When we talk about the experience of hypnosis, it is important to know that there is no such thing as a “hypnotized feeling.” There is no specific feeling that is associated with hypnosis. However, there are feelings that can be recognised as belonging to the state of hypnosis and we shall explore some of these sensations.
Please appreciate that everyone has his or her own unique experience of hypnosis, so what one person feels may be entirely different from the next.
Observable indicators of the state of hypnosis
There are a several accurate indicators of the existence of the state of hypnosis. The list that follows is not a checklist, so do not concern yourself with each and every one of them. The truth is that you may only notice two or three of these signs. Let’s have a look at some of them.
Most people, in hypnosis, become so relaxed that, if they are sitting rather than laying down, their head will loll to one side and their facial muscles will sag into total repose, as if they are in a deep sleep (which is, of course, how hypnosis came to be called “hypnosis” in the first place). The mouth will often sag open and it is not unusual for a person to actually dribble quite a bit without being aware of doing so.
Feeling heavy or light
Most people will notice a feeling of heaviness, as though they are sinking into the chair/couch/bed. It is not unusual for you to think that your arms and/or legs “feel as heavy as lead.” On the flip side of that, some people may experience feelings of near-weightlessness, as if they are almost floating. Some people discover the ability to switch between either state at will.
Your breathing will tend to become slower and steadier in hypnosis, sometimes more shallow, too, as the relaxed body needs less oxygen than at other times.
The vast majority of people will experience a tingling sensation in their fingers and hands, sometimes also in the legs and feet. A smaller proportion will also feel it in their facial features.
You will not observe this yourself of course, but a high proportion of individuals will exhibit a facial flush at the onset of hypnosis. It can be as simple as two red spots on the cheekbones, or it can be a darkening of the entire features to the point of looking like a brilliant sunburn effect.
Many people discover itching sensations on the face, especially as the “hypnotic flush” starts to appear. It is almost certainly because the capillary vessels in the facial skin dilate (which causes the flush) and initiate some movement in hair follicles.
A fairly significant number of people will notice this and it is due, of course, to an increased salivary response. Hence, the dribbling mentioned above also tends to occur.
Quite often, it will feel like you have been in hypnosis for only about 5 minutes or so, when it has actually been closer to 20 minutes. Sometimes, it will work in a reverse manner, so you might believe 2 hours or so has passed, when in fact, it has only been about 20 minutes. More often than not, the distortion is roughly in the ratio of 2.5:1, so that 25 minutes seems like 10.
Apparent body distortion
This one might sound scary, but do not worry – it is not. It is only included here because this is something that some people may experience. It can feel as if your body has stretched to twice its normal length or more; or as if it – or part of it (hands, feet, face, and so on) – has become grossly enlarged. Sometimes it can feel as if the arms and legs are twisted into strange positions. It is extremely rare for anybody to be at all concerned about this. It is actually more common for there to be some slight amusement.
Both positive and negative feelings of emotional arousal are very common during hypnosis. These can be feelings of sadness when focusing on negative events from the past or feelings of pure joy when recalling happier times. In between these extremes, you will likely experience all sorts of minor emotional changes, though you may not always be fully aware of why this is happening.
This, of course, is what it is all about! It is this heightened suggestibility that allows us to achieve beneficial change.
In truth, this particular realisation comes after the session. Here, what we are talking about is the fact that many people – maybe even most – for about one tenth of one second after they open their eyes at the end of a hypnotherapy session, will experience a realisation that they have been in an “altered state of awareness” or “somewhere else” in their mind. It is quite similar to that moment when you open your eyes after having dozed off in front of the TV – just for a split second, something feels in some way different, though you would be hard put to define exactly what and how. Sometimes, there is an awareness that you cannot remember as much as you were sure you would while your eyes were still closed.
Non-Observable signs of the state of hypnosis
Here are some more accurate indicators of the state of hypnosis, but these are things you are highly unlikely to be able to observe yourself. Again, this is just a list and it is important to understand that you will not experience all of these things. Some you will, but some you never will. Here they are:
REM (Rapid Eye Movement)
This is the same movement as is exhibited during the REM stage of natural sleep. This is the time when we are most likely to dream. REM is an understandable and natural response to hypnosis.
Invisible to most people, the heart rate will often become considerably lower during hypnosis.
Brain wave cycle
Definitely invisible (unless you’re wired up to a brainwave recording device), the brain waves often change from the usual “Beta” state of normal wakefulness to the “Alpha” state of deep relaxation.
Some people may exhibit a sudden rapid fluttering at the onset of hypnosis, or as they go deeper. It can last for just a second or two, or it can continue for as long as two minutes.
Some people will exhibit a spontaneous opening of the eyes; usually they will close them straight away, though some may not. The gaze is somewhat blank, like a daydreamer’s stare.
This list of indicators is by no means exhaustive and there are a whole host of other phenomena attached to the hypnotic state, which you do not need to concern yourself with.
There is no such thing as a hypnotized feeling
This has been mentioned before but it is worth repeating… there is no special feeling associated with hypnosis that everybody always gets or should get. We have merely gone through a list of the general feelings and sensations that are often associated with hypnosis. Many people would not necessarily recognise many of the sensations they experience in hypnosis unless they were pointed out to them, because they feel so normal. If you feel something completely different to what we have included here, then that is perfectly okay. It does not mean you are “doing it wrong.” It only means that the way you are experiencing hypnosis in a normal, natural, and comfortable way for you.
You are unique and therefore your physiological and psychological experience of hypnosis will be unique. Our advice is simple — relax, close your eyes, let your body’s natural response to hypnosis take place, and enjoy the feelings and sensations that occur within you.