Astral projection (or astral travel) is an interpretation of out-of-body experience (OBE) that assumes the existence of an "astral body" separate from the physical body and capable of traveling outside it. Astral projection or travel denotes the astral body leaving the physical body to travel in the astral plane.
The idea of astral travel is rooted in common worldwide religious accounts of the afterlife in which the consciousness' or soul's journey or "ascent" is described in such terms as "an... out-of body experience, wherein the spiritual traveller leaves the physical body and travels in his/her subtle body (or dreambody or astral body) into ‘higher’ realms." It is therefore associated with near death experiences and is also frequently reported as spontaneously experienced in association with sleep and dreams, illness, surgical operations, drug experiences, sleep paralysis and forms of meditation.
It is sometimes attempted out of curiosity, or may be believed to be necessary to, or the result of, some forms of spiritual practice. It may involve "travel to higher realms" called astral planes but is commonly used to describe any sensation of being "out of the body" in the everyday world, even seeing one's body from outside or above. It may be reported in the form of an apparitional experience, a supposed encounter with a doppelgänger, some living person also seen somewhere else at the same time.
Through the 1960s and 1970s, surveys reported percentages ranging from 8 percent to as many as 50 percent (in certain groups) of respondents who state they had such an experience. The subjective nature of the experience permits explanations that do not rely on the existence of an "astral" body and plane.
The theme is treated in anthropological or ethnographic literature on witchcraft and shamanism, in classical philosophy and in various myths and religious scriptures.
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