A Beginner’s Guide to the Out-of-Body Experience, Including First-Hand Accounts and Comprehensive Theory and Methods
by Darryl E Berry Jr
10 – PRACTICING OBE
Now you have the basics, and practical considerations to support your practice. Here we get into initiating an out-of-body experience. This methodology has been tried and proven, and all you must do is apply it as outlined and you will succeed at achieving out-of-body success.
Especially if you have a busy waking life, it may be very necessary to spend some time preparing to practice OBE. It can be likened to the time spent by a deep-sea diver in a decompression chamber, preparing to reenter a different pressure environment. In this case it’s not that any harm will come to you if you don’t spend some time preparing. It’s simply that if your attention and energies are still focused on and diffused into physical world concerns you may find that you have little or slow success at your OBE progress.
I suggest always starting any practice with the preparation of a few deep breaths – two or three full inhales with emptying and relaxing exhales. This will gradually become a sort of mental marker that you are beginning to engage different regions of yourself and the universe and will prep your mind for the task. Lean your head backwards in the inhale and tip your head forward on the exhale. Then spend a few minutes centering into the current moment, and the current place. Withdraw and center all your energy and attention behind your current effort.
To help with this centering you can resolve any matters that can easily be resolved. Make sure all the doors and windows are secure – which is important, so you don’t mistake a nonphysical being to be a physical intruder! Make sure the stove is off. Be sure your work alarm is set – double check it! Make sure the kids are to bed. Make sure your homework is done. Make sure you’ve used the restroom. Anything that may take your attention away from the present place and time, if it can easily be resolved, resolve it. Things that can’t immediately be resolved be sure to mentally delegate to another time. This can help with interrupted sleep practice, as you can delegate some things to do during the time between practices, to help you to get up.
OBE TECHNIQUES AND ROUTINES
I have found much success in using a barrage of techniques in succession, making a practice routine or projection sequence. I’ll list techniques and then list various ways you can link them in your OBE practice sessions. I have also found great success in breaking practice sessions into two parts: sitting phase and lying phase. Start with a sitting phase using one of the sitting OBE Asanas and hit at least the alpha state while you are upright, so that you have made some progress into altered states before you lie down. This can help lessen the amount of times you fall asleep during practice. And then lie down and continue your practice session.
I have found it a great help to have an alarm or timer set marking the duration of each technique. 10 minutes per technique is a good interval but be sure to vary it to what suits you. I would suggest no less than 10 minutes on each technique to not experience being too scattered among techniques. Two to four techniques are good to start with – for instance one until you hit alpha, and then another until you hit theta, and then one or two in combination until you hit delta and the OBE. 10 to 30 minutes total should be enough for the sitting phase, with 10 or 15 minutes allotted to each technique. Recheck to make sure you set the alarm property before you start. Then after sitting practice lie down and continue or repeat the technique sequence.
Generally, if you seem relatively aware or awake, have a relaxed focus in your practice to allow yourself to descend into the altered states, and if you’re relatively drowsy or sleepy, focus more strongly, to remain consciously aware as you descend into altered states. Focus as strongly as necessary to remain consciously aware, yet practice being physically and psychologically relaxed enough to go into sleep. If you pop alert and realize you had lost awareness or fell into unconscious reverie focus more strongly on the technique.
One powerful thing you can do as you practice is to periodically check the depth of your state. Take a moment to observe how relaxed the physical body is, and how deep you are into altered states. Observe what altered state markers are going on. Make a mental account of how much progress you are making during the session. This can go a long way towards keeping you consciously aware, as well as help motivate your progress during that session and future sessions. Sometimes it may not be readily apparent how deeply we enter altered states until we really pay attention to what is going on and acknowledge each little progress and success.
4-2 Rhythmic Breathing, Sitting in Stillness
You’ll remember this from the Meditation basic. Inhale to the count of 4, hold the lungs full to the count of 2, exhale to the count of 4, and hold the lungs empty to the count of 2, repeat. This is usually the “bread and butter” of my practice session. I suggest always sitting and starting with this one to open the practice session. After you enter at least alpha let go of the rhythm and sit in stillness. You can easily hit theta with just this technique.
Mentally count down repeatedly from 50-1. You can also visualize the number as you mentally say them. Relax as you do so. This is my friend Louis’ “bread and butter” technique.
Just remain aware – remain aware of the sounds, temperatures, smells, etc., aware of your body, your breathing, your heartbeat, aware of your perceptions and experiences as you go through the altered states, aware of awareness itself. Simply remain psychologically aware as best you can. Let your mind be an open space, simply noticing each perception as it arises.
Relax and consciously breathe deeply with the belly/abdomen, with slow, full inhales and exhales. It can help to rest one hand on the chest and the other on the abdomen and confirm that the abdomen is starting the inhales and ending the exhales.
Century Breath Count
You’ll remember this from the Concentration basic. Simply count your breaths from 1 to 100. If you lose awareness or count, restart from 1 and focus more on the breath and the numbers. Remain as relaxed as possible. You can place a hand on the chest and the other on the abdomen to help you breathe and focus.
Feel the energy in your body, and simply be aware of the energy. Feel the energy move and build as you allow yourself to go deeper into altered states. This is a great technique to switch to if you experience any kind of energetic sensation altered state phenomenon.
Mind Blank / Movie Screen
Simply blank the mind like an empty slate, or as if waiting for thunder after a lightning strike or waiting for a movie to start on a blank cinema screen. Note – the experience of projection can be sudden with this technique.
This is a signature technique of mine. It can produce a very direct and powerful out-of-body experience. Every minute or two (the time can be adjusted to preference) move into a different physical position or OBE asana. This technique helps keep awareness intact, as well as provides an in-built movement protocol to initiate the out-of-body experience when your state is deep enough. You may go to move one time and realize that you’re paralyzed. Then you can relax and roll out into an OBE. Deeply relax in-between each movement or apply any other technique in-between movement. You can sit up or look over to check the time. You can make a brief journal entry. You can get more comfortable. Any type of physical movement will do.
Sleep Signal Focus
The sensation of sleepiness can be a fixative to concentrate upon. Become aware of or imagine the sensation of sleepiness and dive into it. This is a great technique to use if you start feeling extremely sleepy during practice. You can attempt to ‘stay ahead’ of sleepiness, diving into and keeping awareness ahead of it before it drowns you in unawareness. This is a signature technique of my friend Louis.
Relax and focus on slowing the heartbeat and/or respiration. Consciously intend and will and relax into the body slowing down.
State Marker Focus
Whatever state marker phenomenon you experience, you can simply focus on that to deepen and/or maintain your state. If you experience more than one state marker at a time you may want to focus on one. So, for instance with visual imagery and energy sensations at the same time, it may be easier to focus on one or the other.
Attempt to see through your eyelids, either into the immediate environment, or to a more distant time or place.
ENERGY WORKING TECHNIQUES
Focus on one of the chakra centers. You can simply focus intention on it, visualize it, or stir or spin your awareness through it. Be gentle so as not to overstimulate.
Practice energy working exercises, any or all of them. See Chapter 8.
If you experience strong vibrations you can focus on them, relaxing into them, and then move them up and down your body. Intend them into the shape of a ring, like a thick hoop around your body, and move this hoop up and down from head level to feet level, back and forth. Energetic sensations often turn into vibrations, so you may find success switching to this technique after Energy Working or Energy Awareness/Sensing technique application. Vibration strobe can cause a spontaneous experience of floating up out of the body.
PHYSICAL DETACHMENT TECHNIQUES
Lay on your back and place a forearm in the air at the elbow, so that the forearm is balanced in the air. When you reach a deep enough state, your physical forearm may fall while you remain consciously aware and nonphysical. If you just lose awareness your falling arm can alert you back to practice. You can practice any other techniques or technique sequence while applying this. It may help you to remain aware far past your threshold so you can experience extreme sleepiness practicing this technique.
Image your physical body and/or psychological being dispersing. You can imagine for instance your body dispersing into a cloud of tiny spheres, which then floats into the air, or condenses and rolls down the bed and out along the floor like spilled water.
Imagine yourself to be in a position, or facing a direction, other than the one you are physically in. In addition, from this imagined position you can apply other OBE techniques. Imagine that your displaced position is your physical position.
This is a way to experience going directly to a destination or target (person, event, place, etc.). Take into your mind all you know of or feel for the destination or target – look, smell, sound, emotion, and etcetera – and hold it all in your mind as fully as you can with intent to go there. If you don’t have personal knowledge of the target, simply will to go to your intended destination.
Imagine movement, recreating the sensation as fully as possible. Examples include to imagine floating around the room as if caught in a hurricane or sliding along the walls around the room; rocking side to side or forward and backward as if in a rocking chair; swinging a limb back and forth or up and down, such as imagining swinging the legs up into the air and then downward through the bed, back and forth; rolling or spinning in place either back and forth or continuing in the same direction like a log in water; climbing a rope, ladder, or spiral of stairs; push-ups, playing tennis, practicing martial arts, etc. Any action or activity or sense of movement will do. Simply reimagine the feel of engaging in the activity as fully as possible. If possible, you can physically engage in the motion or activity to cement the sensation in your memory before practice.
Mental Projection / Point-Shift
Intend, imagine, and will your awareness or perception to a location and/or time different than your physical body. A common location is right in front of your physical body, as if you’re a floating field of awareness looking at your physical body, or a nonphysical specter standing before your physical body. If you imagine a physical locale you know well, or would like to visit, visualize in all the detail you can muster. Visualize it as if you were there, walking or floating around. You can utilize pictures, or even physically visiting the place, to help your practice. Allow your experience there to be as detailed and real as you can make it.
Nonphysical Body Extrusion
Imagine a tubule of energy extruding from your solar plexus up into the air near the ceiling. This energy tube then starts to extrude energy from its tip, forming a sphere of energy which then takes the shape of your nonphysical body floating in the air. Maintaining this imagery and feeling of a nonphysical body floating in the air connected to you by a tubule of energy, move your consciousness through the tube and into the floating nonphysical body.
Any of the basic relaxation exercises or any combination of them can be applied. See the Relaxation basic in Chapter 8. One addition can be, when applying the Progressive Relaxation technique, to imagine pulling up consciousness from the body part as the body part is relaxed. Thus, at the end of the progressive relaxation consciousness is collected into the head, and then when the head is relaxed, you’re allowed to float free of the physical body. This process may need to be repeated several times.
Water Temptation Technique
Allow yourself to get relatively thirsty by not drinking anything an hour or two before sleep. Place a glass of water in a convenient location, and stare at it before practice, imagining how much you want the water, how good it will taste. As you practice periodically remember the water, intending and wanting to go to it and get some water. You may have a direct projecting to the water, or you may become aware in an OBE or dream where you’re trying to get water in some way.
Establish a route through your immediate environment, with 3 to 5 checkpoints; for instance, in front of the TV, next to the refrigerator, etc. Go through the route physically a few times, remembering details of each checkpoint. What can you see from there, what can you touch from there? What do the objects you can touch feel like? What does it sound like and smell like there? Answer these questions physically and commit observations to memory. You can even add objects along the route to provide definite checkpoints. Then assume your OBE Asana and imagine walking from checkpoint to checkpoint repeatedly, recreating the experience in detail. You may suddenly find yourself buzzing free of the physical body. You can also alternate physical and imagined walk-throughs until OBE. This is a favorite and “bread and butter” technique of author William Buhlman.
If you will recall this is the technique I used to go to The Source. Simply go within to the core of your being in your intention, while simultaneously going outward with your intention as if scanning to the ends of the universe. If it helps try one and then the other, and then apply both at the same time.
Simply focus on and be aware of your breathing, without changing it in any way.
Feel and hear your heartbeat, and/or the sensation of the blood pumping through your veins. You can also count the beats, intending to count for instance 100 heartbeats and then repeating at 1.
You’ll remember a similar exercise from the Meditation basic. For this practice it’s done with more focus. Pick a phrase or word to chant repeatedly in your mind. For OBE practice it can be anything. It can be a lullaby or short lyric or jingle, or a spiritual word or phrase; or any group or sequence of syllables. Using mantras to OBE was a favorite technique of the Mysticweb group. The idea is to focus intently on the mantra, maintaining the single-minded intent. You can practice verbally with the mantra or jingle to start.
Simply repeatedly count a predetermined range of numbers, whether counting up or counting down, for instance:
• 1 to 10
• 50 to 1
• 1 to 30
• 100 to 1
• 1 to 100
• 1 to 1000
The goal is only to focus on the numbers and the sequence. Repeat when you reach the goal number.
Have the intent to remain aware and awake as you lie for sleep. Strongly intend and put effort into holding onto your wakefulness.
Play a sound that you can focus on. It can be from the radio, the TV, a lecture recording, etc. You can also mentally replay a sound or sound clip or song in your mind. The difference with this technique is that it’s something you’re listening to or remembering rather than something you’re mentally repeating. Another sound the use is the whining sound in the ears or head.
Activity / Movement Visualization
You can imagine yourself doing an activity – jogging, running, washing clothes, exercising, martial arts, or whatever. It can also be the visualization of a game, like a chess match. This is also a good way to remember how or to practice doing activities while practicing OBE. Visualize some manner of movement or activity. This can be driving down a hilly street, or even being shot into outer space in a large rocket. This technique focuses more on the visual aspect than the feel of the action.
Use your imagination to visualize something that holds your attention. One visualization of mine is to imagine myself engulfed in a flame, as if I’m the wick of a candle, or to imagine a flame in my third eye area. You can imagine a lion sitting starting at you, interacting with you even.
Visualize flying. If you will recall, this is my first OBE technique. You can visualize an attractive scene or environment to fly through. Include all the senses, the sight of flying through the sky or clouds, the feel and sound of air rushing by, etc.
The imagination influences the nonphysical and can be used as an entry into the nonphysical. Visualize an imaginary place, one that you wouldn’t mind visiting regularly, like your own ‘fortress of solitude’ in a nonphysical dimension. Design it as you will: the surrounding landscape, the make of the place, the look, the structure, etc. You can imagine usable tools, such as a chalkboard to jot down things you’ll like to remember in the physical world. Visualize and imagine being there and interacting with the place. With continued practice the visualization will become more and more solid, until eventually you may find yourself actually “there.” It becomes a nonphysical dimension that you can visit through an OBE; and that others can visit as well. This is a basic practice of the Monroe Institute. This practice can also replace the Visualization and Mental Projection basic exercises as your visualization and mental projection skill develops.
Visualize a shape, for instance a circle, square, cube, or cone, of a certain color. Try moving the shape around, turning it over and such, to help concentration.
WILD CARD TECHNIQUES
Try applying two or more techniques simultaneously or in succession, for instance focusing on the heartbeat while relaxing, or alternating relaxing and moving, or mental projection and imagined movement.
As you practice and learn you might develop techniques and technical variations of your own.
Here is the list of workable technique sequences. You can use these, build upon these, or use these as examples to build your own from the list of techniques in the previous section. Each bullet point lists a separate projection sequence, to be used during a single practice session. So, for instance, using the first listed sequence, one could sit and do 4-2 breathing until getting alpha state phenomenon, and then lie down and continually apply progressive relaxation until completely relaxed. Then practice visualizing a shape and color until getting deep theta phenomenon, and then whenever you experience deep imagery start counting 50-1 until an OBE occurs. In each of these examples you sit during the 4-2 breathing, and then lie down after reaching alpha or theta while sitting, and then continue the sequence lying down. Remember to regularly check your state to see how progressed your trance is.
• 4-2 Rhythmic Breathing; Progressive Relaxation; Shape/Color Visualization; 50-1 Countdown
• 4-2 Rhythmic Breathing; Relaxation
• 4-2 Rhythmic Breathing; 50-1 Countdown; Imagined Movement – imagining rolling or spinning in place like a log in water
• 4-2 Rhythmic Breathing; Relax-Move Technique (alternate between deeply relaxing for a few minutes and then physically moving to a different position or asana)
• 4-2 Rhythmic Breathing; Mantra Fixative
• 4-2 Rhythmic Breathing; Point Shift and Imagined Movement climbing a ladder combo (alternate between a shifted position and imagining the feel of climbing a ladder)
• 4-2 Rhythmic Breathing; Place-There Visualization
• 4-2 Rhythmic Breathing; Slow Down
• 4-2 Rhythmic Breathing; Mind Blank
• 4-2 Rhythmic Breathing; Energy Working; Shape/Color Visualization; Displacement
• 4-2 Rhythmic Breathing; Flight Visualization
• 4-2 Rhythmic Breathing; Arm-Up and Relaxation and Sleep Signal Focus combo (keep an arm balanced up at the forearm, and continue to relax into sleep)
• 4-2 Rhythmic Breathing; Imagined Movement imagining sliding around the room along the walls; Shape/Color Visualization
• 4-2 Rhythmic Breathing; Triple Spheres Relaxation; Nonphysical Body Extrusion, repeating until OBE
FINISHING THE SHIFT
There are several ways to finish the shift into an OBE if it doesn’t happen automatically. Often, you’ll simply find yourself floating, or in a different location, depending upon what technique you use, and depending on if you lose awareness or not during the practice. For instance, with Nonphysical Body Extrusion you can suddenly find yourself floating at the ceiling.
There are various ways the experience of spontaneously exiting the physical body can take. In one experience I became aware spinning up into the air like a helicopter blade, as if lying on my back atop a spinning disc, pausing stationary at the ceiling. This can happen with techniques that focus less on movement, such as Basic Relaxation. With Relax-Move you will likely find yourself paralyzed and needing to manually move from the physical body. In that case you would relax and then move away from the physical body just as you would move physically. Don’t move physically but relax and move as if moving physically. If you were in fact in pre-OBE paralysis the movement will in fact be nonphysical. If you suddenly find yourself in a different location, simply explore from there or intend or fly to where you’d rather be. This often happens when we lose awareness mid practice.
Sometimes nonphysical movement can be mistaken for physical movement, as the nonphysical body can feel just like the physical one. Especially early on, the slow and labored nature of initial nonphysical movement just as the experience begins will signify the movement is nonphysical. Just continue to walk or crawl away from the physical body until you can move freely or intend yourself to a different location. If you intend a destination you can experience flying there at enormous speeds, teleporting there, or lose awareness and find yourself there.
Anytime you recognize that you are in deep theta or delta you can try to relax and move away. Relax, let go, and sit up, roll to the side, or what have you. If you happen to move physically you can just go back to the practice. It’s no big deal, and it will happen. But if you don’t try moving you may miss an opportunity to experience. If you consistently find yourself moving physically that means you need to allow yourself into a deeper altered state before trying. Also, when in deep theta or delta you can try willing or intending yourself up or away from the physical body, or to a particular destination. One time I simply willed and intended to float into the air and experienced full body vibrations, and just floated out of the body and glided over into the upper corner of the room. Try both manually moving and intending and see which works better for you.
If you see a deep void you may likely have spontaneously projected into the nonphysical. Intend or will yourself to a destination of your choice. If you seem to be in a virtual reality movie or lucid dream (immersive imagery), in the same way as before relax and move into the out-of-body experience. In a lucid dream I suggest feeling for your physical body first, which will clear away the dream imagery but still have you in delta or perhaps aroused a bit into mid or deep theta, but still ready to relax and move away from the physical body. If you experience yourself in the middle of very strong full-body vibrations try sitting up or pushing off so that you float into the air, or any other manner of movement. You can also apply the Vibration Strobe technique which can have you simply float free. A good tactic as well, especially if you are finding it difficult to move, is to wiggle or minutely move into the experience. Relax and twist nonphysically to the side a bit. Then relax more and twist the other way. Go back and forth in larger and larger increments until you can roll free of the physical body. If the OBE ends quickly you can continue the exercise you were doing and try again. It’s possible to initiate OBEs many times in succession. As you practice, you’ll be able to extend extrusions for longer and longer. Don’t be surprised if early on you get so excited that you inadvertently end the experience after a few seconds. Extreme excitement or fear while in the nonphysical state can trigger “fail-safe” which causes you to catapult back to or get pulled back into the physical body.
You may notice spontaneous movement such as an arm floating, or that you’re suddenly in a different position than you were physically. Simply go with the movement – let your nonphysical body follow the arm as you roll out, for instance. Or simply get up from your new position and explore. If you use a movement technique the movement you imagine may initiate the experience. So, for instance if you imagine spinning like a log in water you may suddenly find that you are suddenly actually spinning in this way – which can be very disconcerting, so try to be prepared for this. You can then push off into the air or what have you. Or if you imagine repeatedly swinging your legs up into the air and then through the bed, you may suddenly realize that you had lost awareness but that you now feel your legs sinking through the bed. You can start crawling through the air away from your physical body.
You can continue practicing the last technique in the sequence until you are “out,” or you fall asleep. It’s okay to stop the session short as well, especially if you experience very uncomfortable altered state phenomenon or are getting extremely sleepy. That may be a good time to get “sleep comfortable” and practice going into the Sleep Signal. You will likely experience getting extremely sleepy as you practice, which is understandable. Eventually you’ll be able to stay conscious apart from the feeling of sleep, allowing your physical body to sleep as you remain aware. As you continue to practice the experience of feeling like you’re sleepy will decrease, yet you’ll still progress through the same states, as your ability to remain consciously aware in these states will solidify. One issue with the experience of extreme sleepiness is the tendency to just turn over and go to sleep. Regular concentration practice will help overcome this tendency.
PROGRESSION FLOW CHARTS
Here is a collection of flow charts to further provide examples of how the process may go in your practices. The left side of the flow charts list techniques in the sequence. The right side of the flow chart shows common state marker phenomenon that may occur while using that technique. In bold I’ll list how you can finish the shift at that point if you’d like to do so.
In all practice sessions you can either focus on the state marker phenomena you experience to deepen your state or continue with the technique you were applying to continue into deeper altered states. If you focus on the state marker phenomenon remember to keep a light or gentle focus to not disrupt your state. However far you get in any session acknowledge it and seek to get as far or perhaps just a little bit further next time. If you follow my advice to make a goal of progressive state plateaus you would practice at finishing the shift only after regularly hitting at least full theta for a week or two.