Darren J's Experience
I had been suffering from what I think was a type of reactive arthritis for about a year. When I was active (moving) I was relatively pain-free, however, when I was not moving I experienced considerable pain in my back, hips and occasionally my ribs, fingers and toes. During the day it was bearable as I could exercise or take a hot bath to relieve the symptoms. However, sleeping was a problem as I could only sleep a few hours before waking in a painful state. I would toss and turn for an hour or so before the pain would subside and I could sleep again for an hour or so. One night after a few near-sleepless painful nights I experienced an out of body experience.
It occurred while I was in some sort of a half-awake, half-sleep and/or perhaps half-dream state. I distinctly recall being elsewhere - perhaps elsewhere in the room or in the sky above the house or perhaps among the stars - looking down on what I perceived as some sort of wretched body that was tossing and squirming in response to pain. In the place from where my intellect was viewing my body there was no pain, there was no time, no need to eat or sleep, no feelings, no pressing needs. It was extremely peaceful - no love nor hate, no goals, no needs, just calm. It was as if I had gotten off a busy highway and found my self-watching the cars (life) go buy and wondering why they were all in such a rush. In the place I was in (outside of time and free of my body) I looked down on my physical self and came to realize that our bodies are just physical matter responding to all kinds of stimuli (hunger, pain, emotions). But I saw more. I also saw for the first time all of mankind as a chemical reaction - some sort of mobile organic crystal - carrying out its daily activities in response to biochemical induced forces (emotions, feelings, fears, insecurities). I saw mankind as just a complex arrangement of matter (matter that through millions of years of evolution has arranged itself into human form)
At first I didn’t know what to make of the experience. I considered that due to some irregular heart beat problems, which are common with reactive arthritis, that my heart may have stopped and I was briefly dead. I also considered that it might have a hallucinogenic episode related to extensive antibiotic use. However, I suspect that it was some sort of altered state of consciousness; the kind typically associated with initiation rites in aboriginal peoples. Aboriginal peoples typically utilized fasting or extreme pain coupled with lack of sleep to illicit visions and strange experiences.
See for example this article from http://college.hmco.com/history/readerscomp/naind/html/na_010600_dreams.htm
“ According to these writings, young Huron and Iroquois men would fast for extended periods... These fasts could last as long as thirty days and were undertaken so that the young men would have a vision or powerful dream that would enhance their abilities in hunting, warfare, or healing . . . In dreams, the dreaming soul—that aspect of self that travels in visions away from the body—could contact the dream spirit and receive instructions..... If the dreamer was successful, he would obtain a vision of a dream spirit who would give him a specific ability or power and show him how to solicit that power through special songs and ritual activities."
At some point during the out of body experience I recall thinking “ do I want to return to my body? ” for I had begun to enjoy the peace of the state I was in. Before I could reach a decision I found my intellect had returned to my body.In time my condition improved, but my way of looking at the world began to subtly change. I became aware of a dichotomy between the physical and mental self. When I became angry I would ask why is my body giving me these signals, when I was fearful I would ask why is my body giving me these signals. When I liked something or felt happy I would ask why is my body giving me these signals.