A person in hypnosis can experience a variety of phenomena. The following summary lists the outward signs that a person usually exhibits under hypnosis. Not all of these are experienced by every person in hypnosis, so one should not dismiss the presence of trance if some signs are absent. Many of the signs of hypnosis are subtle and could be recognized by an experienced hypnotherapist, while the person in hypnosis or an observer might miss them altogether.
The muscles relax, and the subject makes efforts to become more comfortable. A person in hypnosis does not remain physically tense. Muscular relaxation is often most noticeable in the facial expression. A person in hypnosis has a smooth, ironed out expression on the face, which usually goes along with a vacant look in the eyes.
Stillness. A person does not have to be frozen still to experience trance, but a person in hypnosis does not make restless movements such as hand wringing or foot shaking, for example. Even people who normally experience tics or twitches do not usually manifest them while in hypnosis. When a person in trance does move, they will be slow and efficient in their movements.
Body warmth is frequently an indication of hypnosis.
A person entering trance begins to blink more slowly.
Fluttering of the eyelids occurs during the initial phase of trance. This is one sign of hypnosis that cannot be imitated.
The eyes sometimes roll upward, so that you see only the whites of the eyes.
Increased lacrimation (watering of the eyes).
In hypnosis there is often a reddening of the eyes.
Though not observable outwardly, a person in trance often reports fogging or blurring of the vision. Hypnosis can also cause tunnel vision, or even changes in the colors, sizes, and shapes of things.
A person in hypnosis will be less distracted by outside sounds. To the extreme, the subject may become so inwardly absorbed that he or she no longer make the effort to listen to the hypnotherapist.
Pulse and respiration
Pulse rate and breathing slow down, although sometimes a person entering hypnosis will experience a temporary increase in pulse and respiration caused by the realization that they are in hypnosis.
The swallowing reflex slows or disappears during trance. Of course, if attention is drawn to it, the subject will usually swallow.
There is often a lag of time between the time when a suggestion is given and when the subject in hypnosis carries it out.
Signs of reorientation
When the feet and hands begin touching each other restlessly it is a good sign that the subject is exiting trance. Other signs of a person reorienting themselves to the body and the waking state are wetting the lips, shifting the posture, opening the eyes, blinking, yawning, and stretching.
A checklist for meditation and self-hypnosis
Many of the common instructions for meditation and relaxation imitate the signs of hypnosis. Here is a very simple checklist of things you can do to facilitate meditation and trance states.
1. Make sure you are not cold.
2. Find a comfortable position.
3. Be still. If you must move, do it slowly and efficiently.
4. Relax your body, especially your face.
5. With your eyes open, stare at something slightly below eye level. Notice the loss of detail in objects in your peripheral vision.
6. Roll your eyes upward gently.
7. When you cannot keep your eyes open any longer, close your eyes and relax them.