Meditation and Hypnosis
Meditation and Hypnosis are very similar in that they both involve trance. Meditation, in the form of self-actuated introspection, and hypnosis, with the assistance of a hypnotist, to guide you into a trance. But did you know there are hundreds of other ways you can also go into trance?
What is Trance?
I guess to start with, we need to understand what a trance is. Wikipedia describes it as;
“an abnormal state of wakefulness in which a person is not self-aware and is either altogether unresponsive to external stimuli (but nevertheless capable of pursuing and realizing an aim) or is selectively responsive in following the directions of the person (if any) who has induced the trance. Trance states may occur involuntarily and unbidden. Trance may be associated with hypnosis, meditation, magic, flow, and prayer.”
Which is quite the mouthful, isn’t it?
Trance can, however, be summed up significantly more succinctly. In its simplest form, trance is being awake with a singularly fixated focus or attention. Meaning, you are so focused on one thing that everything else seems to melt away from awareness. That point of focus can be almost anything, such as your breath which is common with meditation, or a persons voice like a hypnotist. It can also be when you go deep into your own mind and focus on a single thought or idea.
Once in a trancelike state, by whatever means it took to get there, our unconscious mind is susceptible to any suggestions that it receives. This is because the critical factor, commonly referred to as “the gatekeeper”, is preoccupied with what it is focused on consciously. The critical factor is the analytical part of the mind that sorts out the useful information from the not, before allowing it to enter the unconscious mind.
The perfect way to demonstrate this is to talk with a young child before their critical factor is established, usually before the age of 7. If you say to them excitedly “there’s a friendly pink dragon with fluffy ears and a stripy tail in the garden” There’s a good chance they’re going to run to the window to see it. If you said the same thing to someone over the age of 11, unless they have some kind of mental deficiencies, they’re probably going to just laugh and say “Bullshit!”
This is because their well established critical factor knows that dragons don’t exist in our modern world, especially pink ones with fluffy ears and stripy tails. However, if the critical factor is offline for any reason, you may not only believe in dragons but you could gain an emotional attachment to them as well. I have to admit, I cried at the end of the old movie DragonHeart.
Power of Suggestion
Now if we sit down to meditate and feed our unconscious mind positive affirmations, this can be a great thing and reflect these positives suggestions into our awakened reality. Likewise, if we go to see a hypnotist and while in trance, they feed our unconscious mind with helpful suggestions for a better life, this can be a great thing too. In fact, positive suggestions while in a hypnotic trance, can help people to lose weight, stop smoking or improve their life and any number of ways.
Unfortunately though, just how positive suggestions while in a trance can help us, negative suggestions can affect us also and be incredibly detrimental to our mental health, well-being and our daily lives.
The Hidden Trance
“But why would anybody feed themselves negative suggestions?” I hear you ask.
Consciously I don’t think many of us would, but that is determined by whether or not we know we are in trance. If somehow we have entered a trance-like state without being aware of it, any negative suggestions would easily creep into the unconscious mind.
You would think that surely we would all know when we are entering a trancelike state but the fact remains all of us do so every day and rarely do we recognise it. Remember all it takes to induce a trance, is fixated singular focus or attention. Now if you look back over your life for the last few days, how many times did your attention fit that criteria? At first, we may be inclined to think ‘not many at all’, however, allow me to give you some examples;
- Have you ever driven to work, or to someplace that you goto regularly and zoned out on the journey only to arrive on autopilot not remembering the trip at all?
- Have you sat down and watched TV or a movie and got so caught up in the story that everything else in your world disappeared until those credits rolled?
- And what about looking at social media on your phone and suddenly realising a huge amount of time has passed, rather than the few minutes it felt like?
These are all examples of everyday trance that all of us go into all of the time. Another good one is getting caught up in our own thoughts, especially if we are reliving bad experiences that we may have had.
The Hidden Messages
Allow me to ask you this question. What were the suggestions and messages that were being fed into your unconscious mind while you were in these trancelike states?
Did you maybe have commercial radio playing in the car filling your unconscious mind with ads? If so, what were the messages in these Ads? How were they selling the products and services? Were they eating away at your self worth so that you would seek happiness and fulfilment in their offerings?
The same goes for TV and social media. In fact, these technologies are designed this way. Anyone who has worked in advertising knows that the most beneficial placement for an ad is the very first ad in the middle of a show. Why? Because we are so caught up in the storyline and characters that when that first ad plays, it goes straight into our unconscious mind before we have a chance to block it out with our gatekeeper.
Just imagine for a moment, you’re watching your favourite show and the last three episodes have been building up to this one moment. She walks in with her flowing dress that is blood red, heart is beating faster in anticipation as they’re about to pick the queen and BOOM. “Do you have symptoms of heartburn?…” If you didn’t, you probably do now.
One of the reasons why these trances are hidden is because it doesn’t feel like you are singularly focused at the time. When you are scouring social media it seems like your attention is on many different things, as all of the different pictures and stories scroll before you. However, your attention is really only focused on one thing, the screen in front of you. The same can be said for television. It doesn’t matter how many action scenes, explosions, red muscle cars screeching away from the Queen alien that’s invading the city (cause let’s face it, red always goes firster), sub-stories, characters, and plot-line twists and on and on… It doesn’t matter what you are presented with, your focus still remains singularly on the screen.
Now I’m not suggesting that you go and turn all of this stuff off. That’s just not realistic in our modern world. What I am suggesting is that you become aware of all those times that you are going to trance. Become aware of the messages that are being presented to you at all times and in all their forms. When you become aware of these things happening, they are less likely to have an effect on you.
Awareness will ensure that the gatekeeper to your unconscious mind remains vigilant to all the subversive messages it may be presented with.
How to Become Aware
And how do you become aware of going into these hidden trances? Simply by becoming aware of them. The more times you become aware, the more you’ll be able to become aware. At first it may just be the big stuff like noticing that you are zoning out in the car. Then, over time, you’ll train your mind to become aware of the smaller stuff too. Like everything, this is a skill to be learned and practiced over time to get good at it.
Now wake up and have a great day.
About James Cole
James is an empowerment life coach, hypnotherapist, writer, filmmaker, and photo-artist. He has had a passion for meditation since being introduced by a support teacher back in high school. Since then he has studied various forms of meditation before discovering hypnosis and recognising the similarities. He now teaches meditation that is stripped back to the fundamental core practices, as well as creating guided meditations that people can use for personal development to better their lives.
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