Sleep Paralysis as a Gateway
into Out-of-Body Experiences
A lot of my focus on sleep
paralysis and its related night visions has been on how to transform
fear into curiosity. Then a reader recently commented, "I can't believe
no one's talking about the out-of-body experiences!" So let's open the
dialogue, because this is one of my favorite aspects of SP/HH, although
I make no claims to OBE mastery or the final say on the "reality" of
The following is an excerpt from my book
Sleep Paralysis: A
Guide to Hypnagogic Visions and Visitors of the Night
. The excerpt includes a
couple tactics for inducing OBEs from sleep paralysis,
as well as the role that expectation and fear can play
in their unfolding.
The experience of being
out-of-body has been recounted for thousands of years. Whether you
believe that the soul is actually separating from the body or that it is
a simulation based on sensations from the brain, out-of-body experiences
(OBEs) are highly linked to sleeping and dreaming states.81 Many people
start their journeys while lying in bed, and when the experience is
over, they wake up safe and sound.
OBEs are more likely to emerge after SP experiences that last at least 2
Sleep paralysis is a reliable launching pad to an OBE. The powerful
feelings of being crushed, twisted, or pulled along are a good indicator
that you can separate your mind (the "I" or the seat of your personal
perspective) from these bodily sensations. According to SP expert David Hufford, OBEs are more likely to emerge after SP experiences that last
at least 2 minutes.
here's an example of an SP-to-OBE I had recently. I was sleep deprived
(jetlagged actually) and knew that if I took a nap lying on my back I
could probably have a SP. It worked like a charm. here's the account:
I hear a rushing sound in my ears; it comes and goes like ocean waves. I
focus on my ears so the rushing increases; it comes back in longer and
longer durations. Finally, the rushing sensation is constant and I hear
a distinct tone as well, like a bell. I try to move but cannot. "I am in
sleep paralysis," I think. I then try to move out of my body. I try to
go up but it seems blocked, so I kick myself out to the left and down.
it's an odd sensation; my "me" leaves a part behind. As soon as I'm
"out," everything changes. It is quiet, cool, and dark. I feel like I'm
drifting down a stream. I have a small fear arise, and then, I relax
into the sensation" it's very calming. Some lights like stars are
overhead. My breathing is slow and deep. After a while, I decide to go
back. I wriggle my little toe (which I cannot see because I am still
floating down a dark river!) but the focus brings me back. After a few
seconds, I can move and I open my eyes.
Note how I calmed my fears, noticed my breath, and finally used the
tried-and-true toe wiggle method to wake myself up. With a little
practice, these techniques become second nature.
2 Techniques for Inducing OBEs from Sleep Paralysis
Focus on the Belly
This tactic was devised by Jorge Conesa-Sevilla. When you are in SP,
focus on your belly. Specifically focus right underneath the navel. Now
imagine your body is "rolling up" into that spot. If the feeling of
pressure increases just on that spot, but nowhere else, then you are
doing it right. When the pressure increases, again use your attention to
just "roll" out of your body. You may feel a "pop" as the mind
dissociates from body feelings. From here, you can go on to have an
out-of-body experience or simply wake up from the dream.
The Sit-Up Trick
This method works for a friend of mine who is an advanced dream
adventurer. When he feels he is in SP, he focuses his intention by
concentrating on the spot between his eyes, and then, he tries to do a
sit-up. Of course, he's in SP, so he can't actually sit up. But if the
intention is strong enough, rather than waking up, you can "pop" right
out of your physical body and float around.
A note concerning fear during OBEs
OBEs are weird. Even veteran explorers of the inner worlds saythat OBEs
feel different than the usual dream. They feel more real than real.
Sometimes, you may get scared, especially if you start floating off into
the sky and have the thought, "What if I never come back?" Like many
aspects of conscious dreaming, your beliefs can greatly affect your
experience. Sometimes our beliefs can be limiting ("that's
impossible!"), but they can also be grounding ("I trust that I cannot be
hurt because I am dreaming").
Unexamined beliefs are the wild cards: These act as subconscious
expectations that can really hijack a conscious dream. Take a moment and
reflect on what you believe about out-of-body experiences. Do you
believe in a soul? Do you believe in life after death? What about
reincarnation? Are you in fear of a final judgment? Is the OBE a trick
of the brain, a "virtual reality" owing more to synapses than to souls?
These are the kinds of thoughts that can greatly influence your OBE,
negatively or positively. Sometimes, an unexamined belief can actually
cause a serious crisis of faith in the middle of these experiences. So,
the more you have considered these deep questions, the more comfortable
you will be in this profound altered state.
When all else fails, wake up!
Just like a lucid dream or SP proper, you can will yourself to wake up
whenever you want during an OBE. Control your breath; control your fear.
Also, focusing on one point for a few moments is a good way to disrupt
an OBE and lead you closer to snapping back to the "real world,"
whatever that means anymore.
by Ryan Hurd at
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