Between Dream and Obe


In fact there seems to be a smooth transition between fully conscious OBEs and partly conscious or unconscious dream-overlayed OBEs. For this state, we use the term DOBE – dream-overlayed out-of-body experience. In literature, you won’t find hints on intermediate states in between OBEs and dreams, because this would give good arguments to all the people that oppose the existence of OBEs and interpret them as lucid dreams (LD).

In the following article, I will try to explain the mechanism of DOBEs in general and then give a few examples for different kinds of DOBEs.


Dream-Overlayed OBEs in General

In such a state, we are in fact out of body, but we are not aware of that; we are in an unconscious or partly conscious state just like in a dream. We perceive everything that surrounds us in a changed form – astral environment and beings are overlayed with dream-like imagery through subconscious mechanisms. Here, the appearance is often changed in order to match an inner ‘dream movie’ we’re having in this state, or it changes in a way that it fits our individual associations with a certain feature or auric quality that the corresponding object/ being possesses (note that this latter subjectivity in perception of our surroundings does also exist in ‘normal’, i. e. full OBEs, because everything on the astral plane is subject to psychic mechanisms and symbology – see article Features and Rules of the Astral Planes – however, in DOBEs this is to a much greater extent).

In contrast to psychic dreams, DOBEs have at least one of the following characteristics:

  • logical and chronological course of action

  • you possess a certain degree of self-awareness (can be from very low up to almost full awareness) and of logical thinking (in a dream, you are instead mostly driven by instinct or some course of action without thinking about anything)

  • special abilities/ magical powers: in the ‘dream’, you remember (from former ‘dreams’) that you can fly, or you are able to do telekinesis, or to pass through solid matter etc.

  • ‘old friends’: in the ‘dream’, you may meet people who seem astonishingly familiar to you, like old friends, although you’ve never met them before in life; sometimes this bond can be felt very strongly

And in contrast to fully conscious OBEs, in DOBEs:

  • you are less aware

  • you are mostly rather introverted and absorbed in yourself

  • the environment seems more like in a dream (less ‘real’)

It seems that there exist all transitional stages in between OBEs, DOBEs and dreams and one state can change into another, which can make it very hard to distinguish.

There are several kinds of DOBEs – sometimes we are in fact wandering about in some lower astral plane unconsciously, and sometimes we’re in our etheric body, but still very close to the physical, or even only in the phase of separation. However, in this article I will term every experience with the term DOBE that contains an out-of-body state with dream-overlay. The different types of DOBEs will be dealt with in the following, although the classification of these types is admittedly rather arbitrary – but I thought this might help to distinguish different kinds of OBE states which underlie these DOBEs.

Why are DOBEs important at all?

Even if in a DOBE we are less conscious, one should not simply disregard DOBEs as unimportant. You can even have very interesting and impressive experiences in a DOBE state. Some of my experiences in DOBEs were quite important to me. Sometimes I had encounters with other beings and if I hadn’t known that dream-overlayed states exist, I would have dismissed it only as a dream – which wasn’t true at all. Especially at the beginning, I considered many OBEs as dreams because I was confused by dream-like elements or strange scenery. I would have missed many important things if I would not have had a teacher at that time that knew about these mechanisms. DOBEs can change directly into OBE states when something causes us to become fully aware, and some people would easily ignore the following OBE just because of the confusing dream-like state before and the missing experience of the body separation. For example, the experiences described in the last section "dream-overlayed etheric states" could be easily dismissed as nonsense if one does not understand the mechanism of DOBEs.

This is just to say that one should not disregard everything which is no ‘full’ OBE and that it is helpful to know that overlayed states exist. On the one hand, it makes the whole thing more complicated, but on the other hand, it avoids confusion and doubts about experienced OBE states.


Astral journey with dream-overlayed environment

It may happen that we are in an astral environment on a near-earth plane (at least I think that it mostly corresponds to near-earth planes, as described in the article Dream Plane), but in an unconscious state. Everything – our surroundings, objects, people – will be woven into our inner ‘dream movie’, as we are absorbed in ourselves. But instead of ‘normal dreams’, these DOBEs clearly show a continuous course of action without interruptions. Sometimes these DOBEs are of adventurous and exciting character, but sometimes they are rather dull.

"I had a dream where I was in a big house. I noticed that there were old friends from school and I talked to them. But then I went away. When I was outside of the building, I found myself in a city that looked like Dresden. I wanted to go somewhere, as fast as possible, but I didn’t really want to wait for the bus or tram and I hadn’t the time for it either. However, I quickly remembered that I could fly, so I decided to simply transform into a bird. I imagined to be a falcon and then I flew over the city. I flew ever faster, now across a great lake or river that was in the city, and this was quite fun to me. Then I came to a bridge that crossed the river. I considered it a great fun and challenge to fly incredibly fastly through the bridge’s many pillars without crashing against them. I was totally fascinated and thrilled at being able to fly such adventurous avoidance manoeuvres – but then, there was one pillar that I missed and I crashed against it. Everything went black for a moment, but I felt no pain and shortly after I could fly on, but now my surroundings were not so clearly visible as before and soon I awoke in my bed." (Corra)

"I was at a high-rise building with some students of the university, they all talked together but I was standing aside and no one talked with me. But I didn’t care. I laughed inside and transformed into a falcon – I think I did not exactly look like a falcon; I still had my human limbs, but inside I had the clear image of myself being a falcon and was convinced to be one. I flew to the top of the high-rise building. From there, I could see the whole city, and far away, there was a forest landscape behind the city, veiled in mist. Suddenly I recognized an old friend from school down there and he was the only one to look up and recognize me as well. I took to the air – firstly I feared I would sink down, but it was quite the contrary – I flew higher and higher." (Corra)

Comment: this last experience seems to be a DOBE where one is already out of the mere state of separation. It seems that I had been in my astral body then, flying around somewhere, whereat my consciousness was not very clear and the landscape was rather dream-like and vague. Another hint that is characteristic for a dream-like state is the transformation into a falcon. I was not a ‘full falcon’, but I rather flew with my human arms and was, however, convinced of having the appearance of a falcon, although I could feel my normal arms. This happened quite often to me and I think this could be caused by a subconscious mechanism as well: it is not logical for the subconscious that a human could fly, but birds can fly. So, in order to fly, I unconsciously tried to take the appearance of a bird so as to convince myself that I am able to fly.

I can’t be sure if the persons around me were real astral beings that had the appearance of familiar people to me, or if they were products of my thoughts. The one who looked at me and recognized me, however, was likely a real being, because he actually reacted to me and I felt he could see me.

Here some more examples and explanations from Ballabene’s ebook about dream-like OBE states ("Zwischen Traum und Astralbewusstsein", currently no English version available):

"Today, I floated along the sidewalk. It was an awesome feeling to ‘sit’ in the air at chest height and float forwards fastly. There on the pavement was a newspaper kiosk with open entry and exit in my direction. I simply couldn’t miss the fun and floated right through the kiosk. Being polite, I apologized to the kiosk owner and his customer for my behaviour – I said that it was just so wonderful to do this and that I couldn’t help doing it. The two understood well and they regretted that they were too rooted to be able to float. As they said this, I saw roots before my eyes as an inner imagination. This imagination became so vivid for a few moments that it totally blocked out the perception of my surroundings."

It was typical for this mixed state that there was an outer experience that I perceived clearly, and this was overlayed by thoughts and inner imaginations in such a way that they got more ‘real’ for the moment. Mostly these imaginations aren’t short-lived thought images but rather musings and dream-like fantasies, that overlay the ‘outer experience’ completely or at least they give another meaning to the surroundings that fits the fantasies.

"I can recall a dream-overlayed astral journey where I had very absurd ideas. I was in an old town, accompanied by a woman, and I was admiring the frescoes and sculptures of the buildings. Again and again, I pointed out this splendour to my companion. There were exceptionally beautiful facades with a strange, individual style. Similar to art nouveau, with emphasized rounded forms and sculptures. For some reason, it was in my imagination that I had to search for a job. When I met a man, a good-looking intellectual person, I clapped him on the shoulder and asked him if he had a job for me. He said no and looked disapprovingly on his shoulder that I had clapped on. My journey through the old town went on to a coffee house. It was well filled and only few tables were free. I still had the feeling to be in need of a job to earn my livelihood. I stood up from my chair and went past a few other tables, where a pen lay on the ground. I imagined that the pen was the owner of the bar. I tipped with one finger on the ground before the pen to make contact. Then a dog came by and thought I would throw sticks. It took the pen in its mouth and went away with it."

Dreams like these mostly have the following characteristics: the environment is not especially remarkable and rather boring. There are no contacts with other persons, though often a companion can be noticed, but he is not seen or not heeded. However, one often talks to other persons in the manner of a soliloquy, telling them what one sees; I’m not sure if these persons are only imagined or real astral persons.

Almost always, this category of dreams has no exciting course of action. The scenes that I experienced in these states mostly were short, they fainted away, seemed to exist only as a fantasy, and then again they changed into a visually perceived environment. I had the impression that I had alternated between pondering ‘awakeness’ and sleep.

I could imagine that in these states the only vaguely perceived environment without any course of action is boring to us; thus, one tries to entertain oneself by imagining a story. These fantasies are more stable, contrary to the fluctuating perception of the overlayed environment, and so they continue all the time without being influenced much by the dully perceived surroundings. Sometimes I was aware of myself just a little bit, so that I could memorize the fantasies and the dreamed environment after waking up in these cases.

Similar occurrences can be found in our daily life. I often see people on the streets that are clearly absorbed by chains of thoughts – I can tell this by the movements of their mouths or their quiet murmuring. They are behaving in a similar way as I do when I’m in these astral-dream-states. But unlike the behaviour on the ‘dream plane’, the soliloquizing people on the streets can quickly change their focus and be present mentally if it is needed. Thus, this behaviour is normal and does not disrupt the ordinary behaviour. It seems that in half-conscious astral journeys with dream-like overlays, two inner entities are fighting for predominance. On the one hand, there is the wish for a lucid state, on the other hand, there is a subconsciously controlled mechanism to maintain dream phase sleep. (Ballabene)


Flying/ floating dreams

This kind of dreams has already been dealt with in the article Dream Symbols of Body Separation. In this state, our consciousness is already in the subtle body and we experience typical symptoms like swaying, rolling, rocking, floating and falling – symptoms which occur during separation from the physical body.

"Enclosed in the elevator of a high-rise building I can’t get out at the floor wanted. I am unable to press the right button, because the board is chaotic. The movement of the lift changes from very rapid to slow and vice versa. In this chaotic way I move up and down, on and on." (S.)

"In this dream, I was somewhere in a forest landscape that was covered in snow. I waited for my brother, who had went away for some reason. I realized that I could jump very high, until I was high in the cold air and everything below me vanished in a flurry of snow. Then I fell back again, but without getting hurt. This happened again and again for several times." (Corra)


Dreams changing into OBE states

In some cases, we may become conscious at the end of a dream like this, whereat we experience ourselves re-entering the physical body. This can be seen as an additional argument for the existence of states in between OBEs and dreams.

"I was in a dream where I had been walking up a mountain at a very fast past, almost floating up. Then, when I reached the top, I got stuck there and was too scared to come back down because of the height. After a few moments I slipped and I felt myself fall slowly in the air, and at that exact moment I felt my body lying horizontally, and then I felt myself sink down into my bed. I heard a little bit of rushing sounds which sounded like wind, too. I am thinking my recent attempts to start astral projecting again are making me being aware of some re-entry sensations happening in the night." (Sn.)

"I had some meaningless dream, but I became half-conscious at some point. I jumped down from the roof of a high-rise building on which I had climbed before to have a perfect starting point for flying. I spread my arms and flew upwards. Firstly I had to fight to maintain straight-line flight because I was uncontrolledly swaying to one side, but I willfully tried to keep flying upwards. I succeeded and flew at a height of about 50-60 meters above woods, mountains and valleys. But this was only for short, because everything around me vanished and I found myself being in the etheric body. As this happened, I felt that I slowly fell down back into my physical body, but I managed to come out again before I was drawn back completely and so I was able to start a short OBE." (Corra)


OBEs changing into dream states

The opposite can be the case when we start an OBE, but during this OBE we gradually lose awareness. The whole experience drifts off into a dream-like experience – often because we are going on too fast and without much concentration. This can be prevented by several methods, e. g. focusing on an object, touching the ground, checking through the subtle body etc., in order to anchor our consciousness in the etheric/ astral body (see article How to make your OBEs more vivid).

"I floated out of my body and as soon as I was standing upright in my room, I went to my window and flew out, as I always did at that time. I found myself somewhere in the national park and I was searching for someone, but I didn’t find him/ her. I was flying very fast and without real concentration. I lost awareness and the surroundings started to get a more dream-like appearance, and suddenly I was with people from the school. I was still searching for this someone, but this time with a pocket torch. The whole thing changed again and suddenly I was in a kind of space ship museum with the school class, and we observed shooting stars and UFOs in the sky. I was wondering if there was an invasion from aliens going on there. Then they all went home again, only I stayed behind and flew around again without any clear goal." (Corra)

In some cases, we may have ‘dreams’ that seem to make no sense at all, but in those ‘dreams’, we can clearly feel energetic symptoms like vibrations, heat, throbbing or arousal in a chakra or in the spine – these may be signs of energetic activity in the etheric body or even pre-OBE-symptoms. In such cases, the energetic symptom is ‘translated’ into an appropriate symbol, as we are in an unconscious state and the subconscious tries to ‘explain’ these happenings, whereat it uses the normal symbolic dream-language.

I think one can say that every dream that contains energetic symptoms is not a normal dream but an OBE, at least in form of awareness of the etheric body (that means, your consciousness is already in your etheric body, although you’re still not fully separated from the physical – cf. Loosening of the Etheric Body).

Both experiences below can be explained in the following way: when the dreams with the ants resp. with the wasp started, there was energetic activity in the etheric body already, but the person was still unconscious and not aware of it, so that in this dream-like state the subconscious had to search for an ‘explanation’ for these sensations. The wasp and the ants as ‘stinging insects’ (energetic, prickling sensations) were a fitting symbol for the activity and the dream images just disappeared when the person became aware. In the first experience, the dream went over into a state of trance, whereat the dream image of an ant could still be seen. At some point, even this dream image vanished and only the energetic happenings were perceived in a nearly fully conscious etheric state.

"The ant in the spine" (Sn.)

"I dreamed I was in a green field, and somehow knocked over a cone in the grass. What happened immediately was an army of ants, which had been hiding, crawl out of a hole in mass numbers. I panicked almost instantly, and the army of ants surrounded me in seconds. The ants went on my shoes, and quickly crawled up my legs, approaching my thighs. The ants then reached my private area, and then I knew I was in real trouble. I panicked even more, trying to get them off me, but it was too late. I felt the ants crawl into my pelvic floor. Then a few ants moved to the back of my spine, and I felt them now directly at the tailbone. As this point I had slowly woken up, but the sensations continued, and I was looking into complete darkness in a deep, deep trance, I felt this ant about the size of a pebble crawl up my entire spinal cord. It took about 5 seconds, but I felt it travel up quite easily. Then, as I still laid awake but in a deep trance, the ant's journey up my spine left a residual sensation, and this sensation became hot. I felt heat all along my entire spinal cord, from the coccyx to the back of my neck. At this same time I noticed something else. A gentle but distinct throbbing contraction emerged exactly at the perineal body. This area contracted 7 to 8 times all on its own, and then immediately after noticing this, I felt another sensation added at the tailbone, which was a pulsing feeling similar to a heartbeat. So I had three things: a throbbing tailbone, a contracting perineum, and a hot spinal cord. This lasted a few minutes. I have never had a hot spine before."

"The wasp in the spine" (Corra)

"I had a strange dream, where there was a wasp underneath my shirt. It repeatedly jabbed against my spine, and I tried to keep totally still because I was afraid that I might be stung by it. This lasted a few seconds and everytime the wasp jabbed against my spine, I felt a kind of tingling, throbbing sensation inside of my spine exactly at the vertebra where the wasp was. The wasp started at the base of the spine and went up, then it came out of the collar and was gone. I realized that I was lying in my bed, the dream with the wasp had ended, but I felt that my whole spine was tingling intensely from the coccyx up to the cranium, and then a throbbing sensation all over the spine started. It felt as if someone was drumming with his fingers on my spine so as to wake me up. The intensity increased until I was suddenly catapulted out of my body. I was floating in my room, over my physical body, and I realized I was in an OBE."

© 2016 Corra; Ballabene (Vienna) translated by Corra