I am new to shamanic practices, but I do know a thing or two about sleep paralysis for those of you who are interested. SP is a medical condition that effects brain chemistry. In normal sleep, chemicals are released to stop the bodies’ muscles from moving - and to prevent us from acting out dreams while we are having them. Sleep paralysis from what I understand, is an excess of these chemicals, so while you are mentally awake you are still physically incapacitated.
I have the chronic type, which means I get it sometimes, whether I want to or not. From what I have heard, people that do not have the condition can still have isolated episodes, but it is rare. Many episodes are accompanied by something called the "Old Hag" which is a form that sits on your chest making it hard to breath, or the feeling of an evil "presence" that cannot be seen. For lack of a better description, it feels like it wants to steal your soul. I've only had one OBE ever. It was during sleep paralysis. I stepped out of my body to grab a nearby baseball bat to keep the old hag away when it came for my sleeping form. uggh.
I am not trying to dissuade people from experimenting with SP - though it’s uncomfortable and many times scary, I still experiment with it myself because I find it fascinating. That being said, I’ve notice a few things that cause it to happen more often.
Melatonin: It’s a vitamin sold over the counter for sleep regulation. People with mild sleep trouble take it to smooth out the circadian rhythm. It is also excellent for helping with dreams. People who don't dream often remember their dreams better, and people who do dream often report more vivid and lucid dreaming. I've noticed I also have a higher chance of getting sleep paralysis.
B-6: Another over the counter vitamin used for a variety of things. The effect on dreaming is pretty much the same as melatonin. Most of the time I take both vitamins together.
Mugwort: Keeps the body in the REM sleep stage, preventing it from entering a deeper sleep. REM is where most dreaming occurs, so people who take the herb will have a better chance of dreaming and remembering it. I usually make it into tea, but you can also smoke it, make "dream pillows" etc. I've found that I usually feel a little less rested the next day, but have more dreams the night previous.
Sleeping on Your Back: Many people say that sleeping on their back increases the chance of getting SP. I don't find this to be true, as I get it pretty much no matter what position I sleep in. However, if it isn't true for me, doesn't mean it isn't true for other people - so it may or may not work.
Meditation: There are many ways to meditate, and I'm not about to tell you who's right and who's wrong, just what works best for me. When I am trying to induce paralysis I try to keep my mind active while my body is shutting down for sleep. I take slow, heavy, deep breaths as I would when I am sleeping, and my body picks up on this. As the breathing triggers my body to sleep, I concentrate intensely on the whole process of falling asleep itself. If my mind starts to wander I usually go into natural dreaming, but if I concentrate, sometimes I can carry my consciousness into dreaming. This results in a grab bag of things including lucid dreaming, false awakenings, and of course sleep paralysis.
Wish I could share more about the spiritual side of things, but unfortunately I don't understand those as much. Anyway, I wish you the best of luck with your journies and hope this information has been helpful. :D