OBE Related Phenomena

© copyright 1997 by Bob Lepak (lepak@northnet.org)
and Alfred Ballabene (


Disclaimer! Trance methods, meditations and OBE techniques can be dangerous for psycholabile persons and persons with psychological diseases. Further awakened inner forces can get out of control by peoples with great problems and uncontrolled fears. Any attempts to perform methods as described in these articles are done by own risk!


This article is written in two parts. In the first, we focus on the hypnogogic state and differentiate between the common and OBE inducing states. The primary focus is on the latter. In particular, we discuss the occurrence of various acoustic and visual sensations, several theories for OBE's, specific visual sensations that may initiate OBE's and present examples of each. In the second part we consider In-the-Body-Experiences (IBE's). We discuss and present examples of partial body separation, the awakening of inner sight, the sensing of voices and ectoplasm.

Part 1
(The Hypnogogic State, Sensations and Explanations)



OBE´s are very interesting phenomena which have received much attention in the past several decades. There are increasing numbers of books and articles that address the topic and it seems that more people are reporting them. However, there are states of awareness that occur both before and after the actual dissociation of the astral body. Some of the phenomena that occur in the pre- and post OBE states manifest quickly and, consequently, are difficult to study. Those who are keen enough to observe the events, while maintaining such pre- and post- OBE states, can provide useful information regarding their causes. The objectives of this article are to discuss the nature and possible causes of pre- and post-OBE phenomena.

Considerations from a Practical Point of View

Lepak compared the waking state of the body and mind, which are involved and focused on one´s daily routine, to that of an automobile engine. Like the engine, consciousness seems to operate efficiently within a range of frequencies during the waking state. The ego consciousness can be utilized during the day to work on a number of problems that everybody encounters. That is not to say that it does so continuously, however, as everybody daydreams for a certain proportion of the waking day. Such daydreaming represents, in a sense, a change of focus, i.e., by the analogy, a change in frequency. Such changes in awareness are also noted when entering the borderline state before sleep, prior to an OBE, or as one is slipping into a meditative state.



Hyperarousal and Hypoarousal States

This is the nomenclature for two states which, in an imprecise way, may be called ecstasy and deep relaxation, respectively. Both of them can lead to OBE's, though the way in which they are induced is nearly contrary. Both states, hyperarousal and hypoarousal, are accompanied by different prestates, though they may lead to the same end stage ("Kipp phenomena"). In this article only prestates of hypoarousal brain activation (the shift of consciousness in the direction of relaxation and sleep) are dealt with.

Sleep, hypnosis, meditation, trance and OBE are associated with the hypoarousal side of consciousness. Although these different states of consciousness share the hypoarousal state, they are different in respect to neurotransmitters and other substances regulating neural activities.

The Hypnogogic State

The hypnogogic state is commonly known as the state before falling asleep. It may also occur when the person is overtired or is drifting away in meditation. A frequent characteristic of the common hypnogogic state is the occurrence of dreamlets, i.e., short dreams lasting only one or few seconds.

Another form of hypnogogic state is that which initiates OBEs. This other kind of hypnogogic state is often neglected in literature either because it is more difficult to be aware of or it is less common. In this article this state may be called "OBE-inducing hypnogogic state".

In the common hypnogogic state several brain functions decrease, such as logical thinking and the remembrance of the actions of the past day. The hypnogogic pre-OBE state differs. Consequently, this may lead to three different states :

The dream state
The clairvoyant state
The OBE state.

The difference between the common and the OBE-inducing hypnogogic state

type common hypnogogic state OBE-inducing hypnogogic state
quality psychic non psychic
contents action no action
appearance shadow like colorful, bright
awareness reduced alert
emotions emotionless highly emotional, euphoric

1) The common (dream inducing) hypnogogic state:

As mentioned, the hypnogogic state leading to the dream state is characterized by dreamlets. These dreamlets are frequently of the type termed as "calming pictures" (the German technical term is "Beschwichtigungsbilder"). These short dreams serve to remove inner obstacles, such as problems left over from the day, which would otherwise have "alarm quality" and, as such, be nonconducive to sleep. They may be remembered as a series of seemingly disconnected dreams. To the contrary, some of them may indeed be serially related, although a person´s ability to see the connections may be limited by various factors of awareness. In many cases they may not be recalled at all.


2) The OBE inducing hypnogogic state:

This hypnogogic state has no movie-like dreamlets as the state before, but is characterized by colors, different sources of light like the sun or moon and by composed sounds like music, etc. To achieve this state the continuous chain of thoughts (on which the dreamlets are based) has to vanish and be replaced by an alert observation without getting you personally and emotionally involved. By doing this you can observe pictures, getting more and more colorful with deeper states. These pictures are comparable to the dreamlets, but more static, though still changing as in a slide show. If you see landscapes, they are passing as if you were sitting in a car. In order to enter an OBE you have to stop this "movie" or "slide show" and arrest the pictures. Now the brain is "empty" enough to receive information from transcendental dimensions.

Examples of the process of breakdown of semantic brain organization

The following examples demonstrate in which way and how abruptly the hypnogogic prestage can change to a completely different form of consciousness:

It is interesting to observe the process of decreasing logical associations, when you fall into a deeper state of relaxation:

"I heard spoken words, being broken into uncoordinated syllables. At another time I heard a beautiful choral started by about five persons, but again after some words the choral dissociated into uncoordinated single "songs". I was not really aware of my state, but instead, thought there might be some drunken people in the street. After a while I awoke and noticed, that everything was calm." (BAL)



Acoustic inner perceptions can be of different origins. For that reason they may be classified into three groups:

Songs, chorals, instrumental music
Noise and tones

Voices which are heard in OBE-prestage can be of a transcendental character or hypnogogic. If these voices are transcendental they never lead to OBEs. Such voices heard in this state are frequently indicative of low inner energy (i.e., overtired).

Songs, chorals, and instrumental music are signs of a higher level of consciousness. As such, they are often indicative of an incipient OBE.

Noises and tones can be hypnogogic. They may be experienced in various ways. These other kinds of sounds are of great interest for OBE-ing.



In this section we discuss some possible interpretations regarding the origin of various sounds, vibrations and associated body-dissociation effects.

The fact that sound perception very often leads to OBE's or other exceptional states of consciousness has been observed in the past. Hence, many shamanistic and mystic techniques have developed which were based on acoustics. Sound-techniques have been of high importance for shamanism, mystic aspects of all established religions, as well as witchcraft, magic and yoga.

Materialistic Interpretations of Vibrations and Kundalini

From the different materialistic models explaining the origin of sounds and vibrations only the model of Bentov will be dealt with in this article.

"Micromotion of the body as a factor in the development of the nervous system", by Itzhak Bentov in: "Kundalini, Evolution and Enlightment, ed. John White, Anchor Books, New York, 1979, page 316-339

"As an analogy a seated subject can be represented by a mass on a spring : the spring is the spinal column and the mass is the weight of the upper part of the body. Upon the ejection of blood from the heart, this mass is set into motion and starts oscillating at its natural frequency when the person is in a deep meditative state." (Bentov, p. 319).

"The regular movement of the body indicates that a standing wave is set up in the vascular system, specifically in the aorta. When the left ventricle of the heart ejects blood the aorta, being elastic, balloons out just distal to the ventricle. Under these conditions, a pressure pulse travels down along the aorta. When the pressure pulse reaches the iliac bifurcation, part of it rebounds and starts traveling up the aorta." (Bentov, p. 312-322).

Vibrations are reflected at the skull or inner surfaces of the brain. Resulting frequencies are in the range between 7 Hz and 12000 Hz. Reflected vibrations are enhanced and focused, resulting in locations having different energy densities, stimulating special areas of the brain.

The emotional and visual sensations caused by overtones and Bija Mantras (nasal sounds) are explained in this way as well. Acoustical sensations are explained physically by direct sensory perception via the auditory system. The physical theory includes all kinds of frequencies - felt or heard - since it states that slow rhythms (as caused by the heart beat for instance) are transformed in the head to vibrations in high frequency ranges.

Esoteric Mechanistic Interpretation

According to the esoteric mechanistic interpretation the subtle body gets out of alignment with the physical body, resulting from desynchronization of both bodies. The degree of dissociation depends on the amplitude or strength of vibrations. The amplitude of vibrations can be increased actively by imagination. The final step of body separation is done by will or by automatisms induced by autosuggestions before, or at the beginning of, the OBE-dissociation procedure.

Spiritual Interpretation As Provided by Theosophy And Yoga

According to theosophy and yoga philosophies, sounds and vibrations are side effects, caused by a spiritual force called kundalini. Kundalini is a kind of force or power inherent to every human. Kundalini is "awakened" and active in spiritually developed persons, as is taught in theosophy and yoga. (see kundalini faq and Kundalini-Resource Center. Kundalini Faq see: E. Kreutzer in Spirit WWW [link of Spirit WWW is in the Index of Ballabene´s OBE and Astral Pages]).

An additional aspect of these philosophical considerations is the chakra postulate. The chakras are whirls of energy at the surface of the subtle body, considered to be centers of higher energy transformation, which regulate incoming and outgoing energies ( see many articles about Chakras in the WWW, you best start your search in the Spirit WWW, link at the top of the index page ). When a chakra is energized by Kundalini you can hear sounds and have light perceptions. The sounds become higher in frequency with higher chakra location along the axis of the body. The color of light changes as well with chakra location: it changes from Red (Mulhadhara Chakra) to ---> Orange-Yellow (Anahata Chakra) and to ---> Bluish-White (Ajna Chakra). See Leadbeater .

Kundalini experiences published so far tend to describe highlights similar to "cosmic consciousness". However, in most cases, experiences are less divine but nevertheless very interesting for basic understanding. Kundalini does not seem to be a privilege of "developed" people. Altogether a wide range of experiences can be undergone in the waking state as well as in trance or sleep.

Significance of Different Frequency Ranges for OBE and Esoteric Mysticism

General Considerations:

On the scale of vibration frequencies different qualities of sensory perceptions can be experienced:

Frequencies from 4 Hz (cps) to ca. 200 Hz: tactile perception -- etheric OBE-ing, mediumistic phenomena.

Frequencies in the acoustic range: sound perception -- astral OBE-ing

Frequencies in the higher acoustic range: sounds and light perception -- mental OBE-ing

1) Frequencies in the tactile range: 4 Hz (cps) - ca. 200 Hz

Concentration and imagination on vibrations in this range can be used for actively induced subtle body loosening in the way of "stepping out of the body". From 16 Hz upwards the tactile range is overlapping with the range of deep sounds.

2) Frequencies in the acoustic range: 16 Hz (cps) - ca. 20 000 Hz Deep sounds, still in the frequency range of sensed vibrations, facilitate etheric OBE-ing (see above). However, the higher the frequency increases, the more the amplitude of vibrations diminishes. Finally, at some point, the dissociative effect will be too small to get the etheric body out of alignment. With higher frequency rates the state of consciousness becomes astral. The perceived sounds are no longer "natural sounds". They begin to manifest in other ways, changing to composed sounds, like concerts, chorals and songs, or simple laughter and screaming. This inner music has nothing to do with cosmic or astral sounds, but is of hypnogogic origin and indicates a kind of border line before entering the astral state.

3) Frequencies generating inner light perception: Frequency range of higher sounds

A frequency range higher than the acoustic one, or overlapping with higher sounds, seems to cause inner light perception. These frequencies have nothing to do with light frequencies, but they stimulate parts of the brain, causing the above mentioned light perception and further euphoric feelings and altered states of consciousness.These sound and light experiences can be considered as border phenomena, perceived between physical and subtle consciousness, and are not yet astral.

OBE's starting from this state can often be classified as traveling in mental spheres or other high-planes travelings. For mental traveling the inner state of consciousness has interesting qualities. The state is mentally dominated. The word "mental" in mysticism has nothing to do with thinking. It is a kind of clear, strong, inner sight, without disturbances by thoughts. In mental traveling (mental OBE's) you sometimes find yourself in planes which shine in a splendor of light. However, the mental plane is not heavenly in the Christian sense because, despite all the glamor, the state may be lacking in love.

Examples of Experienced Vibrations and Sounds with Subsequent OBE'S



Hypnogogic Visual Sensations

Visual perceptions in the hypnogogic state can be classified into the following main groups:

Unstructured colors
Spots of light or foggy shapes developing into tunnels
Structured pictures in the form of objects or landscapes

Visions of unstructured colors

Spots of light or foggy shapes developing to tunnels

The first kind, unstructured colors, is a well known prestage of OBE`s. This state is very often followed by blackness and thereafter by inner awareness and sight. The second and third kind of hypnogogic visual "perceptions" can be used as an OBE-inducing technique.

OBE Techniques Starting with Hypnogogic Visual States:

colors, mosaics:

do nothing except looking actively at the colors in order to hold your level of consciousnes and awareness (see: OBE-methods based on relaxation with inner body awareness) .
try to change the mosaics into a curtain, which you can open afterwards to step into an OBE-landscape (see: OBE inducing methods based on visual techniques).

foggy shapes

Foggy shapes Try to change them into landscapes in the dawn and make them more colorful afterwards (this is a common technique for visualisation).
Try to form the fog into a circle which you try to change to a tunnel ("tunnel method", see: OBE inducing methods based on visual techniques).

structured objects, landscapes

Objects: Try to purposely select suggestive objects which you can use as doors to OBE-landscapes; for instance, doors, windows, tunnels, paths, etc. (this is a technique using border symbols and is similar to the "tunnel technique").
Landscapes: Try to make them 3-dimensional and focus on body sensations and your presence in the landscape. (method of "projecting" see: OBE inducing methods based on visual techniques).

The OBE´s following the hypnogogic state cannot be interpreted as a continuation of the hypnogogic state. The OBE´s are as distinctly different from the hypnogogic state as sleep is different from the hypnogogic state.

Some typical visual experiences which lead to OBE's



Part 2
(IBE's = in the body experiences)

In IBE´s you are still in your physical body, but the inner, transcendental, senses are partially or totally active. As you are still within the secure shield of the physical body , this state enables you to learn step by step the rules of "the other world".


How It Feels

Partial body separation is the experience of getting your arms or feet out of the physical counterparts, floating above their physical originals, or, after having performed some automatic movements, and you later realize that it was not your physical limbs which moved.

How It May be Explained

When consciousness is gradually shifting towards the etheric body, i.e., less bound to the physical body, the etheric body gains increased independence. All these experienced partial body separations seem to be exclusively etheric phenomena as opposed to astral. This may be explained by the following esoteric hypothesis: the etheric body is bound to the physical body by a force similar to magnetism. For that reason the etheric body cannot easily depart from the physical body as it may often be pulled back again. This causes states of dissociation and repercussion. However, the astral vehicle is not bound to the physical body by such a force, but only by the identification with it. Identification commonly has no intermediate phases but does exist. It is a hop or drop mechanism with subsequent reentry.

Occasions When Partial Body Separation May be Observed

Two situations provide such experiences:

Frequently, sensations associated with partial dissociation are observed when actively stepping out of the body by trance technique, imagination processes or during false awakening. In such situations you usually have a perfect sense of touch with your subtle body. The subtle body feels "normal" in all respects, with no discernible differences compared to the physical body. This real-like body feeling is what often makes OBE´s so impressive.

In the state of over tiredness, partial body separation is observed as well. The recognition of these movements is rather faint. In most cases you become aware of the event one or two seconds afterwards. Then, as you rapidly become more cognizant, you get shocked awake and, some seconds later, you fall into the same drowsy state as before. You have no chance to turn this situation to an OBE by will.

Examples of Partial Body Separation


The awakening of the inner sight is in some way similar to aura-seeing. First, the dark room gets somewhat brighter and then you begin to discern objects as grey shapes, which gradually gain more color.


Situations in which you may hear voices:

In hypnogogic states
In cases of over tiredness
In ecstatic or near ecstatic states
In false awakenings

Hypnogogic States

Voices have often been reported while in the hypnogogic state. They may seem to come from various places in the vicinity.

Over Tiredness

Voices heard when overtired are told to have their origin in earthbound spirits. You may hear insistent words or phrases lending good advice. Conversely, you may hear somewhat negative feelings or suggestions conveyed at times.

False awakening

The words you hear during false awakenings are vocalized by "persons" (dream persons or spirits?) whom you can see. They are often polite orders to continue sleeping. Sometimes these "persons" are speaking with each other in a noisy way.


Ectoplasm is common in spiritualism but not during the OBE prestage. Some of the OBE-ers, however, have mediumistic tendencies and abilities. In such cases, in addition to ectoplasm, different poltergeist phenomena may occur.

The ectoplasm is considered to be a very dense form etheric matter. It streams out of some preferred parts of the body like the mouth, nose, ears and even the pores. It flows down slowly as if it has a honey-like consistency.