At the time of the separation of consciousness from the physical body at the time of death, there is the soul and its formed mental and vital sheaths which now become free of the physical impediment. Sri Aurobindo traces the potential journey of the soul through a series of planes or worlds that successively become more subtle and refined as they move further away from the physical and into the vital and mental ranges that have been developed as capacities during the physical embodiment.
The first possibility is for the soul to move temporarily into what Sri Aurobindo calls the “subtle-physical” which has many of the characteristics of the physical world, but without the limitations imposed by physical existence. There are also life-worlds which embody the vital principle that helped to form and fix the vital life and personality of the embodied soul. In the life-worlds one would see the vital power predominant and not limited by the physical limitations. The vital forces which held the attention of the evolutionary soul in life will clearly have strong influence on the direction and focus after death, and the soul may, for a time, get caught up in one of these vital realms as a result. Eventually the soul, however, cannot be totally limited by the physical or vital sheaths. To the extent there was a strong mental or mental-spiritual development, the soul may spend some time in one of the corresponding worlds between births. One may also find that the soul traverses some of these worlds but cannot consciously participate in them if there was insufficient vital, mental or spiritual development in the immediately past lifetime to create a capacity of resonance with what is going on in those worlds. “Any residence of the soul in annexes or in its own constructions could be only a transitional stage of the consciousness in its passage from the physical to the supraphysical state; it must pass from these structures into the true worlds of supraphysical Nature.” The driving force will in any case be the “influences which have shaped his earthly existence…” Eventually all of these intervening stages must be overpassed so that the soul can move to its next evolutionary phase.
Sri Aurobindo, The Life Divine, Book 2, Part 2, Chapter 22, Rebirth and Other Worlds; Karma, the Soul and Immortality