There are three chief and most essential factors to be considered :
(1) Your mental and physical health must be quite up to the standard. If you are depleted, exhausted, or “run down” physically, if you are suffering from any disease, or if, on the other hand, you are full of fear, apprehension and doubts, or if anger and similar thoughts rage in your soul, you may anticipate a difficult time in your development and unpleasant experiences throughout that slow process.
(2) You should be careful to keep your self consciousness active and alert when entering trance. Do not give yourself up completely or allow the mind to become a blank at first. Give yourself up in every other way but this. You must always keep in the background of your mind the thought: “I am I … I am so-and-so (your name) … I will remain in my body. … I am strength and power … I will not be influenced against my will by forces other than good. … I can always return to myself when I want to.”
These and similar suggestions you must give to yourself, and hold them in your mind as a central point of force while entering trance, even when allowing yourself to become passive in every other way. If you do this, you will avoid a great deal of difficulty and danger.
(3) If you can in any way assure yourself that you have a band of spirits or controls “on the other side” who are ready and willing to help you, this would mean much. A good medium or clairvoyant could probably tell you whether this is the case, and the nature of the intelligences who are trying to influence and act upon you.
If these are described as evil, you had best postpone your development until this condition changes. If, on the contrary, they are described as good and helpful, you may proceed, subject to the above precautions and advice.
In order to induce trance spontaneously in yourself you should proceed, more or less as follows:
Begin by gazing for some time at a bright object, such as a reflected light, coming from a mirror, crystal-ball, etc.
This will tend to tire the eyes and nerves slightly and bring about a dazed condition which is usually the beginning of trance. While looking at the bright object, breathe deeply and regularly through the nose and from the diaphragm. You must not let this distract your attention, however, as all the bodily processes should be unconscious. If you have already practiced deep breathing, as before explained, you should by this time be so far advanced that you can do so at will without consciously thinking of it.
While looking at the bright object, do not concentrate or think of anything in particular, beyond keeping yourself conscious and remembering all the time that you are “yourself,” that you are not leaving your body and that you are not going to become totally unconscious.
During this process the room should be as quiet as possible, though some monotonous sound such as the ticking of a large clock, might assist matters. Do not listen to this consciously, however abolish all feelings of fear and all anxiety, as such mental states will effectually prevent you from entering the trance condition. “Let yourself go” and develop as far as possible.
There are all grades and degrees of trance, from the very light stage, in which there is but little difference from the ordinary waking consciousness, to that degree of deep trance where the medium is totally unconscious of everything that passes around him. Very deep trance of this character is rare, but many of the most famous mediums have got their best messages while in that condition. The famous Mrs. Piper of Boston had almost to die, to all outward appearances, before she could enter this deep trance, and at the end of two hours or so, during which the trance lasted, the only signs of life were slow respiration and heart beat. The only signs of consciousness were manifest in the right hand and arm which did the automatic-writing.
Many test-mediums and sensitives, on the other hand, pass into a stage of trance so light, that no one but an expert could detect any trance at all. Yet, in many such cases, no memory of the condition remains after the trance is finished. These light trances differ but slightly from cases of day-dreams, absent-mindedness, etc., when we say to a person, half in joke: “You are in a trance!” By shades and degrees this becomes deeper, as the state becomes more profound and lower and lower layers or strata of the subconscious mind are reached, Mrs. Piper had three distinct “layers” of this character. The first differed slightly from the waking state. In this condition she talked. The second condition was far deeper trance and in this stage spirits were seeu instead of human beings. In the third or deepest stage speech was usually absent and automatic writing occurred.
In trance, we may assume that there is a gradual and fluctuating control of the medium’s mind and body by the communicating spirit, and that, as one vacates or is driven out by the invading intelligence, the latter is able to control, more and more effectually, the medium. Just as “two solid bodies cannot be in the same place at the same time,” so two spirit intelligences cannot occupy and control the same body at the same moment.
When once the fact of spirit control is granted, the nature and character of this control remains to be solved. How does the spirit manipulate the brain and nervous mechanism of the medium, to bring about the desired results. What parts of the brain are used, and how? These and many similar questions remain to be answered; and it may take many years of scientific research before we are enabled to answer queries such as these with any degree of confidence.