I am a bit reluctant to discuss my own experiences--preferring, instead, to debunk those of others--but I guess that when I critique the paranormal, I do so from my few experiences. I know from experience what is real, and I have a gut-level sense of what is fabrication.
But today I stayed home from a migraine. I took my migraine medicine, which gradually puts me to sleep. As I floated between sleep and awake, I vividly felt something, like a small animal, or a hand, forcefully pressing down on my right leg. I was startled and struggled to wake up. While this was happening, I could see, and I saw nothing unusual in the room. I didn't feel a presence, but I definitely felt something pressing on me. When I was awake, the pressure was gone. I analyzed the experience. I didn't sense anything malevolent; I didn't see anything strange. But I definitely *felt* something.
I drifted back to sleep again, and immediately the sensation returned. This time, the pressure, like a hand pressing in me, was moving up my back. I forced myself awake. I thought about the situation. It certainly seemed like "something" was trying to get at me while I was asleep, and this seemed slightly menacing, but I was as curious as I was alarmed. And I wanted to go to sleep.
So I tried again. This time, the pressure, whatever it was, had transformed into the familiar "vibration," the precursor to an OOBE, that enveloped me. I gradually moved into a definite OOBE, which I don't recall very well, except it had the usual features--conscious awareness, swift movement through the physical environment (I tried to visit someone, as I usually do), and I was definitely aware that this was a daytime OOBE--everything was vivid and colorful.
Taken by itself, this experience can easily be explained away as a hypnagogic hallucination, or, as some commentators have defined it, as a "dream." But I've had a lifetime of these experiences, which I have recorded, and I've read extensively in OOBE literature (including what I think of as a related phenomenon, the NDE). So I know the markers, the common elements that suggest that what I'm experiencing is "real" rather than a "dream."
Scientific efforts to debunk the OOBE or NDE proceed from the assumption that consciousness is physically-based; consciousness is a byproduct of matter and so cannot exist independent of the body. (Although a book that I read years ago, which had a big impact on me--"The Origin of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind"--featured one scientist who was willing to consider the possibility that consciousness might not be centered in the brain.) The OOBE experiencer knows--experientially--that consciousness can travel quite a distance from the physical body and can interact with an external environment that seems real.
Personally, I think that those who ask, "Is consciousness based in the physical body?" are asking the wrong question. What I've come to believe is that, yes, consciousness depends on the physical body: Physical consciousness, that is. But we have other "consciousnesses" that are melded with a physical one. We also have a non-physical (the so-called "astral") body that is largely a replica of the physical one, with its own consciousness. That reality hit me this morning. When I was half-asleep, I definitely felt something quite physical, several times, but the sensation vanished when I became physically conscious. I realized that what I was feeling was in my nonphysical body, which mirrors the physical one.
This dual-awareness can explain quite a number of paranormal phenomena, particularly of some UFO "abductions." It can explain many cases of spirit contact and manifestations, which appear quite real but leave no physical trace. It certainly explains death-bed visions, which have been documented for centuries. It can explain a wide assortment of "paranormal" phenomena that is perceived as very real by the experiencer, but leaves no physical trace and resists investigation. It is a simple, elegant idea--as of now, scientifically unsubstantiated, but I think that, one day, will be.
As a side note: I've had a lifetime of these "twilight" experiences, where I've been pushed or pulled, always involuntarily, from my body. Sometimes I sense a presence, sometimes I don't. This experience has occasionally happened quite abruptly: I am "zapped," drained of all energy, paralyzed, and pulled from my body. My childhood experiences were particularly vivid and frightening. I went through a phase where I was convinced that I was a UFO abductee, since I recognized in many abductee accounts elements of my own experience. I'm now convinced that my experiences, and those of many others, are an unexplained part of a larger reality that is most likely common, natural, and, hopefully, benign.