The trance of everyday life


In recent columns, we’ve explored the evolutionary development and potential of the human brain and how new approaches, including mindfulness, can use this knowledge to better manage our emotions and chronic pain.


Clinical hypnosis is a technique used by specially trained health professionals to help an individual engage the subconscious mind to reinforce positive thoughts, emotions and behaviours. It can help you visualize a positive healthier future. The hypnotic or trance state is an altered state of consciousness we naturally fall in and out of each day. Remember the last time you were in a movie theatre totally engaged in the characters and story on the screen? Remember awakening from that trance when the credits rolled and you walked out of the theatre?  How often have you walked or driven home when your mind was elsewhere and you found yourself at home sooner than you expected without thinking about it?


You were in trance as an impressionable toddler and child, during emotionally charged experiences in the past, in a new place that engaged your senses, when you fell in love for the first time, and when you were lost in thought earlier today.


In these uncontrolled trance states, our unconscious is highly sensitive to suggestion. We may have accepted incorrect beliefs about the world, other people and ourselves and these incorrect or maladaptive beliefs shape the stories we tell ourselves. In turn, our personal stories affect our outlook on life and our conscious perspective.


Having suffered from chronic pain in the past, I’ve recognized how easy it is to fall into negative thinking traps or cognitive distortions that actually increased my suffering. Negative thoughts about our pain can include the following. “The pain is just going to get worse.” “I have to take something (drugs or alcohol) to manage the pain.” “I have to find the right test or treatment to cure the pain.” “Because the pain gets worse with activity,…

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