Sleep Paralysis as a Spiritual Experience — the Terror and the Bliss Of this Mysterious Neurological Condition

by Ane Krstevska

Sleep Paralysis as a Spiritual Experience — the Terror and the Bliss Of this Mysterious Neurological Condition

Every one of us has probably sometimes woken up in the middle of the night paralyzed. We have all sometimes felt an evil presence by our beds or we experienced a hypnagogic hallucination which were being attacked which we were asleep. Well, this does not mean that we are fantasizing or that we are lucid dreaming, because sleep paralysis really exists, and it can be a real nightmare. However, we should know that we are not alone in this, as this terrifying disorder affects numerous people around the world.

From medical perspective, sleep paralysis is a brief period at sleep onset, or off-set, during which we are not able to speak or move while we are awake and aware of everything that happens around us. Sleep paralysis was said to be a condition in which we awaken from sleep, but we are temporarily paralyzed. It can last from a few seconds to a few minutes or longer. Usually, it occurs when we start awakening or right when we are falling asleep.

However, what is the cause of this condition and what occurs during it? Why does this condition accompany the strangest hallucinations and is sleep paralysis a neurological condition or a spiritual phenomenon? Can a demon attack us in our sleep and cause this condition?

The contributor of Live Science, named Stephanie Pappas, said:

During the most dream-filled phase of sleep, our muscles become paralyzed, preventing the body from acting out what’s going on in the brain. The brain chemicals kick into action during rapid eye movement (REM) sleep, a phase that usually begins about 90 minutes into a night’s rest. During REM, the brain is very active, and dreams are at their most intense. But the voluntary muscles of the body — arms, legs, fingers, anything that is under conscious control — are paralyzed.

This paralysis keeps people still even as their brains are acting out fantastical scenarios; it's also the reason people sometimes experience sleep paralysis, or the experience of waking up while the muscles are still frozen. This sensation has been the basis for myths such as the succubus and the incubus, demons said to pin people down in their sleep, usually to have sex with them.”

Sleep paralysis as our spiritual experience

Sleep paralysis was widely reported as the general population and it is usually accompanied by diverse and vivid hallucinations. The hallucinations related to this condition are probably important contributors to different supernatural traditions and paranormal beliefs.

A lot of people have reported to have a sense of terror when they felt some ghostly presence, usually described as threatening, malevolent, or also evil, accompanied by some strange smells and sounds. Some of them have even reported unique experiences such as the sensation of floating or also being outside of their body. From a medical point of view, such experiences are usually defined as hypnopompic or hypnagogic hallucinations.

According to other sources, sleep paralysis was said to sometimes cause eerie sensations of floating outside of your body or looking down on yourself from the ceiling of your bathroom. In some cultures, such experiences are usually attributed to the ‘soul,’ justexperiin a type of ‘asttral travel,’ the spiritual self projects itself into alternative existence realm. However, out of body experiences originate in our brain. They may reliably be produced in the lab. We merely have to disrupt the activity of our brain region which is called the temporoparietal junction.

But, one study from the University of California and the Harvard Medical School from 2015 has examined some cultural explanations of sleep paralysis – or the Pandafeche attack in Italy – and found an overwhelming percent of participants who believed that one supernatural creature, called the Pandafeche, usually refers to as an evil witch, sometimes also as a christ-like spirit or even a terrifying humanoid cat, had possibly caused the sleep paralysis which they experienced.

One professor and also director at the Doctors Kienle Center of Humanistic Medicine st the Penn State College of Medicine, named Dr. David Hufford, explored a lot of interpretations which were given about this condition in order to suggest that even a terrifying sleep paralysis may have some positive spiritual impacts for those that experience it.

Dr. David does not believe that sleep paralysis is a judgment. He said that he believes the opposite, which is that the sleep paralysis episodes are an awakening.

So, are the experiences which happen during sleep paralysis real or they could be be our psyche playing tricks on us? Is it a spiritual state of consciousness or does it happen as a result of stress and sleep deprivation? Do spirits appear in this condition or do they represent our fears and hidden desires?

Native American myths have told countless stories about dreams. It is believed that both good and bad dreams circulate through the night air. To make sure that the terrors of the dream life are not able to get through the sleeper, dream catchers were fashioned and hung over the bed or at the window.

Woven at the center is a web that will ensnare and entangle bad dreams so that they will remain there and perish at the first light of dawn. The good dreams are trapped in the web, and slide down the feathers to the sleeping person.

Sweet dreams! 

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Image Credit: nile-can-too

Ane Krstevska
Ane Krstevska



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