‘I think I fell asleep!’

‘I think I fell asleep!’

Occasionally clients and people who join my MindSpa Weekly events say this to me. They’ve closed their eyes, settled in for a beautiful, calming hypnotic experience. They get a little more comfortable, their body shifts as it relaxes, and their breathing changes.

Next thing they know, their eyes open and they feel better. There’s a definite sense of feeling calmer, more relaxed, more capable than before. And, often, someone says, “I think I fell asleep!”

It’s a common-enough experience. It has felt like that to me, too. Yes — for some of my clients who want help with insomnia, they fall asleep. They take a few precious moments to get some much needed rest, and then we continue with the session.

For the rest of us, if it’s not sleep, what happens?

Guiding someone through a hypnotic experience, there are some obvious signs it’s not sleep: 

you can respond to suggestions, verbally or by gesture; 

you can still make or reject choices — because you’re hypnotised, not helpless;

and you can reorient from the trance experience any time (most obviously, when asked to). 

So, how come sometimes it seems like we fall asleep?

If you drive a car, you might have experience of driving a long distance — or, maybe you’ve walked a while, listening to music or just thinking. Your mind wanders, and yet you arrive safely at your destination. No conscious recollection of what you saw, what you did, how you avoided traffic, how you got there.

It’s a common trance, often called ‘highway hypnosis’. When you think back on it, it can feel like a big gap in memory, that you must have been on autopilot — and, if it’s autopilot, it wasn’t ‘you’ driving the car. 

So, who was driving the car? 

Just because your mind was off elsewhere and you don’t have conscious recall of the journey, doesn’t mean you were asleep. In fact, you still changed lanes, navigated traffic, avoided accidents and arrived safely. Once you got to your destination, you reoriented from the ‘highway hypnosis’ trance. 

The formal hypnotic experience can seem a bit like this. It’s very experiential — it will be unique for you, the suggestions you try on and how you implement them. Often, hypnosis feels like focused relaxation because, in a clinical setting, that’s what the suggestions often are: getting comfortable, feeling relaxed. 

You might not remember the whole journey. 

You weren’t sleeping on that drive; you weren’t unconscious on that walk where your mind wandered. Just because you might not recall everything, or you drift into a comfortable, trancey experience, doesn’t mean you’re not paying attention. 

And, if you weren’t sleeping, who was driving the car? Who or what was directing your walk, orchestrating your legs and arms, thinking and breathing and navigating?

We’re more than the thinky-thinky part we use to keep talking to ourselves. 

Our conscious mind is a gift of something much greater. 

You might have heard or used the terms subconscious or unconscious mind. They’re just handy words we use when we attempt to describe who was driving the car, who was walking while we were thinking

— and who’s listening when you get settled in for that beautiful, calming hypnotic experience. 

Discovering the joy of communicating more effectively with this greater part of you is an Adventure. 

Continuing the conversation is the journey of a lifetime …

your Odyssey. 

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