Trance, Guided Visualization, and Hypnosis
Trance, Guided Visualization and Hypnosis? What are the differences here? I suppose it really depends on your opinion about whether trance is induced or if it is a continuous state that has peaks and valleys?
Starting as far back as Mesmerism, people have been sold the idea that “some people” have extraordinary powers, while the average man or woman does not. Think this is a really bad idea, overall. It sets people up to need something outside of themselves to solve their problems. With this idea firmly entrenched, it has moved forward to modern times and people still think they need someone else to solve their problems.
Even when I began my hypnosis training, the presiding thought was that TRANCE was something that someone else induced and you needed to be agreeable to this, lest you be called RESISTANT.
In fairness, I think it would be useful to mention that the AGE OF REASON was in full swing and the presiding thought among science and intellectuals was if you can’t see it, touch it measure or take a picture of it; it doesn’t exist.
Because of this mindset, a whole series of new words had to be created so that people would be willing to explore the inward path. Ecstatic Trance, shamanic ritual, drumming, mindfulness, guided visualization and a host of other descriptions are all talking about basically the same thing, trance. There are a few differences that are useful to know and I will talk about those in a moment.
The most important shift that has occurred is that no one using the NEW METHODS is attempting to by-pass the conscious mind, which was considered vital in the old school mindset. And I think that is where any residual resistance to self-exploration, therapy, and trance lies. People don’t like to be tricked or fooled and I think it’s the responsibility of the practitioner, regardless of modality, to keep the subject in the loop.
The Major Differences
The primary differences in these three categories have to do with scope, expertise, and intention. I hope to show that all are valuable and worth mastering. John Grinder, the co-founder of NLP, says, “we should all learn something completely new yearly. His students learned drumming, skydiving, foreign languages, and mountain climbing just to have the taste of something completely new and unfamiliar. Maybe we should take the hint?
Most people’s definition of trance is where they are out of control and not responsible for their actions. That works if you want to be out of control or irresponsible. But what if you don’t and you been conditioned to think that you aren’t in control?
Wiki says that trance is an abnormal state, but I don’t agree with that definition. I think that trance is a naturally occurring state that is based on emotion. repetitive tasks, habituation or rhythms, and patterns. almost everything induces trance, like driving, dancing, pleasant and unpleasant emotions, even drug and alcohol.
I guess the most important question here is, “Is the trance you are in the best one for you?”. If you grow up with people telling you that you are worthless or a piece of sh#t, guess what? You will act out those instructions. If you grow up with people telling you that you can accomplish anything, guess what? You can do that, too.
It’s true that some trance states are very deep and you may want to have a guide or helper in your space while you are processing, but most trance states aren’t that deep. It takes months or years to develop those states on your own and it might just be quicker and more efficient if you seek help.
What is hypnosis? Here’s the long explanation. The short version is it is a specific state where people purposely interact with their unconscious mind to solve problems or to generate resources in unresourceful states. This can be done solo or with the help of another person.
There are 3 Major Types of Hypnosis
The ultimate “old school” version of hypnosis. This includes medical and dental hypnosis, stage hypnosis and comedy hypnosis. It’s what you see on TV and read in books. Where there is this person who can put people in trance and make them do and see things. There have been many people who have been helped by clinical hypnosis but since only about 25% of the population can achieve these level of trance it seems to fall short.
This type of hypnosis is very directive, in nature. The hypnotist tells the subject what to do, how to sit, what to think and feel and that works for some of them. Unfortunately, many people are more than willing to have someone else tell what to do. It’s part of our societal conditioning so it’s neither good nor bad, just doesn’t work for everyone.
This process uses scripts that have a lot of formal and informal commands in the script. It presupposes that once in trance the subject will obey. that may have worked in the 30’s, 40’s and 50’s but not so much today.
Because Clinical Hypnosis didn’t work for everyone. There needed to be a more effective method that worked with the masses. Enter Ericksonian or conversational hypnosis. The was based on the principle that everyone was already in a trance so there was no need for induction. Dave Elman used this method for teaching dentists hypnosis. Elman frequently did amazing work with no formal trance induction.
Erickson’s method was basically noticing what repetitive patterns the person was exhibiting, both in behavior and in language. By matching and pacing this behavior, the person could be taught new choices and skills while still keeping the old behaviors as well. It was the first attempt to do something other than making the subject wrong for whatever it was that they were doing.
Additionally, at the same time, this method was being developed the rules changed. For the first time ever, in 1950’s hypnosis could be performed by someone other than licensed physicians. This may have taken some of the overly-directive and authoritarian mannerisms out of hypnotherapy by default.
Side note: There was a technique I was required to learn in my early training called “the brush off” technique. It was basically teaching you to ignore someone asking for help as a way to increase their desire (susceptibility) to rapid induction. It never seemed ethical to me.
Generative trance is the next generation of hypnotic work. It’s truly the most exciting evolution of hypnosis since Milton Erickson created conversational hypnosis. The whole mindset is about creating rather than elective surgery of unwanted habit and behaviors. It’s more of a collaboration between opposing thoughts and beliefs.
It’s a little difficult to explain if you haven’t had the experience but I’d definitely recommend it.
Example: You have some difficulty or trauma and by exploring it you discover that your unconscious mind has created this so you can create something completely new from this supposedly unwanted “problem”.
Generative trance is not the traditional trance where the conscious mind is “put to sleep” and the unconscious is programmed with external suggestions. A core underlying idea is that creativity is a conversation between two worlds—the “dreamer” or “visionary” world of the creative unconscious, and the “realist” and “practical” world of the conscious mind. Each requires and completes the other, and generative trance helps you to forge the integrated consciousness that “includes yet transcends” both minds. (source: Stephen Gilligan)
Guided Visualization or Imagery
Wiki says, Guided imagery (also known as Guided Affective Imagery, or KIP, Katathym-imaginative Psychotherapy) is a mind-body intervention by which a trained practitioner or teacher helps a participant or patient to evoke and generate mental images that simulate or re-create the sensory perception of sights, sounds, tastes, smells, movements, and images associated with touch, such as texture, temperature, and pressure, as well as imaginative or mental content that the participant or patient experiences as defying conventional sensory categories, and that may precipitate strong emotions or feelings in the absence of the stimuli to which correlating sensory receptors are receptive. (source: wiki)
Guided visualization is fairly common in most experiential-type seminars, classes, and training. Visualization is used to focus the group or individual without giving specific direction related to changing behavior. It’s more of a “hey, come over here at look at this” type trance experience. It’s a great example that almost anyone can induce trance whether they are classically trained in hypnosis or not.
Which One Is Better?
Quick answer. None of them is better or worse than the next. It really depends on what you are attempting to do. It’s kind of like asking which is better a hammer or a nail? Each has a specific use that won’t work for another context.
I think the long answer is that the mind and body are in a consistent state of trance that varies in depth. Depending on what you are doing and where you wish to go; the trance modifies itself.
We all have had the experience of getting up driving to work and thinking about whatever or listening to the radio, and suddenly we are at our destination. How do we do that? The mind will automate any repetitive task so you have your conscious resources available for interesting things, like survival.
The mind and body are so good at this that there are times when we need to be more conscious. When we are with our family member or children. Rote behavior is a good thing if you pack boxes all day. But when your spouse is speaking to you about your activities this weekend or long-term financial planning… you might want to be present and in the moment.
ARE YOU IN THE TRANCE YOU WANT TO BE IN?
I suppose I will finish this with one question. ARE YOU IN THE TRANCE YOU WANT TO BE IN? If the current level of consciousness that you are presently residing in doesn’t give you all of the joy, happiness, and fulfillment you wish, I have great news!
Humans have the ability to pick whatever consciousness they want. If this is the first time you’ve ever heard this you might want to read the last sentence. If you are aware of this… Why aren’t you picking the life you want?
Get busy and start living.
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