“We are all in a post-hypnotic trance induced in early infancy” ~ R. D. Laing

We are in a trance when our attention is limited and there is a certain repetition of thoughts and preoccupations. When obsessed with our self, our attention can feel like “tunnel vision” and can be characterized as a repetitive or circular flow of consciousness.

Repetition thoughts about our self can induce a trance by limiting our attention and overloading our mind with repeated thoughts leaving our conscious minds relatively limited.We may not even be aware of our surroundings because of fixed attention.

What is interesting is that this dissociated or trance state is often combined with rewards. That is, we are generally encouraged to go into a social or personal trance even though this state results in a somewhat narrow conscious awareness.

The most common misunderstanding about trance is the assumption that it is not our normal day-to-day awareness, but instead an altered state of awareness.

The truth is that we are always in trance, but most of the time we are in the mass trance based on consensus reality. We have subconsciously agreed to our cultural perception of reality that we were introduced to in infancy, initiated into during early childhood, and confirmed in during adolescence. The shades of this trance state vary slightly from culture to culture.

Spend an afternoon sitting on a bench in a shopping mall and watch the people go by. What do you see? A family rushing to catch a movie. Some teenagers laughing and whispering. A business woman with purposeful stride and eyes straight ahead. Just let the panorama of people go by and really watch them, their expressions, movements and tones of voice.

Without judgment, what can you tell about their trance states? After an hour or so, you’ve probably cataloged a lot of states, but spend a while longer and you’ll start to recognize that you’re really just watching many slight variations of the dominant trance — consensus reality. Most aren’t really interacting with reality in fundamentally different ways. It is as if the people you are watching have their minds tuned to the same octave but are playing slightly different notes with varying degrees of skill.

Although this consensus trance has long since become habit, it is actually a lot of work to maintain. We use subtle trance inducing techniques all the time. How many fast food restaurant jingles play through your head? How often do you catch your thoughts racing around, chattering in high-speed circles? Most people spend hours running these trance inducing exercises without even recognizing it.

A state of trance becomes addictive when we are compulsively limited to this narrow focus and unable to move into expanded consciousness…our obsession with our self image or ego is the most common addictive trance.

2 Responses

  1. Larry,

    Most spiritual practices attempt to bring about an “awakening” from our social trance…the original ego trance develops in our subconscious mind through repetitive social conditioning….spiritual techniques are usually an effort to send a repetitive message to our subconscious mind to “let go” or “surrender” the ego as a way of liberating our narrow self focus and so leading to an expanded consciousness.


  2. This trance is how we maintain our social/cultural conditioning. By recycling thoughts over and over again, we produce a pseudo-reality that we accept as real. It is illusion and delusion on a mass scale!
    A view of our “normal” psychology can be found in many of the pages here.

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