The State of Hypnosis – A Natural, Hypnotic Trance State

Illustration of the hypnotic trance state

Hypnosis is a totally natural state for the human mind to be in – absolutely everybody has been hypnotized literally thousands of times in their life without necessarily knowing it. You pass through the hypnotic state whenever you go to sleep and when you awaken again. With our help, you can learn how to use these “naturally occurring trance states” for your own self-improvement.

We are all subject to naturally occurring trance states at other times, too. If you have ever been reading, watching TV, or totally engrossed in some other activity, then became gradually aware of somebody saying something like: “Hey! I’m talking to you!” – that is a form of hypnosis. If you have ever driven from point A to point B and wondered whatever happened to point “A½” on the way, several minutes after passing it — that is also a form of hypnosis. Your mind was occupied somewhere else for a few moments while you were driving on “automatic pilot.” In this case, driving has become an autonomic skill, a conditioned response that simply does not need your full conscious attention while everything progresses predictably and “normally.”

And yet, should any emergency have arisen, then you would have been instantaneously alert and would have taken whatever action was necessary. Sometimes, too, this will show up when you are having a conversation with another whilst driving; you will drive quite happily in that autonomic mode until something that needs a specific decision occurs… and the conversation has to stop while you give your whole attention to consciously think about your driving.

Hypnosis is total concentration on an idea or concept

Our brain/mind can only think consciously about one thing at a time; everything else – surroundings, other people, background sounds and so on – is then “invisible” to us. When you are focusing on something you want to do, your attention will become so avid from time to time, that you will be completely unaware of anything else – unless there has been a real need for your attention to switch to something different. That is just about the best state of hypnosis you can get! It is a total concentration on an idea or concept. It is a totally focussed state. This is sometimes referred to as a state of “selective thinking.” In the state of selective thinking, anything which is not directly connected to the current thought process, and which poses no threat to security or survival, is filtered out of conscious awareness.

A totally focussed state means exactly that

A totally focussed state means exactly that. There is only one thing going on in your mind and only one thing you are aware of. All other stimuli is simply ignored or not noticed. Concentrating on what is on the television and being hardly aware of a conversation elsewhere IS hypnosis. Watching television and listening to what somebody else says somewhere is NOT hypnosis. Reading a book and not even realising that another person has entered the room, never mind that they are talking to you, most definitely IS hypnosis. Talking to one person whilst wondering what is being said in somebody else’s conversation is NOT hypnosis. Listening to someone and being completely un-distracted by other conversation, traffic passing by outside, a telephone ringing in another room… that definitely IS hypnosis.

In all states of hypnosis, even though there is no focus upon stimuli other than the required one, there is an awareness of them – which is why everything feels so normal. That awareness is there, even in the deepest of hypnotic states, but it exists along with a recognition of complete lack of interest or concern, and it is only then that you may begin to recognise your own state of hypnosis.

Observable indicators of the state of hypnosis

People often wonder what hypnosis feels like, but the truth is, there is no such thing as a hypnotized feeling. Neither are there any flashing lights to let you know you are in hypnosis. There will not be a point where you suddenly think, “Yeah, I’m there now, I can tell.” Hypnosis does not work like that. However, you may notice some of the following sensations:

  • Deep physical relaxation in all areas of the body.
  • A feeling of heaviness, or for some — near-weightlessness.
  • Breathing tends to become slower, steadier and shallower.
  • Some people may notice a tingling sensation in their fingers.
  • Time distortion; time somehow seems to pass quickly or slowly.
  • Increased emotional arousal, suggestibility and realization.

As for the depth of trance you experience in hypnosis — this will be determined by your own conscious or subconscious limitations. This is why it is often said that “all hypnosis is self hypnosis”, since a hypnotherapist can only guide you to the depth that you yourself allow. The good news is that you do not need to reach a deep state of hypnosis to benefit from our self hypnosis audio recordings. By focusing your mind, you will enter hypnosis, especially by accepting the fact that you will probably not feel hypnotized.

The state of hypnosis is impossible to measure

The odd thing about hypnosis is that it is just about impossible to “measure” it in any way. The brainwave patterns, if they are observed via EEG equipment, show no change whatsoever from the alpha brainwaves of normal relaxation; they definitely do not resemble the theta waves seen during sleep. There are several observable signs during the state of hypnosis, which may occur, such as those listed above, but nothing that is scientifically measurable. This is why there is so much contention over whether hypnosis actually does exist at all. When you have observed it like we have, there will be no doubt whatsoever in your own mind that it does exist.

The hypnotic “trance” state

Hypnosis can be given a myriad of labels and many people choose the word “trance” to describe the experience. I believe it is worth concluding this piece by discussing its suitability as a descriptor for the state of hypnosis, because I do not actually like the word “trance.” I prefer, where I can, to use phrases like hypnotic relaxation or simply, the hypnotic state. This is not always possible though, because of context, so you may see “trance” used on our website and within some of our articles from time to time, including this one.

To me, the word “trance” implies exactly what so many people have assumed hypnosis to be, over the years — a kind of glassy-eyed, staring state of semi-consciousness, in which an individual is totally unaware of all that is going on around them, and totally incapable of doing anything about it. Talk about vulnerability! No wonder many people are suspicious and frightened of the whole process of hypnosis until they discover what it is really all about! In fact, many never do discover what hypnosis actually is, because they are so convinced and frightened by what they imagine will happen or could happen, that they cannot ever let themselves take a chance on finding out.

For those people, the urban myths about hypnosis where the individual who “got stuck” or who “went too far under to ever be brought up again” take hold. They hear, or imagine they hear, about somebody being “turned into a zombie” or see a film where somebody is turned into a fearless killing machine or something as equally wacky. There are plenty more stories like those around.

The irony about it,is that what has allowed them to take those stories “on board” is nothing more than the state which they fear so greatly — hypnosis! People who think like this have actually been hypnotized by their own fantasy work. As was previously mentioned, hypnosis is among other things a total concentration on an idea or concept. Well, there it is. No logic being employed at all, just gallons of imagination and that total concentration, to the point where it begins to feel possible, even real.

Once you truly understand what hypnosis actually is, there is nothing whatsoever to fear.