About hypnosis

What is hypnosis?

The hypnotic state, also called a trance state, is a perfectly normal state of being that we all experience several times every day. It’s a relaxed state; our conscious, reasoning mind is at rest.

You are in a hypnotic state when you space out while driving a familiar route and then “wake up” with no memory of the journey. And you often experience it just before falling asleep.

Harnessing this ability to enter a trance state enables us to go beyond the reasoning, analytical part of our awareness to access other areas of the brain, areas that are specific to emotional memory and habitual behaviors.

Why is this important? Because even though we can think clearly about some behavior we want to change, often thinking clearly about it isn’t enough to make change happen—in fact, dwelling on the problem can make it even harder. It’s as if one part of us wants what it wants, while another part of us knows better.

In hypnosis, we can build connections between these separate mental processes, facilitating the process of change.*

Who can benefit from hypnosis?

Almost everyone! Most people find that as they get more comfortable with the process, they can go deeper into a hypnotic state more quickly. Just being in that state is very relaxing, so it provides a benefit above and beyond the goal you are using it for.*

However, it’s not for everyone in every situation. If you have a mental condition with a risk of psychosis, I would recommend avoiding hypnosis. An approach like yoga or tai chi may be a good alternative.

How will I know when I am hypnotized?

There are some telltale signs*—you may experience one or more of these:

  • Your breathing changes
  • Your pulse rate changes
  • You may feel a twitch as your muscles relax
  • Your eyes may water, and eyelids flutter
  • Your jaw may loosen
  • You may feel as though you can’t—or don’t want to—move

Will you make me bark like a dog or cluck like a chicken?

I do not do stage hypnotism. And I won’t be trying to manipulate your behavior, except in ways that you want me to! (I do find it fascinating how well stage hypnotists illustrate the power of the mind.)

Do I have to be completely “out” to benefit from hypnosis?

Absolutely not. If you simply find a quiet place, breathe deeply, and read a script out loud to yourself, you have a good change of putting yourself into a hypnotic trance. You will likely find that you go deeper into a hypnotic state each time. You may never go completely under, but that is not unusual, either.   There’s no wrong way to do it.*

What’s the difference between hypnosis and meditation, or hypnosis and prayer?

I believe the hypnotic state is very similar if not identical to states people reach while meditating or praying. I’m not aware of any research that would answer that question definitively, but my guess is that the differences are more in how they are used than between the actual states.*

In hypnosis, we are typically using that state to make changes in our experience—to enhance our motivation, to relax, reduce or eliminate pain, support new habits or end bad habits, etc. In meditation the purpose is to quiet the conscious mind, just as in hypnosis, but the goal is to allow whatever else is within the less-verbal mind to come forward. And in prayer we are typically either asking, or thanking, God for something.

What is the difference between hypnosis and self hypnosis?

In hypnotherapy, we have a saying: “All hypnosis is self-hypnosis.” This is our recognition that under hypnosis, you are able to access your own, innate power—power to affect your physical sensations and improve your immune system function, to change habits, to achieve your goals, etc.*

Anyone who can be hypnotized can use self-hypnosis effectively. If you can take 10 minutes a day to practice, and if you can clearly state your goal in a simple sentence, you can use self hypnosis.

It is best for goals that can be summed up in a fairly simple sentence. For example, if your goal is to adopt a more healthful lifestyle, you could use self hypnosis to work on one small step towards that larger goal—like getting up earlier every day to make time for exercise. Other common reasons people may use self hypnosis include dealing with chronic pain, insomnia, or stress.

Please feel free to contact me for more information about hypnosis, or to schedule a meeting to see how hypnosis can work for you.

*Of course, results may vary from person to person!

2 thoughts on “About hypnosis

  1. Colin Young

    Thank you for sharing your perspective on hypnosis.

    As a hypnotherapy practitioner in West Lothian, Scotland, I am always looking out for new ways to explain things to my clients, and I like how you have written this piece.


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