Lately I’ve been experiencing lucid dreaming, in which I find myself in total control of when or where I get to cease a dream. It’s been contended that this period of dreaming is not a state of sleep but a period of wakefulness. I beg to differ. How could a wakeful phase occupy such an extensive period of restfulness?
Just last night in Melbourne, I fell asleep from 2am to 10am. In between, I never woke up nor felt the need to. Throughout the whole time I was lucid dreaming. I mean, I knew I was dreaming. I knew I could control when to wake up. I knew nothing was real. My family and I were going through this vivid life-threatening adventure of trying to survive many trials and tribulations in a game-like setting. Almost like those books in which you choose your ending! The scenes were constantly changing to put us in a series of threatening environments. First there was a flood and earthquake, so we were forced to climb out from our second apartment on the 30th floor and enter this arena. I let everybody else step on me in order to climb the hell out. We had to waddles across mud, swim across crocodile and bird-infested swamps. And we fought gigantic purple dinosaur-like creatures to move on to the next level! Is this some kind of 3D animation game? Then we had to eliminate another family with our bare hands, and I did, knowing that it was just a dream. Don’t ask me how I did it. And when it was all over, we returned to our 30th floor apartment like it all never happened, and I (very calmly) opened my delivery package which was a whole box full of Pierre Hermes macarons from Paris (yay!)
Not the first time I’ve had this kind of dreams. Does everyone else get that a lot too?
DISCLAIMER: Do not read on if you’re afraid of the supernatural, or just afraid.
Close to 2 years ago I started this flying job which involved sleeping alone in multiple unfamiliar hotels and rooms. Very quickly I overcame issues of sleeping on foreign beds, and learnt to ignore ambiguous late-night noises. It doesn’t help that I love watching horror shows, and occasionally those horrific scenes do come back to haunt me. I remember being very freaked out once, alone in a hotel room in Osaka, when I was fully aware of descending into a state of total sleep paralysis. It was my first time feeling a total sleep paralysis.
Hotels in Japan are typically reputed to rank high on international Haunted Hotel lists. So there I was, one evening, tired out from having shopped the day away at Shinsaibashi, lying in bed for a short nap in order to gear up for an overnight flight, when I started hearing heavy footsteps in the room directly above me. Nothing scary right? Walls of Japanese rooms are built hollow and earthquake-proof, to prevent collapse. The footsteps got louder, then faster, then impossibly fast – it started to sound like somebody was actually running with heavy boots on. I was wearing my fluffy eyeshades, as usual, since I hardly turn off all the lights whenever I go to bed overseas.
Too tired to feel scared, I decided to just ignore and try harder to go to sleep. Then it happened. Physically, I’d experienced a sudden electrical shock to my brains, before feeling my entire body shut down. Instead of darkness, my eyes were seeing blinding white light behind my shut eyelids. My limbs were dead weight and completely immoveable. I couldn’t even flutter an eyelid because they felt dead heavy. The footsteps I was hearing continued to pick up speed until it reached a point where loud noise blended into a hollowed out total silence. In my head I was mustering strength to move and trying to scream for help, which will not come since I stayed alone.
The pounding footsteps could be heard periodically, now it seemed only in my head and not from the floor above me. Throughout this whole time, I was convincing myself that if I threw aside my eyeshades and saw anything/anybody, I would face it calmly. Though my eyes were closed, I was seeing shadows, moving lights and trails of blazing white, as if the lights were like white hot currents running across my line of vision. There’s a Chinese saying that this kind of paralysis was akin to 鬼壓身 (literally ghost pressing onto your body). It is exactly what this felt like. An unknown source of weight or power pressing you down. Strangely, when I tried to scream, I could feel air gushing through, but just no sound whatsoever. Perhaps I was screaming, just unable to hear myself. Whatever it is, my limbs were useless at this point in time, so might as well tide it through.
I knew physical control was returning to me when the footsteps slash pounding noises in my head were getting slower and softer. Perhaps due to fear the episode seemed to last forever though it might have only been minutes. It was gradual – this ascend back from sleep paralysis. I could feel strength returning, and attempted to flutter my eyelids once more. When strength finally returned to my limbs, I threw aside my eyeshades with vengeance, only to discover the room as it was, and that 2 hours had passed since I last checked the time before plopping onto bed.
I try not to read too much into it, just take it that I was so physically tired my body fell asleep before my mind could shut down. Or perhaps my mind was still running on caffeine and could not go into sleep mode. But what’s with the footsteps? Friends in the medical faculty advised that perhaps I was hearing blood pumping through my arteries. I wouldn’t doubt that. I guess most of my colleagues would attest to having their own encounters, however small or insignificant it may seem. Since the episode, off and on, I’ve been reading up on sleep paralysis – accounts from people who believe in supernatural causes and also from people who prefer to believe in scientific reasons. I choose to leave all options open, in believing that in all dimensions the possibility of encountering something ‘out-of-this-world’ is not entirely impossible.
Believe what you may.