In my classes that I teach on Neo-Ericksonian Hypnosis we often begin with a very simple trance experience. The participants in the class divide up into pairs and sit facing each other. They keep their eyes open and simply look into each other’s eyes. Then one of them asks the other, “Who are you?”

The other responds in whatever way feels right at that moment. He or she might say something like, “I am a Doctor,” or “I am a student.” Or they might say something like “I am Sue,” or “I am Charlie.”

Whatever they answer, the person asking the question then affirms the answer by saying, “That’s right. You are ‘Charlie'” (or whatever he or she had said), while doing their best to really see that in them.

Then, after a breath or two, the asker asks, “and who else are you?”

In class, we usually do this for about ten minutes for each round. Both participants usually experience various levels of trance in the process and find it quite pleasant. What is particularly interesting
is what happens after the first few rounds and the person runs out of the stock answers. Usually (sometimes at my suggestion, I confess) the descriptions of which they are become far more metaphorical or symbolic. Like, “I am a hungry Lion,” or “I am the night.” Any response is perfectly fine, of course. The asker simply affirms this definition, “That’s right, you are the night,” and goes forward from

In his book, “Enlightenment is not the Tooth Fairy: Put your ego under your pillow and Wake Up!” Dr. Robert Bays describes spiritual retreats where this same exercise is done for hours on end – for seven days in a row! The outcome, as I understand it, is to gently peel away the many veils of ego overlaying who your really are at your core. In the course of this discovery one might find that one has a lot of work to do to transcend her or his stories – often of suffering – that are attached to the various definitions of self unveiled along the way.

Revealing Words

Let’s look at two words:  “Ego” and “Transcend.” Did you know that the word “ego” comes from the Latin for “I?” I’ve always known it to be one of the three constructs in Sigmund Freud’s structural model of the psyche (id, ego and super-ego), but it is nice to know that it is quite simply a word that means the “self”, or identification with your own individual existence. So when the question is asked “Who are you?” The answers are self-concepts.

This word, “transcend,” is an interesting one. I have often said to clients that I am not so much a hypnotist as a DE-hypnotist. That their issues are a results of trances they have put themselves in. So
I wake them up from those less elegant trances and help them to acquire more effective trances. Going further with this idea, when successful in this pursuit, I have effectively helped them to “end the
trance” or “trance-end” the old habit.

So perhaps the notion of “Enlightenment” is just this… ending the trance of the earlier ego-fixation and enjoying the freedom that this awakening engenders. I would posit that it is in this way that
Hypnosis may, in fact, be a portal to a spiritual experience and a deeper spiritual understanding. It certainly can be a transcendent one.