The astral world, or astral plane, is said to exist between the elemental (or physical) and the mental (or causal) worlds. It is from the astral world that some believe we emerge when we are born and where we return when we die.
One benefit to connecting with the astral world is said to be that it is where our true nature can be recognized. This can provide a tool for freeing us from the suffering of the material world. Some even say that in the astral world, all of the causes of disease and suffering are revealed, allowing for healing.
Many think of the astral world as a place that people reside after death. While there, they take on an astral body. However, others say that they can gain awareness of the astral world during their lifetimes. This may come through sleep and dreaming, or via anaesthetics, drugs or other mind altering events.
It is said that people with more refined thoughts are more likely to be able to travel from the physical world to the astral world. In going deeper into the astral world they may gain insights that benefit those around them and humanity in general.
According to some theosophical teachings, the astral world has seven dimensions, which link with esoteric views that there are seven types of matter: solid, liquid, gaseous, etheric, super-etheric, atomic and sub-atomic.