What are your thoughts on, or experiences with, astral travel?
I’m kinda like FOS.
In my mid twenties I experimented with many different techniques, some straight meditation, some from Theosophy, some from black magic.
I was able to experience the sensation of extended sensory perception, and of leaving the body and flying, with consistency.
I don’t doubt the sensations, I most certainly had them, where I differ from most is in the interpretation of what caused those sensations.
For me it is clear that I don’t ever get to deal with reality directly – all I ever get to experience is the model of reality that my brain constructs.
When I decouple that model from the sensory inputs that keep it entrained to reality, and instead feed it inputs generated by my subconscious, under direction of intent from my conscious, then I get to experience where-ever that model goes.
That is functionally indistinguishable from flying or ESP from the experiential perspective.
The amount of information available to my subconscious is vastly more than is available to my conscious, so freeing the model in this way allows explorations of information and perspectives that we may not be consciously aware of. It is a form of extra sensory perception in this sense, in that it can give access to information already present in the subconscious.
During that time, I adapted an aspect of that which allowed me the virtual reality experience of flying around in complex topologies created purely from the mathematics of relativity and quantum mechanics and games theory (multiple stable state equilibria).
Once I worked out what was going on in my neural networks, and what sorts of patterns these rituals were creating, I stopped doing them, and spent several months creating patterns that would consciously alert me to any external attempts to activate those patterns without my knowledge. Some years later those patterns allowed me to allow myself to be hypnotised, and to retain awareness of the hypnosis, and even to talk to the hypnotist about the experience of being hypnotised while he was standing on me (my head on one chair, and my heels on another – I don’t think anyone had ever done that to him before, and he happily accepted when I suggested he take me as a pupil – I have a diploma in hypnosis).
So yes – many experiences of many different sorts of altered states of experience, and not something I have practised for many decades. The dangers seemed to me to clearly outweigh any advantages, and they were certainly interesting experiences. The major danger seemed to be that anyone with more knowledge of the patterns I was using could use subtle aspects of those patterns to control my experience of being (what I could and could not see for example). The work I did consciously constructing patterns in my mind allows me to notice and counter such activity – and the methods are my own and not up for discussion – except in this most general of senses.
I suspect this adds significantly to the difficulties I sometimes experience communicating, as the model I now have is a very long way from the cultural default. I see pattern within pattern wherever I look.