Anyone who has listened to an Hypnosis audio book or been to a hypnotherapist will have probably been subject to a relaxation based hypnosis session. These often begin with the client being told to close their eyes and feel themselves becoming relaxed and have that feeling spread throughout the body.
This is fine and for some people the feeling of relaxation is part and parcel of the hypnosis experience. However, relaxation is not an integral part of hypnosis and covert or conversational hypnosis (as an example) doesn’t require any level of relaxation on the part of the client.
The trance state (or hypnotic state) can be accomplished when focused on any activity and hypnosis has even been performed on people who are strenuously exercising without them needing to relax at all.
The hypnotic trance state is a very natural state to be in and people can find themselves moving into and out of a trance without even realising it. When driving a familiar route a driver may find they have reached their destination without knowing whether they stopped at a crossing; this is a typical example of a hypnotic state without closed eyes or relaxation.
The myth has been created to help in a therapeutic session and has nothing to do with the practice of hypnosis. Some clients will fail to ‘relax’ but will still find the session beneficial, so don’t become overly concerned should your subject appear alert and awake if they are still following your suggestions, relaxation is a bonus not a goal.