Trance – What is it like to be hypnotized?
Natural Trance vs. Hypnotic Trance
The trance state is not unusual. Have you ever daydreamed? Of course you have. Well, daydreaming is an example of a trance. Have you ever missed a freeway exit, because you were lost in thought or you were absorbed in a conversation with your passenger? Have you ever been so absorbed in what you were doing that you didn’t hear someone talking to you? These are all examples of trances – that’s how commonplace it is.
Trance is an everyday natural phenomenon. It’s so natural that it’s called “naturalistic” trance as compared to “hypnotic“. Naturalistic trance is a natural occurrence which provides the nervous system time to digest all the information that it has been processing. Research shows that we tend to go into a very light naturalistic trances every 90 to 120 minutes.
Trance is characterized by narrowed attention, dissociated awareness, heightened suggestibility, and increased rapport with and access to the unconscious mind.
Hypnosis differs from naturalistic trance in at least three ways. First, it occurs intentionally, rather than accidentally. Secondly, it typically is deepened beyond the light naturalistic state. Finally, the hypnotic trance is applied to a therapeutic purpose.
How Hypnotic Trance is Typically Experienced
Typically my clients experience hypnosis as a state of profound relaxation during which they nevertheless are aware of my voice. Trance is not sleep. In trance you will remember as much of what happened during the session as you would from any casual conversation. And amnesia of what occurred in the session is very uncommon. You can emerge from the state of hypnosis any time you wish to, and you can reject any suggestions which seem uncomfortable or conflict with your beliefs.
When hypnotized, you are not immobilized. You can change position, scratch, sneeze, or cough. You can still hear sounds around you, like a phone ringing. You can open your eyes and bring yourself “out” at any time you wish. You can alert yourself and respond to any situation that needs your immediate attention. You remain oriented as to person, place, and time. You can even hold conversation.
There is no “right” way for you to experience trance. There is only your way. Some of my clients experience hypnosis as a deep, heavy restful feeling. (As a matter of fact, it’s not uncommon for a client to report that their trance was the most relaxed experience they have ever had.)
Still, other clients may experience trance as a light, floating sensation. Some clients hear every word spoken by me. Others allow their minds to drift to other thoughts. Sometimes clients experience hypnosis as drifting away and drifting back, going back and forth. Some experience vivid imagery. Others don’t. Some clients remember the suggestions they hear. Others forget them (and that can be helpful). Every person’s experience of hypnosis is unique.
When hypnotic trance is experienced deeply, clients may experience different hypnotic phenomena such as time distortion, sensory distortion, positive and negative hallucinations.
Any mentally healthy person who wants to be hypnotized can do so. As effective as hypnotic trance is, it’s important to keep in mind that it is not magic. You also may have to put some effort into the desired change in order to be successful.