Articles about Spirituality
Out-of-body experiences have been reported for thousands of years in numerous cultures, but it's only within the last 100 years that scientists have attempted to study this phenomenon empirically. As a result, several scientific experiments have been conducted in an attempt to find evidence of out-of-body experiences.
Out of Body Experiences
An out-of-body experience (also called an OBE) occurs when a person feels his consciousness, typically contained in an identical spiritual body, exit his physical body. The ability to do this at will is most commonly known as astral projection, a phenomenon that dates back to ancient times. However, there are also numerous cases of people who have had near-death experiences who report the sensation of spontaneously leaving the body, sometimes floating above the body and looking down at it from above.
Society for Psychical Research
The Society for Psychical Research, a London-based group devoted to scientifically studying paranormal phenomenon, has conducted numerous experiments in OBEs since the group's founding in 1882. Writer Victor Zammit recounts a 1955 experiment conducted by society member Lucien Landau. Landau's wife claimed to have been experiencing OBEs, so he gave her his diary and asked her to try to move it to another room during her next experience. The following evening, he claims to have witnessed her apparition --- or astral body --- move throughout the house before disappearing into her sleeping body.
The Kitten Experiment
In the mid-1970s, researcher Dr. Robert Morris conducted an experiment with a fellow researcher who could allegedly induce an OBE voluntarily. In this experiment, which was filmed during the entire process, he left his body and "projected" his consciousness into a small cage containing a kitten. The experiment found that the kitten would become less agitated during the moments when the researcher projected his consciousness into the kitten's cage.
Virtual Reality Experiment
A 2007 "New York Times" article details an experiment by Swiss researcher Dr. Olaf Blanke in which subjects wear virtual reality goggles while standing in an empty room. A camera projects an image of that person, taken from the back, six feet in the distance. The subject would then see an illusory image of himself standing in the distance. Dr. Blanke would then stroke each subject's back with a stick while simultaneously projecting the image of the stick stroking the illusory body. Subjects reported the sensation of being outside of their physical bodies and within the illusory projected body.