Astral projection is one of those terms that means different things to different people. According to J. H. Brennan in The Astral Projection Workbook, "To some it suggests stepping out of your physical body to make your way in the world like a ghost, passing through walls and doors while you are generally invisible to those still locked into solid flesh. To others it is the projection of consciousness into another world all together, the fabled astral plane, where normal laws of physics no longer apply and all sorts of interesting weirdness may be experienced."
According to Dick Sutphen (from his 74-Minute Course about Astral Projection on CD), "No one astral projects consciously, although many think they do. Deep breathing, relaxation techniques, or some unidentified method of altering consciousness is necessary for successful projection. Even long-distance running generates an altered state, which has resulted in some runners reporting they experienced floating above their bodies watching themselves run."
The concept of Astral projection has been around for thousands of years, dating back to ancient China. It is currently often associated with the New Age movement. There are two general schools of thought on the nature of astral projection; these can broadly be defined as the mystical model and the phasing model (Whispy, 2009).
The mystical model includes a large variety of belief systems and astral maps, but they are tied together by their belief that astral projection takes place outside of the actual physical body. A more subtle energy body is believed to carry the consciousness outside of the physical body, and as one progresses to more advanced levels of the astral plane, more subtle bodies are realized and consciousness is transferred in turn to each of them. (Other mystical models assume only one subtle body.) The subtle body is attached to the physical body by means of an energetic connection which usually takes the appearance of a silver cord 'plugging' into the chakras like an umbilical cord (Whispy, 2009).
The phasing model, which was defined by Robert Monroe, contains the belief that it is impossible to actually leave the body in the truest sense of the word, and that the astral planes and the physical world are merely points on the long spectrum of consciousness. When a person projects, they actually "phase" into another area of consciousness and the locales it contains. This can be likened to tuning a radio to another station. One of the initial signposts representing a phase shift away from physical reality has been labeled the state of focus 10 (mind awake/body asleep). This viewpoint can be seen as a logical progression of the philosophy that external reality is actually an internally created state (Whispy, 2009).
Kinds of Astral Projection
The traveler finds him- or herself in an apparently real domain, analogous to the "other worlds" experienced by traditional peoples, which have no parallel to any physical setting or to consensus reality, described by New Agers and occultists as the astral plane or the astral.
Environments here may range from populated to un-populated, artificial to natural to completely abstract environments and from beautiful to horrific. Here, normal physical laws often do not apply and humans can often, for example, float or fly. Quality of physical detail ranges from crude and un-detailed and depressing to bright, vivid and fascinating as detailed, among other writers, by Robert Bruce in his Astral Dynamics. Travelers may travel from one realm to the other. Projectors may find access to visions of the past or future and to the Akashic records accessible from here. It's been said that space and time don't exist on the astral plane nor the higher planes - but no explanation is given as to how forms and entire environments can exist without spatial dimensions, nor why there can be a sequence of events and yet no such thing as time. Many travelers have theorized that people having dreams actually travel to the astral realms, unaware, and, again as reported in Astral Dynamics, travelers have reported seeing dreamers enact dream scenarios on the astral plane, unaware of the more extensive and varied non-physical environment surrounding them (Whispy, 2009).
In contrast to "astral" projection, the traditional understanding of out-of-body experiences involves the projector (or traveler) moving about in (usually invisible) or ghost-like form in mundane physical reality-- the etheric body. This world may, however, have minor differences between the physical reality world we know if strict mind control is not maintained.
Practitioners sometimes refer to this practice as Real Time Projection (RTP) and the mundane world as the "Real Time Zone", or "RTZ", terms that were coined by Robert Bruce. From the Real Time Zone, travelers can access "the astral" or remain in the RTZ and witness Real Time happenings.
Many people confuse this phenomenon with astral travel, however etheric travel is mainly related to that which can and does exist, physically. During this type of experience, there are no fantastical words, or self-absorbed encounters; the majority of the experience can be validated. Dr. Charles Tart has done many experiments, which conclude that the person can not possibly invent the experience-- unlike astral travel, where the experience is conceptual. According to Arthur Powell and Max Heindel, the etheric "double" serves as a medium between the Astral and Physical realms. Ether, also called prana is the "vital force" that empowers the Physical forms in order for change to take place. This means that when one views the Physical during an OBE, they are not technically "in" the Astral Realm at all (Whispy, 2009).
Virtual reality projection
Part astral projection and part real time projection, called Virtual Reality Projection by most, is when a projector claims to move on the physical plane and interact with the astral plane at the same time. An example of this is the projector walking into a "real" poster or picture and being transported to a perfect reconstruction of this place/world, via the concentrated experiences and thoughts of every beholder of the concept of the picture.
Many of those who believe in astral projection also believe in a form more common to people with other abilities, such as clairvoyance. They also tend to believe that the body can be seen by others, and almost always is. The projector (traveler) projects to somewhere else on the same plane of the same world. For example, someone in L.A. could astral project to someone in Hong Kong and converse with them, in reality and actuality (Whispy, 2009).
Remote Viewing vs. Astral Projection
Remote Viewing (RV), refers to the attempt to gather information about a distant or unseen target using paranormal means or extra-sensory perception. Typically a remote viewer is expected to give information about an object that is hidden from physical view and separated at some distance. The term was introduced by parapsychologists Russell Targ and Harold Puthoff in 1974.
Remote viewing was popularized in the 1990s, following the declassification of documents related to the Stargate Project, a 20 million dollar research program sponsored by the U.S. Federal Government to determine any potential military application of psychic phenomena. The program was terminated in 1995, citing a lack of documented evidence that the program had any value to the intelligence community.
According to Dick Sutphen (from his 74-Minute Course about Astral Projection on CD), "All right, now I’m going to talk about astral projection from the perspective of REMOTE VIEWING. Is remote viewing the same as astral projection? The government remote viewers commissioned to do psychic spying for the CIA worked in a hypnogogic-theta state. Some talk of entering a fourth dimension, beyond time and space. That sure sounds like astral projection to me. I know you can successfully remote view without astral projecting, but I’m also pretty sure that some of my own remote viewing voyages turned out to be full out of body experiences. In both cases, you project to a distant location and accurately perceive things you have no other way of knowing."
For those of you who may be new to the concept of Astral Projection, you need to understand that it is perfectly safe. There are thousands and thousands of reports of people who have achieved Astral Projection since the beginning of human history and none of them were hurt in any way. Scientists continue to debate whether astral projection takes place in reality, an internal dream world using lucid dreaming, or some other ethereal dimension. Only further experiments will reveal the true nature of this other-worldly phenomenon. The main idea here is that you can attain astral projection via meditation or lucid dreaming. All you need to do is tailor your meditation or lucid dreaming practice toward astral projection.
Basic Meditation Guide for Astral Projection
Step 1: Conscious Relaxation
To train how to astral project, find a dark, and quiet room. Ensure there are no distractions or time constraints. Lie down, with your arms and legs outstretched, palms facing up, and your head relaxed. With your eyes closed, focus on taking long, slow breaths. Working from the toes upward, systematically tense and relax every muscle group of the body, finishing with your face. Imagine each body part disappearing into formlessness once it is relaxed. Try not to move. This can take 5-15 minutes to achieve effectively.
*Spend at least two weeks on daily relaxation practice before you move on to the next stage; and continue to set aside relaxation time each day, thereafter, to continue your practice.
Step 2: Visualization
It is natural for random thoughts and day dreams to interrupt your meditative state. When this happens, gently sweep them away and return your focus to slow breathing. Visualize sitting in a car and moving toward the horizon. Focus on the scenery while traveling along an unbroken white line in the middle of the road. Imagine that your body is physically moving, drifting toward somewhere far in the distance. Keep your body entirely still and relaxed.
There are many other visualizations to try: anything that involves floating, sinking, or falling (like out of a plane or through the bed) will allow your awareness to drift out of body. Move all focus away from your physical body as it lies still on the bed and eliminate any unwanted thoughts or inner dialogue.
Step 3: Vibrational State
When your consciousness descends into a deep enough meditation the vibrational state will begin. Try to remain calm, as this can be overwhelming or exciting. This is your window of opportunity to move out of body, either by rolling or sinking out – or by simply visualizing another place (the living room, the roof, floating over your town). Some people report that if you look back at your physical body, the out of body experience may quickly end. So, you should try to avoid looking back.
The vibrational state can sound like buzzing or white noise. It is often accompanied by a sensation of complete paralysis which only lasts for a matter of seconds. It will disappear on separation of the physical and astral body. Once out of body, astral projection is achieved through the power of your consciousness, to any location imaginable.
Basic Lucid Dreaming Guide for Astral Projection
Step 1: Lucid Dream Induction via WILD
You may be able to use the MILD Lucid Dream Induction method to attain astral projection, but most people report having success using the WILD method. So, that is what is discussed here: The wake-initiated lucid dream "occurs when the sleeper enters REM sleep with unbroken self-awareness directly from the waking state". There are many techniques aimed at entering a WILD. The key to these techniques is recognizing the hypnagogic stage, which is within the border of being awake and being asleep. If a person is successful in staying aware while this stage occurs, they will eventually enter the dream state while being fully aware that it is a dream.
There are key times at which this state is best entered; while success at normal bedtime after having been awake all day is very difficult, it is relatively easy after sleeping for 3–7 hours or in the afternoon during a nap. Techniques for inducing WILDs abound. Dreamers may count, envision themselves climbing or descending stairs, chant to themselves, control their breathing, count their breaths to keep their thoughts from drifting, concentrate on relaxing their body from their toes to their head, or allow images to flow through their "mind's eye" and envision themselves jumping into the image to maintain concentration and keep their mind awake, while still being calm enough to let their body sleep.
Step 2: Vibrational State
During the actual transition into the dream state, one is likely to experience sleep paralysis, including rapid vibrations, a sequence of loud sounds and a feeling of twirling into another state of body awareness, "to drift off into another dimension", or the feeling like passing the interface between water into air face-front body first, or images or sceneries they are thinking of and trying to visualize gradually sharpen and become "real", which they can actually "see", instead of the fuzzy indefinable sensations one feels when trying to imagine something when wide awake. When you feel this vibrational state, try to visualize yourself moving out of body. Once you are lucid and out of body, you can visit any place or dimension imaginable.
Astral Projection Tutorial
Astral Projection via Lucid Dreaming
Mastering Astral Projection - Using Binaural Beats for Deep Easy Meditation Trance
Yoga and the Art of Astral Projection (Google Book)
A Kabbalistic Guide to Lucid Dreaming and Astral Projection