A friend of mine once told me her Grandmother never asked her how her dreams were the night before; instead, she would ask, “Where did you go last night?” In some cultures, and indeed throughout time, the concept of astral projection has weaved its way through folklore. As American esotericist Sylvan Muldoon notes in his seminal 1951 work, The Phenomena of Astral Projection, “I found that, in ancient Egypt, in China, Tibet, India and throughout the orient generally, this idea was almost universally accepted, and had been for centuries past.”
But what is astral projection? The phenomenon is in no way rooted in science, so open your third eyes, dear readers, if you’d like to learn how to transport your consciousness to another plane. Astral projection shouldn’t be confused with out-of-body experiences, although they’re somewhat related—that feeling of floating outside yourself and seeing your body below you, which some people report after near-death experiences. Astral projection is learning to place your consciousness in two places at once: your physical body and your astral body. “[You] must be prepared for this duality of sensation experienced in two different vehicles of consciousness. The astral double possesses its own organs of sensation,” warns Dr. Douglas M. Baker in The Techniques of Astral Projection. Above all, astral projection is an intentional willing of one’s consciousness to another plane; it is a mind exercise one takes on with great design and purpose.
So what is the astral plane? Edain McCoy, in Astral Projection for Beginners, describes it as “ . . . a world in which time and space have no meaning and no influence . . . an ethereal realm that is often perceived as being parallel to and interpenetrating our own physical world, but which remains unseen by the eyes of our normal consciousness.” Astral projection, then, is a learned technique to send your consciousness to another realm, and retain all experiences and knowledge gained while in this other world.
There are five forms of astral projection, according to Dr. Baker. In Techniques of Astral Projection, he breaks them down thusly.
- Form one: Our normal sleep state.
- Form two: Projection of the astral self a few feet from the body.
- Form three: Projection of the astral self to locations miles away, but which are familiar to the projector.
- Form four: Depending on how strong your will is, the possibilities are endless. You can journey into the universe with ease.
- Form five: Similar to form four, but a Master guides your journey. The most mentally-taxing of all forms.
For our purposes, we’ll be focusing on how to astrally project in the second and third forms, as it’s a bit easier to achieve than forms four and five, which could have you zooming around past Jupiter; once you master the art of astral projection, you can travel greater distances and eventually find an astral yogi to guide your travels. Baby steps, people. Astral projection is a wild, rich subject, and we’d need an entire magazine just to scratch the surface of its history, proponents and techniques. But for now, see if you can travel outside yourself without ever leaving the house, even just for a moment—“staycations” are all the rage these days, after all.
“Astral projection is often suggested by way of the psychic center located near the solar plexus, a major nerve center in the human body, but for many this can be an unnerving and unsettling experience. Other sources suggest visualizing your soul (or spirit) rising out of your body like a mist or appearing as a secondary body ‘of light’ next to your physical body.” – Mark Stavish, Between the Gates: Lucid Dreaming, Astral Projection, and the Body of Light in Western Esotericism
Preparing for Astral Projection
Before even entertaining the idea of astral travel, there’s some prep work to undertake. You can’t jump into the astral plane all willy-nilly—that would be absurd. C’mon.
- Turn a notebook into an Astral Journal. You’ll need to note what works and does not.
- Locate a quiet place where you won’t be disturbed. If you can’t eliminate sound, try earplugs or soothing instrumental music.
- Purchase candles, incense and essential oils for your astral area. Bay oil, rose, jasmine and gardenia are said to promote intensive meditative states.
- Have blankets on standby; a cold body can’t retain a meditative state for long.
- Choose a meditative pose, one where your spine is as straight as possible. You’ll have to hold it for an extended period of time, so make sure it’s something comfortable.
- Practice daydreaming. If you’re not a creative person and don’t often remember your dreams, you most likely won’t be able to astral project. Get outside your head.
Practice meditating. You need to be able to clear your mind and hold a single, focused thought for at least ten minutes before embarking on an astral quest
How to Astral Project
Ready to begin? Good. Note that astral projection is most successful in the morning, particularly after you’ve just woken up. Never attempt to project while under mental duress; the only thing stopping you from astral projection is your own mind.
- Enter a meditative state. Focus on individual areas of your body and imagine the stress melting away from each point.
- Breathe with your diaphragm, not your chest. Inhale through the nose, exhale through the mouth.
- Don’t be afraid. Some report uneasy feelings surrounding the separation of your consciousness into two beings. Welcome this separation.
- Imagine your consciousness as a ball of light, floating up and away from your physical form. Follow this form. Project your will onto this form.
- When you reach the astral plane, your thoughts should be effortless. If you feel yourself getting sucked back down to your physical body, don’t fight it. Try again later. You’ll know you’re successful when you’re viewing yourself from above.
- Start small. Practice going to the other room, then outside your home, to the next street, etc. Gradually increase your radius.
- Make note of physical markers on the astral plane. If you feel yourself getting “lost,” they’ll be your guide home. If you can see your silver cord, a luminous rope that ties your physical body to your astral body (not everyone reports this), follow the cord home.
- Once you astrally project for the first time, your body will want to return to this state. It becomes easier to project with each new experience.