Hypnosis or Self Hypnosis Trance- 10 Things You Should Know

By Susanna Sweeney, MSC, MBACP, CHT

The hypnosis- or self hypnosis trance is probably the element of hypnosis that is causing the most misunderstandings and is the most shrouded in mystery. I have compiled this article to give you a good idea of what to expect, who trance is suitable for and what you can do with it.

self hypnosis tranceHypnotic trance can help you remove the noise from the signal.

1.    Hypnosis and Self Hypnosis Trance

The only difference between hypnosis and self hypnosis trance lies in having- versus not having, a hypnotist present.

Some people find it easier to let go into trance when they can ‘hand over’ their mind to a hypnotist. If this is an issue for you and you would like to learn how to work with self hypnosis trance, you can find a hypnotist to tutor you in self hypnosis.

Other people choose self hypnosis over hypnosis because they don't feel uncomfortable ‘handing over’ their minds- they are afraid they may lose their willpower or even their self control. (Check out my article on hypnosis myths to clarify this myth and many others.)

Whichever method you choose, it’s important to note that there is no difference in the nature of trance whether you are using hypnosis or self hypnosis. You will find a section below that discusses in-depth what that trance feels like.

2. Inducing Trance

For the first stage of relaxation, your hypnotist will typically talk you through a relaxation protocol that relaxes your body.If you use self hypnosis, you will do this by yourself.

Very often, a progressive relaxation is used that relaxes parts of the body one after the other, from head to toe, or the other way around. You may experience an awareness of tension you are holding in different body parts before your body will let go.

For the second stage of relaxation, you will need to relax your mind as well as your body. This means inducing a slight state of confusion. There are special protocols used to achieve this, which again can be used to induce either hypnosis or self hypnosis trance.

The trance can be deepened further after this if required with so called deepeners. Often, that won't be necessary as a light or medium level of trance will be sufficient.

self hypnosis tranceHypnosis and self hypnosis trance can help you see your issues from a different level of consciousness.

3.    Body Sensations You may Experience in Trance

As you sink deeper, and as the hypnotist brings you further into hypnosis by giving you a protocol that helps to relax your mind you may experience  some body sensations.

For example you may experience:

  • Warmth
  • Twitching of muscles, typically in arms and legs or shoulders
  • An awareness of tiredness
  • A sensation as if you are sinking
  • Hands and feet becoming heavy
  • Tingling sensations, often in hands and feet
  • Your head falling to the side as the neck muscles are relaxing
  • Not being bothered to move at all
  • Feeling quite lethargic, and comfortable in that

self hypnosis tranceHypnotic trance provides a state during which you can much more easily dismantle your unwanted old childhood programming.

4.    Your Thoughts During Trance

While your body is starting to relax, you may find your thoughts affected also:

  • Your thoughts may either slow down, or become somewhat confused.
  • The internal censors may be trying to figure out what the hypnotist will be doing next.
  • The censors also tend to judge the session and the hypnotist's activities as they are fighting change.
  • If you are practicing self hypnosis, you may find yourself thinking that “this will not work” (keep going).

As your body and mind are relaxing further and further, your thoughts will change:

  • Ultimately, in a medium depth trance, you will find yourself in a place where thought activity decreases quite a bit.
  • You might not notice it, but you are likely to develop selective awareness. this means you might become less aware of the total of your surroundings, and more focused on just one or two things. the hypnotist's voice is likely to stand out for you here and ideally the issue you want to change.
  • The thoughts that prevail are likely to be focused on your internal world.
  • You are likely to be able to visualize things very clearly, to see clear images in your mind's eye.
  • This is a very impressionable state.
  • You won't even notice it, but you become a lot more suggestible. If it is a session of hypnotherapy to achieve change in your life, the hypnotist will make suggestions that are relevant to your situation and are designed to help you overcome limitations. What you might notice is that you really like a particular idea put forward.

5.    Your Emotions During Trance

How will you feel when you are in trance?

  • You may come to a point where you feel you don’t have a care in the world, being so relaxed that you can just let the hypnotist, or the self hypnosis session, carry on.
  • You are likely to feel very comfortable and content.
  • You may feel curious about how the session will proceed.
  • Once you are deep enough and ready to really embrace the suggestions given in self hypnosis or by the hypnotist, you are likely to experience a feeling of almost euphoria as you internally agree that those suggestions are desirable for you.

6.    Trance States Fluctuate

Throughout the session, the depth of hypnosis or self hypnosis trance will fluctuate.

You may be very aware of your surroundings at the start but without you noticing, this awareness will become much less. You may notice just a couple of things such as the therapist's voice or the sensation of your back touching the chair.

You may even lose awareness altogether for a part of the session, drifting into a very deep place that is not quite like sleep. You won't have a memory of this part of the session.Don't worry though, your mind is still listening to the suggestions.

You may then come back to a more shallow place where you notice some more body sensations, and sometime later you may go deeper again. These variations are a natural part of the process.

7.    Waking up From Trance

At the end of the session, whether this is self hypnosis or hypnosis, there will be a protocol for calling you back into ordinary awareness. This is typically done by counting, say from one to three, instructing you to open your eyes. This so called “waking up” (which isn’t really waking up because you weren’t actually asleep)- contrary to public belief- is very easy.

You will become aware of your body once more, you will find you eye lids becoming lighter, you will feel a desire to stretch out, and you will feel ready to go about your day.

self hypnosis trance

8.    Hypnosis and Self Hypnosis Trance can be Learned

An important point to be made here is that the benefits of hypnotic trance are open to everyone.
Recent research from Stanford shows that most people are easily hypnotizable, as in able to enter a light to medium trance.

A light to medium trance is enough depth to successfully work on most issues.  From clinical practice I know that the remaining 4.6% who find it hard to go into trance can learn, or teach themselves, how to.

9. Your Brain can Focus Better During Trance

A 2016 study from Stanford which used brain imaging techniques tells us more about what actually happens in the brain during hypnosis or self hypnosis trance.

In those parts of the brain that are associated with recognizing your surroundings and in those associated with taking action activity was much reduced, but parts associated with communication between the mind and body were more active.

This would lead to being able to be highly focused. It also opens the door to being better able to process the impact of stress without experiencing the usual negative physical symptoms associated with stress.

10.    Susceptibility to Hypnotic Trance

While most people can achieve at least a light to medium depth of trance very easily and while the rest can be taught how to go there, reality is that people are susceptible to trance states to different degrees.  

There are a number of susceptibility scales in use which measure how susceptible individuals are to hypnotic trance. Two examples for such scales are the Stanford susceptibility scale and the Harvard susceptibility scale.

Different scales use different criteria for susceptibility, so there is no standard agreed upon measure which has been accepted across the board, but at least those scales give a general idea of individual differences which are important to establish in any research on hypnosis.

For all intents and purposes as far as hypnotherapy for change in your life is concerned, for most uses of hypnosis you are going to work on, achieving a light to medium depth of trance is sufficient. For pain hypnosis or childbirth hypnosis, to achieve complete freedom from pain, you need a deep trance state. Achieving this takes practice for most people, and not everyone may get there- but some people clearly do.

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