WHAT IS HYPNOSIS?
To begin, we should emphasize that hypnosis isn’t magic and it cannot do magic.
Hypnosis is a natural state of awareness dominated by the subconscious mind.
Hypnosis is a pleasant state of mind, similar to daydreaming, in which you become very receptive to proper suggestions. The effects are feelings of calmness, tranquillity, and profound relaxation.
The mind consists of the conscious and the subconscious, and you can think of them as a set of scales. During our waking hours, the conscious mind keeps us informed and aware of what is happening around us and is in the up position, while the subconscious mind is working in the background, so to speak, making sure that all our bodily functions such as breathing are carried out correctly, and is in the down position. But, whenever we concentrate on something to the exclusion of all else, our conscious mind takes time off and the subconscious mind takes over as the dominant force. The conscious mind goes into the down position and the subconscious mind goes into the up position, and this is the altered state of awareness which we call hypnosis.
It's a perfectly natural occurrence, experienced hundreds of times every day by everyone, without us even being aware of it. For example, you go through it every night just before you fall asleep, and again every morning just before you wake up. It's also a common phenomenon that a motorist will experience when driving a familiar route. Many times they will arrive at their destination, having no conscious recall about parts of the journey. This is because the familiarity of the journey caused their conscious mind to 'switch off' and they were coasting along on auto-pilot.
So, you can see that hypnosis is just a 'regular' person, like you and me – 100% natural and a good friend to have. And like most good friends, it enjoys nothing more than helping you by bringing you a sense of calmness and relaxation. Also, it doesn't impose itself where it's not wanted. However, its real strength comes when it joins with its partner 'therapy' to form what we know as 'hypnotherapy' because together they can bring you a ton of good things, from a simple confidence boost for such things as a driving test, exam or a speech at a wedding, through quitting habits such as smoking or nail-biting, to the development of healthy, enjoyable and nutritional eating habits, and improvements that can be brought about in personal motivation, getting fit, concentration, business skills, goal achievement, language skills, study skills, stress management, sporting performance, sexual performance, public speaking, memory enhancement, creativity in all fields, tenacity.... in fact, it can be used to improve or enhance almost all areas of human activity.
Hypnosis is also extremely useful in the medical world. For example, it can be used to aid recovery from an illness and lower pain, and at the highest level, hypnosis can replace chemical anaesthesia for operations. But I must emphasize, and I cannot say this strongly enough, that when you are suffering medical problems you should always see a medical doctor first, and then, and only then, armed with the proper diagnosis, and knowing it’s safe, should you consult your local hypnotherapist to assist you.
The depth of hypnosis can be loosely divided into three levels: light, medium, and deep. It varies with each person. The lightest level is sufficient to break most habits. The most important factors are your motivation and ability to accept and follow the suggestions. Anyone of average intelligence can easily achieve a state of hypnosis. If you can focus your attention and use your imagination, hypnosis will probably occur immediately. For varying reasons, some people do require some additional time. Because hypnosis is a familiar and natural state of mind, some people experiencing hypnosis are not sure if they were hypnotized or not. A person that expects to be unconscious might think she/he was not hypnotized because they retained awareness of their surroundings.
You will always be aware of your surroundings, but you’ll easily be able to disregard normal environmental distractions.
You will not actually be asleep or unconscious. Hypnosis is a state of heightened awareness and focus – not a loss of consciousness.
You will always remain in control and be able to emerge from hypnosis yourself at any time if you wish.
Your subconscious will hear every word that is said while you are in hypnosis even if your conscious mind does not recall everything.
You will automatically reject any inappropriate suggestion.
WHAT HYPNOSIS CANNOT DO
Hypnosis can't change anybody's basic underlying personality, it can't repair congenital damage or genetic problems, it can't make anybody live forever (although it probably can help to extend useful and enjoyable life), it can't help to achieve anything that is truly physically impossible, like growing body parts and it cannot do anything that the client resists happening.
I think that last point deserves to be repeated, only louder.
Hypnosis cannot do anything that a client resists happening.
In other words, you cannot be hypnotized against your will. Hypnosis is a two-way street. The hypnotist only facilitates the hypnosis in the client if the client wants it, or doesn't resist it, and it only occurs when he or she is concentrating really hard on something to the exclusion of all else.
You are reading this article, and having got this far, presumably that means you are totally focussed and interested in it to the exclusion of all else, which also means you are currently in a light state of hypnosis that has come about because you are concentrating on what you are reading.
Well, I guess this is probably as good a time as any to debunk the most common myths surrounding hypnosis.
You cannot get stuck in hypnosis - this is quite impossible.
You do not become in any way unconscious or semi-conscious.
You cannot, at any time, be made to do things you do not want to do.
You are totally aware of yourself and your surroundings at all times.
You do not go to sleep.
You are not in anyone's power, and nobody can take control of you.
You can leave the hypnotic state whenever you want.
You cannot lose your mind.
Hypnosis cannot permanently remove memories or thoughts from your mind.
You will not suddenly blurt out your 'dark' secrets.
Hypnosis cannot make you act against, or abandon, your moral code.
There is no such thing as a 'hypnotized feeling'.
You do not say or do 'funny things' unless you want to.
Hypnosis is a truly natural state of mind and body and is therefore perfectly safe.
So now you know!