Updated: Dec 24, 2022
Trance induction or meditation or whatever you want to call it, is considered a cornerstone of magical practice, and with good reason. The shift in consciousness that comes with proper trance states is vital to get things inside our head where they can be useful. Often though, this is often caught up in a kind of elitism. When we are used to these things, I think we can sometimes forget how hard some of them can actually be.
Here's what I think folks should start with, and it's really simple. Sit down, shut up and breathe.
1. Get comfortable - the first step here is to learn to actually sit still. actual stillness is hard. You'll feel energy that makes you want to move. Absolutely you will. Actual stillness is a way I raise energy for magic sometimes. Just because you move though, doesn't mean you should end the exercise. Just reset, and go back to it. I want you to stick with it until you have to get up and move around. Then do it again tomorrow. This stillness is actually important, and induces trance in and of itself. There are many ways to sit, or lay. Eastern practices give you different types of positions to sit in that supposedly have different effects, but honestly, something that you're going to be able to hold for a while and not fall asleep in is all that's actually required.
2. Breathe - This is one where everyone wants to give you counts, and patterns and such. Yes, I'm well aware that given the average person, a 4/2/4/2 cyclical breath has effects on the mind, but people can get all tangled up in the process. To start with, I want you to just breathe. Yeah, it does help to count sometimes, but to start with, the fact that there IS a pattern is more important than the pattern itself. Trances are induced by the regular attention paid to the trance itself. Just breathe, deep and full, and add pauses in at the top and bottom of your breath. The idea here is each breath in and out are the same length as each other. I usually find that counting in my head helps.
3. Shut up - This isn't even about what you do out loud, but about your inner voice. It's natural for the mind to run from trance work as you start controlling the body. The reason your mind resists isn't actually important. Trances are triggered when the mind is quieter. This is something that you'll struggle with to a certain extent all your life. Your trance doesn't actually care if your mind is silent, the quieter it is, the deeper the trance state will be. Yes, if you're counting, you'll have to get that pattern set, then stop. I actually suggest while you're learning that the counting that you do for your breath helps to occupy the mind, and is a regular pattern OF internal voice that can give your mind something to do, so it can learn to be quieter.
This isn't exactly the optimal way to do some of this long term, I'm well aware of that, but it's a good first step that's approachable for everyone. Trance is tricky, you can be doing it just fine, and not realize it. I agree with this, that you have to adapt your meditation to your particular situation.
How do you know when you're there?
It's exactly true that a light to even medium trance state is something that you can fall into easily without even realizing you're there. There's a subtlety to trance work that you don't always catch properly. There are a few things you can look for that will tell you you've found it though. I would describe my first hint at trance to be that everything feels like it's slowed down or sharpened. Even if all I do is open my eyes and everything seems to have a certain amount of sharpness or clarity to it, that's the beginning of that trance state for me. Then we have a feeling of being connected, in touch with everything around me in a certain context. This is what I always kind of figure is the beginning of useful magickal trance spaces. It's that feeling things outside my body kind of in the same way as I'm aware of things in my body, allows for the proper movement and conduction of energy. After that, you start to look into specialized types of trance for different types of magical work.
Hopefully as simple as this is, it's something that helps folks not to panic over doing it wrong. We can get all nitpicky over techniques, but mostly I find that this just gets in the way of proper trancework.