Self Induced Hypnagogia
As per my previous post about my most recent experience of hypnagogia, I have decided to finally take time to write a few personal tips for anyone else wanting to experiment with this state of mind.
“Hypnagogia” is sort of a generic term for the transitional period of the mind between being awake and falling asleep. At some point during falling asleep, REM atonia normally kicks in and disables the stimulation of motor neurons so the body isn’t flailing around while we are dreaming. At least, that’s what Wikipedia tells me.
Although we are normally not conscious by the time this happens, it does occasionally happen spontaneously that some people will find themselves still conscious while this happens. During this state of “sleep paralysis,” a person is self aware, but unable to move the body. It is possible to intentionally maintain a waking consciousness, which has been my experience to be starting point for exploring a few different interesting aspects of the mind.
The goal of this post is to help you get to the point where you can enter sleep paralysis and begin exploring on your own.
Perhaps the most important part to address is fear that is undoubtedly experienced by everyone who finds themselves conscious and paralyzed for the first time. This is a natural reaction when you do not understand what is happening, which is why this post opened on a little bit of info explaining why you can’t move while in this state. It was important for me to understand and feel that this is a normal function relating to sleep and isn’t permanent.
I’ll leave it up to you to conquer your fear or not, but I’ve found this to be a requirement. In fact, my ability to enter this state has improved since having an experience where I was even willing to die or completely give up on holding on to this life. Yeah, it sounds far out, but it was a time when I was in overwhelming physical pain and wanted to escape. I am not so much aware of physical sensation at all while in sleep paralysis and I assume this goes for most people as well.
So why is it important to get over the fear and be confident in this situation? Because every time I have freaked out, especially in my early experiences, I would jolt awake. It was a relief at the time, but a failure if the goal is to enter and maintain this state of mind. So I’ve sine become more comfortable with it.
How do you enter sleep paralysis and retain your waking mind? Entering REM atonia is mostly done for you every time you fall asleep, so the only thing you are wanting to do is remain conscious once it happens. If you have ever noticed that the more you think about falling asleep, the less likely you are to actually fall asleep, then you are on the right track.
Falling asleep is all about relaxing for me. Not actively thinking about anyhing in particular, but just letting my mind go free and meander off into dreaming. It is a chance to give up control and rest. So rather then try really hard to reach this state, I lay down with an attitude of “it may or may not happen. Either way doesn’t matter, but if I find myself aware that I can’t move then I will take hold of my mind once again.” I hope that makes sense.
It is not something you control as much as it is a case of giving up control. The better I am able to do this, the more likely I am to observe when my mind goes into this state and hold it before I fall into the deeper state of dreaming.
The best practice I can recommend is to lay down, breathe and just relax before bed. Instead of daydreaming or thinking of what you have to do tomorrow or whatever, just relax. I tend to think of like falling out a tree where my instinct is to catch a branch, but in this case it is ok to just keep falling. If thoughts are branches stemming from the subconscious mind that are always passing as you fall, rather than grabbing one of them with your conscious, analytical mind, just let them keep passing by. I’m fairly certain that anyone who is successful at doing this will fall into the sleep paralysis state.
It’s that easy. Do nothing.
What do you do while in this state? That’s really none of my business, but some experiences I’ve had are, in order from what to me feels like lighter to deeper stages of mind (more awake to more asleep): sleep paralysis, louder or more apparent subconscious thoughts, being aware of the waking world while dreaming at the same time, “out of body” travelling phenomenon*, dreaming with lucidity or controlling dreams, passive dreaming.
*I’m not as bold as to presume that my consciousness actually leaves the body. This is entirely the most accurate way to describe the experience. It seems as tho I remain in the same room, moving about while knowing that my body is sleeping. For me, it’s usually quite dark, perhaps because I know that the lights are off. Long story short, it’s fun to have the sensation of flying around and such.
How do you end this state of mind? I’ve experienced three ways of bringing these sessions to an end. The first which required the least experience, is to simply not know what I’m doing and freak out. This always led me to jolting awake. This is the “falling out of the tree” sensation everyone has probably had at some point while falling asleep.
The second method is to simply relax further and fall into a deeper sleep. For me I will usually fall into dreaming if I do this and may not even remember it.
Finally, if you are become comfortable enough with this state of mind to avoid freaking out and find yourself wanting to wake up fully, try breathing. I have found that intentionally inhaling deeply helps me to reconnect with my motor functions and make a smoother transition back to waking up. I only assume that this is because breathing is a (the only?) function that is done both consciously and subconsciously, so it seems to act as a bridge between the waking and sleeping mind.
I don’t prefer to practice this too often or try too hard. I find that I have my own sense of whether I am doing it too often or if it’s been too long and I could stand to sort my mind out this way. It’s much like how it feels good to exercise the body, but I wouldn’t want to over work the muscles without giving them time to adjust and adapt. Ultimately, it’s up to you to figure it out and be responsible or accountable to yourself.
How disappointing, right? That’s how it is. Your own mind is unique. It may have similarities to others, but it is one of a kind. Mind hacking is all about exploring, experimenting with and learning ways to use your own mind and emotions. The only way to learn is to practice and do it. No shortcuts.
Be patient and have fun! ^_^
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