This is page 3 of a detailed tutorial. I recommend you start with page 1. Every page contains tons of practical information & no fluff. It’s thoroughly linked: You can master one tiny piece at a time—easy peasy—even though it’s almost book length. Every time you master a tiny piece, you’ll be more effective in life. I promise.
Main Step 2: Choose the Best Type of Trance for Your Question
(Direct link: Twelve Types of Trance to Master.)
I’ve listed the most common types of trance in the following paragraphs, along with suggestions about what to write. After you’ve mastered these, you’ll make up new ways of using trance as you need them.
You won’t master this list by reading it. But every time you use a trance type from this list, you’ll understand both that trance type and all of the others better.
I recommend scanning the whole list regularly to help you to grok different questions based on all of their aspects and facets. To track how well you’re learning this list, download the Trance Type Checklist, and use it to keep track of when you’ve done each type, whether you journaled your results, and a brief thought about your experience.
Write the following plans, but later during trance, don’t refer to your notes. The purpose of writing plans is to prepare your mind—not to prepare a script. The major joys and most powerful results of going into trance come from the things that you don’t expect. Once in trance, you may even switch to a different type of trance or a different question.
If this happens, follow your instincts! Your planning wasn’t wasted—it prepared you for the trance you got. Expect to leave your “script” behind. That’s what’s supposed to happen. It’s a success, not a failure, when your trance goes in an entirely unexpected direction! (It’s also a success when you’re trance goes as planned, but that should go without saying.)
Twelve Types of Trance to Master (links)
The Conversation Trance: Carry a secret weapon in your back pocket.
The Skills Practice Trance: Gain specific skills without danger or fatigue.
The Rehearsal Trance: Plan effectively by improving the outcome in trance.
The Review Trance: Love life more. Transform regret into insight.
The Empathy Trance: Stop wishing your were more empathetic. Just be it!
The Self-Exploration Trance: Explore the exciting world within you.
The Post-Hypnotic Self-Suggestion Trance: Change habits and attitudes.
The Metaphor Trance: See the world more clearly with new glasses.
The Applause Trance: Capture success by turning it into a habit instantly.
The Active and Aware Trance:
The Healing Trance: Enhance and amplify your body’s healing abilities.
The Clairvoyance Trance: Discover the truth that’s hidden in the question.
Some people learn better through one-to-one training, and some issues require professional help. If either applies to you, contact me through Cougar Brenneman Coaching.
The Conversation Trance
Ever wish you could take an inspirational teacher, such as the Dalai Lama or Tony Robbins, everywhere you go, just so that you could always have a secret weapon in your back pocket? Then this is your favorite trance.
Disclaimer: Your inner doctor can help you establish new health directions, but inner prescriptions will not be filled by your pharmacy. Your inner lawyer might give you some powerful strategic advice, but she is not represented at the bar.
Conversation Step 1: Plan your trance in your journal.
In your journal, write the name of someone you admire, someone who could advise you, or an expert in a skill you aspire to. Write a reason you want to talk with this person that is not obvious. With a comedian, for instance, you might note her authenticity, an observation that some people might miss.
Conversation Step 2: Plan some initial questions.
Then write several discussion questions, including at least one that is not obvious. Don’t worry if you don’t ask any of them once you’re in trance: Rejoice! That means that the conversation took on a life of its own. It’s stupendous when that happens! Once you’re in trance, you might even choose a different person to talk to.
Conversation Step 3: Once in trance, go to meet your advisor or friend.
No matter what kind of trance induction you use (See Main Step 4: Select and Use a Trance Induction), you’ll probably have to go to where your advisor or friend is. It’s really simple. Don’t make it a complicated trek, unless doing so helps you go deeper into trance.
As you will see in the Awareness Trance later, trance can even be done without any trekking at all.
Some forms of conversation do seem to require a trek. If you’re going to meet the Dalai Lama, a climb up the mountain may improve the quality of your conversation.
Alternatively, if you’re new to trance, a hike through the woods, through a meadow, or through a city may enable you to go much deeper and improve your concentration. Sailing on a tiny boat into the middle of the ocean may help activate a sense of aloneness and peace.
Finally, riding an escalator into the clouds to meet with a spiritual being or hiking down into a cave to meet a representative of your subconscious mind, your body, or your physical desires may assist you in having the right feeling for your trance.
Conversation Step 4: Say “Hello,” or whatever comes to mind.
It’ll feel more real if you don’t just dive into your questions. In addition, it will establish a more relaxed atmosphere if you treat this like a real social encounter.
Small talk is not necessary, but it’s more effective if you give up control and allow your advisor or friend to speak first—perhaps raising topics, perspectives, and questions that you never considered.
Conversation Step 5: Wait for a friendly greeting, question, or comment.
Don’t be in a big hurry. Make this a relaxed encounter. You’ll get better results if you let go of the need to control.
Your prepared questions may be the wrong ones. Sometimes, finding the right questions is more important than finding the right answers. You prepared your questions because they’re important to you. But wouldn’t you say that getting the right answers to the right questions is even more important than the questions you prepared?
Keep that in mind, and leave plenty of space in your trance to let the unexpected happen.
Conversation Step 6: At the right time, ask your questions—one at a time.
What’s the right time to ask your questions? You’ll know if you’re paying attention to the feelings that you have. This is like any relationship. Raise te topics you want to raise in a sensitive way, paying attention to the energy of the interchange, and raising your questions when it’s appropriate to do so.
It might never be appropriate. That happens in real life, doesn’t it? The same thing can happen in a Conversation Trance.
Conversation Step 7: When you’re both done, leave trance & record.
No matter how meaningful this conversation was, it will disappear into the same black hole that dreams disappear into if you don’t record them. If your conversation was worth taking the time to go into trance to have, it’s certainly worth an extra five minutes to write it down in your journal.
But what if it seems like a big nothing? What if it felt like a flop?
Here’s the thing: Sometimes we don’t want the answers we get. Sometimes we’re trying to justify a position that we really need to change. Sometimes we’re asking the wrong questions and blind to the fact that this is so.
Sometimes the answers we receive are the right ones, but we won’t notice that until we’ve slept on it or let it percolate for a week or three. Write down everything that happened anyway, and if it makes no sense, do look at it again sometime.
You may be right to think it’s nonsense, but what if it’s really the most profound answer you could have gotten and you just need to grow a little to see it?
ADVANCED LEVELS: Getting the Most from the Conversation Trance
I want to encourage you to have conversations in a multitude of ways that you might not immediately think of. For example, what about having a dialog with a part of your personality and self, such as:
- Your subconscious mind. You might ask, “Why am I doing this thing I don’t even believe in?”
- Your body. You might ask, “What do I need to do to find a cure, a path to improved physical health, or a strategy for sports excellence?”
- Any injury or weakness in your body. You might ask, “What’s the most important lessons I need to learn—aside from the obvious ones I already know about?”
- Your higher self or inner wisdom. You might ask, “What’s the best way to deal with the bully?”
- Your successful self. You might ask, “How can I change the trajectory of my career?”
- Your future self. You might ask, “What do you see that I don’t yet understand as a younger version of you?”
- Your most loving self. You might ask, “What’s going on in my relationship with ___, and why am I so thoughtless?”
- One of your chakras. You might ask, “Why does my third chakra feel blocked around anything where my personal power is at stake?”
- Your clairvoyant self. You might ask, “What can I do to increase my intuitive abilities?”
- Your inner healer. You might ask, “How can I increase the level of healing energy reserves that I carry so that I can serve others better?”
What about having dialogs with groups you’re associated with, such as:
- A church or club you belong to. You might ask, “Why do I always feel like such an outsider?”
- Your generation—or another one. You might ask, “Why do we all have such trouble talking with this other particular generation? How can I bridge that gap with __?”
- Your political, ethnic, or religious group—or a different one. You might ask, “What’s going on with the ___s? Is there a way to reach or maybe to learn from them?”
- Your ancestors. You might ask, “Why did you load me up with so much cultural baggage that I can hardly see straight?”
- Your bosses or employees. You might ask, “Why do you resist collaboration as a method so intently?”
Then there’s always more abstract forces, such as the economy, the forces of violence, the forces of peace, or the source of all being. There are also many suggestions I did not make in any category.
What you’ll notice about all of these extra categories of beings to converse with in trance is that it’s not so obvious what they will appear like to you physically in your imagination. What will their faces look like? Their bodies? Their clothing? What type of individual will represent them?
If you imagine having your conversation in a coffee shop, for instance, who are you going to look for after you enter the shop if you’re going to have a conversation with:
- The ecological system on earth?
- Your inner child?
- Your descendants?
- The entertainment industry?
- Your future self?
- Your fitness club?
Here’s what to do:
- Figure out what you think this other being might look like. If you’re having a conversation with your psychic self, you might think that the trance being might look like shaman. Write this in your journal.
- Go into trance and look around for your psychic self, but don’t be attached to your shaman image. Notice who or what shows up. The being that shows up might be a five-year-old child, not a shaman.
- Ask the child if he or she is the person your looking for.
- The child might say, “Yes.” Or maybe, “No. I’m your innocence. You’re going to have to get to know me, first.”
- Embrace whatever conversation occurs—even if it’s not the one you expected.
As you develop a relationship with an inner being in this way, you can use other methods to make your Conversation Trances more effective. For instance, you might choose to have a conversation-type trance with a group of people. (This is easiest if you develop a list of mentors and advisors who you’ve already dialogued with one-to-one, because then it’s not such a stretch to imagine them all together.) In fact, once you have a bunch of inner mentors you’re comfortable with, it’s sometimes hard to keep the conversation to just one.
You can also enhance your Conversation Trances in other ways. For instance, have a conversation with one of your trance people by using the journaling app “In a Journal, Complete your Relationships with People or Concerns.” In the future, the Joyful Wisdom Community will have an app to teach the Empty Chair Technique as well, which will help you learn to dialog regularly with your inner posse by putting them into an empty chair in your home or office.
All of these methods will work together to give you a broader perspective and greater wisdom about every element in your life. An example of a Conversation Trance is “Tune In to an Important Person in Trance by Shape-Shifting.”
For personal guidance in learning these skills, find my coaching profile at Cougar Brenneman Coaching. Contact me directly on the contacts page of this site. (This boring 😐 paragraph appears throughout this document to accommodate people who use our links exactly as they were intended to be used.)
The Skills Practice Trance
Why do the greatest gymnasts train with visualization? Because they’d hurt themselves and wear out their bodies if they trained physically all the time. Visualization lets them develop their skills without injury.
Visualization is routinely used by many athletes involved in virtually every kind of sport, including body building, where people who practice by visualization alone gain almost as much strength as those who practice with actual weights. (Download a copy of the North American Journal of Psychology study.)
Disclaimer: If you break your leg in trance, I’m not responsible, okay? I don’t even know how you did that!
In sharing this psychology study with a variety of people, I found a lot of people skeptical of the results, in spite of the fact that these results are published in a peer-reviewed scientific journal. How can you be a couch potato and get as strong as someone who goes to the gym and works out? Not credible!
In response to this concern, I’ve spent quite a bit of time looking into the research that’s available on this issue. I think what I’ve learned will help you, and you can read my conclusions below. (Don’t worry; although my report is long, it’s not too technical or dry! And it’s filled with great information!) But if you prefer, click here to jump ahead to read Steps for Using the Skills Practice Trance, instead of reading my more analytical report.
My Impressions of the Research
There’s a great deal of research about visualization in sports performance, learning to play a musical instrument, and developing surgical skills for doctors. I’m going to summarize what I’ve learned about sports and music, because these two provide the best data.
The general consensus in research about visualizing for sports practice or music practice is that it’s about half-way as valuable as actual practice. But there are some very significant problems with all this research:
- The research is about visualization when it’s not in trance. It therefore doesn’t apply to practicing in trance, which is what I’m teaching here.
- Very few studies scientifically measure whether the subjects are good at visualization or not. When they do measure the visualization skill as a factor, the consensus is that good visualizers are the ones that get good value from mental practice, but not the unskilled visualizers.
- I found no studies about subjects who were already using visualization for mental practice of skills proficiently prior to the studies. If rank amateurs with a bit of native talent can gain half as much value as they would in real practice, how much would a practiced and proficient visualizer achieve?
- Many hypnotists say on their websites that with hypnosis, sports visualization is vastly improved. This is, in fact, one thing that trance does: it enhances visualization. You might expect that trance would turn a good visualizer into a proficient visualizer who got the highest value from visualized practice.
- Yet I found no statistical research about combining trance with sports or music practice through visualization.
- Research about hypnosis and trance usually applies to many other aspects of performance, such as attitude, confidence, and being in the flow. Thus, most professional hypnotists aren’t really focusing on mental practice.
With music, I found a book called Music in Your Head (Mental practice, how to memorize piano music) by François L. Richard. Richard has been studying and using mental practice for fifteen years because as an airline pilot, his career requires him to travel for four to five days without to his piano. But he’s an accomplished pianist anyway, because he practices mentally. “When I come home,” he says, “I play a new piece on my piano while the score is still in my luggage!” (Read a preview chapter of his book at http://www.musicmemorization.com.)
Richard provides the information that is missing from the sports visualization research, because he’s found examples of proficient visualizers of music throughout history. These examples suggest that the published research about both amateur visualization in music and sports is barking up the wrong tree. Here are some of the examples that Richard has accumulated. (The links are to Wikipedia articles.)
On French television, the amazing French virtuoso Hélène Grimaud was interviewed—nothing abnormal so far, but suddenly, something striking happened. The anchor declared that only recently had the world- renowned pianist purchased a piano! The virtuoso explained that she had a little upright piano before, which she almost never used, because she always favored mental practice. “When you have a clear image of what you want to do with a piece, you almost don’t need instrumental slavery! And above all the convenient aspect of it, like practicing in airplanes or hotel rooms where international artists spend a lot of time, it is good to have a clear mental picture of what we want to do with the work, because every artistic creation starts first in the imaginary.”
According to Wikipedia, critics compare Grimaud to Glenn Gould, which is pretty high praise for someone who prefers mental practice over actual practice. She’s clearly an accomplished visualizer, but whether she enters a trance state is unknown from this retelling. (Gould himself says, “One does not play the piano with one’s fingers; one plays the piano with one’s mind.”)
In another interview—this one on the radio—a famous pianist declared he likes to rehearse Mozart’s concertos while riding his bicycle in Switzerland!
Sorry, but Mr. Richard is not the greatest writer, and he neglects to say who this particular famous pianist is or was. Nonetheless, runners and cyclists frequently do experience a form of self-hypnosis that enhances their visualization powers, and this has been demonstrated by scientific research. It is unfortunate that Mr. Richard left this information out, because this anecdote also appears to be an example of the type of trance described in the section The Active and Aware Trance.
Mr. Richard also reports:
A famous virtuoso by the name of Marie Jaëll—a very good friend of Franz Liszt—started to discover the virtues of mental practice in piano performance. She also recommended working only two hours a day, whereas the bulk of her colleagues were spending their days “teaching the pieces to the piano,” yet her virtuosity was well beyond every pianist at the time, according to Camille Saint-Saëns.
Althought both Jaëll and Saint-Saëns were well-known composers of their time, we don’t know of them today because they were mostly renowned as virtuosos, and performances that are not captured by technology tend to be forgotten. In Jaëll’s case, it appears that her mental practice was more effective than the actual practice of her colleagues, an observation that mirrors Grimaud’s.
Paganini, the famous violinist whose virtuosity was so great, was rumored to be associated with the Devil. On concert days, he was observed to stay for hours, laying on his bed, keeping his eyes open, mentally representing all the movements to make during the performance.
Wikipedia says that Paganini “…was the most celebrated violin virtuoso of his time, and left his mark as one of the pillars of modern violin technique.” Richard’s description of Paganini lying in bed and keeping his eyes open sounds similar to the hypnosis techniques of physical relaxation and of eye fixation.
We can conclude:
- That some of best experts in visualized practice prefer it over actual practice.
- The scientific research with visualization amateurs points the way towards truth, but does not establish truth.
- If trance can enhance our visualization abilities, and if through practice, we can perfect those abilities, then trance can take us to the top skill levels.
We can become Paganini’s in our personal choice
of skill and achievement.
From the research that I’ve read and from my personal observations using visualization for exercise both in trance and out of trance, I have a theory. Looking at the bibliography for the North American Journal of Psychology study, I found quite a few studies that duplicated its results, but I also found several similar to the following:
Yue, G. H., Wilson, S. L., Cole, K. J., & Darling, W. G. (1996). Imagined muscle contraction training increases voluntary neural drive to muscle. Journal of Psychophysiology, 10, 198-208.
In other words, we think about exercise by using our muscles. You can determine this yourself:
- Relax and close your eyes, and then imagine lifting a really heavy weight. You’ll notice that it’s very hard to imagine lifting like this without actually using your muscles.
- Repeat the experiment in trance. You’ll notice that you use your muscles less, but the imagery in your mind is sharper.
When you gain skill in practicing in trance, I believe that you’ll observe, like I have, that we can visualize more accurate movements in trance, but that we also use our muscles less. This observation seems to imply that you’ll get a better workout if you don’t go into trance to practice, but you’ll really become a pro by practicing in trance.
This is a theory. I’d like your observations after you’ve tried mental practice both in trance and out of it. Do you agree that:
- To build strength, imagine doing the exercise without going into trance.
- To build skill and precision, go into trance first, and then imagine doing the exercise.
- For the best results overall, practice both in trance and outside of trance.
- I’d appreciate any feedback you can give me as a comment on this page or as a private email.
Scientific research verifies that these results are neither imaginary or fanciful: visualization can be useful for learning and practicing sport, music, and surgery.
Yes, surgeons, you have not been overlooked by science. There’s solid research available that visualization can be useful for learning and practicing surgery when you don’t have enough cadavers to go around. For any of the rest of us that ever needs surgery, perhaps we should ask all of our potential surgeons whether they practice with visualization before we decide which one to choose. 😉
Steps for Using the Skills Practice Trance
(To understand these steps most effectively, please read My Impressions of the Research—the previous section)
I recommend that you master this type of trance and use it both with skills you already have and skills you want to learn. I recommend that you use your journal to keep track of your subjective experience, plus any objective results. For instance, if you practice shooting baskets for a time and then notice a change (or a lack of change), record this, and be as accurate and scientific as you can be.
But even if you don’t see change, don’t give up. It may simply mean that you haven’t fully mastered visualization in or out of trance. See if you can improve your results over time.
Try the following method of exercising in trance to master a specific skill that you’re not yet familiar with, such as a sports skill. and imagine each of the steps in turn before going into trance. There’s enough data to suggest that it’s worth your efforts.
(The following steps focus only on practicing skills. In most cases, you’ll want to combine these steps with other forms of trance. For help with this, read ADVANCED LEVELS: Getting the Most from the Skills Practice Trance.)
Skills Practice Step 1: Create a blow-by-blow description of the exercise.
Watch a video, use a book, or go to a sports event. Create a description of every action that you observe. Key words are enough (especially for events that you can’t pause); if you’re imaging the action later, you won’t need a long description to call back the memory of what you’re practicing. It’s just a brief reminder to keep your memory accurate.
Skills Practice Step 2: Imagine each step without going into trance.
You’re going to be reading, imagining, reading, and imagining repeatedly, and you’ll be too distracted by this process to do it at first in trance.
Starting with this step, imagine yourself doing the action, rather than visualizing the person in the video or book doing it. I won’t be repeating this advice, but it is intended for the remainder of the steps.
Skills Practice Step 3: Imagine groups of steps without going into trance.
Start by imagining yourself doing pairs of steps, then imagining three or four steps together, increasing the size of the groups of steps that you can imagine doing until you can imagine doing the whole thing as a single unit.
Skills Practice Step 4: Go into trance and repeat your visualization.
Notice how thinking with your body actually pushes you out of trance. Monitor the depth of your trance using the trance meter. If you’re not quite deep enough, turn the knob on the front of the trance meter to see if you can take yourself deeper by doing so.
(Learn to use a trance meter from the medium-length trance induction “Swing Chair_Trance Writing & Meter Induction8_22.mp3” and from the short trance induction “Deepen Trance Invoking Depth You Seek5_18.mp3,” both at the download site Joyful Wisdom Journey Free Trance Downloads.)
Skills Practice Step 5: Play with your visualization creatively.
Try speeding up your practice and slowing it down. See if you can improve your performance to a much higher level. Try different moves if it suits you.
Skills Practice Step 6: Plan follow-up practices.
Once is not enough, any more than it would be if you’re shooting baskets or playing catch physically. For absolutely new skills, you’ll feel as clumsy as you would in a class, but with mental practice, no one’s watching. Even if you’re in a regular practice group, you’ll do better if you practice mentally in between your scheduled physical practices.
I am continuing to practice this form of trance regularly for a variety of different skills, not limited to sports skills. As I learn from this practice, I’ll update this section to provide instructions for other types of skills.
ADVANCED LEVELS: Getting the Most from the Skills Practice Trance
When learning skills in trance, you should avoid the same kinds of mistakes you might make in normal practice. In other words, you should set reasonable goals, have realistic expectations, and avoid harsh negative judgments when things don’t go as planned. To help you achieve this balanced approaching, you might find it useful to use the Post-Hypnotic Self-Suggestion Trance and The Applause Trance.
You’re probably learning your chosen skills from videos, live instructors, a good book, or a person you admire. Ask this person for advice in a Conversation Trance, or invite that person to rehash and analyze what just happened in a Review Trance. Be sure to record any advice or insights you receive so that you can modify your practice in your next practices—both in real life and in trance.
Use an Empathy Trance to shape-shift yourself inside of your teacher or admired exemplar. Then while you feel yourself to be this paragon of great skill, plan an upcoming opportunity to experience that skill from the inside by using a Rehearsal Trance.
In some cases, you will be able to go into trance with your eyes open and use the techniques of Awareness Trance to enhance your performance in real time. With a little creativity, you’ll be able to use all Twelve Trance Types to enhance whatever it is that you’re practicing.
I don’t consider myself an expert at this type of trance yet, but if you’d like my personal guidance in learning it, locate my coaching profile at Cougar Brenneman Coaching. Contact me directly on the contacts page of this site. (This boring 😐 paragraph appears throughout this document to accommodate people who use our links exactly as they were intended to be used.)