It appears to me that he is speaking metaphorically.
Nevertheless, it is well known within the Coptic tradition that certain holy men known as Al-Sowah (or simply 'hermits') have the ability to travel by their spirit to a region apart from that in which their physical body is located. I had the blessing of meeting one such person, Abba Faltaous of the Monastery of St. Pishoy, in the holy wilderness of Wadi El-Natrun.
This man is one of the holiest saints sanctifying the ground of the earth today, and yet he disguises it so well that I would never have known it had I not had the blessing of being present at a moment in which he, feeling compelled and out of obligation, dispensed to my father and my father's best friend--who is in fact his personal physician, some of the secrets of the desert (my experience with the monks in fact revealed a great paradox--that the true Saints are not usually those whose speech is full of spiritual content, and whose humility is self-evident (though that is certainly not to say that such monastics cannot/are-not genuinely holy men)--but those who would externally reveal themselves to be somewhat foolish or strange). He revealed how he and another well known living hermit of the day (who resides quite a few hundred kilometres away from him) often meet, by the spirit (i.e. with their physical bodies remaining at their place of solitude) in a certain cave below the water--which he in fact described in fine geographical detail, as if he we were taking us through the specific route he takes to get there--with Abba Paul, the first anchorite
, whereupon they perform the Divine Liturgy together. It was an unusually detailed and remarkeable account, and I was rather surprised we got it out of him--my dad's best friend's stubborn persistence paid off in the end.