What is trance?

Often when we think of trance, we can conjure up images of people zoned out, there in person but seemingly absent of mind, perhaps a distant look on their face or appearing to be consumed with thought.

Trance is a perfectly normal and natural state, which we all enter into many times throughout the day.  Trance happens when our attention becomes hyper focused on something and we block out all other stimuli.  For example, have you ever been so engrossed in a book or a film on TV that you don’t hear someone else in the room talking to you or perhaps fail to hear the doorbell or other noises or stimuli in the room?   This is so because you were in a trance and your attention was solely focused on reading the book, watching the TV etc.

The famous psychiatrist and hypnotherapist Milton Erickson described trance as “The loss of the multiplicity of the foci of attention.”  This rather odd sounding sentence is easy to understand with a simple example.

Imagine for a moment that you are at a crowded party, with music playing, a low hum of conversation from the partygoer’s, lots of different smells from perfumes to food, colourful lights dancing on the walls and on people’s faces, somebody calls your name and you look up.  In this scenario you have a multiplicity of the foci of attention.  In other words, many different things are vying for your attention at that moment.

In the trance state our attention is fixed and narrow, it becomes exclusively focused on whatever it is we are concentrating on.  The depth and susceptibility of a trance can vary from person to person but it can be contrived through hypnosis.

“Trance is the loss of the multiplicity of the foci of attention.” – Milton Erickson M.D.

Hypnosis in the clinical setting is a world away from that seen on TV or in the movies where it is used for purely for entertainment purposes.  In therapy, trance is used to access the subconscious mind and promote a change in a currently held belief.  Sometimes clients may worry that the therapist will use hypnosis to read their thoughts or make them do something that they wouldn’t ordinarily do or be uncomfortable with.  The fact is that a hypnotherapist cannot make you do something that your own moral code would forbid.  Nor can they embed a suggestion in your mind that will be acted out against your wishes.

When a hypnotherapist uses hypnosis to bring about a trance, they will encourage the client to see new ways of doing things, to open up possibilities that can help them move on with their lives and reach their goals or overcome any impasse. Hypnosis allows access to our powerful subconscious mind where we can find solutions to problems, emotions, unhelpful behavioural or thinking patterns.  The applications for hypnotherapy are diverse and range from helping with phobias to improving sports performance.

The Security Guard Within

Within our brains we have a critical conscious facility (CCF) that monitors all new information that we receive.  We might like to think of this as a doorman at a nightclub protected access.  If our name is not on the list, then we are not entering into the establishment, we’ll be turned away.  And this is the same with information that we receive every day from all sources. If we don’t believe in something or the information is not consistent with our beliefs, then we will not accept it.  Our CCF keeps us safe by preventing us from doing anything that may cause us harm and instead encourages us to act upon tried and test information.

Hypnosis can bypass the CCF and directly access the subconscious allowing for positive suggestions and ideas to be accepted so they are not blocked or ‘perceived’ as dangerous or threatening.  In this way we can begin to introduce change into our life and negative beliefs and limitations can be removed.

These wonderful changes we can make to our lives can all be brought about by employing the natural process of trance and tapping into our powerful subconscious minds with positive suggestion.

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