Art by Wassily Kandinsky
from Janice:
(based on notes she wrote in 1991 when she was still doing that sort of thing a lot):

I found it easiest to retain a high level of awareness while otherwise falling asleep during afternoon naps.  I might sleep for, say, five hours at night, get up for several hours, then go back to bed for another three.  (Obviously most people only have this luxury on the weekends, if even then.)  It also seemed to work best when I was lying on my back, and in a comfortable position (if I was all bent up I tended to sense this in any resultant lucid dreams and have trouble moving freely).  Since I was usually interested in having OBE-type lucid dreams, because of having the dream version of my neighborhood well-stocked with interesting sites and characters, while lying there relaxed I would decide on a plan of action for an OBE, and visualize finding myself in the OBE replica of my room, getting up, and carrying out this plan (usually, at that time, it would have to do with a plot development I wanted to enact in my ongoing lucid dream soap opera).  I would also tense up my muscles periodically to remind myself of what the vibrational paralysis stage would feel like to help me remember to notice it when it started up for real.

Next, I would go over the lyrics to a song in my mind, or count (or both -- "99 Bottles of Beer" was a favorite mantra) to keep a thread of directed consciousness going while dozing off.  This seemed to keep my verbal thought processes busy while letting me simultaneously give some attention to the undercurrent of random visual and verbal hypnagogic material going on in my drowsy mind.  Whenever I noticed my count or song faltering and giving way to verbal thinking, which tended to suppresss the hypnagogic stuff, I would get back on track with the singing or counting that seemed to be able to coexist with the hypnagogic material.

At a point, the hypnagogic material would get strong enough to engage my attention without my needing to persist with the singing and/or counting.  Occasionally my own thoughts seemed to spin off with a life of their own and I would have a detached awareness of myself telling myself a story, which was a rather intriguing experience.  Or I would start being able to converse back and forth mentally with some of the voices I was hearing.  Or (a lot more commonly than either of the above) the hypnagogic glimpses I saw would gradually get longer and more dreamlike.  If these were compelling I might let them develop into a reverie to watch, or put myself into the scene by acting as if I was there.  Any missing senses (such as sound, or the sense of having a body) would eventually fill in the gaps to complete the experience.

Now if I was really set on an OBE I would be paying more attention to somatic sensations like vibes, unusual heaviness or lightness to my perceived body, and that sort of thing to indicate that I had fallen asleep.  In fact when I noticed my count or song faltering I would check for these dreamsigns.  If it seemed that I was no longer perceiving my physical bedroom, but still had a sense of myself lying in bed, then OBEs it would be!  Things were not always clear-cut, though; I might have a little dreamlet or two first (lucid or otherwise) then rouse into sleep paralysis and be ready for the OBE bit.  Sometimes I would have a functional dream body from the outset.  If not, there were ways to create one.  I might imagine and try to encourage the sensation of light, duplicate limbs separating from the immobile, paralyzed ones, and try to switch my identity over to that mental body.  That was tedious, though, and sometimes this dream body was too "airy" to be of much use.  An easier method was just to lie around and wait for what seemed to be my paralyzed physical body, but was really itself just a body image, to become moveable, then just get up from the dream version of my bed.  Sometimes this body was too sluggish to be worth much, though.  So, being lazy and practical, I hit on a third method, which was simply to imagine getting up and walking around touching things.  After a point it would feel like I was no longer just imagining things, but actually perceiving them, and voila! I had a functional dream body.  In later years I came up with a fourth approach, which I call "getting up anyway" -- ignore the paralysis and act as if you can move, letting a body develop when it's ready (kind of a combination of the second and third techniques).

Note that all these techniques can be applied during any false awakening or when drifting back to sleep after a brief awakening from REM; there's no need to torture your brain by trying to remain conscious throughout the whole transition at sleep onset if you're not prone to that.  In any case, just as with the hypnagogic WILD technique, any missing senses should eventually turn up.  It was (still is, actually) pretty common for me not to be able to see anything at the start of an OBE, but the visuals would kick in eventually if I didn't wake up prematurely.  I also used suggestion tricks to hurry them along, such as putting on imaginary glasses, peeling open my stuck "eyelids," removing imaginary covers from my face, and going into the dream bathroom to wash off my eyes.  Once you can see (or before if you aren't intimidated), go outside in Dreamland and do whatever floats your boat.
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