Hypnosis is a method to replace old beliefs and habits that contribute to a problem such as insomnia, and replace them with new thoughts and beliefs that naturally promote sleep.
Hypnosis is performed under trance, which is just a fancy word for a relaxed state of semi awareness. It’s the same state many of us fall into when watching television, or when you find yourself driving seemingly on autopilot. You’re still very much in control, but with a more detached sense of awareness, where your subconscious mind takes over from your conscious mind.
Trance is used for hypnosis simply because in trance, learning is most effective. Your conscious filters step out of the way, allowing more information to flow directly to your subconscious.
You can liken your brain to memory on a computer. The computer’s conscious memory is RAM, around 2GB to 8GB. The computer’s unconscious memory is the hard drive, around 320GB to 2TB. The unconscious mind is a store of all your memories, thoughts and beliefs about yourself. Anything you consciously think about must first be accessed from your unconscious mind and moved to your conscious mind so you become aware of it. However a lot of what we do we are not consciously aware of. Its running in the background in our conscious mind.
With hypnosis, we can fine tune and optimize these previously inaccessible subconscious processes. It allows us to program ourselves to being able to relax our body at will, fall asleep quickly and easily each night, and wake up fresh and alert in the morning. Essentially we are able to copy the internal wiring of a natural born deep sleeper, and install it into our own.
Hypnosis is very safe and available for anyone to use. The common misconception is that you lose control when hypnotized but this is simply not true, especially with self hypnosis. You choose which suggestions you most wish to implement. No one can make you do anything against your will, not even under deep hypnosis.
Unlike traditional medicine, no adverse effects have been reported when using hypnosis. Experimental physiologists have generally found the deeper their subjects go into hypnosis, the better they feel afterwards.
History of Hypnosis
The first practice of hypnosis was by Franz Anton Mesmer in 1765. Mesmer (the origin of the word mesmerize) successfully treated a large number of people by putting them in a state of trance.
During his treatment sessions, he wore elaborate long robes and waved magnets around his patients, using flashing lights to put them into a state of trance while he chanted suggestions. Mesmer believed that humans had an invisible magnetic force inside their bodies, and that by stimulating this magnetic force, he could heal a variety of ailments.
Other doctors weren’t able to reproduce Mesmer’s method of treatment. He was made out to be a fraud and he withdrew from public life.
James Braid, a Scottish surgeon, knew that Mesmer must have done something right to successfully cure all those people. Discounting the magnets, he believed it must have been due to the state of trance. He coined the term hypnotism, an abbreviation of the word neuro-hypnotism which literally means ‘sleep of the nervous system’.
Braid later found the secret was the suggestions, as he termed it; ‘a single idea held to the exclusion of others’. He tried to change the name ‘hypnotism’ to something more fitting but the term had stuck. Braid had founded the idea of hypnosis as we know it today.
The idea that the mind can influence disease was an idea way ahead of its time. It was as late as 1980 for the British Medical Association to officially approve hypnosis as a method of treatment.
How Hypnosis works
In his book Hypnosis and Subliminal Technology, hypnotist Eldon Taylor breaks down a hypnosis session into five distinct stages. These are pre-relaxation, induction, deepening, utilizing, and coming back.
- Pre-relaxation – Before hypnosis begins, it’s important to affirm to yourself that this is something you want to do. The value to you get out of hypnosis is purely up to you. If you allow yourself to go with flow and become hypnotized, you will gain the most out of your hypnosis session. Make yourself comfortable, in a chair or on a bed, somewhere where you won’t be disturbed.
- Induction – The first job of the hypnotist is to put you into a state of trance to increase your minds receptivity to the new suggestions. Essentially this means going from your active beta brainwave state down to a relaxed alpha where your brainwaves are much slower. The hypnotist will talk in a deep slow voice, or put in front of you a slow repetitive action such as a pendulum or a strobe light. This is designed to deepen your concentration on the hypnotist’s actions, detaching yourself from your surroundings.
- Deepening – By now you will be in a light state of trance. The deeper into trance you go, the more powerful the hypnosis becomes, so now the hypnotist will try and put you in as deep a state of trance as you will allow. This is commonly done by counting down from ten to one, or by visualizing going walking down a path, or going deeper down a lift, progressively going deeper into trance.
- Utilizing – Now you are in a state of trance the receptiveness of your subconscious mind is maximized so the actual suggestions can begin. The suggestions can come in the form of affirmations, ‘I sleep deeply every night’, or by vividly visualizing your desired outcome, experiencing it with all your senses. The mind can’t tell the difference between a vividly imagined event and a real one, so visualizations are very powerful tools to provoke certain emotions and beliefs about yourself.
- Coming back – To draw the session to a close, the hypnotist will bring you out of alpha and back into your regular beta waking state. Essentially this is the opposite of the deepening stage. The hypnotist with often count back up from ten to one, or have you visualize a bubble rising up in a glass of water or something similar.
Coming back after a hypnosis session is like waking up from power nap. You’ll feel fresh, alert, and re-energized.
When using hypnosis for sleep, you may want to stay in trance so you can fall asleep easier, so the hypnotist may draw the hypnosis session to an end without bringing you out of trance.
Many hypnotists use what’s called post hypnotic suggestions, where by a certain action is linked to a feeling experienced in a hypnosis session. For example, feeling relaxed whenever you press your thumb and forefinger together. This allows the hypnotist to bring you into trance quicker and deeper in another session, and also provides you with a powerful tool for additional control over your mind.
Availability of Hypnosis
You can experience hypnosis by either visiting a hypnotist or by hypnotising yourself using self hypnosis.
The easiest way to use self hypnosis is to download a hypnosis session from the Internet that you can use to place yourself under hypnosis whenever is convenient for you.
Alternatively, you can use your own hypnosis skills to hypnotize yourself without audio, providing your with a high degree of control over your subconscious behaviors, choosing custom suggestions that help you most. Hypnosis Downloads offers a free 5 day introductory hypnosis course if you are interested in learning hypnosis yourself.
You can get a hypnosis session with a hypnotist in person by visiting a high street clinic, or as part of medical treatment. Many more doctors are becoming trained in hypnosis alongside their traditional disciplines, so hypnosis may be more readily available than you think.
Hypnosis is commonly used as part of cognitive behavioral therapy, which alongside hypnosis also uses conscious methods such as talking therapy and teaching the patient about the causes of their problem so they can understand it better. A recent study has shown cognitive behavioral therapy to be more effective than sleeping pills in tackling insomnia.
Research has shown hypnosis to be very effective at treating a range of ailments, including insomnia, sleepwalking, night terrors and nightmares.
Hypnosis is becoming more and more mainstream. New research has recommended that hospitals provide hypnosis as standard. Even the army has adopted hypnosis, who train their medics to hypnotize wounded soldiers to control their pain, anxiety, and blood flow.
Famous hypnotist Paul McKenna notes that people spent more time programming their TVs than they do their own mind. He envisions a new age of the brain, where people take control of their mental conditioning, installing custom made positive beliefs and behaviors, enabling them to take full control over their own mind.
As scientists find increasing links between our state of mind and disease or health, hypnosis will no doubt gather even more momentum over the coming years.