You may have heard that the act of dreaming is a result of our subconscious mind. It involves rapid eye movement. Hallucinations, trance, hypnosis, and daydreaming are somewhat related concepts. They are all affiliated with our conscious minds. In other words, these notions are an altered state of consciousness. It can be spontaneous or induced. In this article, we elaborate on the concept, be it spontaneous or induced. Along with that, we link it with various cultural, psychological, and medical practices.
In general, ASC is either the result of possession or the emancipation of the soul from the physical being. Many people view that this happens when supernatural creatures own the body. This altered state of consciousness emerges. It makes the person different from his/her own original persona. An individual’s possessed behavior is unnatural under the influence of supernatural beings.
There can be minor tremors in the arms and legs alongside changes in the verbal and vocal utterances. But, an altered state of consciousness is also considered therapeutic. It can induce new awareness to bring about positive changes in a body. There are positive ways to have an altered state of consciousness. Meditation, introspection, yoga, trance, and hypnosis are all such practices. Let us look into some of the practices used in different cultures.
Archaeologists have discovered many practices of the Neolithic Era in North-Western Europe. This was visible through their images carved on the walls. The structures created acoustics. As a result, in utter darkness, the music would induce an altered state of consciousness.
Indo-European groups of the Iron Age used liquid serum named melilot. This was a medicine of spiritual purification. This medication introduced an altered state of consciousness. It brought about changes in an individual’s manner of speaking.
Maori culture used a herbal medicine named Maori kava. This introduced a state of mind. In this state, an individual communicated with supernatural and extraterrestrial beings. The same practice was also found in a polynesian group, the Tongans. They had a medicinal drink called ‘awa’. The Olmecs were the first major civilization in the area now known as Mexico. They used the venom extracted from the parathyroid gland of a marine toad. This venom with tobacco induces hallucinations within the people under treatment.
Likewise, the Maya society is also known to create a mead-like drink known as ‘balche’. They created it from the extracts of the plant Longocarpus longistylus. It created hallucinations. These practices show that an Altered State of Consciousness was a norm. People wanted their spiritual development through the purification of their souls.
There are situations where an individual feels so messed up. They wish to escape from the regular routines accompanied by troubles and responsibilities. This is not something happening with us. Rather, this perplexity has continued to bewilder humans in every age. From time to time, the quasi-pharmacologists tried to extract hallucinogens. They obtained it from different plants and animals. It helped to bring about changes in an individual’s behavior. These herbal drinks existed so that an individual could become positive.
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You may have seen a cartoon holding a watch into the eyes of another character. He would be repeating this sentence: ‘you are getting sleepy…sleepy…sleepy’. The result of this iterative response was the droopy eyes of the other character. It was the influence of the therapist. The patient was going unconscious till he got to sleep at the end. If you thought that it is all fiction, think again.
Hypnosis is an actual institutional practice. People practice it to introduce an altered state of consciousness. They call it inducing a state of ‘trance’. In this state of mind, an individual is free from all kinds of external influences. He listens to the person who induced it only. This tells us that the individual undergoing trance has focus and concentration. He is aware of the immediate surroundings and would consider it as the utmost reality. Hypnosis is generally carried out by using a swaying object. The person creates mental images alongside verbal sentences.
Once the individual enters the altered state of consciousness, he/she feels relaxed. This practice is generally adopted to help individuals. It can help them gain solid control over their fears and apprehensions. Psychologists often use this technique to ease the patient. There are courses and certifications offered in this field too.
People’s phobias are self-induced. These issues have nothing to do with inherited disorders or physiological problems. Psychologists say that these problems are treatable. Few therapeutic sessions are able to help individuals get rid of their worries. They turn out the best version of themselves.
There are various contexts where hypnosis turns out to be quite useful. Many individuals undergoing cancer treatment can be anxious and fearful. This can cause their health to decline faster than the rate at which cancer cells are being treated. Hypnosis acts as a source of providing relief to such individuals. It can help regain the strength of those who have lost their hope of returning back to life.
Many women get depressed with the onset of adolescence. The consequent bedwetting incidents due to menstrual cycles are also a major cause. The hormonal changes during the pregnancy may also create distressing experiences. Furthermore, menopause may also cause high blood pressure. It can also cause an unprecedented feeling of anxiety. Hypnosis is helpful in such scenarios. This treatment provides relief to all such women. It helps them to make themselves stronger. In this way, they are able to cope with the natural biological changes happening with the passage of time.
Thus, altered states of consciousness do help in understanding the intricate human behaviors. We are able to sympathize with the sufferings of humanity. It is high time that we focus on understanding these issues of mental health around us.