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Sleep Paralysis

If you have ever awoken in the middle of the dream state, and suddenly felt the terrifying inability to move, then you have experienced a very fascinating phenomena called Sleep Paralysis.

Sleep Paralysis is officially classified as a sleep disorder among some sleep researchers.  Statistically a high percentage of people who experience this phenomena are likely to suffer from Narcolepsy according to sleep study research.  I do apologize that I have forgotten the source material I found this information in, otherwise I would cite it for you.  It was something I came across several years ago on the internet regarding sleep disorder and dream research. 

There is a minor percentage of cases where sleep paralysis can be experienced without any associated Narcoleptic problems. It is this minority percentage of cases that this blog concerns. This minority may have a greater potential for experimental research with altered states of consciousness and out of body experiences, and would be of particular interest to the working occultist or witchcraft practitioner.

The symptoms or experiences of sleep paralysis may differ from person to person.  Terror is typically the common experience, at least at first.  To find yourself consciously aware and unable to move is a very un-nerving experience, and in addition there are other sensations that may be experienced while you are unable to move.   Sensation may involve burning pain, or a pins and needles sensation in the head or back of the neck. Some people may feel what can only be described as an electrical type of sensation with an accompanying auditory hallucination that may mimic the sound of white noise. Visual hallucinations and false awakenings may occur. Some have reported a sense of being watched, or a feeling of weight on top of the body. Even more fascinating are the cases where some of the bizarre experiences that people have reported with sleep paralysis, have been very similar to sensory descriptions people have experienced during alleged UFO abductions.  There are some schools of thought who believe that the UFO abduction experience might in actuality be a very bizarre form is of this sleep paralysis "disorder" or "experience". 

With sleep paralysis it is important for you to know that being paralyzed during your dream state is perfectly normal and actually desirable. When you enter into an REM (Rapid Eye Movement) sleep state, your motor function (ability to physically move at Will) automatically turns itself off. The nervous system does this so that the dreamer does not get out of bed and run around the house while in a dream state, thus injuring himself. ( Those who suffer from sleepwalking, actually have a problem with this inhibitory function, as the motor function does not turn off as it should when entering REM sleep.) So the fact that this paralysis happens during REM, is natures way of keeping you safe while you dream, instead of running about your house in an unconscious state and then suddenly waking up standing outside on the edge of a cliff, or the top of the stairs or what not, which is clearly not a good thing. 

Researchers have discovered that the sleep paralysis state appears to be a result of, or otherwise connected mysteriously to, a heightened state of stimulation within the fear center in the brain called the Amygdala. This is the oldest and most primitive part of the “animal” brain. Why this happens during the sleep paralysis, to my knowledge, is unknown. 

For the practicing occultist, this phenomena, assuming you are not suffering from Narcolepsy, is potentially a welcome experience because there is sufficient experience among myself and many others to support the theory that sleep paralysis can be a springboard for the experience of OBE (out of body experience, or "astral projection"), as well as for lucid dreaming. 

I have experienced sleep paralysis hundreds of times ever since I was a child.   The trick I have personally discovered is to make a conscious decision not to panic while in the paralysis state. If the dreamer can relax, which I have found is most effectively done if you can focus on sinking deeper into your mattress by letting all resistance go,  and refuse to give into the instinct to fight and panic, what usually happens for me is that suddenly the unpleasant effects of the sleep paralysis state subsides altogether, and the experience transitions into the following possibilities:

One: True out of body experience.

Two: Full immersion into a lucid dream control state with a vivid awareness of being conscious within the dream, minus the paralysis problem. In this case all sensory unpleasant phenomena dissipates as the dreamer is immersed into an entirely different state of awareness or consciousness during the dream experience which may also include sensate phenomena.  The paralysis state tends to be "unclear" and "fuzzy".  When you relax into it, which in milder cases might feel like a warm kind of all over body numbness, then the fear goes away and the sense of lucid clarity gets stronger as you actually engage in lucid dream content.  

Three: Hypnogogic phenomena, wherein the dreamer may sense he or she is in between sleeping and waking. This probably has the most potential for unpleasant sensory, frightening and hallucinogenic experiences which can cause panic and disorientation.  This is because you are literally half awake looking at your actual physical surroundings, but there is still hallucinogenic distortions from the dream plane visible to you.  It's a bit like being stuck between both states.  This is also where false awakenings can happen.  You think you are awake because everything looks the way it should in your surroundings, but then you discover later, you were still mostly dreaming when you do actually wake up for real. 

Personal experience has proven that entering into the lucid dream state and leaving the lucid dream state are usually the two “ transition points” where the sleep paralysis phenomena may be experienced the most intensely. Similarly leaving and entering the body during an OBE, or actual experience of astral projection, are the most likely time for this phenomena to occur. The severity of the transition or experience will vary from experience to experience and from person to person. In one instance the experience could be mildly pleasant and in other cases the experience could elicit an extreme state of panic and physical discomfort. I have experienced both extremes.  

There was one experience I had many years ago where I suddenly felt very cold in the middle of the night.  I "woke up" and noticed that the cover was kicked to the foot of my bed, so I sat up in bed and reached down to pull the covers up over me again.  When I reached for the blanket I was shocked to discover my hand passed right through the blanket without touching it.  Suddenly very alarmed and shocked, I turned to look behind me from my upright vantage point (sitting up in bed) and saw that my head was still lying on the pillow and that my eyes were closed.   In total shock and with full awareness that I was now having an out of body experience, I made a decision to lay back down into my body and try waking up again to pull the covers over me.  The feeling of extreme cold was very strong in that particular experience.  


Dion Fortune, a very famous personality in the history of occultism, and former member of the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn, describes passing through what she calls the “astral cold."  I can only assume that my experience was very similar to her own.  She stated that in her case it was something she never really quite was able to get used to, and it was always a bit disconcerting every time she experienced it.

The sleep paralysis phenomena has potential to open an entirely new window of understanding within the study of altered states of consciousness. Those who experience this strange phenomena, particularly if you are advancing in your occult skills, have an opportunity to examine the inner realms of consciousness in a very unique way by working with this phenomena instead of against it when it happens to you.

 

Monique Lockhart

Copy write 2016

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