We could talk for hours about what hypnosis is and what it isn’t.
We could fill an encyclopedia with definitions, filling the appendix with qualifiers. After all, every definition has its exceptions.
Including the one I like to use.
I’m sure if you sat down, you could pick this to pieces, finding all sorts of cases where this doesn’t apply.
And that’s fine.
This isn’t the only definition of hypnosis as far as I’m concerned. But it’s my definition, in all its unfiltered and uncensored glory.
And that is simply this:
Hypnosis is where you deliberately make unconscious material conscious.
That’s all, nothing fancy.
I wouldn’t present this at a hypnosis seminar or a medical conference, because it lacks the precision those audiences expect. But between you and me, this is more than good enough.
Your mind brings unconscious material into conscious awareness every day. At least, I hope it does. That’s what dreams are – the raw churning of your unconscious mind – processing, organising, storing, intuiting, all without conscious involvement.
Even if you don’t remember your dreams, you still have them. They’re an important part of your mental functioning – and we don’t yet know everything there is to learn about it.
Sleep is still mysterious.
But that’s okay, because we’re not talking about sleep here. It doesn’t meet the crucial part of the definition:
Even lucid dreamers have non-lucid dreams, where the chaos of the unconscious mind roams free. Even if they didn’t, lucid dreamers are the first to tell you they don’t control everything – they’re just awake enough to shape it and enjoy it.
With hypnosis, you’re in a trance. While we often compare it to sleeping, it’s not all that similar. For most of your trances, you’re fully aware of what’s happening and you can recall it all afterwards.
And if something dramatic happened, it would stick in your mind – not like a dream which likes to fade, no matter how vivid it is.
With hypnosis, the hypnotist and the subject are in control. Unexpected things will happen (I’ve never had a trance that was free of surprises) but the goal and the process are deliberate.
Which brings us to the other part:
Making unconscious material conscious.
That’s exactly what a trance is like. It feels like entering a new-yet-familiar part of your mind.
Maybe it’s something you’ve forgotten.
Maybe it’s more intense than you normally experience.
Or it could be something you’ve never even dreamed of before… and yet, it comes with a sense of déjà vu.
It’s usually not like an alien presence in your mind, even with the strangest experiences. It’s more often like you’ve somehow always known what you’re now just learning.
This is how you grow through hypnosis – by coming aware of everything underneath the surface. All your old instincts, memories, biases and thought patterns – stuff that was automatic and invisible – suddenly coming into focus.
You can let go of what you no longer need.
And create anything that will better suit you.
Of course, it’s not always that simple. Going into a trance and changing yourself is a skill, like any other. You might be a natural at it, or not – either way, you only get good with practice.
And, you know what? Sometimes it is this easy.
Sometimes just by entering the trance, you instantly see the solutions.
You’d be amazed what your unconscious shows you once you give it the chance.
So feel free to give it a chance right here: