That time I floated out of my body…December 12, 2018
In my recent post on Ten random things about @natubat, I mentioned a very strange experience I had many years ago. Basically, it was what people call an “out of body experience”, or OOBE.
I don’t want to make any sweeping claims about what happened. Maybe it was a kind of brain phenomenon, or a particularly vivid dream – or maybe my soul really did leave my body for a few minutes. All I can say is that this was my experience – and I wasn’t taking any drugs or medications at the time!
Personally I like to see it as a kind of soul-temporarily-leaving-the-body phenomenon, as I don’t see the world as being as solid or material as we generally think it is. All matter is made up of vibrating particles. And I don’t see myself as the totality of my physical body. But I also don’t claim to know everything about this universe, so I would like to leave this experience open to interpretation.
It only happened once. It has never happened before or since – not as far as I remember anyway!
I had gone through a phase of being interested in out-of-body experiences, or OOBEs, a few years before this happened. I’d read books on the subject: Journeys Out of the Body, by Robert A Monroe, and Beyond the Body by Dr Susan Blackmore.
Blackmore, who is Visiting Professor at the University of Plymouth, gained a phD in Parapsychology in 1980, and ran the Oxford University Society for Psychical Research. Beyond the Body was first published in 1982, and documented Blackmore’s experiences with and thoughts on OOBE’s following a startling spontaneous one, where she had the feeling of leaving her body while talking to friends.
Over the years, Blackmore’s attitude and beliefs changed dramatically. She began to see psychic phenomena as mostly self-deception. She became a renowned scientific scholar and a “Distinguished Skeptic”.
Journeys out of the Body by Robert A Monroe is a classic in its field, but Monroe’s follow-up book, Far Journeys, left me cold.
When I read these books, in the mid-1980s, I tried my hardest to have an OOBE, but without success. Eventually I lost interest in the subject. So when I found myself apparently floating out of my body, three or four years later, it was completely out of the blue! I’m not sure I would describe it as a spiritual experience – more bizarre!
I was living in a house in London at the time, which I shared with three other people. I had a good job and I led a pretty active life, cycling to work, doing aerobic classes and going out with friends in the evenings, or watching TV and eating pizza with my flatmates.
I’m saying all this to point out that my “trip” wasn’t drug-fuelled, unlike the one that Neil in The Young Ones went on. That’s a cigar my flatmate is smoking in the photo on the right!
My bedroom was on the ground floor, and the wall at the head of my bed backed onto the living room of a couple in their 80s who lived next door.
One night I woke up, or partially woke up, in the middle of the night. The instant I became conscious, lying on my back, I felt myself rising up a few feet from my bed, and then I moved backwards, head first, through the wall and into the living room of the house next door – a house I’d never visited before. I then felt as if I was drifting round the room.
Although it was dark, I was able to see that there were white walls and a brown carpet, a TV in the corner, a hearth and a mantelpiece with trinkets and photos displayed on it, just as you’d expect in the home of an elderly couple. The one unexpected thing was a photo of a topless woman on one wall!
Having had a good nosey round the room, I drifted back through the wall and back into my bed.
The next day I remembered every detail of the OOBE. It was a really vivid experience.
My bodily visit to the house next door
My landlord (and good friend) James was one of my house-mates, and the elderly lady used to make him his dinner every Friday. They were a lovely old couple, and it was just a neighbourly thing she liked to do. One Friday, about a year after the bizarre OOBE, James said he was going to be working late, and asked me if I could go round and collect his dinner for him.
When I knocked on the door, Mrs F told me the dinner wasn’t quite ready, and said I could wait in the living room. It was exactly as I’d “seen” it in my OOBE, with a brown carpet and white walls, a TV in the corner, a hearth and mantelpiece with trinkets and photos displayed.
And guess what? On one wall there was a Pirelli calendar featuring a topless woman on a motorbike!
What did it all mean?
Over the years, I’ve thought about the strange experience now and then, and I’ve also occasionally wondered how that sweet old couple came to have a Pirelli calendar on their wall! Apparently the Pirelli calendar is a limited edition publication, and is distributed as a corporate gift to customers and celebrities. I remember that the couple’s son worked in the automotive industry, so maybe that was the reason.
I may have had another OOBE in the past, as a small child. My mum tells me that when I was seriously ill as an infant, I told her that I’d “gone up to the ceiling”. I have no recollection of this, but I think that long illness probably brought home the reality of death to me, and made me very interested in paranormal subjects when I was younger. I was trying to find out the answer to those questions that parents can never answer.
Some people seem to have OOBEs quite frequently. I recently read a very interesting book about lucid dreaming by Robert Waggoner, and he seems to have experienced OOBEs since an early age.
What did I learn from this experience?
If there’s any message that I took from this strange experience, it’s that I shouldn’t take spirituality too seriously!
My philosophy is this: that yes, alternative realities that we don’t fully understand probably do exist, but we’re here primarily to work with this reality, so I try and get on with that. But I don’t want to forget that there’s more to life than what we can perceive with our five senses.
Have you ever had an out-of-body experience? If so, I’d love to hear about it!
Main image for living room collage