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Is time travel possible during Out-of-Body Experiences? Facts and fiction of the Flash Effect

Updated: Aug 16, 2023

Out-of-Body Experience (OBE) coaches and OBE authors seem to accept the possibility of time-travel during OBEs explaining that "you can time-travel" or "teleport anywhere you wish" in time, "time jump" to "relive moments in history" while some even emphatically assume that this is a "common benefit of astral projection" without presenting experiential evidence proceeding from their experimentations, to suggest so, much less thinking about the incredible evolutionary potential of such possibility – if it were true.

Accepting such an experience is possible, is to accept theoretically, one could have an OBE with the past Self, also projected. However, if such experience could provide valuable life-growth lessons or warnings about things to come, and things to avoid [1] it would make free will irrelevant to evolution and evolution itself nonsensical. Indeed, it would mean, in essence, the possibility for one person to be much wiser than they are now because of these experiences—that is also unheard of. Of course, it would not make sense evolutionary speaking as to go through growth in life, we need to experience challenges. We can only evolve by taking responsibility for our actions—making such time loops shortcuts would gives us no moral authority. Furthermore, taking such logic to its extreme, it would also mean that at a certain point in time during our evolution, as we achieve to have more controlled OBEs, going to our past would be logically essential to evolve quicker, making the whole process of evolution nonsensical, almost even not needed at all (redundant). More so, if that were possible, of course, that would also mean that any such incursion to your past Self and consciousness could have tremendous effects on the space-time continuum of one's life and what you one has done, making instantaneous changes in the fabric of reality (e.g., events we would have changed in the past would have an impact on the reality – see further reference to Hawking).

The physics of time-travel:

But let's be open-minded and dive deeper into OBE time travel assumptions looking at what current physics says about the possibility of time travel. First, it should be clarified that most of what coaches refer to when they suggest time-travelling is possible during OBEs touches on the popular culture conception of time travel, contrasting it with scientific perspectives. When we watch movies about time travel, we often see characters stepping into a machine and magically vanishing, only to reappear in a different era—similarly to what is depicted by OBE coaches. What these films depict is, in fact, essentially the concept of time teleportation. Such films capture our imagination by allowing us to imagine the possibilities and adventures of travelling through time. But this notion contrasts with the scientific discourse, where there is a clear distinction between the fantastic portrayals of time travel (i.e., time teleportation) seen in movies and the models provided by theoretical physics. In the real world, the fact is that scientists have expressed scepticism about the likelihood of this conception.

Time teleportation, as reported by coaches, authors and bloggers alike, is, in fact, very different from the possibility of time-travelling reported in physics. For example, "travelling" to the future is possible in physics. Einstein's special relativity refers to the concept of time dilation, which doesn't allow for "time travel" in the traditional sense but predicts that time can slow down near massive bodies as gravity affects time. Near massive bodies, such as neutron stars, or near a black hole, where gravity is at its highest, a few hours could mean 1000 years on Earth.

Time dilation, as a prediction of Albert Einstein's theory of relativity, are common experiences seen in everyday examples of satellite clocks and aircraft flights. The reported time dilation relies on two primary sources of time dilation: 1) velocity-based time dilation (from special relativity) and 2) gravitational time dilation (from general relativity). Both effects have been experimentally confirmed, though they tend to be minute unless one deals with velocities close to the speed of light or very strong gravitational fields.

The clocks on satellites experience both types of time dilation: as satellites move at high speeds, they experience velocity-based time dilation that makes their clocks tick slightly slower. Furthermore, as they are also farther from the mass of the Earth than we are on the surface, they experience less gravitational time dilation than clocks on Earth's surface. When both effects are taken into account, the net result is that clocks on satellites tick faster than clocks on Earth's surface, and this discrepancy is accounted for in the algorithms used by the Global Positioning System (GPS) to provide accurate location data. Flying in an aeroplane, specifically at high speeds, would lead to time dilation. A famous experiment called the Hafele–Keating experiment involved taking atomic clocks on aeroplanes around the world and comparing them with clocks left stationary on the ground. The travelling clocks experienced a slightly different passage of time due to their velocities and altitude, confirming relativity predictions. These effects are so tiny they don't affect our routine activities. These types of time dilations are certainly the sort of things reported during OBEs but they are far from the reported notion of time teleportation [2].

What about retro-causality?

The concept of retro-causality suggests that, under certain circumstances, the past Self or any past system, such as brain processes, is influenced by information from the future. In fact, such a condition is also seen in OBE contexts. For example, experiments on "presentiment" suggest the human body (specifically, the autonomic nervous system) can unconsciously respond to future emotional events. In these studies, participants are shown a series of images, some of which are emotionally evocative and others neutral. The interesting finding is that physiological responses (like skin conductance) change moments before the emotional images are shown, as if the body "anticipates" them. Similar studies have been done for conscious decisions. But this doesn't mean one can telepathy with his past Self. The scope of these events is related to immediate perceptions. Their reach is completely different from time teleportation, which would not just be about the influence or receiving information from the future affecting the past; it would be about physical entities (e.g., the astral body) moving between different points in time and being present in the past (physical reality).

Travelling to the past?

Travel to the past is an even murkier possibility considering the notions associated with it in physics are mostly hypothetical. General relativity allows for the possibility of wormholes – tunnels that connect different points in space-time (i.e., Einstein-Rosen Bridges). These are theorized to provide shortcuts to distant parts of the universe, and as such, if one could enter such a wormhole at all, it could potentially lead to older times of the universe. That would mean that the wormhole would allow one person to step from one point in space-time to another almost instantaneously, and although it could indeed be likened to "time teleportation", as one would be moving between distinct moments in time, this would not mean "teleportation" from one specific present location to the same location in the past. However, in effect, being in the same location in the past is exactly what the referred coaches and authors report in their time-travel accounts. So theoretically speaking, when one traverses vast distances of the universe as it happens during OBEs, they could indeed be theoretically observing a region of the universe as it was thousands of years ago [3]. But this is only theoretically true based on current understanding of physics with a lag introduced by the finite speed of light. However, if a consciousness in an OBE state would travel almost "instantaneously" to a location thousands of light years away, then what they'd be witnessing is indeed that location's present state. Indeed, if we assume that one surpasses the speed of light during OBEs to be "there instantaneously", one may theoretically assume one is observing its "now" or present time [4].

Paradoxes of time-traveling

In any case, if the possibility existed to time teleport, it would also require solving many time travel paradoxes, such as the causality formation referred to above from an evolutionary standpoint. The classic example is the "grandfather paradox" where a person travels back in time and prevents their birth. In the twin paradox, one twin travels to a distant star and back at a significant fraction of the speed of light while the other twin stays on Earth, meaning that when the travelling twin returns, he would be younger than the twin who remained on Earth.

Effect on the fabric of the Universe

The late physicist Stephen Hawking talking on the subject time travel referred about the impact such possibility would have on the universe. Referring to the concept of causality violation in 1992, Hawking said: "It seems there is a chronology protection agency", suggesting the fact that if time travel (in extension, time-teleportation) existed, it would need to be based on a theory that would be self-consistent with history, based on known physical laws [5]. Based on the premises given by Hawking, the possibility of time travel would have tremendous effects on the space-time continuum of our lives and what we have done, making instantaneous changes in the fabric of reality.

OBE paradoxes

In essence, the energetic properties and stability of the Laws of the physical universe do not seem to allow for time-teleportation practically. And although OBEs are often reported in physical terms and the properties of the world of OB-Experimentations may differ to an extent to physical properties [6], OBE time-teleportation would, either way, lead to similar physical effects on the property of the universe and paradoxes, if not more illogical ones: either, as mentioned, evolutionary speaking, altering the course of one's evolution through time-travel – dismissing the importance of free will – or because of the social and ethical implications such a power would have to alter the course of human history (e.g., inter vivos communications). That possibility is even thornier than getting ripped to shreds by being physically close to a black hole.

Indeed, as mentioned, to assume that time-teleportation is possible means to assume that one can have a projection with oneself equally projected is possible. Considering consciousness as an independent property, not anchored exclusively to the physical reality, means that if someone would time-teleport to visit his past Self, where his "future" consciousness coexists, it would inevitably lead to many more time-travel paradoxes reminiscent of "grandfather paradox" or the "meeting oneself" scenario, such as bootstrap paradoxes and consistency paradoxes [7]:

1. Bootstrap paradoxes: would be situations in which an item or piece of information sent back in time becomes the catalyst or even the creator of that same item or piece of information in the future, violating causality and introducing logical inconsistencies.

2. Consistency Paradoxes (like the Grandfather Paradox): Actions taken in the past result in future conditions that prevent the original action from occurring.

Without any doubt, the existence of the same consciousness at two different points in its own timeline can create a series of causality issues. For instance, if the "future" consciousness interacts with or alters the experiences of the "past" consciousness, it can lead to changes that might affect the trajectory of that consciousness, leading to inconsistencies and paradoxes. Consequently, if Hawking's conjecture is right, the appearance of such causality violations would require a framework that allows for time loops and would imply a radical restructuring or shake-up of our universe, not the least our understanding of its fundamental Laws. And that would still need to address the myriad of paradoxes that arise from them. The conclusion for OBE teleportation is the same: the universe might be preventing such a possibility by the structure of its fundamental Laws. In other words, if time teleportation allows for changes in the past, and if Hawking's conjecture holds true, then attempting such time teleportation could be prevented by the universe's foundational Laws—in that sense, they would still apply for OBE contexts.

Does that mean the experiences reported in OBE accounts where time teleportation is reported are mere hallucinations?

In part, yes, but this is not always necessarily true. Such experiences, where the past is suggested to be experienced, can often be explained by the lack of lucidity (i.e., clarity of objectivity) of the experiencer. Such experiences can be experienced in pockets of the extra-physical universe where people are stuck in the past (i.e., they continue living without knowing the actual present reality) [8]. But the impression of the experiencer is that it truly experienced it the present time, nonetheless, in such cases, the experiencer often express a lack of understanding of how they got there and how they came back from there. These can equally be triggered by a vivid memory of the past (retrocognition during an OBE) or a precognition. Other time, it seems as if the the projector cannot fathom the advanced dimension they may be experiencing, thinking it is the future when in fact it is just the advanced characteristics of the dimension they visited. In some instance, these have been said to be triggered by some sort of holographic para-technology recreating the past as psychotherapeutic purposes (psychodrama therapy). I have personally experienced most of these.


All in all, OBE time perception either of the past or the future, could be assumed here, based on experimentation, to be much like remote viewing (RV), only allowing for the perception of space-time—meaning you can perceive something from the past or the future [9], but the person experiencing it is not there in the present time of the past or the future [10]. Finally, it should be emphasized that OBEs where the experiencers report such experiences, experience a condition that differs from experiences of boundless non-duality such as experienced in OBEs and Near Death Experiences. These are ontologically different experiences considering the universe is experienced beyond space/time, and as such are substantially opposed to the reported OBE-teleportation perceived in a local manner. Nonetheless, they do report perceptions beyond time.

In conclusion, the enigma of time, both within and outside the confines of OBEs, continues challenging our understanding, stretching our imagination. As we navigate the intricate web of time-travel theories, paradoxes, and the experiences reported by OBE practitioners, we must ground our understanding in established physics and experimentations while keeping an open mind to the vast unknowns. Drawing inspiration from Einstein's words, we are reminded that "the distinction between past, present, and future is only a stubbornly persistent illusion". Nonetheless, while the tantalizing allure of time teleportation continues to captivate us, physics indicates it is an illusion, although it is the illusion of time, and our relentless pursuit of understanding it, that truly propels us forward in our quest for knowledge and understanding of the cosmos.

MSc. Neuroscience,

Sleep Consciousness Researcher,

PhD Candidate.


Hafele, J. C. and R. E. Keating (1972). "Around-the-World Atomic Clocks: Predicted Relativistic Time Gains." Science 177(4044): 166-168.

Hawking, S. W. (1992). "Chronology protection conjecture." Phys Rev D Part Fields46(2): 603-611.

Wilfing, Jutta. (1968). “Wenn Jemand Seiner Doppelganger Sieht”; Die Andere Welt; Freiburg;

West Germany Magazine; Monthly; Yr. 19; N. 6; June 1968; illus.; pp. 516-522.

[1] It should be emphasized that notion differs greatly from when someone sees his Doppelganger. [2] It is to be noted that changes in velocity and changes in the perception of gravitation are commonly reported during OBEs (e.g., extreme speed of dislocation and minimal perception of gravitation), suggesting that experiencers are influenced by time-based time dilation and gravitational time-dilation. [3] Observing that region of space however does not mean the person travelled to the past. [4] Einstein's theory of relativity posits that as one approach the speed of light, time dilates. If one exceeded it, current equations would break down and become non-physical (e.g., involve imaginary numbers). From the viewpoint of Earth, the light we observe from distant stars and galaxies represents the past. But if you're in the location of the star or galaxy, you're in its present. The distinction here is the lag introduced by the finite speed of light in our universe. [5] Hawking's research suggests that if time travel would be possible (e.g., through the existence of closed time-like curves), Geometric Quantities (e.g., how things like speed (Lorentz boost) and area change) as one would travel through these time loops might lead to extreme changes of intensities and force that would prevent time-travel from forming in the first place, as if the universe itself was fighting against time-travel, making it very difficult for it to exist. [6] Assuming this metaphysical universe of OB-Experimentation has structures or behaviours similar to that of spacetime (even if it lacks molecules or traditional matter), then the general theory of relativity could potentially be relevant and apply to that universe. [7] For examples of these, see the Film “The Flash – Worlds Collide” (2023). [8] This is different from the reading of akashic records. [9] Experiences have not shown that you can, with such perceptions, change the past (e.g., telepathy with your past Self). [10] Or even simulacres of it.

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