My family has a genetic predisposition to sleep paralysis
. Sleep paralysis can be a very intense experience, and for a lot of people (like my father), it is frightening despite their familiarity with it. One benefit though, is the ability to have incredibly intense dreams and sometimes half awake hallucinations. During an episode I am generally unable to move my limbs, but can move my eyes just a bit (not open them however, and they are slightly parted when asleep). If the episode lasts, generally one starts to feel... an intense presence.
I was in Medina a few years ago, during a minor pilgrimage. Climbing into bed after the early morning prayer and breakfast, I knew I would probably have a paralytic episode. I did. When it began I was initially fairly comfortable but then I noticed that before me seemed to stand an entity who filled me with an intense feeling of... awe. It was a dark indistinct figure, shadowy like a person in a cowl seen from behind darkly tinted glass. There was an intense emotional pressure, I felt as if this figure was both malevolent and sacred. Somehow I knew it was the angel of death. The figure reached far, far, up and even though I was inside a closed room it seemed to reach upwards infinitely, with the impression of wings spread far and wide. The most disconcerting part of it was that I felt this figure was peering directly at me, and by doing so peeling away my soul and looking deep into my self. Usually I am very aware of these hallucinations but the sensation was so so powerful that I completely forgot myself. Still, I did not attempt to wake up. I did however try to turn my head away from the gaze towards my right. This probably was unsuccessful because I had slipped into sleep and an intense semi-lucid dream by then. I saw what I believed to be the fires of hell literally open up before my eyes for an instant before this shocked me awake.
The energy from this experience made my prayer more fervent and involved for the rest of the day, putting me in a deeply introspective mood. The dream itself was probably not that special or portentious, but the aftereffects put me in a frame of mind that was very valuable.