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Reader question: Falling asleep in trance sessions?

I’ll paraphrase a question I received from a reader on the trance portion of my trading course:

When I do the trance recordings I get so relaxed that I sometimes fall asleep and remember nothing after the session. Rather than reclining, I’ve tried sitting in a meditation posture, but I wonder if that makes the session less effective. How can I deal with this?

Just to make sure we are all on the same page, my trading course includes a fairly extensive set of meditative/hypnotic trance sessions that are designed to help traders figure out what they would like to change with their behavior or attitude, and then to give you the actual tools to make those changes. The feedback to this portion of the course (available here. Registration required, but completely free) has been overwhelmingly positive, enough so that I broke the psychological work out onto its own page and created a “mini course”, and I may expand this work in the future. Two important points: 1) these tools will not magically change you. They are tools, and powerful tools at that, but only you can decide to change you. You have to do the work. 2) Having said that, these are powerful tools. They belong in the context of careful thought and introspection, which is why they come where they do in the course, and why there are psychological modules before them. I suspect your ability to harm yourself with these tools is somewhat limited, but it’s still possible. Be smart, and really consider what you are doing. (For instance, let’s say you wanted to work on “being fearless”. Do you see any potential problems with that idea?)

061114_0508_MeditationG1.jpgI’d like to make two points to answer this question. Falling asleep is not the worst thing that could happen. Some hypnotists think that falling asleep is not bad at all, because part of your mind is still open and receptive when you are asleep. Since the sessions are relatively short, you certainly are not falling into deep sleep so you probably remain more aware than you realize. However, these are fairly cognitive sessions (as opposed to more experiential), so staying more engaged is probably better.

I’d recommend trying a few things: first, adjust your posture. Perhaps sit in a comfortable chair, which is a nice middle ground between reclining or sitting cross-legged. Consider the time of day you do these sessions. When are you most alert? Try doing the sessions then. Also, there’s nothing wrong with using a little caffeine to stay alert–monks and meditators drink tea before and while meditating, and there’s even a folk tale that says Bodhidharma cut off his eyelids to stay awake while meditating, and the first tea trees grew from where his eyelids fell tot he ground. Try drinking a cup of green tea ten minutes or so before beginning a session (though the diuretic effect can be problematic.)

Last, some trance sessions are designed so that you forget. Let’s say, for instance, we were working one on one and were working on the idea that “you learn and assimilate new information quickly and easily.” Now, imagine your conscious mind resists that idea, and thinks that you are actually bad at learning. Every time you think about the trance session, there is a little nagging voice that says,”No. You are not good at this”, effectively contradicting the work we are doing. In that case, I would suggest something like this while in trance: you will have no conscious memory of this session when you return to waking consciousness. You don’t need to remember what we do here in trance. You may find you remember a little bit, but it quickly fades… like a dream quickly forgotten. It’s ok to forget what we do here. Just let it go…. etc. That suggestion can be very powerful and very effective.

As an interesting story, several years ago I was working on some trance recordings for myself. I was frustrated that I did not think I was slipping into trance, even though I had done so many times in the past. (This is a common problem with hypnosis–subjects, even experienced subjects, cannot tell they are in trance.) I added the “forgetting” suggestion to my sessions and was amazed to discover a huge, gaping black hole in my memory at the end of the sessions. It is odd: you are completely engaged, and you think you are completely conscious while doing the session, but, at the end, you have a clear experience of memories being blacked out of your timeline. The recordings in the course do not include such a “forgetting” suggestion, simply because I thought it was inappropriate. Too many people will do these, and some of them may be apprehensive about the sessions. Even though the “forgetting” aspect can make the session much more effective, I thought it best to omit it, but you may go into the session reminding yourself that “it is ok to forget what we do here today.”

Bottom line: try to stay awake, but the session is probably effective even if you fall asleep.

AdamHGrimes

Adam Grimes has over two decades of experience in the industry as a trader, analyst and system developer. The author of a best-selling trading book, he has traded for his own account, for a top prop firm, and spent several years at the New York Mercantile Exchange. He focuses on the intersection of quantitative analysis and discretionary trading, and has a talent for teaching and helping traders find their own way in the market.
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