Out-of-body Experiences: Divided Minds-Skeptic vs Experiencer
Excerpt from our new book, Convergence: The Interconnection of Extraordinary Experiences
By Barbara Mango, Ph.D. and Lynn Miller, MS
It was just over thirty years ago that I had the dramatic out-of-body experience that convinced me of the reality of psychic phenomena and launched me on a crusade to show those closed-minded scientists that consciousness could reach beyond the body and that death was not the end. Just a few years of careful experiments changed all that. I found no psychic phenomena—only wishful thinking, self-deception, experimental error and, occasionally, fraud. I became a skeptic.
-Susan Blackmore, Psychologist
Live Science contributor Benjamin Radford disbelieves the legitimacy of out-of-body experiences (OBEs). As he states: Because of the lack of scientific evidence to prove the validity of such phenomena, “It is impossible to scientifically measure whether a person’s spirit leaves or enters the body. OBEs are rejected by mainstream science because there is no material evidence that consciousness can exist outside the brain.”
Traditionally, science has maintained that out-of-body experiences can be induced/or explained by brain traumas, sensory deprivation, near-death experiences, dissociative episodes, dreaming, psychedelic drugs, sleep apnea, vestibular disorders, and electrical stimulation. Much discussion among contemporary skeptics has centered around dreaming, brain stimulation, and vestibular disorders.
In co-author Lynn Miller’s view, OBE skeptics fall into two categories: total disbelievers, and/or those who know just enough about them to view them as scary or demonic.
Lynn explains her firsthand experiences with both skeptics and those who misinterpret the out-of-body phenomena:
I once confided to a friend about OBEs I had with my guides and with non-human entities. I was told that I was deranged and had delusions of grandeur—that I must be really miserable with my life to fabricate such fantasies. This person believed that I was unstable and out of touch with reality. I was pitied.
I had a boyfriend that insisted that I was experiencing some type of dissociative disorder. Like me, he holds a degree in psychology. I tried to explain to him the difference between an OBE experience and dissociative episode. Trying to inject some humor, he callously responded, “Well then, the next time you are having an out-of-body experience, why don’t you clean your house!”
Numerous individuals think they understand OBEs, yet instead, completely misinterpret them. I find these people to be worse than complete non-believers because they damage the reputation, idea, beauty, and magnificence of the experience. They are full of false information.
Unfortunately, the movie industry is guilty of portraying terrifying OBEs. The movie franchise Insidious deals with the potential horror of astral projection. The viewer is led to believe he may become demonically possessed upon entering the astral plane.
I am a member of several astral projection forums and groups and have read thousands of experiencer accounts. The false assumption (that one may be possessed during astral travel) is quite common. Other false convictions include being attacked by negative entities, remaining powerless to return to the physical body, and in extreme cases, dying.
Many religious beliefs prohibit the practice of out-of-body experiences. Several years ago, I was reading Adventures in the Afterlife, by William Buhlman. Evidently, my sanctimonious brother did not approve of my reading material. I was just finishing a chapter, when BAM, he hurled his Bible at me, narrowly missing my head. He told me, in no uncertain terms, “You are committing blasphemy against God. The Bible states that we are not allowed to know about the afterlife; thus, you are going to Hell. You need to start reading the Bible.”
I felt intimidated and beaten down. I could normally handle most of his abusive, rage-filled behavior. But this? This hurt me to the very core. My OBEs are so personal, beautiful, and empowering. Yet, his reaction was vile. I was also infuriated. My brother was representing the worst aspects of religious fervor: judgment and ridicule.
Are OBEs merely just dreams, as many people assume they are? “Dreams are the stories the brain tells during sleep—they’re a collection of clips, images, feelings, and memories that involuntarily occur during the REM (rapid eye movement) stage of slumber.”
I am frequently told that my OBEs are dreams. I strongly disagree with this. They are not dreams as most individuals understand them. Every night our minds experience non-locality of consciousness, or, what I call “adventures in consciousness.”
The difference between dreams and OBEs is the heightened awareness and control that one experiences during OBEs. Dreams are clips and stories; they are a means in which we deal with daily life. Most make extraordinarily little sense at all, though they do portray a deeper meaning that often reflects our anxiety and inner fears. Dreams are often full of symbolic representations of important things in our lives, and they play an especially key role in our mental health.
There is a spectrum of consciousness that spans across dreams, lucid dreams, and OBEs. In dreams we have no awareness or self-control, it just plays out. In lucid dreams, the dreamer may be aware that he is dreaming. The OBE is a complete separation of consciousness from our body where awareness is complete; this awareness is so acute that it feels as if we are in the conscious waking state.
One cannot assume that OBEs are dreams, especially if they have never experienced one.
“Out-of-body exploration provides substantial evidence that we are evolving beyond the dense limits of matter. Is it not possible that some other species may have already achieved this evolutionary leap? I contend that all life-forms are slowly evolving beyond the need for biological form. Eventually we will recognize and consciously explore our multidimensional nature and take our place in the magnificent thought-responsive realities of the universe.” ― William Buhlman, The Secret of the Soul
“Achieve escape velocity in order to break free the dense gravity field of matter and form.” ― William Buhlman, Higher Self Now! Accelerating Your Spiritual Evolution