Multidimensional Reality at Our Reach – Out-Of-Body Experience: A Possible Tool for Self-Research as Well as Formal Research
Ever since I was old enough to understand how complex life is, every time I would think about it, the first thing that would come to my mind was “How can we make sense of this world and make informed decisions in our lives unless we can somehow grasp a ‘more complete reality’?” Since then, my efforts have been to try to become, to the best of my capacity, more aware of the “reality” around me and to contribute to building a comprehensive, more robust body of knowledge about it. But, what is reality?
Is the reality we live in the actual reality? Could we say reality is either what we can perceive with our senses or detected with current technology? But, if we were to say so, what about the period when microorganisms were unknown to us? Of course they were real at the time even though they were not acknowledged. How about the way our sky looks… does it look like this?
Or like this?
Perhaps like this?
It turns out that all of these are real images of the exact same section of the sky although the cameras used to take them captured different wavelengths of the electromagnetic spectrum. Would a non-informed person consider, for example, the last image our “real” sky? Most people wouldn’t. So, as we can see, the concept of reality is not so easy to define.
Personal Experience as an Agent to Expand the Notion of Reality
My own understanding of reality was challenged by an experience I had when I was very young. This experience made me become a researcher of paranormal phenomena and non-ordinary reality, which one could call “non-physical reality” in a sense that it cannot — at least not yet — be objectively evaluated by regular physical methods.
The experience took place when I was about 7 or 8 years old and an uncle and aunt took a trip to São Paulo, a big city in Brazil I had only heard about until then.
One of the following nights after their trip, while I was sleeping, I felt myself floating upwards. Somehow, I ended up finding myself in São Paulo, in a room where my uncle lay in bed with small tubes inserted into his nostrils and a hanging bag next to him with some liquid that was being injected into his arms. I also saw a clear thin tube that seemed to be connected from his abdomen to a glass jar placed on the floor, as far as I could tell, which held a slightly reddish liquid that was coming out of him.
That blew my mind. What was that? I didn’t have a clue because I grew up in a small town in Brazil (which you can see in the picture below).
My hometown was filled with wonderful people, but, back then, almost 50 years ago (ref. 2015), there were no libraries, no bookstores, no movie theatres, no universities… There was only one dentist and one pharmacy for the whole city and a very small hospital which could admit a handful of patients at a time.
I had a happy childhood. I grew up with six siblings. There were no illnesses in the family and we were always playing. But we didn’t have a TV in our house, or money to buy books so I had never seen anything like what I just had experienced.
Oh, yes, I would sometimes sneak into the neighbor’s living room to watch TV. However, what I could mostly see were images with a lot of white noise in them. Sometimes I would hear someone shouting some sort of instructions to one of their relatives who would be up on the roof trying to reposition the antenna in order to get a better signal (most people nowadays probably wouldn’t know what I am talking about).
When my uncle and auntie returned from their trip I approached my aunt in a casual way and said, “Hey, I saw uncle Gino lying in a room with a tube coming out of his belly that was dripping liquid.” I clearly remember describing to her what I know now was a drainage tube, as that was what seemed strangest to me. She was baffled and proceeded to change the topic. Later that day I overheard her saying to my mother “How on earth could Nanci have known that when neither you nor anyone else knew he was going for bladder surgery as we didn’t want anyone to be worried?”
Out-Of-Body Experience Research
Later in life I understood I experienced what is known as an OBE or Out-of-Body Experience, a phenomenon where, according to the current model, the consciousness detaches and moves away from the human body, thus being able to experience a reality that is subtler than this ordinary one. This phenomenon is also known as astral projection, astral travel, and soul travel.
This experience, as well as others I had had, compelled me by the time I was in my early twenties to go on a journey to seek more serious studies in the field. I found that science was (and I’m afraid still is) far from understanding or even acknowledging the existence of a reality beyond the boundaries of the standard material world. This made me wonder how meaningful experiences such as mine were looked at. I decided then I would one day join the small group of individuals who were dedicated to studying this phenomenon, and so I did.
Sometimes this is challenging because, as a person, I cannot deny the experiences I have had. However, as a researcher, I recognize the complexity of finding explanations to such phenomena and the even greater complexity of finding concrete evidence for their existence. Hence the proposition that this phenomenon is better studied through direct personal experience and that each individual should strive on having their own experience.
As part of my research I found that one of the work that seemed to be more scientific at the time was that of Robert Crookall (1890-1981), a researcher in this area. He compiled thousands of out-of-body experience accounts to see if we could find common elements. He concluded that these experiences are not a result of a belief of any kind and are independent of any cultural upbringing.
Now, the interpretation of the experience may be influenced by one’s beliefs, as it is unavoidable for most individuals to describe their experiences through the filter of their own belief system. This is where current research on out-of-body experience and expanded states of consciousness comes into play as they may help reveal which elements make an experience reliable. Education on the subject can reduce the degree of subjectivity, which interferes with the collection of more objective data.
A number of surveys and also laboratory experiments in controlled conditions have already been carried out to investigate OBEs. I have conducted several of these with interesting results; however, they cannot be considered conclusive evidence yet.
Sensations Possibly Associated with the Out-Of-Body Experience
Researchers’ studies as well as mine own, point out that there are some sensations that seem to be common to many people in cases of the partial or complete separation of the consciousness from the human body. I have felt many of these sensations from an early age. For example:
- I vividly remember moments when I was relaxed in bed and at some point started feeling an unusual, extremely powerful vibration throughout my body as if every cell was being activated by some sort of electricity or live energy.
Sometimes there would be simultaneously a kind of sound. Soon after, many cases, I would then perceive myself detaching from my body. This vibrating sensation, I later found out, has been referred to as the “vibrational state” and is quite common among those who have out-of-body experiences.
- At other times I would have sensations such as swinging — as if my bed was floating and my body was very light — with no perception of my physical body.
- Sometimes I would also feel a distinctive falling sensation or even a sudden movement (jerk awake) while still awake, apparently, due to the strong and evident sensation of lightness.
- In many of my experiences I saw my body lying in bed, from a third person perspective. When I was a child and this would happen, in a simple child-like manner of thinking, I would ask myself during the experience: “how can I be sleeping if I am awake?” I knew that state was totally different from the dream state, but I still didn’t know what it was.
- In other instances an even stranger sensation would occur, in which my physical body would feel paralyzed and I would feel like I couldn’t move. This is often called sleep paralysis. Although I personally never had any bad consequences from it, I could not exactly say it felt pleasant. I know now it is a natural sensation belonging to the first stages when leaving the body or when returning to the body, but, of course, I didn’t know this back then.
These are just a few examples. In some cases, fear of sensations such as these may hinder the OBE taking place at all.
Fear Generated by the Experience
All of my out-of-body adventures were enjoyable. As I was young and had no preconceptions about it I did not fear the sensations associated with the separation from the body or the sensation of floating in the room.
I realize now that lack of information, and, even worse, misinformation, are the core causes of most of the fears associated with OBEs. Failing to be able to handle and cleanse the energy field (bioenergy, biofield, subtle energy, chi) of the surrounding environment as well as in oneself can sometimes also cause uncomfortable feelings.
Regarding my childhood experiences, occasionally I would sense in my regular waking life subtle energies and invisible presences around me. This scared me as a child. As I wasn’t born in a family or community knowledgeable around these phenomena, I had no one who could explain to me what my perceptions meant and how to handle them.
My so-called “psychic” experiences (for lack of a better word) as a child directed me to study sensitive kids in order to find out:
- Why they experience these phenomena,
- How they interpret them,
- What consequences these phenomena may bring during childhood and, later, in adult life, and
- How parents and society in general react to their sensitivity.
Obviously, children are not the only ones who have out-of-body experiences. As adults we may have them too and arguably this is an ability that can be learned and developed. Experiencing non-ordinary or non-physical phenomena is natural and is not something that only “special” people can do.
Investigation into Non-Ordinary Reality and Exceptional Human Experiences
How do we go about studying this area, with a true scientific spirit? To start with, instead of dismissing the phenomena or stating there is something wrong with the person because of the unconventionality of his/her perceptions, we must recognize that there may exist facts about the natural world and human manifestation that we do not know or understand, and we must search for explanations without presumptions or pre-conceived ideas.
So far, the majority of academic research has been dedicated to the study of the so-called “physical world”, which is obviously of essential importance and should be the first step. However, if we consider the possibility of the existence of a reality that is subtler than the physical one — but just as real, even though it may escape our regular senses — we must find ways to research it. If one of the means of observing this subtle reality directly is through the out-of-body experience, then, until proper technology is developed, OBEs seem to be the natural tool for investigating it, since OBEs would allow researchers to witness the conceivable existence of a subtle reality and its possible interaction with ours.
This knowledge could bring useful insights into different domains of scientific research: from medicine to physics. It could promote an epistemological or scientific view that acknowledges our individuality as consciousnesses that exist beyond the brain.
In turn, this would integrate variables and factors that are not strictly physical into various aspects of the scientific process. For example, medicine could benefit from recognizing when these more subtle elements could be interfering with patients’ health or “inexplicably" curing them. Physicists could examine phenomena and their outcome taking into account energy and matter from a multidimensional perspective.
Please note I am not talking about living in a way that is alienated or disconnected from ordinary everyday life. What I am considering is the use of an actual “sense” that is possible in all of us, even though it may be dormant in many of us. Where would science be without our physical senses? Probably it wouldn’t have gone very far. And how would science progress if we were to develop our subtle or non-ordinary senses?
Nonetheless, in terms of learning from OBEs, we face at least three major challenges that are at the core of this process:
First: How to distinguish between those who only dream, imagine, fantasize, or have brain characteristics that may cause perceptions that they take as “non-physical” from those who have real non-physical experiences, with lucidity, clarity of thought, awareness, and detachment from preconceived notions and beliefs?
- Should it be based on whether the event can be “seen”? But, as we know,atoms are real even though they cannot be seen with the naked eye and most people have never had access to a microscope to experience seeing them anyway. So, without a technology that can capture the elements of the subtle, non-ordinary reality, we cannot expect such a reality to be perceived or visualized, at least not by the human body.
- Should it be based on whether the event is equally experienced by all? Well, it seems this is not possible, as social science and neuroscience studies have demonstrated that even a shared physical event is not lived and felt in the same way by everyone who is involved.
- Should it be based on a general consensus? Does the “real” always require consensus? Not a straightforward process, as what the majority believes in is not always the most sensible.
It appears, then, that what we need is to properly identify the elements that separate non-ordinary perceptions from fantasy or brain illusions. However, without acknowledging the phenomenon and and intertwining the idea that it may be pointing to some possible existing reality, scientists cannot even take this first step.
Second: How to separate serious unbiased scientific initiatives from unsubstantiated information? Unfortunately, there are individuals or groups that disregard the scientific principles when discussing the so-called psychic or paranormal phenomena. Besides not encouraging real scientific progress, this attitude may give the impression that all of those who dedicate themselves to the study of non-ordinary phenomena and realities have the same posture. This is not the case.
And third: How to develop appropriate methodology to examine this intangible reality and its related phenomena? This is a major challenge, as we do not have the means to objectively perform direct investigation.
At this point, one could ask: why bother studying this intangible reality and its related phenomena? Well, if science is about understanding ourselves and the universe or pursuing knowledge of the natural world, then, verifying their existence may expand our notion of what we and the “world” around us actually are.
These critical findings could change the core paradigm upon which our knowledge and society are based. But this must be achieved, obviously, in a non-religious, non-mystical way, relying rather on well-established scientific principles, such as unbiased research and empirical investigations with proper methodology or, at least, making a sincere effort to follow such principles.
Personal Outcomes of Direct Experiences
With all of this said, we must be reminded that OBEs are not only a tool for gathering scientific observations but also a tool for personal exploration. Beyond the information-gathering aspects of conscious out-of-body experiences, what are some of the transformative aspects?
I can share with you what I think my OBEs provided me with. I feel I gained a better sense of what “to be” in this world is all about, with no need for an external or imposed set of beliefs to guide me. I follow my personal principles, which are a result of observations and conclusions I’ve made from my experiences, such as:
- We are not just the physical body and there is another layer or dimension of reality and manifestation. This notion points to the hypothesis that we do not cease to exist at the point of physical death.
**Note that I am not proposing that you should take this to be your truth. I am merely offering what my relative truth is at this moment.**
- Although it may seem paradoxical with the concept stated above, another observation would be the notion that all life, including our own, is precious. Every event is an opportunity for us to try to learn something or build something useful, or to improve the quality of life in general.
- The observation and recognition that non-visible multidimensional energies interconnect us all. This notion tends to bring reflection about the consequences of our actions and, eventually, leads to the realization that being ethical really matters.
- While observing the condition of both human beings and extra-physical beings, I came to the conclusion that we are all different — not only in our bodies, but also in our essence. Our experiences shape us as we learn from them. Someone’s true potential for positive, ethical change emerges by having first-hand experiences, rather than by beliefs.
This is what I feel I learned from my OBEs. Having realizations such as the above ones often bring us a sense of tranquility and peace of mind, while, at the same time, can also produce in us the desire to take some steps in our lives in order to make them more meaningful. Steps that, at the end of our lives, will give us a sense of justified fulfillment. Steps towards a meaningful purpose that leads us to feel we have accomplished the greater goal we had planned.
Having personal experiences that point to the fact that we continue to exist after death tends to make us wiser and more determined. This was my experience, but is also what research on OBEs and near-death experiences (NDE) reveals.
The implications of understanding life and death — two great mysteries we witness and experience regularly but have always struggled to fully grasp — would be far reaching for all of humankind.
So, how could first-hand knowledge of the so-called “non-physical” reality affect our society?
Envision of a Possible World
Extrapolating from the discussed above, let’s imagine a society where a higher percentage of individuals would have non-ordinary experiences (ESP / psi phenomena). They would know, based on their own lucid experiences rather than believing or following a set of rules, that there is an ampler reality or that the world is not purely material. This would lead to them being aware that there are lasting consequences to our actions, probably forming a society where individuals would value ethics, respect, mutual cooperation and personal balance; a society where humanitarian and planetary issues mattered.
This would be a society worth pursuing and living in, where humans have goals and priorities that are not only about becoming wealthier, but also about sharing well being and evolution-promoting knowledge.
Well, let’s let our minds run free for a moment and conjecture: would a next evolutionary step for us be to become beings that can naturally project outside of our bodies and experience a multidimensional manifestation? Would we, one day, evolve from Homo sapiens to Homo projectius? This is, at least, an intriguing idea.
By Nanci Trivellato, MSc.
Instructor and senior researcher with the International Academy of Consciousness (IAC)
Article based on Nanci’s talk at TEDx.
Parapsychic Children and their Susceptibilities
If you are interested in knowing more about this topic you can watch Nanci’s video below: