The term out-of-body experience was introduced in 1943 by George N. M. Tyrrell in his book Apparitions, and was adopted by researchers such as Celia Green and Robert Monroe as an alternative to belief-centric labels such as "astral projection", "soul travel", or "spirit walking". The researcher Waldo Vieira described the phenomenon as a projection of consciousness. OBEs can be induced by brain traumas, sensory deprivation, near-death experiences, dissociative and psychedelic drugs, dehydration, sleep, and electrical stimulation of the brain, among others. It can also be deliberately induced by some.
Forms of OBE
- Lucid Dreams, i.e. the conscious awareness, during a dream, that one is experiencing a dream. Although not all lucid dreams end in OBEs, some authorities believe an OBE can begin with a lucid dream and others believe that all dreams may well be a type of out of body experience. In the dream-state, our consciousness does experience events and sensations in different locations and time frames than the sleeping physical self. However, most of those who have experienced OBEs maintain that they are more "real" than dreams.
- Astral Projection, hovering over it, and observing the physical form. Those that have near-death experiences and involuntary OBEs often report this type of OBE. Ernest Hemingway claimed to have seen his soul leave his body and float around after being hit with shrapnel in 1918.
- Consciousness traveling beyond the limits of the body's physical environment to other locations in the known physical world. For instance, in 1863, a man named Wilmot reported that his wife had "visited" his stateroom in one of his dreams. When he returned from his trip, his wife asked Wilmot if he recalled her visit. She admitted that she had been worried about her husband and, as Wilmot reported, "went out to seek me". Although his wife had never seen the steamship or her husband's stateroom, her description of it was correct in "all particulars"
- The spirit traveling to various astral or spiritual planes with the ability to interact with the "new" environment. This type of OBE is reported by those who induce OBE through Astral Projection as well as those who report NDEs. The Christian Apostle Paul alludes to "a man...caught up into the third heaven" in 2 Corinthians 12:2-4, where he heard "things that cannot be told".