Sunday, October 02, 2005

Understanding trance states

No one can really tell you what exactly a trance is, but there are a few explanations available. I'll give you what I believe to be true.

In short, a trance is simply a state of mind in which you are more susceptible to suggestions than in normal, "awake" state. The thing is, we go through hundreds of trance-like states every day, only they last for a very short time. The most commonly mentioned such states are just before waking up and just before falling asleep.

In conventional hypnosis we aim to prolong a state of trance for so long that we can effectively give the proper suggestions to the subconscious mind. We achieve that by very narrowly focus the conscious mind on a certain thing (relaxation, hypnotist's voice...). We simply put the subject into an altered state of consciousness (focus their train of thoughts on something else).

Have you ever had a daydream? That is a very good example of a trance state. You experience a shift in your train of thoughts and you very narrowly focus on that. Altered states are happening all the time, just that we don't stay focused for very long.

Normally when you are awake, your attention is on many stimuli in varying degrees at once. As you shift your attention on something else than what you were just thinking about, you for a very short time (less than half a second) consciously focus on that 100%. That is a trance state and you are very suggestible at that time. If you were to stay with that feeling and state, you would prolong the trance and your subconscious would now accept suggestions from the outside.

Consider for a moment the next sentence:
What were you thinking of... right before now?

It is a strange sentence, huh? Well for a moment it has shifted your state of consciousness and you went inside for an answer. The way this sentence is formed made you focus on what could it mean and what was the answer. It probably took you about a second before you went... huh? In that second was a window of many opportunities. But this and similar sentences are used more to confuse than to actually induce trance. Although it is interesting to know that you can use this technique to anchor the state of mind in the person you are doing it to.


I am going to explain just one more trance inducing techniques. It is called a pattern interrupt. It has been used since the time of Milton Erickson who used a famous handshake interrupt to induce a hypnotic state in his patients.

A pattern interrupt is an interruption of a process that we have automatized during our life. Those are the things you don't consciously think of. You see, at first, in order to do something, you had to consciously think of every step of the process. Pretty soon your subconscious picked it up and you can now do that process automaticlly, without ever thinking about it. You now just do the whole sequence. But if someone would interrupt that sequence, your subconscious suddenly doesn't know what to do and turns to the conscious mind for commands. That has instantly induced a trance and your mind is now very suggestible.

In western society, handshaking has become an automated process. When you visit or meet someone, you simply give them your hand and shake it. The process has become automated. A nice way to induce trance is to lower your hand a bit while making eye contact. The other person will offer you their hand and expect to meet your hand where he usually meets it. When your hand is not where expected, the subconscious won't know what to do. That will make their mind blank for a second and they will look down to see where your hand is. That person is in a trance right now and you can slide suggestions in, for example: "We are going to go along great". Make it short and not to intrusive and that person will obey whatever you tell them.

That concludes this post. Hope you liked it and now better understand the trance states. But remember, we've only scratched the surface here - you can read the second part of this article here: Trance states 2

Feel free to comment and to post some questions you might have.

To go to the main page of this site, go here: covert hypnosis.

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