In your dreams, many times you would have seen yourself flying or visiting strange lands. Often the sensation feels so real that you wake up feeling slightly lost, as if you have been ‘beamed back’ to your current life. In many books about famous yogis and gurus, are incidents that show that they have visited their devotees while in reality they were literally hundreds of miles away. Both these are real; while dreaming you experienced astral travel without intending to, the yogi sent forth his other self to converse with his disciple.
Without even realising it you have travelled to the astral plane numerous times. Astral projection occurs by itself without you even realising it is happening. At night, while you sleep, your astral body floats away partially or sometimes even completely from your physical body. It comes back the same way just before you wake up. Some time or the other, all of us have felt rudely, but inexplicably shaken from sleep. Have you woken up startled from a half asleep state? This happens when your astral body comes home fast and joins with your physical one.
Just like in lucid dreaming, conscious astral travel can be practiced. The travel agent is yourself. During an out-of-body experience while being conscious, the astral plane feels solid. But you will find it changeable and amorphous. Time will feel distorted and even extended. A myriad number of realities, planes and realms exist in the astral dimension. It is not easy, however, to reach these without effort, especially for initiates in the art of astral projection. Experience is the best teacher and learning how to travel across various levels is best learned by doing it yourself.
The astral traveller’s first task is to conquer fear. Astral projection is a phenomenon that occurs naturally while you are asleep. It is important that the novice works on removing the fear of the unknown, since this will have a detrimental effect on the mind.
Hence, it is most important that your physical body and your astral form are both protected during projection. Astral projection done under the influence of alcohol or drugs is dangerous, and can even lead to temporary insanity. Before you begin, meditate for a while. Fill your mind slowly with positive thoughts about yourself, your friends and your imminent astral travel experience. It is supposed that the astral traveller only encounters whatever he himself projects into the astral plane.
Before you begin your journey to the other planes, visualise a protective circle around yourself. Imagine a white light around you. Imagine two large white hands emerging, which gently cleanses your aura that envelops head to toe, removing all negativity. You may encounter beings in the astral realms that are not always positive. Remember that as long as you are a positive and spirited person, negative forces would not be able to penetrate your aura.
To start, find a comfortable position in a quiet place where you will not be interrupted. Sitting upright in a chair is recommended as you may fall asleep while prostrate. Let meditational music float all around you, removing distracting sounds from your sphere of attention. Then, banish all random thoughts. Imagine them flowing out into a earthen pot which you then break. Focus on your breathing. Inhale through your nose, and exhale through your mouth. Visualise yourself breathing in an atmosphere of peace, expelling disharmony with each exhalation. Like in meditation, focus on each part of your body starting with your feet and ending at your head. As you exhale, tell yourself in the mind, ‘My body is relaxing’. When you feel very relaxed, start chanting silently to yourself, ‘I fly, I float, I rise’ repeatedly. When your mind starts drifting to other things, will it return to your mantra.
At some point, you will suddenly realise that you have entered a heightened state of awareness. Your inner self feels light, at the same time it is supremely aware with your sense of hearing having become very acute. At the same time, your body feels very heavy and relaxed. It is now time to begin your journey outward. Keep repeating the phrase you have used to reach your heightened state. Banish all thoughts from within while chanting over and over again , ‘I fly, I float, I rise’. In the first few instances, nothing may happen but as you keep practicing, sooner or later you will leave your physical body. The novices tend to become disappointed: even when they have projected their astral bodies, the realisation itself jolts them back to their bodies. It takes persistence and endurance to leave the body perfectly.
As you begin to leave your body, the experience is akin to travelling in a moving vehicle. This is simply your astral body starting to separate from your physical body. When an abundance of lights and colours appear in front of your eyes, you have reached the astral plane. Explore the realm by using your thoughts to move around.
When it is time for you to return, just make the decision to come back to your physical body, and visualise yourself back in your body. Slowly, begin counting from 1 to 10, while focusing on each part of your body. Begin to move each slowly, one by one. Do not be in a hurry, for you may have been sitting physically motionless for a long time. Open your eyes, and keep a diary of your experiences. The beginner is advised to seek professional guidance from a meditation expert before starting out, for, failure to do so may harm mental equilibrium seriously.