Traditional or Indigenous Forms of Trance-like Practices Similar to Modern Hypnosis

Indigenous Practices Similar to Hypnotherapy
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Traditional and indigenous cultures around the world have various practices that involve altered states of consciousness or trance-like states, some of which share similarities with modern hypnosis. The following are some examples:

Shamanic Rituals

Shamanic practices, found in many indigenous cultures, often involve entering altered states of consciousness to communicate with spirits, perform healing, or gain insights. These practices may include drumming, chanting, dancing, and the use of psychoactive substances.


Meditative Practices

Meditation has been practiced in various forms across cultures for thousands of years. Techniques such as focused attention, mindfulness, and visualization can induce altered states of consciousness similar to those experienced in hypnosis.


Spiritual Healing

Many cultures have traditional healing practices that involve altered states of consciousness. For example, in some African cultures, healers may enter trance-like states to diagnose and treat illness through spiritual means.


Ritual Dance and Music

Ritualistic dance and music are used in many cultures to induce altered states of consciousness. These practices may involve repetitive movements, rhythmic drumming, and chanting, all of which can alter the participant’s state of mind.


Sensory Deprivation

Some cultures use sensory deprivation techniques, such as prolonged fasting, isolation, or sensory overload, to induce altered states of consciousness. These practices can lead to heightened suggestibility and altered perceptions similar to those experienced in hypnosis.



Various breathing techniques, such as holotropic breathwork or pranayama in yoga, can induce altered states of consciousness by altering the balance of oxygen and carbon dioxide in the body, leading to feelings of euphoria, relaxation, or expanded awareness.


Ceremonial Plants

The use of psychoactive plants, such as ayahuasca in South America or peyote in North America, is deeply ingrained in the spiritual practices of certain indigenous cultures. These substances can induce profound altered states of consciousness that may involve visions, insights, and healing experiences.

These practices vary widely across cultures and are often deeply intertwined with spiritual beliefs, healing traditions, and community rituals. While they may differ in their specific techniques and cultural contexts, they share commonalities with modern hypnosis in their ability to induce altered states of consciousness and facilitate healing, transformation, and spiritual growth.

Picture of Annemieke Van Dam
Annemieke Van Dam

Transformational, Life and Wellness Coaching and Hypnotherapy