I meant to write these up a long time ago, but I had a little trouble with the subject matter—thanks, Dad. For that reason, it’s taken me some time to work through the elements that went into my forced-learning and find what would be useful to others and what was just cruel. So, tumblr, I give you Khal’s cruelty-free trance post.
What Is a Trance?
A trance is a state of consciousness in which a person becomes unresponsive to their surroundings—such as the state a person enters when they undergo hypnosis. There are varying levels of trance from light to deep.
Trances can be used in spirit work, spirit travel, visualization, energy work, divination by visions, and many other practices. I learned to enter trance between the ages of 3 and 7—yeah, I know how that sounds, but please don’t ask and I won’t tell—and I’ve been doing so since then.It can seem a little daunting at first, but it’s actually not as hard as it would seem.
Like I said above, the methods in this posts (apart from the first) are the healthy parts of how I learned. Without the thorns.
I. Turning Off
Turning Off is probably what I would recommend for beginners. It may not get you out of your body on the first try, but it’s a nice, gradual shift out of physical awareness. Like I said, this is a gradual step out. It’s gentle, but it also takes a while.
- Get in a comfortable position. If you’re not afraid of falling asleep, lying down is good. If you think you might fall asleep (though, actually, I also use this to put myself to sleep when my insomnia gets really bad), sitting up might be better.
- Clear your mind and relax.
- Starting with your toes, focus on ‘turning off’ each individual part of your body. When you first start, this may take several minutes for each section. Focus first on totally relaxing that body part, releasing any tension. Then pull your substance/spirit/other self/whatever upward, out of that body part.
- As you turn off each body work, you may experience a loss of sensation or movement. That’s totally, totally normal.
- Keep moving up, toward your head. Go slowly. Don’t rush it. As you turn off your feet, legs, middle, and so on, shift your substance/spirit/other self/whatever upward. This will result in your slowly leaving your body. Some people experience this as coming from their heart. Others from the top of their head. Everyone is different.
- Once you get to the head and turn that off, you may find you’ve completely left the body. Then again, it may take practice. If you have trouble breaking/stretching your connection to your body normally, this is a good exercise to start.
- To return and come out of trance, do the opposite of what you did to leave. Starting at the head, bring your feeling and tension back into your body, pulling your substance/spirit/other self/whatever slowly down as go from the top of your head to the sole of your foot.
Again, this can take a long time at first. Don’t rush it. You don’t need to go all the way to your head every time. You can start my just turning on body part of and on and working up to fulling leaving. Go at your own pace and don’t push yourself too hard.
Another method to entering trance is total isolation. Essentially, eliminating as much external stimuli as possible. This can be tricky, because you need to remove light, sound, smell, etc. almost completely. Don’t burn incense or candles. You can use a blindfold or earplugs to help you if you need. It can help if you can up yourself in a confined space like a closet or a narrow hallway. (It’s okay. It sounds crazy. And now everyone’s going “Khal, what the fuck? Why do you lock yourself in a closet? Don’t ask and I won’t tell.)
Reader, you’re not going to get comfortable here. Having your sight and hearing taken away from you is scary. Especially if you’re in a confined space—someplace where you feel walls on all sides of you. Your heart will race. Your breath will speed up. That’s normal.
Focus on the stimuli that isn’t there. Think about what you can’t hear or see. As you do, your brain will move into a state of panic and your energy will extend to seek out those things you can’t feel. After this will come a relaxed state. You might feel like you’re floating away. If you’re in a tight space, you may feel as if the walls have slipped away, relaxed, or vanished altogether. The calm after the panic will become trance.
This method is dangerous. Please be fucking careful if you decide to try it. This is the exact opposite of the second method. Immersing yourself in stimuli can also send you into trance. (Please be careful with this as it can cause panic attacks or trigger seizures.) Find a loop of music, or sound. This works best with a loop. My favorite to use is the loop of the Master’s Drumbeat from the Dr. Who series. For some people, beats with a lot of drum and tapping work best. For others, classical music will help. There are also the options of white noise, rain noises, nature mixes, etc. If this doesn’t help to overwhelm you, try running two music programs at one so your brain is unable to focus on one set of sounds. If you have a strobe light, this can come in handy too. Incense may be helpful too.
After a while of stimuli immersion, you may start to feel a distance from the room. If you’re using a strobe light, the time between flashes may seem longer. The music or sound might seem to dull and become less clear. Eventually, you will stop feeling the need to react to the things around you.
IV. Deprivation – TW: Fasting
This is another dangerous method of entering trance. This one involves depriving oneself of food, and sleep to maintain a light trance for a longer period of time. During this period of fasting and exhaustion, distractions like television, guests, and other things that would keep you more attached at the head. However, this process should be closely monitored by someone you trust, who you can check in with. And never, never dehydrate yourself while fasting.
Look for Excess
Anything in extreme can aid you into trance. Extreme cold or heat, pain, crowds, etc. Always be careful what methods you use as they can be dangerous. Know your limits. Have a friend or family member supervise you if possible.
There are lots of ways to come out of trance. For beginners, I would advise easing yourself out of trance by focusing on physical sensation. Pay attention to your breath. Focus on the feeling of moving your toes. Slowly move yourself back into awareness.
Alternatively, you could set an alarm to break your trance or have someone coax you out.
The first thing I advise after trance is eating or drinking. I always try to go for something just a little extreme—like horseradish or whiskey—to shock my sense of taste into awareness. Relax. Take a hot bath or shower and allow yourself to slowly readjust to stimuli around you.