What is hypnosis?
What is a hypnotic state?
Hypnosis is enjoyable, hypnosis is safe, you are naturally in an out of hypnosis by yourself all day long. Your imagination, creativity and memory dramatically improve while you are in hypnosis. It can change your life in marvellous ways.
You are in a state of 'daydreaming' many times throughout the day; at the traffic lights, staring out of a window, looking at the waves rolling in on the sea, engrossed in a good book, watching the telly, etc. That's hypnosis! That's all it is! You are not asleep and you are aware of everything that is going on around you. In fact, your senses are around 20% more heightened than if you were not in hypnosis. For example, some people may hear a dog barking a long way away that they wouldn’t have noticed before. It is a highly intuitive and creative state.
Is hypnosis mind control?
Not at all. Hypnosis has been widely misunderstood over the years. It is a fantastic subject for fiction with countless books, films and documentaries popularising the misconceptions. With modern clinical hypnotherapy, you are always in control. You are the one who gets to decide what you would like to go into your subconscious mind. The hypnotherapist only uses positive suggestions, your mind will decide which ones are acceptable to it or not.
Will I remember everything?
Memory is an interesting one; it varies from person to person. In fact, imagination, concentration and memory all dramatically improve while in hypnosis. If you had a conversation with someone about knitting for an hour, would you remember every word? Most likely, you would remember the parts that are of interest to you. It's the same in a hypnosis state. You are free to remember all or part of it, as you wish, and as is appropriate for you.
Will I give away all my secrets?
People can lie in hypnosis. Your subconscious mind always protects you to do what is right for you.
Also, using modern hypnotherapy techniques, there is no need to tell your hypnotherapist any of your secrets or traumatic or emotional stories. Anyway, you probably wouldn't be able to find the exact words to explain it in a way that another person would understand and in a way that would be truthful, given the layers and layers of emotions and circumstances that have gone into it. Using 'content free' hypnotherapy, you can release anything you need to safely and naturally without having to reveal your secrets or re-experience any trauma.
Will I dance like a chicken or bark like a dog?
Stage performance is quite different to a therapeutic setting. The people who get up on stage are 'up for a laugh.' They consent to going along with it. It is quite fascinating how it works. I have written a blog article about it here: Is stage hypnotism black magic?
Can I get 'stuck' in hypnosis?
Contrary to what we have seen on Scooby Doo, no, it's not possible. Either of two things will happen from a hypnotic trance... you will fall asleep and wake up when you want to... or you would simply come back to the present moment feeling perfectly fine. If you were daydreaming and someone were to ask you a question, you might take a moment or two to focus on them and come out of your lovely daydream, but you would be out of your hypnosis and back to your normal conscious thought stream.
I don't think I can be hypnotised
Anyone can be hypnotised. It is a natural human state that you can't avoid. However, you may feel resistance if you are unfamiliar with hypnosis or if you don't trust the person hypnotising you. If you would like to experience the marvellous benefits of hypnosis, be sure your hypnotist is suitably qualified, get to know him/her through an introductory session to find out whether this is a person you could like well enough and relax with. Ask any and all questions you like to completely satisfy any doubts you may be holding on to.
Will a pendulum be swung before my eyes?
You've probably seen this in the movies and, interestingly, it does work. But in a modern clinical hypnotherapy session, mainly talking is used to help you to guide yourself into a self-hypnosis trance.
What are the conscious and subconscious minds?
Your conscious mind takes in the world with your senses: see, hear, feel, taste, touch and smell. It thinks about it all, criticises it, analyses it, judges it good or bad, right or wrong. Your conscious mind holds your short-term memories.
Your subconscious mind is where you keep your long-term memories. Vast amounts of information that you have been processing your whole life. It can be easy to access, or it can be locked away.
The guards in between represent the protection mechanism of your subconscious mind. They don't let anything pass through unless it is safe to do so. And for good reason!
So how does hypnosis work in a therapeutic setting?
Firstly, you need to have good 'rapport' with your hypnotherapist. It needs to be someone you feel comfortable with and with whom you can build a relationship of trust. Make sure your hypnotherapist is suitably qualified.
Your hypnotherapist will ask what it is you would like to achieve with hypnosis and begin working out how to help you to get there.
Your hypnotherapist does not judge you or offer advice. It is very important that whatever your wishes and desires are, whoever you would like to be or however you would like to live your life, that they are your own choices. Not someone else's. You are perfect! Your ideas are valid and good and it is very important that you follow your own heart's desires. Don't worry if you can't put it into words, that's what hypnosis is perfect for! Your mind is a weird and wonderful and very powerful thing and it has all the answers. As ancient Chinese philosopher Lao Tzu said 2,600 years ago:
"At the centre of your being you have the answer; you know who you are and you know what you want" - Lao Tzu
The next step is what is known as a hypnotic 'induction'.
It simply means that you start to wind down and relax with less thinking, criticising and analysing from your conscious mind. Thoughts will come and go but your hypnotherapist is trained to guide you to let those thoughts go and just relax, observing your breathing and other signals and guiding you to imagine you are in a beautiful, tranquil place, where you can just relax and let your mind wander to wherever it wants to. You and only get to decide where your mind will wander to.
You are always in control
As an analogy, your hypnotherapist is like a tourist guide. She might offer a brochure with various choices of marvellous holidays. Which one would you choose? A luxury cruise, a backpacking adventure, a shopping holiday, horse riding in the mountains, lazy days on the beach, dancing and partying, a romantic destination, etc.?
It's all up to you.
If the one that you really want isn't even in the brochure, your mind will make the quantum leap and work out all the details for you. Your mind is very clever and powerful and knows exactly what is best for you.
Positive suggestions and 'post-hypnotic' suggestions.
While you are in hypnosis, as a very general example, your hypnotherapist may suggest several times that you are taking very good care of your body, that you are making sure you get enough sleep, good food and exercise. If your subconscious mind thinks that all of this is a good idea, it will accept it, on a subconscious level, where habits become automatic.
A technique known as an 'exduction' is used to guide you back into the present moment.
Your hypnotherapist might recap on some important points and then count backwards, guiding you to wake up feeling wonderful, relaxed, refreshed and fully alert and taking away all your new learnings with you.
That's it in a nutshell!
If nothing else, the stress relief of it on its own does wonders for people. I think a lot of them just come back to me again and again because they love this little holiday for the mind! Where they can explore new things and become an even better version of themselves.
Does hypnosis make you drowsy?
It was a great question from a client who was planning a getaway weekend with her partner after her appointment and hadn't been sleeping well all week.
The reality is that after a hypnotherapy session, you will feel as though you have had a good eight hours' sleep in 20 minutes or so.
Hypnosis is a 'state of mind' in which you are totally aware of everything going on around you, you are actually 20% more aware while you are in hypnosis, although your body is deeply relaxed. Every muscle, fibre and cell gets some well-deserved deep relaxation as you go into a pleasant daydream-like state of rest.
You are free to 'wake up' at any time you wish to and you are always in control. Although most people love the sensation so much they are happy to just go with it. Who wouldn't! It can be likened to a 'massage for the mind', after which you will feel refreshed and revitalised and looking forward to the rest of the day with more energy!