Yes, I’m in bed in the dark at 2pm, but I have a legitimate excuse. I attend an astral projection workshop.
Teacher Jade Shaw, who is leading the session remotely, mumbles about floating on a perfect cloud.
A hypnotic rhythm pulsates in my ears and I am so relaxed I can melt. I am also pleasantly dizzy. Then I become aware of a soft buzzing sensation at the edges of my physical form. This is it, the “state of vibration.” This is what precedes an out-of-body experience!
An out-of-body experience, or astral projection, is what it sounds like. Your consciousness is said to leave your body, allowing you to travel as a body without a body, as a ball of psychic energy or a soul, be it to the next room or other dimensions. It is ‘out there’ in every way.
Jade Shaw, 36, consulted on the hit Netflix series Behind Her Eyes and also teaches workshops on astral projection, also known as out-of-body experiences (stock image)
The phenomenon is exploited with great success in the hit Netflix psychological thriller Behind Her Eyes, where Jade was a consultant.
In the series, astral projection turns out to be a useful way to spy on people, from checking your partner in the office to seeing what your friends are doing at home. After seeing it, I decided that I would quite like astral projection as my superpower.
But as I lie on my bed, I realize that it is quite a skill to persuade someone’s conscious mind to leave their body. This subtle tingle is apparently a precursor to an out-of-body experience, but the next stage is of course the one that really matters.
Jade, 36 – who has an MSc in Transpersonal Psychology, the study of consciousness, spirituality and the search for meaning, from Middlesex University – taught us several ‘exit’ techniques.
Earlier, she told the group to lie on the floor and roll back and forth with increasing speed. Now I have to evoke that memory and mentally “rock” my “self-consciousness” back and forth at increasing speed to push it out of my body. This is the ‘rollout technique’.
Annoyingly, my consciousness remains stubborn. But I feel encouraged and determined to try again before bed.
The sweet spot for an out-of-body experience is when your mind is awake, but your body is falling asleep – and it’s early afternoon, plus I’ve had two cups of coffee.
In today’s workshop we learn the ‘self-initiated out-of-body experience’. Anyone can attend a one-time workshop, although some participants are regulars. I’m surprised that many of the 35 men and women in my group look surprisingly sober.
Netflix’s Behind Her Eyes (above, Eve Hewson, Tom Bateman and Simona Brown) uses out-of-body experiences or astral projections as a way to spy on people
Without the pandemic, this would be a face-to-face session in London, but thanks to Zoom, people from all over the world can attend.
Jade tells me that some people have an out-of-body experience after just one workshop; for others it takes months of practice. However, Jade believes it is a skill that anyone can learn.
She says that astral projection can also occur spontaneously when the mind or body is threatened, or at a crossroads in life. “It happens in a trance-like state, when we are deeply relaxed, but it can also happen in an elevated state of fear,” she says.
A sign that we are on our astral path is to experience a “state of vibration,” a feeling or “sense of internal sounds.” It can feel like the bed is shaking, ”says Jade.
The next step is “an internal state of separation from the body.” It’s an exciting feeling. From here we can travel to different places and dimensions. People feel this feeling of floating or flying through space or walls’.
Jade assures us that, despite what film or TV may imply, you cannot ‘get stuck’ outside of your body. ‘You always come back. It is not always a smooth return. You might get an emergency landing. ‘
But is this really possible? Jade quotes the Dalai Lama as saying that ‘consciousness can be trained to leave the physical body’, but Wikipedia is not so sure, noting that an out-of-body experience ‘assumes that there exists a soul that becomes an’ astral body ‘ called. separated from the physical body and able to travel beyond it ‘.
It also states that astral projection is called a “pseudoscience.” Another suggestion is that it could be a hallucination or a false memory.
“Skeptics say it is your brain that generates a new reality based on your memory and imagination,” says Jade. “But that doesn’t explain verified experiences.”
But how is it possible to verify an event going on in your head? ‘People see something in their out-of-body experience, like a door number, which they then visit, and feel it’s the same thing – even though they’ve never been there before.
“Some people visit friends during astral projection and later find that a friend did what they saw at the time.”
Jade, who is from Yorkshire, describes herself as ‘a skeptical mystic’, but in 2014 she experienced an out-of-body experience that ‘changed her life’.
She was back in bed after a nightly visit to the bathroom and felt “a flash of white light and a burst of energy.” Jade recalls, “Like Velcro, I peeled away from my body.”
She floated into the street, aware that she had to answer the question “is this real?” – was looking for a landmark. At a crossroads she saw “a pointed house with an arched green door, number 18.”
The out-of-body phenomenon is exploited in the hit Netflix psychological thriller Behind Her Eyes, on which Jade was an advisor (above, Eve Hewson on the show)
When she woke up, she found the house and was “stunned”: it was number 18. While this may not hold up in court, I want to believe.
Jade says that “anyone can develop the skill” to have an out-of-body experience. But she can’t have one at will – “very few people can” – and has never spied on anyone.
To deepen my understanding, I also attend one of Jade’s immersive astral projection and lucid dream workshops. (Three contestants have an out-of-body experience, and I’m so jealous.)
Lucid dreaming means that we know it is happening and consciously affect our imagination. It features in Behind Her Eyes, with singer Bono’s daughter, Eve Hewson.
Jade says you can learn how to use the lucid dream state to “project into astral projection.” I smugly think I already know this from the show.
One character goes from a lucid dream to an out-of-body experience, by visualizing and then stepping through a door. It turns out this was Jade’s idea.
‘I call it the portal technique. You create a door or portal in the dream and say, “If I step through this door, I will project astral.”
After watching the series, I liked the idea of astral projection as a distraction. But now I’m considering its potential. Out of the body can be transformative, according to those who say they’ve had them.
Jade says they report “a reduced fear of death, less anxiety, more inner peace, greater self-awareness, and new or confirmed spiritual beliefs.”
Some at Jade’s workshops believe the ability will help heal emotional pain. Others want to contact a deceased loved one.
She mentions a client whose father has passed away. She had missed his last call and felt terribly guilty. During an out-of-body experience, they “spoke” and felt lighter.
She told Jade she wasn’t sure if it was real or a hallucination, as the grieving ghost can pull tricks. “Maybe it didn’t matter anyway,” says Jade, “because she’d felt healed.”
In the meantime, I would like to visit wherever my late father is and tell him news about his five grandchildren. But when I lie in bed that night, and every night after that, my consciousness will not budge.
I will keep trying, but I may have to accept my body-bound view of life as it is.
For events, visit jadeshaw.com or alternative.org.uk.