What isn’t hypnosis is a tiny, tiny list

Some folks like to talk up their favoured field by saying it encompasses everything.

If you want to convince others that artists deserve support and respect, you might say that everything is art.

I mean, it might be. What is art, really? An expression of the self using non-self mediums? That covers painting and music, as well as cooking and poetry… plus playing basketball and talking about video games.

This, generally, is a mistake. If you want to talk about portrait galleries, you then have to specify art art or real art. It dilutes the definition of the term to the point of meaninglessness.

So let me make that mistake with hypnosis.

When folks say hypnosis isn’t real or that can’t be hypnotised, it isn’t just frustrating – it’s weird. Really weird. Even for reasonably restrictive definitions of it, you enter a hypnotic trance every day.

A classic example of trance is driving. While driving, you can blank out for long stretches of time. Many folks have the experience of quite literally going into autopilot – they hop into their car at the end of a day at the office, then…

… they’re pulling into the driveway.

If they focus on it, they might remember a snippet or two from the 30-minute drive.

It’s a classic example for a reason. Most of us can relate, and it’s both dramatic and mundane.

It shows there are times when you relax and your unconscious takes over. You aren’t a zombie in this state, otherwise you wouldn’t get home safely. And you aren’t a puppet – if someone told you to rob a bank, you would laugh in their face.

But you are dissociated from your normal sense of self.

‘You’ go to sleep while some other ‘you’ drives you home.

And what happens if something unusual happens, like a store along the way has ambulances on the lawn? You become aware of the deviation – it jolts you back into full alertness because your instincts know it’s unexpected, maybe even important.

The other classic example of common, everyday trance is watching a great movie. You can lose all sense that you’re watching flickering lights on a screen. You can even lose all sense of self as the story absorbs you.

A great movie will provoke strong emotions – stronger than the mere facts can do.

Those are both clear examples of when your mental state shift into something usual.

But there’s more hypnosis than just that in the world.

Anything that fixates your attention – from a screen to an ad to a colourful T-shirt – can draw you into a hypnotic trance. Not that it always will, but it can.

And hearing a certain phrase over and over, especially in similar contexts, is a form of hypnosis.

Heck, simply walking from one room to another can do it. Have you noticed how your home ‘feels’ different to your car, which ‘feels’ different to your office?

It goes even finer than that – have you noticed each room in your house ‘feels’ different?

This is why, by the way, you can walk into the living room to do something, then immediately forget what it was. The different room has a different trance associated to it, so you’re in a completely different frame of mind then to when you started.

Most of these trances are subtle, but they add up.

As for whether they’re deliberate or not, that depends on how you frame it. You want to relax in your living room and you spend hours a week practicing that. So, if you relax as soon as you enter it, was that deliberate? What if you clear out the distractions and clutter to make it more relaxing?

Maybe, maybe not.

Either way… trance is all around you. If you think it isn’t, then you can’t see most of what you experience.

Anyway, enough hypnosis talk.

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