Updated: Jan 7, 2022
Hypnosis is a natural human ability and we shouldn't fear it, as it offers alternative relief to a wide range of conditions. We all experience hypnosis on a daily basis, be it daydreaming, driving on autopilot or loosing track of what is going on around us.
So how do I know I'm in hypnosis?
Hypnosis starts with our breathing. While focusing our attention on our breath, different parts of the body and the tensions we all experience, we slowly let go and release. Some might feel a heaviness, others a lightness. Some might feel a tingling in their body, others don't feel the body anymore at all. There is no right or wrong. It is often a sense of drifting, a little bit like when we lose ourselves in our thoughts.
This detachment to the body is wonderfully relaxing and beneficial. Imagine being pain-free, tension-free and so deeply relaxed. The stresses our bodies experience impact our physical and mental wellbeing. While in hypnosis, we give both our physical and mental self a break.
Guided and going deeper into relaxation, images, thoughts, feelings and sensations start to appear. Whether these make sense or not is only relevant to our subconscious mind. And this really is the key!
Allowing our subconscious mind to take in all sensations, feelings, thoughts, images, while giving our conscious mind a rest.
Everything that happens during hypnosis seems real to us, much like something that happens in a book or movie seems real. Similar to being fully engaged with our emotions while reading a book or watching a movie, in hypnosis we face our fears, tackle and embrace our emotions.
The body in hypnosis
Our muscles become limp and loose, the breathing rate slows and so does the pulse. Our blood pressure comes down. Our eyelids are heavy and we feel relaxation coming and going, like waves. Our attention is narrowly focused and free of distraction. We are open to suggestions (but only those that are aligned with our values and beliefs system), open to change, open to making positive life changes.
We daydream about 50% of the day without realising we are in a state of trance, open to suggestions and changes. The subconscious mind does not know the difference between fantasy and reality. While in hypnosis, we can find resources, answers, relief and sometimes closure through creative visualisation and guided relaxation. These 'pop up' without real logic and it is essential to let them come to the forefront.
Hypnosis is deep relaxation, lost in time
Some describe it as falling asleep but not being tired, in limbo between being asleep and awake, so quiet, all the while being fully aware of the present. But hypnosis is not sleep, it is altered focus, hearing the voice that guides you, but not necessarily listening. When we enter a hypnotic trance, time disappears. Time distortion is not unusual. When we are with the flow, in the zone, and in hypnosis, we relax our focus and enter a day-dream trance state, oblivious of the passing time.
Hypnosis involves experiences of dissociation. You might be invited to dissociate spatially, when imagining yourself in a beautiful garden, walking through a forest, or strolling on a beach with the waves crashing on the shore. We find ourselves in an altered perception of where we are and we can experience the same altered state with our perception of time. Often, after a session, we are surprised that our perception of 15 minutes turned out to be an hour.
Hypnosis, self-hypnosis, hypnotherapy, meditation!? What's the difference?
According to the American Psychological Association, hypnosis is a cooperative interaction between a responsive participant and a suggestive hypnotist. Hypnosis is a trance state that is distinguished by deep relaxation of the body and the mind, heightened imagination and increased suggestibility. Meditation is defined as a set of techniques intended to inspire an increased state of mental awareness and focused attention. Meditation teaches us self-awareness. Hypnosis can help you treat different conditions with precision and focus on the matters we wish to address, whether we wish to simply quit smoking, sleep better, or deal with even more complex issues.
All hypnosis is self-hypnosis. The hypnotherapist merely guides you into a hypnotic trance, facilitating the process. Self-hypnosis and hypnosis are the same, with the difference that in self-hypnosis you use techniques and suggestions to induce yourself into a hypnotic state. Research suggests that self-hypnosis could have some benefit for boosting mindfulness and reducing stress, easing feelings of anxiety, increasing self-confidence.
A problem cannot be solved by the same consciousness in which it arose.
Everyone experiences hypnosis differently. Some might feel lost in thought, others hyper-focused on a thought or idea, and others feel at peace and relaxed. Hypnosis helps you gain control over undesired behaviours, patterns, and can help you cope with insomnia, depression, anxiety or pain. And although we are more open to suggestions while in hypnotic trance, we never lose control over our behaviour. Altered states of consciousness, in which the mind can be aware, but is not in its usual wakeful condition, allow us to see our lives and ourselves with a broader lens and from different angles of perception than the ordinary mind.
Hypnosis is a genuine therapeutic tool and, together with the hypnotherapist, you can create a structured plan to help you reach your individual goals.