Are You A Trance Guy Now, James?

Hypnotic TranceFollowing last weeks post on Alpha States and Hypnosis, I had a few people suggesting that I might be beginning to ‘see the light’ in terms of recognising ‘trance’ as the basis of hypnosis.

In the video I talked about Dr. Les Fehmi’s work on attention and how we use attention impacts us neurologically and physiologically, as outlined in his book The Open-focus Brain: Harnessing the Power of Attention to Heal Mind and Body

Now, I loved this book and it has had a great impact on me in terms of better understanding the potential impact in terms of health and personal transformation even the simplest forms of ‘hypnosis’ can have. On a personal level, it helped me to understand how many many years of Martial Arts orientated Nei Gong meditation practise may have a had a far greater impact on my well-being and personal evolution than I may have previously realised.

Of course, for those who are keen to look at hypnosis through the lens of ‘trance’ it can be very tempting to say “look… Hypnosis IS a special state… it IS trance… and trance is the state of synchronous alpha”. To be clear This is NOT the conclusion I would want people to jump to, and I do hope my previous post hasn’t encouraged that.

But I was talking about ‘state’ there, so let me get a little clearer on that!

Regarding ‘states’ and ‘hypnosis’ – of course, what happens in the brain/body will change in response to how attention is shifted and imagination is used, and this is in no way in contradiction with the Hypnosis Without Trance model/approach. Hypnosis Without Trance is (and always has been) simply about working directly with the desired shifts in attention/imagination/cognition etc. without the belief that there is some requirement to put people into a particular state first. Now, research may yet show up that alpha wave patterns correlate with some or many ‘hypnotic phenomena’, but this doesn’t mean that such patterns fulfil the role that has in the past been ascribed to ‘trance’, and  are as such necessarily required for ‘hypnosis’.

So how does Hypnosis Without Trance fit with this Alpha Wave stuff?

The Hypnsosis Without Trance definition of hypnosis is:

“The use of language and communication to direct attention and seed ideas for the purpose of leading someone into an altered perception of reality”

That ‘altered perception of reality’ will have a correlatory state shift, and this may or may not include alpha wave patterns as signatory.

In the Hypnosis Mastery Programme I talked about the concept of hypnotic focus (this is part of the ‘directing attention’ aspect of the HWT definition), and how that is useful but not necessary in leading someone in ‘hypnosis’. It is interesting how this notion fits/overlaps with Les Fehmi’s work on attention and alpha states.

So Hypnosis Without Trance is powerful for working with attention and shifting state, but there is no need to correlate this with trance!

Why would we? Why ‘trance’? Along with all the old baggage that we need to ‘put someone in it’ as a prerequisite for hypnosis, and that particular ‘hypnotic phenomena’ correlate with specific ‘depths of trance’. State shifts necessarily happen correlatorily with process – it’s all part of the flow. No need for ‘inductions’ (although they can serve as tools from both a process and semantic perspective), just get busy leading the hypnotee where you want to lead them. So why ‘trance’?

Now, to flip that on it’s head for a moment, I’ve absolutely no doubt that many old school trance inductions do indeed work very nicely to relax people and shift them into synchronous alpha. Which, as already mentioned, can be of clear benefit of people in terms of health, well being and personal transformation. It does NOT, however, mean that since these people have been lead into such a state, they will now necessarily be any more ‘open to suggestion’ than they may have been otherwise. Sure, they may find that they can connect with their imagination (point 2 on the HWT ‘hypnotic loop’) a little better than they would if their attention was flitting all over the place and their brain was running in survival mode. But this is not the same as saying they are in ‘trance’ to a particular depth that is required for a particular phenomena to spontaneously manifest as a result of ‘suggestion’.

My primary objection to people attempting to hold on to the past and keep moving back to old models is that it removes useful nuances offered by more up to date models. Those nuances create choice that is missing from less nuanced models. The whole point of Hypnosis Without Trance is to give the operator MORE CHOICE. Anything that adds to that (i.e. the material from Les Fehmi’s work) GREAT!  But if it is re-shaped to fit an old model that offers less choice… not so great.

And yes, this is all about models and how they serve us! Of course, the different models are all describing the same reality, but that isn’t to say that the terms of one model necessarily correlate with the terms of another, or that it is useful to seek such correlation. Let’s develop models and understandings that inform greater chhoice! Let’s move towards the future rather than attempting to regress back to the past!

Regarding Dr. Fehmi’s work… what is much more interesting to me is how ‘hypnosis’ can be used to shift people into synchronous alpha (rather than being synonymous with synchronous alpha), which in turn has fantastic applications in terms of making shifts in quality of health, creative thinking, personal fulfilment and life in general. And how just this simple thing (aside from any other suggestion and more detailed process work, which people – including myself – often emphasise in changework) can be so phenomenally impactful. THAT, IMO, is very cool! 🙂

This gives more choice… we can up our awareness for our clients chronic attention patterns and recognise the potential we have to start repatterning here. Hypnosis, especially by the HWT definition, offers a lot to the facilitation of this.

So this really isn’t about ‘trance’ at all… only about how we can use hypnosis to shift attention patterns and shift state in ways that serve powerfully in terms of health, transformation and fulfilment.

James Tripp

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About The Author

James Tripp

Hypnotist and Transformative Facilitator. Creator of Hypnosis Without Trance.

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22 Comments

  • Brian

    August 4, 2013

    james anyone who can’t see your just playing word games needs to come out of trance or is it “into an altered perception of reality” . I’m just curious why the emotional investment in trying to play with words?

    There have been many hypnotists who use conversational hypnosis without what would normally be seen as an induction. Or put someone “into” a trance. That’s because we are always in one we just move from one to another.

    Just wondering if time wouldn’t be better spent developing applications and pushing the barriers with regards to getting results? I see this hot air on every hypnosis forum but very little actually achieved with hypnosis.

    At the end of the day its just a tool do we really need to argue what a hammer is?

    We are always in state or trance or an “altered perception of reality” we just move from one to another. And there is always an induction involved when you consciously or unconsciously lead someone… Deny it if you like but its simply the truth. Induction just means to lead.

    If you don’t use trance why do you need it in your brand name?

    • admin

      August 4, 2013

      Brian…

      “…anyone who can’t see your just playing word games needs to come out of trance…”

      If you really believe that then, alas, it is you who can’t see.

      All the very best,

      James

  • jess

    August 4, 2013

    James,

    Asking the right question is essential.

    If we ask the question – “Is HWT utilizing trance states?” I would offer that is not the most empowering question to ask. It shifts our focus in the wrong direction and shifts us back up into our heads. At one level it helps us let go of the past and the old ways of knowing.

    If we ask the question – “How do we expand our choices as a facilitators of change and to understand the deeper structures of how we organize awareness for change?” Then that question brings us right to your doorstep. From there we can move forward and look to the horizon for new ways of knowing and our acuity to make distinctions on those nuances, those subtle distinctions that make the difference will help us become better facilitators of change.

    So asking the right question is essential…. So James, What cool things are you exploring now that will move us beyond the old questions and take us to a new horizon that will expand our choices, further enhance our skills and push us to become better facilitators of transformation?

    John – Illinois

    • admin

      August 7, 2013

      Thanks John

      Lots of cool things! To copy and paste from another reply here:

      Where I am going now is more into what I call Reality Shaping – stepping up our power to steer the courses of course of our lives through our ability to influence and shape both ourselves and the world around us.

      Exciting stuff going forward, but it will mean a lot less of the hypnosis party trick stuff.

      All the very best

      James

      • John - Illinois

        August 8, 2013

        James,

        I am excited to hear about your focus away from party tricks to deepening your focus on shaping personal reality. You are an impressive communicator and your ability to integrate and synthesise information is a blessing and value to those around you.

        Keep your focus.
        John – Illinois

  • Mike

    August 4, 2013

    The most important part of any change is a belief in that person or the process to create change.

    Neural Imaging studies have shown that it is not the state that is critical but neural responsivity, the more rigid a persons response patterns the greater the need for additional flexibility on the part of the operator to wok within the subjects belief pattern.

    Trance really is a word that is difficult to define, and current definitions do not fit what we are discovering about the brain and nervous system.

    What a ‘Trance Induction’ (bear in mind that the person as got to be responding to the induction even before you get to Alpha or Theta waves) is provide a process that allows the imagination to develop new patterns in a safe environment, and because, ultimately the brains job is to control our responses to sensory input, when you imagine something, whether in a trance state, (whatever animal that is, relaxation? then why not call it what it is), or not, will send signals to the body to perform specific action.

    As Henry Ford used to say, whether you think you can, or whether you think you can’t you are probably right.

    People actually respond stronger to imaginary events than what they di to reality, and that is because of the emotionally laden content that fills the imagination, the meaning that we give to events.

    Worriers are amazing self hypnotists, because their body is bot responding to reality, but to an event that is not happening here and now, but to a possible event that might happen, but because they are playing it in their heads, the body is responding accordingly.
    Fear of flying, what people are playing in their heads is the plane crashing, engines catching fire, being unable to escape, none of which is actually happening but drived our emotional, physiological and physical responses, not reality.

    In summary, the trance induction is a very useful and powerful vehicle to enable a person to believe that a change is taking place and especially where fears, anxiety and phobias are concerned it creates an association between the fear trigger and the relaxation, a relaxation anchor which is the opposite to the reaction response which the person had been experiencing.

    • admin

      August 7, 2013

      Thanks Mike – a most excellent contribution!

      EVERYONE READ MIKE’S CONTRIBUTION!

      🙂

      All the very best

      James

  • Cezar

    August 4, 2013

    A situation that comes to mind is when someone, for instance, feels the compulsion to continue an argument beyond its purpose, just out of the inner “need to be right”. Or, if one is cut off in traffic, that’s his trigger to his need “to get even” and to “show” the other driver the wrong that he did.

    Those conditioned responses can be seen as hypnotic behavior (those persons described above did not spend one second reflecting and becoming aware of their behavior, they are just reacting unconsciously).

    And yet, there’s no Alpha brainwaves present – it’s all narrow-focused High-Beta.

  • Darren

    August 4, 2013

    According to Milton Ericksson.. We are all in a trance.hypnosis is just the process used to get someone from their existing trance state to an altered state

    • admin

      August 7, 2013

      Yes, I concur with this view. Hence my assertion that there is no special state called ‘trance’. Either all states of mind/body are trance, or none are.

      The question is, how useful is the term ‘trance’ given it’s connotations? Where does it serve and where does it hinder?

      Most people use words to describe and explain – Hypnotists use them to create.

      All the very best

      James

  • Brian

    August 5, 2013

    People love to play with words and that is largely what is happening here. Instead of playing with words try using/experiencing HWT. In the limited experience I have with using HWT so far I have noticed, from the very first induction(?) that there is a distinct difference between conventional/regular hypnosis and HWT. I see the client as being in an altered state in which he/she is reacting directly from the unconscious mind. It appears to me, so far, that the pre-conscious and the conscious minds are bypassed, and that there is direct, unadulterated, access to the unconscious. The result of this being that changework is achieved quickly, easily and with a minimum of fuss.
    Cheers,
    Brian

  • Debbie Pitzel

    August 5, 2013

    Thank you for your post on Alpha States and Hypnosis. You certainly give your blog followers something daring and unexpected to think about. Opening this discussion can only open-wide the understanding and practice of hypnosis. I don’t have a huge experience base from which to comment on a theoretical basis (yet). However, I applaud the expanded direction you are taking with the blog and the dialogue it creates. I can’t even imagine where you will take us in the next few years!

    • admin

      August 7, 2013

      Thanks Debbie

      Where I am going now (and across the next few years, no doubt) is more into what I call Reality Shaping – stepping up our power to steer the courses of course of our lives through our ability to influence and shape both ourselves and the world around us.

      Exciting stuff going forward, but it will mean a lot less of the hypnosis party trick stuff.

      All the very best

      James

  • Jim

    August 5, 2013

    I’ve taken a couple of hypnosis training’s and done a bit of hypnosis with clients. Then turned to other modalities for healing work. But you James are the one who opened my mind to the fact that we are Always in a state of trance. To me, you simply work with the state that a person is already in.

    Consciousness is not a fixed thing. It exists on a scale. And every day we slide up and down that scale from sleep to semi consciousness to getting out of bed to breakfast to driving to work to daydreaming to focusing intently on a task and the list goes on till the end of the day when we slowly slide back down to deep sleep. We don’t jump moment to moment from Delta to Theta to Alpha to Beta and back down step by step. We naturally slide gradually from one to the next.

    That you have taught people how to elicit hypnotic phenomenon without putting people through a particular trance induction made it clear to me that we are Always in a trance no matter where we are on the scale and that human consciousness is malleable at any point along this scale. It’s the most elegant form of utilization I’ve ever seen.

    Catching a person having fun in the park and asking them, “Wanna see something cool?” and in minutes you have them baffled because their arm is stuck out in front of them holding a silly piece of paper and they can’t seem to let it go or put their arm down. What this means is a persons state in irrelevant. You can work with just about any state you find a person in as long as you can get their attention and get them to focus for a moment. With that right there, you have just altered their state and focus and all that’s left is to implant your suggestion to follow what you say. Their state will change and adjust accordingly. It doesn’t matter what level of frequency their brain is vibrating at when you start. You’ve proved this.

    So I say you do hypnosis without trance in that you don’t overtly use a particular induction. You simply utilize the trance people are already in. It’s always there at some point along the scale of consciousness and if you have the people skills, sensory acuity and language to guide a person and they can focus on you, you will have them doing all sorts of things in minutes, including changing their lives for the better. Thanks for showing this to me James.

    • admin

      August 7, 2013

      Yes – there’s no such thing as trance… and EVERYTHING is trance 😀

      (somebody, somewhere is going to try and take me literally on that, I can feel it 🙂 )

      All the very best

      James

  • Steve

    August 6, 2013

    Maybe to satisfy some folks, you could call it, Hypnosis without eye closure or without boring procedures. Either way I get what you’re doing and I think you are on the right track

    • admin

      August 7, 2013

      Thanks Steve

      I think I’ll just leave those folks unsatisfied though 😀

      All the very best

      James

  • CHRISTIAN P

    August 23, 2013

    “That ‘altered perception of reality’ will have a correlatory state shift…” Brilliance! De-nomininalizes “hypnosis” and turns it back into a process giving the hypnotist greater flexablity.

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