|Bodidharma practicing zazen.|
A light trance can be induced by counting backwards from ten.
These are the words to speak, (silently, inside of your head, unless you are working with a subject).
This method works best by assuming a fully relaxed position, lying flat on the back, with the head straight and supported by a pillow. Get the neck aligned before starting.
Place the elbows fairly close to the sides and the hands on the hip-bones or thereabouts. The key to the whole thing is comfort and relaxation.
Remain immobile, although moving a hand up to the face is okay, as the odd little itches and tickles interfere with the process. Only a short way into the process, the fingers begin to feel a different sensation, a kind of tingling or buzzing sensation. That’s how you know it’s working. After a while, the heart rate slows, and if you relax enough, you might even feel the odd little pop in the spine, the neck, etc. As you go along, laying in bed for example, you can feel the tension leaving your body and you seem to settle, to sink in.
This method will induce a light trance in a normal subject in good health, as long as there few external distractions and no major worries at the present moment. Quiet is best for the exercise. Long, slow, full breaths help to induce the light trance state. If you seem to be working too hard, or even fighting it, (which I’ve done myself) it simply won’t happen. The best thing about it is the sagging, the relief, and the release of tension. It’s a kind of letting go. For that reason, it is best to establish a bond of trust with any potential subject. Not every subject is capable of doing this. A professional hypnotist is a perfect stranger. Your mother-in-law trying to hypnotize you might be an entirely different story. In the latter case, underlying tensions and social expectations may interfere with the process.
Here’s how it works.
What you are going to do is to count backwards from ten and tell yourself good things. If working with a subject, initially set them at ease, explain what you are going to do. Get them in a relaxed position. Speak the words aloud in a soft, calm voice, and observe and correct if the subject's neck or legs aren’t properly aligned for example.
Your toes are completely still. Your toes are totally and completely relaxed. The balls of your feet are completely relaxed. The soles of your feet, the arches, the insteps of your feet are completely relaxed. The outer edges of your feet and the bones of your ankles are totally and completely relaxed.
From your ankles to your knees is totally and completely relaxed. Your calves are totally relaxed. Your Achilles tendons are completely relaxed, and the tendons in the backs of your knees are totally and completely relaxed. Your shin bones are totally and completely relaxed.
From your knees to your hips is totally and completely relaxed. The biggest muscles in your legs are totally and completely relaxed. Your knees and kneecaps are totally and completely relaxed.
Your pelvis, your hips and your groin are totally and completely relaxed. Your gluteus maximus is (or are) totally and completely relaxed.
From your hips to your diaphragm is totally and completely relaxed. Your lower back is totally relaxed. Your stomach muscles and the diaphragm are totally and completely relaxed.
Your chest, and your upper back and your shoulders are totally and completely relaxed.
Your hands and your fingers, your thumbs and your wrists, are totally and completely relaxed.
Your neck is totally and completely relaxed.
Your face, your eyes, your mouth, the muscles in your face, your jaw, under the jaws, the muscles where the head joins the neck, are totally and completely relaxed.
Your eyes, your brain, your mind, are totally and completely relaxed.
I am totally and completely relaxed. My body is totally and completely relaxed. My mind is totally and completely relaxed.
If this method doesn’t work, you can always go back to ten, take a couple of deep breaths. Stretch, move around a bit. Focus the mind on what you need to do. Then try again.
At certain points, physical, sensory manifestations occur. These include the feelings of heaviness in the lower limbs, this will happen as soon as you tell it to happen. This is the great revelation of the light trance, the fact that you can in fact control certain aspects of how your body feels and performs.
There are feelings where the body seems to be floating. The trance is assisted by having the eyes closed, and the sensation of being on an air mattress, on a warm sea, with light wavelets lifting and lowering the subject is actually caused by hydrostatic forces. The heart contracts, and the wave-front of blood pressure can actually be felt. It’s very much like the pulsing in our ears, or our wrists when we put our finger on the vein. Only now, it’s our entire body that we have become aware of.
Our entire body is pulsing, when people are extremely tired, they say they are ‘vibrating.’ This is their racing heart, high blood pressure, on a frame that is under extreme tension—no wonder they’re vibrating.
We’ve all been there and it doesn’t feel very nice. We actually feel it when we slow down, and only then do we become aware of what our body is trying to tell us.
There is a point when we are on the verge of a deeper trance, which is not unlike falling asleep. There is this borderline panic state when we get to the old familiar falling sensation that all humans have reported while on the borderline of falling asleep.
Yet if you know it’s happening, it’s kind of like a ride in space. Just let the mind go and see what pictures it projects. Try not to think about anything at all.
At some point you realize that you are fully conscious, fully in control. You could snap out of it in a heartbeat, but now you are in a completely different place.
You are floating in a void of infinite internal space. This space exists only in your mind.
There is nothing to be feared there. You are wide awake, you’re just lying on the floor, and yet now you are totally and completely relaxed.
It’s a false sensation, and there is some lesson in that as well. Only you will know what it is.
Long, slow, deep breaths, and yet relaxed breaths are key. There is no need to be hyperventilating like the expectant mother in a Hollywood romantic comedy film. We are not grunting up a storm before a dead lift of 350-kilos, either.
The whole process is simple and natural and provides great benefits. It reduces stress, relieves pain and headaches, reduces neck pain, and helps you to go to sleep at night. It gives you a little power over your body and frees you from it at the same time.
I’ve been hypnotizedby a professional, years ago. I didn’t actually quit smoking, but it is perfectly possible to put your self into the lighter sort of trance, one where you are fully aware of the background but it seems somehow insulated.
Constance 'Dusty' Miller on OmniLit