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June 06, 2011

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I realize at this time your trust level with your fellow guests is probably not high. You have control of your shared body and you probably don’t want to accidentally relinquish it. However, there are some skills that require that you practice more self-awareness of what's going on inside your mind, even while you're in control of your body.

Juggling self-awareness with external awareness is not always easy, but is definitely a beneficial skill you can develop. There are many official practices that can help you build self-awareness, such as Zen meditation or mindfulness meditation, light trance techniques, and more.

A note of caution, however: I don't recommend deeper meditation or self-hypnosis for plural/multiple systems on the verge of chaos. In general, multiples are highly suggestible and hypnotizable, and while it's true that we retain filters of what we accept as hypnotic suggestions while in a trance, those filters may change depending on who is Front. Until you have agreed-on filters as an entire system, deeper trance states are best left out of your personal treatment plan.

That said, there's a lot of benefit in using light trance states that allow you more explicit control over your awareness. Since keeping them light is part of the point, we offer some techniques to prevent deeper states of trance.

Here is how we pay attention to what's going on inside while we are front:

First we only do this when we have decent control over our environment and our body is safe in the here & now. If you have a safe moment, you can try this.

We close our eyes, and whomever is in “Front” simply turns around to “see inside” rather than look outside, while still technically in Front, or in control.

This does mean that we’re in a light meditative trance, so that Front doesn’t have to pay attention to the outside world and can dedicate their attention to what's happening inside.

In theory this may present an opportunity for a switch — but we don't worry about it because we have a high trust system. With a portion of Front's attention focused inwards they can "see" if someone is trying to take control and we can consciously attend to potential mischief.

You can take care to remain sitting, and maintain some awareness of the external world such as doing so with some extra sensory input. So since we're trying to see, and our primary sensory is audio/kinesthetic we may do this with upbeat interesting music playing, or while fussing with a fidget, or keeping an awareness of the external space while looking around internally.

The key for us is to keep this type of trance state light: our body is sitting up, not reclining or laying down; we often have a light on and keep the room brightly lit, no blindfold or dim light, etc.; we might have a radio station or other non-trance-inducing sounds; we might open our eyes several times during the exercise then turn our attention back to the inner world. These tricks keep us focused just enough on the here-and-now, external world, and our body that slipping into a deeper trance (or dissociative state) isn’t easy.

Here's some things to avoid when trying to have a light trance state: metronomes, frequent repetitive sounds like shamanic drumming or a clock ticking, dim lights, slow lilting or calming music, constant white noise (fan, motor, running water, air conditioner), blindfolds, ear plugs, monotonous voices, blankets, pillows, the comfy chair, etc. In fact, anything you might use to fall asleep or get ready for a deep meditation or trance work.

I know this may seem funny, but everything you DON'T want when you want to achieve a deep trance state is desirable when you want to keep from falling into a deep trance state.

Here's some potentially desirable things for your environment: unpredictable music, a chilly room, a hard surface, sitting in an uncomfortable position (i.e. cross-legged, lotus, half-lotus, etc.) that requires moving periodically to remain pain-free, an alarm clock or timer set to go off in a couple minutes, wide-awake pets, roommates, neighbors who bang around in other rooms or holding a backyard party, a coo-coo or grandfather clock that chimes on the quarter hour (try electronic timers or meditation timers that can chime every 3 or 5 minutes), keeping your eyes open, balancing a book on your head, leaving the TV on an annoying loud and random show with plenty commercials, and finally:

extremely short sessions until you have it down.

Set an alarm for 30 seconds to 1 minute to start. Wait at least a half hour between attempts (doing something completely different, preferably physical like wash the dishes or sweep up) and work your way by 30-second or 1 minute increments to 5 minutes of light trance. That's probably about all you need! Keep this skill lightweight and quick.

Trance states aren't for everyone, but when we have internal meetings, just a couple (external) minutes of light trance and the meeting can be over quite quickly.

If this is too worrisome for you as front or host, you can get out a notebook and take notes for future internal meetings. Act as secretary; track the agenda, summarize conversation if any, note who has voted for or against the items to be voted on, etc. You may not get a visual sense of a meeting taking place if you choose this method, but you also won’t be fully inside your inner world and anxious about losing control.

There are other alternative ways to participate in meetings, so if you have problems with trance states, please leave a message in the comments and I'll make more suggestions.

Oh, one more thing -- as you might already know, time inside the system and objective external time as measured by clocks are not the same. A meeting may seem like it takes an hour inside, but outside only a few minutes have passed. Internal conversations can take place at the speed of thought.

Other Posts in June 2011

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