As we continue with the second part of Stacy’s post we consider the impact that sleep paralysis has on our lives socially and concerning others.
Do we keep it a secret or share it? Is there shame and stigma or is it accepted? Whilst we are discussing sleep paralysis, this dilemma could be applied to many other conditions that have the potential for scepticism. Once again I thank Stacy for sharing.
Well, we refuse to discuss these experiences with others (Muzammil et al., 2023, p.). But that is only the first part. As we attend to this version of us that cannot discuss SP with others (the outward self), some address the second, ‘inward’ self in private. Exploring the division between these two identities is fascinating. It is like having a secret hobby that nobody else is allowed to know. A private exploration of meaningful experiences in an attempt to rediscover the control and community we once had in our social circles.
To validate SP experiences, some individuals will seek validation within spiritual frameworks. If you are interested, search ‘Is Sleep Paralysis Real?’ and have a look at some of the answers to these questions. Threads and threads of individuals receiving two completely different answers: 1.) It is not real (gives in detail scientific explanation of sleep cycles and REM) and 2.) These are real demonic entities, they are after you because you are good/bad, religious/non-religious, special, or psychologically unwell, and witnessing these difficulties manifests into symbolic forms.
Through anxiety and stress toward our experience of bodily doubt in the night, we search to find ways to answer this experience in the only way we know how: through validation. We do not want to be seen as ‘crazy,’ so to validate SP, we ask those who will accept the nature of this discussion. But, this leaves individuals vulnerable to just about any spiritual interpretation, whether it is simply meaningful or truly frightening. It is up to these individuals to decide what they choose to engage with, of course. However, by granting these experiences greater spiritual credit, we may lose control of an environment that exists purely to validate already terrifying supernatural beliefs (Solomonova, 2018, p. 1). We must be careful with how we navigate through spiritual frameworks and make sure to offer those with SP greater comfort and support.
Perhaps the situation involves more division than we initially understood. The ‘inward’ self explores SP as a subjective spiritual experience with an additional impersonal, somewhat anonymous community. The ‘outward’ self goes to work, and school, and has a stronger closeness to people. The ‘inward’ self has the capacity to emotionally affect the ‘outward’ self in what they find (certain negative spiritual beliefs can intensify feelings of guilt or being a ‘bad’ person), but the relationships we have with ‘real-life’ people could dismantle these worries altogether. If someone we know could listen to these worries and subjective spiritual experiences in their entirety (even the disturbing stuff) and tell us, “But, you are a good person?” would that not stand for more than a demonic attack? Maybe I am too optimistic about the power of friendship, yet I believe this is worth trying.
In order to create the right environment to discuss SP in the way the ‘inward’ self prefers, society has to understand that this discussion does not seek to prove SP is a subjective spiritual experience; rather, it aims to show how this is already the likely interpretation for those who experience SP. Therefore, if we remove the current social understanding that those who experience SP find comfort in scientific explanations and replace this with an understanding that these experiences are already meaningful, then the discussion can naturally gravitate toward meaning, experience, and belief. The scientific does not support the lived experience of subjective spiritual experiences. To unravel this, we should approach SP how those who experience SP do and work backward.
These are just my thoughts, but I hope you find them interesting.
Join Sleep Paralysis Explored, a membership site which is focused on sleep paralysis and the phenomena that comes with it such as astral projection, lucid dreaming, psychic abilities, and more. Details can be found HERE.
Sleep Paralysis News Podcast
Have you experienced sleep paralysis? Would you be willing to speak about your experience on a new podcast Sleep Paralysis News? There are many people who need support and could benefit from hearing your story. If you’re interested or know someone who is, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org expressing your interest.
Sheila Pryce Brooks is an expert in sleep paralysis and extraordinary spiritual experiences. She is passionate about illuminating the overlap between sleep paralysis, spirituality and science through research and education and she has since dedicated her life to helping others manage and transcend sleep paralysis and other extraordinary spiritual experiences.