I warn you to try any of this with caution. Don’t use it to treat anyone because you aren’t qualified to deal with any problems arising. Use it to help someone relax and feel good, maybe to calm them. More important than getting into a trance is knowing how to get someone out of it.
Ever since I learnt about Ericksonian Hypnosis and my own experiences with self-hypnosis I have been fascinated in how easy it is to achieve a hypnotic state.
Ericksonian Hypnosis, developed by Milton Erickson, is a passive, conversational hypnosis. By talking to a subject and watching for trance clues he would get someone into a hypnotic state whereby suggestions and changes could be made.
I can do it but I haven’t bothered with it for years. Like riding a bike or ice-skating you don’t forget how to do it.
A trance is a bit like being asleep but being awake to the room and sofa on which you are seated. There are a few examples when you have experienced a trance and realised it.
- Driving and then wondering how you got there, how you missed the garage and how you were able to drive for 15 minutes and have no idea about what you saw on your travels.
- Reading a book, your eyes follow the words but your mind is elsewhere, perhaps in a place or situation triggered by the words.
- You are awake and in bed after a night’s sleep and you start to day-dream about something. You know you are in bed but the dream is more interesting than getting up. You are tired and yet glued to the bed.
I could take any of those three scenarios and put you in a trance. I guarantee that at least 80% of you re-experienced at least one of those situations and started to trance a bit.
“Imagine” is a powerful trance word. If I ask you to “Imagine you were so tired, laying on a lounger in the garden, the wine starting to take effect and the warmth of the sun on your face….” You will remember that experience (assuming you have it) and be there instead of here, if only for a moment. A substitute is “Think of a time when…….”
The idea of inducing a trance is to take your mind to another place other than this room and now.
Let me start by talking about inducing a trance in someone else who has agreed that they are happy for you to do this. There are many ways a conversation could go.
A “cheat” would be to ask them to “Imagine what it would be like to be in a trance”. The “cheat” is that they have to go into a trance in order to imagine it. That is not enough though. What you want to do is take that as the bootstrap and then deepen it.
Putting aside a direct method I’d start with something like:-
“I imagine there’s a place where you feel, warm, comfortable and relaxed. For a moment find that place and nod when you you are there”
You have to deliver it at a slightly slower pace than you normally speak and lower in tone. Imagine you are speaking to a baby.
Now, here’s where you need some practice knowing what to do next because you need to observe some physical clues. Someone who is in a trance or nearing one may close their eyes and getting them to close eyes is a help top getting a trance.
If their eye-lids drop then you encourage it:- “That’s it. Let them close the deeper you go. That’s it….Just let it go”, keep encouraging. And let out a deep breath at the end. Breathing is the next indicator. If the breathing slows then you encourage it with “Slowly, ….. deeper….. that’s it….” Let out your own exhale of breath gently.
Set up a feedback to help deepen the trance. “Raise your right index finger and hold it there. As you go deeper and deeper your finger will slowly lower itself, all the way down”. Because you can’t hold your index finger raised for long without it dropping you are adding reinforcement. Because the finger drops so the subject believes the trance is working.
A therapeutic trance has three phases:-
- Get the subject into a trance.
- Make suggestions that the subject carried with them outside the trance. Post-hypnotic suggestions.
- Getting them out of trance.
Even in a trance a subject won’t follow a post-hypnotic suggestion that infringes their moral code or normal inhibitions despite what you see from stage hypnotists. Taking porn as an example look at how many exhibitionists with no inhibitions there are without hypnosis (so I am led to believe).
Don’t try “When you wake up you will take your knickers off” because you are as likely to instantly break the trance as “And then a giant spider jumps on you”.
NEVER deliberately introduce a suggestion or narrative that instantly breaks a trance. You can cause a bad reaction in your subject. Something like:-
“Soon, or when you are ready, I want you to come back to the room gently and feeling refreshed. I will slowly count up from ten to one as you gently become fully awake.
(Slowly deliver) Ten…. Nine….starting to awaken…. Eight….Seven….. that’s it… Six, Five. Four (you quicken that delivery), Three, Two, One!… Fully awake!”
What if someone doesn’t wake up? Try that “awaken” process again. In rare cases people are so deeply enjoying the trance that they want to stay there for longer. Like sleep they will eventually wake up so leave them a little longer.
A key element of deepening someone’s trance is to convince them they are tiring. If your suggestion is acted upon then you know you are guiding them in their trance. Observing physical signs are good ways to do that and incorporate them. “That’s right/it” is a good way to introduce it:-
“That’s right, if your head is feeling heavy then let it drop down all the way to your chest. That’s right. All the way”
“If your arms are feeling heavy then just let them fall by your side. That’s it”
“If your eyes want to close then let them. All the way closed. That’s it”
You can break a trance if you don’t employ flexible language. You can’t insist:-
“and to your right you see a green door”
Because there may not be a door at all but you can set it up:-
“I don’t know if you can see an opening, a secret place, a door or maybe an entrance to the right. Nod your head when you see it”
“If you believe you will learn something useful by going through it then you can go forward. Otherwise you may stay where you are and r.e.l.a.x.”
Try to never get yourself into a situation where there is only one possibility and never force an idea. Let the subject choose but you can make suggestions.
Self-hypnosis is doing it to yourself. I know it’s possible to act both as hypnotist and subject because I can do it. I’ve even had the crazy situation where I went to see a hypnotherapist myself and I had to put myself in a trance so she could take over. I can’t be hypnotised because I know all the methods and scripts.
To hypnotise yourself just get your inner voice to be the hypnotist to instruct yourself in hypnotic suggestions as indicated above. You can also try the index finger trick. If lying flat you can try a slightly raised arm and see how long it takes to reach the floor.
Can you hypnotise someone who doesn’t want to be hypnotised? No, but there are some dramatic hand-shake and confusion technique inductions. They work on confusion. If you are confronted with something unexpected like a shock you may take a suggestion as to what to do next while your brain tries to make sense of it like “Sleep!!!”.
There are a million possibilities in trance-induction. I am not in the “Watch my finger” or swinging a watch school. However, “watch that spot on the ceiling” works because the eyes get tired and so does the neck and then you can talk someone into a trance.
© Lugosi 2020
The Goodnight Vienna Audio file