What is Astral Travel? – First we need to have a basis to work from, then we’ll get into the travel part. The human element or spirit resides within a vehicle called the physical body. This element or energy is, in physical form, electromagnetic in nature and as such radiates an energy from the core to beyond the physical form. This field of energy has been given several labels, some call it the aura, other the energetic body planes and others still the subtle energy levels or bodies. All of these labels are appropriate and accurate. This is a field that depending on your mystical or metaphysical background describes that energetic field radiating from the body. This field, depending on your chosen interpretation, is divided into 7 or 8 different levels going from the most dense (the physical body) to the least dense (that which is furthest from the body.
Physical Plane – Physical body, Etheric body, Emotional body, Mental body
Astral Plane – Astral body
Spiritual plane – Etheric body, Celestial body, Casual body
Etheric – lower
Physical – most dense
Emotional – Astral
The one I use
Physical body – the biological body
Etheric body – made up of ether or the life energy
Astral body – which is the body of concrete consciousness shaped by the psyche (thoughts, feelings)
Mental body – which is the body of abstract consciousness perceived by pure awareness, which opens on realms of experience not bounded by space and time
Spiritual or causal body named also the Light body – which is the root of consciousness and the innermost essence of the Soul
As you can see, every modality has its own philosophy and all of them work. Basically what they are saying is that this field is divided to different levels of density and with each density there is a different level of consciousness or insight/perception. The further away from the body the more spiritual those levels of consciousness become. This is because there is less density so the more easily the spirit is able to make that connection with cosmic consciousness and the source of all creation. Each level is an imprint of our physically becoming less and less dense as it stretches beyond the physical and reaches for the cosmos.
Astral travel has also been called out of body projection or OBE (out of body experience), this is the term you’ll hear from those more scientifically oriented.
The astral plane is an intermediate world of light between the physical realms and the spiritual dimensions. When one experiences an OBE or an astral projection, the astral level of consciousness is projected into other locations, sometimes times or even dimensions and often brings back impressions and information. There are philosophies that believe that it is at those times connected to the physical body with a chord of light that draws it back into the physical when appropriate, though this is not always the case. Frequently OBE’s happen at times of shock like accidents or near death experiences. There are those who are reach this level through meditation and others who are able to achieve it in the dream state, some are able through much practice to travel at will. Astral travel differs from distant viewing in that the form or consciousness is projected into another reality, distant viewing is just that …viewing distant situations in present time … no personal projection.
There is no scientific evidence for the contention that one can consciously leave the body and make observations. Attempts to verify that such has occurred have consistently failed in spite of the variety of pseudo-scientific claims to the contrary. Science has constantly been behind in its recognition of the mystical abilities of individuals. The need for black and white absolutes have always created stumbling blocks for those who have evolved to a level of sensitivity that enables them to achieve beyond the intellectual possibilities and potentialities. The fact that for thousands of years this gift has occurred and been present within the human condition does not seem to reach their levels of proof positive. Throughout time and cultures, religions and philosophies the aspect of OBE’s and the belief of the possibility of spirit travel have been reported, and yet science refuses to take it seriously. Here are just a few samples:
Paul’s Second Epistle to the Corinthians generally agreed to refer to the astral planes “I know a man in Christ, fourteen years ago, (whether in the body I know not, or out of the body I know not, God knows) such a one caught up to the third heaven.”
Ancient Egyptian teachings present the soul as having the ability to hover outside the physical body in the ka, or subtle body
Taoist alchemical practice involves creation of an energy body by breathing meditations, drawing energy into a ‘pearl’ that is then “circulated
Similar ideas such as the Lin’ga S’ari-ra are found in ancient Hindu scriptures such as the YogaVashishta-Maharamayana of Valmiki. Modern Indians who have vouched for astral projection include Paramahansa Yogananda who witnessed Swami Pranabananda doing a miracle through a possible astral projectionand Osho (Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh) who practiced it himself. The Indian spiritual teacher Meher Baba described one’s use of astral projection:
In the advancing stages leading to the beginning of the path, the aspirant becomes spiritually prepared for being entrusted with free use of the forces of the inner world of the astral bodies. He may then undertake astral journeys in his astral body, leaving the physical body in sleep or wakefulness. The astral journeys that are taken unconsciously are much less important than those undertaken with full consciousness and as a result of deliberate volition. This implies conscious use of the astral body. Conscious separation of the astral body from the outer vehicle of the gross body has its own value in making the soul feel its distinction from the gross body and in arriving at fuller control of the gross body. One can, at will, put on and take off the external gross body as if it were a cloak, and use the astral body for experiencing the inner world of the astral and for undertaking journeys through it, if and when necessary….The ability to undertake astral journeys therefore involves considerable expansion of one’s scope for experience. It brings opportunities for promoting one’s own spiritual advancement, which begins with the involution of consciousness.
Astral projection is one of the Siddhis considered achievable by yoga practitioners through self-disciplined practice. In the epic The Mahabharata Drona leaves his physical body to see if his son is alive.
In Japanese mythology, an ikiryō is a manifestation of the soul of a living person separately from their body. Traditionally, if someone holds a sufficient grudge against another person, it is believed that a part or the whole of their soul can temporarily leave their body and appear before the target of their hate in order to curse or otherwise harm them, similar to an evil eye. Souls are also believed to leave a living body when the body is extremely sick or comatose; such ikiryō are not malevolent.
In some Inuit groups, people with special capabilities are said to travel to (mythological) remote places, and report their experiences and things important to their fellows or the entire community; how to stop bad luck in hunting, cure a sick person etc., things unavailable to people with normal capabilities.
The yaskomo of the Waiwai is believed to be able to perform a “soul flight” that can serve several functions such as healing, flying to the sky to consult cosmological beings (the moon or the brother of the moon) to get a name for a new-born baby, flying to the cave of peccaries’ mountains to ask the father of peccaries for abundance of game or flying deep down in a river to get the help of other beings.