When hearing the word hypnosis many immediately think of an old man with a pocket watch controlling an unwilling subject. The person appears asleep, often frightening events are recovered and, ultimately, the person emerges with sweat and panic. This is the hypnosis of the movies.
Then there are those amazing hypnotists at comedy clubs or colleges who mesmerise the audience with their power. They display their incredible ability to make people do things that embarrass them like barking like a dog, sexual acts or even forgetting their name. They argue that they introduce hypnosis to a larger audience and, to their credit, many people emerge with a new understanding and interest in this cool process. Unfortunately, there are also some audience members who get scared.
While the previous examples can be entertaining in a weird way, the actual experience of hypnosis is much more profound and enjoyable than depicted in the movies or on stage. These performances can demonstrate the power of the mind but have caused much fear in people who contact me asking, Is it dangerous? Here are the common myths of hypnosis and the real truth about this wonderful process:
1. The hypnotist has power over his/her subject - FALSE
The hypnotist or hypnotherapist is simply a guide to help the client/subject enter into the trance state. The person is in complete control of their experience and can open their eyes at any time. They can also reject any idea that does not match their moral beliefs. All hypnosis is self-hypnosis – there is no difference.
The subject is completely in charge of how deep they go into the state. Some naturally enter more easily than others. You will notice the stage hypnotist will bring several subjects on stage and test to find the one out of the crowd that is more suggestible. About one in ten people are highly hypnotizable.
2. You are knocked out and unconscious – FALSE
Depending on the depth of trance, most subjects hear everything and are very conscious of what is going on around them. Actually, the state helps the subject become hyper-aware of subtle sounds as their mind is more focused on the present moment. (Hypnosis is a great training tool for those with ADD.) Subjects almost always remember everything that occurs in a session. The feeling is similar to being absorbed in a good movie.
3. Some people cannot be hypnotised – TRUE
Hypnosis is a natural state that every person enters in and out every day. It is the state of mind you enter just before drifting off to sleep and upon awakening.
People experience a trance state when they are driving a familiar route, watching television or a movie, or even listening to an engaging speaker.
With that said, there are some people who cannot use hypnosis as a therapeutic tool because of mental impairments. This myth is a convenient excuse for someone who is not properly trained in hypnosis. Most failure rates are caused by the lack of rapport between the client and the hypnotist. No one can be hypnotised against their will. If proper rapport is not established, the client will refuse to relax.
4. Hypnosis erases parts of your mind – FALSE
The hypnotic experience alone does not erase things from your brain or mind. What hypnosis does is create a relaxed state of mind so that the subject can work with his/her subconscious beliefs and amend them. The subject does the changing by accepting new ideas and beliefs in the state by working with the framework of their existing beliefs. Since all of our memories are part fact and part fantasy, the subject can rewrite the story in the subconscious mind so that the emotional reaction or thought patterns shift to become more in line with the person's personal goals.
For example, the hypnotist does not erase smoking from a person mind but can reframe the idea of smoking to be something unpleasant so that the subject will have no desire for the cigarette after the session. If a person has negative self-talk, the hypnotist can guide the subject to find resources in the subconscious that help to foster love and acceptance.
The person starts to feel different, more confident after the session. If there is a belief that the subject will never find love, the hypnosis state can allow them to daydream being in a great relationship and change the belief on the deep subconscious level.
5. Hypnosis is only good for people who are dumb and gullible – FALSE
Actually, the smarter the subject, the easier it is for him/her to go into a hypnotic trance and have great results. Not sure why this is, but research has shown that the higher the intelligence, the more responsive the subject is to hypnosis.
The best aspect of hypnosis is the feeling you get in the state and after you come out. Many clients have claimed to feel light, joyful, and even giggle afterwards. Some have the experience of floating weightless in a warm, wonderful cushion of comfort. This state is a natural high as your body returns back to homoeostasis and reduces stress naturally. There are so many modalities that claim to shift subconscious belief systems, but I find that hypnosis is the fastest, easiest and most enjoyable of the bunch.
How Hypnosis Works:
Since a majority of your thoughts are the same every day, you experience the same situations and people throughout your life that reflect the fixed ideas in your subconscious mind. All of your behaviours, thoughts and beliefs run deep in your subconscious on autopilot. Most of these ideas were stored before the age of ten and you have probably outgrown most of them. By updating the subconscious with new adult perspective information, your subconscious will take them on and automatically act differently. Your conscious will is only part of the equation; you must have your subconscious in alignment with the new idea in order for the belief to stick.
Hypnosis allows the mind to be more open for change. In a relaxed state of mind, you can retrain your thinking to be in alignment with new ideas that you choose to give you the life experience you really want. Feeding the mind with suggestions in a hypnotic trance, the subconscious takes these ideas literally and will not kick them out like it does when you are not in trance. For example, if you are tired of struggling with your weight, hypnosis can transform beliefs about what food you like, how fast you chew and even motivate you to get to the gym. Daily self-hypnosis with supportive suggestions acts like training wheels for your subconscious mind. Usually, after 30-60 days, the new behavioural change is permanent.
Many of my clients tell me that the process feels like magic. After years of struggling with an issue, they find their self-talk transforming and their behaviours more supportive to their goals. Affirmations are not enough. One suggestion in hypnosis is equal to one thousand affirmations. This is the fastest and most effective self-help system available. Everybody should give hypnosis a chance to work for them.