Hypnagogia

I cannot tell you how many times I have started to write a post about this “state of mind” only to abandon it because I feel like either A.) A lunatic (even though I know I am not one, I still shy away from making myself look like one to others and B.) It can be so complex that I simply cannot pull the pieces apart to effectively explain what it is I experience in this state.


Hypnagogia is defined by Wikipedia (my go-to) as the transitional state between wakefulness and sleep. The equivalent transition to wakefulness is termed the hypnopompic state. Mental phenomena that occur during this “threshold consciousness” phase include lucid dreaming, hallucinations (hallucinations I think is subjective, but I will get to that later), out of body experiences and sleep paralysis.

I have experienced all of the above, sometimes all of them in the same night. I have had these experiences since I was a very young child. In my oldest memories of it I could not have been more than seven or eight years old.

One of the other “symptoms” that I have also experienced is the dream within a dream within a dream sequence. This can vary wildly from being amusing to being downright terrifying. I have often found myself waking from a troubling dream to find myself safely in my bed, only to have something go terribly awry right there in my bedroom and for me to wake up yet again, safe in my bedroom, where something AGAIN happens to freak me out, and then I FINALLY wake up the third time for REAL. The first two times I “wake up” from these dreams I must be in a hypnagogic state because I can see. I believe my eyes are open, but I am still “dreaming” therefore what I am perceiving is a mixture of physical reality and my unconscious mind.

What is most strage to me about this state of mind is that although I do think that much of what I have experienced has been actual dreaming, some of what I have experienced I believe is up to a different kind of interpretation. I believe that when we enter a hypnagogic state we become open (whether we like to or not) to more subtle energies that can enter through our unconscious and communicate with us. In the wikipedia article it is mentioned that many of the symptoms that occur while in a hypnagogic state can be consitered to be “hallucinations” or things that are  created by our own minds. However, I would like to postulate that perhaps there is quite a bit more to it than that.
For example, the other night I was just drifting off to sleep and was extremely relaxed when suddenly I realized that a very detailed story was being told to me. It was a man speaking, and he was telling me about his son who had become involved in some less-than-desirable business and had moved to SanFransisco to open a store with the intent of using it to launder money for the mob. Now, let me tell you I have little interest and even a smaller amount of knowledge about organized crime and it is not something I ever think of, yet now I have this quite detailed story in my mind. Where did it come from? My subconscious? I think it is quite a strange bed time story for me to be telling myself, don’t you?

Something about this story stuck with me, because I was not QUITE hypnagogic, or at least not deeply so, when this story was being told to me- however I became struck by what was happening and came out of it only to have the man who was talking try to spell his son’s name for me. I couldn’t make it out- it was like Orvis or something like Pervious or something… (sorry guy! all I got was an O and a V!). Anyway, the experience of this strange “communication” brought forward the realization that this happens with me OFTEN. In fact, I cannot nap during the day, and have a very hard time doing so, even when I am exhausted because these kinds of experiences take place. In fact, I think that may have been what was happening when I posted here.

Often times I only remember snippets and then forget about it thinking “Oh that was just a dream…” but the more I remember and investigate these things the more links I find in the real world.

Although this is not the most coherent post on this subject, and I do apologize, I am curious to know if any other intuitives/sensitives out there tend to have these symptons, and/or experience their communications whilst in a hypnagogic state? Or maybe they are just hallucinations? I am not completely ruling ANYTHING out, I am open to other interpretations, obviously.

Anyway, I wanted to write about this because last night I had a dream withing a dream within a dream while I was sleeping on my couch and it was all quite strange. I believe they say only about 6% of people experience this sort of thing frequently, although 60% of people say they have experienced it at some point. This is far from 100% of people, but it is still a majority, and I have a hard time thinking that science has a full grasp of what is happening here.
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11 Responses to Hypnagogia

  1. Nancy says:

    I would be interested to hear what Debra has to say about this.

  2. natalie says:

    Jen, you are a natural medium. You are indeed, ‘in between worlds’ and experiencing both simultaneously. This happens to me all the time! You are neither mad, nor alone. For example: I am dreaming, I have to go to the toilet and the dream characters stand around waiting for me to finish, then we all go back to my room to finish off the dream. I can literally see them and talk to them. It is very dificult to get names because spirit don’t actually have a mouth!

  3. Jen says:

    Thanks for your comment Nat! It does feel good to know I am not alone in this- it does seem that many people may have these experiences and then simply brush them off as a “trick of the mind” instead of giving them further thought. I know because I did that exact thing for many years- it is only now that the experiences are becoming more… vivid? Stronger? I only know that I have never in my life ever woken up to see a spirit (in human form) standing in my room- EVER- until recently. Twice this last month. They were not a hallucination, nor were they just a dream, I know this intuitively.

    xoxo!

  4. Nancy says:

    Different dimensions? (I’m currently reading a book on the multiverse, by Brian Greene – The Hidden Reality. He was an early proponent of String Theory.)

  5. Debra Page says:

    Jen,
    I have experienced all of the phenomenon that you have described: dream w/in a dream w/in a dream & hearing voices during sleep transitions. Some experiences have been beautiful, others frightening. I have even awakened fully to have a recently deceased person who was talking to me in a dream, appear in front of me to continue talking to me.

    Very few humans are walking “psychic batteries”, so non-psychical beings are very excited when they find one. You are one of these batteries. A handbook didn’t come with the condition, unfortunately, so we who are like this have to wing it. {If any of you on this blog ever find the manual, please tell me!}

    The dream spiral sequences are showing us how “labyrinthine” consciousness is. There are worlds-within-worlds always happening. You exist in more than one realm at the same time. Your dreams are showing you this.

  6. Debra Page says:

    Nancy, I was posting the same time you were– about the same subject.

  7. Jen – you’re not nuts.

    These images are common also to meditation or to any very relaxed state. Flow with them. See where they take you. You’re lucky you have the mother that you do. She GETS it, gets you!

    Green’s book is brilliant – and now Kaku has a new book out. I need a lifetime just to read.

    Jen – BTW. am interested in your novel. From the comment you left on our blog today, it sounds as if you’re tuning into a possible future.

  8. Nicole says:

    Jen, you don’t know how glad I am to have heard of someone else talking about this. Which now I am finding this kind of strange. Not that this happens to you, but the whole synchronistic force behind me finding you, Nancy, Debra, Trish and everyone. I don’t experience a dream within a dream, within a dream. That does sound rather frightening. However I do experience and have since I was younger, but now with much more intensity the very same thing. I think I am drifting off, but not quite asleep, just very relaxed, and my mind takes off. I am aware of my mind entering this state too. Once in it, I think of people I don’t know, I hear them, see them and am frequently in the role of just an observer to their actions. I sometimes get a name sometimes not, but it is true, the “stories” I am witnessing are very detailed and I do not know any of the people I am seeing. I have to say I find it very amusing, because when I open my eyes (even though I am not sleeping) I am usually stunned with the storyline. I think to myself what the heck was that all about. The visions are always realistic scenarios. There is never any type of dream weirdness that interrupts what I am seeing. About 4 months ago I tried to do a Google search to see if anything could explain what was happening. Hypnagogic was the term I found. I too was going to write about it over on my blog Mindful Mystic. Yet I couldn’t formulate my words well enough to truly express what was happening and how it may be related to this condition. I often felt that this must be similar to the experience of astral projection. I wonder if we all are really “seeing” real people and real situations!

    An interesting side-note: When I am tired and falling asleep, it is just that – I am asleep and dreams come and go. But when I experience one of these hypnagogic moments and then open my eyes, even though I entered the state deeply relaxed, I leave it feeling as if I underwent something rather exhausting.

    Thanks for talking about this.

  9. Jen says:

    Cole, thanks so much for your comment. I am glad that I was able to explain it well enough that people can understand what I am talking about! I literally have started to write about it several times (I have 5 or 6 different false-starts in my blog drafts) and have ended up putting the subject to rest for a bit because I was not sure how to approach it. It was only after reading a book dealing with shamanism and different forms of hypnagogia that I began to explore that possibilities that maybe what I was experiencing was coming to me from an external source.

    Just this morning, I had just awakened from a very involved dream in which my car was towed with my dog still inside (very upsetting!), and as I was lying there thinking about the dream, I was suddenly interrupted by a vision of what looked like a school worksheet with a yellow stripe at the top. Above the stripe were roughly-drawn stars of David, all drawn in a line across the top of the page. Then I hear a male voice tell me that “Jim used to draw Jewish stars on my Christian school homework, and in later years he began drawing swastikas inside of the stars.”

    WHAT?!?!

    I opened my eyes and was like “Wow! This Jim fellow sounds like a huge jerk! Sorry buddy!” What else can you do… that was NOT from inside my own brain, I was relaxed, but not asleep. Whether these memories are coming from living people or deceased or other/etc. I don’t know, but I do find it very amusing the things we are shown!!

  10. Debra Page says:

    Jen,

    To ease your mind:
    the “Jewish stars” are called the Seal of Solomon. It is drawn with 2 triangles: one pointing up, one pointing down. This represent the union of male (upward ^) and female (downward), same as Yin & Yang. This symbol is much more ancient than the Jewish use of it. It is found in the Indus Valley on yantras/mandalas…. where it also represents the union of male and female: yin + yang.
    The swastika is one of the oldest continuing symbols found in human archeological record. It represents the four directions and the movement of the sun.
    The dream is telling you that there is a “conjunctio” occurring in your psyche of yin and yang.
    There is nothing in this dream to judge as bad. Your tiger dream was one representing the Yin within your psyche. Now, approx a week later, you have had a dream representing the Yang. They are going to “move together”… there will be dreams about that too.

    • jenastyle says:

      Debra, as always I am so thankful for your vast knowledge of symbolism! It is very telling to me that both of these dreams that I had occurred in an obvious hypnagogic state as opposed to an actual REM dream state. At least as far as I can perceive.

      Very interesting about the Yin and the Yang. Apparently I am on the brink of some big changes in my life astrologically speaking! :O)

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