My first experience that altered my conscious perception of reality, and ultimately expanded it to accept greater depths, occurred in September 2017. I had awoken in the middle of the night, opening my eyes as my vision cleared to bring into focus the sliding glass doors in my room which lead out to the balcony on my back porch. I rolled over onto my back and extended my gaze to the digital time on the cable box sitting on my dresser about two feet from the foot of my bed. I couldn’t make out what the time was, which was strange because I had done this very often for the past years to check the time upon waking up in the middle of the night – it was my usual go-to clock for checking the time when I would wake up.
As I struggled to focus my eyes, it became clear that something was blocking the time from my view. I could still see the blue colours of the digital display, but it appeared as if someone was holding a piece of paper in front of it. My eyes finally adjusted enough for me to see what was obstructing the view. It was a pentagon-shaped thing floating in front of the time. It was kind of just suspended there, and not completely still either. It had slight movements up and down, side to side as if it were hovering in the air floating along with the current.
My mind had no fears or worries at this time, as it was a bundle of confusion as my brain was trying it’s damndest to analyse what it was that I was seeing there hovering at the foot of the bed, and what exactly that meant to me and my personal safety. I still had yet to feel any fear, as my brain had in fact accepted that this was a transparent-like shape just floating omnisciently in my room; and then my ears began ringing, a disturbingly intense pitch of ringing, as the vibration was felt just as much as it was heard. And as my entire body began to feel as though it was being sucked into the bed, as though someone had accidentally flipped the gravity dial on Earth up 10 notches. The fear finally kicked in full force as I was slowly brought from a state of wonder, and put into a complete state of physical paralysis – while still being able to see through my open eyes and consciously aware of the entire experience of the present moment – just not understanding how or why.
Now at this point, I’m trying to move. I’m trying to kick and extend violently any and all of my extremities. What I wanted to do was to get up and run, but I am completely stranded there with this unforeseen force sucking me into my own body’s deep unknown abyss.
The best way to describe what my head was feeling like – between the ringing in my head and ears to the pressure in my face – if the sensation had to be compared to something, it would most likely be sticking your head in a microwave and turning the power on for a nice dosage of radiation warm-up. Not in a painful or torturous type of way, just in an impending inclination that your head is going to explode, but that would almost be better than going on facing the unknown of this paralysed state in the darkness. That ringing in the ears is the most distracting and unpleasant sensation and sound I had heard up to that day.
As I began to realise the situation at hand, my first thought was, ‘Holy fuck, I’m getting abducted by aliens right now!’ and this is the thought that came with the recognition of feelings surging through my conscious thought stream – memories I would say. Although I didn’t clearly see any events play out at that moment, I just knew that this was not the first time that had happened to me and this feeling was all too familiar to me. I just couldn’t remember when or what exactly happened, or how many times it happened to me. Just a sense of familiarity and knowing that this wasn’t as new as I may have thought.
I began to scan my surroundings and try to make out if something was visibly in there with me. It completely felt as if an external force was doing this to me and it was completely violating my inner peace and feelings of safety or well-being. I looked over to my sliding glass doors, then my eyes went from the corner of the room to the foot of the bed where the TV was. At this point, I can’t recall if the floating pentagon was still there or gone because that’s when I noticed this presence on the right side of my bed. Right next to me. I brought my eyes to the furthest direction right of focus that I could get when I noticed a tall dark shadowy figure standing there.
I couldn’t get any more scared for my life than I already was at that point. As I tried to fix my concentration and make out its face, or at least some sort of feature, it stopped.
The ringing in my ears finally stopped, and the strong pulsating feeling of being sucked into the earth had let up and returned my gravity to normal. I shot right out of my bed to both feet planted on the ground and in a sports defensive stance as I blindly reached for the light switch on the lamp next to my bed.
The shadowy figure was nowhere to be seen, as I would have stepped right through him to stand up. I scanned the room, nothing blocking my digital display on the cable box, and nothing visibly out of place or different in the room. Complete silence in the night.
I ran out to my living room and down to my roommate’s room. I stood in front of the door for about two minutes, debating whether to wake him up or to reason with my experience on my own. It didn’t seem real – I traced back the moments to when I woke up looking out the sliding glass doors and rolling over. What was that floating figure? Was there really a tall figure next to me or was my mind just panicked already? Was this something that meant harm to me?
My sense of safety completely disappeared that night. Realising whatever that was, it was not something I can call the police for protection from. It was not something I can necessarily articulate to my friends without sounding like a child afraid of a nightmare. It wasn’t something I could really understand myself, so that made it difficult for me to envision trying to explain to someone else. Therefore, I decided to keep it to myself for quite some time, until it was just eating me alive and I decided to talk to specific friends about it. But nothing gained my sense of safety back and nothing was worse than trying to go to sleep alone in the dark after that.
I had far more experiences with sleep paralysis during the time span of September 2017 to September 2018, most were not as intense paranormal as that first one. But absolutely none of them were pleasant experiences, they always left me only panic and fear. Every single time I would wake up with the ringing in my ears and the force of being sucked into the bed, I would panic while trying to scream and move. Always with no success and an indescribable feeling of helplessness.
The fear of the dark returning with a vengeance at the age of 30 is no bragging matter in truth – but honestly, I look back on my initial introduction to the non-physical realm with a prideful heart. I had gone on to conquer so many fears and even faced experiences of death and the blissful acceptance which follows letting go. But those are stories for another time. This was the re-introduction of these experiences into my life after a long hiatus had taken place through high school and my 20s. No memory of any occurrence resembling that of the sleep paralysis I was now experiencing, until about a month or two into my awakening – then I began remembering my childhood finally. And lots of ‘paranormal‘ experiences as a child which my mind blocked out or at least the memory was hidden for some time.
Initially, the sleep paralysis felt like a curse and had really disrupted my life for the year. No doctor could give me answers, no friends knew how to relate, and I was scared of going to sleep just like a child. Until I had my first astral projection (out-of-body experience) a year following the first sleep paralysis event. Then I began to see that maybe this scary disruptive thing in my life that seemed a curse, is possibly actually just the beginning stages to something beautiful; this new word I learned from researching ‘Ascension’. A spiritual awakening is perhaps what I am going through and this wouldn’t need to be so scary anymore.
If only I knew what was ahead.
James Edward Rawson is a mental health advocate.