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Astral Accessing vs. Meditation (or how to stay present in your body!)

May 22, 2019

It’s not too late to sign up for the next round of my Energy Work for Sexual Trauma 4-week teleseminar. It begins tomorrow (Wednesday), and you can listen live to the sessions or by recording after the fact. Here are the details (and please don’t hesitate to send me any questions.)

I’ve been wanting to write about astral accessing vs. meditation, as I feel from my own client work that there is an increase in the number of people who are tending to ‘go astral’ in their meditations, rather than staying grounded and present in their minds and bodies. I use the phrase ‘go astral’ rather than ‘astral travel’ because I specifically mean a partial leaving of the body energetically through connecting to another plane. This experience doesn’t feel as if you have actually travelled to another place or plane of reality.

This kind of astral accessing may feel simply like floating or going away, and you may not even be aware you have done it until you ‘come back.’ It’s not usually accompanied by any vision or real sense of where you’ve been. It often feels good, relaxing, at the very least offering a temporary relief from stress and anxiety, and so it would seem to not be harmful. And it’s not harmful really, depending on the energies you access, but what it does mean is that you are not accessing the greater benefits of truly meditating, including energetic benefits. So I think it’s particularly helpful to draw a distinction between astral accessing and meditation, because so many people are turning to meditation for anxiety management.

While it’s possible that my view that the tendency to astral access is increasing is skewed by the population I work with, my intuitive sense is that it’s wider spread, and a product of the growing feeling of crises that hangs over many of us, whether that sense of crises is environmental, political, cultural, personal or all of the above. Many studies have shown an increase in anxiety levels world-wide, but most particularly in the U.S. and West, with lots of opinions on why this is so, and blame falling on everything from the news, social media, to environmental toxins (this article unpacks a lot of the theories.) Increasingly we turn to meditation for relief – we are told it is the ultimate in stress management. Unfortunately, if we simply use it as a means of escape, it may actually undermine our ability to manage our stress.

The primary benefit of meditation in terms of stress management comes from the practice of pulling our mind back from distracting thoughts and emotions over and over – this is like exercise increasing our self-awareness. Whether we engage in ‘object-based’ meditation, where we anchor our meditation through focus on an internal or external object – our breath, a chakra, a mantra, a visualization – or ‘objectless’ meditation, where we seek to rest in our awareness without a focal point, within the experience of meditating, this act of pulling our mind back is common to all forms. And from a neuroscientific perspective, it is the most transforming – it strengthens the observing part of our mind, and weakens the hold of the reactive part of our brain. Over time our physical brain is transformed.

What this means is that in a stressful moment when we are triggered and begin to react, there is a better chance that the observing part of our brain will step in and say ‘wait, I don’t have to react this way, I can take a breath and look at this situation differently, I can calm myself down.’ This moment of catching ourselves as an emotional pattern triggered by anxiety or stress is about to kick in is the most important – a choice point. And we increase our ability to do this through regular meditation – every time we pull our mind back from thinking about what we are going to have for breakfast, or what that annoying person said to us yesterday, we are strengthening our brain’s ability to pull itself back by default when we are not in meditation. Meditation – of virtually any type – is truly practice for life.

However, if instead of pulling our mind back we retreat inwardly to a place we like to go – maybe one we found as a child to help us through hard times, maybe a place we discover through meditation – and simply stay there, we don’t necessarily develop this aspect of our brain. It’s very possible that our meditation itself may feel restful while we are in it – maybe even more restful to us than pulling our mind back over and over to a focal object or our own awareness – but it is not helping us when we are not in meditation. The restfulness may not translate into a greater resilience, self-awareness, and non-reactivity in daily life. In fact it may even make us more sensitive to the challenges of daily life, because some part of us just wants to get back to our ‘safe’ place.

In some ways this kind of pattern is a form of disassociation, although in most cases it doesn’t rise to the level of formal disassociation as it is defined in modern psychology. But the tendency is the same – we develop the ability to go to a safe place inside ourselves, or in another plane of energy, to escape the stresses and pressure and sense of crises or lack of safety we are constantly feeling in our lives. And it feels good! It is good in that it helps us survive something that feels difficult. If it’s a pattern we developed in childhood it may have even been crucial to getting us through a difficult home life or childhood.

But in a larger sense as an adult it no longer serves us, because the more we practice it, the more disengaged we become from our current mind and body. We lose out on the opportunity to rewire our brain, and speaking from an energy body perspective, we also potentially lose out on opening and awakening our chakra energies in a way that can empower and self-heal us. Whether you explicitly focus on your chakras in meditation or not, the kundalini energy awakens through any form of meditation and will move its way through your chakras. If you do chakra and/or kundalini-based meditation, this is of course the explicit goal, and your object of focus.

Either way, the deepest levels of chakra opening, in which the inner layers of energy and awareness associated with each unfold, requires full embodiment. The energy floods your body – this is why waves of bliss are often associated with these openings. And ‘samadhi’ occurs when this opening and movement has built to a certain level (as well as your ability to focus, and your mind and body’s ability to let go and stabilize in lighter planes of awareness.) This can be confusing to people because when we read about samadhi it may sound like ‘going away’, but it is really a very different occurrence – and can’t be sought, it will happen naturally when the conditions are present.

While bliss can itself become a kind of trap if we become attached to it, it is a positive byproduct of embodied meditation. As our energy body awakens in this way, it allows us to access new levels of self-healing and clearing. With time this makes us more resilient in the face of difficult energies or situations  in our world, not less. We become more resilient because rather than absorbing the energies from outside ourselves, or reacting to them, we instead draw upon our inner energy as our source-point. Our  state of awareness, our mood, our physical body, our vibration, all become sourced from within, rather than dependent upon our external circumstances.

I think this is a very important point to understand, because especially in energy-based meditation forms, there can be a tendency to think that sitting in a private astral space that feels energetically good is what meditation is. And sometimes this could be very helpful and useful – sometimes when we need to heal or process something, this might be the perfect thing for us. The same is true for astral travel and visioning – many traditions formally teach this as a form of seeing and great insight and spiritual power can be derived from this kind of astral travel. It is just that if we think of only this as what mediation is that we are missing out on some of the deeper benefits of embodied meditation.

Then too, I don’t mean to sound like meditation should be a daily slog, a ‘work’ session of just pulling our mind back to some object of focus over and over. Often it may be that. But as we settle into deeper moments of focus, other kinds of experiences may spontaneously arise, and these may be very valuable to us. We don’t need to shut them all down. It is only if they have become habitual that perhaps it is worth asking if a limiting meditation pattern has developed.

Some questions to ask yourself are: Do I relate to my meditation as a form of escape? Do I seek a certain feeling or ‘place’ over and over? Do I feel connected to my body, and do I feel as if the energy and awareness I experience is reflected in my body? Do I feel a sense of clarity and sharpness? Am I experiencing a greater sense of self-awareness and resilience in my daily life? (And corresponding to this, compassion and presence?)

If you feel you may have developed patterns around astral accessing, then there a few things you can try:

  • Try keeping your eyes just slightly open as you meditate with your gaze cast downwards, not focused on anything in particular, but visually present and aware. Many traditions teach this kind of open-eyed meditation.
  • Check in with your body periodically throughout your meditation – do you feel connected to it? If not, spend some time focusing on the sensations of the different parts of your body halfway through your meditation. If you do chakra meditation, focus on the kinesthetic/felt sense of the chakras rather than a visual.
  • Experiment with a different object of focus – sometimes changing things up for a period of time will help you to break old patterns and stay grounded in your body.
  • Cultivate a clarity and sharpness to your awareness, as opposed to relating to meditation as a ‘floaty’ experience. Relaxation and clarity are not opposites, they are complements.
  • Notice your reactions as you experiment with these changes – is a part of you annoyed or irritated you can’t go to your favorite place? Work gently with yourself around this attachment.

May you experience presence, joy, energy and union as you navigate your way through your meditation journey.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. Anonymous permalink
    May 22, 2019 12:34 pm

    Thank you Lisa. I’d like to register again can you send me an invoice. Gina f

  2. May 22, 2019 6:59 pm

    Hi Gina, did you try signup through the link? If that is not working for you you can try emailing me through the contact form:
    I can’t publish my email here or it will get spammed, and you did not add yours when you commented so hopefully we can connect. I’d love to have you in the class. Thank you- Lisa

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