Introduction to Hypnosis
Before you first experience hypnosis and begin using it to make wonderful, beneficial changes in your life, let me give you some important background information.
Most people are under the impression that hypnosis is something which is DONE TO them whereas, in reality, they are facilitated in self-hypnosis.
Essentially, all hypnosis is self-hypnosis.
Next, everybody’s experience of hypnosis — effectively, a heightened awareness — is deeply personal to them.
So you can relax throughout our session today, knowing that whatever feelings you experience will be the right ones for you.
Almost everyone has experienced a trance-like state many times — though they might not have called it hypnosis. For example, have you ever caught yourself daydreaming and not noticed things happening around you? Have you ever been absorbed reading a book or in an intricate project and not heard someone speak to you or not noticed how much time has passed?
Perhaps you’ve been so engrossed in a film that you realised it was almost over and yet it did not feel as though over an hour and a half had passed. Or you may have been driving on a motorway, absorbed in your thoughts, and then noticed you had missed your exit.
These are hypnotic-like trances. The main differences between these sorts of trance and hetero-hypnosis (where you’re being guided) or self-hypnosis are specific motivation and suggestions toward a goal. Hypnosis channels the trance to achieve some desired result, like relaxation, relief of pain, or positive behavioural change.
In order to understand hypnosis, it’s important to understand and be able to differentiate between the two different levels of our mind: the conscious and the unconscious (sometimes referred to as the subconscious).
Your conscious mind is the part of you that thinks, reasons, filters information, and makes choices — your free will lies here. The conscious mind can accept or reject any idea. It primarily comprises four elements: analytical/decision-making; rationale/why things happen; will-power; and short-term memory.
If you take that conscious awareness and point it inside yourself instead of outside into the world, you begin to become aware of your inner self, your unconscious self, which is the part we work with in hypnosis.
Your unconscious mind is in fact the most magnificent part — the power centre. It functions in every cell of your body. Every thought your conscious mind chooses to accept, your unconscious must accept — it has no ability to reject. It automates as much behaviour as it possibly can, enabling a multitude of functions to be carried out “on autopilot”.
One of the best examples of the difference between the conscious and unconscious levels of mind is that of learning to drive. When you took your first few lessons, you were (I hope!) fully conscious of every action you were implementing. But if we fast-forward to today, you probably drive to destinations without giving much (if any) conscious thought about the mechanics of driving — your conscious thoughts are most likely on a million and one other things: the road ahead; other traffic; your route; the radio announcer. But you arrive safely, don’t you?
Your unconscious mind is a bit like a computer. Throughout your entire lifetime it has been programmed with all your experiences, relationships, interpretations of the world, influences, and all this has culminated in your computer functioning based on that programming. Hypnosis is simply a way of accessing that computer and updating the programming so that it becomes instinctive and intuitive for you to make the changes that please you.
It is important to know that you cannot be made to do anything you don’t want to do. There is no relinquishing of your “willpower” with hypnosis, despite fiction to the contrary. You still understand what is right for you and what isn’t.
Many people say to me, “But what about stage hypnosis?” Well, there is a big difference between clinical hypnosis and the stage hypnotism that many people are familiar with. The stage variety is a performance, a show purely for entertainment. Stage hypnotists use a variety of techniques prior to the actual performance to ensure that the volunteers they choose to work with on stage will be as compliant as possible with the commands to be given.
In the participants themselves there’s a strong air of expectation that certain things will happen. They have bought tickets to attend a stage hypnosis show and may well have had an alcoholic drink … or two! Moreover, all the participants have been given tacit permission to let their inhibitions remain offstage. It’s not necessary to hypnotise people to have them quack like a duck, croon like Frank Sinatra, or laugh uncontrollably. People will do both foolish and fantastic things without being hypnotized.
Finally, you need to know that pretty much everyone can go into hypnosis. All that is required is that you have an open mind, that you expect it to work and that you have progressive, motivated thoughts about the processes, allowing them to help you make the changes you want and deserve.
During our sessions, I’ll be asking you to use your imagination. Do this as best you can. Some people are better at visualising than others; some better at imagining sounds, feelings, etc. Just trust what you experience and the way in which you experience it.
Shall we begin our journey?