Out Of Body Adventures – On The Legitimacy Of OBE

OBE is short for ‘Out-of-Body Experience’. The term was coined by parapsychologist George N. M. Tyrell in 1943. It is a phenomena that involves a feeling of being outside one’s physical body. According to Wikipedia, one in ten people experience an OBE at least once in their life.


In my previous post I mentioned I’ve had several OBEs myself. Most of these occurred during my early 20’s, when I lived out in the countryside of the Netherlands, in an old house that had quite a history. The property had been occupied by the Germans in World War II and had later become part of a camp that sheltered Ambonese immigrant families.

The apparition

The first incident happened during the night of New Year’s Day, January 1st. I should note that this first experience was not an actual OBE, but it was the start of a series of incidents that included OBEs. I shared the house with two friends. My bedroom was on the second floor and had a flight of steps that led right up to it. No other rooms except for a storage space were there, so I had the entire floor to myself.


“I tried to move my right arm and reach for the light switch. But I discovered I could not move a single muscle in my body. I was frozen.”


The sound of someone walking up the stairs awoke me in the middle of the night. It must have been around 04:00 AM. I remember thinking how odd it was, for someone to walk up to my room at that hour. I assumed perhaps one of my friends was still awake after the New Year’s Eve party we had and wanted to chat with me about something. The sound of the person walking up the steps stopped, as if they stood still right in front of my bedroom door and hesitated to come in. I tried to move my right arm and reach for the light switch next to my bed. But I discovered I could not move a single muscle in my body. I was frozen. This was an incredibly strange and alarming notion. No matter how hard I tried, I could not gain control over my body. While taking the situation in, I simultaneously sensed there was someone present in the room with me. It was pitch dark though, so I could not see much, and as I could not move, I could not command my lips to speak. Next I felt the physical sensation of two hands around my neck, applying great pressure, as if to strangle me. The strange thing about it was that there was no actual physical person in the room with me. The hands that applied the pressure were not hands at all. It was like an invisible force; but although invisible, in that moment for me incredibly present and real.

It stopped just as abruptly as it had started. Immediately after this, I was finally able to move my body again. I turned on the light and examined the room. There was no one there of course, as there had not actually been anyone at all. For months after this, I could not sleep in the dark anymore and left a small light on at night.




The following OBEs

The above described experience is commonly explained by a phenomenon known as sleep paralysis. After this initial sleep paralysis experience, these episodes began recurring. Thankfully though, I was never paranormally strangled by an entity again. But I did become more and more familiar with them, especially through OBEs.

One of the things sleep paralysis and OBEs have in common is that in both cases, the person experiencing them is no longer in control of their physical body. In the case of sleep paralysis, the body is literally paralyzed; in the case of an OBE, the physical body is detached from the awareness of the person, often floating near itself. The OBEs that followed introduced me to this detached notion, as well as to a couple peculiar beings.

My first OBE set in one night shortly after I had fallen asleep. I was awake, but felt I was not inside my body. I felt weightless and knew I was floating. In fact, I could see my physical body peacefully asleep below me, while I hoovered above it, high up in a corner of my bedroom close to the ceiling. But besides me floating above my own body, there were other things happening in the room. There were other people present. In the middle of the room stood a woman I had never seen before. She had medium length auburn hair and was wearing a long red dress. A very soft glow emanated from her. Her presence did not scare me. She was just there and it was okay. I had the feeling she was lost, somewhere, just waiting, trapped between worlds.

Strange encounters

During all my OBEs I would encounter other beings in these eerie situations. I would be outside of my own body, but more in control of movement and will than in an episode of sleep paralysis. It was as if I could see with my other pair of eyes, my astral eyes, and move with my astral body.

I met a man with a beard and one eye once, who did scare me a bit. His energy was very aggressive and while I was having this OBE and noticed him, I had the feeling he could notice me too and that he felt “caught” and didn’t quite appreciate my nosiness. I got the idea he was a war victim and lost his eye during battle.

Most of my OBEs took place in this one specific bedroom during my early 20’s. I had no doubt the house stored a lot of old energy and it had slight suggestions of being haunted. Once every week I cleansed my bedroom area with burning sage. I used strong positive affirmations to make myself known, and communicate I was not interested in being visited again by negative entities.

Years later, after I had moved out, I learned that the next occupant committed suicide in the house, in my former bedroom. I could not help but think that the weird energy of that place had played a part in this sad incident.


“Sleep comes closest to the notion of death for most people. But what is sleep really? Can our awareness live a life of its own, outside of our physical self?”




OBEs are closely related to lucid dreams, as in both events the subject is consciously aware of the situation, aware of the fact they are dreaming, or of being outside their body. Most of my OBEs felt very much like lucid dreams, except that I knew I was experiencing a state of consciousness different from that of a regular dream state. I suppose it is a matter of perception or belief to say what is truly real. For me, my dreams have always been a reality in themselves, by which I mean that I believe they are real, have concrete purpose and meaning and actually take place on the astral plane. Having said that, OBEs have been even more real for me in how I experienced them, as they seem to be closer related to our waking reality. If you would divide all states of consciousness into different layers, a typical REM sleep dream would be in the top layer (I choose the top layer as I imagine how my consciousness leaves my physical body and floats up to other spheres of existence) and our full waking awareness would be the bottom layer. OBEs would then be located somewhere in the middle of these layers. As if the walls of the layers that divide our physical reality with other possible realities (for example the astral plane) have faded, and our different states of consciousness seep out between them, crossing over and exchanging information, sometimes in ways we do not yet fully comprehend.

OBEs on mushrooms

One of my most remarkable OBEs happened to me at a friends house. Leroy had been my best friend for the past couple years, but our relationship had come to a point where we had become codependent on each other and we knew something had to change. Instead of sitting down and talking about this like proper adults, we decided to treat ourselves to some hallucinogenic mushrooms. [Side note: all the other experiences I shared above happened to me in a sober state of mind and body.]

Hallucinogenic drugs are known to induce a wide a variety of states of consciousness and can trigger OBEs, so the experience in itself is not extremely special. However, the way it eventually played out is.




After the initial onset of the trip, which is always slightly uncomfortable, we tried to make the best of it and enjoy the ride. We listened to different kinds of psychedelic music, stretched our gooey limbs across the couch and floor, talked and laughed about nonsense and had a genuinely good time. However, at some point a sudden distance between me and Leroy appeared. Somewhere in the back of my mind I knew that things were not entirely okay between us. The distance grew larger, no matter how we tried to ignore it. I decided I needed to take a break and be alone for a bit, so I stood up and told him I was going to the bathroom to wash my hands. I closed the door of his living room, walked through the hallway, found the bathroom, and closed the door behind me. I sat down on the edge of the bathtub and closed my eyes, feeling panicky for no apparent reason. I focussed on my breathing and tried to calm myself down. Abruptly, I could feel how an external force suddenly literally sucked me out of my body. Like there was this huge magnet that was pulling my awareness out of my physical form. I was in another space, far removed from the bathroom I had just entered, far removed from everything that was familiar to me. At first I tried to resist it, to will myself back to my body and stop this experience from happening. But I discovered it was of no use. I was taken somewhere, and I was there for a reason. I could hear a sound echoing in the background and tried to understand what it was saying. Then a voice spoke to me in a clear language, and it said, “You have to let him go.” I tried to answer in agreement, but it felt like the voice, coming from whoever or whatever it was, was not fully convinced. With all my power I answered, “YES! I understand!” until finally I was released and could sense my body again. It was as if literally embodied it anew; every cell of my being was vibrating and felt as if I had truly re-entered it just now again.


“Death might be way more advanced and extensive than just a peaceful dreamless sleep.”


It is important to note that while all of this was happening, which to me felt like hours but in earthly time must have been just a couple of minutes, I was very afraid Leroy would come after me. As I was having the OBE I was simultaneously imagining how shocked he would be if he would find me on the bathroom floor like that, limp and passed out, not knowing what had happened and not knowing what to do. So all the while, as this voice was telling me I needed to change something in my friendship with him, I strongly wished for Leroy to not come after me.

Once I was back in my body, I slowly processed the experience and and pulled myself together. I splashed cold water in my face and walked back to the living room. Leroy was sitting on the couch and looked quite pale, as if he had seen a ghost. He exclaimed his happiness when he saw me enter the room and I told him I was okay. He then told me, he had been worried about me because I took so long. As I had imagined, he wanted to come see what was going on. But what I didn’t know, is that he could not leave the living room. The door itself had disappeared.

Now, this might have been just a synchronized hallucination, which is still quite an extraordinary experience, but to me it was as if I had really travelled through several dimensions. And that within these different dimensions, it is possible to alter the reality of one, according to the willpower of the state of consciousness in another.

Everything is connected

Sleep comes closest to the notion of death for most people, when they imagine what death must be like. But what is sleep really? Can our awareness live a life of its own, outside of our physical self? OBEs, NDEs and all kinds of paranormal experiences give us insights into the vast potential of human consciousness.

If life is not just this one physical reality we have come to know with a certain set of earthly rules, then death might also be way more advanced and extensive, than just a peaceful dreamless sleep.

Have you ever had an OBE, or a related experience yourself? I would love to hear your thoughts on this subject.


Until next time,



A Course in Dying is a platform for all subjects dealing with death, with the aim of raising death awareness. Founded and written by Claudia Crobatia.

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A Course in Dying is a platform for all subjects dealing with death, with the aim of raising death awareness, founded by Claudia Crobatia. I explore how the theme of death influences us, how aware we are of our own mortality and how death can even be a source of inspiration.

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