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Hypnagogia: A Bridge to Other Realities

Yun-Wen Shaw

" To dream and altogether not
to dream. This synthesis is the
operation of genius, by which both
activities are mutually reinforced."

Every night of every day, people everywhere retreat to their beds to sleep, and oftentimes to dream. Many of us are not aware however, that the many levels of consciousness we undergo during the stages of sleep offer a link between our conscious mind and its manifested dream world; perhaps even the possibility of another realm of cognition altogether. Hypnagogia, the deeply relaxed state of consciousness that occurs shortly prior to falling asleep, has been recognized for hundreds of years as a source of creative thought and intuition by a long list of distinguished philosophers, artists, and scientists, names of which include Aristotle and Albert Einstein (1). Research into hypnagogia is now shedding light on long-sought-for explanations of psychic abilities and creative intuition obtained outside direct sensory processes by revealing the possibility that our brain may have the ability to tap into other states of consciousness (6). The phenomenon of the hypnagogic hallucinations which occur in this period are characterized by a slideshow of highly condensed, discontinuous, and bizarre imagery of faces, figures, animals, print and writing. Also accompanying this is often hearing one’s name being whispered, hearing music, and undergoing temporary physical paralysis (4, 7). These visual, auditory, and physical stimuli, have been known to cultivate intuition, bring flashes of inspiration, and offer creative insight to those who experience them (1). During this fleeting psycho-physical state, people report randomly occurring visual and auditory experiences which are relatively more disconnected and short-lived when compared to dreams characteristic of REM sleep. Hypnagogia is in fact very common, occurring in 72 to 77 percent of the population, many are unaware of the phenomena (1).

A possible physical explanation for Hypnagogia is rooted in the discovery of magnetite crystals in cells of the brain and meninges. It has been found that there are five million magnetite crystals per gram in the human brain, and twenty times that number in the meninges (2). These ‘biomagnetite crystals’ are oriented in the brain in a manner that maximizes their magnetic moment, thus allowing the crystals to act as a system, and marking the ability of the brain to sense energy fields (4). These crystals could very possibly be the cause and explanation behind psychic abilities, as well as the feelings of intuition during states of hypnagogia.

Let us further explore how this phenomenon may be possible. Studies that show the proximity of the crystal-containing brain cells to the pituitary and pineal glands, have led researchers to propose that these glands may use information from the earth’s magnetic field to regulate the release of hormones in the brain, thus directly controlling conscious awareness levels (2).

However, there is still no way to ’read’ the signals that might be carried by the brains magnetic emissions. Despite this being so, the evidence indicating the existence of these signals and their possible constitution of a means of communication between various parts of the brain, is very compelling. This is the system that many speculate to be that which selects the neural areas to be recruited, so that the appropriate state of consciousness can elicit the suitable phenomenological, behavioral, and affective responses (4).

Studies have been done to show that various low intensity magnetic signals delivered to the temporal lobes indeed have a positive effect of producing various hallucinatory effects in the subject . Such effects include vestibular feelings in which one’s normal sense of balance is replaced by illusions of levitation and vertigo. Also experienced are transient ‘visions,’ whose context include motifs that appear in near-death experiences and alien abduction scenarios. Another neuromagentically elicited experience is bursts of emotion, most commonly fear and joy. Interestingly, all of these experiences very closely approximate those in the hypnagogic state.

Further experimentation performed on monkeys has determined the temporal lobes to be the part of the brain which mediates various states of consciousness. EEG readouts from the temporal lobes are markedly different when a person is asleep and undergoing a hallucinogenic seizure, or on LSD. In this case, seizural disorders confined to the temporal lobes (complex partial seizures) were characterized as impairments of consciousness. In the study, monkeys were given LSD after having various parts of their brains removed. The monkeys continued to ‘trip’ no matter what parts of the brains were missing. Only in the case where both temporal lobes were removed did the substance seem to have no affect the monkeys at all. The conclusion inarguably shows that the temporal lobes, in addition to all their other functions (in aspects of memory, language, music, etc.), also function to mediate states of consciousness (4).

The interpretation of hypnagogic images in some studies have seemed to provide striking examples not only of the existence of various states of consciousness, but also of clairvoyance and telepathy (7). In his book Hypnagogia, Andreas Mavromatis declares that "…hypnagogia gives rise to the insight that there are many realities and that what we call wakefulness merely constitutes one of them…hypnagogia suggests the evolutional possibility of a further expansion of consciousness, and poses a serious question concerning the nature of reality" (7). People have applied many different strategies to channel into the "powers of the hypnogic’ by means of meditation, hypnosis, spiritualism, hallucinogenic drug use, and others. Many hypnogists report states of instantaneous intuition, exhilaration with an inspired poem, mystical insights, and exquisite peaceful joy. Occultists believe they can tap into clairvoyant experiences in the hypnagogic. Others feel that they can engage in self-hypnosis so that they can achieve things they thought impossible or too difficult, by hypnagogic visualization (5).

Hypnagogic stages of sleep, with all its hallucinatory imagery, tends to act as compelling explanations for many claims of alien or supernatural encounters. It is easy to imagine how an individual who has had a hypnagogic experience with sleep paralysis, who is not familiar with the neurological explanation, to likely interpret their strange experience in terms of their cultural beliefs or in other bizarre supernatural terms (2). Hypnagogia presets new dimensions of a true New Age exploration, waiting for us all to travel together into this New World. And if any are skeptical, we can gain confidence in our hypnagogic pursuits from the realization that we are following in the footsteps of some of the most creative, intuitive and influential human minds in history. After all, Aristotle and Einstein can’t be wrong.

WWW Sources

1) Altered States

2) Mind Whispers - Psychics and Scientists ; Patrick Marsolek

3) Hypnagogia ; Robert Novella

4) The Production of Consciousness out of States of Consciousness

5) Psychic Syzygy: Hypnagogic Antilogic

6) Paradigms of Consciousness During Sleep; Donald J. DeGracia, Ph.D.

7) Hypnagogia: Bridge to Other Realities

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