The altered state of consciousness known as a trance is what defines hypnosis. If there is no trance, there is no hypnosis; and that trance state is different from a normal waking state.
When you are in a trance you are normally super-relaxed; your body is still, quiet, and calm. In a trance, you have what amounts to tunnel vision; your eyes see what is right in front of them if they see anything at all. You won’t notice your body unless your hypnotist of hypnotherapist guides your attention in that direction. As a trance deepens, you may not hear anything at all except the hypnotist’s voice, and possible not even that. While the trance lasts you will usually have no awareness of the passing of time.
Clearly, the hypnotic state is an altered state. On the other hand, it is not at all unusual. In fact, the altered state we refer to as a trance is normal. You spend considerable parts of each day in a trance, and you don’t even notice it most of the time.
Here’s an example. You’re driving somewhere along a route you take frequently. Suddenly you can’t remember if you made a left turn you needed to make; but then you’re at your destination, so of course you made the turn. The thing is, you were driving in a trance. Part of you was paying attention to the road, and the traffic signs, and your speed, and the vehicles around you. The rest of you was someplace else.
Here’s another example. You’re at a really good concert, all wrapped up in the music, and then intermission comes and you realize that you are hungry, and your neck is tight, and the seat is hurting your rear end. You hadn’t noticed any of that before, because the music had you in a trance.
And another. You are sitting with a friend, having a conversation, and suddenly you realise that your friend is gazing at you expectantly, and finally says, “Well, what do you think?” and you realise two things. First, you don’t know what your friend is asking about, and second, you haven’t heard a word your friend has been saying for who knows how long. Your mind had wandered off to some other space and time. You were in a trance.
You can undoubtedly think of many other times when you had experiences like these. When they come spontaneously you may call it daydreaming, or being preoccupied, or being in what some people refer to as a brown study.
When you do it on purpose, with or without a hypnotist’s help, it’s called hypnosis. So now you already know what to expect when you walk into my office on the Gold Coast office for your first appointment.