“Hypnosis is a process which produces relaxation, distraction of the conscious mind, heightened suggestibility and increased awareness, allowing access to the subconscious mind through the imagination. It also produces the ability to experience thoughts and images as real.” A. M. Krasner, Ph.D.
Hypnosis is a form of energy work. Every thought that we have sends out an energy wave that affects not only how we feel, think, and behave, but also the world around us. Hypnosis helps to shift and transform energy or thoughts.
What can Hypnosis be used for?
Very often, the first question I am being asked is “So what do you hypnotize for?” Hypnosis can be useful for … listed are the most common areas:
Fears & Phobias
Weight Management / Weight Loss
Living in Abundance
Memory & Concentration
Changing limiting beliefs
Age or Past Life Regression
Depression with approval of mental health professional
Medical Conditions with approval of your physician
NOTE: I would like to add that I am not doing hypnosis with individuals who suffer from severe depression and/or have suicidal ideation- Please read Disclaimer.
How does it feel to be hypnotized?
Have you ever done a relaxation meditation? This is how hypnosis feels like. You feel completely relaxed yet always in control. Your conscious mind is calming down, focusing on the words that you hear. Meanwhile, your subconscious mind is very receptive to the suggestions or affirmations. However, if an emergency were to occur while you are in the state of hypnosis, your conscious mind would immediately jump into action and make you move, get up, and/or run out the door.
How does Hypnosis work?
We live by the Power of Suggestions. Every day we tell ourselves suggestions and we believe in them even more. Tell me if this sounds familiar to you:
"I am terrified to speak in front of an audience"
"She/he makes me really angry"
"It's no use, I fail anyway"
"Gray days make me feel sad and gloomy"
"I need him/her to do xyz so I can be happy."
Statements like these are perfect examples of the "self-fulfilling prophecy" or limiting belief systems. You repeat a statement (in form of thoughts or verbalized) over and over again and it becomes reality.
Think about it for a moment ... all you focused on in these statement is what you are not able to do or what you would like another person to do so that you feel good. You used words (thoughts) to formulate these statements that turn into reality. Words can be changed thus you are able to change your thoughts and your reality. Flip the words around, change your thoughts and your perception (see Necker Cube) into positive suggestions or affirmations (see Language Intention) and see if you can change reality.
So how does Hypnosis work?
Our brain is the main operating system for our body. It is the command center for all our bodily actions, our thoughts, our emotions, our behavior, and our feelings. Some of those functions occur without us being consciously aware such as our heartbeat or breathing. Besides, our thoughts are conditioned. With repetition and with added stimuli, our responses become conditioned as well.
Our conscious mind works with everything we are aware of. Our subconscious mind holds our memory - everything that we have become aware of and experienced at any given time of our life. Whether that was an experience we made when we were an infant or a recent experience. All our knowledge that we have ever gained is stored in our subconscious mind. Hypnosis works with the subconscious mind and forms a new and positive thought that can replace the maladaptive thought pattern.
That said, the subconscious mind is not the part that forms an opinion or experiences affect. The subconscious mind is mainly a storage place, the basement or the attic or a drawer so to speak for our memories. It is uncritical and accepts all suggestions or ideas that arrive from the conscious mind. The subconscious mind has no way of determining what is real or imagined.
Think of a lemon. Think how you cut into it and how the juices run out. What happens? You start to salivate, right? This is because the subconscious mind could not distinguish between your thoughts and the fact that you had in fact no lemon in front of you. It accepted your imagination for true.
When you are in a relaxed state, it is easier to bypass the critical conscious mind and work with the subconscious mind. Hypnosis works well because our habits originate in our subconscious mind. Through hypnosis, new and more positive thoughts can be formed based on your beliefs and morals.
What is a post-hypnotic suggestion?
While you are in a relaxed state due to a progressive (or guided) relaxation your conscious thinking mind allows your subconscious mind (or as Freud called it the preconscious and unconscious mind) to absorb and manifest suggestions or affirmations that you believe are realistic and doable.
A suggestion could be something like drinking a sip of water instead of eating a bar of chocolate. The "drinking a sip of water" is referred to as a post-hypnotic suggestion and is an action that you believe is realistic and doable. Obviously, this is something the therapist would explore with you first.
Let's say you had a rough day and after you get home, you feel tired and slouch down on the sofa to watch TV. And then it happens, you feel like having a snack and you reach for a chocolate bar. Before you even know what happened, you ate the entire chocolate bar. Ouch!
Through the help of hypnosis, you can transform your thoughts in order to shift stagnant energy to allow it to flow freely again.
After hypnosis, will I do things that I would not normally do?
No! Hypnosis will not work if the suggestion or affirmation goes against your morals or your belief system. If I were to tell you to stand in a corner on your head, you most likely will look at me and say "I don't think so." Thus, you will always be in control of your actions. In addition, your emotional involvement is key to success. The more motivated you are for something to happen, the more likely hypnosis will work. If you want to be more proactive, live a more healthy and happy life, if this is truly your goal because you know that whatever you have done in the past has not been working for you, then you are emotionally involved and highly motivated for a change to occur. If, on the other hand, you are feeling very comfortable with a habit yet somebody else wants you to give it up or change, chances are that you are not motivated enough to give up that habit. Thus, suggesting that you give up a habit that you have no intention of giving up is unrealistic. Therefore, seeking hypnosis for this is unrealistic as well.
When you see a show on TV where people do all sorts of things from barking like a dog or howl at the moon after they have been hypnotized, it is because in their awake state, they would not hesitate to bark like a dog or howl at the moon. Stage hypnosis is for entertainment purposes and not something I engage in.
Hypnosis is a more passive approach to wellness. The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines "passive" as "acted upon by an external agency" and "receptive to outside impressions or influences." Meaning, hypnosis mainly works through the subconscious mind by being guided through a progressive relaxation and post-hypnotic suggestions. These suggestions allow your subconscious mind to form new pathways of dealing with situations. It works best if you listen to the script for 21 days after the session.