An out-of-body experience, also called OBE, is an experience in which a person has a feeling of leaving his body and observing himself and the world from outside his body. These experiences are also referred to as astral projections.
Who experiences this?
Studies have shown that about 10 percent of the population experiences an out-of-body experience once in their lifetime. It can occur to anyone and in any situation. Most experience this while they are sleeping, resting, or dreaming. Others may experience it when ill or while under the influence of an anesthetic.
Some people may have such an experience when drugged or medicated. A person may also experience it when close to death. Such cases are referred as Near Death Experiences, or NDEs. Recent surveys have reported some cases in which motorcycle riders experienced an out-of-body experience. They found themselves floating over the motorcycle observing their own body and still continued to ride. Many survivors of serious accidents, in fact, often report having such experiences in the immediate aftermath of the accident.
How does it occur?
All out-of-body experiences don't occur spontaneously. Some people have them induced as desired by using various techniques. They even make a note of things they undergo while experiencing it.
But the experiences of the people who have undergone induced out-of-body experience are different from those who have undergone spontaneous ones.
The majority of people who undergo induced out-of-body experience feel that they are still in a body, but in a body that can be altered according to their wish. But most people undergoing spontaneous OBE find themselves disembodied, i.e., they feel that they are outside their body and looking at it.
Research is still going on to find out why people experience an out-of-body experience. Many researchers suggest that an out-of-body experience is nothing but a simple illusion, which is brought about by an abnormally functioning brain. This theory has the most scientific credence, since what the 'self' perceives is ultimately controlled by the brain, and the former can't experience something that the latter doesn't perceive.
Some even say that an out-of-body experience may be experienced as the consciousness and body are separate entities and therefore can exist without each other.
Some people consider an out-of-body experience a psychological phenomenon. They say that the people may be creating or building up the experiences from previously learned things or stored memories.
Each person who has had an out-of-body experience has a different point of view. Some people say they feel light and peaceful, while other say they get afraid, as they think that they are dying and will never return to their body.
The brain is a wonder that may never be fully understood, and OBEs are just one of the many incredible things it can achieve without us being consciously aware of them.