Thirty years ago I had an out-of-body experience—an OBE. And, no, I’m not nuts. At the time, I was a Royal Canadian Mounted Police officer involved in an Emergency Response Team operation. We attempted to capture an armed and deranged bushman wanted for murder in the northern Canadian wilderness. It’s now known as The Teslin Lake Incident.
Mike Buday, my partner, and I were static—in a defensive position—camouflaged in deep snow, while a second squad drove the suspect towards us across a frozen lake. Three hundred yards away, we lost sight as Michael Oros entered the thick-timber shoreline. In less than ten minutes, Oros circled around us.
I had the eeriest sense. Then—imminent—extreme danger. I glanced over my left shoulder. Through a thick, gray wash of leafless brush I saw Oros’ face materialize forty-four yards away. I yelled “Mike! He’s right behind you!” Oros’ rifle exploded. He shot Mike Buday—my best friend and my partner—in the back of the neck, killing Mike instantly.
In the same nanosecond—my state of consciousness altered. Non-locally—I viewed the scene from outside my body as if sitting on a branch of a huge tree, watching it unfold from above. I had a complete sense of calm—like time stopped—and the world was a slow-motion picture. Frame by frame, I watched Oros work his bolt, turn, point his rifle at me, and pull his trigger.
I kept watching as the M-16 rifle in my hands rose. It rotated to my left. Beaded Oros’ face. And squeezed one round. Oros’ head vanished. I snapped back to local consciousness. That turned into terror.
The investigation determined my M-16’s returning shot hit Oros in the forehead. It terminated his existence immediately. When the bolt on Oros’ rifle was opened, the investigators found the live cartridge in Oros’ chamber had the firing pin punctured. It failed to go off. No scientific reason for the misfire has ever been determined.
Likewise, the scientific reason for my out-of-body experience has yet to be determined and I’ve spent the past three decades investigating it. And I do believe there’s a scientific explanation for it, because I’m not nuts and I know that it happened. And I refuse to write it off as “Paranormal”.
I’m not the only one who’s experienced an OBE. Researchers claim that around ten percent of people have experienced some form of yet-to-be explained, altered state of consciousness. I think that the scientific knowledge of consciousness is an untapped frontier. Possibly it’s the next phase of human evolution.
So what really is an OBE?
Turning to good ol’ Wikipedia, it’s a mental experience that typically involves a sensation of floating outside one’s body and, in some cases, perceiving one’s physical body from a place outside one’s body (autoscopy).
The term out-of-body experience was introduced in 1943 by George Tyrrell in his book Apparitions and was adopted by researchers as an alternative to belief-centric labels such as astral projection, soul travel, or spirit walking.
OBEs can be unintentionally induced by brain traumas, sensory deprivation, near-death experiences, extreme and immediate danger, disassociative and psychedelic drugs, dehydration, sleep, and electrical stimulation of the brain, among others. It can also be deliberately induced by some, such as Shamans.
Scientifically, how does it work?
I’ve pondered this ever since I recovered from my shock and grief of the Teslin Lake Incident. It was part healing process and part of my natural curiosity into the science of how and why things happen. I’m not sure if I have the right answer, but I pretty comfortable that OBEs are just part of our human design, just like the flight or fight response to danger. It’s also probably what’s behind the reports of ‘my life flashed before my eyes‘ from car accident victims.
All existence seems to come from a source of infinite intelligence which provides the rules for how the forces of the universe operate such as space, time, energy, matter, and intelligence (STEMI is the term – check this blog post for more).
Integral to human existence is our various levels of consciousness such as awake, asleep, and the always-operating subconscious level that keeps our heart and lungs working. But there’s clearly other states of consciousness like meditative, prayer, hyper-awareness, and the dangerous one which we’ve all experienced when driving—then realizing we don’t remember the last ten miles.
I’m not religious by definition of belonging to a dogmatic organization, but I’m definitely spiritual by way of believing there’s a reason behind universal existence that can be explained if we possess the knowledge to understand it. Somehow it seems that our various levels of human consciousness are tied into one central point in our mind. That may just be what the soul is. And our soul may be our portal to infinite intelligence.
Four years ago I took a sabbatical to research the soul – call it a soul search.
A plug for my book — No Witnesses To Nothing I market it as a Crime Thriller, but that’s just marketing bullshit to get attention. It’s actually the story of my search for the science and spirituality behind the human soul. I just disguised it as a murder mystery so people would read it and maybe discover something in themselves.
My journey took me to sweat lodges, talks with leaders in science, teachers in spirituality, and long introspective walks with my dog. My stroll ended up at the door of a true, modern-day Shaman, actually a Sha-woman, and it was here that I opened my eyes to see what was behind my OBE.
Dr. Leslie Gray is a San Francisco based clinical therapist. I found her work on altered states of consciousness fascinating. She helped me view my OBE as a normal, human response to an extremely traumatic event.
I believe Shamanism to be a legitimate, sound, and professional scientific practice – once I was able to get that knowledge to understand it. Shamanism is the all-inclusive practice of willfully altering your state of consciousness to access knowledge from other sources of intelligence. There’s nothing new about Shamanism. It’s been around as long as the human species and it’s a natural practice of obtaining information. Some people are just better at it than others.
Here’s a quote from Dr. Gray.
“Shamanism is a method where virtually everyone can learn to “journey” to a world of non-ordinary reality for the purpose of healing themselves, or others, and increasing personal knowledge. This age-old and culturally transcendent technique lets you “leave” your physical body by wilfully altering your state of consciousness to acquire first-hand knowledge from a normally hidden universe.”
The science of how consciousness works remains to be discovered, but I’m now comfortable that my OBE during The Teslin Lake Incident was nothing paranormal.
It was a totally natural, human response that automatically altered my consciousness to a state of hyper-awareness which allowed me to respond in a life or death situation.
I’m so thankful the Creator designed me that way.