All about Hypnosis
Hypnosis. The word conjures up images of cartoon characters staring at a swinging watch, and as their eyes begin to spiral they start following commands. They’ll squawk like a chicken, bark like a dog, or some similar embarrassing antic, then they’ll wake up with no memory of what they just did.
It doesn’t exactly work this way in real life.
These sorts of scenes have filled movie reels for generations, and while the portrayal isn’t accurate, hypnosis is still fascinating.
What is hypnosis?
Actual hypnosis is a completely natural, normal state of selective, focused attention. It’s been recognized for thousands of years in many different cultures, and used for many different purposes. Our ability to go into a state of hypnosis allows the mind to heal, explore, and even change.
When your mind is in this state of intensely focused attention you can use your thoughts in ways that you can’t when you’re in a normal, wakeful state. With the help of a trained professional hypnotist, you can influence your thoughts to make changes to your feelings and behaviors. The state of hypnosis allows these changes to be permanent, so that new behaviors become automatic and effortless.
How can hypnosis help?
Historically, hypnosis has been used to treat pain, anxiety, depression, stress, and many other medical and psychological problems. It has been used to aid in smoking cessation and weight loss as well. However, like any modality, it may not be the ideal treatment for every person. If you’re interested in trying hypnosis, it’s best to consult with a qualified healthcare provider that has been trained in clinical hypnosis.
Hypnosis is unique in that it has the potential to heal your body and mind without the use of drugs or negative side effects. So while it’s not a magic bullet that cures everyone instantaneously, it’s worth trying alongside traditional medical treatments.
It’s been proven that your physical body responds to your thoughts. For instance, if you’re watching a scary movie, you might experience an increased heart rate, shortness of breath, or butterflies in your stomach. On the flip side, if you think about something that makes you happy you may experience a reduced heart rate, muscle relaxation, and deeper, slower breathing. These are involuntary nervous system responses. When harnessed while you are hypnotized, your mind is very open to suggestions, and these suggestions can help bring positive change and reduce negative physical reactions.
Can anyone be hypnotized?
Most people can be hypnotized. Some people are able to go into a trance more easily than others, but about 85% of people can go into at least a light trance fairly easily. In most cases, a light trance is all that is needed to enable someone to benefit from hypnotherapy.
For the remaining 10-15% of people who aren’t able to enter the trance state, hypnosis may still be helpful in relaxation and stress relief.
Will I know what I’m doing?
It’s a common misconception that you’ll be unaware of your actions when you’re in a hypnotic state. When you’re hypnotized you don’t lose control of yourself, and you won’t be “asleep”. Sleep and hypnosis are similar in that you will be relaxed and your eyes will (probably) be closed, but there are differences. The biggest difference is that when you’re in a hypnotic state your awareness is heightened, not lessened. There are differences in the brain waves of people who are sleeping and those in a trance as well.
Many people think that they haven’t been hypnotized because they are able to talk and interact with the hypnotist. But in a trance state, this is normal. You will still be aware of yourself and your surroundings. Your mind is not taken over by the hypnotist, and your brain isn’t under their control. They are simply guiding you into the state and providing suggestions that can bring about real, substantial, permanent change.
Can I get “stuck” in a hypnotic state?
This is another myth. You cannot get “stuck” in a hypnotic state and be trapped there until someone brings you out of it. You won’t stay hypnotized indefinitely, and will always come out of the trance after a short amount of time, whether you have someone guiding you out of it or not.
My friend says she wants to try hypnotizing me; is that a good idea?
If you are looking to improve a particular symptom, or have a specific goal, it’s best to choose a certified hypnotherapist. Just like any healing modality, hypnosis can be an effective healing tool when administered properly. It’s recommended that you thoroughly research a practitioner before working with them. Look for a professional that specializes in your particular problem, and has experience. There are many hypnotherapists in the healthcare field that have been properly trained, licensed, and credentialed. This means that they have graduate level training and hold a valid license in a health care field such as psychiatry, medicine, psychology, social work, nursing, or counseling. While your friend might have your best interests at heart, you will most likely benefit more by using a professionally trained hypnotherapist.