Hypnosis is easy, relaxed focus. When you’re absorbed in what you’re doing, perhaps watching a great movie, you’re in a light state of trance (hypnosis).top
Virtually everyone can experience light trance, and most people can reach medium trance.
Many people can go deeper than this, under the right conditions. Often this more deeply relaxed state is easy to achieve. When people are tense or anxious, they may need a bit more time to relax mentally as well as physically. When they feel comfortable enough, they are likely to have a useful experience.
Deep trance requires the ability to relax very deeply yet remain peacefully conscious, as in certain meditative states. This ability varies with the individual.
Some people can go very deep, and often very quickly. Genetics may play an important role.top
You can expect to be comfortably relaxed. Sensations may be fairly normal. When I regress people to past lives, for example, they may be hypnotized deeply enough to experience extensive visions and still wonder “Am I hypnotized?” (Answer: “Yes!”)
Or you may experience sensations such as drifting, floating, heaviness or lightness.top
Hypnosis can be used to help break troublesome habits, resolve emotional distress, achieve numerous practical goals, and even facilitate spiritual experiences.
At times, the recall of positive memories under hypnosis can be extremely helpful, bringing hope and comfort.
Also, in many cases, remembering stressful past events under hypnosis is beneficial. With the support of the hypnotherapist, this recall may bring relief and healing, sometimes within minutes — though often further work is needed for best results.top
Anyone who is trained to hypnotize others is a hypnotist. A hypnotherapist is a hypnotist who uses hypnosis as a form of therapy — for instance, to help improve self-esteem, heal trauma or relieve physical discomforts.top
o All hypnotherapists are hypnotists.
o Only some hypnotists are hypnotherapists.
Hypnotists may use a variety of inductions (methods to guide people into trance). Some inductions are rapid, whereas others require many minutes. Inductions often involve counting, imagery (perhaps imagining yourself walking down a winding staircase), or verbal suggestions, such as “You are growing more and more deeply relaxed with every breath.”
Certain individuals go very easily into deep trance. Many others can learn to go into trance more quickly with some experience.
Typically, long inductions are used in the first hypnosis session, and length may vary in later sessions.top
No. Hypnosis involves relaxed awareness. Some hypnotists may tell people to “sleep.” But what they really mean is: “Relax deep and enter an altered state of consciousness.”
(There’s one exception, of course. Hypnosis recordings can be used to help overcome insomnia, in which case the intention is precisely to fall asleep.)top
Most commonly, yes. There are exceptions. Certain clients may use drugs (prescription or otherwise) which have sedative effects. Such drugs tend to interfere with consciousness and memory.
Some hypnotists will actually tell people not to remember. (For example, see the section “What happens when people recall a stressful event?”.)
Usually it is most useful to allow yourself to recall the hypnosis experience, just as you’d recall a dinner with friends, a vacation, or a conversation with your sister. You might not immediately remember every detail, but you will recall a lot.top
Usually, yes. You can expect to feel comfortable and relaxed.
On occasion, less pleasant feelings may arise. In fact, many people seek hypnosis with the goal of remembering the origin of a problem. In this case, the intention is to remember a stressful event. The stress of the memory will generally be balanced by the overall pleasantness of hypnosis, the support of the hypnotherapist, and (frequently) additional steps taken to help process or “digest” the experience and even grow from it.top
A hypnotherapist may guide a client — under hypnosis — to recall a stressful event which the client has apparently repressed (blocked from his or her own memory). In some cases, the practitioner may believe that the client isn’t ready to handle the memory of that event during normal consciousness, and will therefore instruct the client to forget.
This kind of intentional forgetting may be useful (at least temporarily) when people are very fragile or overwhelmed, but the things we forget can still affect us. More often, the hypnotherapist will support the full return of memories (or apparent memories) which emerge during the sessions, and help the client resolve (heal) the effects of that past event.top
Both are possible.
Some people have an exceptional ability to remember events – joyful, disturbing or neutral – with amazing precision. And sometimes traumatic events are remembered with vivid accuracy.
The events we remember (or seem to remember) under hypnosis can be symbolic (expressing our feelings about a person or situation) or literally true. We may experience a mixture of both.
Even ordinary memory is subject to imperfect recall. If we think of a party we attended in high school, we might mix up some details (who told what joke; what music was played) with a party we attended later. We can also distort events according to our own preconceptions. Five people witnessing a fender-bender may have five different versions of what happened.
Symbolic experiences under hypnosis may be powerful and meaningful. They can accurately express our deep feelings, and reveal how we perceive and react to important situations in our lives, or conflicts in ourselves. These experiences can also lead to healing and personal growth.top
In essence, hypnosis is very safe. After hypnosis, people generally feel as well or better than they did before.
However, I suggest you ensure that the practitioner you choose is competent, responsible and honorable. Perhaps she or he is a licensed mental-health professional, or personally recommended by someone you trust.top
o If possible, give yourself some time to relax and unwind before the session.
o Unless necessary for your health, it’s wise to avoid any substances which may interfere — such as stimulating or sedating medications, alcohol, or caffeine — earlier in the day, particularly in the 2 or 3 hours prior to the session. (If you use caffeine regularly, you’ll probably be most comfortable if you use your usual baseline amount, ideally more than 3 hours before the session.)
o Some people find it’s best to have little (if any) food in the hour before hypnosis, so the body isn’t diverting too much energy to digestion.top
In essence, you are in control. This control is best exercised by the wisest part of you — your own Higher Wisdom or Higher Self.
For best results, your everyday conscious mind will relax its usual dominance, and allow deeper forces within your being to do whatever they need to do. For example, your inner self may bring up memories or issues that need to be resolved; work the alchemy of healing; or reinforce any suggestions by the hypnotist which are truly right for you.
Ideally, during hypnosis, you surrender to the deeper wisdom and protective forces within yourself. Your everyday will — part of your ego consciousness — can relax and observe on the sidelines, ready to take action when and if this is best for you.
Often, when I hypnotize my clients, I remind them: “Your own Higher Wisdom is your ultimate guide. I am here to assist.” Or I might say: “Your free will is a permanent part of who you are. You retain your freedom of choice throughout this experience.”top
Absolutely. Spiritually-focused hypnosis is closely related to certain other forms of spiritual practice. You can potentially access your own Higher Wisdom, glimpse your possible future, recall past lives, explore your life plan, confer with guides and teachers, and reconnect with relatives on the Other Side.top
Perhaps a trusted friend or counselor can refer you to someone they know. Or you can search a website such as www.goodtherapy.org or www.psychologytoday.com to find a local hypnotherapist who is a licensed (or state-certified) mental-health practitioner. such as a psychologist or clinical social worker.top