While it sounds not only very possible but frightening as well, the concept of getting stuck in trance is nothing to worry about. It can happen, but not in the way most people envision. Here, we’ll take a look at why it can happen, what it actually is and how to bring yourself and your subjects safely back to alert wakefulness.
What is ‘Getting Stuck?’
Occasionally, a person will resist coming back to the waking world once they are in trance. The main reason for this is actually quite benign – trance is simply a very relaxing place to be, and often our minds want to remain there as long as possible! In other cases, a subject will fall asleep. Although they appear to be ‘stuck,’ they’re actually just taking a little nap. In very rare cases, a subject will remain in a trance-like state against their will, and despite attempts to bring them back to alert wakefulness. While this can be frightening for subject and hypnotist alike, there is no real danger as long as the subject is watched carefully until they are fully alert.
If Your Subject Gets Stuck
In a typical, traditional hypnosis session, you will end by gently walking your subject back through their induction method, or perhaps by simply counting backward and commanding them to wake. If your subject is not responding or still seems to be slightly in trance, there are several things you can try to bring them back.
Your first step is to repeat the backward-induction or countdown. Walk them back up the staircase, back through the nature scene, or whatever the case may be. Sometimes it takes a few tries before a subject is ready to wake up, and these gentle urgings are often all that’s needed. Remind them that when they awake, they will feel wonderfully refreshed and energized – these reminders can help entice the subconscious into giving up the relaxed peace of trance.
If you still encounter resistance, you can become more direct. Address your subject as you would a sleeping person. Say their name and tell them it’s ‘time to wake up,’ In the event that they still won’t come back to reality, you can very gently pat their hands, arms or face. Avoid smacking or slapping them – this could leave a negative imprint associated with trance, making it more difficult for them to enter trance in the future.
If You Get Stuck
It’s much less likely for a person practicing self-hypnosis to become stuck in trance, but it does occur occasionally. If you find yourself in this situation, simply treat yourself as you would a subject. The experience is an odd one, with part of your mind realizing that it’s time to wake up and another part resisting. However, don’t let this frighten you. Keep calm and firmly remind yourself that while it’s now time to wake up, you can return to this peaceful place anytime you wish.
If you feel a bit ‘out of it’ after a self-hypnosis session, try splashing some cold water on your face. This time-honored trick works extremely well in bringing your mind fully back to reality.
Regardless of whether the ‘stuck’ individual is yourself or a subject, you must remember a few basic safety guidelines. Under no circumstances should a ‘foggy’ subject, including yourself, drive a car until they are fully alert. Even walking down the street can be hazardous in this condition, as the mind is not fully alert to any potential dangers.
If you are a bit slow in coming out of a self-hypnosis session, give yourself plenty of time before getting up and doing anything potentially dangerous. Sip some very cold water, breathe deeply, and give yourself plenty of time to become fully orientated with your surroundings.
Observe a subject in the same way – don’t allow them to leave until you’re completely certain that they are fully alert. You may want to bring them a glass of ice water. If they’re a coffee drinker, a few sips may give them a welcome caffeinated boost. Encourage them to walk around the room and take deep breaths. Swinging their arms vigorously can also help to get their blood moving and contribute to alertness. If the room is warm, you might open a window to give them fresh, cool air. Talking with them – about anything – is also a great way to focus their mind on now.