Maybe you can think of an area in your life where behavior, emotion or even thought patterns contradict what you consciously want. Common examples include smoking cigarettes, overeating, anxiety, insomnia, and lack of confidence or self-esteem. Hypnosis works well for such issues because they originate on the subconscious level.
To understand hypnosis, imagine the subconscious as a 1000-pound horse, and the conscious mind a 98-pound jockey. Traditional talk therapy offers suggestions to the jockey about controlling the horse. There is a place for this and it can be helpful. But the horse is much bigger and stronger and often goes where it wants. The hypnotist talks directly to the horse, influencing how cooperative it will be. The jockey is fully aware of this, hearing and taking away important lessons. Meanwhile lasting change rapidly occurs on the subconscious level controlling the issue.
For more than 50 years, the American Medical Association, American Dental Association, and American Psychological Association have all formally recognized hypnosis as a safe, natural and effective way to help people. If you see a hypnotist for a health related issue, you may need to get a written referral from a doctor.
Hypnosis occurs during many ordinary experiences that naturally alter your state of mind. Have you ever cried while watching a movie? Without conscious effort, you were so focused on the screen that your subconscious had an automatic response. Have you ever “zoned out” at a red light, failing to notice it turned green until the car behind you honked? How about getting a small cut on your finger and not feeling the sting until you noticed the little wound?
Your mind can naturally create the effect of anesthesia, making hypnosis useful for controlling pain, whether migraines, surgery, dentistry or even childbirth. Other common applications include:
- Eliminating phobias and fears (public speaking, flying, spiders, etc.)
- Freedom from post-traumatic stress (combat, car accident, assault, etc.)
- Breaking unwanted habits (nail biting, skin picking, teeth grinding, etc.)
- Managing strong emotions (anger, stress, grief, etc.)
- Enhancing performance (academic, athletic, business, etc.)
It is often said that all hypnosis is self-hypnosis. That means changing your state of mind by daydreaming or meditating is a form of hypnosis. It also means that you can’t be hypnotized against your will. Despite what popular entertainment portrays, nobody can get stuck in hypnosis or be made to do anything they don’t want to do.
At a stage show, the first thing the performing hypnotist does is request volunteers. People who come on stage are then screened for willingness and ability to follow silly suggestions. Only those people wind up staying on stage because they’ve shown how much they want to be there.
In a clinical setting, the hypnotist will first ask about your goals, making sure hypnosis is an appropriate approach and you are ready to allow change in your life. The hypnotist will then guide you into a relaxed state. This part of the process, called the “induction,” can occur in many different ways, varied by the hypnotist to match your observed communication style and expectations. Again, contrary to entertainment, this is not likely to involve a swinging pocket watch.
The hypnotist may then do all the talking or ask you questions. Your subconscious can choose whether and how to respond. Ultimately, you can benefit from hypnosis most easily by being relaxed, honest and open while building a trusting relationship with your hypnotist and expecting to reach your goals.
NOTE: This article about the benefits of hypnosis originally appeared as an advertorial on 3/29/12 in the “Holistic Humboldt 2012” insert of the Eureka Times-Standard.
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Dave Berman is a Certified Hypnotist, Life Coach & Master Practitioner of Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP). He offers private and confidential sessions on a sliding scale in his Arcata, CA office and remotely via Skype. Referrals and inquiries are welcome. Learn more at www.ManifestPositivity.com or call (707) 845-3749 for a free consultation. Subscribe to future articles from Manifest Positivity:
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