There’s been a small flurry of interest in the phenomenon of Sleep Paralysis on a couple of my favourite web sites recently.
A few of weeks ago, I experienced an episode myself – not the first, I now realise, but the occurrences have been rare enough for me not to take too much notice of them.
I was just drifting asleep, when I was suddenly awake, and aware of an entirely malevolent presence in the room, at the same time as I felt the duvet being dragged off me. I couldn’t move at all.
The incident was brief – a few seconds at most – but very intense, and fairly frightening at the time. That is, my body reacted with all the classical symptoms of fear; I was flooded with adrenaline but unable to move a muscle.
Immediately afterward, I realised what had happened, and all the fear left me as abruptly as it had arrived.
Now, I am quite willing to accept the scientific explanation for these occurrences: the neuro-chemical one makes absolute sense to me. But at the same time, I am most definitely not prone to accept the materialist-reductionist rendering of all other dreams.
Why? I suppose that the imprint and the life enhancements afforded by my usual dream life are so much more far-reaching, so spiritually helpful, that I’m reluctant to cast them in the same mould as the Hag of sleep paralysis.
A dream of a blue ocean adorned with white breakers under a full moon at night has stayed with me for years. So incredibly beautiful it was – I’ve never seen anything like it in waking consciousness. Even my worst nightmares – the drinking dreams – have the power to instruct me, even now, ten years after I took my last drink. I cherish them, too, in all their horror.
The point here, I think, is that sleep paralysis, while it is ongoing, has all the hall marks of a bodily reaction – the fear chemicals coursing through the veins are quite evident – while other dreams are deeper, more penetrating into every aspect of my life, with the quality of something which has arisen to instruct and improve me.
I cannot take a sleep paralysis incident seriously. But the dreams – ah, those are an aspect of Being I handle with love, honour and serious attention.
Besides,the very absence of fear in my life has disinclined me to take very seriously some evil creature trying to divest me of my duvet at night. Evil stalks the world in boardrooms and parliaments, not my bedroom.