For the misinformed on the difference between astral and ''lucid'' dreaming. Lucid dreaming you are in a dream state. Which you are sleeping. Lucid dreaming is the skill to control dreams by setting triggers in the sub conscious to wake your self up. Dreams can be your sub conscious working out issues hence where lucid dreaming becomes a useful skill, so when it becomes too intense you can wake up and control all of your actions and movements. When dreams become ''astral'' its a different feel, lack of control of what you do, and often more vivid. The color is more indepth and brighter and generally you're fully aware of what's going on, even if you don't fully get what's going on or what you're seeing. These type of dreams you typically don't wake up until it plays itself. Its more common for people to ''astral'' travel in their sleep, because they're more open to be at peace and feel out for vibrations which allows them to move more freely with their astral bodies. Now understand you can not experience OBE's in lucid dreaming. In reality one's is just being consciously aware of you leaving your physical body to go off exploring the here after. Generally you're wide awake during this process and its the start of learning to Etherical projection. Which ultimately means that you're astral traveling why you're awake. Its a bit harder to learn because you have to be able to read energy and have some idea of where you want to go on the astral. That's where obe's come in at. Reason being that you're fully aware of you taking off to whatever adventure that waits. No you do not have to have a ''near'' death experience to etheric project nor to experience yourself leave. It simply takes practice and learning how to utilize different vibrations to elevate your astral self to new places. That ladies and gentleman is the difference between lucid and astral and what an obe is.
Now to travel in just meditative state, there's several ways to go about it. Stepping through a door, silver cord method, etc. The easiest method I personally found to be the most effective, is right before you fall asleep, slowly reach out for different vibrations as you drift off. Go with even the lowest and follow it, see where it takes you. If you're not familiar with energy in that sense, its probably best to learn with the elements first. If you learn to pull out that energy of whatever element, you can work into the other ones. The best sense for entering the astral is through ''feeling'' and then sight. Picking up or sensing energy is crucial to any kind of ''magickal'' work, and understanding of how it works. Especially when trying to learn to ap. (Astral travel). Now granted, most people can do travel in dream state, but aren't aware that is what they're doing. The key to astral is being fully aware of leaving and getting past your mind space. (Which Lucid dreaming does not do, because you're not in a dream state, but rather in a mediative, and still conscious of the world around you).
After you get aping down to an art in meditative state, you can move to etherical projection and it becomes second nature, meditation really isn't need other than to raise energy, chakra work, and to chill out. One other thing, you should be able to do this on your own without the aide of mind altering drugs. Although, for some it can open the door, it can and often becomes a crutch and the easy way to do things. Just
put in the hard work and it pays off in the long run.
Note: falling asleep in mediation is probably the best sleep you can ever get, it's quite refreshing and it's not uncommon either.