There have been folklores, myths, and legends about out-of-body experiences, but scientists believe that it is a combination of factors.
Out-of-body experiences (OBEs) have been a part of multiple folklores, spiritual beliefs, and mythology as well. And they are different for everyone who has experienced it. Some feel that their soul can snap out of their body and are able to watch themselves sleeping in bed. Then there are those who feel that their soul can travel through space and observe what's going around in this physical plane. The most interesting ones have been the people who claimed to travel to otherworldly plains.
The phenomenon had also been a hot topic for 19th-century writers and thinkers. But, is it a paranormal or scientific experience? Can it be explained? Can it be replicated? Science has been looking for the answers but they have reproduced it in a healthy participant in a lab. OBEs have also happened to those who had a compromised brain function, such as in case of stroke, epilepsy, and drug abuse. Those in almost fatal accidents have also experienced it.
As mentioned, different people experience out-of-body experiences differently. But here are some ways to understand that it's happening to you:
> You feel like you are floating or flying
> You can see your own body as an observer
> You sometimes can't see your body clearly at all
> You experience a sense of freedom
> You are able to pass through solid objects
As many as 10% people claim to have experienced it at some point, according to First Out-of-body Experience Induced In Laboratory Setting published in ScienceDaily.
"Out-of-body experiences have fascinated mankind for millennia. Their existence has raised fundamental questions about the relationship between human consciousness and the body, and has been much discussed in theology, philosophy and psychology... the neuro-scientific basis of this phenomenon remains unclear," said Henrik Ehrsson, UCL Institute of Neurology.
In one of the recorded cases of OBEs, a Canadian woman in 2014 claimed she could leave her body at will. She had learned to do so as a child and was surprised to know that everyone can't do it. She claimed she could do it before falling asleep and it helped her sleep, according to AllThat'sInteresting.
"I feel myself moving, or, more accurately, can make myself feel as if I am moving. I know perfectly well that I am not actually moving. There is no duality of body and mind when this happens, not really. In fact, I am hyper-sensitive to my body at that point, because I am concentrating so hard on the sensation of moving."
Researchers who studied her brain during an OBE found that the left side of her brain was active, which was unusual as, when people imagine, both sides of the brain are active.
In 1968, a woman, who could also induce OBE at will, was studied by a researcher Dr. Charles Tart. A number was placed on a surface after she slept and she was asked to report what it was. She got it right every time. The researchers were worried she could see it if she cracked her eyes open, so they lay down on the bed to check, and found that there was no way for her to see the number lying down.
Researchers are still trying to explain what makes it possible. Some may have come close to the truth too. In a recent study from France, Christophe Lopez, a neuroscientist at Aix-Marseille Université, found links to vestibular disorders. The vestibular system links the inner ear to the brain, which controls balance and eye movement.
“We believe out-of-body experiences might be a combination of several factors,” says Lopez, according to TheAtlantic. He also found that people with anxiety and depression in addition to dizziness had higher chances of experiencing it.