In my attempts to explore the out-of-body state, I've discovered a psychological "trap" which can stop or delay an OBE. I call it the "Fantasy Trap," and it's caused by daydreaming in the OBE state. I can explain it best by giving an example from my journals:
11/29/81 Sun - OBE #58
...My consciousness was starting to get dim, so I wrestled with it for a while, and took hold of a clean, clear consciousness. I thought to myself how strange it was that my projection was lasting so long.
I wanted to get away so strongly that I started to use my mind to pretend to go to places. In essence, I started to fantasize. It was very much like the normal dream state.
In the first fantasy I walked out into the living room. JP, CA, Mom, and Dad were there, talking. I walked out and sat down. I said something like, "You can see me!", then they said, "Of course we can see you." Then I thought, "This can't be right; I'm projecting."
Just then I came out of it and came to realize I had been fantasizing. I was still stuck to my body in the same position.
I tried again to use my mind to get away and slipped into another fantasy. In this fantasy I walked up to my bedroom door, opened it and went through. I walked to the nearest window and tried to walk through it. But it seemed very solid. So I very quickly went to the back door, ignoring everything else. I opened the door and walked outside. I went to the nearest clearing and jumped up into the air in a Superman pose. Then I fell flat on my face! It seemed so very physical that I began to doubt I was projecting. I thought, "Well, now I've made a complete fool of myself. I must be physical." I started walking toward the house again but I never got there. It was then I came to realize that I had been fantasizing again.
I was dumbfounded by my own wishful-thinking fantasy. Then I was fully conscious and compared the fantasies to my awakened state. I thought, "Well, that use of my mind will only lead me to self-deception. I should stick to getting away using my astral body." So I tried to pry my astral body free, and managed to get unstuck for a while. I crawled over to my bedroom window and tried to press through it. I couldn't press through it; it seemed solid. Just then I blacked out, and woke up in my physical body. I looked at the time and it was 10:20am. My experience must have lasted 15 or 20 minutes.
The Fantasy trap can be quite persistent and annoying, as you can see from the following example:
04/16/83 Sat - OBE #93
...I quickly discovered that I was now stuck to the physical body, and I struggled to get free of it. I struggled for what seemed to be 10 or 15 minutes, using only my mind to try to free myself. After that I started thinking of other things and, because I was very tired, I eventually lapsed into a daydream, which led me into a state of hypnogogic imagery again. I was now semiconscious. At some level of consciousness, I was still aware of my OBE condition. It was only a minute or two before I "caught myself" and reestablished full consciousness.
Once again I tried to unstick myself from the body. I tried several things. I tried to pull myself up to the ceiling, and tried to send my consciousness to the ceiling by imagining the point of view of looking down at my body. I got a brief "clairvoyant" image of my body down on the bed, but I didn't actually travel up there. I pondered the image for a while; My body looked rather beat. I wanted to float up and get a real look at it from my actual astral body's point of view. I tried for a while longer to get free, but once again I lapsed into semi-consciousness. After a long time of dreamlike short scenes, I finally snapped out of it again, and I was still out of my body but stuck to it.
I thought, "I'm really out of my body!" Then I said, "Wow! I'm really projecting. I'm even speaking aloud while out of my body!" Then the humor of what I just said, and the fact that I was talking to myself, caught up with me and I chuckled aloud. I laughed a while longer, then set out to free myself again. This time I was sitting up, but was still stuck to the body by my lower half. I tried desperately to float myself up to the ceiling, but couldn't. Again, I started thinking hard about how to get free, but fell into semi-consciousness again. After several short scenes, I caught myself yet again.
I was still out of my body, and this time when I woke out of it, I spent a few minutes "comparing" the two states of mind, the semiconscious [fantasy] state...and the pure-waking out-of-body state where I had full awareness of everything. I thought about the differences for a while, and I finally resolved not to fall prey again to that delusive state of semiconscious OBE-mind. But after a few minutes, I fell back into it anyway.
I awoke again, still out of my body and was surprised the experience was lasting so long; It seemed like at least an hour since the initial jump out of my body. I also noted how easy it was for me to fall into that semiconscious state, although I had made a firm resolution not to. So I perked up my consciousness, like I normally do to keep myself from sleeping [e.g., while driving]. "What should I do now?" I thought, and I thought about it for several minutes, and finally fell prey to semi-consciousness yet again! This time I did not catch myself, but instead allowed my subconscious to take complete control.
I entered the physical body while still semiconscious and I started to dream. I woke up in my physical body when the telephone rang and it startled me considerably.
I took great notice of another phenomena when I was first out of my body, and that was my heartbeat. Throughout the experience of leaving the body, I paid special attention to my physical heartbeat. Just before I left the body, my heartbeat had slowed down considerably. It remained very slow until the vibrations hit me. With the coming of the vibrations and the "trauma" of leaving the body, my heartbeat sped up to a very rapid pace. It was as if I had just received a terrible fright and my heart was beating wildly from a "fight or flight" response. Once I was out of my body, I listened very carefully for my heartbeat. Although it had slowed down again, it was still much faster than my normal waking heart rate. After that, I didn't notice my heart rate; I was totally oblivious of my body.
Most of the OBE books say that you can travel in the blink of an eye, just by thinking about the person or place you want to visit. Therefore, I would think about a place I wanted to visit, and I would visualize that place, and imagine I was there.
I learned this form of idle imagination can easily turn into an unproductive OBE-daydream. Instead of being transported, the visualization takes on a life of its own and my consciousness slips into a dream-fantasy state. The fantasy is entirely subjective, as far as I can tell, and can be as wild as any ordinary dream. But once the fantasy is over and my consciousness returns to normal, I know I've been dreaming.
When I return to full consciousness, I may still be out of my body. Waking up out-of-body (and comparing the former dream to the now-OBE state) convinces me that the OBE was real (objective) and that the fantasy was not real (subjective).
If you fall prey to the fantasy trap, there are certain clues that you are no longer in the proper state: Fantasy-objects (such as doors and windows) might seem solid, fantasy-people might see you, and your fantasy-body might not be able to fly.
If you wake up in-the-body from a dream-fantasy, you might be left with a sense of "Was that just a dream?" I usually say something like, "This is real!" during OBEs so that I'll have a conscious point of reference. Of course, I only say that after I examine my state of consciousness and detect that I am fully aware during the experience. That way, I leave no doubts that I was conscious at the time, and not involved in a dream-fantasy.
Many people claim that a key factor in inducing out-of-body experiences is breathing properly. Famous OBE researcher Robert Crookall devoted a book to the subject, called Psychic Breathing.
Breathing exercises have many benefits. Deep breathing will help you to relax your body for the OBE. Breathing exercises, if done correctly, can bring you energy that may prolong the experience. Also, it can improve your ability to focus. I recommend doing breathing exercises before you try to induce an OBE, and not during the induction.
Here are some pointers for your breathing exercises. Babies breathe naturally because they haven't learned our bad habits. If you've ever watched a baby breathe, you may notice their bellies rise and fall, but their chests don't. They breathe using their abdomen, not by forcing their lungs to rise and fall. Try to do the same: Breathe from your abdomen, not from your lungs.
During your breathing exercise, breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth. As you inhale, visualize that your lungs are being filled with white light. As you exhale, visualize that all your fears, worries, problems and health problems are flowing out of your body.
Some people believe that visualizing a flow of energy can activate your chakras (energy centers) which can help you achieve OBEs. In some forms of Taoist meditation, people are taught to visualize a stream of energy flowing in a circle that starts near the navel, travels down to the groin, up the spine, over the head, down the chest and back to the navel. Kundalini yoga teaches a similar thing, but the energy doesn't flow in a circle, it flows out through the top of the head. I don't recommend the latter method because some Taoists claim that it's dangerous to push the energy out your head.
When you try to induce an OBE, just relax and let your breathing become normal again. Don't try to breathe differently in any way. It may be helpful, however, to quietly listen to the sound of your own breath.
During the OBE, it may suddenly seem as if you have stopped breathing. If this happens, don't be alarmed. Your body is still breathing, but you have lost awareness of the body.
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