Out of Body Experiences - Introduction

Artwork: Nigel Joslin

Throughout most of my life I have had Out of Body Experiences. On this page, I have decided to outline the phenomenon and share some ideas that I have formed as a result of having experienced it hundreds and hundreds of times.

What is an OBE, then?

The answer to that question is simple: An OBE is an experience of perceiving one's surroundings from a perspective beyond the confines of the body. One seems to have separated from one's body and is existing purely as a consciousness and is able to view one's surroundings, and often one's body from some exterior position.

I have to believe my father when he tells me that as an infant, I repeatedly reported flying over the house roof in my dreams. Only it seemed real. Similar experiences have continued for many years, affecting my ideas about the reality of life in a deeply personal way.

With very little thought on the matter, most people consider these events to be some kind of mental illusion/projection. Unlike people who have actually had OBEs themselves. If you actually experience an OBE, you will know that it is real. Indeed, I believe that during `normal' life, we are in part outside the body. It's just that we are focused on physical reality through the brain.

Please read on if you are interested in OBEs, and I shall attempt to outline the main characteristics of my experiences and what I have learned from them.

The Way I See It 

So - what is happening?

It seems to me that there are two conditions that occur when I'm OBE:

1.   I become aware that my consciousness is outside of my body and I am able to view normal events in physical reality (e.g., my own body sleeping in bed) from a point in space other than from within my body. In this condition, my awareness is synchronised to the normal passage of time that we experience in everyday life and I witness any normal physical occurrences that happen around my sleeping body.

2.   I'm dreaming whilst OBE, in a `realm' where time perception is not synchronised to the familiar time of our physical reality, but, nevertheless, I am aware that I'm out of body. 

I am frequently aware of transitioning between these two states. For example, I often find myself dreaming and then in the dream I enter my house and suddenly become aware that I'm floating towards the bedroom where my body is actually sleeping. And then at some point, the dream turns into an observation of `normal' physical reality, usually at the moment that I recognise the familiarity of the house. 

Is the whole experience just a weird, intense dream? No. I say this with conviction because repeated observation of certain phenomena have validated the experiences for me as being real.

For one, there are physical correlations - the feeling of going in and out of my body, sometimes in a lingering, unpleasant way with multiple physical sensations. And then there's the fact that the intensity of bodily re-entry is directly proportional to the distance I am from my body immediately prior to re-entry.  Furthermore, the clarity of my perception of things around me is enhanced in a unique manner when out of body.

I have even been able to wilfully delay my re-entry.

Specific occasions come to mind. Floating into the room where I was sleeping and hearing my own body laying there breathing! At first, I was spooked, because I didn't actually realise that it was me; I thought there was someone else in the room! The breathing got louder and louder as I approached my body, until finally I could hear it right next to me, just before I awoke.

And then, there was the time when I was aware of a feeling of `travelling', passing through the walls of a building. I then heard a toilet flush very close to me, as if I was right down next to it. Then I felt myself being sucked and was aware of being in the room where I was sleeping, I entered the body and woke....to hear the very faint sound of a toilet cistern filling in the adjoining house. For me, this was another validation of my being `out'.

"Co-incidence! Imagination! Illusion!", some people may scoff. But, why would `illusions' be so elaborate and consistent,hundreds and hundreds of times? After much examination, I'm convinced that my consciousness is actually `travelling', whilst not contained and constrained by the physical senses of my body. 

I say to any sceptics reading this that it is a mistake to assume that what we can sensually, mechanically or electronically perceive represents the whole of `reality'.

When Does It Happen?

I have found that I am most likely to have an OBE in these circumstances:

1.    If I have a period awake in the night, a few hours after I go to sleep.

2.    If I have a short doze in the afternoon. 

3.    If I am mildly stressed during the day.

4.    If I have high `internal energy' levels.

5.    If I `sow the seed' of intention to have an OBE.

I should add here that I also `left' my body once whilst awakeon a fearful occasion, whilst I was standing opening a door in a hotel in India, having unknowingly eaten a cake containing what might be called a mind-expanding substance! During this experience, I floated out of the top of my head and looked down on my body as it stood below me, opening that door. That was my only experience of leaving the body whilst awake and doing something.

Bodily Re-entry 

The awareness that I am out of body often manifests as feelings of re-entering the body, as I awake from a dream.                                                                                                     Artwork: Nigel Joslin

These feelings sometimes comprise just a feeling of a rapid `flow' of consciousness into my body. At other times, the feeling of entry is protracted, often accompanied with tingling, cramping, buzzing and fizzing sensations in my body and sounds in my ears. There has often been a `heaviness' or paralysis at the moment of entry, although this has happened less often in recent years, for some reason.

I have knowledge of `internal energy' (chi/prana), through my practice of qigong and yoga - I used to be a qigong instructor. I'll leave you to google chi and prana, if you need to.  Why I mention this knowledge, is that I have noticed that the re-entry of the body involves a strong flow of this energy/chi/prana and I am often aware of entering the body via known energy centres (cauldrons/chakras) and having that entry accompanied by strong energy flows in the body. This seems to me to be further validation that I am actually leaving the body during OBE.

I have learnt that various things trigger a return to body from the dreaming state. One of these is recognition of where I am in a dream - for example, once I think "Hey, I'm in the garden", I tend to re-enter the body and awake. This is a response of slight excitement, on my part. It seems that if any emotional response occurs, for example, if I experience fear in a dream, this will trigger a return to body and an awakening.

If I am dreaming whilst having an OBE, there is a correlation between the rapidity of my return to body and how far away from my physical body the dream location is......for example, if I am dreaming and I enter the bedroom, once I recognise the familiarity of the bedroom, I slam straight back into body and wake up. If I am dreaming and I become aware that I am at least few miles away, a slow, drawing re-entry occurs over what seems like a second or two! Interesting - I wonder if this is due to some sort of spacial location effect or due to the degree of familiarity that the dream location has. I haven't made up my mind fully about this yet.

On a number of occasions, I have managed to have sufficient presence of mind to apply my `will' and delay the re-entry to the body and even move the location of my consciousness a little further away from my physical body. I must work on this more, but I often find it hard in the moment to remember to apply this!

Bodily Exit

I also have frequent feelings of exiting the body after falling asleep, though I experience exits less frequently than re-entries. These feelings are similar to the re-entry experiences and, once again, notably involve a flow of energy/chi/prana. Sometimes an exit can be turbulent, like the consciousness is struggling to leave the body...indeed, on occasion I have hovered on the brink, going out...in...out...in, with a buzzing in the ears and `energetic' sensations in the body, before finally achieving the temporary bodily abandonment of an OBE. I can remember on one or two occasions experiencing a sort of popping disconnection in the pineal/3rd eye area, which I feel plays a major role in out of body transition.


I experience frequent changes in awareness whilst dreaming, i.e., a normal dream can suddenly be infused with a lucidity that involves awareness that I am in a dream and a feeling of suddenly physically relocating my consciousness into the dream...for example, once I was dreaming and I entered the garden in the dream.

As soon as I recognised the fact that I was dreaming and that I was in the familiar garden, I actually felt as if I was really standing there and my awareness of the garden deepened, one thing being that colours took on a vividness that was much greater than the clarity normally experienced in dreaming. In addition, there was a sudden, very life-like feeling of being there that transcended the dreaminess of a dream. 

At this point of lucidity, I have transitioned from the world of my dreams (the realm where time perception is not synchronised to the familiar time of our physical reality) to a mind state that is closely aligned to physical reality and from where physical reality can be viewed in the present moment of physical life. I can now view the physical garden as it really is seen by the eyes, rather than `living' a dream. If a bird were to fly into the garden, I would see it. If I were to float up into my bedroom, as I often do, I would see myself laying there.

I have noticed also, with great interest, an enhancement in the way I perceive familiar  places like the garden. One time, when I was particularly lucid and `with it', I noticed that every item in the garden could be seen in its entirety! By this statement, I mean that not a single object was obscured by any other object.....e.g., when looking at the shed from the opposite end of the garden, I saw the whole shed; it was not obscured by any objects that stand in front of it and would normally block my vision of the whole shed. Most peculiar, and difficult to imagine whilst sitting here trying to recall how it was! But, it just throw up interesting questions about the nature of our perception when we are outside of the body. It seems to me suggestive of us perceiving the entire essence of an object whilst still visualising it in a spacial context. Most interesting.

Another phenomenon that I notice is that a scene in an OBE can be changed from waking reality, e.g., sometimes if I am in one of the rooms in the house, I recognise it as that room, but certain things about the room are changed, like it is bigger or smaller or a different shape or contains one or two different objects! 

I think that the ` changed scene' OBEs of the previous paragraph are close to the physical domain, as I have witnessed events during them that have been occuring in the present moments of physical life. During them, I feel that there is a point at which the physical reality observed will start to merge with the world of my dreams...hence, certain things that I observe in physicality can change.

I have never seen any part of my body, or a silver chord when I am out and in the dreaming state. However, I frequently see my body laying in bed when I am about to re-enter the body and am in the state where I am experiencing physical time and close to the physical state. 

Physical objects present no barrier, when OBE. I float through walls and ceilings etc. regularly.

My feelings about lucidity in general are that we always exist in more than just physical reality, that we are simultaneously existing in a spiritual realm, too, maybe in what we would think of as a number of different realms.

I feel that when we are awake in our normal physical life, we focus our consciousness on the physical realm and this makes us experience our life as it is. When we dream, I believe that our focus shifts away from physical reality (to use an allegory, rather like a radio tuning to a different station) and we experience another kind of existence - the world of our dreams.

We all tend to drift between realms of awareness during our normal day to day lives, seldom being entirely immersed in physical reality - we are sometimes focusing in more than one realm, as we ponder and `day-dream', often while part of our consciousness is busy doing something like driving the car! 

When we fall asleep, I believe that our radio receiver drifts and maybe opens to a wider bandwidth, so that we can pick up several stations at once, whilst not focusing strongly on any one station! Doing a physical task during the day, our consciousness narrows and becomes focused strongly upon the physical task we are doing, often to the exclusion of almost all else.

So, what is ultimate reality? Surely it is the content of all of the radio stations in our allegorical model, not just the ones that we normally detect.

Although I use the term `realm', implying separation, it is purely for clarity of explanation. I believe that these realms are really merged  as a continuum of reality, rather like we create the separate notions of past, present and future in time.......these are false divisions; time is a continuum. What is the duration of the present moment? The more accurately we measure it, the shorter it becomes, narrowing the perceived separation between the past and the future....is this shortening due to measurement not leading us to the fact that the present moment is not there at all? 

And.....as well as escaping the space of the physical body in the realm of our dreams, it seems that we sometimes escape from the time of present moment perception, having precognitive experiences. Again, space and time show themselves to be relatives in our comprehension.  

Awareness of Physicality

Sometimes, though rarely, I become sufficiently lucid during a dream to actually feel the texture of something physical, like a wall that I'm passing through or when going outside I feel the wind. I have sometimes heard physical things, too....one example of this is when I was OBE and I entered the room where I was sleeping. Suddenly, I felt alarmed, knowing that I was alone in the room, because I could hear someone breathing and the breathing sounds were getting nearer.....suddenly this person was breathing right into my face....frightening....and I realised that the person was in fact.......me! I was hearing my physical body laying there breathing! That is one of the most convincing of many validations that I have had for my `out of body' state actually being `out of body'. 

I don't think I have ever smelt anything whilst OBE!
I have experienced the occasional noise whilst OBE, but, more commonly, I just experience buzzing noises  or slow repeating hisses as I either leave or re-enter my body. I can recall one occasion when I was flying just above the tree tops and I could hear the wind in the trees just below me, but hearing sounds  like this has been rare for me, to be honest. On other occasions, I have heard things like wind chimes.

Seeing With Another Eye

Upon returning from an out of body experience, I often experience a lingering vision in a sort of  delicately purple coloured `porthole' that appears in front of my vision. This is accompanied by a slight numbness at the forehead, which I am aware is associated with the `3rd eye'/pineal gland energy centre. I find that, by exerting will, I can move my awareness closer to the porthole.
This vision usually contains a vivid little image, often a view of me laying in the bed. The image lingers a little  after waking and then recedes away. 
Sometimes I can induce this kind  of `seeing' during the day time if I am doing my qigong  Zhan Zhuang meditation, or it can spontaneously happen if I have high energy levels during my qigong or taiji practice. The images that I see during the day are different, often of plant leaves being rapidly superimposed upon one another, or sometimes insects, or a hint of primitive animals within the scene, some of them like sea horses. Many of the plants appear for a split second and are replaced then by a new one, whilst other plants remain `on view' for several seconds. Strange. 

One notable characteristic of the above images is that movement is normally involved and also I note that they have the same vividness and high colour content that is present when out of body; the vividness and colour is much more intense than what is seen during normal dreaming.

The fact that I can sometimes induce these images meditatively suggests to me that during the meditation my focus is slipping away from waking life and entering a realm similar to that of sleeping.
Ooops! I nearly forgot the most common image that I see! It is an eye looking at me, or sometimes a face. I don't see all of the face, just the two eyes, the brows and the nose. I am very aware of the fact that it is normally one particular face that I see - it has black eyelashes and eyebrows, the eyes are blue and it is female. I have seen other faces, though, once an old man, another time a younger European looking man and also there was a middle aged man with a South American face, on one occasion. 

Often the face that I see is looking away from me and turns to face me as I become aware of it. Frequently, the vision starts with an eye very close up, which recedes slightly to reveal the whole face. Other times, the eyes get closer until I am looking into just one eye. Other times, I see the face looking to one side and then it slowly turns to face me. This is very strange. Who is this person? Is it even a projection of some aspect of me? So many questions.

I have, on occasion, managed to willfully prolong contact with these visions. On one occasion in early 2013, when I was seeing strange geometric shapes in the `porthole', I actually managed to not only retain the image, but bring it closer and it felt like I was entering the porthole as it filled my entire `vision'.


Dual Consciousness

I have only ever experienced this once, and I was absolutely stunned! Yes.....my consciousness divided into two.

It sounds impossible, doesn't it? You can't imagine it, can you! I still can't, when I recall it.

Somehow, I was laying in bed, with my awareness inside of my physical body (as is normal), and I was simultaneously also hovering above the bed and looking down at my body!

How can this be? What this has made me reason, is that, when a person has an OBE, part of their consciousness remains in the body. I suppose this has to be, actually, as part of the consciousness has to be retained in the body in order to retain the link to the physical domain and also to maintain life functions in the body. I think that this is also the reason that we can rapidly re-enter the body and wake when we experience any sort of emotion during OBE; this is doubtless an essential function for biological survival.



Artwork: Nigel Joslin

And What of Normal Dreaming?

I talk of out of body experiences, on this page. However, a question that I also ask is what is the state of our consciousness during normal dreaming. This is a sleep phenomenon that is clearly related to OBEs. Does our consciousness also leave the body when we dream normally? An OBE is an out of body experience, with due emphasis  on the experience; could it be that we also exit the body during normal dreaming but we just don't actually experience the outness of body?

One thing that is certainly true for most of our dream content is that we do not experience our physical body at all. Why is this? Our mind is still active and the neural connections are still there! So? Where has the body gone?

This again supports the notion of a spectrum of reality in which we shift our focus. As I said earlier, when we dream, or even daydream, it seems that our focus shifts away from physical reality and we experience another kind of existence - the world of our dreams. After all, we do seem to enter this world when we experience the dreaming part of an OBE, as well. 

Food for thought.

OBE Research & Resources

Rather than being something that is universally regarded as totally will o' the wisp, untangible, unmeasureable and unproveable, there are various institutions doing research on OBE, including the following institutions:

The Monroe Institute

International Academy of Consciousness

OBE Research Foundation

The Rhine Research Centre

Also, the famous researcher Charles Tart has conducted some interesting research in an attempt to prove the out of body state as a genuine experience. Unfortunately, these experiments have never been witnessed by an independent assessor, as is often the case with esoteric research.

This is a good site for OBE experiences: 


Some Pertinent Questions!

For a thread of interesting questions regarding the nature of the OBE and comparing it to and contrasting it with normal dreaming and lucid dreaming, please see this page: Some Questions

Should you wish to comment on this page, or share an experience of your own, or advise me on something, please contact me: nigeljoslin@lineone.net

2012 Nigel Joslin

Subpages (1): Some Questions