Now to tell you one of the most terrifying experiences I have had in a long time. Even thinking about it now gives me a shiver and I am occasionally looking over my shoulder while typing this! That said, please don't be spooked because at the end of my tale there is a sort of scientific explanation. I promise.
The night of the lunar rosa, I went to bed and awoke at 3am to go to the loo. As one does. I went back to bed but my mind was at unrest, so I lay there for about an hour. My eyes remained open.
Suddenly, I heard a soft beeping noise around the bed. This happened for a few seconds. Then, a loud and high-pitched noise rang in my ears - obviously, it was in my head because hubby beside me was fast asleep. This sound was unlike anything I had heard before. The closest thing it resembles is the sound a telephone line makes after you leave the phone off the hook for AN INORDINATELY LONG time (have you ever tried this?). But it was VERY LOUD.
I felt something weighing down on my chest. I promise you that my eyes were open and my mind was fully conscious. It felt like something was pushing me down on the bed. Naturally, I tried to open my mouth to scream but found that I could not. Only an agitated gasp escaped my lips. My husband heard this sound and, thinking I must be having a nightmare, he turned over and held me, and even reassured me by saying 'I love you'. He was still asleep, though!
Anyway, this sensation didn't last for long and after lying in bed for a while longer, I finally fell asleep due to exhaustion.
The next day, I shared this experience with almost everyone at work. Surprisingly, it is more common than I thought. In fact, since then, we have started a quasi ghost-sitting-on-the-chest club, which we also renamed the lucid-dreaming club because I had found a plausible explanation for it.
After some internet sleuthing, I discovered that this phenomenon is called sleep paralysis. This paralysis is part of the body's natural sleep cycle. In other words, your body probably paralyses itself during sleep so as to avoid you acting out your dreams and harming others. Sometimes, people find themselves waking up during the deepest REM, hence their minds are fully aware even though the body is asleep. Read this link for more information. The first bit describes my experience exactly.
Of course, some questions of mine are unanswered. Such as, I was quite sure that my eyes were always open right up until it happened. Also, if my mind had supposedly lost its control over my motor functions, why then was I able to take myself to the loo? And even though the article above describes the sound, it does not explain why people sometimes hear it. And why do lucid dreamers often feel the presence of something else being in the room?
The other interesting thing is that dreams can materialise in the room when people are in this state. Even more interesting is that such manifestations vary from culture to culture. Among the Japanese the Ringu-like kanushibari is seen but - according to this essay - this is treated as something 'normal' and unperturbing for many. In Hawaii, the sound of the 'Night Marchers' are heard. Some people who claim to have been visited by UFOs might have been experiencing such lucid dreaming. The Newfoundland version is called the Old Hag.
All these descriptions may sound frightening - and to those like myself who experience it without knowing what is in actual fact happening - it is terrifying. Thankfully, I did not see any beings in the room, just the auditory hallucination and the sensation against my chest.
If you have had a similar experience, please don't share it yet because I need to normalise this experience some more before I hear any more stories!