A hypnotic trance is a state in which, by being deeply focused on something, we are by the same token, susceptible to something else (a suggestion, or learning a new behavior, for example). Our logical guard is down, and our unconscious mind is receptive to information and suggestions, bypassing any critical evaluation from our parts.
(Any critical evaluation? Not really. The critical side of the mind may be momentarily absent, but this doesn’t mean that the subject’s unconscious will just accept anything that is suggested during this state. A trance, no matter how deep, will not cause the subject to do something that goes against the person’s moral code.)
Now, any trance pre-supposes rapport, a special bond of confidence and trust with the agent causing the trance. In the case of traditional hypnosis or hypnotherapy, the practitioner builds a rapport with the subject and then causes the trance to occur.
This is one type of trance, the one purposefully induced by a hypnotist or a hypnotherapist.
But this isn't the only type. Trance, contrary to common belief, is not a state that happens exclusively in a hypnosis session. The subtitle of our web page ('Because Trance Happens') alludes to something often forgotten but crucial: the fact that trances are a daily occurrence in our lives.
- When you're driving a car and a moment later realize you're already home, but can't remember how you got there.
- When watching TV and someone talks to us, but our fixation with the tube is such that we literally don't hear anything else.
We’re then in rapport with the TV, or with the radio in the car, or with our own thoughts. These are the most obvious cases. There are many others.
Our communication with other people, casually and without any hypnotic intentions on either part, can cause ourselves or others to go into trance at any given moment.
An example could be a couple’s argument. She says “We don’t have bread,” but he instead hears her say “We're poor and it’s your fault.” So he may answer: “Maybe we shouldn’t be together if I’m not good enough!” And walks out.
What just happened?
He 'read into' what she was saying, adding meaning based on his own personal history. Maybe the way she pronounced the word ‘bread’ reminded him of his mother telling him as a child that he’d never be a good ‘breadwinner’. He then allowed that to become the prevalent reality in the present and reacted accordingly, bypassing the logical mind, which would have probably brought up the fact that, hey, all she really said was that they were out of bread.
From a third person’s perspective, this can be nutty, and yet, a quite familiar experience: the action of adding meaning to what others say or do, based on our past experiences, moods and emotions.
It happens all the time. We’ve all done it, we’ve all suffered it.
But is this trance?
It is trance, because something in what the other person is saying (content, tone, a look) causes us to go into an unconscious 'vault' of memories, experiences and emotions, and match the original event with the current one. It is trance because our rapport with the unconscious memory causes us to agree with it as a reality in favor of what's 'really' going on 'outside'.
For the unconscious mind, 'really' doesn't mean what it does for our consciousness, plus, the limits between outside and inside are blurred. The unconscious mind has its own reality and its own operating laws, and these can sometimes be in conflict with what we normally consider as 'real'.
There are differences between the type of trance that occurs casually during our everyday life, and the one purposefully caused by a hypnotist or a hypnotherapist; or for that matter, the self hypnotic trance, which is purposefully caused by the subject himself.
Whatever the case, trance is a highly useful state of awareness. It is ideal for learning new behaviors and abandoning old, stressful and dysfunctional ones.
And because trance happens, we can learn ways to take advantage of those states, in us and in others. There are lots of tools on how to cause Hypnotic Trance, which if used intelligently, can catapult us into healthier, wealthier and more powerful lives.