Out of Body Experience
“If I ever have an Out of Body Experience, I’d try to come back to a different body.”
~ Tom Wilson, comedian.
If you know 82-year-old Laurie Cameron, of Lobelia, then you know he was a skier, competitive cyclist, Army veteran, and an avid spelunker “back in the day.” Laurie, also known as a photographer par excellence, has called Pocahontas County his home since 1971.
Two years before moving to this beautiful area, he was exploring a cave with friends in the Vera Cruz area of Mexico. The group had progressed just a couple hundred feet into the cave entrance. They were following a small stream when it suddenly dropped into a narrow gorge, called a slot.
The cavers traversed a narrow ledge above the drop to avoid this gorge. Laurie came to a large boulder that was blocking the view ahead. He decided to grab the boulder by two good handholds and lean back out over the slot to assess what lay ahead.
As soon as he put his weight on the boulder, it detached from the wall plunging Laurie eight feet down into the slot. From there, Laurie continued his fall another fifteen feet before coming to a complete stop on a ledge.
He now lay at the bottom of the drop sporting two broken ribs and feeling as though a kangaroo had gotten the better of him in a kickboxing match.
Being the tough fellow he is, Laurie managed to Jumar* his battered and bruised body up a rope and back to safety. The caving party, including Laurie, hiked several miles to a village called Soledad. There, they rented a horse to get him off of his feet.
Riding horseback turned out to be an exceedingly painful experience for Laurie.
Due to the more diminutive stature of the previous rider, the stirrups were set too high for Laurie. This required Laurie to ride with his knees uncomfortably high, forcing him into an unstable position upon the saddle.
Laurie feared he would fall off the horse, so he held onto the pommel with all the strength he could muster.
As Laurie neared the next village, the horse started down a steep hill. The longer stride of the animal going downhill threatened Laurie’s already precarious perch.
“I reached a point where the jolts were so painful I thought I would fall off the horse,” Laurie said.
All of a sudden, Laurie’s point of view went from looking down at the horse’s mane from the saddle to observing a man on horseback from 30 feet overhead. He recalls thinking, “I feel sorry for the poor son-of-a-b&%#h on that horse.”
It hadn’t sunk in yet that the man on the horse was not just any “blankety-blank,” but Laurie Cameron was now looking down on Laurie Cameron.
From his helicopter point of view, Laurie could see activity in the village they were passing through, even though the body on the horse was barely able to keep from falling off.
Everything that his brain registered was from a vantage point high above the ground, the horse, and even the village.
Laurie’s OBE ended when the horse resumed walking on level terrain, and the jostling ceased.
Laurie never did go to a doctor and, after recuperating for a few days, attempted a climb of Mount Popocatepetl, which is not a small feat. I told you he is a tough hombre.
Out of Body experiences have been reported for thousands of years; they are the stuff of myth and literature. It is estimated that 10 to 20 percent of people have had an OBE at least once in their lifetime.
Like Near Death Experiences, the OBE is a phenomenon accepted by the scientific community as a real thing. The problem boils down to whether the OBE represents consciousness separating from the body or merely a fabrication of the brain.
Out of Body Experiences fall into two broad categories, spontaneous and induced. As we shall see, you don’t have to be clinically dead or even injured to have an OBE.
Some people claim to be able to leave their bodies at will. Called “Astral Projection,” these extra-corporeal travelers visit far-off and exotic locations, or so they say.
Spontaneous OBEs sometimes happen in Near Death Experiences and during Hypnogogic states – the restful period between being awake and sleeping. And OBEs occur in non-life-threatening situations like Laurie Cameron experienced.
I interviewed a gentleman several years ago, who only spoke of his OBE after he retired for fear of ridicule. In his case, he had returned home after a stressful day of work and, as was his custom, proceeded to fill his large bathtub and fetch a glass of wine.
Immediately upon settling into the warm waters, he said that he suddenly found himself hovering above the tub that held his peaceful-looking countenance.
Having never felt so free and unburdened in his life, he willed himself outside the walls of his house and high above the village where he lived. He said that he instinctively knew that he could have continued right out into the cosmos.
At that seductive but scary thought, he immediately returned to his body still relaxing in the tub. He commented several times during our conversation that he will not reenter his body should such an experience happen again.
His wife, who was part of the conversation, affirmed that he had made that fact clear to her on many occasions. I noticed the wry smile as she spoke.
Induced OBEs run the gamut from hallucinogenic drugs to high G forces exerted upon jet pilots. Those few pilots willing to discuss these experiences report bizarre OBEs, such as when one pilot found himself out on the wing looking in at himself in the pilot seat.
There are anecdotal reports of people entering into OBEs during incredibly peaceful experiences such as meditation or sensory deprivation.
At the other end of the emotional spectrum, those having undergone brutal torture sometimes report an OBE.
Scientists studying epileptic seizures in the 1950s came close to explaining at least some induced OBEs. By stimulating a specific area in the brain, epileptic patients reported having the sensation of leaving their bodies.
Recent studies have isolated a distinct portion of the brain responsible for spatial perception. The Temporoparietal Junction, or TPJ, is located on the boundary between the temporal lobe and the parietal lobe.
Out of Body Experiences can be induced by stimulating the TPJ. This area informs us of where we are in space and has some memory access. Researchers speculate that OBEs may be based entirely on information from this area of the brain.
Humans have memories of what we look like from photographs taken from all angles, including from above. And, we can make inferences on various activities out of our view based upon these abilities.
For example, suppose a surgical instrument is being used that sounds like an electric toothbrush. In that case, we could infer what it looks like without actually seeing it.
Perhaps, our brain creates the OBE from spatial abilities coupled with memories.
But what if we see or hear things during an OBE that we shouldn’t be able to?
Evidential Out of Body Experiences
Evidential OBEs are those in which the experiencer has seen or heard things while allegedly some distance from their body. Something that they should not have had access to.
To be considered an evidential OBE, a burden of proof must be satisfied. Evidence in the form of witnesses and physical evidence provides the most compelling cases.
The following is a condensed version of one such case.
In 1984, Maria, a migrant worker visiting friends in Seattle, suffered a massive cardiac arrest and was transported by ambulance to Harborview Medical Center in Seattle.
At the hospital, Maria “flatlined” and was successfully resuscitated. Keep in mind that while she was in the ambulance and in the hospital, Maria was under constant care and unconscious.
When Maria, who spoke only Spanish, could talk again, she was pretty agitated. A staff social worker, Kimberly Clark Sharp, was asked to work with Maria.
Maria told Kimberly that she had left her body and found herself near the ceiling in one corner of the Emergency Room. She described the activities in the room in great detail, including staff members continuously kicking the paper from an ECG monitor out of their way.
Kimberly was quite skeptical, and Maria picked up on this.
She then told Kimberly that she was an honest person and furthermore that she left the ER while out of her body. Maria said she went outside the hospital where she saw a blue tennis shoe on a third-story window ledge.
She further described this single shoe as having a visibly worn area on the little toe and one shoestring under the shoe’s heel.
Kimberly and other staff members reluctantly went outside the hospital. But they found the window ledges on the third floor were not visible from ground level.
So, they began searching the third-floor rooms, and lo and behold, there was the blue tennis shoe on a window ledge that Maria described; right down to the worn-out toe and shoestring under the heel.
Is this and are similar cases evidence that consciousness is not anchored in the brain?
That’s up to you to decide.
*A Jumar is a mechanical ascending device.