we now have the outlines of a complete neuroscientific explanation of what out-of-body experiences are. That doesn’t mean we know every detail, but we have the outline. It is unnecessary, and indeed very unhelpful, to talk in terms of astral projection because that is an ancient theory that simply does not fit the facts now”.
Simply put, what she is saying is:
As psychiatrists and medical professionals, we can explain, diagnose and treat the causes of a floating above your body kind of OBE. We cannot do the same for astral projection. Therefore it is misleading and scientifically incorrect to group the two experiences and identifies them as an OBE.
The Real And The Fake OBE
There were two totally different out-of-body experiences categorized under a single heading, OBE. This only created confusion. To mitigate that confusion, Dr. Blackmore determined that the floating above your body OBE should be described as a 'fake' OBE, while the astral projection kind of OBE, would be known as the 'real' one.
"There are two different kinds of OBE: ‘real’ out-of-body experiences are when they leave the body, and the 'fake' ones are illusions or hallucinations."
Why does DR. Blackmore consider one OBE real and the other a fake? Simple, she did some tests. Unknown to her test patients, she placed sticky pad-sized pieces of colored paper on numbered shelves on the room's walls directly above the bed where the test patient would go to sleep. If any of them did leave their bodies and float in the air, they could not help but see those colored sticky notes on the shelves as they looked down on their sleeping bodies.
Later on, when asked to describe their experience, not one of them mentioned seeing colored paper on shelves directly above their sleeping bodies.
In another test, she monitored participants' sleep patterns. She discovered that those who claimed they had floated had done so during their REM (Rapid Eye Movement) sleep. It is a well-established medical fact that we do all our dreaming during REM. Her conclusion:
- The test patients had lucid dreams and saw themselves floating out of their bodies. Their body schema was out of sync, and they felt disorientated. The causes and treatment for those having lucid dreams are medically well known. This kind of experience is considered medically treatable, and in Dr. Blackmore's opinion, it was a fake OBE.
The other, the astral projection type, defies all scientific proof. However, both the APA and the TSA agree that to experience it, something does have to leave your body.
The APA is stuck between a 'rock and a hard place'. They acknowledge and accept that something leaves your body, but as they cannot prove what that something is, they cannot positively identify it.
Until they can prove it one way or the other, the psychiatric community is happy to go with the 'something' that leaves your physical body is your astral body, and they define your astral body as being a ghost-like image of your physical body.
On the other hand, the TSA has no problem with what they believe is leaving your physical body. Their teaching identifies that 'something' as your soul, and many of the new-age spiritualists among their membership and the general public subscribe to that belief.
Given the two different explanations for that 'something that leaves your body' Dr. Blackmore considers astral projection to be more spiritual than medical. And in her opinion, it is the real OBE as stated in her article What Do Out-Of-Body Experiences Tell Us About The Brain?
My understanding is that the real and fake terminologies are Dr. Blackmore’s and not the associations. For this blog's purposes, I will stay with her terminology.
Like many thousands of others, Dr. Blackmore and I have both astral traveled and can validate the experience. It puts us in that group of people who, in all honesty, cannot deny it is real.
In fact, in her capacity as a psychiatrist, she is on record as having said.
“Astral projection is happening, and it is real."
The problem is, as significant and real as she and thousands of other astral projection experiences are; it is all anecdotal evidence. Anecdotal evidence does not qualify as scientific proof, and therefore the APA cannot use it as evidence to endorse astral projection as real.
The TSA (Theosophical Society of America) disagrees with this. As far as they are concerned, they have all the proof they need. Many members have reported that they have both astral traveled and floated above their bodies.
One of the guiding principles of the Society is truth and honesty among its members. Those claims were accepted precisely on that basis. They were truthful recollections of that particular member's experiences. No further proof from the member was asked for or given. You can read more about the Theosophical Society of America's view on astral projection by reading their article, Theosophical Society's Practice and View of Astral Projection.
To the TSA, when you are out of your body, floating or projecting, you are out of your body. Dr. Blackmore was wrong. There was no such thing as real or fake out-of-body experiences.
The APA’s Definition of Astral Projection
Astral Projection is “the alleged ability to enter into a trance-like state in which one leaves the physical body and operates in the astral plane (i.e. the hypothesized level of existence accessible to the consciousness or spirit which acts as a link between the physical or spirit world)."
The critical words here are alleged ability and leaving the physical body. The APA has no definitive proof that your astral body can leave the physical body, and then, after astral projection, it returns to the physical body on command.
Psychiatrists acknowledge that leaving the physical body for a spiritual awakening is not new and can be traced as far back as Ancient Egypt. However, the idea of astral projection is relatively new, and it was popularized, with little in the way of hard evidence to support it, by the Theosophical Society as early by comparison, like the 1890s.
The psychiatric community contends that there is no evidence supporting Theosophy’s teachings of the seven different bodies and its higher astral plane or its term astral projection. Therefore, there is no evidence to support the concept that it is the soul that is involved in out-of-body experiences.
Symptoms of Astral Projection
- It can be both intentional and unintentional.
- It involves a perception of something ‘leaving’ your physical body.
- With experience or training, you can go where you want in the astral realm.
- It lasts minutes, not seconds.
- You are fully aware of your surroundings in the astral world.
- You will remember everything that happened while you were in the astral realm.
- You have no illusion of dreaming.
- You stay connected to your physical body using a lifeline cord - a limitless silver umbilical cord.
A Definition of OBE
The APA does not have an official definition for ‘Out of Body Experience,’ so I have used the Miriam Webster dictionary's definition instead.
“An experience in which a person feels separated from their body and can look at themselves and other people from the outside.”
Although there is no official definition for out-of-body experiences, the association has conducted clinical tests and investigations on people who claim they have had out-of-body experiences. The purpose of the tests was to establish similarities, causes, and experiences of those who claimed to have had more than one OBE.
At the time of the tests, it was accepted that approximately 5% of the population might have had one OBE experience in their lifetime, yet here as test patients, five people with epilepsy claimed to have had more than one.
Among a host of other medical information, the investigations uncovered that people with epilepsy are more likely to have an out-of-body experience than those who don't have the disorder. A follow-up test that included ten non-epileptics confirmed that diagnosis.
One of the more clinical tests involved placing electrodes in the TPJ (Temporal Parietal Junction) area of the brain. The doctor conducting the test then passed a small electrical current through a group of the electrodes, and the patient's reactions were noted. At one configuration, the patients spoke about only being able to see a small portion of their bodies, i.e., only their legs. As electrical stimulation was increased and the configuration of connected electrodes changed, the patients began to see more of their bodies.
Eventually, all five spoke about seeing a ghost-like image of themselves floating up to three or four meters, turning over, and with their backs against the ceiling, looking down at their sleeping bodies. They did not astral travel; they stayed in the room. They simply spent a few seconds seemingly floating above their bodies, and when they woke up, they spoke about the strange out-of-body experience they had just had.
The doctor conducting the tests showed that what they saw or did not see was possibly linked to that portion of the brain that recognizes amputated limbs as still being connected to your body. In other words, the phantom limb syndrome. The test patient's brains were seeing something that was not there.
The APA’s Definition of a Lucid Dream
“A dream in which the sleeper is aware that they are dreaming and may be able to influence the progress of the dream narrative.”
Symptoms Of A Lucid Dream
A lucid dream can be caused by one of these several medical factors. Want to know more about Lucid Dreams? Why not try our Best Books About Astral Projection.
· Cardiac Arrest.
All of these are medically treatable disorders.
If you want to learn more about this fascinating topic from one of the world's leading neurologists and neuroscientists, click on this Olaf Blanke video, Out-of-body experiences with Olaf Blanke. He was the doctor conducting the tests.
Is it real, or do we imagine it? Dr. Blackmore did not imagine her experience.
Neither did I. To make sure I was not going mad or having a lucid dream, I did my own test to ensure I was not going mad or having a lucid dream. One night I intentionally had an out-of-body experience. I astral traveled to my local rugby club, a favorite club of mine, and there I witnessed an argument between two guys in the bar.
The following day I made inquiries about it. The only thing I got wrong was the time of the argument. I was an hour out. I had been there, and I had seen and heard what had happened. I did not dream it. I was even asked, "Where were you? We never saw you here?" Nobody had. That was all the proof I needed. For me, astral projection is real.
Question and Answers
Can you be taught Astral Projection?
Yes, you can. One of the many organizations offering various spiritual courses is the Theosophical Society of America. Contact them or any other similar spiritual organization for the details about the courses they offer.
What does Astral Projection Feel Like?
It feels like a feeling of floating outside your body, or it can feel like an altered perception of the world, i.e., looking down from a height. It can even feel like a feeling from above that you are looking down on yourself. Or even a sense that what is happening is not a dream - i.e., astral travel is real, and they have been on the astral plane.