Out of Body (OOB) experiences lie within the bounds of normal human capacities, as they can occur spontaneously (i.e. without training) under various circumstances, and because good evidence suggests that it can be learned with effort. Various names have been attached to the experience, the most common being Astral Projection. That term and others, however, tend to connote or imply some particular metaphysical constructs, such as an astral plane of existence and a corresponding astral body, etc. It's a reasonable assumption that the naturally occurring experience that anyone might have given amenable conditions (e.g. traumatic injury and near death experiences), served as the initial inspiration for some such elaborations on the nature of reality.
From that point of view, it's also reasonable to assume that the OOB experience is universal, but interpretational variations on why we can have them and what they mean are essentially cultural, and moreover, are inherently biasing. To elaborate, whether before or after a personal OOBE, if a person has been exposed to cultural ideas of an astral plane and corresponding subtle body, it's likely that they'll interpret the experience in a manner consistent with the ideas they're exposed to, as opposed to deriving a personal interpretation from scratch. That includes religious and occult studies-related interpretations as well as the relatively modern interpretation that it's an entirely mental experience, something of an elaborate perceptual illusion. In the past, before widespread travel and international information exchange were common, competing ideas about such experiences were rare; most people were exposed to a single interpretation and therefore readily used it at need. Today though, competing ideas about nearly everything spiritual, metaphysical or occult studies-related are part and parcel of our way of life.
Therefore, people living in internet-ubiquitous societies, along current standards of general education, often face something of a choice among interpretation(s) for relevant phenomena. That kind of choice is usually not made by a conscious deliberation process; it's made relatively automatically, based primarily on personal proclivity. One interpretation will usually resonate better with one's preexisting mindset (other preferred ideas), relative to the alternatives. I think it's worth pointing out that the mental-perceptual illusion interpretation along with more traditional ideas are increasingly in direct conflict for some individuals, and when no single interpretation rises clearly above another, that it's not an easy conflict to resolve. As an aside, I have a theory about conflicts of that nature becoming increasingly common and some predictions of where that trend is leading, but I'll save that discussion for another thread. For now...
In my opinion, if an individual wants to maximize the value of any such phenomena, it's worth making a conscious decision to try to approach it with as neutral an attitude as possible. It may be somewhat artificial to do so, because no conscious decision process is likely to override one's initial proclivities if they are sufficient set. I do believe none-the-less that it can be helpful to strive for a neutral attitude at the outset of a personal exploration of the phenomenon. What matters, I believe, is that if the real basis of the experience is factually inconsistent with one's preferred interpretation, the preferred interpretation may be a limiting factor with respect to real progress. I posit that anyone with a progressive mindset will reasonably hope to grow beyond any such limitations, and a generally neutral mindset is preferable to a biased one.
With all that in mind... Instead of Astral Projection, I prefer the term Intentional Out of Body Projection. It's descriptive and may be somewhat less loaded with cultural connotation. It's a small thing, but I belive any effort toward true growth may help.
There are many modern instructions available for intentionally facilitating the OOB experience. Most of them deliver a culturally-laden interpretation along with the practical instructions. That might limit ones success with the method, if, for example, the embedded interpretation is inconsistent with one's personal proclivities. There may also be an individual differences issue: it may be that some people come by the experience more readily than others.
The method I'm set to deliver is agnostic with respect to the causes of the phenomenon, as well as its meaning and potential applications, in service of the progressive ideal. It's also designed specifically to aid those who've experienced unsatisfactory results with other methods. The emphasis of the method is on tactile sensory experience, and when successful, the method develops the ability to achieve a more fully-sensory OOBE than most other methods, and fosters the skill to initiate the experience at will.
I'll detail the method in another post or two. In the meantime, questions, comments, and criticism of the ideas exposed above are welcome.