Altered state of consciousness
In order to journey to the other dimensions of existence a shaman induces an altered state of consciousness in him/her similar to a state of self-hypnosis. While in this shamanic trance he is in complete control; able to take his consciousness and subtle bodies into non-physical reality where he visits the heavens and hells of existence, communicates with and controls spirits, gains information, retrieves souls, and makes subtle changes in reality which affects the physical world.
There are many ways to produce this altered or shamanic state of consciousness.
The shamanic trance is similar to but not the same as a self induced hypnotic trance. A classical and fairly accurate descriptive definition of hypnosis is "a condition or state of selective hyper suggestibility brought about in an individual through the use of certain specific psychological or physical manipulations of the individual." The key words here are "selective hyper suggestibility." A trained hypnotherapist uses that selective hyper suggestibility in order to help bring about desired changes in an individual. On the other hand a shaman uses that state in order to fine tune his senses so that he can see, feel, hear, and smell more vividly while travelling in the other worlds.
I believe that you can induce in yourself a state of trance, at will, quickly and easily. You already know what it feels like because you have already been in trance many times, such as those times when you are driving down the road and suddenly realize that you have driven miles without being aware of it; or are reading a book, or watching television or a movie, and are so engrossed that you are not aware of your surroundings. Those are states of trance. Some of the deeper states feel like you feel when you are first waking up in the morning. You are aware that you are awake, your imagery is vivid and dreamlike, and you feel relaxed, calm, and good. All that is necessary for you to go into a shamanic trance is to show you how to bring about that same state of consciousness at will instead of unintentionally. These instructions are only one way. There are others.
THE IMPORTANCE OF PRACTICE
The ability to attain a shamanic trance is the result of cumulative conditioning and mental training.
A weight lifter trains himself by practicing daily. He begins by lifting relatively light weights and progresses to heavier and heavier ones. Eventually he is able to lift a 200 pound weight above his head with relative ease. By working in this manner he has trained his muscles to respond according to his will. After he has reached his goal he can maintain the ability by practicing only two or three times per week. If he stops practicing entirely his muscles will gradually loose their conditioning and strength and, after a time, he will no longer be able to lift the weight. By re-establishing a routine of practice he will bring his ability back to where it was.
This same principle applies to the shamanic trance. You must train your mind to respond in accordance with your will in order to produce the ability to instantly produce a deep shamanic trance. This is done by daily practice. It may take some time and effort to establish that ability, but once you have it you will be able to maintain it by practicing only once or twice per week. If you stop practicing entirely your ability will gradually lessen, like the weight lifter you will need to begin a more regular practice in order to re-establish your abilities.
USING SUGGESTION TO ENTER TRANCE
Several years ago it was noticed that the feelings of relaxation, heaviness, and warmth occurred (in that order) in people just before they went to sleep, and just before they entered a hypnotic trance. Experiments showed that by producing these feelings by suggestion one could bring about the hypnotic or deeply relaxed state.
We are all aware of normal feelings of relaxation. The feeling of heaviness that you experience is actually a deeper muscular relaxation, and the feelings of warmth are even deeper relaxation, called vascular-relaxation. This is the relaxation of your capillaries that allows more blood to flow, and thus creates the feeling of warmth.
The suggestions you use on yourself should be more than words. They should be vividly imagined; incorporating as many of your senses (vision, sound, touch, emotion, and so forth) as you can.
All of the suggestions that you give yourself should be phrased in a positive manner. For example, if you want to induce a state of calm and peacefulness your suggestion might be, "I am getting calmer" or "I am at peace." As you repeat this suggestion to yourself you would imagine yourself being completely at peace, in some calm situation. The suggestion you use should not resemble the phrase, "I am not nervous." That type of suggestion is negative. It will cause your subconscious mind to imagine yourself in a nervous situation, rather than a calm, peaceful one. The subconscious mind grasps the most important word in a sentence. In the phrase, "I am not nervous," the subconscious mind picks up the word "nervous" giving it the greatest emphasis. If you say, "I am at peace," your mind stresses the word "peace."
All suggestions should be given to yourself in a passive manner. You should avoid conscious effort. This is what is called effortless concentration, effortless concentration smoothes the waves of the mind, thus aiding you to get into a deeply relaxed state. Nervousness results when the mind is jumping from one thing, or one subject, to another. When you concentrate on one thing, no matter how insignificant, your mind is soothed.
When you give yourself suggestions you should imagine the conditions under which the desired effects would normally take place. When you give yourself suggestions simply observe the effect on your body. Cooperate with yourself by allowing the suggestions to produce results without resistance.
Initially the suggestions will correspond to the physiological results that you expect to produce. The pattern you will use is designed to first establish a feeling of relaxation; second, a feeling of heaviness; and third, a feeling of warmth. By following this pattern you will increase the total relaxation of your body and mind.
In order to familiarize yourself with the feelings you will be creating mentally, you should first experience the feelings physically. This will allow your mind to reproduce the feelings by memory and make your mental results appear more quickly.
For physical relaxation you might first tense the muscles you want to relax, observe the tension, and then relax them and let your mind dwell on the feeling of relaxation that occurs after tension.
You should use this familiarization method only once or twice to establish the memory pattern, and then use only the suggestion method.