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 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 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.
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.
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.
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,
Nice to see people like yourself exploring consciousness, and altered states. I’m 69 now and have been exploring “non ordinary reality” since the 60’s, reading authors like Carlos Castaneda, Tim Leary, and many others. Also experimenting with LSD, peyote, opium, and mushrooms. Worked on my ESP abilities, and for a while practiced OBEs. I quit my OBE experiments after one particular unsettling episode. As I was out there floating around out of body, in some black void, I noticed another entity coming my way. All of a sudden I realized his intention was to take control of my body, which was in bed next to my wife. As you know most communications in the “ether” is spontaneous mind reading. As I read this entity’s thoughts, it became a race between us, back to my body, and as my spirit body re-entered, I slammed back into my body so hard, I moved, in the bed, about a foot, and almost knocked my wife out of bed. But, I was so thankful to have won the race, because I felt I would have become stranded out there somewhere, while some other entity possessed my body. Hence my last OBE experiment! I’ve also looked deeply into death as well, and agree we do travel on, and where to and how, depends on our state of mind at the moment of death. Keep up the good work of going past the dominant paradigm/matrix, and you’ll have a rewarding and satisfying journey on this planet, and on into the next.
Thanks for sharing your story Steven!
I can imagine you felt like taking a break from experimenting with OBE after your unsettling experience. But I wonder, if any of these kind of experiences, no matter how dark they might appear, could ever really harm us. For example, would this entity you encountered really have been able to take possession of your body? Perhaps the thought that it could happen was frightening enough for you, and resulted in exactly the kind of fear this entity feeds off. But if it would have wanted to take control of your body you might think this entity would have had plenty of opportunities during all of the times you went asleep, as you leave your body always when you sleep, no matter if you are aware of it.
I wonder if what we can perceive during OBEs is often unsettling and frightening because we are not used to having these experiences, especially when they involve other entities. But perhaps in essence there is nothing to be scared of, once we learn to navigate the unknown.
On the other hand, of course there are countless reports on cases of possession, dark entities and evil spirits. I watched this documentary (The Nightmare – http://www.imdb.com/title/tt3317522/) on sleep paralysis the other day in which people spoke of very unsettling OBEs.
There is so much “out there”, and although I understand your choice to distance yourself from it for now, I still am endlessly curious.
Interesting story, I enjoyed reading it. I’ve had a number of similar experiences throughout my life froom childhood when I saw a few strange beings in my bedroom at night. I’d like to share a few with you. One night when I was about 12 I awoke to see a boy sitting on my bed looking out of the window, thinking it was my brother I asked him what he was doing, but he turned to me and hissed and I knew it wasnt my brother, so I jumped out of bed and turned the light on. I had a couple of other night visitors, neither of them friendly, that I characterise as ‘dead thing’ or ‘hungry ghosts’.
These experiences used to scare me a lot, but In my 20’s I experemented with lucid dreaming and astral travel, along with other yogic and mystical practices and succeeded in enducing them on a few occasions whilst on active service in Iraq, but they always vague and short lived experiences that ended as soon as I became lucid, as if the act of regaining awareness was enough to wake me. I have always been a very light sleeper, so this may account for it. On one occasion soon after I enlisted I awoke in the barrack room to find an aggressive figure over me, but realising what it was I told it to go away (that wasn’t the exact phrase I used). Since then I had no night visitors until I was 35.
When I was in college 5 years ago, living in the dorm, I had a few vivid OBE’s. In a couple I was floating near the ceiling. And in another I went to the sink to get a drink of water, only to find that I could neither turn the tap or light switch on. Again, the realisation of what had happened was enough to bring me back to ordinary conciousness.
More recently I moved into a house in west Wales where I attend university, and on three occasions I awoke to find somebody in my room. Once a presence crouched besides the bed pulling at the blanket, and once actually in my bed with me, at which point I grabbed it in a headlock and reached over to switch on the light, only to find my hands empty.
One thing I find is that sometimes it’s not clear if I am awake or dreaming, there are a few telltale signs, like sluggishness if I try to move my body usually indicates that I’m not actually in the body and therefore using the wrong mode of locomotion. In a lucid dream or OBE it seems better to just ‘will myself forward’. Trying to move my arms and legs usually results in the feeling of sleep paralysis and subsequent awaekening.
I’m still on the fence as to the exact nature of these experiences, perhaps just dreams, or another side of reality. It’s well recognised that out senses only give a functional model of reality, not reality itself, so who;s to say that reality isn’t just a matter of convenience? These experiences do however share striking commonalities regardless of age, gender, social or cultural background so although they could be something hard-wired into human psyches they may also represent a deeper strata of reality.
The biggest problem in testing this is that such experiences are hard to replicate at will, and less so under laboratory conditions. Still, in many ways, although largely subjective the experience speaks for itself.
Lovely reading your experiences!
The fact that you’re a light sleeper and easily regain consciousness once you become aware of what you are experiencing might be a blessing in disguise. I used to have so much trouble waking up from OBE and sleep paralysis, especially if the experience was very frightening. It could feel like hours had passed and no matter how hard I tried to “get out” and get back into my body, it wouldn’t work. Until it finally did, but I never figured out what exactly triggered the endings.
I wonder how much OBE and similar phenomena have to do with one’s location. For example, I had a peak number of OBEs while I lived in this old house that had quite a weird spooky vibe to it, and in contrast, since I moved to my current home five years ago I haven’t had a single OBE. So I think my theory would be that what we experience during OBEs and the like IS real in its own distorted type of reality; we pick up on some form of energy of an entity that is still attached to that specific location.
Did you ever see a connection between the experiences you had and the places where you had them?
There is so much to explore on this subject, I think I will be posting a new piece on OBEs soon!
No real OBE’s, but somewhat related: 16 years ago, still living at home, I had a dream in which I was kindly informed in my head of the fact that my death was imminent.
Having been made aware of the matter, I, sighing in sadness, tried to get to grips with the fact. Said my goodbye’s to my family (who disappointingly responded as if I had only said “Good night and see you tomorrow”) and went to bed to die.
At first I was reasonably at peace with the notion of dying- it was a dream, and in dreams I accept pretty much everything thrown at me.
But, as I lay there, I suddenly got this urge, this great overwhelming desire to live! I wanted to get up, to not be at peace with it, to continue living and feel gloriously alive- and then death hit me. Or rather, I felt life disappear from me. Like air from a balloon, starting from my toes, a tingling sensation of something quickly leaving my body.
When it reached my head, I awoke in a gasp. Thanks, dream! Used the experience for a fictional story afterwards. Turn your treasures into trophies, I guess.
On the leaving a light on: some years ago I saw someone move to that great next plane, which left me somewhat disturbed. I couldn’t have the curtains closed for at least a year after that. I wonder how blind people deal with all that darkness.
“In my dreams I’m dying all the time” – Moby