I've read a large number of books on Astral Projection and this one was completely different for its range of topics. The author sent out a survey and received first-hand accounts from 16,000 people who have had various degrees of out-of-body experiences from accidental to controlled, from enjoyable to unwelcome. Buhlman lets the stories speak for themselves, and categorizes the experiences by subject: meetings and messages beyond the body, childhood OBEs, combat- and trauma-induced experiences and transformational experiences. Buhlman also discusses what can be expected from an OBE and what benefits there are.
Chapter 6 was unique in the entire literature of OBEs: could alien abductions be unexpected out-of-body experiences? Buhlman does a masterful job of analyzing the reported experiences of alien abductees and drawing parallels to the sensations of OBEs.
His "Brief History" of OBEs is an eye-opening re-examination of descriptions of the mystical experience, synthesizing historical and biblical accounts from the Egyptians through the Greeks and Tibetans, to the Christian and Sufi mystics, including Swedenborg, Yogis, Aborigines, Native Americans and Shamans. It's all too brief, serving to point the way for the reader to research further, but does argue for the ubiquitous OBE in our religions and spiritual paths.
Chapter 8, "A New Vision of Death and Dying," is another unique feature of this book in the Astral Travel library. OBEs are not dealt with as simply enjoyable anomalies in consciousness, but as life-changing spiritual experiences demanding a transformation of our definition of reality.
The "Art and Practice" section of the book deals specifically with the sensations the practitioner will feel when attempting to leave the body. The trance state is discussed, and the all-important vibrational phenomena are revisited throughout the book until they are pretty much memorized. Very few other books on Astral Projection are so detailed in their descriptions of what you can expect to feel when trying to leave the body. They may tell you what to imagine or visualize, but then you do the practices and then feel/see/hear things and wonder if you're on the right track. For example, the paralysis and vibrations that frighten many people are the very signals of an imminent OBE!
Many different visualizations are offered, and readers can choose the ones that appeal to them, or the ones that they find easiest to work with: climbing, floating, rocking, rotating, rotating, and so on.
Other techniques that may aid the reader in leaving the body are discussed briefly, from drumming and medicinal plants to meditation and brain-wave technology. A chapter on trouble-shooting is very helpful for those experiencing fear or distractions.
Like anything, Astral Projection can be learned through practice. No book can guarantee an OBE; that depends on your motivation and power of concentration, not to mention your ability to persevere through failure and learn from your mistakes. But "Secret of the Soul" is a wide-ranging and fascinating read even for earth-bound souls.