What is hypnosis?

Although this question is still being investigated by scientific research, the existence of a hypnotic state has long been accepted by the scientific community. This is a state of deep relaxation and altered awareness, during which the unconscious mind is highly receptive to new or alternative perspectives and ideas.  To some extent we all experience this state between sleep and being fully awake, or when concentrating so deeply on something that we lose awareness of our surroundings.  It is therefore a perfectly natural state.
People often report that being in hypnosis is a pleasurable experience, and one that they look forward to entering.