17. The Trance State
A trance is a very simple and natural state of being, the state
entered when the physical body goes to sleep while the mind stays
awake. Very simply, the frequency of brain waves changes in response
to the changed level of mental activity.
The less mental activity,
the deeper the level of trance. Normal levels of consciousness cause
a lot of bioelectrical activity, which is associated with the awake
activity of the surface mind, called the beta level. When the trance
state is entered, this activity is significantly reduced, causing
many peculiar physical and mental sensations. Changes in brain-wave
activity are measurable with an electroencephalograph, or EEG,
The human brain has two halves, two hemispheres, each side
associated with different physical and mental functions and
abilities. The left side of the brain is the rational and logical
problem-solving part, while the right side is the more emotional,
creative, and intuitive part. I believe the trance state causes
these two hemispheres to begin working together, synchronizing more
strongly than they are able to in the normal waking state.
The more time spent in the trance state, the stronger the
bioenergetic connections between hemispheres become, and the more
easily the two hemispheres can work together. While the two
hemispheres are linked, the mind becomes calmer, stronger, more
whole and balanced.
This enhances the quality of thought, making it
more profound and open to inspiration, while providing great clarity
of mind - albeit in an altered state of consciousness. A deeply
relaxed physical body with a clear mind holds this connected trance
state longer than would naturally occur.
We all experience this every night, even if only briefly, while
falling asleep. Most people don't even notice this when it happens,
but everyone knows how good it feels. Who does not enjoy falling
asleep? Similarly, who does not enjoy entering the trance state?
Trance is a delightfully blissful, comfortable, stress-free state of
being, like submerging yourself in a pleasantly warm physical/mental
spa or bath.
While falling asleep you will find, if you observe closely, that you
begin losing yourself among rambling half-thoughts and impressions.
Your body starts to feel heavy and warm and cozy and your thoughts
become silly and meaningless. This happens right on the borderline
of sleep, just before you lose coherence altogether and fall into
the seeming oblivion of sleep. The heavy-body sensation is the sign
you have entered the trance state. The mental incoherence (in the
case of entering the trance state while falling asleep) is caused
solely by mental and physical tiredness.
Once the physical body falls asleep, the center of waking
consciousness transfers into the etheric body. This is best thought
of as a type of inner-body projection. The heavy-body feeling of the
trance state indicates that the center of waking consciousness has
shifted one step away from its physical body and into the first of
its subtle bodies, its etheric body.
This takes consciousness one
step closer to the real-time projectable double.
Next time you are falling asleep, hold your forearms vertical with
your elbows resting comfortably on the bed surface. This will keep
you awake a little longer than normal. Observe what happens while
you are falling asleep. You will experience the trance state for at
least a few moments longer than usual before falling asleep, and for
still longer if you are not too tired and can stay focused. If you
relax and use the breath awareness technique while falling asleep,
instead of allowing your mind to drift and ramble, you can drag out
the falling-asleep process and stay in the trance state even longer.
As a part of projection training, it is necessary to learn how to
put your body to sleep while remaining mentally awake and in control - in other words how to enter the trance state and stay awake. This
can be a little tricky at first, but is not at all difficult if you
follow the correct procedure and get some regular practice in.
physical and mental tiredness that naturally causes the trance state
while falling asleep can be replaced by a deep level of physical
relaxation and a clear surface mind.
If you allow yourself to react to distracting sounds during trance
work, you can develop a habitual response to them, becoming easily
distracted and irritated. This can seriously affect your ability to
enter and hold the trance state. It may cause you to use artificial
aids like music or tapes to create just the right conditions for you
before you can trance effectively. This will make your trance state
dependent on those conditions. A dependency like this is an
unhealthy trance habit, as it makes the habitual foundations of the
trance state weak and sensitive, rather than strong and resilient.
If you are a beginner with no trance habits, please heed my advice
on this. Accept sounds and let them wash over you, without tensing,
reacting, or mentally complaining about them in any way. Accept and
tolerate sounds kindly and without irritation. Look upon unavoidable
distractions as valuable opportunities to test your powers of focus
and concentration, as sound waves crashing gently over you. This
problem will progressively ease with time and patience.
The need for total quiet denies the pleasure of trance meditation
outdoors, amid all the many wonderful distractions of life: water
gurgling over rocks, animal sounds, wind and storm sounds, rolling
waves crashing on beaches, children's sounds, and the sweet morning
chorus of bird song. These are nature's gift to us all, and all can
be better appreciated in a tranced meditational state.
Different Levels of Trance
I have divided the trance state into three basic levels, and have
used sensation descriptive names (rather than the more commonly used
technical terms like alpha, beta, theta, and delta) for simplicity's
sake, and to help avoid confusion while working in these levels of
trance. This will enable you to tell what level of trance you are in
simply by noting the sensations you are experiencing.
basic levels of trance given here are meant as a basic guide for
Light trance is the first level of trance, very similar to the
daydream state. While relaxing, your physical body starts feeling
warm, cozy, and lethargic. Your eyelids suddenly feel heavy and your
eyes begin to glaze over and droop. A mild wave of heaviness and
warmth flows over you. Your mind takes on a mildly fuzzy quality and
tends to begin drifting. You have some slight difficulty focusing
thoughts, especially if you are mentally tired and need sleep.
Patterns of light and color (hypnagogic imagery) are seen
occasionally during the light-trance state. Mind's-eye visions may
also be seen if natural clairvoyant potential is present. Cobweb-like
tickling is occasionally felt in the facial and neck areas, caused
by energy movement through the energetic support structures of the
brow and crown centers. (The trance state on its own causes an
increased flow of energy, hence the resulting sensations.)
With this level of trance comes a mild, whole-body feeling of warm
comfortable fuzziness and a slight dissociation from the physical
body and the surrounding environment. Time appears to slow down a
little and sounds appear to be slightly louder and from further away
than they really are. Once light trance stabilizes it is easily held
for long periods of time. Great internal mental clarity can be
attained with it, as long as tiredness is not a problem. This is the
trance state most usually attained during early-light meditations
and led-group meditations. If this level of trance is accompanied by
a deep-enough state of physical relaxation, conscious-exit
projection becomes possible.
This level of trance, while easily held, is also quite delicate and
easily broken. Physical movement, even walking and talking, must be
slow and deliberate to hold the light-trance state.
The full-trance state has many similarities with light trance, but
trance sensations are more pronounced. Entry into full trance is
marked by a quite noticeable wave of bodily heaviness and a very
slight falling sensation. This comes on fairly quickly, like a warm,
heavy wave flowing through you, seeming to sap your physical and
mental strength as your body falls away into sleep.
and mental focus are needed at this point to stop the mind from
following its body into sleep. Your sense of time changes, slowing
down or speeding up, depending on your level of mental tiredness. If
you are tired, time tends to speed up; otherwise, it tends to slow.
You become noticeably dissociated from your physical body and its
Your sense of background atmosphere changes noticeably the moment
you enter the full-trance state. The room around you feels like it
has suddenly become much larger, thicker, and emptier. Background
sounds take on a muffled, faraway quality, something like they would
if a cardboard box were gently lowered over your head without
touching or disturbing you.
You may feel a muffled, bone-deep tickling sensation in your arms
and legs if you move them to ease your physical body during trance,
similar to how it feels when an arm or leg falls asleep, but not at
all painful. Some physical movement is still possible, but takes
more effort and feels like it's happening in slow motion. If you
manage to stand during full trance (no mean feat, but still
possible), you can hardly feel your legs at all. If you can manage
to walk (also possible), it feels like you are walking on two huge
pillows that used to be your legs. Any kind of physical activity
tends to erode the depth of trance, unless done in a slow and dreamy
Sharp sounds cause an uncomfortable sensation in the stomach and
solar plexus that can feel almost like a physical blow if you allow
yourself to react to it. (This sound sensitivity can be reduced only
by experience gained through regular trance meditation.) Your
thoughts begin to feel different, more sluggish than normal yet
extremely clear. This is caused by the surface mind shutting down
and revealing a more profound level of mind.
Holding your mind clear and focused is the real trick to staying
awake and mentally functional. If you do not concentrate and stay
focused, you will tend toward fantasizing and drifting off among
weak and meaningless thoughts. When you first start experiencing
trance states, you need to concentrate, forcibly holding your mind
awake without allowing yourself to tense up physically or mentally.
Hypnagogic imagery is seen behind closed eyelids, in the mind's eye,
as are occasional visions. REM (rapid eye movement) activity happens
sporadically; when it does, fragments of dream imagery occasionally
intrude into the mind's eye. This can indicate a sleep deficit,
meaning the physical mind lacks energy, has fallen asleep, and is
Ignore REM as best you can if it starts. It normally comes and goes
in bouts of a few minutes each, sometimes longer. REM feels like the
eyes are fluttering and buzzing beneath their eyelids. This can be
very distracting when it occurs in the trance state. If it becomes a
problem, gently rub the fingers and thumbs of each hand together and
take a couple of deep breaths, stretching and moving your body
slightly and resettling it. This slight physical activity is usually
enough to stop REM and shut down the dream mind, while allowing
trance and development work to continue. This procedure also helps
reduce the level of trance. When REM stops, cease all physical
movement and continue with your trance meditation.
You will be spending most of your time somewhere between the
light-trance and full-trance states. As you gain ability and
experience, this level will vary. The ability to put yourself into a
full trance is very progressive, like most developed abilities.
has to be worked at, but with regular practice can be reached
quickly and easily.
Deep trance starts with the symptoms of the full-trance state, which
become noticeably more pronounced as you fall into a much deeper
level of trance. There are many odd sensations associated with deep
trance, felt in many combinations: with whole-body coldness and a
continual falling sensation being common.
The deep-trance state is not dangerous. It cannot hurt you any more
than deep sleep can. It is very difficult to get into the
deep-trance state, even deliberately. It could not reasonably be
expected to happen spontaneously or accidentally to one who has not
yet mastered the full-trance state. But the symptoms associated with
deep trance are often so strong that they can be frightening if you
do not know what is happening.
If you are ever worried that you might be going too deep, simply
feel yourself moving upward, slowly moving your head, mouth,
fingers, and toes, progressively restoring movement to your body
until you can pull yourself out of trance completely. If movement is
extremely difficult, or if you feel totally paralyzed, you have most
probably projected but missed the exit out of your body; you may
even have experienced vibrations earlier. In this case, concentrate
on moving a single big toe. Ibis will pull back your projected
double and end paralysis. If all efforts to pull out of deep trance
fail, do not panic.
Simply allow yourself to fall asleep and you
will wake up shortly after, well rested and none the worse for wear.
Entering the trance state requires three things: deep physical
relaxation, a clear surface mind, and a mental technique.
Deep Physical Relaxation: Do the full deep physical relaxation
exercise (see chapter 15) until you are as physically relaxed as
possible. Some preliminary physical exercise to get the kinks out of
tense muscles, followed by a hot bath or shower, is advised for all
Clear Surface Mind: Allow your thoughts to wind down and settle
while doing the relaxation exercises, then clear your mind by
focusing on breath awareness. You may find this easier to achieve if
you deal with any pressing thoughts your mind may throw up at this
time. Simply consider and deal with these for a few moments each and
then let them go. This will greatly ease their clamoring thought
Mental Technique: A mental falling technique speeds up the time it
takes to enter the trance state, rather than waiting for the body to
fall asleep of its own accord. Focusing on this also helps to occupy
and hold your surface mind clear and awake.
In all the mental falling exercises given below, use your
imagination to construct the falling scenario and feel as if you
were there in reality.
Produce the strongest internal whole-body
awareness sensation possible. Call on a memory of yourself doing
something similar, or borrow a scene remembered from a movie. Use
this memory to re-create the feeling of yourself performing that
same action with your imagination. Feel the falling action; don't
just think about it or try to see it in your mind's eye.
Once you attain a level of the trance state, heralded by a wave of
bodily heaviness and warmth, relax and breathe slowly and naturally.
Keep your mind clear - thus holding on and settling in to the trance
state X by focusing a small part of your mind on breath awareness.
If you need to deepen your level of trance, continue with the mental
falling exercise until you attain it.
I have given several variations here. Please try them all and find
the most effective one for you, or the one you most like. When you
find one that suits you, stick with it. This helps to program your
subconscious mind to react to the technique, helping you shift into
the trance state easier and faster each time.
You do not need to overdo the imagined details of scenarios used
with mental falling exercises. The rock wall in the elevator shaft
below, for example, only needs to be an indistinct blur moving
upward. It is the downward movement or falling sensation constructed
by your imagination and felt in your body awareness that causes your
brain waves to slow, thereby forcing it to enter the trance state.
It is not the imagined scenario in itself that does the trick.
physical relaxation and a mental falling technique basically trick
your subconscious mind into beginning the sleep process earlier,
while you are still wide awake.
Imagine that you are in an elevator with one side of it - the side
you are facing - open to bare rock. Feel the elevator start moving
down with you in it. Imagine you can see the rocky sides of the
elevator shaft passing upward as you move ever downward, falling
deeper and deeper into trance as you go. Imagine that this rock
shaft has an irregular texture and features you can easily see,
moving upward past you as the elevator carries you down, down, down.
If you like, imagine you can see a large number as you pass a floor
every few seconds, and count these as the elevator moves deeper and
deeper. Call on the memory of the last time you were in an elevator,
or go and ride in one and memorize the sensation. Remember the
slight feeling of vertigo it caused in your stomach as it started
going down. Re-create this feeling; feel it in your body awareness.
Keep imagining and feeling this, while making sure you do not allow
your physical body to tense up.
Feel your body letting go and
sinking deeper and deeper into the trance state as you ride the
elevator down, down, down...
Imagine that you are on a ladder. Re-create body-awareness feelings
of remembered arm and leg movements, and slowly begin climbing down.
Move one awareness foot and its opposite hand down one rung. Then
move the other foot and its opposite hand down another rung. If this
is too complex, imagine you are holding on to each side of the
ladder and climbing down only with your feet, with the sides of the
ladder gliding easily through your hands.
Continue down the ladder
one rung at a time. Feel your body moving down the ladder. Imagine a
rock face or brick wall in front of you, close to the ladder.
Imagine this textured face moving upward past you as you climb
further and further down the ladder. Feel yourself climbing downward
and falling deeper and deeper into trance with every downward step
Imagine that you are standing at the head of a long flight of steps
with a high stone wall on either side. These steps are large,
imposing, and steep. Lift one imaginary foot at a time-carefully
feeling yourself doing it - and take the first step down. Feel your
body move downward as your feet move one at a time onto the lower
Repeat this action and take the next step down, then the next
and the next. While you are moving down the stairs, imagine you can
see the textured stone walls on either side moving upward past you
as you move one step at a time down the flight of steps. Continue
this, slowly and deliberately, feeling yourself moving downward and
falling deeper and deeper into the trance state as you go.
steps if you like, slowly, as if you were counting your breaths,
"Oneeee, Twoooo, Threeee", etc., taking one step down with each
Climbing down a Rope
Imagine that you are hanging by your hands from a strong rope and
have your legs wrapped securely around it. Your arms are very strong
and there is no chance of falling. Move one imaginary hand down,
then the next, climbing down the rope hand over hand, with the rope
sliding easily between your legs. See the textured rope moving
upward past your face as you climb down it. Continue this, feeling
yourself climbing downward and falling deeper and deeper into the
trance state as you go.
Imagine that you are a feather and are gently floating down from a
great height. Feel yourself gently falling, re-creating a falling
sensation in your body awareness every time you breathe OUT. Feel
yourself holding position and floating in midair as you breathe IN.
Feel the atmosphere around you; imagine strands of textured clouds
moving upward as you fall gently through them. Continue this,
feeling yourself floating gently downward and falling deeper and
deeper into the trance state with your every falling breath. IN and
OUT can be reversed to whatever feels most natural.
This versatile old favorite of mine can be done from any position,
even while walking. Imagine that your feet are in the center of a
dense smoke ring as thick as your arm. Imagine and feel this smoke
ring rising up over your body and disappearing overhead. The smoke
rings are very dense and move close to your body. Imagine that you
can feel them moving over your skin as they rise. Imagine that you
can see these smoke rings as they move past your eyes. The smoke
rings should repeat about two seconds apart, but this can be varied
to suit the individual.
Feel the rising smoke rings with your body
awareness, puffing regularly up over your whole body. Feel an
internal falling sensation as the imaginary smoke rings rise upward.
Feel yourself falling deeper and deeper into the trance state with
the caress of every smoke ring as it rises up over your whole body,
over and over, from feet to head.
Personalized Trance Technique
Imagine any scenario that you are familiar with that involves going
down, or any kind of downward movement or falling sensation. This
can be anything: an escalator, a water slide, a fireman's pole, a
parachute jump, mountain climbing, scuba diving, high diving -
anything that could induce a natural falling or downward sensation
of movement in your body awareness.
Many people find it helps to repeat a simple litany or mantra, said
over and over in their head, as an accompaniment to their mental
falling trance technique. This also helps keep the mind clear and
well focused, and in time you will become conditioned to react to
the litany. It will program you to start falling into the trance
state whenever the litany is used. Repeat: "Down, down, down...
deep, deeper, deepest", or something similar, slowly and calmly and
meaningfully. Say this over and over inside your head and feel
yourself falling down, down, down as you say it.
You can make up your own litany, but keep it simple and downward
meaning and stick to the same litany all the time. The longer you
use the same litany the more effective it will become and the more
conditioned you will become to it.
Common Trance Problems
Most common trance problems stem from the three main problem areas
given below. These come mainly from our modern Western lifestyle.
They must be addressed and overcome before you can successfully
operate in the trance state and hold it strongly enough to achieve
Falling Asleep during Trance
This very common problem is usually caused by a sleep deficit.
Although you may feel fine, there is always a possibility you have
not been getting enough sleep. (Most people don't.) If you have a
sleep deficit, you normally have very little trouble entering the
trance state, even if you do not attain a state of deep physical
relaxation first, because you are mentally overtired.
usually have trouble maintaining mental coherence and operating in
the trance state once it is attained. Your mind will lack mental
vitality and will be unable to hold itself together. You will tend
to lose control very easily and will often just fall sleep for the
main part of your trance meditation.
It may be easier to induce the trance state when the body and mind
are tired, but mental coherence and control during trance are very
limited if a sleep deficit is present. The oblivion of sleep is the
ever-present companion of the tired trancer. Overtired-ness can
easily cause a natural trance state all on its own. Trance, after
all, is an extremely natural thing that everyone does while falling
asleep. Because of the lack of mental vitality, in this case the
trance state is too unstable to allow the operator enough control to
do any kind of serious work.
Many people, when they meditate, find their meditations naturally
end after a set period of time. They usually have very little
awareness of the passing of time, or even of what takes place during
the major part of their trance meditations. They remember falling
into trance and feeling totally blissful for a while, before coming
back to earth later, feeling relaxed and refreshed. After entering
the trance state, they simply have had a pleasant trancelike nap.
The obvious solution is to get more sleep, then return to trance
practice wide awake and refreshed. If this is difficult, try
changing the time of day you practice trance exercises. Doing trance
exercises in the morning, or just after a refreshing nap, will
usually solve most sleep-deficit-related trance problems.
Many people wake an hour or so early each day for this purpose. They
get up, do a little exercise, shower, then do their meditation,
trance and energy work. They find trance meditation far more
successful when done early in the morning, due to a combination of
natural deep physical relaxation and the mentally refreshed state of
mind brought on by a good night's sleep. Deep physical relaxation
and a clear, fresh mind are essential ingredients for successful
For these same reasons, projection attempts are also usually more
successful at this time of day. Some people find projection easier
if they go to bed early and set their alarm to wake them during the
night. They wake up, holding on to the deeply relaxed state induced
by sleep, and immediately attempt a projection. In this case, all
preliminary exercises can be skipped, with the projector going
straight to projection technique - usually with good results.
points out just how important to projection deep physical relaxation
and a stable trance state are.
Inability to Enter Trance
An inability to enter the trance state is usually caused by an
insufficient level of deep physical relaxation, and/or by poor
concentration and mental relaxation skills. Whatever your trance
problem, examine it and identify weak areas. Then, return to the
relevant sections of this book and repeat the necessary exercises
until these problems are rectified.
Practice, practice, practice, is my very best advice here. If you
have worked through all the exercises in this section but find you
still cannot get into the trance state, please don't give up. Go
back to the beginning and start over again if you have to. Redo the
lessons and exercises one at a time and don't rush them. This may
seem a laborious process, but you must be patient with yourself.
Everyone has a different psychological makeup and it is impossible
to generalize, or to compare one person's progress with another.
Do not measure your progress against the progress of another. Take
your time and work at your own speed. Some people take to trance
work like a duck to water, while others find they really have to
work at it to achieve the levels of relaxation and mental clarity
But' you can master the trance state if you learn
the individual skills and practice regularly.
Falling into Trance Too Easily
This is an occasional side effect of long-term development work. If
a person spends a lot of time in trance, the trance state eventually
becomes second nature and is then very easily attained. People with
this tendency can find themselves accidentally sliding into the
trance state many times each day, at the drop of the proverbial hat.
If not checked, this can cause frequent dissociation from reality,
which is an unhealthy way to live. This can become a serious
psychological disorder and may require professional treatment if it
is not addressed.
A sleep deficit will compound this problem. The best way to stop
accidental trance is to be aware of it and to watch out for it,
especially at the times it is most likely to occur, e.g., while
driving, watching TV, waiting, traveling, etc. Be ready to work
against this, pulling yourself out of trance the moment you feel it
Physical and mental activity focusing on the world and people around
you is the best way to avoid accidentally falling into the trance
state. If this problem arises, my best advice is to take a break
from all development exercises and meditation, especially trance
work, for a few weeks.
During this break, concentrate on physical
life and activity, catching up on your sleep, and doing all the odd
jobs and visiting you have been putting off till later.