Over the years I’ve been intrigued with “out of body” experiences (OOBEs). People report rising up above their bodies during accidents or near death. Others discuss their experiences with “astral projection,” leaving their physical bodies, traveling in the “astral plane.” I find this idea fascinating. I’ve always wondered if it is indeed a “real” thing and if so, what it would be like to experience it.
I had the chance to experience an OOBE in a dream where I died. I rose up from my body and observed my friends down below, looking at my dead body in horror. Having this experience was intense, but it also suggested my tendency to leave my body – stay disconnected. Since then, I’ve become aware that I easily find ways to become disengaged, in a way, living outside of my body – usually in my head.
Once when I was a girl – around 8 years old, I was sitting in the back seat of our family car, waiting to go somewhere. I looked at my hands and it was like they weren’t attached. I had an odd feeling, like I wasn’t connected to my body. At that moment I felt disconnected from the world. I don’t think this counts as an official OOBE but it could have been the start of when I found myself, in a certain way…living outside my body.
Yes, OOBEs are intriguing. But what about “in the body” experiences (ITBEs)? A couple of years ago, just after starting dreamwork, I had an ITBE. Mark and I had just arrived in Greece. I was sunning myself on a ledge, imagining into my dream homework. I felt a powerful surge of electricity run through my body. It was like my heart had opened up and was filling my body with energy. All my nerves endings were buzzing. For the entire trip, I felt this energy. It was an intense feeling in my body. Words escape me to fully describe it … but it was like this feeling of absolutely loving life – as a felt experience in my body. I desperately wanted the feeling to stay. But after returning from Greece, it slowly faded as I stepped back into my day-to-day life.
Looking back, I can see that this ITBE was like an opening and perhaps a peek at what is yet to come. It was a gift, showing me what was possible. It was felt in the body, giving me the opportunity to experience a new way of being.
Dreamwork is not an intellectual exercise to be played out in the mind. Sure, you can learn about it, write about it (as I love to do) and discuss it, but that is just part of the picture. It needs to be felt. So many of us live our lives in our heads, unaware of what else is possible. Living life that way is like living “half a life.” Once I dreamt of a girl that had her entire left arm and leg amputated. In the dream I was horrified – I remember thinking that she was now “half a person.” But perhaps the dream was reflecting this idea that I’d been living “half a life.”
Night after night, if we are lucky enough to remember them, our dreams are begging us to feel. This intensity and power that we can feel in our dreams can also be felt in our waking life. As we shift from living in our heads to living in our bodies, new feelings can begin to awaken within us. This has been my experience since starting dreamwork. There is an energy growing within me. It manifests as fear, love, excitement, grief, joy and even compassion. What feels different is that these feelings are felt as an aliveness in my body. That may seem obvious – just the word “feelings” suggests that you “feel” something in your body. But this is new to me after living a lifetime in my head.