What the heck is hypnosis, anyway?
The only exposure many folks have to hypnosis is what they see on television and in the movies. Let me assure you, nothing could be farther from the truth. On television and in the movies, a hypnotist, usually an evil one, takes control of peoples' minds and makes them do things! Well, let me assure you that we can't do that. If we could, I'd be so stinking rich…. And I wouldn't work weekends! LOL
Hypnosis is a natural event that happens to each of us daily in one way or another. Some examples you may be familiar with include becoming so engrossed in a movie or a book or a project that sometimes someone walks into the room and has to say your name twice to get your attention. For folks who drive, have you ever been driving along and suddenly realize you aren't sure if you have passed such and such land mark or if you've missed your exit? That's called highway hypnosis.Kids experience hypnosis often. They frequently sit in a class room for five or more minutes at a crack and don't have a clue what the teacher said.
All those cases are examples of natural hypnosis. What happens in hypnosis is that your mind focuses down on something.In the case of highway hypnosis, who knows what your mind is focusing on? It might be what is going on at work or at home or it might be about the world series game or… or…In any case, your mind focused down so hard that it disregarded things like road signs or landmarks. It wasn't that you were unconscious or off in la la land. If a deer had jumped up on the road or a car had pulled out in front of you, you'd have slammed on the brakes to avoid a collision.
If you were to come up on stage in one of my shows or to my office for a clinical session to help you improve your life, I'd act as a guide to get you to focus your mind in a direction that is less random. On stage it would be about skits. In my office it would be about the reason you came to see me for.
There are three parts to the mind. 1. Conscious2. Subconscious and 3. Unconscious.
First, the unconscious mind is simply the part that keeps us breathing, keeps our heart beating and keeps our temperature at 98.6.
The conscious mind is the part we use to decide and analyze things. For example:If we go to cross a road and a bus is coming, we make a conscious decision as to if we can safely cross of if we should wait. The conscious mind also helps us sift through what we hear and see and experience. For example, during the election season, our conscious mind decides what to believe or not to believe. If it didn't do that, our subconscious mind would believe everything and we'd be a confused mess.
The subconscious mind is where all of our personal traits live. Our beliefs, habits, fears and sense of humor all live there. This is what makes us uniquely us.
There is a very interesting fact about the subconscious mind. The subconscious mind can not tell the difference between reality and imagination.
Case in point: Have you ever been watching a sad movie and had a tear come to your eye and maybe even roll down your cheek? It's a real tear. It's wet and it's caused by real emotions.
If you asked your conscious mind about the scene in the movie that made you cry, the conscious mind would say, "It's only a movie!That guy is an actor. He didn't get hit by that bus!" But when your subconscious mind focuses down, it sees it as real and says, "Oh my God! He got hit by a bus!" And you get the tear.
The idea of imagination in hypnosis is very important. You see once you imagine something having already happened, it's as if you really have done it already. You paint pictures in your mind and even react physiologically .If you ever had to walk past a graveyard in the dark when you were a child you know what I mean. Your palms got sweaty, your breathing got shallow and rapid and your heart rate increased. All of those real physiological reactions were the result of an imaginary scenario.
Some folks have great imaginations. If I ask them to picture a pink elephant standing in my office some folks can close their eyes and see a pink elephant in the office. Others, who operate more out of the conscious mind, get all logical and say, "An elephant wouldn't fit in the office and even if it could, they are grey, not pink."When I remind them that a baby elephant could fit in the room and that Walmart sells pink paint, we can now all imagine a pink elephant in the room.
In hypnosis, we have to get the conscious mind out of the way a bit to get things into the subconscious mind. There's a couple of ways to do that. One way is called a shock induction. It's where the body and mind are shocked into a state of confusion and shock. During that moment of shock, suggestions can be planted. I don't use shock inductions in my clinical office or in my stage shows. I don't think they are all that pleasant and I want my clients and volunteers to have a pleasant experience. Sadly, some hypnotists use shock inductions in their stage shows because they do look dramatic to the audience. But, they certainly aren't needed and certainly aren't always very pleasant.
The other way to induce hypnosis is through a sort of progressive relaxation. It's a bit like going to sleep at night.You won't fall asleep until you are nice and relaxed. So, I relax the body and the mind follows.
Once the conscious mind is relaxed, I can get suggestions into the subconscious.
When you are hypnotized, you almost always remember exactly what you did on stage. A certain percentage of the population go deep enough to have natural amnesia. But for the most part, my volunteers remember everything that went on up on stage. When I ask them what it was like for them, they say, "I knew everything I was doing.But for some reason, I just didn't care."
Hypnosis feels good. I've hypnotized thousands of people and I've never had anyone come out of it and say, "Well, that sucked." In fact, once people are hypnotized, most express an interest in being hypnotized again.
So that's hypnosis in a nutshell.I know I skimmed over it very quickly but basically, and without getting into too much detail, that's how things work.
As always, I'm always willing to help you or answer questions about hypnosis if I can. Please don't hesitate to contact me if I can help you out.