What is hypnosis? How it works and what the science says

Updated: Sep 21, 2019

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Your simple guide to understanding hypnosis, trance and the unconscious mind

Often one of the very first questions my clients ask me is; “what does hypnosis feel like? What is trance? how do I know if I am in trance?” This usually follows with some nervousness around feeling pain or feeling out of control! I feel that through the media hypnosis has been portrayed in completely the wrong way and it is through this article I want to provide you with knowledge, understanding and reassurance around what true hypnosis is and isn’t!

Let me first paint a picture for you…

Imagine driving home from work or from the grocery store. You’ve done it hundreds of times; maybe even thousands.

You know the route like the back of your hand. If it was safe to do so, you could probably drive it with your eyes closed.

Given how familiar the route is to you, your concentration wanders during the trip. You pull up into the driveway and realize that you don’t remember the last few miles of your journey.

Because, believe it or not, you were in a hypnotic trance!

So what is hypnosis in reality?

Hypnosis is a highly focused state of mind – also known as an altered state of consciousness – whereby the unconscious mind is free to act without interference from regular consciousness.

What’s more… it’s a totally natural state that you might find yourself in at various times throughout the day.

Yes, really.

For example, when you get so engrossed in an activity that you lose track of time and you zone out from whatever’s going on around you.

Maybe that happens when you’re reading a particularly gripping novel. Or watching the rain fall down the kitchen window that faces your garden.

Or when you indulge in any hobby that occupies your mind completely.

Well, guess what? That’s hypnosis.

What is the unconscious mind and how do you access it?

Hypnosis is only possible because it gives you access to the unconscious mind.

Here’s a simple explanation to help you understand what that is.

When it comes to hypnosis, the human brain is often explained in two parts: a conscious mind and an unconscious mind.

Differences between the conscious and unconscious mind

The conscious mind is the one you’re using right now to read this text. It’s your “wide awake” mind, your intellect and all the things you are aware of.

You probably think it’s your conscious mind that takes in all the information from your environment.

That’s partly true, but in reality the conscious mind can only deal with between 7 and 9 bits of information at any given time.

That’s because you can only consciously focus on so many things at once before they start to get confusing or you lose track of some of them.

The unconscious is a totally different beast.

The unconscious mind is everything that’s happening in the background of your mind. It works automatically without any conscious help from you and can handle millions of pieces of data all at the same time.


1. By tapping into the power of the unconscious mind, you can find answers to questions or situations that are causing you to feel “stuck” in life.

2. Connecting with the unconscious mind also gives you the ability to heal from inside out – as it allows you to process buried and unresolved negative emotions that have/are causing you pain.

3. The unconscious mind is also where your innate creativity lies and your ability to imagine those big, bold dreams of yours.

4. It’s also where all your beliefs and memories are stored.

That’s how it’s possible to tap into memories and get rid of traumas from the past, working on limiting beliefs you have about yourself or to resolve issues that are preventing you from moving forward.

But to do all of the above, the unconscious minds needs your absolute focus and attention.

And this is where hypnosis comes into the picture – because it gives you this directed focus.

wnscious minds?

Let’s return to the activity of driving your car.

When you learned how to drive, there seemed to be so many things to remember. You’ve got to steer, signal, accelerate, brake, watch your mirrors, keep an eye on the road and try not to run over any pedestrians.

At first it was confusing and difficult.

Then, the more you practiced, the easier it became. And by now it just all flows together into one procedure called “driving” – something you just hop into the car and do automatically.

You don’t have to go through the steps involved anymore. Your unconscious mind takes care of all of that for you.

That’s how it’s possible to drive your car from one place to another and be unable to remember part of the journey.

That gives you a glimpse into the power of the unconscious.

Hypnosis and the unconscious mind

Hypnosis is a technique that helps you communicate with the unconscious by bypassing the conscious mind. And when you can communicate with the unconscious, you can feed it with powerful suggestions to help make your life – or someone else’s life – more productive and more enjoyable.

In a nutshell, hypnosis is a form of communication between two people. In order for someone to be hypnotized, they have to be willing to participate. In its purest state, hypnosis exists to help people make positive changes in their lives, from breaking bad habits to managing pain to eliminating emotional trauma from the past.

Thanks to media hype and cinematic sensationalism, many aspects of hypnosis have been exaggerated or completely misunderstood.

One of those aspects is trance. In the movies, people in a trance are little more than brainless zombies who do whatever the hypnotist asks them to do, uttering “Yes, master” as they do so.

But trance is nothing like that. It’s simply a relaxed state where you focus your thoughts and energy inside, instead of focusing on the outside world.

During a hypnotic trance you’ll remain wide awake, able to hear and understand everything that’s happening.

You can even experience a trance with your eyes open, although it might be easier to relax and shut out the outside world if you close your eyes.

At the very least, trance is actually a relaxing state of mind where you’re able to forget about your worries for a short period of time- and I am sure we can all agree that we all need more relaxation in our lives!

Get in touch to Master your Mind, Master your Body, Master your Life!

Mind-Body Hypnotherapy Northern Beaches

Life Coaching Sydney

Eating Disorder Treatment Sydney

Sports Performance Coaching Sydney

Call Hannah at Master your Mind on 0432 445 320

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Hypnotherapy Sydney

Life Coaching Sydney

Eating Disorder Treatment Sydney

Call Hannah at Master your Mind on 0432 445 320