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Does hypnosis work?
The first thing everyone wants to know about hypnosis is: "does it work?" In the case of psychologically healthy people, facing any number of challenges, the answer is a resounding yes.
Hypnosis is a legitimately recognized, powerful therapy. It is "a serious science," say Researchers at Stanford University. Researchers there are studying brain activity and connectivity during hypnotic trance, to better understand and utilize the brain’s ability to heal medical and psychiatric conditions.
In cases with diagnosable psychological maladies, the expertise of a licensed psychologist or psychiatrist may be necessary, or more appropriate. You can find a more in depth exploration of various applications of hypnosis, studies, specific efficacy, etc., on my links page.
However, the benefits of hypnosis are not limited to correcting undesirable conditions. Hypnosis can also be harnessed as a tremendously powerful tool for increasing overall wellbeing, establishing healthy habits and enhancing performance in such areas as academics, athletic performance, competition and goal attainment.
What is Hypnosis?
Hypnosis is a state of consciousness characterized by deep relaxation and selectively focused attention resulting in trance. Once in a trance state, one is more highly responsive to suggestion or direction. This process allows the hypnotist to bypass the critical faculty (a sort of filter between the conscious and the subconscious) and give suggestions directly to the subconscious, or automatic mind, where all habitual and automatic behaviors originate.
When in hypnotic trance, we also gain more direct access to our greatest internal resources, as all of our memories, sparks of inspiration, intuition and natural talents come from our subconscious mind.
It is said that all hypnosis is self-hypnosis, because one must be a willing participant in order for hypnosis to work. If the given suggestions are not in agreement with either current or desired beliefs/behaviors, the critical faculty will engage to prevent those suggestions from taking hold. No one can hypnotize another to do anything that person is not in agreement with or agreeable to.
In order for hypnosis to work, the subject must be agreeable to "going along with" the given suggestions. Under these circumstance, hypnosis is a highly effective tool for rapid and lasting change.
Expounding further on the description above, hypnosis is a trance state which is characterized by relaxation, selective focus, heightened imagination and often extreme suggestibility. It can be compared to daydreaming, or the feeling of "losing yourself" as when you're engrossed in a book or movie. Hypnosis is a means whereby we access the domain of our subconscious mind - the seat of all automatic behavior.
Hypnotic trance is, in fact, a natural state of consciousness that we all move in and out of at various times, throughout any given day. Have you ever arrived at your destination without consciously being aware of the actual process of driving there? This is an example of the hypnotic trance state. Or have you ever watched a movie based on fantasy, and yet you found yourself reacting with an authentic emotional response, despite the implausibility of the story line? This is another example of hypnotic trance, and a state of heightened suggestibility. Interestingly, being in love is also a hypnotic state. We are literally "entranced" by objects of our desire.
While in a hypnotic trance state, one is fully conscious but can tune out the stimuli from the external surrounding. The focus is intent on the subject at hand, to the near exclusion of any other thought. This shift in consciousness enables us to tap into many of our natural, sometimes latent abilities and allows us to make rapid and lasting change deep within the subconscious mind, where all automatic behavior originates.
When in trance, we enter a profoundly resourceful state and are able to directly interact with, and influence, those powerful abilities that lie deep within us.
The Power of the Subconscious - Your Automatic Mind
When hypnosis is used to make changes deep within the subconscious mind, those changes become automatic and effortless. Very often, our first attempt to affect change or break a habit is a conscious one. We decide to change, and if/when that change becomes challenging, we apply willpower to our efforts. However, willpower is a limited resource, that requires conscious attention. If you forget to apply willpower, or you're too tired to apply willpower - guess what - you fail in your endeavor.
Once a thought or behavior becomes habit, it becomes part of your subconscious programming/automatic behavior. You will have limited control over that acquired programming only as long as you consciously apply willpower to resist the unconscious urge.
However, when actions, behaviors or beliefs spring from the unconscious mind, they can be as automatic as each breath that you take. You can think about breathing but if you forget to notice your breath, you'll still continue breathing. It's automatic behavior that's pre-programmed into your subconscious mind.
Likewise, you can think about not biting your nails or not overeating, but if these behaviors have become habits that have made their way into your subconscious mind and become part of your programming, they too will be automatic.
In these examples, the only difference is that breathing is pre-pregammed automatic behavior; whereas habits are acquired programming resulting in automatic behavior.
Utilizing hypnosis allows us to by pass the critical faculty to address acquired programming/automatic behaviors, habits, beliefs, and urges, thereby affecting change at their source. When change is made in the subconscious mind, the newly acquired, healthier programming becomes easy and automatic.
Scientific studies have proven that hypnosis can even affect our innate pre-programming, allowing accelerated healing, reversal of auto-immune diseases, reducing pain perception, and more. See my links page (Hypnosis Research: Health and the Mind-Body Connection) for more info.
If you stop to consider just a few of the various pre-programmed, automatic behaviors and responses your body produces each second (beating your heart, delivering oxygen, digesting food & delivering nutrients, cellular metabolism & turnover, growing skin cells, lubricating your eyes, the multitude of processes involved in healing a cut), you can begin to grasp the vast power of this wonderful and genius resource at your disposal. It is truly a wondrous power that can be harnessed toward your successful self improvement. It awaits your direction.
If you're still curious, you might check out my FAQ page for more info.
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