The Guide To Hypnosis

What Is Hypnosis?

This is such a simple question. However the answer is not so simple. There is as of yet no universally accepted definition for hypnosis, and probably never will be. This is possibly down to the fact that we cannot see exactly what is happening to the brain while it is in a hypnotic trance.

I will still attempt to explain what hypnosis is. As a starting point I will talk you through what happens in a typical hypnotherapy session.

Usually the first stage is to gain some sort of rapport and trust with the subject. A good hypnotherapist should be able to do this fairly quickly with a mixture of some psychological techniques, and by being a person that someone would trust. Being a good considerate person really does help. Sometimes it helps to show your credentials in order to reassure them that you are fully trained and competent.

Once this rapport is established, a hypnotherapist will often begin the session with an induction, which is just really a way of gaining eye closure. There are many ways a hypnotherapist may do this. They may for example ask you to gaze at a swinging pendulum, or a spot on the ceiling, and give suggestions of your eyes becoming tired, or they may simply ask you to close your eyes.

A hypnotherapist will then usually guide the subject into a hypnotic trance. This isn’t as magical and mystical a state as many have been led to believe. It is rather like when you are daydreaming, or totally absorbed in a book or film. You might be in the room, but your mind is elseware. A hypnotherapist often uses techniques similar to meditation techniques, such as breathing exercises, or creative visualisation exercises, such as imagining walking around a peaceful lake, in order to guide a subject into trance.

Once the conscious part of the mind is ‘quietened’ then the therapy can begin – the hypnotherapy. This is the stage where the subconscious part of the mind, the part that is responsible for our automatic responses, drives and urges, is more receptive to suggestion. A hypnotherapist will then communicate with this part of the mind using many techniques such as metaphors, story telling etc. in order to convince it to make a change (that has been agreed upon earlier).

Once the hypnotherapist is happy that the suggestions have been accepted, he will then reorientate the subject, usually with a count.

Subjects are often surprised that they could actually hear most of what was said, and could even move their fingers when they wanted to. They can even stand up at any point if they really want to. However it is often such an enjoyably peaceful experience that most people just don’t want to open their eyes or stand up.

A hypnotic trance is actually a very normal and natural state of mind that most of us slip into several times every day. Like I said before, it is like a daydream state, where our conscious minds are ‘tuned down’. For instance have you ever been so absorbed in a book or film that you haven’t noticed things happening around you? Someone may have come into the room, maybe even tried to talk to you, but you just haven’t noticed. That is what it feels like to be in a hypnotic trance.

Another example is highway hypnosis. Many people who drive cars will have experienced this phenomenon. It is where you have driven a journey of sometimes several miles, and cannot remember the journey. It was like you were on ‘autopilot’. You were driving while in a natural hypnotic trance.

Although it may seem a little worrying, you are in fact still a safe driver while in this state. In fact many hypnotherapists believe you are actually even more of a safe driver while in this state of mind. They liken it when a sportsman is on top form and they are ‘in the zone’. Whatever they do seems so easy and effortless, that they hardly have to think about it at all. This is one reason why top sportsmen such as Tiger Woods regularly use sports hypnosis to help them reach the top of their game.

The total opposite of this state of mind is where someone is self conscious. You will probably have experienced this state of mind in your life – particularly when younger. This is where you are consciously thinking too much about what you are doing. You conscious mind is nowhere near as powerful as your subconscious part, so everything is more difficult when in this state of mind. It is where you feel nervous and ‘self conscious’, and everything seems so fumbling and awkward. Sometimes people get like this when talking to attractive members of the opposite sex. Talking becomes difficult – even walking without bumping into things can become more of a challenge.

This is why hypnosis is so effective for helping people become more confident in any situation – even when approaching the opposite sex. A good hypnotherapist can train a subject to access the more powerful and flowing subconscious part of the mind when in these situations. This can help you bring out the best of yourself, just like some of the top sportsmen do.

A hypnotic state is usually associated with a quitening or tuning down of the conscious mind. This can help our performance in almost any area, and can also facilitate our absorption of positive and beneficial suggestions. This can then allow us to change our habits. It can help us remove unwanted habits such as smoking or drinking, and can also help us gain positive habits such as exercising more or eating healthier.

So although I have not given you a definition or an exact description of what hypnosis is, I hope that you have some kind of ‘feel’ for it. Since it is a state of mind, it is probably impossible to ever adequately describe. Also the experience is slightly different from time to time, and from individual to individual, further complicating matters.

The best way to fully understand what hypnosis is, is to experience it for yourself. There are many ways to do this. You can learn how to do self hypnosis, hire a hypnotherapist, or buy a hypnosis audio session. Once you have experienced it for yourself, you will understand what it is all about. You will feel it and understand it. The wild and mystical stories that you may have read for many years will start to seem ridiculous and inaccurate. You will realise that most of the hype surrounding hypnosis is actually plainly untrue. However you may have difficulty explaining to someone else exactly what it is.

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