One of the most common things I hear about hypnosis is “It’s not real though is it?” and “I don’t think I could be hypnotized”. If this sounds like you then good – because a) it means you’re normal, and b) it means I get to share some thoughts and ideas that will hopefully blow the lid off of hypnosis for you.
I usually find that people look at hypnosis in one of three main ways – which one do you belong to?
- Hypnosis is silly, its just role-play, acting and attention seeking.
- Hypnosis is a kind of mind control thing, using someone as a puppet, a zombie, a slave of sorts to be humiliated and made a fool of. Be afraid! But only if you’re gullible or weak minded.
- Hypnosis is an evidence-based psychological phenomena, with wide applications and benefits (yes, this is the real one).
Whichever you belong to, I think you’ll find this fascinating. Even if you appreciate the benefits of hypnosis in a grounded way, you’ll still get to understand how hypnosis works and why its so useful (more so than most practitioners!)
But first, I’ll just address that common belief of “I don’t think I couldn’t be hypnotised…”
If you really couldn’t be hypnotised, then you’d likely be a psychopath or of very low IQ. Everyone with imagination and the ability to learn can experience hypnosis – although some require more training than others (most of which revolves around removing the huge barriers and fear-based resistances).
You’d be losing out! You wouldn’t get to take advantage of the huge benefit that hypnosis gives to a person, which very, very few people know about.
Its like saying “I don’t think I can learn..”
Breaking Down The Walls
It’s a tough mission to explain hypnosis because “someone convinced against their will, is of the same opinion still”, and where anxiety and fear is concerned there very much is a will to believe against hypnosis.
Ironically, it’s that same mental stubbornness that gets people into all kinds of mental ruts, anxiety and trouble with their minds, which keeps the therapy industry thriving!
Even with examples, there is a strong tendency from the other person to twist and explain everything in a way to fit their worldview. Even in the face of overwhelming evidence to the contrary (so I hope you don’t do that!)
The other day I was telling a woman about an experience with a client and a hypnotic effect that’s near-impossible to fake consciously, and her response was “well (the person being hypnotized) must have been crazy”.
A fascinating thing reduced to being “crazy” as an explanation. But its understandable because there are so many misconceptions about what the mind is capable of.
This human tendency to stick to beliefs is actually like the hypnotic process itself – a compulsive response to some kind of learning event. Its exactly why people benefit from hypnotic trance, because it allows you to step above such conscious cluttering.
Going further with hypnotherapy allows you to resolve those irrational beliefs and barriers of the unconscious mind.
It also explains why people can have very opinionated and emotional feelings about hypnosis despite not actually investigating it or seeking evidence – there’s an active will to not accept it, usually for reasons of fear or feelings of threat.
The real crazy thing is how something as widely researched and validated, as brilliantly useful, as absolutely fascinating, as essential as hypnosis is still so widely misunderstood by otherwise very knowledgeable and intelligent people!
Very few people really understand it, even people working with it (most hypnotherapists don’t even really know what they’re doing). I want to give you a much better understanding and appreciation than most – even practitioners.
Is hypnosis real?
The best way to answer that would be to explain what it is.
If it wasn’t real, it wouldn’t be anything, so by explaining what it is, it will hopefully make it “real”. It isn’t, for example, a special state you can put someone in to make your little puppet, the kind of thing you might have seen in The Manchurian Candidate or The Naked Gun (and literally, people’s perceptions of hypnosis have been influenced by The Naked Gun). “I… must… kill… the Queen…” – that isn’t what hypnosis is. That’s a movie. It’s no more an accurate portrayal of hypnosis than someone flying through a window from a pistol shot is an accurate portrayal of physics.
Ok so… what is hypnosis?
This is where I need to get a little technical.
Hypnosis is the process of directing a person’s automatic unconscious, involuntary responsiveness to achieve a desired result.
That was a mouthful, so let me break it down.
Our brains come built in with a direct and automatic cause-and-effect responsiveness.
As you read these words, you aren’t thinking “ok, that word has those squiggles, which looks like the word ‘thinking’, and thinking means to consider something using thoughts, so I’ll hold that concept in my mind whilst I move onto the next word…” – it just happens. It’s automatic!
When you see a crocodile leap out from behind a parked car at Tescos, you don’t think “oh that’s unusual, but also potentially dangerous, I suppose weighing up the odds of winning a fight with this thing vs the energy expenditure of moving, I should leap out of the way”. You just shout “aaaARRGGHH %&$&” and leap out of the way (we’ve all been there)
Ok, so they’re small examples of automatic cause-and-effect.
Things happen, and our automatic imagination leads to responses to do things (or consciously think or want or avoid things) without us really consciously choosing to.
It just happens.
When we watch horror films, we don’t choose to feel fear at the times that we do – we automatically respond to all the ideas and suggestions on the screen (including visual, auditory and psychological ideas).
Don’t think of a black cat.
Please – don’t imagine it just sat there, looking at you with its silly little eyes piercing out.
Definately don’t imagine its tail.
You thought about it didn’t you, you disobedient thing you. But that’s okay, because if you were able to read and understand the words, then you didn’t really have much choice about it.
Don’t think about a polar bear rollerskating…
So words can create automatic responses in our imagination.
Well what about ideas?
What about automatically responding to ideas in our imagination – is that possible?
Normally when someone presents you with an idea, such as to do something, you think about it first. You consider it, compare it against past experiences, imagine potential happenings, that kind of thing. There are all sorts of theories about the workings of this mechanism, from executive control, to the feeling of consciousness. For now we’ll just call this part of the mind the ‘critical faculty’. Its not a “real thing” its just a metaphor for the idea of your conscious analytical thoughts.
It’s what normally stops you from dancing like a chicken when someone tells you to (sorry, I had to get that massive cliche out of the way somehow). The critical faculty thinks “actually no, I don’t want to do that, because I’d look like an idiot”. See?
But that critical faculty wasn’t – and isn’t – always there.
As we begin to look at these times, you’ll get a better understanding of what I mean by automatic unconscious responsiveness.
Natural Hypnotic Learning
Childhood is the best example. During your impressionable years, you haven’t learned enough to know what’s what – so you absorb everything. You don’t have the experience or knowledge to be able to reject or consider ideas as easily. So there’s a much greater degree of automatically absorbing ideas. This is what is meant by being…
Unfortunately for many, absorbed ideas about yourself and the world aren’t always positive.
Parental or teacher ‘suggestions’ like “you’ll never amount to much” “you should be seen and not heard” “this is all your fault” or just “bad boy” over and over can be easily absorbed by the unconscious mind.
Also, the unconscious mind can respond to these ideas, automatically, for years. Even a whole lifetime. The way a person sees themselves is a very powerful, deep rooted thing, that is largely developed during these impressionable years and isn’t at all easy to change. For the vast majority, it sticks around forever.
Now, that resistant bit of your mind might be leaping up and shouting “but I had a bad childhood, and my life is great – because I had the mind to turn it around! I’m in control! Life is what you make of it!”
To an extent that’s true – but it’s worth remembering here that it’s not the events themselves that shape us – the bad parents, the traumas, the situations.
It’s the meanings we give them.
Its not the events themselves, but the meaning that we give them that influence us most.
If those meanings are handed to us (“this is all your fault”) then we’re likely to accept them. Even if they aren’t, it’s easy to apply our own meanings and accept them instead (“dad left, therefore I’m not good enough”). People who turn their lives around, who make good of bad childhood situations, tend to have also absorbed positive meanings that counteract the bad ones (at some point in life).
This process of childhood impressionability – absorbing ideas that our minds respond to automatically – is it hypnosis?
Well almost but not really, because it’s not directed to achieve a desired result. I personally wouldn’t call it hypnosis – but I know a lot of hypnotists would include such a thing within their definition (they also argue that “everything is hypnosis”). It uses the same mechanisms of hypnosis, but in a more random, haphazard and accidental way.
It’s because of this accidental use of a powerful system that many people end up with serious issues and anxieties by the way.
The point of this is to just explain that the mind can respond to stimuli without your conscious analytical process stepping in to check on it.
So how about later in life?
Well absolutely. You can still absorb ideas into the unconscious mind, even if you think you’re all “in control” and have a choice.
A Neat Metaphor of The Critical Faculty
Think of the critical faculty as being like a guard to a building (the building is your unconscious mind).
Normally, the guard stops all who want to enter, checks them out, lets only the right people (the right ideas) through. Sometimes though – he can be gotten round. Sometimes, he gets distracted by something else – then an idea just sifts through. This is like sponsorship advertising – you’re distracted by the main event, and don’t notice some brand just slip on by into your unconscious to be associated forever more.
Sometimes, an idea cycles up to the guard every day. Sits there for a while next to him, cycles off again. Every day. Until about three weeks later, the guard has become completely oblivious to the idea. So then, the idea just cycles on into the building, unnoticed. This is when the repetition of an idea finally gets accepted – which is why advertising (especially branding) relies on repetition.
Sometimes, an idea is so forceful and powerful, that the guard turns a blind eye knowingly and just lets it in. This is like the power of emotions. When our emotions are running high, we tend to become more suggestible to ideas. This is why you’re more likely to spend more on drinks when you’re having a good time, when you might normally talk yourself out of spending so much.
Something else that might happen is that someone who outranks the guard walks on in without question. This is the power of authority – which can be incredibly automatic and influential.
In one study, when a stranger wearing an anonymous uniform asked another stranger to pick up litter from the street, a significantly higher proportion did, than if the person was in plain clothes. The uniform was anonymous! There was no real legal power at work, but just the suggestion of authority is enough to make people respond.
In Stanley Milgram’s famous study, a scientist in a white coat asked participants to give increasing electric shocks to someone. They didn’t know the shocks weren’t real (the receiver just screamed behind a closed door) – yet two thirds of people went all the way up to “XXX – DEATH” because the scientist told them too. Shocking, right?
The Misunderstood Placebo Effect
The placebo effect works in this way too – a doctor telling someone what effect a pill will have can be automatically responded to by the unconscious mind, to the extent that they lose a headache, become happier, have a skin disease clear up, go hot, cold, or have any other number of effects.
The placebo effect is probably the best example there is of hypnotic suggestion, because it’s been supported by so many (in fact, almost all) medical trials. The double blind procedure of randomized trials against a placebo equivalent was developed because the placebo effect is so reliably powerful.
People dismiss it as fluff, “oh, it’s just the power of belief! It’s all in the mind! It’s nothing real” but think about what an understatement that is!
Just the power of belief.
That power of belief collectively has more variance than all the drugs that have been tested against it. The mind is incredibly powerful, there’s no question about it. If you’re in any doubt about the placebo effect, Google it and do some research, you’ll be amazed.
Hopefully you’re in agreement that the unconscious mind can respond to stimuli automatically, and also understand that the response doesn’t have to be instant. It might take a while to respond. The important thing is that the unconscious mind has accepted an idea. Once that idea is accepted, the unconscious mind will move towards it – because this is what the unconscious mind does. It follows programs.
Really, that’s all the unconscious does.
The whole thing is automatic.
It steers you towards the ideas, the drives, the motives, the goals, that it has stored within. When someone says your name in a crowded room, it makes you shift your focus to look and see, because it knows that it’s relevant to you. If an opportunity presents that could help you towards your goals, your unconscious will spot it. If some of your goals are self-destructive (e.g. you absorbed the idea that you aren’t good enough, or don’t deserve to be happy), then your unconscious will spot opportunities for procrastination or self-sabotage. It doesn’t care whether the goals, the expectations, the ideas are positive or negative – it just steers you towards them.
That’s what it does.
So, what’s hypnosis again?
Oh yes. So – hypnosis is the process of directing a person’s automatic unconscious responsiveness to achieve a desired result.
Whats the Process of Hypnosis?
Well, there are a few methods, but the most common is to relax you with very specific suggestions. There’s more to this process than just “you are getting sleepy”, although this can work too with some people.
The process might involve distracting your senses, turning your sensory awareness from outward to inward, and beginning to conjure certain unconscious effects of the imagination.
You then become relaxed to the extent that your critical faculty is relaxed and switched off – you are then much more unconsciously responsive to suggestions.
This is the equivalent of distracting that guard to the building.
Metaphorically we say “hey guard, you want to hear a story?” then focus all his attention on the story, whilst ideas sneak into the building and are absorbed into the unconscious. The old fashioned idea of focusing the attention on a swinging watch, or a candle, or a bright object, also uses this method.
When you’re sufficiently relaxed, your critical faculty isn’t doing its thing anymore. You aren’t thinking, comparing, considering, analyzing, worrying or fretting. You’re just aware, and relaxed.
It feels immensely relaxing.
Gil Boyne (a great hypnotist I trained with) always made a big deal about how profoundly enjoyable the trance state was. When you aren’t thinking in that analytical way about everything, you just don’t care about anything.
The same is true of meditation, or practicing mindfulness.
If asked how they feel whilst hypnotized, people often report that they feel great, they’re aware, but they just don’t care about anything. Sometimes, this can be an incredibly useful state to be in, because our analytical minds can get us into all sorts of anxious pickles. Imagining things, assuming things, believing things, expecting things – our conscious minds are like little mischievous trolls messing up reality for us.
Now, a few more questions will naturally spring from this explanation, so I’ll try to anticipate them.
Hang on, so a person is aware whilst hypnotized?
Yes, and that’s opposite to what people expect who aren’t aware of what it is.
You might have thought that the person is unaware, and behaving like a zombie. That someone hypnotizing you would be like someone putting you under general anaesthetic.
Which would be weird.
Its one of the biggest misconceptions, which without explanation and correction becomes the single biggest barrier to clients of hypnotherapists being able to relax. “I could hear what you were saying… ” (not that it means they were hypnotised, because more often than not they’re just relaxed, which is a slightly different thing).
When the conscious mind is relaxed to the extent that the unconscious mind becomes receptive to suggestions, the person is still aware of what is being said.
Relaxing the conscious mind is like relaxing a muscle – you can still choose to flex it if you wish, but once you realize how relaxing it feels, you don’t really want to.
In fact, that’s a good example. Have you ever had that experience where someone is moving one of your limbs about, maybe at the doctors or as part of a massage? You can feel your muscles kicking in, trying to anticipate where they’re moving your arm (for example). It’s actually really hard to let go of conscious control, to just allow the arm to be moved freely. You’re still aware of the arm moving, but you just don’t care and aren’t applying any conscious effort. This is a bit like hypnosis.
Lying on a bed and letting go of all your muscles is another good example. Even when you think you’re relaxing and just lying there, you’ll be surprised at how many muscle groups are actually still tense, believing that they’re supporting you when they don’t really need to. If you try to relax every muscle, and absolutely give in to the support of the bed, you might feel that strange little moment of vulnerability, the “letting go of control” moment where you give yourself completely to trusting the bed’s support. Try it tonight as you lay there in bed. You have to try and relax everything. It feels like you might be about to start falling. Trust has a lot to do with it.
Something that can affect how aware a person seemed to be in hypnosis, is if they can’t remember it very well afterwards.
A direct suggestion could be given for the person to not remember the experience, which their unconscious would then likely accept. An indirect suggestion could also be given to forget – by this I meant that they aren’t explicitly asked to forget, but they’re suggested to in another way.
For example “in a moment you’ll awake refreshed doing exactly what you were doing before”, followed by tapping them on the head and saying “so, you were just talking about… (whatever they were talking about before trance)”. This suggests that the hypnotic experience didn’t happen, and the person might then make no further reference to it, nor be able to if asked. If the hypnotist clumsily then suggested that they should remember the experience, and asked a question in a way to imply that they should know, the person might be able to retrieve a hazy idea of it. It all depends on what suggestions have been absorbed!
Not having a memory for the experience can really make it look as if they weren’t aware – because the effect is the same as a person waking up from sleep, or waking up from general anaesthetic. But it’s an illusion, because in the trance they were aware of what was being said.
What kind of suggestions can the mind respond to?
When it’s in a responsive (hypnotic) state, the unconscious mind will respond to a whole range of suggestions that achieve all kinds of amazing effects.
- A person can be suggested to forget a number.
To forget their name.
To not see a particular object.
To see an object that isn’t really there.
To feel a sensation, like hot or cold, even pain.
To not feel pain, even if a needle is pushed under the skin.
To hear something that isn’t there, or not hear something that is.
To remember something from their past that wasn’t available to conscious recall.
To not be able to move.
To access states of feeling, to experience certain emotions.
To associate a feeling or compulsive action with a stimulus, whether a word, sound or visual cue.
Now some of those might seem extraordinary, and they are – that is how resourceful and powerful the mind really is.
But all of those effects can be experienced in different ways, in every day life.
The mental technology that creates those effects, in the brain, isn’t exclusive to the hypnotic process. They’re just accessed more readily, when the mind becomes unconsciously responsive to suggestions.
For example, you can easily forget information that should be readily available to you, like someone’s name that you know you should know, or the name of a band or film.
You sometimes become blind to objects that are right in front of you (car keys, your phone) – unconsciously you just don’t register them.
You sometimes see or hear things that aren’t there – because you’re imagining them to the extent that you unconsciously believe they are there.
You’ve experienced being rooted to the spot.
You’ve experienced not feeling pain when you’ve accidentally cut yourself and not realized.
You’ve had random, long-lost memories visit in dreams or in the waking day, that you haven’t thought about since they actually happened.
You’ve absorbed many compulsive actions or feelings as a response to certain cues. For some this might include feeling inadequate when with certain people, feeling guilty when experiencing happiness, feeling anxiety when meeting strangers.
Anything that the mind is capable of doing, is achievable as a response to suggestion, when a person is hypnotized.
Most of these effects are pointless, and fascinating only as an illustration that might be used in stage hypnosis for example.
But some, such as creative visualization, exploring emotions and memories, are extremely powerful and valuable in change-work, like therapy. People can be taken back to significant memories where meanings or beliefs were absorbed that aren’t useful. The unconscious mind is then ready to absorb new, positive meanings and reframes of events which can have life-changing results for a person.
We all have events or situations in our lives where we “absorbed” negative beliefs about ourselves, the world or other people. How limiting are those beliefs to our every day lives?
For some, it’s unbearable – and leads to great anxiety and self-doubt. How pointless, to have a life limited by some false idea that happened to be absorbed probably many, many years ago. How different things could have been if there was a greater access to the unconscious mind to change such things for the better.
Hypnosis is also useful in self-directed performance, such as accessing enhanced creativity or problem solving abilities. Some medics trained in hypnosis have used it to help people with pain in situations where anaesthetic isn’t readily available. Dentists have extracted teeth, and many women have given birth, using hypnosis as a natural psychological analgesic.
So people can be “cured” in one session like they say?
Actually yes, it is very possible, but shouldn’t be expected. It all depends on what the barrier is.
I’ve had sessions where a person has had extremely good results in one session – because we just so happened to find and resolve the barrier very quickly. For example, a client was automatically “gagging” without any control over it, seizing his throat and stopping him from being able to talk. He’d had this condition for a while, found it awkward and inconvenient, and didn’t know what to do about it.
After a little exploration and work with hypnosis, he became aware of a truth he’d been repressing into the unconscious mind – that he didn’t really love his girlfriend and was terrified of telling her so. His unconscious mind had been dealing with it by making him “stop talking”. In hypnosis, the usual conscious anxieties and defences could be gradually pushed away, until the truth became clearer.
Strange little situations like this are quite common – an unconscious conflict exists that is being dealt with by the mind in a way that isn’t particularly convenient. Hypnosis gives the necessary space, relaxation and resources to experience the enhanced awareness that lies just beyond the cluttered consciousness.
Most problems come down to simple core beliefs, associations or emotional blockages – resolving them can take anything from one session to ten or more.
I never recommend a single session though, it’s really important to do the necessary follow up work even if a resolution is found, to make sure that there are no loose ends or further barriers to uncover.
Things are also never as simple as they might first appear to be. Weight gain or smoking for example isn’t a simple case of having someone suggest that “you will find yourself eating less” or “feeling refreshed each time you choose not to smoke”.
More often than not, such issues go a little deeper into feelings of self-doubt, emotional conflicts and significant events. Exploring, uncovering and resolving such things can take time.
Having said that, I do think that progress is exceptionally faster, and more powerful, with hypnotic techniques and practices than it is with counseling. Because counseling is more conscious based, you can remain “stuck” in the conscious whirlpools of clutter for a long time before any progress is made towards uncovering true unconscious causes. Sometimes they can remain permanently hidden, until a more pervasive technique is used, like hypnosis.
Also of course, people are often afraid of facing the true causes of their problems, which is often why they’re repressed and hidden in the first place. People can be brilliant at being evasive and side-stepping important issues – especially when talking therapies are being used. We all know people who have been to see a therapist or counselor many, many times without making progress – because it’s “the problem” vs “the therapist”, and the unconscious mind usually wins at keeping its secrets hidden.
With some good hypnotic approaches and a good trusting relationship, you become more open, courageous and dynamic in solving your problems. Remember, in hypnosis, you switch off that bit of the mind that is concerned with pointless cluttered thoughts like worrying about what people think, or how something might sound.
You’re aware, but you just don’t care.
It’s a magic state of mind where you can achieve all kinds of useful changes.
What about the rapid hypnotic inductions – they look to be completely out of it?
You might have seen on TV shows or stage hypnosis, someone going into an instant trance because of the hypnotist shouting a “sleep” command or something similar – maybe placing their hand to the person’s head and instantly putting them “under”. Such things usually result in gasps from onlookers, and the effect is very impressive.
But what’s really happening here? It’s a situation called “dual reality” – it looks different from the outside than it does from the inside (being the subject). Situations like this create an unfair perception of hypnosis as something that it’s not, which doesn’t help in understanding it.
From the outside, it looks like the subject is literally put to sleep – we imagine they are somehow not conscious, not aware, won’t remember anything – almost as if they are a robot that has been switched off.
But the perception from the person being hypnotized is very different. What’s happened is that they have just responded to the suggestion – it’s expected that they would droop their head, go floppy, close their eyes and go into a relaxed state. This expectation is received as a suggestion – not a verbal one, but a non-verbal one – which the unconscious mind then responds to automatically. Because they have already responded, they are likely to respond to other suggestions – such as “now your arms just lie relaxed by your side” (the hypnotist may lift and drop them, which further cements the suggestion and is usually responded to well). All the suggestions given and accepted over the next minute or so put the person into an ever-increasing state of responsiveness – the initial sleep command was just the first step of many. They will still be aware of everything that is being said – but as they relax more and their attention focuses inward with more responsiveness to suggestions, they simply won’t care about everything else because their critical faculty won’t be concerned with it any more.
And remember, not caring about anything else doesn’t mean not being aware of anything else.
Rapid inductions in stage hypnosis can also be misleading, because a person can be hypnotically primed to respond to a suggestion to return into trance with a command.
For example, a person might take twenty minutes or so to enter into a sufficiently relaxed state for suggestions to be responded to automatically.
The hypnotist might then give a suggestion for the person to ‘return into this wonderful relaxed state again’ when they hear a certain word – e.g. “sleep”. Then, once they are “woken up” and returned to normal awareness, the command is given and the person returns into the trance state. This second trance is usually a little deeper than the first – that is, they are more automatically and unconsciously responsive to suggestions. They enter the relaxed state a lot faster, without the need for more suggestions to build the responsiveness. Again, the speed of these “re-inductions” can look like mind-control and having power over someone, but that’s not the case. The person is practiced at going into a trance (having already been in one).
One other thing to add here is that some people are more responsive than others. Some are really responsive – they go into a trance state very quickly, which can look very impressive to an onlooker. In stage hypnosis situations, the hypnotist will often target these people, having identified them with a few little suggestion tests with everyone beforehand.
There’s nothing wrong with being highly responsive – it doesn’t mean a person is weak or gullible. It just means they’re more responsive. Research hasn’t been able to correlate responsiveness with any other factors, so it’s difficult to know how people will respond until they try.
Trust is Vitally Important to Hypnosis
A skilled hypnotic process builds trust, so that the relationship between the hypnotist and subject is one that is trusting, open and with positive expectancy. It takes trust for the mind to gradually let go of the analytical critical faculty. Trust isn’t an analytical process, it’s more a ‘feeling’ process, so a person’s trust can vary even whilst in trance. This is why if a hypnotist said something to a subject that they didn’t want to do, or felt was harmful to them in some way, they might lose trust for the hypnotist and bring themselves out of trance.
Some relationships, e.g. loving relationships, doctor-patient relationships, and therapeutic relationships already have trust cultivated within them. They’re ideal situations for hypnotic suggestions. The Stanley Milgram shock experiment carried a lot of hypnotic power because of the presence of authority.
Sometimes the process can be used accidentally because the trust is so powerful – which I’ve already touched on with doctors and the placebo effect.
In loving relationships both sides can have a huge influence on each other – especially to each other’s self-worth for better or worse depending on the suggestions given (again though I’d argue this isn’t hypnosis as such, it’s the same process and mechanism but used in a non-directive way. In the same way that someone who accidentally spills paint on the floor isn’t necessarily an artist).
Building trust in a hypnotic process can take time.
In hypnotherapy, the trust is already there to an extent. Some pre-talk to explain things, and reassurance for any anxieties etc is often necessary, which serves two purposes. One is to reduce any fears, misunderstandings and anxieties (much like I’m attempting to do here), the second is to build a positive expectancy, which helps the mind to relax more because it wants to. Without resistance, it’s simply a lot easier, faster, and more enjoyable.
With stage hypnosis, there is a lot suggestion already taking place which builds trust. The fact that the person appears professional, has been hired, is in a credible environment that the person already trusts. The perception that the rest of the group trusts the hypnotist also creates a kind of group psychology of influence. If someone just stood up in a busy bar and said “hey everyone, fancy some stage hypnosis?” they’d be less likely to be trusted (although depending on their skill and charisma, they could still be successful with it). Also, as mentioned in the previous section, re-inductions are usually very successful, fast and deep – and this is also because trust has already been established with the first induction.
When a person is unable to enter into even a light trance (this is where some light suggestions would be accepted, which eventually could be compounded upon leading towards more powerful suggestions), it’s usually because there is a trust issue.
Deep down, they might still have the belief that something bad will happen, that they will feel foolish, or more likely, that they might start revealing something that would make them feel deeply embarrassed or ashamed.
This is why its a poor idea to try showing off hypnosis as some kind of a party trick, especially to people who are resistant, anxious or misinformed about it some way.
In hypnotherapy, it can sometimes take a long time to train someone to be hypnotically responsive. By this, I mean it takes a long time to build the trust, to build the responsiveness, to get to a state where they can actually unconsciously absorb suggestions. The most prolifically published and practiced hypnotherapist ever was a man called Milton Erickson. He could hypnotize people very quickly and powerfully – yet even he would sometimes take around 30 hours to train someone into hypnotic responsiveness.
This variance between people creates a lot of misunderstanding in itself. It creates the idea that not everyone can be hypnotized, and introduces the idea of some people being “very suggestible” whilst others aren’t. In trying to understand why this could be, assumptions are made like “they must be naïve and gullible”, which isn’t fair or accurate at all. Another word for suggestible might be “motivated” or “trusting” or “imaginative” as all are true of people who are responsive to hypnotic suggestion.
If trust is so important, couldn’t it just be role-play? Wanting to play along?
If you’ve seen the effects of stage shows, you might think that the person is just playing along, acting, loving the attention and feeling liberated because there’s a good excuse to be. Sometimes, this may indeed be the case, but most of the time the hypnotist is skilled in first choosing the most automatically unconsciously responsive people from the audience. A simple suggestion test would be given, such as suggesting that the hands are coming together and locking tight. The people in the audience who respond most favorably are then “cherry picked” for the show. It may then be that some of the chosen few don’t respond well on stage – they are usually asked to go and sit down again by the hypnotist.
The hypnotist doesn’t actually want people to play along or act – and it’s easy to spot when this is happening. There’s a huge difference between conscious acting, and automatic unconscious response. Conscious acting is actually a lot harder, and relies on constant motivation on the part of the actor – which when you think about it, would be hard to maintain. They would get self-conscious, get distracted by the audience, laugh at themselves – you don’t get any of this with people in hypnosis.
Examples Which Prove Hypnosis
Here are some examples from my own experience which really support the idea of unconscious response. They’re from my early days of experimenting with hypnosis, when I was keen to test all these questions out myself. I wasn’t thought of as a “hypnotist”, so I didn’t even have positive expectancy on my side. I wanted to create phenomena that would be extremely difficult, if not impossible, to act or “fake” consciously.
The first test was to have a sad memory. After a good level of hypnotic responsiveness was developed, I suggested to my friend that a sad memory was about to emerge from within. Within seconds, tears ran down her cheeks. This is extremely hard to fake (and the girl had no acting experience – but interestingly, when actors force themselves to cry they use a similar version of self-hypnosis, loading their minds with such sad thoughts and ideas that the unconscious mind automatically responds with sad emotions).
The second test was to focus on a hallucinated object. It was suggested that she was holding a hand mirror. When I asked her to look at the mirror, she focused exactly where the mirror would be – just above her loosely clenched fist – at nothing but air. Her unconscious mind was able to focus on an imagined hand mirror. If you pretend to hold out a mirror in front of yourself now, and look at it – the chances are quite high that you’ll have a hard time focusing on something that doesn’t exist. The eyes naturally want to focus on objects instead. Focusing them on empty space just above your hand is quite a feat. In hypnosis it was achieved instantly and consistently.
The third test was one that came about quite accidentally in terms of the response and its difficulty to fake. She unconsciously responded to the idea that I was invisible – which whilst sounding extreme, is the kind of thing that’s possible when unconscious responsiveness is at a good level. I could then walk around the room, and she wouldn’t be able to see me. Two things were noteworthy about this – one is that she would never focus on me, even if I waved my hand in front of her face, she would stare right through it, and not even flinch. The second is her response when I picked up a doll. I made a doll dance about – which to her unconscious, looked as if the doll was dancing by itself, as if being moved by a poltergeist. Her response was to go pale with fear, appear terrified, then run out of the room. It’s easy to imagine someone acting scared, but going pale is a different thing altogether, an unconscious response.
To me, these experiments are more than adequate proof that hypnotic suggestion is able to create unconscious responses, quite separate from acting or playing along. To hear someone reduce them as craziness or insanity sounds like a compulsive belief is trying to protect itself, however much it has to twist reality in order to do so.
This is why it can be hard to talk about hypnosis. The occasional compulsive belief against hypnosis is itself an unconscious response to an idea that has been accepted at some point, for whatever reason. The exact same process as a hypnotic suggestion taking hold.
Isn’t hypnosis losing control? I don’t like the idea of losing control.
Control is a funny thing. There are many conflicted ideas about it, most of which are illusory.
Allowing yourself to lose control is actually a form of having more control – which is a hard thing to explain. It’s mainly because by allowing yourself to lose control (in hypnosis at least), you’re not actually losing control – you’re just giving it over to your unconscious instead. The reason this gives you more control is that your unconscious is the one in control anyway.
The idea that you have conscious control really is an illusion. It’s a scary thing to realize, and goes against what most people have come to believe about themselves, but when you think about it, it becomes painfully obvious.
Think about sporting performance, where the more you let go of conscious control, the better and more precise your performance. In golf for example, if you try too hard (i.e. think too much), you might mess up your swing. So conscious control doesn’t always mean control, because the results can be worse. Unconscious control is the more powerful thing, and that isn’t lost with hypnosis.
If you have full conscious control, then why don’t you make yourself happy all the time? Why don’t you choose to stop being anxious when you are? Why don’t you choose to have great self-worth, so you can accomplish anything and not care what people think? If people had conscious control over themselves, why would they get addicted to things, and have weight control issues? Surely they could just “control” their eating habits and addictions more. If at this point you’re thinking “oh, that’s just weak-minded people, I don’t have any issues like that!” then you might be in denial – in my experience people who think they’re in control in that way usually have the least control, and are influenced more by anxiety and fear of losing control than most.
Here’s an example to try that might illustrate all this a little better.
Rest your hand on a table, and try to ‘let go of it’. Imagine it becoming so heavy that it’s stuck to the table, and that the more you tried to lift it, the heavier and more stuck it becomes.
At the back of your mind, you will always be aware that you could move it, if you really had to, if the room caught on fire for example.
But for now, just imagine that it’s so heavy and stuck to the table that you couldn’t lift it.
This challenge is about ‘letting go’ of conscious control.
When you get it right, you’ll feel a genuine funny sensation of heaviness in your hand, and t he more you try to lift it, the heavier and more stuck it feels. It’s a funny feeling of conflict – wanting to lift it, and imagine it sticking, with both forces happening at once and cancelling each other out.
Getting people to do this in person, who seem unconsciously opposed to hypnosis, can be very difficult, but the process (which is sometimes involved in hypnotic training) explains a lot about the underlying barriers.
After having explained the process, I might ask the person to try to lift their hand, whilst imagining it being stuck the more they try to lift it. If they’re listening and wanting to experience the effects of the experiment, they might feel the conflict of motion and understand it. What happens with people who are against the idea of hypnosis though is that they just lift their hand, then look at me with a kind of “Ta da! What did you expect?” face.
I think there are two separate causes for this.
The first is that they’re really saying “You can’t control me! I am in control!” which is a misunderstanding on their part, I’m not trying to control them (I’ll discuss this in more detail shortly), I’m trying to show to them the idea of how it feels to have a conscious/unconscious conflict, controlling the process of letting go of control.
This barrier actually strongly supports the idea that successfully doing this experiment is having more control. Because what’s happening instead is that they are being unconsciously controlled anyway, by their will to not let me control them.
Essentially, their anxiety about control issues (and wanting to say “hey look, I’m in control, not you!”) is preventing them from one vital instruction – to imagine that their hand is stuck to the table.
Instead, they’re imagining that they can lift their hand and ‘prove me wrong’. The result is essentially the same – they’re seeing the results of their own imagination, just not in the way that I’m trying to direct them to.
The second cause is a sheer belief that of course their hand can’t be stuck to the table. What’s happening here is similar to the last cause, that they aren’t actually imagining their hand being stuck to the table because the whole concept of such a thing is completely outside of their experience. They don’t know how to imagine it. It sounds silly and unimaginable.
In that scenario a little more explanation, information and practice is required.
You might be thinking “This is silly. If I imagine my hand stuck to the table, I’m just pretending. It isn’t imagination, its acting”. In a way that’s correct, but only because acting is also imagining. Acting, which uses imagination, can also create unconscious effects – acting sad can make you feel sad, acting happy (and smiling) can actually release endorphins and make you feel happy.
The effect we’re looking for in the experiment isn’t just a hand stuck to a table, it’s the feeling in the person of wanting to lift it but not being able to. It highlights the divide between the conscious and unconscious, the will and the imagination.
It relies on a truism of the unconscious mind – when the imagination is put against the will, imagination always wins. One of my trainers, Gil Boyne, used to say this a lot. It took me a while to understand it fully, but now I do, and it works for me.
Here are some more examples of this that will show you what it means.
If you put a long plank of wood on the floor, and tried to walk across it, you’d be able to easily.
If you then put that plank of wood between two tall skyscrapers, as you stood on the edge of one and was about to cross it, you’d feel completely different to how you did on the ground. Ignoring things like increased wind or temperature differences for a moment (all other variables being equal), it would be very unlikely that you’d be able to cross as easily as on the floor.
Your limbs seize up, you tremble, you try too hard and get into little over-compensation feedback loops where you swerve one way and then the other.
So what’s different?
You’re imagining falling.
The presence of height and the potential to fall offers a strong suggestion of falling, which your imagination wraps itself around. Your unconscious is automatically responding to an idea. The unconscious automatically moves towards the ideas, expectations and beliefs within – so it sends signals to your body based on the idea of falling.
When people who are normally able to speak articulately and fluently to someone in a room suddenly fall to pieces giving a group presentation, it’s because at some level they’re imagining it going wrong and being nervous. They’re imagining the audience not liking them, finding fault, criticizing.
The unconscious is then sending those protective signals as if what is being imagined is actually happening, and it’s trying to shut them up! Making them stammer and stutter, look to the floor, mumble, anything to hide away and protect against what’s being imagined.
When the will is put against the imagination, the imagination always wins.
Some positive thinking self-help books advocate the idea of writing or saying affirmations – like “every day in every way I am getting better and better”.
There are a couple of arguments to this. One is that by sheer repetition, positive affirmations can be accepted by the unconscious mind. If you remember what we discussed earlier, the idea of repetition is like someone walking up to the guard of the unconscious, every day until the guard doesn’t notice any more and the idea slips through. The same can happen with negative affirmations – “I’m no good at this, I’m no good at this” or “she won’t like me, I know it, she won’t like me” and so on.
However, a barrier to affirmations is imagination, because when it’s put against the will, imagination always wins.
So if someone is saying “I’m going to do this, I’m going to do this” but they’re imagining that they aren’t going to do it – then they probably won’t. Will is just a conscious idea, a thought, a want. Imagination is an unconscious process utilizing belief, expectation, visualization and feeling. It’s a much more powerful process. This is why what people deeply imagine about themselves more often, tends to have a habit of becoming true. The unconscious moves towards those ideas with all its little decisions and responses.
So back to the experiment – if you can imagine well (and this is why imagination is a virtue of hypnotically responsive people), then you can achieve the effect of feeling your mind in conflict.
And… back to the idea of control. This experiment is really about wielding control, not losing it. Because you’re controlling the process of being able to let go, without ever really losing control. When you aren’t able to feel the desired effect, it’s because you’re not in control – another unconscious idea is controlling the results instead. The more you think about this, the more it should make sense.
I don’t like the idea of someone thinking that they’re controlling me
I don’t blame you! When I was in hypnosis training, I had an interesting experience that taught me a lot about that as a potential reaction from someone.
My instructor (who is a good guy) was demonstrating rapid inductions, and picked me from a group of about twenty to show the process. He did a standard hypnotic induction, where I felt a resistance because he hadn’t taken sufficient care to build up trust. I didn’t like the idea of being showcased as way to boost his ego because I felt like it was more about that than actually explaining something to us (it hadn’t been explained very well by this point). He was looking for gasps and surprise, rather than understanding. It was a momentarily lapse, he was riding a wave of mania at the end of a long day.
I felt like I went along with the first induction, drooped my head, and followed the suggestions but consciously rather than unconsciously. If now you’re thinking “what if it’s always consciously? Someone playing along?” I’ll remind you about those unconscious effects that are impossible to fake consciously. When you’re unconsciously responsive, other much stranger things can happen than just drooping your head.
He then gave me a post-hypnotic command to go back into trance when he said the word “sleep”, and brought me out of the supposed trance. I felt a bit embarrassed by this point, because I was far too aware of all the dynamics at play.
By this I don’ t just mean aware of what was being said, because that’s normal, but I was aware of the flaws in his teaching method and approach (this is because I had self-trained far more extensively beforehand through literature and my own practice and experiments). I was aware of these things:
- That he hadn’t sufficiently explained the dynamics of a rapid induction, how they work and why they’re useful
- That he hadn’t hypnotically trained me enough beforehand to be unconsciously responsive
- That he didn’t test my unconscious responses to ensure that I was actually being automatically unconsciously responsive, before giving the post-hypnotic command
- That the rest of the group, because they hadn’t been sufficiently trained, would see his impending second (rapid) induction as something other than what it was, and this would be counter-productive in terms of their learning
That last point by the way, was my main gripe. I was now basically anticipating the instructor putting his hand on my head, saying “sleep”, me playing along, and the rest of the group gasping with awe.
This was training – it shouldn’t be a show-piece to elicit awe and admiration from the group to the instructor, it just felt wrong to me. Their understanding and learning was more important than his sense of self-validation and power.
He started a conversation with me, in front of everyone, and I knew all too well what was about to happen. Then he put his hand on my head and said “sleep”. Immediately I was faced with an unwanted conflict, to play along and feel embarrassed for doing so (but saving him from embarrassment), or to resist and allow him to feel embarrassed. I didn’t want to do that, because I didn’t want everyone else in the group to have that experience to make them doubt the power of rapid inductions (which can be very real and useful). It just hadn’t been done properly. He was riding an ego wave by this point and was ahead of himself.
But I did have an unconscious response.
In that state of conflict, with my head lowered and eyes closed, whilst the group were gasping and he was saying “see how easy it is?”, my body went incredibly hot. I felt like I’d gone very red.
As he was explaining how easy it was, I then spontaneously “brought myself out of trance” to ask him a question about it. This was my way to compromise and let him know that I didn’t think it right that I should just play along.
This experience was extremely important to me, because I was basically representing “most people” in that situation. It allowed me to analyse the dynamics of such a situation.
Gil Boyne did rapid inductions in a different way – not just in form but in terms of the overall suggestions that are offered – the context. He carried the rapid induction through by ensuring all the progressive little suggestions were offered and accepted first, each one compounding on the responsiveness of the last so that the person ends up in a state of automatic unconscious response. The other thing he did was to not suggest a sense of power on his part – his actions and manners suggested the idea that this was a really useful, peaceful, enjoyable state that the person was entering into, and it was almost like a celebration of the powers of the mind. This creates a sense of trust, of mutual partnership, that you’re both in it together, which is really important. This is what was missing from my other instructor. It shouldn’t be a power play.
Interestingly though, that instructor also defined hypnosis in terms of the “everything is hypnosis” approach, which is quite common. It reduces the process to any form of influence, which I personally think is a bit pointlessly broad in scope. He said that if you asked someone to sit on a chair, and they did, that this was hypnosis, because you’d influenced them. I’m sure though that if you then said to that person “hey, I just hypnotized you!” that they’d think you were an idiot.
This loose definition also suggests that the term ‘hypnosis’ would also include someone just ‘playing along’ with suggestions, which I don’t agree with. As mentioned, I define hypnosis as automatic unconscious response, and the unconscious bit is important. There isn’t any conscious analysis, “shoulds”, conflicts or agendas involved. It takes a person below all of that conscious clutter stuff – because this is where it really does feel immensely relaxing, enjoyable and peaceful. Where people say “I could hear what you were saying… but I just didn’t care about anything”.
Hypnosis Has No Room For Egos
Unfortunately, ego can be a problem with hypnosis, because of how it looks. In the same way that a magician might imagine that they’re actually making things disappear so they can rationalize a way to deserve the awe and admiration of their audience, a hypnotist might easily get sucked into that wave of wanting to feel like they’re some kind of master mind controller. This is probably the thing that people are thinking about when they imagine being controlled by a hypnotist – a hypnotist who assumes control and revels in it at your expense.
There’s a conflict here, which I think a lot of hypnotists grapple with. It’s important to excite the person’s imagination in order to get the automatic unconscious responsiveness in hypnosis, so there can be a pressure for the hypnotist to really go to town on the ‘prestige’ and power of what people expect from them.
That level of awe and expectation can really help, especially in a stage setting. Although this approach can definitely repel the anxious, resistant sorts, the audience will still always contain enough of the already-responsive kind to make a show.
This is why Mesmer got such great results with his whole charade of black capes, candles and all that kind of thing when doing his original hypnotic routines based on ‘magnetic passes’.
It’s also why some people are able to achieve miraculous effects (or faint) in the presence of highly-regarded religious people or artifacts. Expectation and prestige renders people more unconsciously responsive, the ‘guard’ to the unconscious is like a rabbit in the headlights and can’t see what’s getting through.
But also, a hypnotist riding that wave of power and prestige to enhance the expectations and belief of the people he’s about to hypnotize is doing a kind of injustice to the phenomena of hypnosis. He or she is claiming it as a power that belongs to them – rather than the mind of the person and nature itself. It’s presented as a form of control, which it isn’t, and this kind of thing allows hypnosis to continue being wildly misunderstood by all the onlookers.
So, in a nutshell, I can see why you might be worried about feeling like someone else is going to control you! But it doesn’t need to be that way (and it really isn’t that way).
Is All Hypnosis Self-Hypnosis?
Another maxim often applied to hypnosis by professionals is this one – “all hypnosis is self hypnosis”.
It’s basically reaffirming that hypnosis is something you allow to happen to yourself, by following instructions, by letting go, by being open to the experience. You’re always in control, basically.
A good analogy would be this. You want to drive somewhere interesting and exciting, but you don’t know the way. You’re only used to the roads that you’ve been on many times before.
A hypnotist is like a guide who gets in the passenger seat, and directs you where to go. You can listen and follow the directions if you wish to, or you could just pull over, or go in the other direction! The way it may have looked to you before, which is inaccurate, is that the hypnotist shoves you in the backseat and starts driving – but that’s really not how it is!
You’re in control.
Using Hypnosis To Rise Above Conscious Clutter
Having explored more about what hypnosis is and what it isn’t, you’ve probably already picked up a few of the obvious benefits of hypnosis whilst thinking about it.
Hypnosis is useful in both an immediate way, because it’s relaxing and enjoyable, and in a long-term way when it’s used as a tool for exploring issues and conflicts of the unconscious mind.
When you’re in a state of hypnosis, your conscious faculty is reduced, or dimmed, or sidestepped.
Consciousness, really, is a real cluttered up mess of nonsense that gets in the way of reality. Letting go of it for a while is a really relaxing, and useful thing to do.
You’re no longer affected by the usual clutter of thoughts, expectations, negative beliefs, false associations between things, the shoulds and shouldn’ts of the world, self-consciousness, being liked, being correct, being anxious, worrying about pointless things.
Your attention is focused inward to the point where it dissipates into nothing, and you’re just left with pure awareness. It’s like a heightened state of consciousness (in terms of awareness, not thought), where your unconscious mind is responsive to the flow of suggestion. Visualisations become hyper-real, sensations can be felt, creativity can be enhanced. It’s your deeper, more resourceful self.
One main thing that all my experience and study has taught me is just how much our conscious cluttered thoughts get in the way of our lives. I used to think that we’re supposed to be living there, in our conscious thoughts, that they were the be-all and end-all of who we are.
But that’s really a massive mistake, and it’s why people get depressed, stressed, anxious and really confused in their lives. All those conflicts, negativities, expectations – they all stem from the distractions of conscious “noise”.
Conscious thinking is useful to an extent – but everything in moderation. It’s far more healthy, useful and balanced to adopt the natural rhythms of mental relaxation – which is why daily meditation (which is self-hypnosis) is ridiculously good for you. Did you know that Stephen Hawking, the filmmaker David Lynch and Winston Churchill have all practiced daily meditation? As well as countless other inspiring and successful people.
Allowing yourself periodic moments to step away from the “noise” lets you tap that resourcefulness. It makes for better ideas, putting things into perspective, feeling energized and refreshed, feeling less cluttered, feeling in control of your choices and actions rather than feeling controlled by them. The benefits are truly endless – twenty minutes a day of relaxation is really a no-brainer!
You will have experienced natural states that mirror the hypnotic state, in your every day life. When I write fiction, I prefer to write in the dark and touch-type, until I reach a state where my unconscious is doing the writing for me. When I look back over it, I found things I’ve written that surprise me, I don’t think I could have thought of them if I was thinking too much about it with my conscious mind. Athletes talk about getting in “the zone” where their unconscious competence takes control over their performance. If something distracts and they start thinking too much about it – this is when little mistakes are made that can be costly to the performance. A lot of visual artists work from that unconscious place where they aren’t thinking about what they’re doing. The end result can become something brilliant, that defies analysis and has far more depth than conscious thinking could muster.
When you drive a long distance, you might find yourself slipping into a hypnotic state where you barely remember the journey.
When you’re in that state, there’s no conscious thought left to worry about things. You stop looking at your imagined version of reality, and look at reality itself without all the usual filters and ifs and buts.
This is why it’s so relaxing.
Hypnosis As Therapy
As well as the powerful benefits of self-hypnosis and meditation, hypnosis can also be used as a directive tool as hypnotherapy, where changes are made to a person’s subconscious mind. Most people think of hypnotherapy as suggestion therapy, where the therapist relaxes the client and then loads them with positive suggestions. The suggestions then take hold, and the unconscious mind works towards them.
This can and does happen, but it’s very much a “light” kind of therapy. The unconscious mind can be a bit more tenacious than that, and if the person isn’t in a deep enough hypnotic state then their imagination is likely to be counteracting the suggestions anyway. For smaller issues that might just need a bit of positive unconscious encouragement, suggestion therapy can work wonders, and on occasion it can create a rolling snowball effect that really does get positive results.
Where other, deeper issues are concerned though, hypnosis is used a tool to explore and influence the unconscious mind. This might include the beliefs, meanings and associations that a person holds, which can often be counter-productive, destructive, or just wrong. The vast majority of stress and anxiety that people face is caused by these irrational, erroneous ideas that have taken root in the unconscious through experience and the application of false meanings.
Regression might be used where a person is suggested, in hypnosis, to go back to a certain significant time in their lives. Sometimes such memories might not be accessible to conscious awareness, but in a state of hypnosis, incredible detail and sensory experience can be achieved. This is because there is much more information stored in the unconscious mind that we realize. Regressing to an earlier memory may allow realizations to be made which give the person greater control over their responses and emotions. New meanings might be absorbed which are more productive and positive. Different outcomes might be explored, or deeply held emotions might be released which have been pushed down for so long that they’ve drained the mind of huge amounts of energy.
Creative visualizations might be employed which allow the person the opportunity to explore deeper, darker issues via metaphor, or to allow communication with various parts of the psyche.
The effects of work like this can be staggering – in a very short space of time (sometimes as little as a single session), a person can make such significant breakthroughs, or release so much emotion that their outlook changes forever. Their energy levels can suddenly be boosted, physical changes in their face might be seen. It really is powerful stuff. If you’re interested in some really, really interesting examples of how I’ve used hypnosis to help people, I encourage you to check out my other books.
The great thing about the process is that whilst in a deep trance state, the person feels wonderful regardless of the work they are achieving by exploring their minds. I’ve seen immensely cathartic emotional outbursts from people, who have still come out of hypnosis feeling refreshed and energised.
What do you think?
So hopefully by now, you’ve got a better appreciation of what hypnosis is, what it isn’t, and why it’s incredibly useful. If you still have any anxieties or niggles about it, then I apologise for not having explained them enough.
Perhaps you could find a way to let me know, through the website, so I could have a chance to reassure you.
Overall though, the best thing would be if you went away and tried a little self-directed relaxation to just experience what it feels like to really let go of the conscious mind. I think if you experienced this first hand, you’d definitely start to have a more positive outlook towards hypnosis and why it could be really useful, especially if used in a directed way.
I produce a number of relaxation MP3s which are really useful for self relaxation. They deliver electronic pulses, rhythms and beats into each ear, the difference of which causes a frequency heard only in your inner mind. This frequency mimics, and eventually directs your natural brainwave frequencies into a lovely deep state of relaxation.
If you listen to one with hypnotic suggestions delivered over the beats, then you’ll be getting a genuine power-house of hypnotic relaxation with positive suggestions. I record and engineer them in a unique way – expert hypnotic suggestions on multiple levels that swirl and swoop around you in stereo, moving in and out in natural rhythms. Its insanely relaxing stuff!