Yes, I got hypnotized over the weekend at the Renaissance Festival.
Yes, if you don't believe me and try it out yourself with that mindset, you won't get hypnotized.
No, he didn't make me take off all my clothes or do anything that embarrassing.
What hypnosis really feels like is a state of deep relaxation. If you're open to it and follow his directions, and you're the right type of person, then you're able to be hypnotized. He puts the willing members of the audience through a pair of mini diagnostic tests to see if we were able to be hypnotized. One of them involved imagining and focusing on having a bucket of heavy sand in one hand and a lightweight balloon in the other. If our hands weren't parallel to the ground afterward, then we were focused and relaxed enough to be good candidates. The second test was having our hands glued together so tightly that we couldn't pull them apart. He had us stand in the middle of this test, and those who actually followed that command were people that were able to be hypnotized. When he said to stand, it came almost automatically for me, like it was just a good idea to stand up. Nothing forced me to do anything, I just stood up because I wanted to.
That's how the entire rest of my journey through hypnosis went - I was conscious, but all the things he told me to do were things that I was so focused on doing and okay with following along. When he told us we were on a lake, I could picture the whole thing. When he described being on the moon, I could see it. When he told me that I couldn't remember the number six, I could not recall it for the life of me. He had some people count their fingers out loud into the mic for everybody to hear, and they said "1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11..." and looked at their hands, extremely confused. The funny part for me was that I was looking at my hands at the same time and felt the same exact way. I knew it was wrong, but I couldn't figure out why. Even after I had left the stage and we were heading to the next show, I still had a little mental trouble counting to ten properly. I had to make a very slight mental pause running through the numbers.
Like I said, I was conscious the whole time. But I was in my own little world and the audience was so far away and the others hypnotized with me were around but not really there. During it, I couldn't really remember anything except the most recent event. Then I got back with my friends and they started laughing and joking along with me about it and I started remembering more and more.
So yeah, it really does work with people who are willing and open to it, and have the right personality type. If you can't really stay focused or relaxed, then you can't really be hypnotized fully. And if you go into it thinking that it's a load of crap, well, then you're not going to be hypnotized because you're thinking so much about that.
It felt really nice afterward, too. We were all in such a deep, relaxed state that it was mostly restful. Anytime the audience laughed or applauded or cheered, the hypnotist told us that it would put us in an even more relaxed state. If you want a full rundown of everything that happened, I can talk you through the half hour of fun. Just know that I pretty much can't get embarrassed by it - one of the things he told us was that, when we're with friends, we'd joke and laugh along with them (instead of feeling embarrassed about the whole thing). And it's worked so far when I talk about it with people.
Still don't believe me? Well there's nothing much I can tell you otherwise. I wasn't paid, I wasn't asked to talk about it, the guy was just doing his show and I participated and had a lot of fun. And I feel like my life's just a little bit better because of it.