In order to go into trance or under hypnosis, the directive power of consciousness must be shut down. In order to achieve a deep state of receptivity, the conscious mind must be brought to a standstill, as if one had poked a stick in its wheels and jammed it.
This is to effect a separation between the ego and the personality.
The Nature of the Mind
The ordinary conscious mind consists of a ceaseless streaming of images across the screen of consciousness, like a never-ending movie projected on an illuminated screen. This ceaseless succession of ideas appears to be the very essence of the nature of consciousness. A simple exercise will demonstrate this to you.
Envision in your mind’s eye a simple shape, like a white triangle on a black square. While it may be easy enough to summon this image initially, it is considerably more difficult to hold this image constant and still. Try as you might, the triangle will move about, as though on a pendulum, or fade from view as other thoughts come rushing in. The mind is profoundly dynamic and the ability to bring it to stillness takes many years of devoted practice.
It is a maxim of esoteric magic that where the attention is directed, there the soul is present. As long as the attention of consciousness is held within the tides of sensations derived from the body, the soul is, as it were, “in the body”. Two trains of thought cannot occupy the focus of consciousness simultaneously, even though the alternation can be so rapid that we may believe ourselves to be multi-tasking or multi-thinking. For this reason, we must “turn down the volume” of one level of consciousness so that we can hear the transmissions coming it at higher levels. When the constant stream of images ceases to pass through the mind, the ego is no longer bound to the body; as the mind is slowed and attention is liberated from these images, the soul becomes free to enter upon much higher planes of being.
The unconsciousness of trance differs from that of anesthesia or concussion in that the separation between the higher and lower aspects of consciousness takes place at a different level. In anesthesia and other forms of “physical” unconsciousness, it is the physical vehicle of consciousness that is put out of commission so that the ego cannot make use of it. The separation is between the physical body and the personality, as opposed to between the personality and the higher self. In sleep the separation takes place between the lower and higher aspects of the personality so that a certain amount of the personality and its consciousness remains with the physical body. Thus, the higher self is still bound to matter because the higher aspects of the personality are associated with it and therefore in ordinary sleep it is not free to function on its own place.
Preparing for Trance
The first step in entering trance must then be to withdraw all attention from the body. First the medium must lie down, completely relaxing every muscle of the body. Dim light is necessary and relative quiet. Light affects not merely the eyes, but the aura, and even a blindfold and thick covering rug are no protection against it. Absence of noise is necessary to enter into trance, but once depth of trance is obtained, some light noise is fine so long as it is not loud or sudden. Light has a far more drastic effect than sound in interference with trance; a shade slipping slightly on a lamp will break a trance that street noises do not affect.
The next stage consists in building up intense concentration upon a symbol of some kind; this concentration must be so complete that no physical sensation is felt, not even the kinesthetic sense which tells us the position of the limbs in space. The modality used by trance mediums varies in this stage. Some are helped by a hypnotist, who uses words and somatic cues to focus consciousness. Some use other audio assistance, like binaural beats. Some mediums find sitting in water to help induce the trance state as water is a natural conductor of energy. Others visualize the picture of the master or teacher who is going to be communicating from the other side. Whatever the object of attention, it must be held with intense yet gentle fascination until the body and consciousness enter into a deep sleep.
Depending on the method chosen, as the medium withdraws attention from the phenomenal world, one of three things will happen. As the medium passes into a subjective condition, she will either become objective on a higher plane, allow the higher self to come into manifestation within the body, or step aside entirely for another entity to speak.
In the first case, the mirror-like mind reflects all that passes before it on the astral plane. Any and every image is reflected without any selective power. The thoughts of the living, the thought-forms in the mental atmosphere, the images in the consciousness of any kind of being on the inner planes can all be reflected by the mirror-like consciousness of the passive trance.
In the second case, the subconscious mind is in communication with the superconscious mind and communication is received from the higher self of the medium.
In the third case, the medium concentrates so intensely upon an image of a communicator that consciousness becomes identified with it. The medium becomes a vessel for a master, teacher or spirit, conveying higher wisdom and mysteries.
The consciousness of the medium must be highly developed so that a suitable vehicle exists for use by the communicating entity. There must be a wide range of ideas knowledge and words available for use by the communicator. If a medium is limited in knowledge or vocabulary, this will limit the communication that can be conveyed through this vessel.
Additionally, the emotions need to be calm and still when mediumship is being practiced so that in addition to a highly developed mind there must be an integrated and harmonized nature. Emotion on the part of the subject gives rise to fantasy and delusion— a source of much confusion in psychic circles. Neutrality must be maintained since desire holds the focusing part of the ego to the level of repressed wishes. Watch well for the wish fulfillment of the subject’s unconscious, and always evaluate the communications that have come through on the basis of their utility and effects in real, practical life. As it is said, “Ye shall know them by their fruits”.