Some general observations. Awareness during sleep paralysis(ASP) is fairly common, and perhaps most of us experience it at least once in the course of our lives. It can be thought of as the body falling asleep, while the mind remains awake. Especially during REM sleep, when the motor functions are paralyzed to prevent physically acting out one's dreams.I would love to hear it.
Suffering from ASP to a chronic degree, lasting years, is far less common. It is mostly a phenomenon of youth, and generally fades away for older adults. I had it to a chronic degree from my teens into my 30's, at which point it became a far rarer occurance.
Generally speaking, it elicits a degree of emotional terror that can only be experienced to be appreciated. Most sufferers will agree it is hard to imagine a degree of sheer terror that could exceed ASP. This is quite evident if tou read Archie's experience of the Old Hag or witch, as he related in his Sleep Paralysis thread.
Despite its terrifying nature, it can sometimes be interpreted as a spiritual experience. This is because it often involves so-called Out of Body Experiences(OBE's). At times, these can actually be enjoyable, and some would interpret these as the extraction of an astral or emotional body from one's physical body. Or they can simply be seen as the hallucinatory experiences common to ASP to begin with. That said, it is easy to see why some would conclude they can use the onset of an ASP to initiate an OBE. It's a very common feature of the experience in general.
The Old Hag or witch interpretation of ASP can be traced to Scandinavian cultures. In our own era, it is quite evident to me that the so-called alien abduction phenomenon, so prevalent in late 20th-early 21st century Western culture, are, at least in many cases, a new interpretation of ASP in our own era of space exploration and UFO belief systems. To some degree, this seems to represent our own cultural interpretation of the age old phenomenon of ASP.