Matt Rouge's guest post inspired another longtime reader to offer his thoughts. Cyrus Kirkpatrick, who's already put out an impressive number of books (see his Amazon author page) offers an excerpt from a forthcoming book with the working title Life After Death For Skeptics. He calls this story "my personal validation of the topics commonly discussed here on MP’s blog."
Despite my years of interest in astral exploration, there had always been a disconnection between personal experience and research. Trying to understand something without experiencing it first-hand only takes a person so far. Astronomers can at least observe through an instrument the effects of a phenomenon as theoretical as a black hole to confirm their research. But for the idea of other planes of reality, how can theory be confirmed personally, short of having cardiac arrest and being sucked out of one’s body?
In early 2014 I began to experiment with sleep states and lucid dreaming. This led to my discovery of peculiar moments shortly before entering sleep when I would feel an unusual electrical sensation that could spread from the bottom of my spine upwards. It’s not a comfortable sensation, as it’s like being mildly shocked. Over the years I’d learn to resist the feeling, or ignore it, before falling asleep.
From reading other reports, I identified the sensation as a precursor to the out-of-body experience (OBE). One theory about these “tingles” is that it’s a vibrational shift. The physical effects of your “other” body disconnecting from what we call the physical version. Regardless, I began learning to maintain the feeling for longer periods of time. This led to sensations of being disconnected from my body, and looking around my bedroom despite the fact that my eyelids were closed.
One morning I had fallen back to sleep around 11 AM. I immediately entered a lucid dream state. I have no memory of the initial dream, except I returned to a normal “waking” level of consciousness during it. As I enjoyed the dream, I began to feel the familiar electrical sensations in my body. Suddenly, the dream “melted” away, and I was back in my bedroom spinning.
At this point, my consciousness was only slightly better than the normal lucid dream state. However, I could sense a gradual increase in my consciousness levels. I glanced to my left and looked in the mirror, and noticed I was a few feet above my body, flailing my arms around as I awkwardly floated in the air. In this form, I was wearing cotton pants and a red T-shirt. In bed, I was in just my underwear, but on the head of the bed were the same two pieces of clothing that I was planning to wear after I awoke. Somehow, my “astral” body had duplicated them, which I found odd (why not just go OBE in my underwear?).
Regardless, I then sensed I was traveling “upward.” I thought I was in the attic of the house I rent. But it seemed “different,” like someone else’s home. My consciousness came in and out of focus, switching between what felt like a regular lucid dream, and something more vivid. It was a scrambled sensation, and my environment seemed to fluctuate, until finally I was in a place that felt very “solid.”
I was on a stone walkway, and there were trees lining a kind of veranda that was attached to a bigger stone structure like a temple. My first instinct was that I was having one HELL of a lucid dream. And so, I wanted to experience as much detail as I could before I woke up. I went to a tree and inspected it. It was then I discovered the tree was a really amazing specimen. Every single leaf on it would fluctuate in color, and the colors seemed to respond to my touch or my thoughts. The leaves flashed between blue, magenta, purple, green, etc.
At this point, I began to wonder if I was dreaming, or in some type of literal other realm. So, I began performing tests on my environment. I held my arm out and focused hard, attempting to create an object (in this case, an apple). From my experience with lucid dreaming, such mental states are extremely fickle, and you can shape and alter the environment through your willpower alone.
No such luck making the apple appear; nothing could be manifested or changed in my environment. The place was solid and felt “real,” but at the same time it’s like I could sense my body lying comfortably on the bed, asleep. It was like I was in two places at once, similar to lucid dreams, but there was something far more striking about this realm than typical dreams.
At this point, I decided to just start trying to explore as much as I could. So I headed in a random direction away from the temple, and found myself in the foliage. I was pushing through brush, sticks, and twigs as I left the path behind. At some point, the foliage cleared away and there was a well maintained dirt road. The road was actually the path to the temple I had just visited. So, I started marching the opposite direction.
As I walked down this road, I saw two people coming my way. A man and a woman. When they saw me, they both stopped their conversation together and stared straight ahead at me, almost shocked to see me. I stared back at them. Suddenly, the man started waving his arm in the air. What he said I still find amusing. “Hello over there! You’re in the afterlife now, what do you think of it?”
At a loss for words, I approached closer. I immediately identified them as Eastern Indian. The man wore a brown and gold colored outfit common among Hindu men, with what I identified as a very fancy looking turban. He appeared maybe 30 years old and he reminded me of a very well-groomed Bollywood star. The woman was wearing a white and blue sari dress, and her arm was hooked around the man’s arm.
At this point, something hit me. It was the weight of the experience. I tend to be a very calm and non-reactive person by nature. When I had a very bad injury in 2012, and I lay on the ground with a useless broken leg, I asked to borrow an onlooker’s phone for an “I’m critically injured selfie” as a way to make light of the tragedy. In other words, I like maintaining calm even in drastic circumstances.
However, this particular experience was too much for even me to bear. I started to have a panic attack. I landed on my knees and I was hyperventilating and, to an extent, crying. I’m not entirely proud of this fact, but it was an emotional overload. The couple rushed over and they both put their arms around me and tried to talk to me. Finally, I mustered up what was wrong, and why I was so distraught.
“This is my problem,” I explained. “I’ve spent much of my life studying these alleged other planes. Now that I think I’m in one, it’s like I can’t tell if you’re real, or if this is some type of illusion created by my brain. In fact, that’s the big question I’ve spent so long trying to answer, and now I’m just even more confused. You see part of this is still very dreamlike, I can still feel my other body lying on my bed sleeping. But all of this also seems completely real, at the same time. I hate to imagine that when I someday die, I’m going to be in a confused state like this, stuck in-between a dream and reality.”
“Look,” he answered. “I actually know what you’re saying. You have to understand that the borders between the dream world, and our world, are extremely confusing. It might not feel like you’re entirely physically here right now. But let me assure you of something.” He stood up and started stomping his feet on the ground, kicking up dirt with his shoes. “See that? I’m here, I’m really here, and it’s completely physical and real to me. When you actually cross over to my side, you’ll discover it’s the greatest feeling you can imagine to wake up and really be here.”
I started to wipe the tears off my face. “OK, well I’ll take your word for it that you’re not in my brain.”
He knelt next to me again. “You have to remember something, the key to going between these worlds lies in what you’re doing right now, which is called astral projection. That’s how you can come here at will.”
“OK, but how do I do that?”
“You have to learn to embrace the fear. When you feel frightened as you are going out of body, you have to push past it. OK? When you are ready you’ll be able to come back here.”
Then, suddenly, a shift occurred. Everything turned hazy, and in a flash I was awake again in my bedroom, saying out loud “Holy shit, holy shit, holy shit.” It was now 11:30 AM. The whole experience did feel to be about half an hour, so there was no time discrepancy.
The first thing I did was grab my laptop and began dictating, word for word, as much of the experience and my dialogue as I could remember. This was not hard because the memory did not feel dreamlike, but it was more like something I had physically done, like I had just been to the grocery store.
What this man told me is the only way I’ve been able to make any sense in my mind of these discrepancies between dreams and supposed other planes of reality. That unless we are completely disconnected, as in the case of certain near-death experiences, our minds must process these worlds through a mental state that is often sub-par in terms of true physical awareness.
As our awareness increases, the dreamlike elements subside, and we are brought closer and closer to a “vibration” that matches what residents on these astral planes experience.
The way the Hindu couple looked at me with shock when they first saw me gave me the impression that I was a phantom in their world. Maybe I was partially translucent, or some abnormality gave away the fact that I was not supposed to be on their side. Their response of “Welcome to the afterlife” could be because they believed I was a recently deceased person, who had just landed on their side. Perhaps this is how the newly departed commonly arrive on this particular patch of astral real estate—lost, confused, coming out of the bushes and questioning reality.
Since this experience, I have slowly improved my OBE skills. At times, however, I am still held back by the same fear I was warned about. It’s such an overwhelming experience, that I need to slowly adjust to these concepts before I can return to such a particular realm and be able to keep my head on straight during it.
In the end, the most convincing part of this was my interaction with the couple. When I communicate in dreams, it’s like some part of me understands that the people I interact with are figments of my own consciousness, which is distinct from talking to people in real life. Communicating with this man, however, felt like a real conversation, with a real person, complete with all the tiny details when really talking to somebody—from body language, awkwardness, to identifying social cues.
Further, I found his exotic outfit to be unusual, as I had never seen it before. Later, after browsing Google image search for traditional Indian clothing, I identified the exact style of dress he wore.
For me, this trip was like the astronomer peering through a telescope and confirming research through observation. The only problem is that the telescope isn’t available for just anybody to look through.