There is one great obstacle to the investigation of the Second Body and the environment in which it operates. Perhaps it is the only major barrier. It seems to be present in all people, without exception. It may be hidden by layers of inhibition and conditioning, but when these are stripped away, the obstacle remains. This is the barrier of blind, un-reasoning fear. Given only small impetus, it turns to panic, and then to terror. If you consciously pass the fear barrier, you will have passed a milestone in your investigation. I am reasonably sure that this barrier is passed unconsciously by many of us each night. When that part of us beyond our consciousness takes over, it is not inhibited by fear, although it seems to be influenced by the thought and action of the conscious mind. It seems to be accustomed to operating beyond the fear barrier, and understands better the rules of existence in this other world. When the conscious mind shuts down for the night, this Super Mind (soul?) takes over...
The investigative process relative to the Second Body and its environment appears to be a melding or blending of the conscious with this Super Mind...
I do not know how to circumvent the fear barrier, except by cautious initial steps that create familiarity bit by bit as you proceed.
--Robert Monroe, Journeys Out of the Body
When I first began my long-awaited unworlding practice in November of 2015, at the age of 59, one of the first things that happened was that I started awaking in a choking panic during my daytime practice sessions when I was lying on my back doing the Breath of Flight, which would cause me to go into Little Sleeps, which I now call Awakenings. I have never suffered from sleep apnea and have slept on my back a lot for over a decade, ever since an appendectomy that made it temporarily impossible to sleep any other way.
At first I didn't pay much attention to this new habit I had of waking from microsleeps with the fear of choking. But the unproblematical phenomenon continued steadily, and as I adapted to it by waking up and taking several large gulps of air to prove to myself that I could breathe just fine, I took to studying sleep apnea and its treatment, and eventually assigned the name "the Apnea" to this scary crossroads in the process of unworlding, an unavoidable skinny part of the trail which the conscious mind avoids by going unconscious. With the result that we spend most of our unworlding time totally or partially unconscious, that is, in a non-lucid state, disconnected from our waking sense of self, the stream of memories that identifies us and separates us from the crowd.
"Apnea" means choking and I thought this was appropriate since I'd chosen the analogy of the Tunnel as the route to the Unworld, and like some shaped resonators and injectors and such that I'd encountered while researching compressed air gadgets, the smallest portion of a jet tube is called the "throat". Later I decided to get rid of the name "the Apnea" and replace it with one that the medical establishment wasn't using to refer to one of its famed disorders. The word Urumara is made of two words. Urum is the Visayan word for one of those dreams that we have in which we are unable to move or shout for help. The Visayan people of the Philippines will wake you if they see you thrashing or trying to shout in your sleep, afraid that the urum or sleep paralysis nightmare will kill you. Mara is a Swedish word for the old hag syndrome of conscious sleep paralysis. Together the terms merge as the Urumara to refer to a phenomenon that encompasses not only sleep paralysis and REM atonia, but all the fun stuff associated with these ordinary experiences that some people learn to love, some people will always hate, and most people will usually snore through.
Sleep paralysis is the conscious experience of REM atonia, most often taking place when people are sleep deprived from change of routine, going to sleep with the eyes open, opening the eyes before properly waking up, etc. REM atonia is the paralysis itself, normally not experienced consciously since the purpose of the paralysis is to keep us still when involved in the most active part of our dream life, during REM or "rapid eye movement" sleep. Oftentimes if a person hasn't had enough sleep lately and they konk out, they will go directly into REM sleep instead of taking the usual circuitous route to REM through 90 minutes or more of other types of sleep. Non-REM sleep or NREM can also be accompanied by dreaming but apparently not by paralysis.
I know of three classes of people who go into REM sleep directly, besides those who just do (and naturally the medical establishment tells them that they have a disorder): narcoleptics, babies less than three months old, and practitioners of polyphasic sleeping. It seems that REM sleep is the part that we need the worst, the part we literally can't live without, as polyphasic sleepers have shown by learning to take their sleep in small doses throughout the night and day, thriving on a total of two to four hours of sleep per 24-hour period. Since they are essentially deprived of sleep compared to the typical sleeper with his 8-hours of continuous snoozing, they go into REM sleep immediately, and wake up refreshed and energetic after a 20-minute nap, several times a day.
Of course unworlders are aware of the importance of focusing on REM sleep because the dreams during REM are supposed to be so much more vivid, visual, and memorable. Lucid dreamers follow this dogma but OBE'rs often pay it no heed, which points to what is often thought to be an identifiable difference between lucid dreams and OBEs: while lucids are thought to only take place in REM sleep or mostly in REM sleep, OBEs are not thought to be restricted in this way. Just to set the record straight, let me mention that not all OBEs and not all lucid dreams are vivid, memorable, and highly visual. But let's not get embroiled in the waste of space which the "OBE vs. lucid" controversy involves. Beginners in particular should not try to tell the two apart under any circumstances. It's all unworlding, and that's what counts when you're just learning the way to the Unworld.
Robert Monroe warned us that there is a fear barrier, and now that sleep paralysis has been variously identified as 1) the fear barrier, 2) the golden road to the Unworld, 3) a big distraction that can be skipped or gone through unconsciously, I am here to tell you that if it's on the map, then it should not be gone through unconsciously. Not by me, anyway. As a lover of maps and mapping, especially when it comes to mapping the route to the Unworld, I won't be dissuaded by the Discouragement Fraternity from taking an active interest in traversing the Urumara with all the consciousness I can muster. Those who berate those of us who want to learn how to go through sleep paralysis consciously, just because they happen to have such perfect amnesia... well, different strokes for different folks, but amnesia just ain't my cup of tea. Isn't amnesia the opposite of lucidity?
As a longtime beginner in this field, it is not the Unworld itself that I am obsessively mapping right now, it's the route to the place. I'm writing this introduction when the book is almost finished but the final chapter has not been written: I have yet to experience sleep paralysis from start to finish, consciously, from the waking state to the unworlded state. When I finally achieve that goal, I will be able to convert this blog into a book, the second in my Unworlding series. So the main point of this book is discovery, and in that respect it will always read like a blog since I am writing it during the discovery portion of my experience, not in retrospect as some self-appointed expert who has in fact forgotten how he reached his goal.
If I am an expert at anything, it is the experience of being a beginner. So: cheers! and carry on, for beginners we are all.
March 9, 2017