If you’ve never knowingly experienced a trance, you probably wonder what it’s like.
Or maybe you don’t ‘wonder’, but should.
Someone once asked me a strange ethical question:
“If you found out someone had a traumatic suppressed memory during one of your sessions, would you tell them?”
How would I find out if they didn’t?
Sure, I can often tell when someone carries unresolved pain with them. When you know what to look for, you can spot the signs long before you hypnotise them.
But details about a specific incident?
Unless they tell me, I’m not gonna know about it.
It’s clear where this question came from. This person saw hypnosis as being like it the movies, where you fall completely unconscious and have no memory of the experience.
That can happen, but it’s rare. And there are few credible stories about someone forgetting something traumatic.
Sleeping is a deeper trance than most hypnotists could ever put you in. Even so, it doesn’t take much to rouse you. And even if you fall asleep straight away again, you’ll remember what woke you up.
A hypnotic trance isn’t like being asleep. It’s closer to daydreaming, except that’s not quite right either.
When you see a hypnotist – whether it’s for entertainment (stage or street hypnosis) or for personal growth (hypnotherapy) – it’s more like losing yourself in a great book or movie.
You concentrate on what’s happening. No, more than that – you fixate on it. The entire world can melt away as you lose yourself in the experience. You can even lose awareness of your body – I know I’ve put down a book, only to notice I’m cold, hungry and needing the toilet.
That sounds more dramatic than it is. If something strange happened, like someone tried to steal your wallet, you’d still notice. But as long as the outside world becomes less interesting than the experience, it can look after itself for a while.
It’s liberating to feel this, even for a moment. There’s a reason why great books, great movies and, yes, great trances can become addictive.
It goes even further than just feeling pleasant and being interesting.
In this state of mind, anything becomes possible.
Intellectually, you know magic isn’t real, humanity hasn’t colonised the stars or it’s not currently the Napoleonic era. Inside these experiences, you can believe it’s true though.
And that can change you, even after you return to your normal waking state.
Hypnosis works the same way. Intellectually, you know you have problems. But inside the trance, you can – for a moment – think about them differently.
And that new perspective can be all you need to resolve them.
This isn’t all of hypnosis – it’s a deep art with many powerful insights. But this is what a hypnotic trance tends to feel like.