You might be skeptical of these claims. Can you truly astral project?
"They are 'real' in the sense that they feel real for the person experiencing them. As do dreams," Aspell says. "But does the experience reflect external reality? There is no scientific evidence that consciousness/mind/self can exist separately from the body or can 'detach from it.'"
She adds that it seems as though the self is in a different place to the body during OBE and astral projection, and that experience must of course be itself generated by the brain. Our brains create a model of reality, in response to the information received and interpreted.
"If the brain does not function as it should — e.g., because of epilepsy/brain injury/lack of oxygen — then this model can give rise to an experience that differs from what we usually experience (our self being located inside our bodies)," Aspell says. "There is evidence from multiple scientific studies that OBEs arise because of abnormal functioning of an area of the brain called the temporoparietal junction." This is an area that combines signals from multiple senses to create the model of our self in the world.
When the brain malfunctions, Aspell adds, "It gives rise to an unusual model (and experience) of the self in the world — one that seems to be separated from the body."
When it comes to tapping into astral planes, Blackmore is dismissive, going so far as to call the concept, "stupid." But out-of-body experiences in general? She loves them.
"They really are fascinating," she says. "Once you reject the idea of astral projection, you come to think about the physiology. How does this work? What's going on? We now know that OBEs occur when our body schema is disrupted, that is the brain's continuously updated model of what our body is doing. OBEs can be induced by stimulating the part of the brain that builds this inner model, and we can practice playing around with our body senses in this and other ways."
She adds that it's the idea of science solving what was once a great mystery that fascinates her, not old ideas of astral projection.