One way to understand the hypnotic experience is to compare it to the dream process. In our dreams we experience images and feelings as real, although they are obviously just dreams. Because they seem real we react to them as we would react to waking state experiences. If we are being chased by a tiger in our dreams, we might awaken frightened, with our heart racing. Similarly, hypnosis works with ideas and images in a deep, creative state of mind. In this state the images take on a reality of their own. We can explore new possibilities about ourselves, as they are real. We can experience earning more money, skiing a perfect slalom, being healed and healthy, whatever we want. Because the mind is experiencing these things as if they are real, we begin to discover new ways of being.

Another similarity to dreams is the flexibility of trance mind. The trance mind is not limited by logic. You can fly your bicycle to an English garden to have a conversation with a long-departed loved one. In the dream it all seems quite plausible and natural. In the hypnotic trance state the mind can consider all types of possibilities that would not be believed to the conscious mind because of learned limits. In this state, the normal controlling filters of the conscious mind are temporarily reduced, so we can experience previously unbelievable visions of our potential. In this way self-hypnosis can be very powerful in helping us to modify limiting beliefs at their root.

By contrast, there is a major difference between dreams and hypnosis. Dreams are basically random events for most people, not planned or intentional. The hypnotic experience is directed by our intention to change or improve specific aspects of our life. In self-hypnosis we direct the focus of our inner work. Self-hypnosis specifically channels the energy of the deep mind to help us find answers to very specific questions. Also, hypnosis is not sleep. In a hypnotic trance, as compared to sleep, the body is generally more relaxed and the brain waves more active than sleep.