Increasingly there seems to be little point in hanging on to new age spiritual, paranormal, or esoteric fantasies about altered mental states in which we seem to leave our bodies. We're actually not going anywhere... our brains are just making it up. We can, readily alter our sense of body ownership, as in the well known "rubber hand" illusion.
A nice graphic in today's New York Times prompts me to go ahead and mention a recent report from Blanke and coworkers in Nature that I was going to pass by, because it has received wide notice in the press and other blogs. This paper adds to a growing literature whose bottom line is that perturbation of nerve firing in brain areas near where the temporal and parietal lobes meet can cause a variety of distortions of our subjective sense of our body in space. Most commonly this is felt as an "out of body experience" where we are looking at ourselves from some external perspective or experiencing a 'shadow' version of ourselves. Here is the graphic from the New York Times based on work from the Blanke laboratory:
(Click to enlarge)