What Causes Out of Body Experiences? Possible Answers

Updated May 25, 2021
woman having an out of body experiences

An out of body experience (OBE) can be spontaneous and out of your control. This type of experience is often connected to near-death experiences (NDE) or times of danger, while other OBEs are intentional.

Near-Death Experiences

Perhaps the most commonly recognized OBE is what happens during a near-death experience (NDE). There have been so many reported instances of OBEs by individuals who died and were resuscitated.

Dr. Raymond Moody, a pioneer in NDE research, first wrote about the common threads of OBE in NDE. Dr. Moody described how hundreds of subjects in his book Life After Life, told of floating above their bodies and watching as medical personnel worked to bring them back to life.

While the near-death experiencers came from different backgrounds, many described multiple elements in their NDE and OBE that were similar. These included hovering over their bodies, feeling disconnected, traveling down a tunnel of light, a sense of ineffability, being greeted by dead loved ones, and returning to their bodies. All agreed their experience had been life changing.

Dream Induced

It is commonly believed among those in the metaphysical community that your soul leaves your body when you sleep. It is a natural occurrence that is part of the human experience that science doesn't support, but centuries of anecdotal experiences do.

Scientists conducted experiments to disprove that the human soul can journey outside the physical body. Neuroscientists published a paper on their findings and stated the phenomenon was a false scenario set up by the temporo-parietal cortex. This part of the brain had induced sleep paralysis that mimicked the sensation of floating along with a vivid dream component.

However, the scientists failed to explain how OBE experiencers also related verifiable details about remote locations they visited and events they witnessed during their OBEs. Such contradicting data can't be dismissed as insignificant. Is it possible the scientific experiments merely recorded the physical side effects of OBEs, instead of the cause?

Perhaps sleep paralysis is necessary for the body to accept the soul leaving it. After all, the body is fearful whenever the soul leaves, since it is the power source of the heart and is what holds the body together. Perhaps the only way to prevent the body from resisting is through paralysis.

Spiritual Astral Projection Practices

Intentional astral projection often requires much practice in order to reassure the body and overcome the natural panic/fear and physical reaction when the soul journeys out. Historically, many spiritual practices throughout the world include out of body travel. In these instances, practitioners explain the experience is motivated by a spiritual desire of enlightenment and eventual ascension.

For example, Hinduism is very well-known for supporting the concept of astral projection and spiritual travel outside of the body. The practice is an intricate part of Hindu meditative practices. Those practices are also designed to condition the body through the meditative relaxation routines.

Additionally, many Pagan religions believe in inducing the spirit to separate from the body in order to explore the world on the astral plane. Like Hindu practices, their meditative practices have a similar goal of achieving enlightenment through the experience of OBEs.

However, Christianity is split on the issue of practicing out of body trips, depending on the denomination. There are some Christians who fear that out-of-body practices leaves the soul vulnerable to attack by demonic forces and evil entities. This can be true if the practitioner doesn't understand or use spiritual protection techniques.

Spiritual Gift and Obligation

By contrast to religious practices that incorporate OBEs, many metaphysical practitioners use deep meditation and astral travel as a natural and beneficial part of the spiritual realm. It is typically an intricate part of their belief system. An OBE is viewed as a natural divine gift that should be cultivated and developed.

The one common theme that connects all of the spiritual beliefs that practice OBEs is that the out of body phenomenon is induced by an altered state of consciousness. The individual is aware of what is taking place and directs the astral travel with intention and purpose.

Understanding Out of Body Experiences

There are many ways you can have an out of body experience. Not everyone is in agreement about what this is, but you have several ways to achieve an OBE should you wish.

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What Causes Out of Body Experiences? Possible Answers