Visual Methods

Overview of the methods mentioned and explained here:

  • projection
  • autohypnosis
  • changing a flying dream (=DOBE) into a fully conscious OBE
  • re-entering a dream
  • tunnel method


With this term is meant: ‘projecting your consciousness into an inner dimension of awareness (or astral plane)’. It is a method, although the term ‘astral projection’ often seems to be put at one level with ‘astral travel’. But ‘astral travel’ is rather state itself, and it always has the same features, no matter if it was induced by a visual or tactile method.

The projection method described below works especially well in the morning between brief sleep sequences – for instance, on weekend’s mornings, after you have already slept enough but still are a bit tired, and where you are unintentionally changing between sleep and awake. The essential aspect for this method is ‘attentively staring into the blackness behind your closed eyes’.

There are special ‘short dreams’ – hypnagogic scenes – which occur in this state between sleep and awake. They are short, dream-like sections of the hypnagogic phase while falling asleep. The state of sleep is entered in a fluctuating manner: short sequences of dream scenery with following awake states. This intermediate state makes it possible on the one hand to keep up concentration – at least to a certain degree – and to see inner images and enabling other ‘dream abilities’ on the other hand.

This method of projection is half spontaneous and half willful. It is favorable to practise this method of projection in the morning immediately after having woken up (e. g. at a weekend or free day). When still lying in bed, with eyes closed, one tries to visualise with the short, dream-like sequences that appear every now and then. With ‘visualising’ we do not mean imaginations, but the seeing of images and scenes that form in the blackness behind one’s closed eyelids. This means: it is not an active visualisation in the sense of actively imagining something, but it is a partly passive process, whereat you give only the wish to see a landscape and then you wait until it is formed on its own. You must not doze off, it is necessary to keep up a partial awakeness and concentration (but also not being fully awake – this is the difficult part of it, it has to be a well-kept balance).

The typical aspect for projection is that your focus lies on the visual sense.

Performance of projection:

  • In our field of vision (closed eyes of course), a movie-like floating through landscapes occurs. Although it is not possible to create details, it is well possible to determine if we want to float over meadows or streets. The difficult task now is to keep up concentration, so that this dream-like ‘movie’ will not be interrupted and make way for another movie. We have to keep up this one scenery.

  • In the next step, we have to try to stop the floating. The movie should change into a static image. Still we are aware of our material body and we are like viewers of a movie.

  • After this, we try to make this static image more vivid and three-dimensional. Still the image is in front of us and not in our room.

  • As soon as the image changes into an open environment lying before us, we try to enter this image – by trying to perceive us as being in this landscape or by stepping or ‘leaping’ into the landscape. If we succeed in doing this, we will be present in this landscape and be able to move around there.

As a result, we will stand in an unknown landscape. We are free from any automatic course of action as it is common in normal dreams. We may look around to get a first idea of this new environment. Then we can decide where to go. Some people tend to feel helpless and alone in this situation where the familiar predetermined inner course of action, as it is characteristic for common dreams, is missing. In such cases, fears can arise in these persons. It is possible that they will be afraid of astral travels in general and prefer to be in the familiar constraints of everyday life. But for other people, exactly this situation of taking one’s own decision is the exciting aspect about astral travel, because it gives the feeling of being in an adventure. By being left on their own ‘without protection’, alertness and awakeness is increased, which leads to a deeper impression of the experience.


In autohypnosis you concentrate on predefined suggestive images. Uncontrolled chains of thought and fantasies are very obstructive.

If we succeed with this balancing act (focusing on suggestive images without drifting away into fantasies), we should try to increase our awareness in the now rather half-conscious dream we are in. We can do this by attentively observing our environment. Checking through the body is another step which helps to increase consciousness.

Examples for visual methods of autohypnosis or deep immersion

  • Drawing numbers into the sand: We are on the beech and we draw the number ‘ten’ into the sand. We look at this ‘ten’ and then we see a wave approaching, which washes away the number. Again, we write into the sand – this time the number ‘nine’. Again a waves comes and washes it away. We repeat that same process until we have reached ‘one’. When this last number has vanished, we should be finished with the immersion and proceed with the next step, an astral projection induced by suggestion.

  • Rainbow halls: We go through a hall that is lit with a red light. We go on the main corridor until we reach the door on the opposite side, without looking left or right. When we have passed the door, we have come into an orange-lit hall. We will go to the next door again. We are repeating this, until we have gone through seven halls at total, in the changing colours of the rainbow. When leaving the last hall, we should find ourselves in an astral landscape.

Spontaneous threshold images: There are also methods without predefined images, in which you only stare at the blackness in front of your closed eyelids. In this case, colourful threshold images will appear spontaneously when the immersion has succeeded. These streaks or mosaics are flat and not static, but in constant movement. It is like seeing colour stains on a smooth background, which are moving from one side of the blackness to the other. With increasing immersion, these structures, which are simple at the beginning, will grow in complexity. For instance, a static colourful curtain will be formed, maybe moved slightly by the wind. The transition in between is not smooth but abrupt. These images are in three-dimensional and in front of us, similar to a stage. This means: we are not yet in a 3D environment, we are still in the usual blackness of the closed eyelids, but before us, at some distance, there is this window, door, whatever – some threshold symbol (see also: Threshold Symbols). When our immersion state is deep enough, we can go through this door or window corporally – with leaping through it or ‘stepping into it’. If this has succeeded, we will find ourselves in a landscape where we can move freely.

Colourful mosaics and streaks are forming in the blackness

Changing Flying Dream/ DOBE to fully conscious OBE

From the aspect of awareness, a flying dream is no common dream. It is in fact a dream-overlayed OBE (DOBE, see article Between Dream and OBE). There is no course of action in which you are involved; you are only looking around, enjoying the view and the freedom of movement. Instinctive emotions from a lower sphere of subconsciousness, which are usually causing dream action, are inactive. Consciousness in flying dreams is on a high level. I often have changed flying dreams (which are, as mentioned above, a kind of unconscious astral travel) to fully aware astral travelling by the following technique: firstly, I tried to change the linear flight into a curve and then I tried to land. I then tried to get hold of something and to walk in full awareness of my movements. After I had succeeded with that, I had a good body awareness and felt integrated into the landscape.

In fact, all kinds of DOBEs can be changed into a fully conscious state. For that, you have to somehow increase your awareness. This can be done by checking through the body, touching objects etc. See also in the article: How to make your OBEs more vivid. Sometimes it is sufficient to remember that you wanted to change your dream-like state into an OBE, so that when you remember it in the "dream", you will be more aware at once.

Another case would be if you become aware in an environment where you have become lucid several times before in the past:

"I went up with the elevator. The environment and the whole situation reminded me of similar dreams I’ve had in the past, and I waited for the elevator to change into horizontal movement after the fourth or fifth floor, to move across the landscape like a cable railway. Finally this really happened. I had a pleasant view and I could see houses on each side, and then a very big factory building with brick-red chimneys. I recommended to my companion to silence all her thoughts and only to observe attenively. I did the same and so my awareness increased. My companion only looked at me bewildered. Everything was wonderfully vivid, and suddendly the clouds lifted and the sun shone through. On the crest of a hill, the cable railway stopped. I got out and looked around. To the right, the hill sloped downward to a bay, edged by a mediterranean village, with one-storeyed houses and cobblestone streets. I went downwards and halfway down there was a fortress with crenellations and tiny peepholes. It was a long building that went down until it reached the main street, where it had its entrance, but I was not allowed to enter. On the opposite side, there was a chapel, so I went there and tried to talk with the priest and a few people who were there, but we did not really come into conversation. So I went on until I reached the dock. I walked around there a bit and then I woke up." (Ballabene)


Re-entering a Dream

During or shortly after waking up after a dream phase it is possible to re-enter the previous dream consciously. For this, you have to try to imagine vividly to be present in the dream, whereat you choose the last scene you have seen before waking up. The more interesting this dream was for us, the easier it is to imagine it again. We have to perform a difficult balancig act in this method, and this is the hardest part: we must not be too much awake and concentrated, otherwise we won’t fall asleep again. On the other hand, we must not be too passive and tired, because otherwise a similar or different dream scenery will develop, whereat we will change into an unconscious, normal dream state again, without any remaining alertness.

An example for a successful re-entering:

"Then yesterday morning, I woke up at about 7 am. I found myself very slowly exiting a dream, and when I woke up I remained completely still. I imagined the dream that I had just exited, to try and enter it again. I vividly imagined the scenery and used my senses, and then the vibrations hit. I maintained the visualisations and engaged my senses as much as possible. The vibrations kept going through my body, and then a different environment appeared, but not the same as the dream I had left. I then got excited again that I had projected, and explored my environment. I found myself on a large college campus. I walked around and went up to the entrance doors of the college campus. I walked up the stairs, and walked past some people. I kept walking and found doors to people's room. I continued walking along a corridor and saw a cafeteria. Then as I continued walking I came to another door, but when I tried to walk through I felt blocked, as if a shield was there. I wondered if this door led to the outside fields, but I couldn't get any further. At this point I must have lost lucidity." (Sn.)


Tunnel Method

In a state of deep relaxation, imagine to enter a tunnel or a cave leading to a tunnel (similar imaginations are possible as well). Now you pass the tunnel with your attention focused on body perception and visual sense. Usually, the tunnel stays dark for a long time, but nevertheless everything becomes more and more realistic to you. At last you’ll see a light as a sign for the end of the tunnel. When you leave the tunnel, you are in a new world that is experienced as real.

This is a prefered method in shamanism. It is as well a method which is recommended to be performed in a "half-sleep state", a state at the end of the REM phase.

The transition of the tunnel into another state, here an OBE-state, can be considered as a very natural thing. At the border of awakening, you may occasionally have a dream in which you pass a tunnel. As a dream symbol the tunnel belongs to the category of threshold symbols (a threshold between two states, for instance – see Threshold Symbols). Further tunnel observations are reported in NDE´s (near death experiences) very often.

Example from the ebook "Lilith" (no English version available so far):

Michael sat down at the edge of the pool and looked into the water. There the surface of the water began to ripple, as if someone had thrown a stone into it. But the waves were not moving outwards, they were moving inwards to the centre instead. In the periphery of these circles of waves, he saw blurry figures moving like wafts of mist. They were slowly rotating around the water area, as if these figures were circles of waves themselves. Michael’s attention was catched by the waves and moved towards the centre together with them, as if it would drag him inwards as well.

The water surface came closer, the vortex in its centre grew bigger and a moment later Michael was diving into the centre. He found himself in a dark tunnel and and floated through it. It was a short journey, and soon he stood before an open door that led into a hallway, which looked similar to a cloister.

At the edge of the waves, blurry figures moved like wafts of mist

Tunnel impressions and where they occur

  • in NDEs (near death experiences)
  • astral travelling
  • in shamanism, where the tunnel is used to travel into the underworld or the upper world
  • in dreams (tunnels as an archetypical threshold symbol), whereat the length of the tunnel is varying; it can be a very long tunnel or only a narrow doorstep
  • in mythology, where we can find tunnels as mouth of a cave, entrance into a hollow tree (alluding to the world tree or cosmic tree, e. g. Yggdrasil in Norse mythology) or as pit or well which lead into the land of the Blessed (underworld, e. g. in the Central European fairytale "Frau Holle"/ "Old Mother Frost")
  • sometimes tunnel imaginations are used as a technique for clairvoyance
  • in hypnosis: tunnel imitations through spinning wheels with spirals, which draw the viewer’s attention right to the centre. Sometimes simply a black dot is used.

Tunnels in Tradition

The tunnel method was and is a preferred method of spiritual journeying in North American shamanism and neo-shamanism. It is known to many native peoples.

Recently, tunnel journeys have gained new importance through the researches on NDEs by E. Kübler-Ross. Elisabeth Kübler-Ross (1926-2004) was a Swiss-American psychiatrist. She dealt with death and handling dying people, also with grief work, and she is seen as a pioneer in near-death studies. She wrote many books that can easily be found on the internet.

In art, one of the most impressive depictions of a tunnel is a painting by Hieronymus Bosch ("Ascent of the Blessed"). Hieronymus Bosch (about 1450-1516) was a Dutch painter in the time of the late Middle Ages.

How does a tunnel journey look like?

When we are floating through a tunnel, on the other end of the tunnel we will – in most cases – enter an otherworldly place. Such reports can be found in shamanism, in OBEs (out-of-body experiences) and in NDEs. In NDEs, the reports occasionally include the experience of a bright, wonderful light (often interpreted as Christ himself) which the persons would meet at the other end of the tunnel.

Examples for tunnel experiences during OBEs:

"All of a sudden I become aware of the spectacle before my closed eyes. I can see shining, mother-of-pearl-coloured lines that are dancing around each other and back and forth, forming different patterns. This spectacle grabs my attention. Soon these lines form a round pattern that looks like a glowing star. As soon as this pattern has formed, I am sucked into it as if by a magnet. Now I float through a tunnel at great speed. Sometimes I can see the walls of the tunnel shortly before the end. These walls seem to be pattern-like, but I cannot say for sure of which material they consist. This material is unknown to me and rather looks like an organic, living matter.

I can never tell how long the journey will last. I do not think about it, because the journey itself is an exciting adventure already. However, the journey comes to an end when you see a light before you. This is the light at the end of the tunnel which is also reported by those who have a near-death experience. They have a tunnel journey and see this light. It’s the same as if you see the exit of a mine because outside it’s bright or the sun shines.

Shortly before the arrival the velocity will decrease considerably. You’ll come to an otherworldly place on the astral plane. Where exactly depends on your auric quality/vibe." (Gauri)


"Suddendly I was carried upwards, like on a roller-coaster, on a rail that led over the landscape. I heard a voice that said: ‘You want to see the works of our creator? Then you have to enter a world of silence.’ And at that moment, I went into a very dark tunnel with this ‘roller-coaster’ and then it went down very fastly. It was as fast as nothing I have experienced before, it felt like 500 km/h. The tunnel was totally dark and I could hardly see anything; every now and then I saw the walls of the tunnel in a dim light. It was completely silent here, although I was travelling so fast. I knew that I was expected to be completely silent as well, and I was. I didn’t utter the slightest sound, although I felt a strong pressure on my chest because I was racing along with such speed. I just sometimes had to breathe with a gasp because this pressure was so strong. Firstly I was worried to be crashed into a thousand pieces, because I could hardly see what was happening and I couldn’t do anything either. But then I just let it all happen and had the confidence that nothing negative would happen. At some point I slowed down, and the pressure was reduced. It was bright at the end of the tunnel, but not very bright. Unfortunately, I can’t remember what happened then. I just know that I ended up in some dimly lit cave or building, but I just can’t recollect what exactly was happening there. I woke up soon after that." (Corra)

Performance of a tunnel journey – shamanic technique

After various rituals – singing, connecting with totem animal (through identification) and dancing, we laid down on our back on the wooden floor. Some of the participants spread out a blanket. Our head lay on a rolled-up blanket or a small, stiff cushion. We relaxed briefly and then the leading shaman began to monotonously beat his drum. Compared with the rattle, the drum beats were loud and I could feel them on my abdominal wall. The loud drum beats facilitated staying awake and attentive, but without being prevented from a real trance. Dozing off, like it occurs when only using a rattle, is prevented in this way.

Tunnel journeys were routine for everyone and well-prepared through imagination exercises. I want to give some details here: the shaman has a sacred place – here, due to a lack of suitable places, this place is only imaginary. The Native Indians have such a place in reality and it is kept secret. From there, the shaman goes on his journey into the underworld, whereat the sacred place – often a cave – can also be visited in trance. The underworld of the Indians is in no way comparable to the Greek or Christian underworld. Instead, it is a world of living forces (individuals), with which the shaman can come into contact. He has to become familiar with these forces, only then can he ask them for help, e. g. in order to heal or to seek advice. It is in the first place the totem animal which helps and assists him when he calls for it.

My totem animal was a horse, which was rather unfamiliar to me as a city dweller; it was just an animal like rabbits and goats. I saw it after I had gone into the underworld through a tunnel; not from all four cardinal directions as it is usually required, but only from three. However, obviously this was sufficient. There was even an affinity, because three or four years after this I started riding.

The tunnel was a starting point for everyone in the shamanic circle. Everyone of them imagined his sacred cave. They entered it, or they used wells as entrance into the earth. They floated or went through a dark passage and at some point, they’d see a light that marked the end of the tunnel. There, they found themselves in a mostly natural landscape and there they connected. It was a ritual process.

I found it disturbing that the drumming only lasted for 30-45 minutes. Mostly I just had gone into deep trance and had the first images when the drum beats ended and everyone had to return again. What is more, with this way of immersion I always depended on the help of others and on the meeting dates. Unfortunately I found that it did not work with recordings of drum beats.

Tunnel method, from "Tara" by Alfred Ballabene, unpublished:

As a basis for trance techniques, Carol used relaxation exercises from yoga – called savasana – supplemented by western techniques of deep relaxation and autohypnosis. Additionally, he was very interested in the trance methods of the shamans.


from: Richard Schmidt: ‘Fakire und Fakirtum’. Second edition, 1921, Hermann Barsdorf Verlag, Berlin (S. 58)

He laid down on the floor. The hard base reminded him of not being in bed for sleeping, and helped him to keep up concentration due to the slight pressure of the hard floor. He rolled up a blanket and laid it under his head, so that it would not ache on the hard base. Then he turned his face to the side in order to prevent his tongue from sliding down to the back of his throat, which would have hindered his breath.

Carol took his induction of trance from the methods of Native American Indian shamans. For him, this was the imagination of a ritual-religious pilgrim trail that led to a sacred place: he climbed up a hill on a narrow, well-trodden path. This path led across a meadow with flowers, arched by a blue sky. In addition, songbirds were giving a vitalising atmosphere to the environment. He climbed up the hill, intentionally slowly so as to deepen the imagination. After the meadow path there followed a forest. It was a light, summerly mixed forest. It provided shade, but still there were bright clearings with richly growing herbs and big butterflies. All this made the path very varied and gave him the opportunity to include many sensations in the exercise.

Carol did not have to go far into the forest to reach two big rocks. These rocks were moss-covered and had flowers growing in their cracks. The blue blossoms of the forest flowers attracted the most diverse butterflies and other insects.

Through a big gap between the two rocks went a hardly trodden path, lined by dense shrubs. A few steps further, at the side, there was an evergreen yew tree, under which one could crawl without being hindered by blackberry twines. This was the secret entrance to a rock cave. Nobody seemed to know or to enter it. It was Carols sacred cave, hallowed by ritual and incense.

In the anterior part of the cave, there was a well emerging from a crack in the rock. Under it, a small pool had developed. For Carol, this was holy and blessed water. Never did he miss to take a sip of it, with the feeling to be cleaned and blessed inside by the crystal clear liquid. Then he dabbed his face and hands with the water, now cleaned inside and outside as well. Then he knelt down and bent his head to the earth. After a short prayer he went on to pass through the mysterious cave entrance, which had a flat ground and led into seemingly infinite depths.

In some of Carol’s deep relaxations, this tunnel was longer, sometimes shorter. Eventually, he would see a light in the distance. This was a good sign. When the light appeared, his anticipation was already so great and his immersion so deep that he knew it would succeed. The sunlight at the end of the tunnel came closer fastly at that point. At the end, Carol stepped out into the open. He could never visit a predetermined place in this way. The landscape he stepped into was new and unknown to him every time.


  • Firstly, imagine a tunnel entrance. In shamanism it is of great importance that the imagination includes the most minute details and that it corresponds to a real place (sacred place) in our material world, but this is not absolutely necessary for a succeeding tunnel journey.
  • Then imagine that you slide or float through a tunnel. It can also be a rail tunnel or a rock path that you find at the entrance of a cave – this place has not to be so close to nature as it is required in shamanism, it can also be a fantasy place. Now you glide through this tunnel. At this, you stay passive and just try to keep up your concentration and to get a ‘real’ body sensation as far as possible.
  • Gradually, a light should appear in the distance. Sometimes it can last a long time until you see the light. The light is a sign that the exit approaches. Take care – if you are impatient and try to accelerate everything, it will lose closeness to reality and you will drift away into pure imagination or into a dream. If you succeed to glide through the tunnel in the right manner, your inner perception should increase and also your body awareness and sensation.
  • If the tunnel journey succeeds, you will step into a new, unknown world at the end of the passageway. If it does not succeed at once, it was not failure but a training which has improved your abilities.

Tunnel symbols in dreams:

Often, unconscious astral travels are woven into a dream scenery by our subconscious (see article Between Dreams and OBEs). In this case, there often occur tunnels or similar threshold symbols. These can also be journeys with the bus or train, whereat it does not always have to be a tunnel which is passed through. Contrary to journeys in normal dreams, there will always be another state at the end of the journey/ tunnel (e. g. waking up) or an otherworldly land.

Some reports of tunnels as threshold symbols:

OBE Letter 93:

"After a very short night – because I sat at the computer most of the time – I laid down to take a midday nap, all churned up inside and tired out. I didn’t want an OBE, in no case, but due to my lacking experience I breathed into the vortex – I thought this would help me to calm down. A moment later, I was in a tunnel, standing before a landscape. The end of the tunnel was like a hole through which I could enter the landscape. It was an autumnal landscape and reminded me much of anthroposophic pictures."

"The journey to the castle" (Corra)

"I was lying on my back and floating in the darkness like through a tunnel. The state was induced willfully, but I lost concentration and so, dream overlays occurred every now and then. One time I was riding a summer toboggan run backwards, and another time I was floating over the city like in a plane. It lasted about a minute until this ‘flight’ ended, whereat I stood upright and found myself in a completely new environment. I was standing in a kind of banqueting hall in a castle, and all the people there wore strange clothes that looked like being from the 18th century. When they saw me, the festival was disrupted and everyone was looking at me sceptically."

Time travels through a tunnel

There can also be time travels in a tunnel journey. A description of this, taken from the ebook "Der Tod und sein Lehrling" (‘Death and his Disciple’, by Alfred Ballabene. Solaris Verlag, Vienna, 2008; currently no English version available):

Unlike journeys into otherworldly dimensions, time travels often were introduced by preceding symbols. Sometimes these symbols could change into vortices or be woven into the vortices. Time travels were rare, but these few insights into past lives were very memorable and emotionally charged.

These time travels were important for Vayu to understand life dynamics. In these journeys, he became familiar with astonishing fates. The emotionally charged happenings of these fates doubtlessly had to take effect in future incarnations. These fates were from all social classes, from different times and cultures and were experienced as man or woman. They were not only emotionally stirring, but they also showed how happenings and things could be valued differently from the point of view of different people. It even appeared that there is no objective valuation of any occurrence and that the view is always a subjective one, because it is always linked with individual experiences. The way of how something is seen and valued is a result of the own individual history, which prioritises different aspects.

Holes as "tunnels"

R. A. Monroe has described such holes in his book "Journeys out of the Body" (various publishers).

Below, a similar experience that I had, where I was stepping into another world through a hole in the wall:

"The Ammonia World" (Ballabene)

"My OBE attempt promised to be successful (method: ‘stepping out’. However, the whole process went completely differently, as can be seen in the following). I felt how my fluidal matter was increasingly vitalised and I was already able to move arms and feet. The room began to brighten up and soon I could see all the details. To my astonishment, there was a slightly opened door at the place where my bookshelf should have been. I got up and swung it open.

Below me, at some distance, there was the panorama of a city. A long flight of weathered, stony stairs – about fifty to hundred – led down to a street. This street led through wasteland right into the city. So I stepped down stair by stair. My steps were heavy, so as if I was moving with my physical body. Then I stood on the street and went to the first houses of the city.

The closer I came to the city outskirts, the more the air was filled with a pungent smell of ammonia. I never had experienced something like this before. I found it difficult to breathe and it burned in my lungs. Uneasy, I slowed down and carefully approached the houses. I could already take a look into the city. The street seemed to be deserted and without a sign of life. The houses appeared to be desolate, empty ruins. The windows were black holes, the doors were boarded up crosswise. It was dead silent.

I stopped, looked at my surroundings and concentrated on my empathic perception. Although my lungs burned, I was tempted to go on. But somehow I felt danger and I knew that I could maybe go on for fifty meters or so without seeing any sign of life. But then, suddendly and without warning, a group of aggressive people would have attacked me. I knew this would happen. I had no connection to my physical body (this was an exception, normally I always had the connection) and so, things would have went very bad for me. Overall, the situation was completely different from anything that I had experienced before. I knew that I had to find the way back or I would have been lost.

So I turned around, went up the stairs step by step and returned through the strange door back into my room."

P. S.: I still can’t say what this was and I never have experienced something similar again.

© Alfred Ballabene (Vienna) translated by Corra