Imagine you could travel the world without ever leaving your bed. Your friend's house, Paris, even places not on Earth.
Welcome to the concept of astral projection, the act of leaving your physical body to float through otherworldly dimensions where laws of time and space don't apply. Some believe our souls do this every time we go to sleep and that we remember these journeys as dreams. Astral projectors claim to do it consciously, maintaining connections to their physical bodies via an indestructible "silver cord."
Astral projection might sound like hokey New Age nonsense, but it's actually been around for millennia. The history of astral projection is hard to nail down because so many cultures have written about it. We know it traces back as far back as Plato, who believed the soul was separate from the body. Some ancient cultures, including those in Japan, Greece, India, and Egypt, also believed in the soul's ability to travel between planes. Somewhat more recently, it was the subject of the 2010 horror movie Insidious.
The astral community is large and passionate, and (of course) includes a subreddit (240k members!) and message boards where users share tips and experiences of their astral journeys. One active member is Dr. Steve G. Jones, a Los Angeles-based clinical hypnotherapist who says he's been astral projecting since he was a teen.
To find out more about the concept, we spoke with Jones from his office in Beverly Hills.
Flat-out, is astral projection real?
As with any metaphysical endeavor, there's a scarcity of evidence. When major universities get funding for a study, it's usually something that benefits the government or a private industry. Astral projection doesn't fit into either of those categories, so getting funding from a university to do a study the right way may never actually happen.
But I know from first-hand experience that it does work and there are countless people who also have done it.
How did you get interested in astral projection?
I was a bad kid in school and, in tenth grade, I got sent to a military academy. I didn't really like it, and I was always looking for an escape. So I started reading books by a guy named T. Lobsang Rampa; he said he was a Tibetan monk and had a lot of ideas about astral projection.
One of his books, You Forever, talks about how to astral project, and so I just started reading that book and practicing astral projection every night in my bunk bed.
Tell me about the first time you did it.
At the time, I thought I was lucid dreaming. People often mistake astral projection for lucid dreaming, and vice versa. But in this dream, I was outside of my room at military school, and my body felt like pure energy. I was with another kid from school. We were out late, and we were about to get caught by the assistant commandant who was walking by, so we ran and hid.
I woke up the next morning and thought, "Well, it was just a dream." But then I saw that kid later in the day, and he said "I dreamt about you" and he described the exact "dream" I had. That's when I'd realized I'd finally done it.
Just how do you do it?
If I were to sum it up in two, quick, easy steps, the first would be to just relax and imagine yourself being surrounded by a white light. That seems to help tremendously in keeping your thoughts positive and not attracting any negative entities to you. These negative entities don't mean any harm necessarily, but they can attach themselves to you, so surrounding yourself with white light will keep them away.
Then I like to use something called "The Rope Technique," where you imagine there's a rope hanging over you and you're grabbing the rope with your astral arm. Just imagine your arm's grabbing that rope and pulling yourself out. With practice and technique, this helps people in getting their astral body consciously out of their physical body.
Can you do anything and go anywhere when you're astral projecting?
Yeah. Of course, there are moral laws that you should obey. Sometimes people may want to astral project into a bank or to spy on someone, but you're not invited there, so you shouldn't go to those places.
With people who are beginning to astral project, [I] have them ask a friend to put a card face-up in their bedroom. Then, the person who's astral projecting can astral project to that person's bedroom and see that card and tell them what it was the next day. That's a great test to see if you're really doing it.
During astral projection, are you only interacting with the souls of other astral projectors? Or do you also interact with the souls of people who are asleep?
You can interact with both. You'll find people who are consciously astral projecting, but you'll also find a lot of people who think they're having a dream, but subconsciously are astral projecting.
There are also disembodied spirits — people who've crossed over, or "died" as we would call it. They have not gone onto their next life yet, so they are floating around and a lot of times they don't know where they are or what they're doing. So you'll find all kinds of things. The astral world is not a very well-regulated world.
Wait, you can communicate with dead people while you're astral projecting?
Oh, absolutely. I have done it numerous times, but never at the request for someone. I don't work as a medium, but I've encountered people and have talked to them and it's always fascinating because sometimes they're aware they're dead, and sometimes they're not.
What's it like having astral sex?
Astral sex is between two consenting adults in their astral bodies. There's no chance of someone getting pregnant or getting STDs. The good news is that it makes for a more intimate connection, but the negative side of that is you wouldn't have the physical sensation that you would have in physical sex.
Can you go into someone else's body?
Sure, you could inhabit the physical body of someone else, but you shouldn't do that without permission. You might move through a body without meaning to, but that's different.
If you're purposefully attempting to possess someone, it won't work, because you're not attached to their body by the silver cord. The silver cord is what connects the umbilicus to your spiritual body. No matter how strange your astral adventure gets, or how lost you might think you are, you will always wake up in your own physical body because you're always connected by the silver cord.
For those of us who aren't astral projectors, do we have a whole secret life taking place while we're asleep?
Definitely. We have an extremely active and robust life while we're asleep. It's kind of like the ocean — an entire world going on below there, and unless we become a diver, we never become aware of it.
What advice do you have for prospective astral projectors?
When you want to astral project, avoid caffeine, marijuana and alcohol. These things alter the normal function of the body, and you want to look at astral projection as natural. You just need to allow your body and soul to do what they're designed to do.