Everyday Trances – we all know them – daydreaming, being lost in a good book and not hearing someone calling our name, driving home and not really remembering the journey. Other everyday trances are the patterns we seemed to run over and over again…losing our temper after vowing it would never happen again, having that next smoke or drink when we promised ourselves we’d had our last or ‘just this one”, always running late, out of time or losing things. Other trances might be getting in the same argument over and over, phobias, compulsions and stories you tell yourself about who you are: I’m forgetful or I’m a perfectionist or I’m just a loser or I’m never able to finish what I start.
It can also seem like one part of our mind is overriding another part. In a way you could say our habits that persist are particular kinds of hallucinations, where we tell ourselves the same story, feel a familiar set of emotions, repeat the same set of actions and “wake up” at some point genuinely surprised. How did that happen again? Where did my best intentions go?
I have heard people say:-
- “I just lost it”
- “I didn’t notice what was happening”
- “It seem to take over me”
- “It has a mind of its own”
When we feel anxious we are going into a trance where the future which has not yet happened feels real right now. This is self-hypnosis using time distortion going into the future.
When we feel we cannot escape our past, leading to a sense of helplessness and hopelessness, we are using time distortion bringing the past into the present.
When we ruminate about something we are worried about or went wrong, going over our thoughts repeatedly, seeing and hearing events over and over, we are in a negative, looping hallucination.
Everyday trances have 3 characteristics and you may recognise them. We narrow the focus of attention – we get absorbed in our thoughts, feelings and trance. We experience the trance as happening to us – not noticing we are creating it. The trance creates a set of phenomena such as losing our sense of time or where we are or others ways to think about what is happening. In a way we lose touch with reality.
So what is the first step in releasing ourselves from negative trances? The moment you step outside your problem to observe it you can break the trance. This is subtle, yet critical, shift in focus. You can bring your awareness back to what is going on around you right now. Not what you think but what you can actually experience through your five senses: sight, sound, touch, smell and taste. Most times just noticing what you can see, what you can hear and what you feel with touch is enough to come back to reality and out of trance.
This is a simple exercise to centre yourself and engage with your environment. Practice it throughout the day, especially any time you find yourself getting caught up in your thoughts and feelings.
- Pause for a moment
- Look around and notice five things that you can see. Take a few deeply relaxing breaths.
- Listen carefully and notice five things that you can hear. Take a few deeply relaxing breaths.Notice five things that you can feel in contact with your body (for example, your watch against your wrist, your clothing against your legs, the air on your face, your feet upon the floor, your back against the chair). Take a few deeply relaxing breaths.
- Finally, notice all 5 things simultaneously.
When you feel more relaxed and oxygenated look around the room and notice what you can see, hear, smell, touch, and feel.