article by spiritualtravel.org
Everyone knows what it is like to be embodied living in the physical world from day to day. In what ways does the individual's identity, self-concept, and body image vary during spiritual travel?
One fascinating aspect of spiritual travel is the ability to shift from one's normal body image to a different form. Taking on an identity or form different from one's normal body image happens on occasion during spiritual travel.
It sometimes happens spontaneously and advanced practitioners can probably choose to create a new body image through visualization. Some claim that those who reside in the more ethereal places seem to use this ability to change shape as a form of artistic creativity. They are said to be able change bodies the way we in the material world change clothes.
An example of a change in body image can be found in the section on shape-shifting at this site.
However, it is more common to find one's self with little or no bodily sensation thus creating the sense of having no body at all than to shift shapes.
One of the basic lessons learned during spiritual travel is that the soul can take many forms and identities when outside the body. However one generic thing that happens repeatedly is the soul or individual becomes a kind of energy or vibration. The qualities of this difficult to describe "energy based identity" differ much like the varying qualities of color and texture differ on the surface of a body of water such as a lake. The surface of the water changes so much depending on the kind of wind and the quality of the natural light as it reflects off the surface.
Raymond Moody talks briefly about these alterations in body image that occur during near-death experience:
I have heard this new body described in many different terms, but one may readily see that much the same idea is being formulated in each case. Words and phrases which have been used by various subjects include a mist, a cloud, smoke-like, a vapor, transparent, a cloud of colors, wispy, an energy pattern, and others which express similar meanings. Raymond Moody, Jr. M.D., Life After Life, (Harrisburg, PA: Stackpole Books, 1976), p 50 However, it is important to remember that those undergoing a near-death experience are usually experiencing out-of-body states for the first time. The above terms are descriptive of how such persons felt immediately after their accident or injury when they first found themselves outside their physical body. Spiritual travelers are likely to experience a wider variety of identities than those described as occurring during near-death experience.
Generally, this kind of experience is very important for the following reason. Once the individual gets acquainted with this unusual way of being during spiritual travel, it is not such a big step to mysticism since once the soul becomes aware of its own energetic nature and essence, it can approach the mystical areas of light and sound with a sense of relatedness. One form of energy is not so easily alienated by another form of energy, whether in the form of another disembodied individual or a vast ocean of light or sound. This is one way in which spiritual travel in the psychic areas prepares the individual soul for its encounter with ultimate Truth or God.
There are many who write on the subjects of mysticism and meditation who talk of the illusion of separateness, and how true spirituality consists of overcoming this illusion. However, when the individual's consciousness is focused within the body, the barriers which account for this feeling of separation are solid and substantial. It is during out-of-body experience that the self becomes permeable and can merge partially or fully with other forms of consciousness and states of being.
In whatever form the individual takes as he or she experiments, the freedom to vary one's bodily form and identity can be one of the beautiful and fascinating aspects of spiritual travel.