En-Trancing: filling with wonder and delight
Hold your entire attention
If you are entranced by someone or something, you are mesmerised by it, in complete awe, can’t take your eyes off it, under a spell, bedazzled, charmed, captivated, and enthralled.
What is a trance? The Spiritual Life says a trance state can be described as:
- Enchantment: a psychological state induced by a magical incantation
- A state of mind in which consciousness is fragile and voluntary action is poor or missing
- A state resembling deep sleep
- Capture: attract; cause to be enamoured
- A condition of apparent sleep or unconsciousness, with marked physiological characteristics in which the body of a subject is thought by certain people to be liable to possession
- An out-of-body experience in which one feels that they have passed out of the body into another state of being, a rapture, an ecstasy.
- A state of hyper or enhanced suggestibility.
A trance-like state can be negative, although in the everyday context, it is a brief period of time when a person’s mind is so completely distracted or engrossed in something other than their own mind and body. A trance-like state focuses the attention away from the mind – particularly away from negative thoughts – and intensely towards another entity through positive feelings.
Greek pilgrims visited the Temple of Epidaurus for ‘healing sleep’ – a time of incubation where sleep healed the mind. Sleep was then mimicked through short periods of time – like naps – when the brain rested. And then trance-like states became another way of replicating ‘brain rest’ for an even shorter period (although some trances can be lengthy). Milton Hyland Erickson (1901-1980), the American founder of hypnotherapy, introduced trance and hypnosis into traditional medicine and psychotherapy as a way to ‘quiet the mind.’
Momentom Collective says positive trances happen at different frequencies of brain waves: 1) beta waves – highly alert and focused, normal state which can include active concentration and even anxiety, 2) alpha waves – relaxed but alert, resting state, 3) theta waves – daydreaming and the first stage of sleep, and 4) delta waves – deep sleep.
The benefits of entering trance-like states (‘en-trancing’) are:
- Intentional access to theta brain waves – for deep relaxation, meditation, and visualisation
- Stress relief – slower brain waves can calm the mind, relax the nerves, and promote immunity to illnesses
- Healing – through decreasing stress and supporting restorative wellbeing, both physically and mentally
- Bypassing ego defences – the ego helps to protect the mind from fear, and trance-like states enable a deep dive into the ego to reduce challenging egotistical beliefs
- Hyper-learning – slower brain waves can process problem solving and promote leaps of learning beyond ordinary thoughts
- Better focus – slower brain waves facilitate concentration on single aspects
- New perspectives – slower brain waves filter information more efficiently, resulting in meaningful personal transformation
- Connecting to different dimensions – enhancing an awareness of spiritual, physical, mental, and emotional states
- Heightened creativity – through the ability to think analytically and being more attuned to inner inspirations
- Increased manifestation power – by supporting the channeling of energy towards manifesting the life we desire.
An example of ‘entrancing’ optical illusions to support health care is the work of French artist and mathematician Jean-Luc Feugeas, who collaborated with a medical oncologist to produce a three-dimensional (3-D) steel hanging mobile, called The Triangulation of the Circle. People watching the hanging mobile can see either a triangle or a circle (and other twisted shapes as the hanging mobile rotates), which, Jean-Luc Feugeas says, illustrates the complexity of the relationship between the patient and the caregiver who perceive two elementary, sometimes simplistic, images of reality. Jean-Luc Feugeas is particularly fascinated – entranced – by the shape of the circle: In the beginning, a line. Simple and ideal, clear and seductive. Minimum. Petite. A line of life, horizon or heart. Far from enemy lines, sight, defense or demarcation. Connected, melodic or rhythmic. A signal. Which closes. Why not. A line suddenly infinite then. A circle. Literary or sententious, vicious or virtuous. A circle. Who comes alive, bumps and pods, mingles and resolves. Circumferent. Irrational. Lace and intertwine, without ever breaking, however. Unitary. One cycle. A core. Multiplies, generates, organizes, orders and structures. Who beats. One cell. No crisis or terrorism, no bar or chain. One cell. Biological. Organic. In peace. Free. Originally. In balance. Free to finish and start again. A circle. No beginning or end. One line. Simple.
Walking a labyrinth – or maze – can be an entrancing way of finding peace within. The winding paths of a labyrinth, from the outer to the centre, and the time spent in finding your way, can be a metaphor for life. A labyrinth is a patterned design, usually on the ground or floor of a building. The difference between a labyrinth and a maze is that a labyrinth has a single, non-branching path which leads to the centre, whereas a maze is a complex design with a choice of paths and directions. Therefore, a labyrinth is not designed to be difficult to navigate. In fact, a labyrinth has no dead ends.
Originating in medieval times, there has been a resurgence of interest in them. Found all over the world, they are often constructed in theme parks and gardens for entertainment. But labyrinths are mainly used in hospices, prisons, schools, religious institutions, and psychological therapy organisations to help calm the mind.
A labyrinth is primarily designed for private, personal, individual meditation – to meander the labyrinth while contemplating life’s issues. The truest form and purpose of a labyrinth is for contemplation, not just for fun – intentionality is crucial.
In a labyrinth, there is only one way to go, from within the path but when you are in it, you cannot see the centre (the walls of the maze are too high in most mazes). Some are clockwise, and others are counter-clockwise, generally for seven circuits in total. At times, the centre seems to be within reach, but then the path takes a turn back out and away from the centre.
Psychologists, spiritualists, and labyrinthologists say that the left (rational) brain is engaged in following what it experiences as a progressive and systematic course, whereas the right (creative) brain is engaged in the rhythmic and recursive movement that frees the thinking into a state of openness and receptivity. In the movement from out to in – periphery to centre – it represents life; convoluted and ambiguous. Through the ritual of walking in concentration, or letting the mind wander, the experience is said to quiet the mind and bring about a feeling of peace and harmony. Some say that there is a ‘pleasurable state of timelessness’ which people find relaxing and refreshing.
Positive trances can be introduced intentionally, spontaneously, or accidentally through:
- Sounds – listening to chanting, story telling, mantras, singing, music, drumming, wind chimes, waterfalls, ocean waves etc.
- Movement – moving and feeling the rhythms of dancing, swaying, yoga, breath work, rituals, labyrinth or maze walking, stretching etc.
- Sights – seeing cinema, art, sun rises, sun sets, lights, flames, candles, architecture, beauty, strobe lights, wind chimes, mobile decorations, optical illusions, mirages, bubbles, running water, water going down a drain, fish in an aquarium, etc.
- Smells – smelling perfume, pheromones, joss sticks, incense, flowers, sweat, oils, air etc.
- Taste – herbs, hallucinogens, drugs, food, beverages etc.
- Disciplines – practicing yoga, sufism, meditation, peace walks, labyrinth walking, prayer etc.
- Trauma – accident, unconsciousness, sleep deprivation, deep diving, fever, hypnosis, mind control, coma, induced coma etc.
- Natural states – dreams, euphoria, ecstasy, orgasm, psychosis, premonitions, channeling, divination etc.
Distractions are short trances, although they are mainly in the physical form. En-trancing can be achieved by focusing on a light, candle, image, etc. and letting the mind drift – in a form of daydreaming.
The Spiritual Life says a trance is an abnormal state of wakefulness in which you are not self-aware and can be unresponsive to external stimuli. This can lead to events happening around you that you do not notice while you are in a trance or trance-like state. This could put you in danger because your responses may be too slow to react. For example, being so entranced by the setting sun that you don’t see or hear the forceful ocean waves coming towards you.
Creative Mindfulness says that constant worry and stress can evoke negative trance-like states, that have the following signs:
- Headaches, breathing problems, sore joints, and pains that can’t be explained
- Lack of energy, lethargy, and being out-of-tune with the world
- Mood swings, feeling low or down more often than usual, and struggling to complete normal daily routines.
Excessive trance-like states can affect social interactions, whereby people perceive you to be ‘out-of-it’ and ‘in-your-head.’ Some people lose track of time, miss appointments and class lessons, and generally ‘check-out’ of life temporarily.
En-trancing does not necessarily address core issues.
“Entranced by the flight of a raven, I watch its shadow move effortlessly against golden, shimmering granite. I long to be that free, flying above the cluttered world of normalcy, where so many are half alive.” – Dean Potter
“I first read Dostoyevsky when I was 14 years old and was entranced. Dostoyevsky truly is a writer for 14-year-olds, and I mean that in the most approving way – approving of his energy, and rage, his endless pessimism, and endless innocence.” – Joshua Cohen
“True inspiration overcomes all fears. When you are inspired, you enter a trance state and can accomplish things that you may never have felt capable of doing.” – Bernie Siegel
“I think you do kind of slip into a trance when you look at a painting. At least, I do.” – Joe Bradley
“Sometimes, when you watch people play a video game, they seem lost in this worm-hole, or in a trance.” – Harmony Korine
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