Description of Hypnotic Trance

Common descriptions of Hypnotic Trance:

— “Altered state of consciousness”

— “Focused attention”

— “Favorable motivation”

— “Active imagination”

— etc.

All are valid.  The many descriptions is an indicator of why the concept of hypnosis remains somewhat elusive.

It is true that there is not 100% consensus on the definition of hypnosis. However, most would agree that an essential ingredient is a sense of inward attention, with less attention paid outwardly.

The hypnotic trance can be experienced at different depths in a similar way to sleep. There are different depths or states of sleeping: one can be falling asleep, in a deep or light sleep, or one can be emerging from sleep [i.e. the hypnagogic, the Non-REM, the REM, and hypnopompic states], not to mention, sleepwalking, sleep paralysis (maybe), lucid dreaming, and possibly more. The description for each is not the same, but all are considered sleep. Likewise, hypnosis is experienced at different depths and with different sensations – however, all are hypnosis and all are beneficial.  The depth should not be your focus – instead focus on your intention.

Hypnotic depth has been defined by several scales of measurement.  Some of the  more commonly used terms to describe hypnotic depth are:

  • Hypnoidal | Light state             -Often not perceived as hypnosis !
  • Medium state
  • Somnambulist | Deep state
  • Plenary | Esdaile | Ultra Deep
  • Etc.

The above is an example of scale of hypnotic depth.  It also brings to mind the definition of hypnosis quoted above in Definitions and Terms … i.e. that hypnosis occurs at various points along the continuum between full consciousness and sleep. Hypnosis does not occur at just one point of our greater consciousness.

For those that prefer a more concrete description, hypnosis is also characterized by most practitioners in terms of brain waves.  Hypnosis ranges from alpha brain wave frequency (lighter trance) to theta brain wave frequency (deeper trance).   See the Brain Wave chart below:

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