Today I thought we could start a conversation on sleep paralysis. For those of you who are new to this topic or who have never experienced this phenomenon, sleep paralysis is a physiological response to dreaming. Simply put, your body will paralyze at night when you dream to prevent your body from acting out your dreams so you can remain safe while you sleep.
Now I will tell you up front, I do not have a great deal of experience when it comes to the terrifying, debilitating, "lock you into place so severely that you couldn't break free if your life depended on it" type of sleep paralysis. For me, the process usually starts with a general heaviness, works its way to on overall numbing sensation, and finishes with a complete disassociation from the body. In this state, I know somewhere, my physical body must exist, and with some effort, I could tell you where it is and maybe even what position my arms are laying in, but it would require some effort to return to that level of physical awareness.
In contrast to my minor effort required, I have talked with people who get a wave of sleep paralysis so deeply that they can struggle with all their might and still cannot break free. For one individual I spoke with, the more he struggles, the stronger the paralysis becomes. What makes matters worse is that this deep paralysis is often accompanied by hallucinations and noises. Shadow people walking your room, creatures on your chest, and aliens encounters.
I asked a friend to describe his experiences to me and he pointed me to a documentary called "The Nightmare". He said that the episodes described in this film depict what he goes through incredibly well. My reaction to this very frightening film was probably not the response the director was looking to invoke in the viewer. I was not frightened, on the contrary, each scene, each image of "the hat man", each encounter with aliens and demons excited me! I wanted that! Let me explain. I am far enough into the practice of astral projection and inducing out of body states, that I am well beyond the point of fearing any sort of physical harm. Thoughts of some threatening non-physical creature breathing in my face induce the same response in me that a roller coaster may induce in you. It is a thrill. A completely safe act of surrendering to fear that will make your heart pound and make you feel alive! I have said it before, any non-physical experience is worth having. Some of my most profound experiences have started as some of the most terrifying. If one day I am fortunate enough to experience these nightmares, I will let you know if I still consider myself fortunate. :)
I will end by sharing a couple of theories that I have about sleep paralysis to get your thoughts.
First, as I think about my out of body travels, it is perfectly possible that I do indeed experience this deeply paralyzed state. It could be that at that moment of separation my body is paralyzed, but I just don't recognize the condition because I am no longer bound to that physical. I am out on an adventure, leaving my paralyzed shell behind. I believe, to verify this, I would have to try to reattach or simply remain in the physical when I get to the point of separation. I will add that to my to-do list.
My second theory is that my body simply does not require that debilitating level of paralysis. I fall asleep quickly. I always have. I do not toss and turn. I select a position, fall asleep, and wake up 8 hours later in that same position. I sometimes wonder if my body has adapted to my lack of movement and therefore applies a gentle numbing, but no more than that, because that is all that is required to keep me safe in bed. This thought occurred to me as I was talking with a friend who is in the regular habit of sleep walking. He also has some of the most severe sleep paralysis stories I have ever come across. It made me think, maybe his body has to counteract his incredibly active impulses at night with an equally heavy dose of paralysis.
So there you have it. That is my entire experience with sleep paralysis in a nutshell. I will add more as I experience more. In the meantime, what do you think?