Consciousness flows… as it flows it has different qualities. Some might say that for the sake of communication and the needs of security we can use nouns like ‘states’ which let us put boundaries around groupings of qualities just as the rainbow has groupings of wavelengths that we experience and name as colours. An artist/designer trains themselves to be sensitive to, use and name many colours in ways that others have no reason to notice and use. Those of us fascinated by the beauty of experience, by the structure of the mind body system and how it perceives can become like artists are with colour. Hypnosis is part of such an artist’s palette.
The colours of consciousness can be drawn in many ways. Buddhism, Tantra, yoga and other mystery schools are fascinated by the structure of perception and its relationship with experience, its creation and qualities; how our relationships affect and effect our perceptions. It’s possible to say the colours of consciousness range from total unconsciousness in deep sleep to habit driven everyday flow to heighten sensual and/or internal awarenesses based on intense focus, not to mention drug states. Though I’ve heard another metaphor using computers talking about narrow bandwidth states (with high or low data compression) versus broad bandwidth.
Everyday consciousness varies greatly depending on the marriage of internal and external elements, including history and desires for the future, in each situation encountered. To a greater or lesser extent you manage that flow yourself and/or allow it to be moved by external factors. The spectrum of consciousness maybe measured so that some states are closer to sleep and dreaming, internally directed, others have heightened external focus.
Hypnosis and the trances associated with it in popular definitions can be said to be closer to the dreaming, sleeping end of the spectrum. It is an obvious time when individuals allow themselves to be open to suggestion. I disagree with those who say hypnosis is an internally focused state. They allow themselves experiences that alter perceptions in profound ways; because beliefs, expectations (whatever you like to call them) built by the social context and the fantasies participant share let the implausible become plausible, because in that state we are close to the world of dreams and so can have conscious experiences of the dream world.
There are other times/states when we maybe open to suggestion, (without being fully aware of it) though they maybe limited by what our beliefs allow to be plausible. Most people think communication is about ideas, concepts, definitions, maybe images, and sometimes it is, especially in modern academic attempts at so-called objectivity. But for communications to be powerful, to become actions then the communications are really about affecting the consciousness, the states of the participants. It doesn’t require trance as defined by the structure of the hypnosis ritual. Good poetry, storytelling, fine rhetoric, good movies and TV can be measured by how deeply they affect our states of being.
NLP, as a part of the rhetorical traditions (don’t tell NLPers they think they are original and new) that go back to Aristotle, can be very powerful parts of communicating in ways that affect your states of consciousness, without the rituals of trance transitions that are associated with hypnosis. The limits are what you believe are plausible. If you are a religious believer who accepts the plausibility of miracles then conversational hypnosis as part of sacred ritual could cause you to experience perceptual changes that are similar to those you can experience through hypnosis via trance like a guru making diamonds out of ash, or people with traumatic paralysis walking. Otherwise you may just buy a car you can’t afford because you believe it’s plausible for you to make the money need sometime soon.
The more you refine your sense of consciousness’ flow and it’s changing qualities then the more freedom you’ll have and can offer to others. The greater awareness you have of the reality of your responsibilities for the flow of your consciousness, of your pleasure and pain (or at least your relationship with it) the more freedom you have and can offer to others.