Medical Strange Sensation starting to fall asleep

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Re: Macrosomatognosia

I had the “Big/Small” feeling again last night and it was especially intense this time.
I figured I would resurrect this thread in hope of someone seeing it and finding out a name for the sensation.
This feeling is not “sleep paralysis” or "Night Terrors" I can sense and move my arms and legs.
I used to have exactly the same thing as a kid now and then: big and little at the same time. I thought it was weird, but it also felt cool, and I would try to encourage it once it started, but that would wreck it.

Anyway, it can be related to Migraine Aura.

You may object that you don't get Migraines, but Migraine is actually a four part syndrome, and a person can have any of the four parts in the absence of the other:
https://www.physicsforums.com/showthread.php?t=305792
As Mentor Evo attests in that thread, a person can have Migraine auras without ever having had a Migraine headache. (But maybe you have have the headaches at some other time.)


Here's a description from a Migraine site:
"Another time years later I was lying in bed trying to get to sleep, but I was having trouble relaxing, my mind was on a million things, work, etc. I closed my eyes and began a relaxation exercise, deep breathing, etc. I began to feel like I was growing outside the dimensions of the space I occupied. It's hard to describe. I could feel my physical body touching the sheets, pillow etc. and didn't feel like I was getting any bigger than the bed, but I had the distinct sensation of growing immensely huge at a very fast rate. At the same time, I began to feel like I was hurtling headfirst (I was lying on my back) through space at speeds faster than the speed of light. It was amazing and I can describe it as a sort of religious experience (although God didn't show up) kind of like the guy's trip at the end of 2001: A Space Odyssey. The whole experience seemed to last a very long time but when I thought myself out of it by trying to figure out what was going on, I looked at the clock and it had only been a few minutes."
http://www.migraine-aura.org/content/e27891/e27265/e26585/e43013/e46075/index_en.html [Broken]

It seems to happen to people at any time, not just when lying down on the verge of sleep:

Macrosomatognosia

The phenomenon of macrosomatognosia is exemplified by the following observations, where the body image disturbance involves the entire body:

"Sometimes I feel 'REAL TALL' -- and I'm only five - two! I'll feel weird and tall, and walk into my kitchen and feel like my head is going to hit the ceiling and like I'm towering over the countertops. It's the craziest sensation. Would other people think we're all nuts??? Before you say I am, (or think it anyway - lol) I recently read something to this effect on a headache website and would have never believed it, had it not happened to me!"
Descriptions of other body-image disturbances during Migraine aura:

http://www.migraine-aura.org/content/e27891/e27265/e26585/e43013/e46067/index_en.html [Broken]

Sense of body position and location in space is processed in the parietal lobes of the brain so this is most likely some migraine activity in one or both of those lobes.
 
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S_Happens

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Re: Strange Sensation

I used to have this happen to me quite often as a child, although it wasn't exactly big/small for me. Typically it was a feeling of distances being vastly exaggerated. Like someone else mentioned previously, it was as if objects that were physically inches away seemed to be very far away and you could comprehend that the objects were BOTH very near and very far at the same time. I remember this as being very vivid and quite fascinating.

It was usually accompanied by a feeling I can only describe as "something like dirtyness," but that wasn't exactly it. I have tried to figure out a way to describe it for years, but still haven't been able to. The closest I can get is that it was similar to a feeling that the sheets/pillow/etc that I was touching had a "dirty" sensation, or some sort of repulsive sensation (not a physical force of repulsion, more of a "don't touch me"). I'm not now, and never have been, one who ever feels unclean in daily life (no compulsion to wash or clean myself or anything else), and although it's not exactly the feeling I experienced, it is also not something I've ever experienced when not in bed. This was the part that I really disliked. Sometimes it was a mere annoyance, but other times it was borderline terrifying.

Both of those sensations only occured when I was in bed and close to sleep. They occured while I was still awake and able to move. I could get the sensations to go away if I moved around, but they would return quickly.

I have only had it happen a handful of times since it was frequent as a child, but all of those times were after I had previously been thinking about the sensations, and none have been as vivid as the original occurances. This actually happened within the last two weeks, although the sensation was quite muted. I had been thinking about the sensations (probably not quite waxing nostalgic) and was trying to see if I could bring about the sensation intentionally. It was successful, but as I said, nothing as intense as it used to be.
 
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Re: Strange Sensation

S_Happens, I have had the sensation of exaggerated distances as well, especially when tired. It happens infrequently now but it used to happen more frequently when I was a kid. Usually it happens when I'm reading, almost always when tired: the words on the page seem about a mile away, tiny, but at the same time I can make them out perfectly clearly. It has happened when reading on the computer as well, when tired.
 
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Re: Strange Sensation

"Dysmetropsia

The term dysmetropsia (Wilson, 1916) is used to denote a group of visual illusions involving an alteration in the apparent size and/or distance of visual objects. It comprises macropsia and micropsia (i.e. visual targets getting larger and smaller), pelopsia and teleopsia (objects appearing nearer and further away), and combinations of these illusions."

http://www.migraine-aura.org/content/e27891/e27265/e26585/e48971/e49032/index_en.html [Broken]
 
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S_Happens

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Re: Strange Sensation

My experiences were purely non-visual perception, just a "feeling." Opening my eyes, or moving my limbs/repositioning caused the sensation to cease momentarily.

I'll check out the links that Zooby posted later on, but for now I will state that I have never experienced the pain of a migraine, and only a handful of small headaches throughout my life (25 years).
 
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Re: Strange Sensation

My experiences were purely non-visual perception, just a "feeling." Opening my eyes, or moving my limbs/repositioning caused the sensation to cease momentarily.
OK, if it's not visual then you have exhausted my ability to find a name for it. I'll bet there is one somewhere though.

The parietal lobes of the brain are where spatial relationships are processed. According to Ramachandran (Phantoms In the Brain, 1998) various "maps" are held in the parietal lobes, and incoming stimuli is compared against these maps. It sounds like the non-visual aspects of your "map" of your immediate environment are being distorted during these episodes.

I'll check out the links that Zooby posted later on, but for now I will state that I have never experienced the pain of a migraine, and only a handful of small headaches throughout my life (25 years).
Migraine is a massive subject as I found out from reading Oliver Sacks' Migraine. He specialized in it, or, at least, took a special interest in the Migraine patients he treated (over 1200 of them), because he suffered from various Migraine aurae himself throughout his life, all without ever having had the Migraine headache.
 

Moonbear

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Re: Strange Sensation

It might be something as simple as starting to dream while nodding off to sleep. We had a discussion about an article quite some time ago, where the authors of a study had demonstrated that dreaming is NOT restricted to the REM stage as so many believed prior to that. So, it could be just a recurring dream when you're drifting in and out of sleep without really realizing you have nodded off for a few moments at a time.
 
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Re: Strange Sensation

look here--good page on these types of events;
http://www.dreamsnightmares.com/sleepparalysis.html

I believe its David bufford who i heard speak on the radio--talking about the archetypal images of old hags, demons, and incubii that sometimes accompany the suffocation types of events described here. For the purely hallucinatory events, these are hypnopompic and hypnogogic hallucinations for those unfamiliar with the terms.
I've had sleep paralysis four times. The first two times I was merely paralyzed. The third time I was paralyzed, and there was someone walking back and forth by the side of the bed bouncing a basketball.

The fourth time was totally terrifying: I woke up to find I couldn't move, and the reason I couldn't move was because I was lying (on my back) on top of a guy who had his arms around my chest physically holding me down on the bed. He was sniggering grotesquely in my left ear, amused by my struggles to break free of his grip. His cohort paced slowly back and forth at the foot of the bed. He looked like James Dean. He wore a trenchcoat and looked depressed.

This went on for maybe, 15 seconds, and suddenly, I don't know why, they both just vanished. I could move and was awake.

I was seriously unsettled for about three days after this. It was incredibly vivid.

There was no suffocation by this guy holding me down. His function as an hallucination seemed just to be to "explain" why I felt paralyzed and couldn't move. I have no idea what the other guy was there for.
 

S_Happens

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Re: Strange Sensation

It might be something as simple as starting to dream while nodding off to sleep. We had a discussion about an article quite some time ago, where the authors of a study had demonstrated that dreaming is NOT restricted to the REM stage as so many believed prior to that. So, it could be just a recurring dream when you're drifting in and out of sleep without really realizing you have nodded off for a few moments at a time.
I would be more inclined towards this, although the experiences were quite vivid and the notion of being completely awake went along with the strange sensations. Although I'm no expert on the different stages of sleep, I'm aware of them, and would tend to believe that this is not what it was. Although I am certainly not denying that it could be the case, I will say that it is some sort of minority, being that typically the first stages of sleep where you aren't aware of being asleep don't include (for me at least) present time awareness of any sensations, or the ability to actively move around to prevent said sensations.

Although the migraine links were very interesting, I wouldn't think it a likely cause as the condition only occured while trying to go to sleep, could be momentarily ceased with simple movement, and has been brought about more than once simple by thinking about the sensation itself. I would think some sort of early dream stage explanation (as Moonbear said) FAR more likely. Maybe it is some sort of proprioreception confusion. If I am completely motionless for an extended period of time (not experienced while laying down trying to sleep, but usually sitting say at a computer and reading for an extended period) I can lose my sense of propriorecption for whatever parts of the body have been completely still. It's hard to do since I move so much normally, but I work shift work and many times working nights I might sit at a computer for a long time reading articles. The proprioreception comes back immediately with the slightest intentional movement, and my proprioreception is phenomenal in daily activities, so I don't believe I suffer from any condition.
 
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Re: Strange Sensation

Although the migraine links were very interesting, I wouldn't think it a likely cause as the condition only occured while trying to go to sleep, could be momentarily ceased with simple movement, and has been brought about more than once simple by thinking about the sensation itself. I would think some sort of early dream stage explanation (as Moonbear said) FAR more likely. Maybe it is some sort of proprioreception confusion. If I am completely motionless for an extended period of time (not experienced while laying down trying to sleep, but usually sitting say at a computer and reading for an extended period) I can lose my sense of propriorecption for whatever parts of the body have been completely still. It's hard to do since I move so much normally, but I work shift work and many times working nights I might sit at a computer for a long time reading articles. The proprioreception comes back immediately with the slightest intentional movement, and my proprioreception is phenomenal in daily activities, so I don't believe I suffer from any condition.
It sounds like lack of motion is a prerequisite. I take it you can't bring the sensation about by thinking about it when you are in motion.
 

Monique

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Re: Strange Sensation

I've had the same sensation as well and tried to explain it to people, who thought I was insane for experiencing such a thing.

As said by several people in this thread, it starts when you're about to fall asleep, you feel like an enormous density that is being shrunk to a point in space and at the same time you feel like you are getting larger. It is like a disconnection of your body and brain.

It is not paralysis, since I am able to move during the experience, although that will disrupt the sensation (so I usually try to lay still to prolong the experience, it's so weird and beautiful at the same time).

I don't think it is a dream, since I'm conscious of where I am and that I can move. I can be in the sensation, feel completely detached. At some point the only thing that is left is the sensation of deep breathing, everything else will be gone (like the Never Ending story, where the Imagination world has disappeared into nothing and only the consciousness of the boy is left). When you reach that point it is somewhat unnerving, so to check that I am still there I move an arm and start becoming aware of my body after which the sensation slowly disappears.

I also don't think it has anything to do with migraines, although the brain areas that are affected may be the same.

I think it is an experience that you are are conscious of the first phase of sleep, when you'd normally be unconscious. It must have something to do with the deep relaxation of your body, the shutting down of parts of your brain in preparation for sleep.
 

Monique

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Re: Strange Sensation

It sounds like lack of motion is a prerequisite. I take it you can't bring the sensation about by thinking about it when you are in motion.
Lack of motion is a prerequisite, but reading this tread (in utmost concentration) was able to induce the sensation. I could feel 'myself' shrinking, not my body but some consciousness, to a heavy point; much like to what was described. When I started to type the sensation disappeared. It's not so strong as you'd experience when lying in bed, but it was an interesting experience. Apparently I was able to 'recall' the feeling.
 

Monique

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Re: Strange Sensation

I tried to find some information on the internet. This is not the best website, but it does somewhat describe the phenomenon. It appears to be an out-of-body experience that occurs in a lucid dream at the direct transition between wakefulness and REM sleep.

http://www.lucidity.com/NL32.OBEandLD.html

Above we described our operating theory that OBEs occur
when people lose input from their sense organs, as happens at the
onset of sleep, while retaining consciousness. This combination
of events is especially likely when a person passes directly from
waking into REM sleep. In both states the mind is alert and
active, but in waking it is processing sensory input from the
outside world, while in dreaming it is creating a mental model
independent of sensory input.
..
The unusual feeling of leaving the body is exciting and
alarming. This, combined with the realistic imagery of the
bedroom is enough to account for the conviction of many OBE
experients' that "it was too real to be a dream." Dreams, too,
can be astonishingly real, especially if you are attending to
their realness.
 

fuzzyfelt

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Re: Strange Sensation

Very nice, Monique and Moonbear.

I found a name that sounds like a good description, but again, probably not a good site. Although the same or similar to micro/macropsia described before, this, on whatever authority (not sure, sorry) mentions feelings other than purely visual, and also mentions a range of possible causes.

Alice in Wonderland syndrome - depersonalization, altered perceptions of body image, visual illusions, feelings of levitation, metamorphosia. The syndrome could occur as migraine aura, epilepsy (simple or complex partial epileptic seizures), also in hypnagogic, delirious states, encephalitis, cerebral lesions, drug intoxication, schizophrenia [21,22,23,24].
The name of the syndrome is derived from a character from Lewis Carroll's (C.L. Dodgson) novel Alice's Adventures in Wonderland (1865).


http://content.karger.com/produktedb/produkte.asp?typ=fulltext&file=ENE2005053004171 [Broken]

Monique’s paper, was very fascinating, but also interesting that it didn’t mention NREM (and so, maybe, less of the condition of atonic REM, along the lines Monique mentioned), as Moonbear and this link have.
 
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Re: Strange Sensation

I've had the same sensation as well and tried to explain it to people, who thought I was insane for experiencing such a thing.

As said by several people in this thread, it starts when you're about to fall asleep, you feel like an enormous density that is being shrunk to a point in space and at the same time you feel like you are getting larger. It is like a disconnection of your body and brain.

It is not paralysis, since I am able to move during the experience, although that will disrupt the sensation (so I usually try to lay still to prolong the experience, it's so weird and beautiful at the same time).
As I described, I've had sleep paralysis four times, and used to have this "big and little at the same time" as a kid. The latter is completely different than the former, so I agree with you, it has nothing to do with sleep paralysis.
I don't think it is a dream, since I'm conscious of where I am and that I can move. I can be in the sensation, feel completely detached. At some point the only thing that is left is the sensation of deep breathing, everything else will be gone (like the Never Ending story, where the Imagination world has disappeared into nothing and only the consciousness of the boy is left). When you reach that point it is somewhat unnerving, so to check that I am still there I move an arm and start becoming aware of my body after which the sensation slowly disappears.
Yes, it's clearly not a dream. A more accurate term might be "proprioceptive hallucination". It happens in full awareness of yourself and the environment. Without thinking about it, a person operates on a certain "feel" for how much volume they have, how much space they take up. During these episodes my sense of how much volume I had seemed to tangibly inflate like a balloon. This wasn't an "idea" or "notion" but a physical sensation. I was somehow taking up way more space than usual while, paradoxically, remaining the same size as ever.

I could always move, was never paralyzed, but moving caused it to stop suddenly.
I also don't think it has anything to do with migraines, although the brain areas that are affected may be the same.
Migraine auras can happen anywhere in the brain. Moonbear's aura consists of the hallucination of the smell of cigarette smoke. Evo's aura consists of fascinating visual light displays. I would call the experiences of feeling simultaneously large and small Migraine auras if the neuronal activity behind them is the same as during a Migraine aura.

I think it is an experience that you are are conscious of the first phase of sleep, when you'd normally be unconscious. It must have something to do with the deep relaxation of your body, the shutting down of parts of your brain in preparation for sleep.
Yes, it never happened to me unless I was extremely relaxed. On the other hand I been extremely relaxed many times when it didn't happen.

Lack of motion is a prerequisite, but reading this tread (in utmost concentration) was able to induce the sensation. I could feel 'myself' shrinking, not my body but some consciousness, to a heavy point; much like to what was described. When I started to type the sensation disappeared. It's not so strong as you'd experience when lying in bed, but it was an interesting experience. Apparently I was able to 'recall' the feeling.
That's pretty interesting. I bet with practice you could do it more and more easily at will.
 
Re: Strange Sensation

My 11 year old son is having this sensation now (the far away feeling, the big and small feeling, and his thoughts being loud in his head). It's causing alot of stress for him and for us, he's getting to sleep very late at night and dragging in the morning. It doesn't matter how much exercise he's gotten during the day or how tired he is. We've enforced relaxation time a half hour before bed, watched his food intake, etc. Nothing helps. I remember having very similar sensations when I was his age. White noise made it worse. Eventually I outgrew it and it hasn't happened since. He's very disturbed by it and nothing he does seems to help. Has anyone really found a good explanation for this and a remedy? why does it seem to happen more to children?
 
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Re: Strange Sensation

My 11 year old son is having this sensation now (the far away feeling, the big and small feeling, and his thoughts being loud in his head). It's causing alot of stress for him and for us, he's getting to sleep very late at night and dragging in the morning. It doesn't matter how much exercise he's gotten during the day or how tired he is. We've enforced relaxation time a half hour before bed, watched his food intake, etc. Nothing helps. I remember having very similar sensations when I was his age. White noise made it worse. Eventually I outgrew it and it hasn't happened since. He's very disturbed by it and nothing he does seems to help. Has anyone really found a good explanation for this and a remedy? why does it seem to happen more to children?
It's most likely migraine aura.

As I mentioned earlier, migraine is a four part syndrome: prodrome, aura, headache, postdrome. A person can have any of the four parts in isolation from the others. What that means is you can have migraine without ever having the headache. Neurologist Oliver Sacks, for example, has experienced migraine aura all his life without ever getting the migraine headache.

If you go to this page:

http://www.migraine-aura.org/content/e27891/e27265/e26585/e48971/e49032/index_en.html [Broken]

You'll find a comprehensive list of possible migraine auras on the left hand side.

If it's chronic and becoming a problem I'd say take him to a neurologist. Myself and the other people in this thread only had it very occasionally, and it was never something that interfered with sleep to the extent it seems to be bothering your son.
 
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Re: Strange Sensation

Zoobyshoo...
I've been reading up on this a bit and it seems to fit in many ways. As I said, I had these same sensations around the same age. A few years later, the onset of migraines arrived for me and I've been a sufferer ever since...witout aura though. Several websites seem to state that children who experience this often become migraine sufferers in the future, especially when there is a family history, which I have a long one.
 
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Re: Strange Sensation

Zoobyshoo...
I've been reading up on this a bit and it seems to fit in many ways. As I said, I had these same sensations around the same age. A few years later, the onset of migraines arrived for me and I've been a sufferer ever since...witout aura though. Several websites seem to state that children who experience this often become migraine sufferers in the future, especially when there is a family history, which I have a long one.
I'd appreciate a link to one or two of those sites.

It's well known that Migraine runs in families, so that certainly makes it the prime suspect here. Since this is interfering with his sleep it's definitely time to see a doctor. I'd suggest a regular physical first with blood tests for sugar level problems, thyroid function, iron levels, all that stuff. If that all came back clear, then I'd see a neurologist.
 

matthyaouw

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Re: Strange Sensation

Thanks for digging this thread up. I have looked in vain tor it a couple of times. This is really interesting. I will look further in to the migrane idea. I have not looked at the site in great detail but so far I haven't seen anything on there that quite matches. The experiences they recount seem to be in changes in size of real things- things they look at or themselves. For me, the bigsmall feeling hasn't (as far as I remember) ever been assoiated with a real object and only once with myself.


The time it was associated with myself & real positions was very odd. I had flu or similar and was feeling pretty horrible. I'd been for a nap and when I woke up it felt like the whole universe was facing a different direction. Sort of like- when I'm in a new place I subconciously make a little map of it as I explore, normally with a set of 'compass points'that align on easy to follow features like roads and that will be the way up I imagine the place after that when I'm thinking about getting from one place to another. Then if I see a map with the real north, the two won't marry up, I'll have to make sense of a new set of directions, a new frame of reference to understand wher I am and where I'm going. So it felt like this had happened with the whole universe. It had this new direction and I had to make sense of the whole universe or turn everything back bit by bit, and it would take me an eternity. I guess the universe and the time involved were the big and i was the small. I was fully conscious and it lasted probably an hour or more, even when I was up and walking around. Movement didn't break it, as often seems to be the case with other people's experiences. I could think clearly and rationalise it. I knew it was in 'in your head' kind of thing but that didn't help.

It was an odd one, but so far only a one-off. I probably sound nuts now, but oh well.

Three things that have cropped up here are:
-Movement normally stops it
-Control of it is sometimes possible
-Relaxation is important for it to happen

Are any of these true with many other mirgane symptoms I wonder. I shall have to look in to this further.
 
Re: Strange Sensation

A few links requested by Zoobyshoo:
http://medicana.blogspot.com/2009/02/alice-in-wonderland-syndrome.html
http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/cgi/content/abstract/63/4/517
http://www.medterms.com/script/main/art.asp?articlekey=24174
http://www.patient.co.uk/showdoc/40025025/
http://www.webmd.com/migraines-headaches/what-are-silent-migraines?page=2

Of course, I did not find the link I was mentioning before where it said this occurance could be a precursor in children of migraines to come...especially with family history.

Anyway, to Matthyaouw: For myself, what I remember as a kid wasn't so nearly as cut and dry as the big and small sensation of objects or my body. It was much more complicated to describe....sometimes with images of heavy objects and tiny objects together, a sort of overwhelming silence or overwhelming feeling if there was a fan running or something, wierd spacial feelings, etc. Yes, I think alot of these feelings are similar to the delerium of a fever now and then.
Now that I'm older, my migraines are always without aura. I'm not clear if you're asking if the three "remedies" you listed help with actual migraines? If so, the answer is no, although relaxation is definately necessary for me if my medication is going to take effect.
 

sas3

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Re: Strange Sensation

Thanks everyone for all the replies to this thread and all the links. I have looked through most of them and it may have something to do with migraines but most of the links talk about having a part of your body feeling big and that is not the experience that I have, it has always been about inanimate objects like the tip of a pin or a dust particle that seems huge. I have always found the experience to pleasurable except for the one time when it got so powerful that actually scared me.
 
Re: Strange Sensation

Sas3,
As I said, I used to experience this myself, and it wasn't particularly a big small thing. The tip of the pin thing you mention is farmiliar. It's extremely hard to remember and even back then difficult to explain in concrete terms. But I remember things in contrast like you mentioned. It was never pleasurable though.
 

Averagesupernova

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Re: Strange Sensation

I never have any cool sensations like these. :( I do recall having dreams where I am able to crawl through VERY tiny places. I'll walk into a room thinking it is a hallway but it turns out to be a dead end. There may be a small crack or hole in a corner like up at the ceiling or down towards the floor. As I get closer to look through either I get smaller or the hole gets larger. I'm not really sure which. I can recall this happening several times before I became aware of what it really was.
-
I DO have a strange sensation every now and then that I used to have alot when I was a young teenager. If I'm sitting in a chair for instance, it feels like the floor is sloping down ahead of me. I don't lose balance or anything like that. It's not a sensation like a sloping seat or my feet are on an incline. It's just a 'feeling' that the floor slopes away from me. So am I the only weirdo here?
 

Mk

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Re: Strange Sensation

Being able to control this sensation sounds a bit like lucid dreaming in the waking life.

There has been good success with this thread, may I offer a second strange sensation?
Once, when I was very sick I would sit up in my chair and feel the sensation on every inch of my body of being pushed backward. I was of course, not moving, and there was no physical force lending a push. Has anyone else felt this sort of thing?
 

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