You lie serenely in bed just about to fall asleep. The monotony of the silence and darkness relaxes your tired mind and body.
Everything around you subtly fades from awareness. Thoughts dim. Drowsiness encompasses your body. Your senses dull.
Your eyes feel heavy. They close. Consciousness turns itself inward as you begin your journey into sleep. The brain shifts its energy flow into neutral. You drift into oblivion.
Barely awake and almost asleep, the sound of soft music faintly rolls out of the solitude. Hazily thinking you might have left on the radio or television, you awaken. It was only a dream!
Perplexed, your eyes close and you continue to fall asleep. You just had a hypnogogic experience. Consciousness has finally met the dweller on the threshold.
Hypnogogic is a Greek word which means "leading into-" or "inducing into." The word is used to describe the period of passing from wakefulness into light sleep.
Just before the onset of sleep, imagery may be seen or heard coming into awareness. It is usually when least expected and almost always out of control. This twilight period occurs as one reality seems to merge into another.
Hypnogogic imagery may appear through any of the senses. Visual images and sounds are most often experienced. As drowsiness progresses, the mind wanders.
Thoughts become scattered and hazy. Shades of colors may suddenly drift by patterns, rays or flashes. Geometric patterns may seem to be suspended in space or gracefully float by.
A familiar face may appear out of the darkness, with eyes closed or open. Strange or distorted figures may fade in and out of sight. Faces, cartoon characters, forgotten memory scenes, landscapes or bizzare fantasies slip by.
Sounds may pierce the silence: You might think you hear a knock at the door or a telephone ring that really didn't occur, except within your mind. A non-existant radio may quietly play in the distance. Sometimes, bang, whooshes, pops, whistles or thumps can startle the drowsy dreamer.
Some people hear their name called or whispered. Strange voices may be heard carrying on obscure discussions. Ramblings of incoherent or illogical phrases disrupt the silence. Thoughts or conversations which don't seem to be your own may uncontrollably pass their your mind.
Sleep draws closer. The visions and voices become more complex and lifelike. Imagery appears as a bizzare cinema production. The scenes seem so realistic, it is easy to confuse them with waking-reality.
The imagery forms partial dreams in which the dreamer may unawaringly become involved. Half asleep and just barely awake, remnants of another consciousness invades awareness.
Grasping the 'between world"
Dream control is not very different from the occult technique of astral projection.
When one has been able to maintain awareness in the dream state the imagery take on a suurealistic quality quite unique from the normal dream experience.
This transitional phase occurs when the body is in a condition that becomes receptive to internal imagery. Many occultists and psychologists describe series of exercises to relax the physical body to where the mind can concentrate on the spontaneous patterns which seem to create themselves out of nowhere.
Hypnogogic imagery occurs prior to the dream state. It is the first step into the dream when consciousness begins to direct itself inward and blocks out external noise and awareness.
Memory of the imagery depends on the amount of awareness given during its occurance. Most people cannot remember oncoming dreams. As soon as their bodies enter complete relaxation, they seem to slip off into deep unconsciousness until the alarm startles them the next morning. Their lack of awareness deprives them of seeing the other side of their mind which reveals the subconscious forces which manipulate consciousness.
Concentration on this imagery soon caries awareness deep into the dream state after much, much practice. It's not uncommon for those who drug themselves with psychoactive agents as peyote, mescaline, LSD, marijuana, alcohol or barbitutates to experience a similar "dreamy" state of consciousness after initial intoxication.
Many people block out any imagery rememberances. It seems to be a social phenonemon in America to disregard dream experiences of having any value.
Therapeutically, dream work can help to understand the subconscious forces which form a person's personality. The Naskapi Indians of the Labador peninsula and the Tibetan Buddhists are two societies which use dream interpretation as a vital means to tap the subconscious mind.
Scientific procedures to observe hypnogogic imagery use "white noise" (a continuous monotonous tone generally known to facilitate drowsiness) and a homogenous visual field ("ganzfeld"). This technique induces drowsiness, simultaneously encourages imagery and permits self-observation of the stream of consciousness.
To produce this experience. mental passivity and relaxation is necessary. Scientists Foulkes, Spears and Symonds conducted experiments in the 1960's assesing subjects EEG patterns during sleep phases.
The subjects were questioned about what was going on through their mind when they were awakened. The reports rated their degree of hypnogogic imagery and associations through personality measures.
High imagers seem to have more favorable personality attributes. They were less rigid, more self accepting, more socially poised and more creative.
Low imagers were rigid, conventional and intolerent," their report states.
In the hypnogogic state, there seems to be some degree of ego control retained in the type of imagery produced. The scientists above, suggest that the absence of hypnogogic imagery is related to rigid personal defenses against impulse.
These types of people tend to protect or block the emergence of inner thoughts and feelings.
A technique developed by Kubre and Jacobson involve progressive muscular relaxation to induce hypnogogic states. A suspension of external activities or subdued motor outlets is a pre-requisite for effective imagery.
Next: HYPNOPOMPIC: passage into wakefulness
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