The Work: Seeing your Egoic Trances


DR BREN’s Life Coaching for the Soul, in essence, is about seeing and transcending your egoic trances (or what Jung called “complexes) such that your soul can live.

We naturally have two selves: ego , which is the center of our physical being and the psychological construct associated with the brain, and soul, which is the center of our spiritual or eternal being.

Ultimately, life on this planet is about coming to know your soul, your eternal being. If you don’t achieve this egoic transcendence, then you will be stuck in the physical plane of reincarnation until you do, destined to the historical cycles we have created on earth.

So, what is an egoic trance?

Perhaps it is best to speak about what Jung described as a psychological complex, since the egoic trance is the “response” to a trigger or stimulus. (Click on the image below to see the diagram describing Jung’s idea of the psychological complex.)


Ego is essentially composed of psychological complexes. These complexes are, most often, formed in childhood as a defensive response to a situation or environment overwhelming and dangerous to the child.

In fact, the purpose of ego is to keep the physical being alive. These complexes are only symptomatic if they lead to destructive results, or, according to DR BREN”s Life Coaching for the Soul, if they lead to deprivation of the soul.

A psychological complex is triggered by a stimulus resulting in an intense emotional response / reaction, and a shrinking of focus and attention.

For instance, you see a Red Saab and it reminds you of your ex-boyfriend’s car which then causes you to cry because you miss him. This complex can swallow up all of your “present-moment awareness,” such that you become lost in your thoughts and emotions around this relationship, only to wake up minutes or hours later to realize you have driven all this way without knowing how you got there. (I’m very grateful we have an subconscious good-driving complex that operates the vehicle.)

Some Jungians say that we are always in a complex. I don’t agree; there are times when we are in soul (profound experiences of spirit, nature, art, etc.) which is definitely not a complex. If we are not in soul, then, yes, we are in a complex. Keep in mind complexes, in and of themselves, are not good or bad, they are simply basic structures of the ego.

Having said all that the trance is essentially the response to the trigger. In our example, it is when she got lost in her thoughts and feelings about her ex-boyfriend.

Most often, when you are in a trance you are unconscious and not present with the moment or the people around you.

In most cases, we do not have control of the stimulus, but we do have control over the trance (response) that corresponds to the trigger (stimulus).

How do you come to know your trances?

For the most part, you can only come to know your trances after you have come out of one, and in reflection you realize you lost touch with your body and the present moment. It is at this moment “the work” begins. In your conscious reflection try to record in your journal the triggers and mental and emotional associations that made up your trance. The one who can reflect on egoic trances is your true self, your soul. In particular, notice when and what you ruminated over, when it was in the past or future, and whether it was negative or positive.

It matters less for you to know the origin of your trances, as it does to understand the process. Understanding the process of your trance allows you to choose a different and conscious response.

Note: For more information about trances, see Stephen Wolinsky’s Trances People Live.

Self Mastery as a Way of Life


Life Coaching is about self-mastery or psyche mastery. Where Psychotherapy is about healing psychological dysfunctions with an emphasis on pathology, Life Coaching is about teachings and practices related to understanding how the psyche works: how the mind, heart and soul function in the world. Jungian Psychology is perfectly suited for life coaching since it steers clear of diagnoses and focuses on how the psyche functions.

What is Self-mastery?

Mastery is a way of life, not a goal. It is the path of committed practice and dedication without regard to destination. Anyone can become a master if they are willing to stay on the path and stick with it through the inevitable pitfalls and plateaus of learning.

Perhaps, the most important topic of mastery, in my opinion, is the self. If we don’t know how our “self” functions then how can we master anything? Everything in the world presents itself to and through our psyche which means everything is psychological. So it follows that understanding psyche should be a pre-requisite for all those working towards excellence in their life. Here is a link to the life practices I recommend.

The Pitfalls of Mastery

George Leonard, the author of Mastery: The Keys to Success and Long-term Fulfillment, identifies three character types that fail to become Masters: the Dabbler, the Obsessive, and the Hacker.

The Dabbler starts every new skill with enormous enthusiasm. He loves the newness of it all reveling in the first spurts of progress. However, at the first falloff his enthusiasm fades, boredom ensues and he begins to rationalize why this new skill is not for him.

The Obsessive is focused on bottom-line results, She will not settle for second best. She wants to get it right in the first lesson, staying after class to talk to the instructor, and buying every book she can on how to master this skill. Her first spurt of progress is expected; and she expects to continue in this fashion until she is number one. She pushes herself mercilessly. However, the higher she pushes herself, the bigger the fall and eventually she gets hurt.

The Hacker is altogether different from the Dabbler and the Obsessive in that he is willing to be mediocre forever. He is the tennis player that never learned the strokes, just whacking at the ball any which way. He knows a few things and thinks he knows it all. He is not willing to change, instead clinging to security and safety at the expense of mastery.

Keys to Success

5 Keys to Mastery

Leonard identifies five keys to mastery: instruction, practice, surrender, intentionality and the edge. No matter what skill you apply these keys to, if you follow this wisdom and sustain your practice even when you think you are going nowhere, you will eventual become a master.


If you want to become a master find a master teacher. To find the right teacher, look at their credentials, lineage, and experience. In addition and perhaps more important, look at the teacher’s pedagogical style and philosophy. Unlike other coaches and therapists I share these important details about myself on my website.


Mastery is practice, and practice is mastery. The key to getting to the place of where practice is a treasured part of your life is enduring the inevitable plateaus of practice. We are so societally trained to achieve that when learning goes flat we tend to abandon our practices. But the true master has learned to observe the subtleties in the moment and commits to her practice without the hoping for future rewards.


The true master not only surrenders to his teacher and his practice, he surrenders his rigid ideas of himself. In order to learn one has to give up knowing. Seems ironic but it is critical for mastery. A true master never knows because he is always learning, and everyone is his teacher. He is always willing to surrender something known for the unknown. To continue on the path of mastery often means skills learned must also be unlearned in order to move to the next level of mastery. If the plateau has been reached, then most likely a skill needs to be broken down in order to be built up again.


All the great athletes rely heavily on visualizations. For them the mind is as important as the body. In life coaching I am often trying to help people bring their bodies back in sync with their minds. The goals of their life must have an experiential reference, a feeling or being state associated with the mind state they are trying to achieve. Furthermore, often I recognize unconscious ego intentions that are disrupting their conscious desires. The key to mastery is to know both your conscious and unconscious intentions and focus them on the goals of practice.

The Edge

The edge is the collective limits of your skill. A true master does not stop at the collective limits but continues setting new goals for others to follow. This is when you know that mastery has no end, it is a bottomless chasm of possibilities.

I send many blessings on your path to self-mastery.