What is Hypnosis

19 August 2019

DESPITE POPULAR MISCONCEPTIONS, going into a trance is an ability all humans naturally possess. It’s like having the ability to walk or talk or see. Those are all natural abilities a person can put to a variety of different uses, and the same is true of hypnosis.

You experience trance every day

Cartoon of a man sitting chin in hands, with a daydream bubble of being fishing

Have you ever found yourself at work gazing distantly out of the window, your mind a million miles from the office and filled with thoughts of the weekend ahead? That’s a trance.

Have you ever been totally engrossed in a hobby – playing music, art, a sports activity, where time seemed to melt away? That’s a trance.

Or perhaps being totally absorbed in a good book or a movie, oblivious to the rest of the world? That’s a trance as well.

So you see from these familiar examples how hypnosis is the complete opposite to that unconscious zombie-like state so often depicted. In fact a person can find themselves even more attentive and aware of the object of their attention – that book or activity or daydream – but with the absence of all other outside distractions. This gives rise to the popular definition:

Hypnosis – A relaxed state of heightened awareness, combined with a narrowed focus of attention.

Emotional hijacking

By the way, have you ever been gripped by anger and rage, or caught up in sheer delight and ecstasy, finding yourself acting totally out of character? Intense emotions are another trance state, and sometimes referred to as ‘emotional hijacking’.

And that hazy state of mind when drifting asleep at night, or awakening next morning. You know, when you’re too tired to wake up yet too awake to be asleep. That’s also a state of trance, and it’s the state most associated with hypnosis. You can find out more about this special state in just a moment.

So you can see how each and every day you drift in and out of various states of trance without even noticing. And you know you weren’t possessed or taken control of, you weren’t in any danger, you were still aware of what you were doing, and if the need arose then you could be alert and able to react as required.

Creative mind

A trance state is just like that state of mind you experience when totally absorbed in an activity. It’s almost like being in your own virtual reality world. That book, the movie, the sport you are playing; it takes over your entire awareness, and at that moment in time it becomes your reality.

It’s all so easy

Have you ever noticed how easy everything is in your fantasies? Well hypnosis is a way of tapping into that carefree creative world of possibilities, bringing some of that power into your reality.

When in a state of trance, the logical reasoning part of the mind – the part that often inhibits a person from being themselves – takes on a lesser role. This allows the creative, resourceful, more adventurous part to take over. It’s like being a child again, learning and discovering and exploring your fantasies. Going where your imagination takes you, and seeing where it may lead.

Subconscious mind

Another important aspect of how hypnosis and the trance state can help to make changes concerns the relationship between the conscious and subconscious mind. Everything you’re aware of is perceived by the conscious mind, but almost everything you do is controlled by your subconscious mind.

Once a behaviour pattern has been established, perfected and committed to the subconscious, you lose direct contact with it. That’s why so many habits and unhelpful behaviours are so hard to change. The logical mind may try to challenge it, but the subconscious obediently acts in the same predictable pre-programmed way.

Hypnosis and the subconscious mind

Hypnosis and the trance state is one way to directly communicate with the subconscious mind. A person is so focused on the object of their attention that their conscious mind is oblivious to all other external stimuli. Suggestions and new ideas can more easily reach those deeply buried automatic subconscious behaviour patterns, and changes can be made.


The final part of the story, one I mentioned earlier, is that hazy dreamlike state. The first stage of sleep is known as REM (rapid eye movement) sleep. That’s when a person dreams, and it’s when any important lessons from the day are transferred from short term into long term memory. That’s when you learn!

Although hypnosis isn’t the same as sleep, the hypnotic trance state is similar to the REM sleep state. That’s why those new behaviour patterns that have been formulated by the creative part of the mind, and have penetrated deep into the subconscious mind, can now stand the very best chance of being committed to long term memory.


So now you know:

  • When the logical part of the mind takes a back seat, you can access that wonderfully creative resourceful state of mind.
  • When the conscious mind is distracted, the subconscious mind can become more open to new possibilities.
  • The REM sleep state is when new learnings are committed to long term memory.
  • The trance state, which is something we all experience everyday without even noticing, is the best possible state of mind for bringing all the above together.

You now know what is hypnosis.

Want to learn even more about hypnosis and how it really works?

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