You may not have come across the term hypnoidal state before – but it’s useful to know about, especially if you’re considering coming for hypnotherapy, because a hypnoidal state lies somewhere between day-to-day deliberate relaxation, and the lightest stages of trance. Understanding a hypnoidal state may give you clues as to how receptive to hypnosis you will be, and what your experience of trance will be like.
The hypnoidal state is commonly understood to be a particularly restful and healing state, sometimes compared to the sensations experienced during mindfulness, meditation, or whenever we are fully and genuinely immersed in what we are doing. It occurs when your attention is so deeply focused on what you are doing that you begin to just … forget yourself a little. Your attention span may fluctuate, and you may find that you’re more open to new thoughts and ideas than normal. All those usual distractions, including your inner cynic (if you have one!) begin to fade into the background.
Hypnoidal states can happen several times a day to all of us, thanks to what psychologists call waking hypnosis. Whenever we hear a familiar piece of music, a theme song or an advert on TV or the radio; whenever we see a familiar actor, we’re being primed to put our conscious defences to one side and to have that mental ‘ahhh’ moment of switching off slightly. It’s one of the reasons why we’ll watch anything containing our favourite actor, or listen to any song by our favourite musician or a favourite theme song from TV – because the hypnoidal state feels so good, and our brains seek it out even when we don’t realise it.
But it does more than feel good – our bodies start to feel relaxed and loose, we’re fully conscious but we feel so good that we start to lose focus on what’s around us. It’s similar to the feeling you get just before you fall asleep at night. During this state, your body can begin to rest and heal. Your hormonal messengers and your nerve impulses work at a manageable frequency. Your body naturally reverts to a state of balance. It sounds simple, but if you are one of the many people who find it hard to relax normally, you’ll understand why the hypnoidal state is so deeply valuable.
You can use it to anticipate what hypnosis will be like for you, by asking yourself a few simple questions next time you become aware of being in that special state of mind:
What am I focusing on? (music, other noises, something to look at, something you can feel?)
Do I feel lighter or heavier than usual?
Does time speed up, slow down, or stay the same?
By simply tuning into our hypnoidal states, we can not only use this to develop a positive anticipation for hypnosis – useful if you’re anxious or like to be in control – but we can also become more mindful of the times of day we naturally veer towards this state of being, and can use this to learn to switch off when we actually need to, not when we think we need to.