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Astral Projection can be moderately defined as an interpretation of out-of-body-experience that assumes the existence of an "astral body" separate from the physical body and capable of traveling outside it. (Webster's New Millennium Dictionary) This definition as a whole can be debated, but I think most people here get the gist of what it's saying. Lets not nit-pick.

We are in a magical community with a great deal of intelligent people who actively participate in this or like practices where the "self" (I use the term lightly) leaves the body. Being in the age of Science and more importantly questions and skepticism I wanted to gain insight as to what you, the reader, thinks. First, let me quote some skeptics before I stress my point.

Robert Todd Carroll: "[Astral travel is anecdotal and comes] in the form of testimonials of those who claim to have experienced being out of their bodies when they may have been out of their minds."

W. Sumner Davis: "[Astral projection is] another myth that despite years of proof to the contrary, refuses to go the way of the lipluradon", and that "like most religions and pseudoscience, proof is seen in the form of anecdotal stories."

Now a lot of people have experienced Astral Travel and even in the face of skepticism it does not change their experiences. Even if it got so far as to explain it in scientific means (I'm not sure if this has or has not been done), it does not change or prevent the phenomena from occurring.

Skepticism is not dismissing that what is called Astral Travel occurs, they are dismissing that a part of you leaves your body.

My questions are as follows:

1. Is Astral Travel an illusion/condition of the mind?

2. What experiences and evidence do you have to suggest your opinion is accurate?

3. How do you feel about Astral Travel being explained in a scientific manner?

4. If something is explainable as a condition of the mind, does it devalue your experience from it?

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1. I'm of the opinion that Astral travel is a condition of the mind, much like dreams.

2. Personally I've noted two types of traveling, the first is one of familiarity, to places I've been to before or things I'm aware of. The second is to places unknown, out of this world or places on this world I've never been to. It's safe to assume places I've not been to on this planet would be bound my the limits I am aware of whereas places beyond this universe are more than likely completely fabricated by my imagination.

3. I really hope it is proven if it's not been already. I love learning about this kind of stuff.

4. Regardless of it's scientific explanation it does not change my revelations from the experience. Knowing that dreams are the release of neurotransmitters norepinephrine, serotonin and histamine does not change the event that took place in my mind. It does not change that I can learn from it, that I can recall it or that I can apply knowledge from it. In the end I feel Astral Projection is a byproduct of the mind, that there is no "traveling" actually happening. I do not feel that it in any way diminishes the practice of Astral Projection.

An interesting note which has some revealing information in it.

  • A variety of psychoactive drugs have notable effects on consciousness. These range from a simple dulling of awareness produced by sedatives, to increases in the intensity of sensory qualities produced by stimulants, cannabis, or most notably by the class of drugs known as psychedelics. (Dieter Vaitl et al. (2005). "Psychobiology of altered states of consciousness".Psychological Bulletin131: 98–127.)
  • LSD, mescaline, psilocybin, and others in this group can produce major distortions of perception, including hallucinations; some users even describe their drug-induced experiences as mystical or spiritual in quality. The brain mechanisms underlying these effects are not well understood, but there is substantial evidence that alterations in the brain system that uses the chemical neurotransmitter serotonin play an essential role. [Michael Lyvers (2003). "The neurochemistry of psychedelic experiences]
  • There has been some research into physiological changes in yogis and people who practise various techniques of meditation. Some research with brain waves during meditation has differences between those corresponding to ordinary relaxation and those corresponding to meditation. It has been disputed, however, whether there is enough evidence to count these as physiologically distinct states of consciousness. [M. Murphy, S. Donovan, and E. Taylor (1997). The Physical and Psychological Effects of Meditation: A Review of Contemporary Research With a Comprehensive Bibliography, 1931-1996. Institute of Noetic Sciences.]
  • The most extensive study of the characteristics of altered states of consciousness was made by psychologist Charles Tart in the 1960s and 1970s. Tart analyzed a state of consciousness as made up of a number of component processes, including exteroception (sensing the external world); interoception (sensing the body); input-processing (seeing meaning); emotions; memory; time sense; sense of identity; evaluation and cognitive processing; motor output; and interaction with the environment.  Each of these, in his view, could be altered in multiple ways by drugs or other manipulations. The components that Tart identified have not, however, been validated by empirical studies. Research in this area has not yet reached firm conclusions, but a recent questionnaire-based study identified eleven significant factors contributing to drug-induced states of consciousness: experience of unity; spiritual experience; blissful state; insightfulness; disembodiment; impaired control and cognition; anxiety; complex imagery; elementary imagery; audio-visual synesthesia; and changed meaning of percepts. [E. Studerus, A. Gamma, and F. X. Vollenweider (2010). "Psychometric evaluation of the altered states of consciousness rating scale (OAV)"]

I think in the end this points the direction that the altered state of astral projection can be obtained by the release of serotonin by the neurotransmitter.

1. Is Astral Travel an illusion/condition of the mind?

Absolutely, IMO. Then again, life itself is also merely a condition of the mind. ;)

2. What experiences and evidence do you have to suggest your opinion is accurate?

The people who have the most detailed astral projection experiences are people who have read/heard/studied all about it before they have those experiences. This would suggest that their experiences are due, in part, to having a result based on what they expect. For those people who have 'spontaneous astral projection', it is similar to various other things that happen when the brain experiences some sort of trauma. The induction signs of astral travel is very similar to some of the onset effects of a migraine, for instance.

3. How do you feel about Astral Travel being explained in a scientific manner?

I think the True Believers (TM) won't care whether it is explained scientifically or not, and it doesn't serve any useful meaning to explain it scientifically except to validate someone's faith. On the long list for things that science can do, explaining astral travel is low on the priority chart for me.

4. If something is explainable as a condition of the mind, does it devalue your experience from it?

Only if you have very shaky faith.... If you really have confidence in your life path, then explanations strengthen it, not detract from it!

Per usual, I love your response.  :)

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