Is daydreaming different from a hypnotic trance?

For you to get into a hypnotic trance, someone has to hypnotize you, then you’ll be open to the hypnotist’s suggestions. Daydreaming simply means you’re in an ordinary trance – you are seriously thinking about something so hard that you can hardly recognize what’s happening in your surroundings.

In an average day, you’d be shocked at just how much time you spend deeply thinking about things you can’t particularly recall. You also sometimes watch television for more than 10 minutes but can’t even remember what you watched. When driving, you sometimes feel like the car has been driving itself for the last few minutes.

Research on driver behaviour shows that we don’t use our conscious minds when driving, especially when going to the same places. Doing this repetitively makes the action almost automatic. Yes, you’re still alert, but your mind keeps wandering since it doesn’t need to be fully conscious as it once was.

If you don’t remember much about the ride, or you even miss a turn, you were definitely daydreaming – not using your conscious mind. This is still not dangerous since you were alert to some extent, unless you were pushing more than 100mph.

How does a daydream or a trance state feel like?

You’ve watched TV a lot in your life, right? Probably thousands of hours. But if someone asked you how much you actually remember, it can be a struggle to answer – unless it’s a nerve-wrecking thing like 9/11!

This happens because we get into a daydream state as soon as we start watching TV. The alpha waves of our brains approach hypnotic frequencies. In the 9/11 case, the event shocked you and altered your mental state. You became fully conscious and active in the live happenings of that tragic event. The news thus stuck in your conscious and subconscious mind.

Television is a modern day addiction. If you watch it for three hours daily, you’ll mostly be in a trance for this time. If you watch longer, you’ll be in a longer trance.

What’s the definition of daydreaming?

This can be best defined as a state where altered consciousness shifts. Consciousness is your awareness level of the happenings in your surroundings. This consciousness level often changes during the day, sometimes even without you noticing.

There are various forms of altered consciousness, daydreams being the most common. Their power quickly shifts our minds from alertness to wandering daydreams any time. In a split second, you shift from being alert and attentive into a world of fantasy and dreams.

And what is a trance-like state?

  • Here’s what some people say – watch plays on the radio. Here the pictures are better. In a trance-like state, you create them in your mind, exactly how you want them to be.
  • Reading a book also puts you in an altered mind state. Your imagination works hard to draw the pictures of what you’re reading. Have you ever wondered why you just can’t put that book down? This is because of you’re involved in the story and enjoying that trance-like state.
  • If you realize that you haven’t heard a word of what someone has been telling you for the last few minutes, you’re in a trance-like state.

According to recent studies, many in a lecture room don’t pay attention to what the lecturer is saying. They are frequently in lost in a daydream or trance. Some even struggle to stay awake. No matter how dynamic the teacher may be, they are not always able to retain students’ attention for too long. A single shift in their state of consciousness makes them lose interest instantly.

Highly skilled presenters know how to keep your alertness – ensuring you’re in a state of proper consciousness. They’re sensitive to people’s states of mind, noticing even the slightest vibes of shifts in consciousness. When they notice this, they’ll close the lecture before everyone loses interest.

Let’s now do the math. Add all the time you’ve spent sleeping, reading, watching TV, fantasising, daydreaming etc. What’s the result? You can fairly assume that our normal state is mostly actually a trance-like state.

This is true for some people. Most others will find it fortuitous to balance between their alert consciousness, and their shifting state of daydreams and trance.

That idea that normal state is mostly trance-like may not always go down well with everyone!