Wake up; Hypnosis is not about being unconscious!
As a Hypnotherapy trainer I keep being asked questions about Hypnosis which indicate to me that masses of people are still hypnotised by the misconceptions and negative propaganda which they’ve allowed themselves to be influenced by. Their false ideas about Hypnosis and their impression that only certain people can be hypnotised are evidence of the power of hypnosis and its lasting effects.
Many stage Hypnosis performers along with some misleading cultural and religious doctrines do the Hypnotherapy profession little good. Meanwhile certain doctors, therapists and specialised coaches quietly go about empowering their patients and clients to overcome or manage “incurable” ailments.
Hypnosis induced in a clinical setting is a natural state of mental and physical relaxation where one’s awareness is heightened. Everyone has experienced this state many times in their life. It’s the state that most people experience at least briefly upon falling asleep or upon awakening from sleep. Someone trained in Self-Hypnosis is able to maintain that state and while in that receptive frame of mind they make affirming statements about a particular goal or visualise their desired outcomes. Affirmations or mental pictures made in a deeply relaxed state direct your unconscious (sub-conscious) mind toward those outcomes.
Your unconscious mind is the collective intelligence of every cell in your body. It is everything else that you’re not consciously aware of while you go about narrowly focused on what’s important in your day to day living. In fact, your unconscious mind is not unconscious, only your conscious mind is unconscious of what the unconscious mind is conscious of!
Hypnosis may also be considered an alternate state from the one you’re currently in. That makes any state a possible hypnotic state! Many people live their life hypnotised by the mindsets of those they interact with on a daily basis. For these people a formal Hypnotherapy session is more one of de-hypnotising and awakening to their more authentic selves.
Day dreaming is one of those hypnotic states when we make internal associations with external experiences (past, present or future). You may have had the experience of going into a day dream and coming out with a great idea, that’s because your unconscious mind collected that idea from your vast internal reservoir of internal resources and brought it into your conscious awareness.
There are hypnotic states that are far from being deeply relaxed. The trance experiences of various tribal cultures and traditional healers are one example. People attempt all sorts of ways to change their frame of mind, unfortunately some of these include the use of substances that induce an artificial state which might even do them harm. Advertisers are well aware of linking their product with a certain emotion and sensory experience, so that as you pass the product in the store you enter that state and next thing you know the product is in your basket. Some have done such good Hypnosis on you that many years later you’re still buying that product without questioning your choice.
One of the most powerful hypnotic experiences that I ever had was in a gospel church in Harlem, New York. I can vividly remember entering that church while the gospel choir sang to set the mood. Then the minister began his sermon and although I don’t recall the content very consciously – what still rings in my ears is that profound ability of his to lower the pitch and raise the volume of his voice at certain points (called embedded commands in Ericksonian Hypnosis) which got people out of their seats and praising the lord. Then the gospel choir came on again with a powerful and joyous song with the minister singing along and the people in the auditorium waving their arms in the air while immersed in the song.
The minister then turned up the tempo, tone and volume of his sermon and the atmosphere in that church became so up- beat and wonderfully intoxicating that my only desire was to delve right in and join the worship. Then the song and the sermon merged into an even more awesome performance and I felt a powerful rush of positive emotions. If there was ever a time when making a sudden decision about my religious commitments seemed like the right thing to do, this was it! Right at that moment the collection bowls got passed around and those Harlem residents and visitors like me took what we had and donated it. And as I think back to that great experience, it was certainly one worth paying for.
Not all Hypnotic states feel great. People who go through life in the depression or distress trance are really good at reminding themselves to be in these un-resourceful states. This is a form of negative self-hypnosis. They do so because at some level they’re benefitting from it. It’s like a child who learns that crying gets them a certain kind of attention, and therefore they develop a strategy for getting attention. Many adults still use these childhood strategies unconsciously through constant negative self talk that keeps them feeling bad. Hypnotherapy helps you identify these outdated “programs” and helps you to re-program your mind with more effective strategies.
When an insight or the solution to a problem suddenly occurs to you, where does it come from? You guessed it, your unconscious mind. So you can probably imagine the tremendous benefit in learning to tune in and understand the inner workings of your higher intelligence. Relaxed hypnotic states and meditation are useful ways to achieve this.
“You really ought to learn to trust your unconscious mind, it knows you a lot better than you do”. – Milton H. Erickson
Some health care professionals as well as coaches and counsellors still don’t fully appreciate that all behaviour, learning and change is controlled by the unconscious mind. They rely heavily on conscious processing through questioning, analysis, and tasking. It’s like trying to steer a train by asking someone in the last car to change the direction of the entire train. It simply won’t work. Neuro-science has long known that our unconscious functioning precedes conscious awareness. This means that most if not all issues like lack of motivation, procrastination, indecision, conflicting priorities, burnout, overwhelm and performance anxiety are a result of automatic (unconscious) reactions and patterns which occur before conscious awareness. Therefore coaching and counselling processes that integrate conversational Hypnosis skills like NLP & HNLP are more effective at enabling their clients to experience faster and more sustainable healing and personal growth.
I believe that Self Hypnosis is an indispensable tool in healing, personal development and performance enhancing programs. It is already used extensively in these fields, but not referred to as such because of stigmas associated with it. In the end all Hypnosis is Self Hypnosis. The Hypnotist facilitates the process, it’s your choice to go with it and reap the benefits, or not?
Many people seem to believe that Hypnosis is about going into a sleep like state where you become undiscerning to the commands given by the Hypnotist. This is far from the truth. Nobody can get you to comply with their wishes (regardless of the state you’re in) if it does not in some way appeal to your values. In the hypnotic state you become more in sync with your values, which leads to greater self empowerment, and more discernment.
Deliberately using alternate states of consciousness to bypass limiting mindsets and connect with ones inner wisdom is nothing new. This has been done in diverse forms for millennia. I have practiced various forms of meditation over the past 18 years, attended many different kinds of spiritual retreats and studied several metaphysical healing modalities around the world. The core intention of each authentic approach seems to be much the same: Awaken to your true nature that is whole and where there is no suffering.
Hypnosis is a gateway state that enables you to become more conscious of your expansive inner world where all is well including you. If you knew that hypnosis was in fact a state in which the body naturally heals itself as well as a way to access your creative potential, would you be willing to explore it?
“Who looks outside, dreams; who looks inside, awakes.” – Carl Jung
Written by Jevon Dängeli – Certified Master Hypnotherapist & Hypnotherapy Trainer, MSc Transpersonal Psychology
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