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What is Hypnosis: Explore Hypnotic States and Learn How to Recognise If You're Under Hypnosis

Are you considering hypnotherapy or learning self-hypnosis skills to help you create change in your life? If you are, you are likely to be curious to learn more about hypnosis, how it feels; does it work and what can you expect in your hypnotherapy session, whether it's face to face or online.

Let' dive into the fascinating world of hypnotherapy and trance, demystifying their true nature and potential. After reading this blog you will:

what is hypnosis

What is hypnosis in hypnotherapy?

First thing first - hypnotherapy is a therapy that uses hypnosis to access your subconscious mind. It operates on assumption that your mind holds all the answers you need to help you achieve your therapeutic goal. There is plenty of scientific evidence available confirming the effectiveness of hypnosis that you can get acquainted with in my blog 'Is Hypnotherapy Legit? Facts You Must Know'.

But what is hypnosis really? According to Oxford and Cambridge dictionaries hypnosis is as a state of mind similar to sleep in which a person can be influenced to say or do things. It kind of explains the misconception of hypnosis about mind control. Let's keep in mind that it dates back to 1884 when there was little understanding of what hypnosis really is and its true potential.

Hypnosis, as we know and use it today, is the result of groundbreaking work by the American psychiatrist Dr. Milton H. Erickson. Dr. Erickson, who used hypnosis for self-healing and with his clients, differed from psychologists of earlier days. He understood that hypnosis was not a means to control his clients but rather a way to access their subconscious mind. This insight allowed him to help his clients achieve rapid transformation in the shortest period of time. He was the first to recognise that the hypnotic trance is a naturally occurring state of consciousness, something we experience multiple times throughout the day.

If I had to choose a definition for what hypnosis is, I would say that in the context of hypnotherapy hypnosis is a relaxing state of acute inner awareness that allows us to zoom in on our subconscious mind and initiate change in our belief system.

Hypnosis is not a state of unconsciousness or loss of control, as some misconceptions suggest. Instead, it is a mindful state where your awareness becomes more inwardly focused, and you become less aware of your external environment. You are fully present and aware of what is going on in your body and mind. This is the state when you are finally in control of your mind instead of the other way round. This means that when engaging in hypnosis, either through self-hypnosis or with a well-trained hypnotherapist, your inner awareness actually increases while your focus on the external environment decreases.

During a hypnotherapy session, a skilled hypnotherapist guides you into this relaxed state using calming verbal cues and imagery. It is true that sometimes you may feel that you are so deep in as if you are out of it, but in fact your mind is busy at work in reframing the outdated beliefs and creating new neuropathways. Think of moment when you were extremely focused on getting a task completed that the outside world sealed to exists. Would you sty you were unconscious in that moment? Or that you did not control your mind? Or would you say quite the opposite?

There are various ways to induce hypnosis, and each hypnotherapist has their own preferred techniques. Personally, I find using your body-mind connection, visualisation, breathing, and a count-down to be very effective. These methods help you direct your attention inward, connecting with your inner-self. A hypnotic state gives you an opportunity to explore and reframe negative thought patterns or habits that you believe are holding you back, and when you're ready, let them go.

Think of your subconscious mind as a vast reservoir of untapped potential. Through hypnotherapy, which leverages the power of hypnotic language to help you induce this relaxed state, so you can bypass the internal guardian (referred to as the critical factor or conscious mind) that upholds your limiting beliefs and get to the root cause that you can then transform and rewire using the power of brain's neuroplasticity. Instead, you can encourage the creation of new neural pathways that promote positive change. This process upgrades your belief system to be more aligned with where you currently are on your life journey.

How does hypnosis work?

Any hypnosis is self hypnosis. When you enter a hypnotic state, which is a deep state of relaxation, your conscious mind takes a step back (it doesn't switch off completely!), allowing the subconscious mind to come forward and open up to exploration for the root cause of your beliefs and become more receptive to positive suggestions. These suggestions are tailored by your hypnotherapist based on your therapeutic goal and the changes you desire. It's important to communicate honestly with your hypnotherapist about your preferences and answer their questions truthfully, as your mind will reject any suggestions that go against your beliefs and values. In fact even when you are in hypnosis, you can easily tell your hypnotherapist when you disagree with suggestions or assumptions put forward.

In a hypnotic trance your inner awareness increases while your focus on the external environment decreases. Trance is a naturally occurring state that is connected to our biological rhythms, including the circadian rhythm and ultradian rhythms.

To gain a deeper understanding of trance in hypnotherapy, it's crucial to grasp the concepts of REM, circadian, and ultradian rhythms. Trance states in hypnotherapy can be seen as a manifestation of the natural ebb and flow of these biological rhythms. By understanding these rhythms, hypnotherapists can effectively guide individuals into trance states that align with their natural cycles, optimising the potential for deep relaxation, heightened internal awareness, and positive therapeutic outcomes. When it comes to hypnotherapy, the best practitioners share certain qualities and skills that set them apart. If you're curious to learn more about what these commonalities are, I invite you to read my blog post titled 'What do best hypnotherapists and stage hypnotists have in common?'. It delves deeper into this fascinating topic and provides valuable insights.

REM Sleep is a sleep phase characterised by rapid eye movements, increased brain activity, and vivid dreaming.

REM is one of the stages of the sleep cycle and typically occurs multiple times throughout the night. During REM sleep, our bodies experience muscle paralysis to prevent us from acting out our dreams. This phase is associated with intense mental activity, memory consolidation, emotional processing, and creative thinking. REM sleep is believed to be connected to the formation of new neural connections and the integration of information into our long-term memory.

Circadian Rhythm refers to our body's internal biological clock, regulating our sleep-wake cycles and various physiological processes over approximately 24 hours.

Ultradian rhythms are shorter cycles occurring within the framework of the circadian rhythm, repeating multiple times throughout the day with a duration of around 90 minutes.

In summary, REM sleep is a stage characterized by vivid dreaming and increased brain activity. The circadian rhythm regulates our sleep-wake cycles over a 24-hour period, while ultradian rhythms are shorter cycles influencing our focus and alertness. These rhythms form the foundation for understanding the occurrence and benefits of trance states in hypnotherapy.

How do you know you are hypnotised ?

When you hypnotised yourself during hypnotherapy under the guidance of your hypnotherapist, you care less about your external environment, while your sensory awareness and internal experiences become more prominent.

I learned from my clients and my own experience with hypnosis that that state of hypnosis is a profoundly personal journey. Just like we are all different, our experience with hypnosis is different. Moreover, it varies from session to session. The only thing that I see is true for everyone who experienced this state of mind, is that they found it relaxing and healing.

Hypnotic trance allows for deep relaxation, increased access to the subconscious mind, and the potential for transformative change. It is a state in which the conscious and unconscious mind can communicate and work together towards a common goal. In this state, you are highly receptive to positive suggestions and imagery, making it an ideal state for therapeutic interventions.

During a hypnotic trance, you may experience a range of sensations and perceptions. Some report a deep sense of relaxation and calmness, while others describe a heightened sense of focus and concentration. You might notice a shift in your perception of time, where minutes can feel like seconds or vice versa. Your mind may become more open to new insights and perspectives, allowing you to explore and reframe limiting beliefs or behavioural patterns.

In addition to the mental and emotional aspects, there can also be physiological changes that occur during a trance. Studies have shown that trance states can influence heart rate, blood pressure, and even brain wave patterns. Certain brain wave frequencies, such as alpha and theta waves, are associated with relaxation, creativity, and heightened suggestibility, which are commonly observed during a trance.

Hypnotherapy: Levels of hypnotic trance

Trance states can vary in depth and intensity, and individuals may experience different levels of trance during hypnotherapy. These levels of trance represent varying degrees of internal focus, suggestibility, and access to the unconscious mind. At the same time, brain waves provide insights into the neurophysiological aspects of these trance states. Understanding both the levels of trance and their corresponding brain wave patterns can enhance our understanding of the trance experience. Let's explore the different levels of trance and their associated brain wave frequencies:

hypnotherapy brain waves

Beta Level

This is the normal waking state of consciousness where the mind is alert and engaged in active thinking. Beta brain waves range from approximately 13 to 30 cycles per second (Hz). In this state, the analytical mind is dominant, and external stimuli receive the most attention.

Alpha Level

Theta Level

Delta Level

It's important to note that being in a hypnotic trance does not mean losing control or being under the power of the hypnotist. You retain the ability to reject any suggestion that goes against your values or beliefs. The role of the hypnotherapist is to guide and facilitate the trance experience, helping you access your inner resources and facilitate positive change. Ultimately, you are in control of your own mind and can choose to accept or reject suggestions based on your own judgment.

  1. Light Trance: In a light trance, individuals experience a state of relaxation and inward focus. This level of trance is often associated with alpha brain waves. In this state, you are receptive to suggestions and imagery, making it useful for relaxation, stress reduction, and mild behaviour modification.

  2. Medium Trance: Medium trance represents a deeper level of relaxation and increased dissociation from the external environment. This level of trance is typically associated with theta brain waves. In medium trance, you have greater access to the subconscious, facilitating deeper exploration, emotional healing, and subconscious pattern recognition.

  3. Deep Trance: Deep trance is characterised by a profound state of relaxation and heightened internal awareness. In this level of trance, individuals often experience a significant disconnection from the external environment and a shift in consciousness. Deep trance is associated with delta brain waves. While not commonly accessed during hypnotherapy, delta trance states can be highly transformative and can promote deep healing and restoration.

  4. Waking Hypnosis: Waking hypnosis aka Conversational hypnosis was famously used by Dr. Milton Ericsson. NLP is based on the Erickson's technique of conversational hypnosis. That’s right, you can be in a trance with your eyes open.

The depth of trance experienced can vary from person to person and may also vary within an individual from session to session. Factors such as individual susceptibility, trust in the hypnotherapist, and the individual's comfort level can influence the depth of trance achieved.

By understanding the levels of trance and their associated brain wave patterns, hypnotherapists can tailor their approaches to match the desired outcomes and individual needs of their clients. Additionally, you can gain a better understanding of your own trance experiences and the potential depth of your subconscious exploration.

Ultimately, the level of trance experienced, in conjunction with specific brain wave frequencies, offers a pathway to tap into the profound power of the mind, facilitate personal growth, and promote transformative change.


If you're intrigued by the possibilities of hypnotherapy and want to explore its benefits further, you're in luck! I have an extensive FAQ page on my website that addresses common questions and provides additional information about hypnotherapy and hypnosis. By visiting the FAQ page, you can find answers to frequently asked questions and gain a deeper understanding of how hypnotherapy can help you.

Hypnotherapy is a powerful tool that harnesses the natural state of trance to unlock the untapped potential of your mind. Trance is a naturally occurring and deeply focused state where your conscious awareness decreases, and your sensory and internal awareness increase. It is a state that we experience in our daily lives, influenced by the interplay of REM, circadian, and ultradian rhythms.

Remember that the depth of a hypnotic trance experienced can vary from person to person and may even vary within an individual from session to session. Factors such as individual susceptibility, trust in the hypnotherapist, and your comfort level can influence the depth of trance achieved.

It's essential to understand that being in hypnosis does not mean losing control or being under the power of the hypnotherapist. You always retain the ability to reject any suggestion that goes against your values or beliefs. The role of the hypnotherapist is to guide and facilitate the trance experience, helping you access your inner resources and facilitate positive change. Ultimately, you are in control of your own mind and can make decisions based on your own judgment.

If you're ready to experience the transformative potential of hypnotherapy, consider seeking a professional hypnotherapist near you. By searching for "hypnotherapy near me," you can find qualified practitioners who can guide you on your journey of personal growth and self-discovery.

Embrace the power of hypnotherapy and unlock the hidden depths of your mind. Your transformative journey awaits!

Book a free hypnotherapy consultation with me to learn more a bout hypnosis and how it can help you.


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