What’s there for personal development in astral traveling? Is it worthwhile to pursue the astral world and neglect the physical world?
I first learned about real astral projection in 1994. Before that I only knew the phony version as depicted in movies and computer games. For me astral exploration was a natural extension of lucid dreaming, although the two experiences are quite different. I learned both from Erin, who’s an accomplished lucid dreamer and astral traveler. She even wrote a novel based on her astral experiences, although it’s never been published. I also learned about astral projection from a few books, one of which was Far Journeys by Robert Monroe. If you’ve never had an astral experience yourself, I doubt you’d be able to believe what he’s written.
Astral projection is basically an out-of-body experience whereby your astral body leaves your physical body for a while, and your conscious awareness stays with your astral body. In some ways it’s like having a dream, but I don’t think any experienced astral traveler would confuse astral projection with a regular dream. During an astral projection, I’m conscious and aware. I know who I am, and I know my physical body is lying in bed. I know what day of the week it is and what I ate for dinner that night. That makes it similar to lucid dreaming because I have access to all my conscious memories; however, the astral realms have a very different feel to them than my regular dream worlds do.
When I’m dreaming I know the whole experience is taking place within my own consciousness and that none of it is real. But when I’m astral, I feel like I’m actually visiting another semi-physical dimension that’s just as real as the physical universe. It simply has a different vibrational feel to it, a unique energy signature. Astral matter feels very different than normal matter, as if it’s less solid and more energetic, so when astral traveling you can float through walls and other seemingly solid objects. Even your astral body is more energy than matter. There are persistent locations in the astral realms as well as persistent beings who inhabit them. These locations evolve independently, so I notice changes with each visit.
I have no idea how many astral realms there are, but there seem to be lots of them. Most of the time I’m astral, I feel I’m only a few degrees away from the physical world. Often I find myself in a place that closely resembles the physical world, such as an ethereal version of my own bedroom. But other times I’ve been to some pretty dark places inhabited by beings that I can only describe as pure evil. I have never known such an intense, uncontrollable feeling of sheer terror in my life as when I had certain astral experiences. My wife is skilled at dealing with dark beings, but so far I haven’t had any luck manifesting astral swords, guard dogs, or higher frequency beings for protection. Whenever I encounter something scary in the astral realms, I usually react like Shaggy running away from a ghost in Scooby Doo. Every time I’ve tried to stand and fight, I’ve failed miserably.
My ability to consciously astral project is near nonexistent. Usually it just happens at night, often within the first 20 minutes of going to sleep. My skill is nowhere near that of Robert Monroe’s… or Erin’s.
What astral projection has taught me is that the physical dimension is certainly not the only one out there. There are other astral dimensions we can visit (consciously or unconsciously), and they’re populated. I expect that when we physically die, our consciousness ends up in one of these astral realms.
In terms of personal growth, I see the astral realms as being filled with fascinating places to explore. The astral planes make interesting training grounds for controlling your thoughts. With practice I find that my thoughts manifest more readily in the astral realms. In the denser physical universe, thoughts flow through matter like thick sludge through a clogged pipe, so it takes longer for intentions to manifest here. Ultimately I think these different universes follow essentially the same physical laws. The unique vibrational frequency of each realm determines the apparent solidity of its matter and the speed at which it can be influenced by pure thought.
I don’t see any problem whereby experiencing astral projection would cause you to neglect the physical world. Since I normally astral project at night, it doesn’t steal any time from my waking world. Nor does lucid dreaming for that matter. However, I will say that astral projection has broadened my perspective about the physical universe and made me more curious about what else is out there. It also reduced my fear of death and my attachment to physical universe outcomes, since I can see that there’s plenty more that exists beyond the physical plane. I think this is one reason that my growth efforts today are largely aimed at developing my consciousness, since that’s the only thing I can take with me from one realm to another.
When I see how utterly incompetent I am in most of the astral realms, I realize there’s plenty of interesting growth ahead of me. For one, I’d like to learn how to confront one of those dark entities without running for dear life. Fortunately, Erin already possesses this skill, so at least I have someone to model. But I don’t astral project frequently enough to get much practice. I typically have a conscious astral experience once every 1-3 months.
I’m sure Erin will write more on astral projection at some point — she must be at least 100x as experienced as I am. If you want to learn more about lucid dreaming though, I recommend listening to Podcast #010 – Lucid Dreaming, recorded by Erin. In less than 12 minutes, she’ll explain how to have your first lucid dream.