The Basic Mechanics of Hypnosis
We’ve all heard it… ‘You’re getting sleepy, very sleepy’ or ‘Look into my eyes.’ These lines have been delivered by fictional hypnosis for decades, giving hypnosis a bad name.
On most shows, hypnosis is depicted as some “magic.” You’ve more than likely seen it. A subject or “victim” stare at a swinging pocket watch and, within seconds. Has turned into a zombie who does whatever the hypnotists say.
The truth is, this view of hypnosis is new. Humanity has used hypnosis for its therapeutic benefits for hundreds of years.
It’s one of the oldest forms of psychology in the world.
In ancient India, the Hindus made self-hypnosis a tenant of their religious practice. Also Avicenna, a Persian physician, first documented the hypnotic state in 1027.
Also, after decades of misrepresentations, hypnosis has once again begun to reclaim its credibility.
Now, a growing amount of research is suggesting that hypnosis does have therapeutic benefits.
So what is hypnosis?
One way of looking at it is:
Hypnosis is a technique, in which practitioners follow steps, so that they can reach a state of heightened concentration and awareness. Referred to as “ a hypnotic state,” and it’s like daydreaming or that feeling you get when driving and you lose track of periods of the journey.
Now contrary to popular belief, while you’re under hypnosis, you remain conscious and in control, but you’re so relaxed and highly focused, you tune out other things around you and reach a heightened state of awareness.
In this state, the mind is highly responsive to suggestions, and this is why hypnosis is such a powerful tool for change.
Our automatic, subconscious thoughts trigger our bad habits, phobias, or negative feelings. For example, A smoker experiences automatic cravings, which in turn trigger the conscious mind to go for a cigarette.
However, through hypnosis, the smoker can change these subconscious responses.
First, you would examine why these automatic thoughts were there, to begin with. Then, you could start to update them with more positive responses. These positive thoughts get pushed to the front of the subconscious, and they overpower the old way of thinking.
So that’s a broad overview of hypnosis.
You likely have many questions left unanswered. This guide like others I have written will help you research hypnosis at a deeper level. Providing insights into how it works, what is taking place in the brain during hypnosis, and how it can help.
Terms of Hypnosis
Hypnosis has been described in many ways, and they’re sometimes used interchangeably. We going to talk about some now, and what part of the process, they refer to.
As you begin to research hypnosis as a form of change, it is helpful to understand the difference between these terms. They include:
- Hypnosis is the highly focused frame of mind you reach after being hypnotised. Also referred to as ‘hypnotic state’ or ‘trance.’
- Hypnotism: The process used to induce the hypnotic state. There are many ways to induce a hypnotic state, breathing, closing of the eyes and fixating are just some examples.
- Hypnotherapy: Hypnotherapy refers to the use of hypnosis as a therapeutic tool. Hypnotherapists are trained professionals who help patients reach self-improvement goals.
Another way of thinking of hypnosis. Is it’s like meditation, but with a goal. Similar in that you will be seeking to reach a state of concentration and altered awareness.
However, with hypnosis, you take it to a different level.
In this state of awareness, you begin to examine your subconscious mind. Giving it suggestions, that can help you improve and enhance how the subconscious operates. Replacing outdated beliefs that no longer serve you and your interests.
Now there are typically three steps including in making the hypnotic change:
- Hypnotic Induction: You first go through a process to reach a hypnotic state, called the hypnotic induction. Now you can be seated, lying down or even standing it doesn’t matter. Also, there are many ways you can induce this state. Controlled breathing techniques, a memorised script designed to take you into hypnosis, Hypnotic recordings, or by a professional hypnotherapist.
- Hypnotic Suggestion/therapy: Once in hypnosis, the subject receives hypnotic suggestions or treatment. These suggestions are designed to update a person’s subconscious mind map. These suggestions can be formed in many different ways. Direct commands or metaphors, for example.
- Wake: Known as wake, even tho you’re not asleep. Refers to the subject returning to the here and now with their new thought process installed.
What Hypnotism Is NOT: Common Misconceptions
You can’t be made to cluck like a chicken or bark like a tree, or even act against your will, unless you want to.
Remember, hypnosis IS NOT a form of mind control.
You choose to follow steps that allow you to enter into a state of deep concentration, and you remain in control throughout.
Due to pop culture hypnosis has developed some silly misconceptions. Like:
- You Lose Control: Hypnotised people are entirely aware of their surroundings. They experience a heightened level of focus and tune out distractions. So there is no loss of control. You can open your eyes at any time and reject any suggestion that you do not want.
You Are Asleep. The deep focus and relaxation reached during hypnosis are often mistaken for sleep. That’s why the origin of the word hypnosis is the ancient Greek word “hypnos,” or sleep. However, unlike sleep, you are highly aware.
- You Can Get Stuck in Hypnosis: I remember seeing a film once, and someone was hypnotised, and they never wake up. They stay trapped in hypnosis forever, but that is pure fiction. Remember your in control and can open your eyes when you’re ready.
- Hypnosis Is a Magic Bullet: Hypnosis isn’t a cure. You have to want to make a difference, and you have to continue to work at it, but if you’re going to improve, the researcher has shown that hypnotherapy can help.
Clinical Uses of Hypnosis:
Your subconscious mind controls about 95 per cent of your thoughts. So when it gets into a fight with your conscious mind, it pretty much always wins.
That’s why we get stuck doing unwanted behaviours.
They’ve become embedded in our minds, due to repetition and reinforcement. Many of our fears, worries, habits, and doubts, are held firmly in place in our subconscious.
As a therapy, hypnotherapy seeks to re-frame and reverse these “habits of thought.”
Let’s take a little look at some of the ways hypnosis can help re-frame many subconscious responses.
- Phobias and fears: Hypnosis untangle and replaces the associations that keep that fear in place. Such as Fear of flying, driving, heights, the doctor or dentist, insects, intimacy or even success.
- Habits: Habits are embedded in our thinking due to repetition and reinforcement. Hypnosis allows people to examine subconscious triggers and get rid of them. Hypnotherapy can help with Smoking, substance abuse, gambling, overeating and procrastination.
- Anxieties: Anxiety is irrational, and they can get in the way of life. Hypnosis helps update the way we view these feelings and replace them with more positive, such as General anxiety, social anxiety, exam anxiety, stage fright, and performance anxiety.
- Negative Self-Talk: Our subconscious minds control our views of ourselves, and when negative thoughts are formed, they can impact our confidence. Hypnosis seeks to re-frame these negative self-thoughts and update them with positive ones. Hypnosis helps with Self-criticism, self-confidence, self-esteem, self-awareness, body dysphoria, and insecurity.
- Health: Many general health conditions stem from negative subconscious thoughts. For example, insomniacs may have a fear that they won’t fall asleep. By examining and re-framing these thoughts, we can begin to change the way of thinking behind the condition. Conditions like: Stress, hypochondria, headaches, chronic pain management, impotence, and insomnia.
Can I Be Hypnotised?
An overwhelming majority of people about 75-85 per cent are said to be able to reach a light state of trance, according to the latest research.
Researchers have speculated that people who are hypnotisable might also be:
- Easily absorbed in everyday tasks
- Frequent daydreamers
- Show higher empathy
- Are open to learning new skills
- And have an open mind about hypnosis
Of course, these traits aren’t required to be hypnotised, as its a natural part of our everyday lives.
What Does It Do to Your Brain?
Once we’ve bypassed the conscious part of the mind, psychologist speculates we can work directly with the subconscious. In other words, hypnosis allows you to go “under the hood” and access the more in-depth resources within.
Recent research seems to confirm some of this theory. One study shows that areas of the brain responsible for critical thinking show reduced activity during hypnosis.
Dr David Spiegel did a study on the brain on people under hypnosis and found that subjects:
- Tuned Out Stimuli: This study showed reduced activity in the dorsal anterior cingulate. Meaning hypnosis allows us to tune out our worries and stresses. We’re absorbed in the experience.
- Increase in Mind-Body Connections: The research found that the mind is more in tune with how it control’s the body. This helps explain why hypnotic suggestion can help us better control how the body responds.
Spiegel’s research shows that our brains behave differently in the hypnotic state. Many of these processes are unique to hypnosis.
What Will You Experience During Hypnosis?
The experience of a hypnotic trance is not so unusual or strange. It feels familiar to countless other moments in your life where you were absorbed in a zone, lost in thought, enthralled by bliss, or even meditating. Lots of people also describe hypnosis as the feeling you get when taking a nap. I often refer to it as taking my clients on a journey, a metaphorical trip in your mind or imagination. Now, as you enter into hypnosis you might experience:
- Physical sensations such as feeling heavy or little. Feeling relaxed around muscles like eyelids. You might feel your body relaxing into the chair or floating up.
- Tuning out of your surroundings and a reduced state of alertness, you will be aware of everything going on, but you will be more interested in the internal.
Your Options for Hypnosis
You have many options for getting started, most of them are low-cost and can be tried in your own home.
In general, there are three types of hypnotherapy that you can follow. They include:
- Self-Hypnosis: You follow steps or a script to induce hypnosis in self. Once in hypnosis, you would work on an issue that you want using suggestions and metaphor. A simple session may last a little as five minutes.
- Hypnotic Recording: In this form of hypnotherapy, you would follow a pre-recorded hypnosis session. This recording would include an induction, steps to go deeper into a trance. Then therapy for specific conditions.
- Clinical Hypnosis (Hypnotherapy): You can also work 1 to 1 with a professional hypnotherapist. This form tends to be done in an office. The hypnotherapist learns about you, and what you’re hoping to do. Then provides a hypnosis session tailored to your exact needs.