I’m often asked, “what is a trance?” in relation to hypnosis or hypnotherapy. In common language, the term “trance” seems to be mainly related to a hypnotic trance, where in effect, trance is a natural state which the vast majority of us experience every day.
Have you ever daydreamed? Or walked into a room and then forgotten why? Or arrived at a destination and had trouble remembering how you got there? Do you tap your fingers, doodle or click a pen automatically? If you have done any of these things, you have experienced a trance.
According to Wikipedia “Trance denotes any state of awareness or consciousness other than normal waking consciousness. Trance states may occur involuntarily and unbidden.” The precise definition of a trance can be somewhat fluid and hard to pin down. Generally, it is defined as a mental state that is clearly disassociated from normal consciousness. In other words, while your mind is busy, your body and functions continue to operate on auto-pilot. Meditation and mindfulness are also forms of trance: conscious attention is narrowly focused, and other functions are performed instinctively and automatically.
There are various definitions of depth of trance relating to the frequency of brain waves. Typically, in the trance states that hypnotists and hypnotherapists induce, the subject has their eyes closed, is very relaxed, has a quiet mind and is aware of what is going on. Whilst in a hypnotic trance, the unconscious or subconscious mind remains very active and the subject is able to step outside of their ordinary belief system. An accomplished hypnotherapist can use this principle to guide the subject in bypassing limiting conscious beliefs.
In many religious traditions, holy men and women also enter trances, and it is often believed that they are gifted with divine communications during them. However, trance is not related to, or unique to people of any religious belief, and is a naturally occurring phenomenon.