CAN DMT CAUSE AN OUTER BODY EXPERIENCE?
Out of body experiences, abbreviated to OOBE, is a phenomenon achievable by anyone with some practice. Many prefer to call it “astral projection.” To some people, it happens naturally. For most, practice makes perfect. Astral projection was once thought to be a sign of mental disorder in the West, while in other cultures, it was the way of the shaman. Today, we know it to be a perfectly normal and natural occurrence that does not cause any harm whatsoever.
DMT, which stands for Dimethyltryptamine, is also affectionately called the “Spirit Molecule.” It is considered to be the most potent of psychedelics known to man. Humans produce it naturally in the pineal gland in our brain – or so it is theorised. It is also present in dozens of plants. Shaman in Peru prepare an unimaginably complex psychedelic broth containing high concentrations of DMT, called ayahuasca. This ancient forest brew baffles ethnobotanists the world over.
So, out of body experiences and DMT; are these two related? As you start to delve into the mysterious realm of spirits and dreams, you will soon find there is a common denominator.
WHAT IS AN OOBE
An OOBE is simple to explain, but very tricky to perform. The definition comes from thousands of reports from people around the globe. It is not hocus-pocus at all. With an ever-growing body of knowledge on the subject, we are now starting to see some consensus and standardisation of methodologies on how to achieve one.
Some people experience it naturally, while the vast majority have never experienced one or even heard of such a thing. 100 years ago, psychiatrists jumped straight to some very wrong conclusions, regarding OOBE-stories as a red flag when discussing mental health. Thankfully, with the advent of the internet, people started finding each other and by force of numbers, showed the world the existence and validity of this unusual practice.
OOBE involves leaving your physical body behind and being able to explore the world surrounding you, even travelling long distances. Some people call the travelling entity “energy,” while others call it the “soul.” Some prefer calling the experience astral projection; others theorise it is the same mechanism implied in “remote viewing” (seeking impressions of people, places or things outside of one’s sensory reach). No matter what you prefer to call it, it is evident something special is going on here.
An OOBE is not the same as lucid dreaming. In a lucid dream, you take control of it by becoming aware and manipulating the dream world as you wish. It too requires some practice, but anyone can do it. An OOBE, on the other hand, is leaving your physical body behind to explore the physical world. Some extraordinary things have been reported and confirmed. People have been able to go the other side of the planet and retrieve knowledge otherwise impossible to know.
Scientific literature is full of accounts of patients who suffered a near death experience (NDE), reporting detailed descriptions of their surroundings while in an OOBE state. Even people who were under heavy anaesthetics in operating rooms have been able to fully describe, in visual detail, the intriguing events that occurred during their supposedly sedated state. Some patients were even able to describe what was going on in the room next door! All seem to have one commonality – they all described what they see from a floating position and are able to view their bodies from afar.
A LOOK AT THE PINEAL GLAND
Now if this was not strange enough, brace yourselves for this next one. Inside our brains, just about in the middle, exists a tiny organ of which we know very little about. It is called the pineal gland, and we are not entirely sure what its purpose is. We do know that it secretes melatoninfrom serotonin to regulate our sleep/wake cycle. It is also often referred to as our “third eye.”
In virtually all cultures on earth, there is some reference to the third eye; the religious or mystical concept of an invisible eye right behind the forehead, giving us special powers to access the future and speak to gods and spirits. The Hindus define it as the gateway to a deep inner realm while the Taoists claim it as an energy centre used to fine tune our consciousness to the vibrations of the universe.
Interestingly enough, in some amphibians and reptiles, the phylogenetic cousin of our pineal gland is, in fact, a pineal or parietal eye, which is light sensitive. From sharks to salamanders, lampreys and tunas, thousands of species sense light with it. The tuatara lizard even has a small lens and retina in the pineal eye.
How our ancient ancestors knew about our third eye pineal gland is mind-boggling. The most recent theories point to the pineal gland as the place where we produce DMT. DMT is at its highest concentration when we are born, when we die, and when we are dreaming. So can a near death experience cause a sudden boost of DMT in the brain, possibly triggering an OOBE?
HOW DOES DMT AFFECT THE BODY?
DMT is not orally active, which is why ayahuasca is such an intriguing mystery. How did South American tribesmen learn to combine monoamine oxidase inhibitors to permit DMT to become orally active in our body? With such a vast quantity of plant species, without knowledge of chemistry or biology, out of thousands of possible combinations … it is truly a mystery.
Modern techniques involve extracting DMT directly into crystal form and smoking it. The two methods affect us very differently. By taking ayahuasca in crystal form, you embark on quite the tempestuous journey. Before the soul cleansing happens for 4-8 hours, you are very likely to experience vomiting, dizziness and diarrhoea. The soul cleansing itself can cause very profound and life changing revelations.
Smoked DMT has an almost immediate onset of psychedelia, but only lasts for 5-10 minutes. When you get back from the realms of beyond, it is just like waking from a long, restful sleep. It can be equally intense, but the duration probably hinders more serious inner-exploration and soul cleansing. It can be quite a profound experience nonetheless.
In either case, you feel a detachment from your physical body – as if you are getting pulled out from your physical state and shot into a different dimension of existence where the conventional laws of physics cease to apply. Humans are not nearly equipped with the language to describe it. Your understanding of the fabrics that constitute the universe is unparalleled.
How exactly DMT interacts with the body is a question that still needs a satisfactory answer. We have only just started studying it, and have many more questions than answers.
CAN DMT CAUSE AN OUT OF BODY EXPERIENCE?
Pragmatically, we will have to say no. Entheogenically speaking, yes, without a doubt.
DMT is a chemical. An endogenous compound to us; nevertheless, to access its toolset we need to ingest or smoke it. Taking DMT will yank you out of your body, as previously described. You will navigate through spaces not accessible in the physical world. So you do leave your body behind to explore higher dimensions. When you take DMT, your physical body stays lying down while your mind explores the cosmos. So in a way, you do have an “out of body experience.”
But an OOBE in itself is a qualitatively very different thing. It is not a psychedelic experience at all. It is entirely tied to the physical world we all share. In an OOBE, your physical body lies still too. When you leave your body, gravity still exists. You enter an interdimensional state where experiences of reality can be shared and verified. Sometimes you may encounter other energies (or souls?) around you, but not in a kaleidoscopic or multidimensional way. Your energy, soul or spirit wanders about the physical world.
An OOBE is an absolutely natural thing that requires no chemicals or special gadgetry. While there are some tricks that some people employ, like binaural beat tones or isochronic waves, strobe lights and special meditation methods – it is something that appears to be achievable by all without extra tools.
A seasoned psychonaut will recognise the familiarity between OOBE, DMT, lucid dreaming, even holotropic breathwork and vipassana – to name a few. There is a sense of familiarity, relationship, and synergy even. They are connected somehow. As our species slowly evolves into higher states of consciousness, it is our duty to recognise that everything is connected. Modalities of perception are not to be dismissed merely because they are new or frightening – or because we are still unable to completely describe them. Until then, all we can do is openly embrace, learn and grow from them.