What is Hypnosis and Hypnotherapy?

What is hypnosis? How does hypnosis work?

Hypnosis a natural state of mind
Hypnosis is a natural state of mind which occurs in everyday life. All people experience hypnotic states of mind during each day of their lives. For example, when you concentrate intensely on either work or play, your awareness becomes totally focused. With this kind of focused attention other external events are often not noticed. While absorbed in a book, or watching television, you may not hear your name being called by someone else in the room. You were concentrating intensely, so you only perceived what you were focused on. This happens to everyone. During these focused times we are actually in a hypnotic state of mind.
Daydreaming is another common experience of a hypnotic state of mind. During daydreaming you temporarily shut out the outside world and focus on thoughts and images inside your mind. In your normal daily life, you move naturally in and out of hypnotic states of mind often without being aware of it. Each day you experience altered states of consciousness many times.

Learning self-hypnosis
One of the purposes of hypnosis training is to learn self-hypnosis. The self-hypnosis method helps you become focused in your inner mind. You will learn that self-hypnosis is under your control. You are the one who chooses to go within whenever you want to. In a self-hypnosis state, you are able to bring about desired changes in your life by tapping the amazing potentials available in your inner mind. All hypnosis is actually self-hypnosis with the “hypnotist” playing the role of teacher or guide for the client. As the client, you learn to consciously move into inner focused states of awareness. In this state of awareness, you can work with your subconscious mind to bring about desired beneficial outcomes.

Hypnosis is focused
There is a popular misconception that hypnosis is sleep or like sleeping. When we sleep our minds are not under our conscious control. Unlike sleep, hypnosis is a state of focused, single minded, heightened awareness. During hypnosis the eyes may be either open or closed. In this state of heightened awareness our senses are sharper and we have access to what we thought were long forgotten experiences. These experiences often happened to us many years before as children, in the womb, or even earlier.

The conscious and unconscious mind
Our minds function on at least two levels. One level is called conscious or outer awareness. The second level is called subconscious or inner awareness. The subconscious level of awareness is so called because it means beneath or forgotten. But the memories and experience that are stored in our subconscious are not really forgotten. Just the opposite! The memories and experiences in our subconscious can and do have an influence on our day to day conscious lives.

Early experiences and the subconscious mind
Every experience we have, every thought we think, and every action we make, is permanently recorded in our subconscious mind. During our formative years as children the critical or judgment faculty of the mind is not yet developed. At that time in our lives, our parents and others in our environment make a direct impression on our subconscious minds. This is like writing directly on the open slate of the subconscious. In this process we gather notions and develop beliefs about ourselves and the world around us. Often these beliefs can be negative and limiting. These ideas limit who we are and what we can do and be. For example, if parents frequently tell a child he is dumb or bad, that idea becomes like an internal script which our subconscious mind plays over and over to us. Such subconscious scripts may become like an “operational program”. This type of internal program can run the way in which we think and act. A program which says, “I’m dumb”, affects a person’s life by filtering perceptions of people and events to reinforce the idea, “I’m dumb.” This perceptual filter, then, organizes the experiences in our lives to continue the belief, that “I’m dumb.”

In hypnotherapy, the door to the inner mind is opened and early forgotten or repressed memories are recalled or sometimes relived in vivid detail. These early memories still have a powerful impact on our lives, which may be negative and limiting. There are advantages in recalling and understanding these memories and experiences, because as adults we can bring a new perspective to these inner memories. Hypnotherapy allows us to see subconscious memories and experiences from our adult perspective. As one gains this new perspective on the past, the result is often a rapid change in one’s attitudes, beliefs, and abilities. Such changes can transform the way we relate to others and to our life circumstances.

Hypnotherapy: changing the scripts
Hypnosis has numerous applications and can be used in all areas of the human experience. Well known applications are in the area of smoking cessation and weight control. At times when we wish to change a pattern of living in our lives, we find this very difficult. Sometimes the difficulty comes from a conflict between the conscious or outer mind and the subconscious or inner mind. We have decided in our outer mind what we want, but our inner mind is still operating under a different set of old assumptions.

Direct suggestions may be given to help the client bring about an alignment of the outer and inner minds. This alignment creates the cooperation within the self needed in order to bring about the desired change or outcome. In other cases, hypnotherapy is used to uncover causes and inner beliefs that are interfering with the desired change. Hypnotherapy can be used to reduce or eliminate pain in the birthing process as well as various other conditions where intractable pain exists. Major surgery has been performed using only hypnotic anesthesia.

Other applications of hypnotherapy include: improving creativity, memory, sports performance, ones self image and self confidence. Hypnotherapy is often used for relaxation and stress reduction which has many beneficial side effects. Hypnotherapy can be used to improve concentration and study habits, alleviate exam anxiety and improve test taking ability, and thus leading to improved grades. Problems as diverse as allergies, stuttering, insomnia, nail biting, migraine headaches, impotence, asthma, fears and phobias often yield to the insights and awareness that come with remembering early life experiences and beliefs.

An Illustrated Case of the use of age regression
The following case illustrates how age regression can be used in the hypnotherapeutic process working with a real life issue. A man in his fifties had severe stuttering problems for as long as he could remember. The stuttering had affected his social interactions, education, and type of employment. With an age regression the cause of the problem was revealed to the client. The client remembered repressed memories which took place when he was three years old. He had put some “ducks” in a tub of water to see them swim. They drowned; as they were really baby chickens. His dad came home drunk, beat him severely, and beat him more when he started to cry. While in hypnosis, the client experienced the long repressed tears. With this awareness and emotional release, the problem of stuttering cleared itself.

Reaching your spiritual nature
An evolving area of hypnosis might be loosely termed “Spiritual Hypnotherapy.” Past life regression can be used to become aware of and clear unresolved issues of previous incarnations. Such unresolved issues are still affecting us in a negative way emotionally, physically, and spiritually. Our current perceptions of life’s experiences are clouded by the veils of the past. In a sense, we only see the past. We often feel like we are repeating the same old problems over and over again.

Unresolved issues of this life and previous lives act like magnets drawing people and events to us which recreate the unresolved issues in some form. When we become aware of limiting patterns and release and “forgive” ourselves and the players in our “story” this repetitious cycle is broken. Until this release takes place we are, in a sense, hostage to our own past.

Past life regression can also be used to recover past life strengths, abilities, and talents to enrich and empower one’s present life. In some cases, people contact their higher selves and open new channels of inner awareness and guidance for their lives.

Hypnotherapy: a tool for you
Hypnosis is a powerful tool for gaining a deeper understanding of who you are and why. Hypnosis can be used as a tool to transform your life. The changes which occur during hypnotherapy can help make your life the way you want it to be.

Further Reading
If you have further interest in hypnosis, the following books are excellent sources of information about self hypnosis and past life therapy.

  • Many Lives, Many Masters by Brian Weiss, M.D.
  • Through Time Into Healing by Brian Weiss, M.D.
  • Self-hypnosis Creating Your Own Destiny by Henery Bolduc
  • Self Hypnosis and other Mind-Expanding Techniques by Charles Tebbetts
  • Self Hypnotism: The Technique and its use in Daily Living by Leslie LeCron
  • Mind Probe-Hypnosis by Irene Hickman, D.O.
  • Other Lives, Other Selves: A Jungian Psychotherapist Discovers Past Lives by Roger Woolger, Ph.D.