Trance is an altered state of consciousness, sometimes also referred to as hypnosis. It is a natural dreamlike state during which the cognitive mind quiets down. Trances are a natural part of everyday life. For example when we get so absorbed by a movie or a book that we forget about our surroundings. Generative trance uses these states purposefully to facilitate change.
We perceive and interact with the world through the filters and maps that we have constructed through our experiences since we were little and which are held in our cognitive mind. These maps are more or less fixed, which means that we keep behaving in the same way, creating more and more of the same outcomes. Inevitably, as we go through the different phases of our lives, these maps will become outdated and cease to take us where we want to go. Trance allows us to drop underneath these problem areas and tap into our innate wisdom and source of infinite creativity, the subconscious mind. This makes it possible to alter our maps and come up with new understandings and ways of functioning that were not available to us before.
Different kinds of trance
There are many different levels of trance, from a calm, quiet state with our eyes open in which we can communicate and have a normal conversation, to dream-like states where we disconnect from our surroundings and are fully emerged in our inner experience. Traditional hypnosis operated under the paradigm of ‘getting the cognitive mind out of the way’ so the hypnotist could give his suggestions to the subconscious mind of the client. Since then, much has evolved. Generative trance is more like a delicate dance between the cognitive mind, the wisdom of the body and the subconscious, the collective unconscious and the guide. Together they create a generative space in which the aspirations, challenges, talents and resources of the client are intentionally held and woven together so new more satisfactory behaviours and ways of thinking can emerge.
Trances are a very organic and ecological way of doing personal change work, as the transformations are a direct result of our own innate inner wisdom.
Humanity has used trance states for as long as we exist, just think of the drum-induced trances still used in Africa, the contemplative traditions from the east, tribal dancing and singing from North America, etc. In the second half of the last century Milton Erickson brought traditional hypnosis to the clinical world and was arguably one of the most effective therapists of the last century. Stephen Gilligan, one of Erickson’s protegés, has further developed the work into what is currently known as Generative Trance.