Self perception is consciousness of self through the five senses, your sixth sense takes you to a new level of perception, this can be tapped through hypnosis, trance states, dreams, deep meditation, all of which are altered states of consciousness leading to spiritual connection. Julius Caesar often attained an altered state of consciousness, this was considered being in good favour with the gods. Joan of Arc was able to attain a deeply meditative state and believed she was guided by spiritual beings.
Often groups and tribes are taught from very young how to enter a trance state, allowing them to tap into supernatural forces. African-descended Pentecostals (Shakers), who would like to become elders, take part in a ceremony whereby they mourn their past misdemeanours. They lie blindfolded for as long as two weeks, taking very little sustenance, as they reach a heightened state of being, they are able to atone for their past sins. The Haitian Vodou use deep meditation rituals to invoke spirits for guidance and healing. Some groups use plants or herbs, the properties of which bring about altered states. The Shaman among the Campa of Peru take the hallucinogen ayahuasca, this leads to a deep trance state, while the Shaman is in this state rituals are conducted. The whole group of the Huichol of Mexico ingest peyote while under the guidance of the Shaman, this allows them to reach an altered state.
The Haitian Vodou bring about altered states through particular drumbeats, in their heightened state they are able to invoke spirits for guidance and healing, these ceremonies are intricate and can go all night. It is believed that each spirit resounds to its own specific drumbeat, dancing accompanies these elaborate rituals. The Shango cult of Trinidad in the West Indies embrace beliefs marrying the philosophies of the Yorumba people of West African with Christianity. Possession is sought during group ceremonies, anyone possessed is referred to as a “horse,” and they are to be “ridden” by the possessing spirit, thus giving them leeway to act in a manner otherwise frowned upon. This is especially freeing for female subjects who may act in a dominant manner otherwise not acceptable. While possessed the subject can ask the spirit to settle disputes among the people.
For the layman to achieve an altered state of consciousness, sensory deprivation is necessary, this is done by removing yourself from the trammels of day to day life, no telephone, mobile phone, computer, television, music, chatter, white noise. Learning to be still and meditate for periods of time each day will lead to enlightenment, as it is only while you are still and have no distractions that you are able to reach an altered state of being. The opposite of sensory deprivation is sensory enhancement, particular sounds such as rhythmic drumming, the ringing of bells and chants can bring about a heightened sense of being. Yoga helps to clear the mind and still the senses and can be a type of meditation, as the physical and mental are in a state of relaxation. Inspiration flows during times of meditation or altered states, things become clearer, and at times insurmountable problems dissolve as answers are attained while the conscious mind is resting. By meditating for as little as 20 minutes a day, perceptions become clearer, you will feel inspired, for those who are creative, ideas will be born, as it is only while there is stillness or rhythmic sound that spiritual guidance and answers can be found. Someone who is in a trance state receives communication from spiritual beings, at times the spirit can enter the person allowing them to channel information, this information can be prophetic or advisory, usually this happens when there is an audience. Women are more likely to channel a spirit than men as they are more susceptible, although anyone in an altered state, male or female, is hypersusceptible. Spiritual healers, when in deep trance, are able to perform operations without anaesthetic, the patient is also in an altered state.
There are different types of spirit possession depending on the particular culture, there are four types of possession among the Kalabari of West Africa and three among the Tonga of central Africa. In many groups possession is a way of the individual gaining social status if only while in the throes of possession. Some of the spirits entering the Sakalava of northwest Madagascar are deceased royalty (called tromba), those possessed by tromba attain social status within their group.
Those wishing to attain an altered state can do so through regular meditation, there is more opportunity to reach a trance state, during a group meditation class, most spiritualist groups have people who regularly go into trance states and then address the group, or perform spiritual healing. By joining a group you can learn from those who are adept in the field of the paranormal.