Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Turning Lucid Dreams into OBEs

Turning Lucid Dreams into OBEs

by Bob Peterson

Many people ask, "I can do lucid dreaming, but I can't do OBE, so how do you convert a lucid dream into an OBE?"

This topic recently came up in an email conversation I had with lucid dreaming expert Robert Waggoner. My response to his question was the basis of this article.

The difference between Lucid Dreams and OBEs is complex. So complex that I did a long-winded nearly two-hour presentation last year for INACS (Institute for Neuroscience and Consciousness Studies) in Austin, Texas. There are many things to consider, but the crux of the matter is this:

We leave our bodies every night during sleep, but we are unaware because we're unconscious. How do I know this? I've seen it firsthand.

When we sleep, there are basically four out-of-body states, depending on whether you're (1) conscious or unconscious and whether you're (2) hallucinating or not. The four out-of-body states are:
  1. In a normal "dream" we're both unconscious and hallucinating. We're out-of-body, but we just float there above our body, completely engaged in the dream hallucination.
  2. In a "lucid dream" we're still hallucinating, but now we're completely conscious.
  3. In an "OBE" we're also conscious, but not hallucinating. We're experiencing an objective "non-physical" reality (not to say that has any relation to our physical reality.)
  4. The fourth state is "shared dreaming"; in other words, unconscious experiences that happen in an objective "astral" reality (not a hallucination).
The four states are shown on this diagram:

So the only difference between a Lucid Dream and an OBE is that in an LD, we're experiencing a self-created "dream" hallucination. Our perception is completely focused on that hallucination, and our dream senses seem mostly normal / physical. For example, in a lucid dream, you'll have a normal body image and normal senses of sight, sound, touch, etc.

In an OBE, we're not hallucinating. Our senses are not focused on the dream, so our perception is often very different: we have trouble seeing, or can see with 360-degree "astral" vision. Our senses often don't engage unless we focus specifically on them. In an OBE, your body image will often be distorted or "on demand".

Since dream hallucinations are self-created (by your subconscious) you have the power to stop and disassemble the hallucination, and that's how you get to the OBE state.

Shifting from a lucid dream to an OBE is easy for me, but I can only describe it as an act of will. I "will" the dream hallucination to disengage, and it feels like I'm waking up, but my body doesn't wake up. There's just a sudden, complete shift of attention to a different kind of experience, different environment, and different perception. The dream-hallucination dissolves in front of me, but it's fast, like waking up, or like turning off the television.

My eyesight shifts from normal "dream vision" to a mode of OBE sight, often with 360-degree perception. This is the "mind sensing" mode of eyesight I wrote about in my first book. I sometimes find myself hovering about a foot or two above my physical body, almost as if I was floating in a shallow pool of warm liquid, with my body somewhere below the surface. Often my arms and hands are loose and limp, gently swaying, as if in some kind of astral current. Sometimes it's still like that, but these days it's more common for me to find myself in some kind of void or gray area, suspended upright in space.

In a lucid dream, I know I'm dreaming, and that what I'm experiencing isn't "real". I know it's a self-created hallucination. It's like watching a movie on television. After I dissolve the dream-hallucination, I know that I'm in an OBE, and the reality of it is qualitatively very different. I know I'm not dreaming.

Bear in mind that I don't often lucid dream. It's more common for me to consciously induce OBEs directly. Here is a journal entry from September 2014, in which I turned a lucid dream into an OBE, just as an example:
10 September 2014 OBE – Deerwood, MN

I was dreaming I was in a large shopping mall-like area. I had been in this place a long time and something had happened that made me increasingly concerned for my safety. “Bad guys” were slowly taking over the mall and they were hunting down and killing anyone who wasn't one of them. I had been avoiding them successfully for probably more than an hour, with some friends. Eventually we got split up and I was on my own. My pursuers were becoming increasingly more aggressive and persistent. I managed to get away from a bad guy by running up a flight of stairs. As I rounded a corner, I heard singing. I knew it was a giant. I stopped to plot my next course of action. Should I go back down the stairs? Or face this giant and somehow try to slip by him?

Then it occurred to me: Now, wait a minute; I'm never running away from bad guys except in my dreams. Come to think of it, I had recently reminded myself that I should periodically do reality checks for lucid dreaming purposes, so I should do one now. That's it! I must be dreaming! And so my dream became a lucid dream and I became conscious.

By this time I saw two of my dream characters, including the giant, who had just discovered me, and an innocent bystander (a young blonde woman) who was in the same situation as me (being hunted). I smiled, pointed at the two dream characters and, as if firing actors from the set of a play, said, “Sorry, guys, but not this time. This is a lucid dream.” I turned my attention away from the dream and commanded myself to go up. I ascended the walls of the shopping mall as the illusion of the dream dissolved. Now it was like an etheric projection. I wasn't seeing clearly. I could perceive my body, which was just below me. I was struggling to get away from it, making swimming motions upward, clawing at the gray cloudy atmosphere. It felt like I was caught in my body's gravitational pull. I said, “I could use a little help, guys!” hoping that an invisible helper would lend a hand. No reaction. After a few minutes of struggling, I managed to break free of my body. Unfortunately, I woke up in my physical body after that.
So the trick is to use an act of will to turn your attention away from the dream hallucination without waking up your physical body. That's the best I can do to describe it.

06 January 2015


  1. Hi Bob. I'm curious why you describe a lucid dream as not "real." In my experiences, I have encountered characters that seem just as conscious as I am with their own intents that I have no control over. These sounds more like the Shared Dreaming you've described, but I can't detect any difference between that and a lucid dream where I don't encounter another seemingly conscious character or entity. But they don't fit your model as I'm conscious during them. They'd be Conscious Objective experiences just like an OBE. Most of my lucid dreams are extremely clear. After I awake, the memories of them are just as real as the memories I have of waking life events. I have only had one OBE via separating from my physical body. It did seem more real than a lucid dream, but I wonder if it's a matter of perception since I have trained myself to believe they are different from one another. The thinking... "It's a dream so I have to experience it as a dream." or "It's not a dream so it shouldn't resemble a dream—it should be more like physical reality—it should feel more 'real'."

    I have also had several precognitive dreams where very specific events in the dream occurred in waking physical reality within 24 hours of waking. What would you consider the nature of these experiences?

    - tom

    1. Hi Tom. A lot of it is symantics, I suppose. I believe the dream scenery is hallucination (not real) because I've consciously watched myself create the dream out of nothing, then enter it.

  2. Hi! I get the chills when I read your story because I have had an almost exact the same dream as you describe. Only difference was that I knew the "bad guys" were ISIS, and it didn't end with AP.

  3. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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  6. Hi Bob
    I work lot on lucid dreams right now (everyday practice WBTB/supplements/meditation) and manage to have 10 to 15 a month i will probably focus on OBE in a few month but i just start to explore it through lucid dream, so far i only succeed 2/3 times as a WILD which means that i enter a sort of OBE ( floating over my bed ) from the hypnagogic state didin't last long so it is unsure if it was really a OBE and i don't really know how to induce it from a lucid dream but if i found a way i let you know...

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  9. Thanks! You have clarified for me how to turn a lucid dream into an OBE. It is an “Act of Will”. And the difference? One is not real (dream) one is(OBE). I still have to munch on that one. Great article.


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