Altered states refer to states of mind that differ from our normal state of consciousness.
When exploring altered states, we become aware of consciousness and how its definition of mindfulness (our thoughts, feelings, memories and sensations) transforms into different levels of awareness when changes occur in our brain wave patterns.
Our mind activity is measured by rhythm, vibration and patterns of brain wave impulses as our perceptions change our thought process.
Brain Wave Activity
There are four main types of brain waves. When we are awake and thinking, we’re in the “beta” state. When we’re falling asleep and the mind begins to quiet, we are in the “alpha” state. When we are asleep or quietly meditating, our brains are in the “theta” state. Lastly, in deep sleep, where there is no body-awareness, we are in the “delta” state.
Altered states are characterised by an increased response to suggestions from our immediate environment from which we develop heightened focus and concentration on a specific thought or memory, while at the same time being able to block out distractions.
Altered states are the result of a subtle change in how our mind perceives a situation and manifests as a chemical alteration in the brain wave pattern function followed by neurological responses.
This change happens constantly on a daily basis as we naturally slip in and out of various altered brain wave states depending on our surroundings and external stimuli. This can result in a profound change in awareness and therefore also in our level of consciousness, which is expressed through various levels of trance or what we sometimes refer to as a ‘trance state’.
The Trance State
So what exactly is trance? Trance is just a state of awareness, no more, no less. It’s a different state from our normal state of consciousness but is just as natural and is the result of when we change the focus of our attention.
We slip in and out of hypnotic states all day long, naturally and without any planning or thought. A trance state is a focused level of awareness which we experience every day, just at varying levels.
When we are concentrating our attention on something in particular it gives us a greater level of absorption or consciousness.
Let’s go deeper into the levels of altered states conscious awareness you can experience.
A hypnotic trance state can be induced through self–hypnosis. It can induce changes in areas such as relaxation, stress management and various forms of innate ability. Hypnotic trance states can also be guided by a professional hypnotist/therapist who is able to induce deeper levels of the trance state. This can help people change unwanted behaviours, explore past lives and incarnations through regressive therapy and offer them positive inspirational suggestions to create lifestyle changes.
By engaging your imagination with calm thinking using a form of guided imagery and by concentrating your attention on the experience, it creates an enhanced level of accelerated learning which helps you make the changes you desire.
Meditation can be a wonderful personal experience of self-discovery. Your contemplation creates a stillness of the mind which brings a deep sense of calm and transforms your state of awareness, allowing you to access your inner understanding, your higher self or infinite intelligence.
Meditation is primarily used for guidance in relaxation and for accessing holistic therapeutic resources. Working with meditation, will give you a calm persona and allow you to still your mind. Amazing and profound discoveries can be made about oneself. Enlightenment and other gateways of the mind can be discovered through this natural trance state using a concentrated level of awareness. It allows you to access your own personal level of spiritual awareness.
Imagination is a conscious mind/thought form process using visualization. By changing the level of your focus you create a space into which you bring forward images and ideas, usually about an event or future concept, for which you want to create a desired outcome.
Intuition is an amazingly powerful awareness on a soul level which can occur suddenly and which often has a strong emotion connected to it. Or sometimes it can be a focused psychic awareness.
We each have our five physical senses -hearing, touching, tasting, smelling and seeing. Then there is our sixth sense which is known as extra sensory perception.
In our minds we can expand our feelings or inner radar past our energy field, which is known as ’sensing through our aura’. When you sense through your aura, you either experience a replied response or an inner knowing. You automatically tune into this conscious reaction or feeling and then during the response if another person is involved your aura blends with theirs and you feel a sense of what the other person perceives. Some say this is a metaphysical gift. Psychic power and intuition are similar to each other.
Inspiration is different from intuition. Inspiration is an alpha state of mind on a conscious level. This level of thinking creates stimulation or motivation about a particular concept or idea and from there leads to a future event or a series of events. Inspiration is usually created to promote movement of an idea, to inspire action or to influence a person or situation.
A psychic trance is a conscious state of awareness with a change in the level of focused attention. This change of focus means tapping into your specific ability in your unconscious mind. For example, clairvoyance, which is the ability to clearly see beyond the reach of ordinary experience, is when we deliberately concentrate our powers of sight in order to see images are not visible to the naked eye and usually flash into the psychic mind just behind the eyes. These can be symbols, objects, colours, people, and scenes. When you tap into your psychic powers of sensory perception to access relevant information it is known as a focused state.
A hypnagogic trance or ‘hypnagogic arrest’ is a transition state in between wakefulness and sleep. It is when you are in a half dream state of mind. You are almost asleep but also awake in a suspended level of consciousness. You do this naturally every day when you transition into sleep or start waking up.
During this experience a variety of sights, images, sounds and impressions can unfold, during which time you have an alteration in the level of your frequency. This can provide a platform or a link to the spirit world creating a state where you can interact with discarnate or other spirit entities. In this state of trance you can activate your psychic ability to improve your sixth sense.
When you are going into a calm, relaxed state just before you drift off to sleep, you can prolong this trance state by tensing your hand with your fingers in a spread position to delay sleep. This is where an altered dream- like state opens up and allows a change in frequency and the link to occur.
When exploring a hypnagogic trance state I would suggest keeping note paper handy to write down any impressions.
A mediumistic trance is when the conscious mind goes into a rapid rested state to access the unconscious mind through the pineal gland, in order to link to a spirit communicator. This connection with spirit is possible through using a blended combination of the aura and the unconscious mind.
During the trance state, a medium can go one step further and deepen the trance state to allow spirit voice. This is where the medium must silence the mind and create a mentally clear space which causes the brain state to alter and drop into a theta state of consciousness.
There are also physical effects on the body. For example, the heart rate slows, the breathing rate dramatically reduces and the body temperature drops. When this state is achieved, there is an alteration in the medium’s energy at the cellular level in the physical body. Indeed, this is evidenced by the suppression of the medium’s state of consciousness. The medium then appears to allow the spirit communicator to work through their body and mind.
The spirit communicator doesn’t actually enter the physical body even though it may appear to be that way but the medium’s personality seems to step aside allowing the spirit communicator’s personality to come forward. The spirit communicator takes direct control of the medium’s speech and physical movement, which brings forth a fascinating variety of facial expressions, mannerisms, voice changes and varying degrees of transfiguration.
The medium is sometimes aware of this behaviour or speech but this varies depending on the depth of the trance. Sometimes there may be spontaneous occurrences in these states and various paranormal phenomena may come forward.
In a shamanic trance, the shaman enters an altered trance state which extends beyond the normal waking consciousness. This level of ability is acquired with extensive mental training and achieved over a period of time.
The ecstatic level of awareness is obtained through a variety of ritualistic actions such as drumming, humming and verbal commands. Through this process the shaman accesses the astral plane and other alternative gateways of reality in order to gain knowledge through observation and communication with astral entities and light beings. When the purpose of the trance has been achieved the shaman returns to ordinary awareness with full memory of the encounters.
When exploring altered states, take into consideration fractionation, which is a process that breaks the trance journey into stages and based on information and verbal feedback from each step, takes you deeper into the next level of trance. An incredibly deep state can be obtained using this practice of repetition.
If someone has the ability to go in and out of a light trance state a few times, it doesn’t take long for them to develop the ability to enter a deeper trance state. The theory behind this method is the more often you go into a deep trance state the quicker and deeper you will go next time.
We all have a fascinating innate ability to enter altered states at varying levels, to explore our consciousness and to experience a range of different states of mind which lead us closer to knowing who we really are.