An out-of-body experience or OBE is one of the most commonly reported psychic or paranormal events by believers and skeptics alike. During an out-of-body experience, a person often feels detached from his or her physical body but not completely disconnected from the environment around it. A patient lying on a surgery table, for example, may feel as if he or she were hovering over the scene observing the doctors and nurses. Some who have had OBEs during medical emergencies can even recall specific conversations, such as a doctor declaring a time of death or asking for a life-saving medication.
Although an out-of-body experience can occur at any time under any circumstances, it is most commonly reported during times of physical or mental unconsciousness, either during sleep, under medical sedation, or in a meditative state. The person may not even be aware of the sudden detachment from his or her physical body, or the eventual return. A driver may be aware of operating a car, then suddenly find himself watching events from a distance. There are even reports of a person appearing in a distant location during a known out-of-body experience, with witnesses confirming the appearance of an apparition.
An out-of-body experience is often associated with other paranormal phenomenon, such as lucid dreaming or a near-death experience. Some people claim they can enter a lucid dream state and then project their inner selves out of the bounds of their physical bodies. Many people have had dreams in which they have the ability to fly, which sometimes feels more realistic than usual dream events. This may be considered an out-of-body experience, especially if the dreamer is somehow able to control the outcome of the dream or becomes actively aware of the experience.
A near-death experience can also trigger an out-of-body experience. Survivors commonly report a sensation of leaving their physical bodies and hovering above the scene of their "death." Some report feeling a pull towards their bodies as they are revived, while others report traveling towards a peaceful and welcoming destination. There may be a sensation of a second physical body free of pain and fear, or a formless entity unrestricted in movement. This kind of out-of-body experience often has a strong religious undertone, as if the person's spiritual essence was no longer in his or her natural body.
There are those who suggest an out-of-body experience is little more than wish fulfillment. While it might be satisfying to believe one could psychically visit a distant relative or observe events from another vantage point outside one's body, in reality the OBE is completely self-generated. Others believe that it is possible for one's spirit or soul to detach itself from the physical body for short periods of time under the right conditions. The person's spirit may enter a second unknown body with the intact consciousness of the first body, or else use a different set of senses during the trip to relay information back to the person's own mind. It is not uncommon for people who have had significant out-of-body experiences to report a tangible connection between their original bodies and the spiritual entity capable of making the journey.