Having an Out of Mind Experience

The other night, I had an out of body experience (OBE). Or I dreamed I was having one; it’s hard to tell. For a long time, I have been interested in having OBEs while simultaneously afraid to experience them. The fear cam from a vague idea that when I left my body unattended, demons or some sort of malevolent entities might try to get in, maybe possess me. Seems pretty paranoid, but then again, the whole concept of an OBE is a deep delve into the unknown.

I no longer have that fear, and perhaps that’s why I was finally able to experience an OBE. The key to relinquishing that fear came just a few days ago, when I began to feel the presence of my true self. My atman, as Hindus call it.

The false self, the identity created by ego is for most of us the only self we are aware of. It is constantly in fear of destruction — of bad things happening to it, what people think of it, of losing itself through cultural or personality change. Its biggest fear may be the atman, since the true self is free of egoic attributes of self-identification. That is, the true self is free of fear, worry, guilt, shame, personality quirks… free of OCD. It is even free of language. Our mind may identify it as atman, higher self, observer or witness self… but labels are misleading because they are limiting and the true self is unlimited. It’s better thought of simply as I am.

If you identify with I am, what may happen to your personality during an out of body experience is inconsequential. The true you is invulnerable. You have always existed and always will, as pure life energy — the consciousness of all that is.

In fact, to become more of the true you, you have to let the ego-self go. You have to allow it to die. The ego will inevitably fight back, but as the true self dominates your awareness more and more, and you liberate yourself from the ego, you will find adventures like OBEs unthreatening. In fact, you will no longer have any need for obsessive-compulsive disorder. After all, OCD is a thing of the mind and the body; it is fear-based. Your true self, I am, is untouched by fear, and so has no need for the false protection of OCD or other strategies to numb or cope with fear.

A way to become more real you and less ego-you is to practice letting go of thoughts of the past and the future and continuously return to experiencing the present moment. The present moment is real — it is happening — the past is gone and the future does not yet exist. Worrying about the future does not stave off disaster, it only creates anxiety that you then use mechanisms like OCD to deal with. This, of course, can create even more anxiety. Fretting about the past is even more pointless, as no amount of fretting can change it.

Worrying and fretting take you out of the present moment — the only real, happening, moment in time — and makes you miss out on the joys of life. Imagine being free of OCD, free of intrusive thoughts, free of fear and dread, worry and anxiety. You can incrementally get there by interrupting your thoughts of the past and future and returning to the now.

Here’s a technique. Go for a very slow walk. Very slow! Notice details you never notice when walking at a typical pedestrian rate. Become aware that you are aware of your surroundings, of your body walking and breathing, and ask yourself: “Who am I?” If you find yourself answering with your name or positions in life, stop and say, “Yeah, but — who am I?” Contemplate the answer, “I am.” Do this again and again, staying in awareness of the present moment longer and longer.

What we need for personal peace and freedom isn’t so much an out of body experience, but an out of mind experience.

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OCD-Free

OCD-Free

Essays, stories & poetry about OCD, culture and society, by Eric