When people ask what does it feel like when you are under hypnosis or in a hypnotic trance? It is easier to start with what it is not like. It is not like being asleep. After that each occasion is different. Having experienced trance many times I can describe my personal experiences, offer feedback from my patients and after that it’s over to anecdotal records.
I have had some very diverse experiences, the first time I was under hypnosis I felt like my eyes were closed and that I was just doing what I was told. I felt I could open my eyes at any point, although I did not try.
As with all subsequent sessions I could hear what was being said during trance.
I could hear the therapist, hear them clearly, although at times the voice seemed distant and I forgot that I was listening to it as I found that I was also talking to myself in my head. I felt like I was missing out as I would occasionally think of other things instead of focusing on what was being said. I kept telling myself to focus on what was going on each time I had become aware that my mind wondered and then I would notice I missed a word or sentence and push myself to concentrate on what was going on. Overall, I felt that nothing really had happened and I had played along for the benefit of the therapist. Personally I was disappointed as nothing seemed to have worked and I felt that I had missed out on a new experience.
After sharing this with the therapist, I was asked how long the experience was. I was certain that it was 12 minutes. Yep! I am generally spot on with time so not ten or fifteen, just less than half way in between. It was actually 45 mins. I was not the only person who was present and have come to use this as my way of sharing with patients who had the same experience as me.
What I have noticed when using clinical hypnotherapy is that patients who have reservations about their trance experience usually have deeper more satisfactory experience of trance around the third session. I put this down to, like myself during my first session, trying to make it happen, rather than just going with the experience.
From my very first experience of trance, all other experiences have been much more in keeping with my expectations. I can usually hear the voice, for part of the session, depending on the technique used, but do not make any real effort to focus on it and instead look forward to where my mind will take me.
Subsequent sessions under hypnosis have been many and varied. I have also had hallucinations, experienced vivid visualisations and even experienced my senses getting mixed up including being able to taste colours (synesthesia). As I thought of a colour I experienced a specific taste sensation.
Physically you can feel different under hypnosis compared to when you started the treatment. My temperature has sometimes changed during hypnosis I have had occasions where I have got really warm, feeling the need to jettison my sweater whilst I have also worked with patients who have reported feeling really cold.
Other times I have seen patients get very emotional as they experience an abreaction. This is an abnormal reaction to trance. It is rare but not so rare that hypnotherapist are unaccustomed to witnessing it. This normal emotional response to treatment is a healthy response and the skilled hypnotherapist helps the patient by talking through their feelings during trance, being reassuring and allowing the healing from the feelings to take place in a safe environment.
Ultimately then, the diverse array of sensations both physical, sensory and emotionally are so wide ranging it is not possible to outline what trance will feel like, but I have outlined some of the reported sensations felt during hypnotic trance experiences.