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Now boarding astral flight 1031 with non-stop service out of your physical body. Please be sure you’re fully reclined, focused, and ready for a journey into another astral plane. Maybe the transportation industry won’t ever get quite that far, but many people do claim to have the ability to consciously leave their physical bodies — a process called "astral projection" — and travel wherever they want in the world, the non-physical world, or even the universe.

For an explanation of what astral projection is and how it’s done, I spoke with Nanci Trivellato, Director of the International Academy of Consciousness (IAC), a global non-profit group with a mission to further understand and explore the human consciousness and its ability to travel outside the physical body. Trivellato is based in the IAC’s London, England office. We can think of her as our astral travel agent.

Trivellato said, "In an astral projection, the soul, or the consciousness, leaves the body and is aware, conscious, and lucid, manifesting itself in a different dimension of life."

In short, astral projection is an out-of-body experience (OBE).

I tried astral projection when I was first experimenting with the supernatural at age 12 living in Newtown, Connecticut. Two other friends and I chipped in together to buy a book that came with a cassette tape, a small vial of oil, and a clear gem you placed on your chest. My own attempts to temporarily leave the confines of my physical body were a failure, but I was intrigued by the possibilities.

Imagine being able to fly as fast or as slow as you want, as high or as low, with none of the limitations of our physical bodies. Truly traveling in the spiritual realm. Trivellato is adamant that astral projection is nothing like a dream; however, many times if we don’t understand what is happening during a spontaneous OBE, our brain may interpret the experience as best it can. Trivellato said, "Sometimes people have this experience, but they don’t know how to differentiate what is an OBE and what is a dream."

So how does Trivellato will her consciousness to leave her body? She said, "I lie down and make my environment quiet and dark. Then I put myself in a comfortable position, preferably with the stomach up. Then I do some energy exercises to relax — to make that connection between the physical and non-physical body more loosened. A certain level of sensations start happening: many times I start feeling a sensation of lightness. I am deeply relaxed — but not sleeping. It [the separation from the physical body] may start happening like a floating sensation. I may feel a little tingling, like a little shiver, and then there is a disconnection from the body — this may happen in one second or it may take a while. Immediately when people get out of the body, sometimes it takes one second to recover the vision capacity. Then all of a sudden, you are seeing your room from a non-physical point of view. You can see your physical body lying in bed. When we are seeing reality — our bodies, our bed, our bedroom — from a non-physical point of view, many times we see things slightly differently. Imagine, for example, that the room looks bigger, or that there is a certain luminosity in the room that was not there before because it was dark. We are seeing non-physical elements while we also see physical elements. After this, let’s go fly, or do something else. That’s a matter of will."

So once out of the physical body, can you go anywhere you want? Trivellato said, "I could go to a specific place. The problem is that sometimes people think ‘Well I would like to go visit the biggest library in the world,’ but they are missing their boyfriend, so instead of going to the library they end up going to the boyfriend — because that’s what they really have inside. If we manage to control our will and concentrate, we definitely can go places. We can direct our flight; you can fly faster, higher, lower, or even out of the planet. It’s possible and people definitely do that."

Once out of your body, Trivellato explains that you have a direct connection with your physical body. Many people report seeing a silver cord that attaches their astral body to their physical one. Trivellato said, "So while the physical body is empty in terms of the consciousness not being there, it’s not unattended because of this energy connection."

This energetic connection makes astral travel safe both for your physical and your astral body. Trivellato said, "Anything that would call attention to your body, such as lying in an uncomfortable position or a noise in the house, would provoke us to immediately come back. This energetic connection is very, very sensitive. The biggest struggle that astral travelers have when they are outside the body is to make their projections or experience last longer."

Trivellato also said it is possible to communicate with other astral travelers while outside of the body, as well as with the spirits of those who have passed on. She said, "It’s possible to meet them, but not as common as people think. There is a misconception about OBE; people assume once they leave the body, they’re going to be meeting lots of people. According to our research, about 20% of those who are able to produce OBE at will say they have met deceased people — not to say ‘deceased’ because they are alive — just not in the physical bodies."

The evolutionary part of my brain wonders what purpose this ability serves. How and why can we all do this? Trivellato said, "The key is being able to master our bioenergies — our energetic body. With that, we are able to produce the experience that we want, when we want, and to stop anything that we are not happy with." The "why" part of this equation is more tricky. Some scientists theorize that our dreams are the result of the most emotional parts of our brain being active while we are unconscious — this reminds us all that we are emotional beings. Maybe astral projection reminds us that there is much more out there than just the physical world — even if we can only visit for a few fleeting moments.

You don’t need to be a conspiracy theorist to assess the value this ability would have in espionage. In fact, the U.S. government is way ahead of you. Between 1972 and 1990, the United States spent millions on "Project Stargate," researching the abilities of remote viewers. Remote viewing is different from astral projection, but it is related. In remote viewing, you are only projecting your ability of sight, but your astral body is not present in the location. Still, the idea of being able to go to another location and see first-hand what is there without any danger of being detected or injured has a tremendous value. 

So prove it’s for real. Obviously the U.S. government believed in the idea enough to invest in it. However, what about simple controlled experiments? Trivellato said, "We conduct sessions in which people lie down in a room, locked, and there is an auditor who is not related to our organization. The auditor is guarding the door so nobody goes anywhere. We have an image in the computer that is picked at random, so nobody knows what image is there, not even the nature of the image. Not even I know, so there is no telepathy at all. People are supposed to leave their bodies, go there, and try to see the image." 

So do people come back and report the correct image? "Yes. Not all of them, but many of them," Trivellato said. "What we want is to understand how the non-physical vision picks things up. If you see an image that is displayed on a computer screen, do we see that as if we were inside the physical body or is there any difference?

"For me, I have no doubt. For people who have had this experience, they have no doubt. So we focus our approach, the goals of our experiments, more into understanding than in proving."

Like many people, when I was younger I used to have dreams that I could fly. As we get older, wiser, less impressionable, and more closed-minded, our rational brains tell us that we can’t fly. The rationality is so strong it goes all the way to our subconscious, and now I rarely, if ever, have dreams of flight. To make even the idea of astral projection possible will take some unlearning and a lot of practice, but the payoff is very big. For people like Nanci Trivellato, the experience is as life-changing as a near-death experience. Another benefit: on the astral plane, they’ll never lose your luggage. 

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