The astral is the closest dimension to the physical. It overlays and permeates the world like a huge mind net, catching and holding all thought. Its contents are created by the collective consciousness of the world mind. It contains all the thoughts, memories, fantasies, and dreams of every living thing in the world. In it, the laws of sympathetic attraction, or like attracts like, causes this ocean of mind stuff to strata and settle into layers or pools.
These pools of thought are more commonly called astral planes, astral worlds, astral sub planes or astral realms. The astral dimension is composed of astral matter and is aptly described as mind stuff. It is extremely sensitive to thought and can be molded into any shape or form.
These creations can be so perfect as to be indistinguishable from reality. The best way to explain this, mind stuff, is to draw a comparison between astral matter and unexposed, high speed photographic film. When this film is exposed to light, focused by the cameras lens, a perfect image of reality is instantly burnt into the film by the chemical reaction of the film to light. When astral matter is exposed to thought, focused by the lens of the mind, a perfect image of reality is instantly formed out of astral mind stuff by the reaction of astral matter to thought.
The complexity and durability of any creation in the astral dimension depends largely on the strength of the mind doing the creating.
Any new object in the real world is assimilated into the astral dimension over a period of time. A thought form representation of it first grows in the lowest part of the astral, close to the physical dimension, becoming more and more permanent as time goes on. As with all thought forms, the more attention paid to it the quicker it grows.
The higher up in the astral dimension, or the further away from the physical, the less thought forms of the physical world, as we know it, are found. Physical things have to soak in to it for a very long time before they take shape, and are found, in the higher astral. Have you ever tried to move around a strange house in the dark? You bump into everything, right? But as you become familiar with it though, a mental picture of your surroundings forms in your mind, and you can find your way around it better. The longer you spend in this house the stronger this mental picture becomes.
This is similar to how things are assimilated and grown, as thought forms, in other dimensions. The generation of thought forms in the astral also works in the reverse. If a physical object has been around for a very long time, it will have grown a lasting thought form impression in the astral. After the object is destroyed or removed, its thought form still endures. You may, for example, in the astral, find furniture in your house you don't have, jumbled up with your own.
This is caused by the decaying thought forms of old stuff, belonging to previous tenants etc., still being there, years after the originals have gone. Old thought forms do not follow their physical counterpart around when they are moved. New ones begin to grow in the astral wherever it is while the old ones slowly decay. The longer a thing is in one place, the stronger the thought form will become in that place. This also applies to buildings, structures and geological features. You may project into a park and find a house, bridge, stream, hill etc. that you know is definitely not there.
These may have existed in times past. The higher up in the astral you go, the older the thought forms are, or the further back in geological time you appear to be. The rate of growth of a thought form depends largely on the amount of attention paid to it. For example, a famous painting; loved, viewed and highly thought of by millions, will have a much stronger thought form than that of a common painting that hangs in someone's bedroom and is only viewed by a few.
The number of thought forms you find in the astral also depends on how close you are to the physical dimension. If you are very close, as in a real time projection or OOBE, very few thought forms, if any, will be found.
In a real time OOBE you are not quite in the astral dimension but are existing as an astral form in the buffer zone between the astral and the physical dimensions.
After the physical body has fallen asleep, the astral body always projects into the physical world.
Once the energy body has expanded, the astral body floats free and hovers just above the physical body, but within the expanded energy body's field of influence. Within this field, known as cord activity range, the astral body is held close to the physical world as it is within a field of etheric matter.
During a conscious astral projection it may appear as if you are projecting straight into an astral plane. But there is always an intermediary phase at the beginning, when you are existing as an astral form close to the physical dimension. This, real time part of any projection, may be missed if you black out at the moment of projection.
The area around the body, within cord activity range, is flooded with etheric matter and within this field the astral body is held in real time close to the physical dimension.
Etheric matter is the actual life force substance generated by all living things by simply being alive. It is a substance in-between physical matter and astral matter, part physical and part astral.
This etheric matter has actual weight. It is a very refined substance in between matter and energy and is similar to its coarser cousin, ectoplasm. There have been scientific studies done on this phenomena. Dying people in hospitals have had their beds placed on delicate scales shortly before death and hooked up to EEG and ECG monitors.
In all cases, at the exact moment of death, a sudden weight loss of approximately one quarter of an ounce is observed. This is caused by a large amount of etheric matter being transferred into the astral body at the moment of physical death. This is similar to the sudden transfer of etheric matter into the astral body during a near death experience where the body believes it is dying.
This sudden, massive transfer of etheric matter is the start of the death process.