A client phoned me yesterday. She told me she got alarmed while she was getting a head massage last week. She said that she had experienced exactly the same feelings and images during the head massage, as she had in her recent hypnosis session with me. She wanted know if this meant that the hypnosis effects were somehow spilling over into her daily life. I had to explain to her that sometimes trance happens when you don't expect it.
Trance happens all the time
Massage therapists report that up to a third of their clients actually go to sleep during the massage. The client usually thinks they have gone to sleep, but they are actually going into trance. What was happening in this case was that the massage was putting her into trance. The difference is that now she can recognize the effects for what they are.
Trance can be induced by anything that distracts your attention from the normal inputs to your mind. In the case of massage, the situation is perfect for trance induction: the room is warm, there is usually soft music playing, you are lying down, you are told to relax. Then your body is rhythmically rubbed in gentle strokes. This puts attention on something that does not normally get any notice: your skin. Focusing on the feelings from your skin means that you are not focusing on normal thoughts, and so your mind is free to drift off into trance.
Weird ways of going into trance
You don't have to have your eyes closed and be sitting down to go into trance. You can go into trance while doing any repetitive task. Soldiers report that when they are doing the route marches, the numbing repetitive activity causes their minds to go into trance. They can go on marching for hours without noticing it.
Many daily tasks induce trance. Watching an engrossing story on TV suspends your normal critical mind. You drift into your unconscious mind. That is why advertisers love it. You are in a uncritical receptive state when you see the ads. This makes the ads much more effective.
For many people, playing computer games has exactly the same effect. They are so focused on the game that they lose all track of time.
Driving on a familiar commute becomes boring. Your actions become automatic, unthinking. It is very easy to allow your conscious mind to drift away somewhere and leave the driving to your unconscious reflexes. When that happens you go into "highway hypnosis". It is exactly the same as a hypnotic trance.
In traditional societies, drumming is a way of going into trance. The constant repetitive noise affects your brain. Your conscious mind gets "bored" with the unvarying stimulus. Your unconscious mind then takes over and you start experiencing the world through your unconscious mind. In that state, you have visions, hallucinations, messages from "beyond". This is basically what shamans do throughout the world.
The weirdest one that I have come across is in BDSM. A client told me that when she is getting spanked on the bottom it hurts. But after a while the pain becomes so great that her mind cannot take it any longer, and "escapes". This then leaves her in her unconscious mind where she can ignore the pain. When in her unconscious mind she has no problems, no worries, all the everyday things just disappear. And that's why she keeps going back to it.
What is the strangest way to go into trance? Leave your comment below.
He is highly regarded in the hypnotherapy community. He is Vice President of the New Zealand Association of Professional Hypnotherapists (NZAPH).
He is regularly consulted for advice by other hypnotherapists around the world. He is known for the quality of his published scripts. He presents at international conferences and has published on hypnosis and advanced hypnotherapy.
He lives in Wellington New Zealand with his wife Trish and a cat called Parsnip.