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Sleep paralysis, night terrors, false awakenings

image from butterybooks.comRobert Moss' post of Monday July 9th/12 in which he talks about his interview (at - radio show "The Way of the Dreamer" hosted by Robert every 2nd Tues of the month) with dream educator/researcher Ryan Hurd , prompted this entry regarding sleep paralysis and related states... 

My first experience with SLEEP PARALYSIS was, as is typical, in my early 20's; a time filled with psycho-spiritual searching. It developed into a full-fledged "NIGHT TERROR" as a threatening, presence advanced towards me. I couldn't breathe, move or scream and lay helpless as this being closed in on me. Finally, with great effort I moved my mouth and screamed the most effort-filled silent scream of my life. Each attempt afterwards, despite the horror I felt, rendered merely a constricted, breathy sound. I don't know when or if my screams became audible before I was wakened by my thrashing and pounding heart.

After a few of these happenings I realized I had to learn how to navigate my way through, read up on perspectives on such dream states and explore them.

Psychic and spiritual medium, Sylvia Browne's perspective on soul travel was most helpful. As I understand it, the soul leaves the physical body during the night, visiting different places and times and returns when it is time to come back to the house of the soul. *Sleep paralysis and night terrors are experiences of difficult re-entry (I liken them to turbulence during a flight). She observed that these states can be accompanied by a whooshing or banging sound and a feeling of high winds as the soul tries to break back in. 

Frightening stuff, until you realize what is happening. When you do: RELAX, keep calm and trust the pilot will do what s/he needs to do, and when you do, re-entry takes place with ease. With this discovery I earned many travel miles and became an accomplished pilot at making difficult landings.

Over time, as I aged, the frequency of these dream states decreased...for the most part.

However, I had a particularly terrifying night terror in my late fourties in which a malevolent presence and others of it's ilk, hovered over me while I slept. I felt pressure upon my body, paralysis, and their hot breath on my face. I would not let them come any closer and somehow awoke into ordinary reality.

The presence felt "alien" to me in that it was something I had never known before. There is a theory that "alien" abductions are experiences of this state of mind/sleep and not actual occurrences. But, here's another perspective - we open ourselves to all space and all time when we dream and as Steven Hawking says we are just one of a multitude of beings and planets in existance. Did the fear come from within my own psyche or was it induced by an intrusion by other beings?

Whatever it was, the next day I **smudged the room and the whole house. I changed the orientation of the bed in the room - feeling a change in alignment may close a portal that had become open. And, as I fell asleep that night, and for many more, I did not wear a tin foil hat but surrounded myself with light and called it in, reciting THE DIVINE LIGHT INVOCATION as Swami Radha had taught me years earlier... 

I am created by Divine Light.
I am sustained by Divine Light.
I am protected by Divine Light.
I am surrounded by Divine Light.
I am ever growing into Divine Light.

In my mind FALSE AWAKENINGS are much milder sleep paralysis induced experiences, most often occurring in the early morning hours or late afternoon - somewhere around 3pm (when many experience a dip in energy level). You "awaken" to a level of consciousness, feeling awake you get up out of bed only to find yourself again and again back in bed despite repeated, increasingly determined and seemingly successful attempts to snap out of it. Your efforts may become Herculean as you attempt to move your heavy body through thick, sticky as molasses air; a sign that you are falling back to sleep.

False-awakenings, in my experience are also a space in all time, all place. Picture a phyllo pastry dessert - a baklava - thin layers of pastry slathered with a light film of filling on each layer, laid one over the other. Well this space is like that only in place of the sticky gooey filling is - a time, location and a life playing itself out, separated by a veil of illusion (the phyllo pastry sheet) from another time, location and life playing itself out; the infinite layers run parallel to each other and exist simultaneously. There you have it. You can jump into layers and visit different times, locations and lives (as you would in full-fledged lucid dreaming) or you can just stay where you are, intensify and broaden your hearing and drop in on various conversations and events taking place all at once.

Moss and Hurd suggest that when you experience these phenomena: DON'T PANIC, TRY TO RELAX AND STAY WITH IT. If you can do these things then you may find a portal to other experience. These states: sleep paralysis, night terror, false-awakenings, are prime portals for entering into lucid dreams (in which, paraphrasing Hurd's definition from the radio interview - you become fully aware of yourself and the ability to make choices and deal with what is happening in the dream), empowering your life and living consciously.

Support systems for entering dream space (aka creating sacred space) can be helpful when dealing with episodes of sleep paralysis and related states:

  • Become comfortable with the experience of sleep paralysis by honing the ability to maintain awareness of body/mind/spirit state as you fall asleep. As you experience the body falling into deep, deep paralytic relaxation you will begin to feel comfortable in this state.
  • as you drift to sleep, surround yourself with light
  • call in your helping spirits, allies, power animals and beings of 100% pure light for protection and support as you fall asleep and during the dream experience
  • bring in love - feel love towards a person, place, thing as you fall asleep and during the dream experience
  • smudge your sleeping space and orient the furniture in a direction that feels "right"
  • note your dreams, progress and skill development as you become a skilled dream navigator

*Physiology explains that when we sleep, muscle groups shut down so that we don't act out our dreams in REM state. When the muscles aren't re-actived and we begin to awaken we experience sleep paralysis often accompanied by menacing imagery and feelings of fear and panic. 

**Smudging - the burning of herbs - sweetgrass, sage, tobacco for the purpose of "spiritual house cleaning". The smoke clears negative energy and takes it to another space where it can be transmuted into positive energy.

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