Scientists and medical practitioners have studied hypnotism and even applied it in various situations. They raise some doubts due to studies that did not completely follow the highest double-blind standards used in medical research; nevertheless, hypnotism has been found to have some very clear practical uses and benefits and is utilized in a variety of situations including treatment of anxiety, stress, helping to overcome addictions such as smoking, sleep disorders and chronic pain, as well as providing benefits to reduce pain in acute situations. Given the serious potential side effects of pharmaceutical drugs for pain relief, such as the use of highly addictive opioids, more practitioners in fact are turning to the use of hypnosis in an increasing number of situations to reduce or avoid the need for opioids.

Hypnosis provides insight into the link between the mind and the body, and the ability to gain a measure of control over the body and its functions, including some of its autonomic functions, through use of non-physical techniques. A state related to trance is created in which the active control exercised by the conscious mind is reduced, the individual becomes more suggestible and is able to dissociate himself from anxiety, pain or fear reactions that otherwise would have a great impact on him.

We know that certain yogins in the state of samadhi, a spiritual trance state, are not actively attending to the circumstances in the external world. They are able in some cases to pass days at a time without experiencing hunger or thirst. They can sit on beds of nails, or walk across nails or hot coals without any sensation of pain. Legend has it that some ancient yogic practitioners would sit in such a deep state of samadhi that they had anthills grow up on and around them without noticing! They have successfully moved their conscious awareness away from the body, vital being and mind into an entirely different realm of awareness.

The experience of yogic practitioners in samadhi sheds some light on the experience of individuals undergoing treatment with hypnotism. A similar state of separation from the external body and its senses, and the nervous system reactions and the response of the active mentality takes place. We are normally aware of and involved in the events and circumstances in the world around us and our reactions to them. In the hypnotic state, the awareness must be withdrawn from active reaction and response to such things. The interactive functioning of the senses, the nervous system and the mind must be suspended, and the patient must be in a state where suggestions can be made that operate on certain parts of the brain without first being filtered through the analysing and deciding parts of the mental consciousness. Most people have had an experience where they were so deeply absorbed in something that they lost track of the passage of time, did not feel hunger or thirst or any discomfort at all. This is a brief taste of the deeper status of hypnotic immersion or yogic trance.

The Mother notes: “Now they are finding out that they can replace anaesthetics by hypnotism with infinitely better results. Well, hypnotism is a form — a form modernised in its expresssion — of occultism; a very limited, very small form of a very tiny power compared with occult power, but still it is a form of occultism which has been put in modern terms to make the thing modern. And I don’t know if you have heard about these things, but they are very interesting from a certain point of view: for instance, this process of hypnotism has been tried on someone who had to have a skin-graft on a wound. I don’t remember all the details now, but the arm had to remain attached to the leg for a fortnight…. If the person were immobilised by plaster and bandages and all sorts of things, at the end of the fortnight he wouldn’t be able to move — everything would become stiff and he would need weeks of treatment to recover the free use of his arm. In this case, nothing was tied up, nothing was physically immobilised — no plaster, no bandages, nothing — the person was just hypnotised and told to keep his arm in that position. He kept it for a fortnight, without any effort, any difficulty, without any intervention from his will: it was the will of the hypnotiser which intervened. It was perfectly successful, the arm remained in the required position, and when the fortnight was over and the hypnotism removed, and the person was told, ‘Now you may move’, he began to move! Well, that’s a step forward.”

“They are soon going to meet — it will be nothing more than a question of words — then, if they are not too rigid, they can agree on the value given to the words!”

Sri Aurobindo and the Mother, The Hidden Forces of Life, Ch. 5 Occult Forces, pp 107-108

Author's Bio: 

Santosh has been studying Sri Aurobindo's writings since 1971 and has a daily blog at and podcast located at
He is author of 20 books and is editor-in-chief at Lotus Press. He is president of Institute for Wholistic Education, a non-profit focused on integrating spirituality into daily life.
Video presentations, interviews and podcast episodes are all available on the YouTube Channel
More information about Sri Aurobindo can be found at
The US editions and links to e-book editions of Sri Aurobindo’s writings can be found at Lotus Press