sleep paralysis

Hi Anonymous -

The best way I know of figuring out a “false awakening” is to follow a fairly simple rule of thumb. If you ever question whether or not you are dreaming - take it as a given that you are. It’s not an easy rule of thumb to always follow, because the dreamscape can appear so real. But if you ever are in doubt, try reminding yourself that it’s all just a dream - because you never really are in doubt when you are awake, are you? I mean, we can play with the question philosophically - but most of us, I think, rarely truly wonder about our state while awake.

I arrived at this “rule of thumb” through a long process of elimination. I used to, upon becoming lucid in a dream, perform tests of the dreamscape. I would try to float in the air - walk through walls - some act that would show me unequivocally that I was dreaming. But these tests proved unreliable. More than once I decided that I was not dreaming because, in the dream, I didn’t float, or because the wall I tried to walk through proved to be solid... as a rock? Finally, after being fooled so many times, and being frustrated at so many opportunities for lucidity lost, I decided that my doubt was the only consistent aspect of these various dream situations. So I began to experiment with my “new rule.” To this day, if I ever am in doubt, I take it as a given that I am dreaming, and I begin to explore whatever lucid dream goals I have or which occur to me in the dream.

As far as waking yourself up goes, and dealing with the panic - which I agree is a rational and reasonable fear - once you have determined that you are dreaming, concentrate your effort on given that you are not yet awake. Try to relax, try to stop the mental imagery, and work hard to mentally awaken. Keep the awareness that you are still asleep, and dreaming, paramount in your mind. Refuse to engage the dream any more - and keep working to wake up.

I hope you will write back and let other readers know if these techniques help you. If you find something else that helps you to awaken - please pass it on. waking up, and don’t be satisfied until you finally are awake and no longer have any questions about whether or not you are dreaming. Remember - if you ever are in doubt, really in doubt - take it as a given that you are.

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