Sleep Paralysis: Psychological or spiritual?


There are a lot of experiences that we have as Souls residing within contiguous spiritual space that we take for granted, or that we never talk about with people because we’re not sure how they’re going to react. The seemingly dichotomous nature of our perceive reality (black/white, good/bad, us/them) makes us seem isolated in our minds, alone in the world. Sometimes these experiences may even seem wierd, or out of place, even though we’re the ones experiencing them! And, they even seem like something that will mark us as crazy or, Heaven forbid, different. One of these experiences is something that is called, as defined by Stanford University no less, sleep paralysis. The official definition of the term (from the website) is:

“Sleep paralysis consists of a period of inability to perform voluntary movements either at sleep onset (called hypnogogic or predormital form) or upon awakening (called hypnopompic or postdormtal form). Sleep paralysis may also be referred to as isolated sleep paralysis, familial sleep paralysis, hynogogic or hypnopompic paralysis, predormital or postdormital paralysis.”

The phenomena has been studied by Clinicians and Doctors using human test subjects in sleep labs. Simply stated, people go to sleep, their REM (random eye movement) is monitored – as are their alpha, theta and delta rhythms/waves – which are endemic to the sleep and near-sleep-states. These doctors even say that sleep paralysis is closely related to narcolepsy, which seems to be an inability to regulate sleep on a consistent basis.

But the real truth is, while much of what is stated by these researchers is applicable on the surface – and according to the most obvious and psychologically appropriate aspects of its occurence – these facts are by no means the entirety of the story. There is more to what goes on in our bodies than can be fully explained by dry, clinical theories regarding the transport and transformation of different chemical combinations and energy exchanges. A more holistic form of truth is, that the psychiatrists and others who relegate the experience of sleep paralysis to the fully material (incarnate spatial) realm, don’t really know what they’re talking about. Because, for the most part, they haven’t experienced it. They haven’t explored it. They haven’t related it to the thousands of years of spiritual and mythological documentation which is, really, quite explicit on the topic.

Sleep paralysis is nothing new, nor is it a purely physical reaction that consists of the misfiring of some nerves or the failure of some mechanism designed to keep you from harming yourself. But it is a mechanism of sorts, one that is recognized across the world in many cultures. So, in that vein, I’m going to share a few of my experiences, since I consider myself somewhat versed (experientially) in this one particular area, if no others. My earliest memory of sleep paralysis occured at about the age of eight. My family lived on the island of Crete, Greece at the time, because my father was in the Air Force and there was a base there, Iraklion Air Station, which has since been turned over to the Greek government.

As a precursor to the story, I’ve been an insomniac since my earliest memories. I clearly remember, around Kindergarten age, being up, awake, quite often when nobody else in the house was. As a result, night – the darkness – has always been my friend and many things associated with this state, spiritually and psychologically, have been an integral part of my own sojourn and experience within this body and this life. That night I was in bed, just lying there before falling asleep, when, all of a sudden, my body began to take on a leaden quality. At a very quick rate, it seemed that my limbs were getting heavier and heavier and it took an increasingly strong mental effort of will to move at all. Accompanying this feeling of paralysis was an intense fear that increased as the idea seeped into my head that I wouldn’t be able to move, and yet, I would be still be awake! So I fought it with everything I had, and continued to fight the paralysis and the fear for the rest of my childhood.

I experienced sleep paralysis often. A few times a week, for most of my life, I’d average. Back then, my remedy was to fight it and then wiggle my body around for a while, until the feeling left me, because when it happens, you can’t just lie right back down, it’ll come back. The feeling itself is significant; it’s like vibrations that come over your body, at first, lightly, then increasing in strength, and as the vibrations increase, your body gets heavier and heavier. Needless to say, for a young child, this is terrifying. And yet, I never told anybody until I was a teen, at which point I told my mother, who, being the wonderful Christian Saint that she is, promptly told me that if I leave my body I’ll be possessed by demons.

Throughout my youth, this was the pattern. I had no idea what it was, but it was the same every time. Paralysis, fear, me fighting. Paralysis, fear, me fighting. Paralysis, fear, me fighting. There are many ideas about sleep paralysis; from it being just a plain old sleep disorder, to it being something more. Some people call it “The Hag”, because people who experience it often have a feeling of the presence of a malevolent spirit, a woman’s spirit, sitting upon their chest. They find it difficult to breath. Other times, other ‘evil’ spirits are associated with it. You can hear voices during the time of the paralysis. Loud noises, and audio hallucinations have also been reported. Sleep paralysis is something else altogether, but it is something real.

My awakening, as it were, came when I was in my early 20s, stationed in Kaiserslautern, Germany. I’d found a book called Journeys out of the Body by Robert Monroe, which described the feelings that I’d been having since I was a small child perfectly. When he told me that sleep paralysis was a precursor to Out Of Body Experiences (OOBEs)! I felt, at the moment of reading this, as if my entire life had been illuminated, and my first thought was why, why, why had this been happening to me for most of my life???

From that point on, I began using sleep paralysis as a tool to explore the inner life, to bring on lucid dreamstates and to attempt to ‘get over’ and ‘move past’ my childhood fear of the unknown. I expect to write more about the experiences that I’ve had over the years, dealing with sleep paralysis, and to talk more about the details of cultivating OOBEs and Lucid Dreams, if there is interested in such. There is so much more to say about this, but I’ll end this write with this thought: There is more to existence than our waking lives, and we have an innate ability to access other Realities through our own volition, if only we will it to be so.

Being relegated to one experience of the world during our waking hours is a choice that we make. To make another choice is to move into uncharted realms of inner experience that will amaze, scare and enlighten us all, if we dare to make it so.

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14 Comments

    1. Love that song. Great video! Yes, I’ve had some doozies as well. I don’t have sleep paralysis as much as I used to when I was younger. Still an insomniac though. LOL

    1. Hi there, Heather, congratulations on your new page, hope your personal reasons have absolutely nothing to do with a stalker. Thank you for dropping by and leaving this note and glad you liked the post. 🙂

  1. I’ve experienced this often, beginning in my early 20’s and continuing until sometimes in my 40’s. Sometimes it was frightening, but other times I was able to stay calm and control what happened (visiting places of brilliant colors). And sometimes it was accompanied by clairvoyant visions. Thank you for the article – glad to know others are familiar with this!

    1. Hi there Betty, yes, it is something else indeed and quite the unmentioned thing. I remember doing so in 8th grade and being laughed at by an entire class. LOL That was the last time I did that. Until, the internet, and being able to find entire communities of people who have shared these strange internal experiences. Glad to add you to the community of mind and spirit, my friend. Bless!

  2. It was so interesting to hear you say that you cannot lie back down or it will come back. This is my experience EXACTLY!!! I have found that if I get up and move around, watch tv, or read then I can “safely” go back to sleep. I have NEVER found it to be a pleasant sensation though. I often feel as if something is trying to suck me in or I’m going to die. I always hear a LOUD machine like noise along with this feeling. I vividly remember having this happen to me in the middle of an afternoon nap. I was aware that it was light outside and could feel the terror surrounding me…I decided to once and for all just let whatever this was take me. I remember the loud machine sound suddenly decreasing until it was gone. I literally thought I had died….then I opened my eyes. My husband is the only person I have ever confided this too. Thanks for sharing your experience….it somehow makes me feel better about my own.

    Kim

    1. Hi Kim, I highly recommend to you Robert Monroe’s book, “Journeys Out of the Body”. That is the text that awakened me over 20 years ago to what it was I had been experiencing my whole life. And I know, for a fact, that you are sincere because the way you have described your experience and responses is intimately familiar to me as it has been my own over a span of many years. Pleasant is not the way to describe it, no. It can be a violent shaking of the body at times, when unregulated. But the thing is, once the fear is overcome, it can all be controlled. The fear is a barrier. A testing region of sorts, in this ultradimensional space of consciousness. You can’t proceed until it is conquered, which makes sense. The loud machine-noise and the vibrates are the key. During that period, there are certain steps that must be taken to exit the body, if you ever feel curious to go beyond the stage that you have reached. Thank you so much for sharing your experience here! I think I might write a new article on this some day soon in order to speak to some of the other issues that I did not in this first one, which I actually wrote some years ago.

      All best to you and yours! ~Mark

  3. I have encounters every since I could remember and kept it to myself because I didn’t want people to think I was crazy. I did some reading on it a couple of years ago and grew weary trying to find some answers. I had a recent episode and started doing some research again any body know any metaphysical meaning to sleep paralysis…Steer me in good direction on some answers

  4. I’m a few years behind reading this but came across it while googling “Bob Monroe” and “sleep paralysis” I was reading the book “phenomena” by annie jacobsen and when describing the focus levels Monroe used to get to an out of body event I couldnt help think that the Hemi-Sync audio signals might trigger the start of sleep paralysis for I have began to find a correlation with my sleep paralysis and the clicking sound of a furnace going on. I’ve had it since before I can remember. It is frightening and when I was little I had issues wetting the bed due to being too scared to get up(i was taken to several specialist but nothing was found) Mostly its just the feeling of dread and inability to move but once at 19 I had the old hag syndrome where I saw a figure in my room and it walked over and sat on my chest. Yet the strangest occured when I was 26/27. I was lying in bed during the early afternoon when the sleep paralysis turned into me feeling as though I was thrown from my bed and up to the corner ceiling and back to the other side of the room. I quickly found myself not on the floor but in my bed. It was so odd I never told anyone until I saw there might be a connection to out of body experiences. I wonder if this may have been a start to experiencing an OBE. Just thought Id describe my experience for anyone who might have similar experiences.

    1. Thank you for sharing your experience, Rebecca. There are many and varied types of OOBEs and astral jaunts, your words add to the collective understanding of this phenomenon and how ubiquitous it must be to “some” human experience.

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