abnormal state of wakefulness or altered state of consciousness

Trance describes a state of mind. A trance is when a person is conscious, and not sleeping, but is unaware of what is happening around him or her.

The Oracle of Delphi was famous for giving ambiguous advice in a trance-like state
Daydream by Paul César Helleu

The term trance is associated with hypnosis, meditation, magic, flow, religion, and certain kinds of music. It is an "altered state of consciousness".[1][2]

There are many efforts to define what a trance is.[3][4] Some think it is a borderland between normal consciousness and spirituality[5]

The most straightforward example is when a person is hypnotized, they are in a trance. Conscious, and responding to the hypnotist, the person seems to block out other thoughts and other information.

Another common example is the day-dream, where a person's mind drifts across private thoughts.[6] Everyone daydreams, but young children constantly daydream, and have vivid imaginary fantasies. This is entirely normal. In the language of psychology, this kind of temporary separation from one's surroundings is called "dissociation". Research shows that a lot is going on when we daydream.[7][8]

There are many examples of trance in religion. African animistic religions, such as that of the Yoruba, feature dances in celebration of the spirits. Under the influence of rhythm and song, a group dances, often for hours at a time. During this time, various members of the group may fall into trances, and some may act as if possessed by one of the spirits being worshiped.[9][10][11] States of "spiritual ecstasy" are known in most forms of Christian worship. It is a main part of those aspects of religion known as "mysticism".[12]

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  1. Tart, Charles T. 2001. States of consciousness. ISBN 0-595-15196-5
  2. Inglis, Brian 1990. Trance: a natural history of altered states of mind. London, Paladin. ISBN 0-586-08933-0
  3. Wier, Dennis R. 1995. Trance: from magic to technology, p58. ISBN 1-888428-38-4 [1] Archived 2009-12-08 at the Wayback Machine
  4. Wier, Dennis R. 2007. The way of trance. Laytonville, California: Trance Research Foundation. ISBN 978-1-888428-10-0
  5. Horgan, John 2003. Rational mysticism: dispatches from the border between science and spirituality. New York: Houghton Mifflin.
  6. Warren, Jeff 2007. The Daydream in The head trip: adventures on the wheel of consciousness. Toronto: Random House. ISBN 978-0-679-31408-0
  7. Brain's problem-solving function at work when we daydream. ScienceDaily. 2009-05-12 [2]
  8. Kalina Christoff et al 2009. Experience sampling during fMRI reveals default network and executive system contributions to mind wandering. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. [3]
  9. Gonzales-Whippler, Migene 1982. The Santería experience. New York:Original Publications. ISBN 0-942272-15-3
  10. Murphy, Joseph M. 1988. Santería: an African religion in America. Boston: Beacon Press. ISBN 0-8070-1015-4
  11. Thompson, Robert Farris 1983. Flash of the spirit. New York: Vintage. ISBN 0-394-72369-4
  12. McGinn, Bernard 1991. The foundations of mysticism: origins to the fifth century. ISBN 0-8245-1404-1