Storming the Portals - information and links
Hypnopompic and Hypnagogic hallucinations
Hypnopompia happens when you're waking up and Hypnagogia occurs when you're dropping off to sleep. These are considered "threshold consciousness" states of sleep, and can include lucid dreaming, various levels of hallucination involving some or all the senses and sleep paralysis. "Hypnic jerk" is experienced by a lot of people, when drifting off or coming out of sleep - with sensations such as slipping off a rock or curb, falling or tripping. In folklore, these states have also been referred to as "Old Hag" syndrome, where it was believed that a witch had cursed you and was sitting on your chest, snatching away your breath and giving you nightmare visions! (Similar to the succubus/incubus myth.)
There has been some argument about whether hypnopompic and hypnagogic hallucinations should be considered under the umbrella of Narcolepsy - or whether they are stand-alone conditions. I have suffered from HP's and HG's since early childhood (although some experts say you usually only experience one or the other), however I don't have the issue of suddenly falling asleep. Like everyone else, I have daytime sleepiness, but it depends on how stressed I am, what I've eaten, how much sleep I had the night before, etc. (They have been linked with epilepsy, due to the nature of the seizures.)
I would explain my episodes as dreaming with my eyes open, rather than a hallucination - but that's just semantics! I can experience physical sensations - such as tingling or tickling up and down my spine (often horrifying!); muscle lock, mouths inside my throat, loud bangs and sounds such as bells, rushing air or roaring winds, different smells - usually toast or incense! It's the visual imagery that is usually the most frightening, as well as being trapped in my own body - or not being able to wake up. Sometimes it feels like "Groundhog Day", where I think that I have woken up, but there I am again, back in my body, trying to snap out of it! (There's also an interesting condition called "Exploding head syndrome" - where you hear a loud bang and can't explain it!)
Wikipedia states that "Narcolepsy (also known as hypnolepsy) is a chronic neurological disorder caused by auto-immune destruction of hypocretin-producing neurons inhibiting the brain's ability to regulate sleep-wake cycles normally. People with narcolepsy experience frequent excessive daytime sleepiness...as well as disturbed nocturnal sleep which often is confused with insomnia. Narcoleptics generally experience the REM stage of sleep within 5 minutes of falling asleep, while non-narcoleptics do not experience REM in the first hour or so of a sleep cycle until after a period of slow-wave sleep unless they are significantly sleep deprived."
O.B.E.'s (Out of Body experiences or Astral Travelling)
The sensation of leaving the body - floating or drifting outwards, sometimes expelled at an alarming rate! Most people believe that it's the soul traveling, and others believe that this is what happens when we dream. I believe the two are totally separate experiences, for obvious reasons. The subconscious is an inner world and the astral realm is outer. The collective unconscious is a realm where the myths, archetypes, motifs and symbols of the combined experience of humankind is stored. It is linked with the dreaming mind - like cellular memory, but the astral realm is exterior. At least, that's how it appears when you're out there!
It is said that O.B.E.'s occur during times of mental or physical stress, duress, illness, brain trauma or substance "abuse", among other triggers. They can also be induced through meditation, fasting (of course, consult your doctor before attempting anything discussed here!), trance work and so on.
I have projected many times and there have been a variety of circumstances involved. Once I was flying along the surface of the ocean - totally at peace with the universe and at one with the living creatures of the sea and air! In "real" life I was going through a deep depression, so you could argue that I was subconsciously trying to lift my own spirits. Religious people might say that it was "God" lifting me out of my doldrums! Another time I was brought to face my Oversoul - but chickened out (used in my novel) - and I was in great physical and mental shape; no drugs, trauma etc.
Another time I was shooting through the universe (and saw my silver cord reaching back to the earth!) - and I saw amazing metallic planets, with colors that we don't have here on earth! Again I was fine physically and mentally. I slammed back into my body so hard after that one - my boyfriend jumped out of bed, thinking that I had fallen from the ceiling! We couldn't explain why the bed was bouncing so much. He was totally freaked!
Once I was in a dimension with mathematical equations floating in the air. Another night I was lucky enough to wake up before I left my body, as there was a translucent alien waiting for me to leave so that he could take over my body! He was waving his hand over my face - trying to lure my soul out. The funny thing was - I did slip out, briefly - and floated above my body, but he didn't notice. I saw him crouching over me and I could see though his greenish body - to my body - asleep and unaware, as he frantically waved his scaled hand over my face. When I snapped back into my body, I could feel the wind rushing over my face and sat bolt upright, but he disappeared. Again, I was not drunk or stoned, ill etc.
We all know what dreams are - I assume! The subconscious or unconscious mind speaks to us during REM sleep, using symbolism as its' language, in order to sort through the issues of our lives. Mind you, scientists and the like still don't "know" why we dream, so - that's that then! For the rest of us, especially those of us who are into symbolism, psychology, mythology etc - the dreamworld is a fascinating realm, worthy of exploration.
Over the years I have found it very beneficial to decipher and interpret my dreams, and have discovered great truths about myself and the world around me. I think it's important for everyone to study the language of dreams and psychology - particularly from a Jungian perspective, in order to gain understanding about themselves and others. It's also important to record your own dreams and study mythology and symbolism - but not to rely too heavily on dreamers' dictionaries. Different symbols and archetypes mean different things to different people! There are, of course, the basic - major archetypes and symbols/motifs, such as mother, father, love, hate and so on.
The question is - what do they mean for you? And how will you apply that knowledge in your everyday life?
The integration process (or Jung's Individuation process- which involves the process of integrating the persona, ego, shadow, anima/animus, wise old man/woman and the self) - is a method of transformation, whereby an individual interprets their dreams and other life experiences, in order to evolve and become a more "whole" persona. This is a lifelong process and dreamwork is a major element.