Does Hypnosis Really Work? What is Hypnotism?Does hypnosis work for problems such as weight loss, quitting smoking, etc.?
Does Hypnosis Really Work?
Hypnosis is Considered a Natural Remedy
Hypnotherapy is considered a natural remedy for many issues. Everyone has experienced hypnosis, in fact it is a natural state which we all drift in and out of several times a day. If you ever drive home from work and don’t remember the drive, you were likely in the “Alpha” brain wave state which is a mild state of hypnosis. It is the way our brain takes a break. If you have ever watched a movie and cried, laughed, or felt scared, you were in a state of hypnosis. We know intellectually that movies aren’t real, yet if we can be emotionally affected by them, we are in a state of hypnosis.
Contrary to popular belief, hypnosis is not being asleep.
The brainwave activity experienced during hypnosis is “Alpha”. The alpha state is described as awake, but relaxed. We all experience this state when we first wake up in the morning and just before falling asleep and it happens several times a day naturally. Alpha is considered a hypnotic state.
When a person closes their eyes, their brain automatically starts producing more alpha waves. There is typically a reduction in stress and physical pain when one enters this state. The next level before going to sleep, is the brain wave state called “Theta”. Theta is a bit deeper hypnotic state than alpha.
Often times people think of hypnosis as being asleep. This might be because the definition of the Greek word “hypnos” does in fact mean “sleep”. For the purposes of hypnotherapy you can think of hypnosis as the earliest stages of sleep when you are conscious but extremely relaxed with your senses still alert. For hypnotherapy to be effective, one needs to be awake. If one were to fall asleep, the suggestions would not be heard and therefore be ineffective. It is normal while in the “Alpha” or “Theta” state to hear the voice of the therapist yet upon coming out of hypnosis, not remember very much of what was said.
How does hypnosis work?
The reason that the hypnotic state works for helping a person to change thoughts or behaviors is because between the conscious (intellect) and the subconscious mind is a filter. The filter is important because it helps a person to judge and evaluate all of the information coming in on a daily basis. When a person is in the “Alpha or Theta” brain wave state or hypnotic state, that filter is weakened to gain access to the subconscious mind.
In that state, the therapist can introduce new information or suggestion to a person’s subconscious mind to help make changes that would otherwise be stopped and evaluated in the same way they have been before which may be keeping a person stuck in a thought or behavior pattern which is not helping them.
A good example of the power of the subconscious mind keeping someone stuck in a pattern would be the habit of smoking. Quit smoking with hypnosis is extremely effective because a person knows intellectually all of the reasons to quit smoking, yet their subconscious mind can keep them stuck in the habit because the subconscious operates on the principle of “known” and “unknown”. Known behaviors (like smoking for many years) are considered pleasurable by the subconscious mind and unknown behaviors (like quitting smoking), are considered painful by the subconscious mind.
When a person is told by their doctor that they need to quit smoking for all of the usual health reasons, their intellect (conscious mind) can easily agree. However, the filter is in place and when the doctor’s suggestions to quit smoking hit the filter, they become diluted and by the time they reach the subconscious mind, they are very weak and the subconscious mind wants to avoid the pain of the unknown (quitting smoking).
Hypnotherapy creates synchronicity between the conscious and subconscious mind.
This can be a very frustrating place to be. Hypnotherapy creates synchronicity between the conscious and subconscious mind by getting past the filter and putting the best stop smoking suggestions directly into the subconscious mind. Quitting smoking is just one example of how this works.
It is perfectly normal to not have conscious memory of what was said by the therapist because your powerful subconscious mind records everything coming into your five senses all day everyday during your waking hours. The subconscious records the therapists suggestions and soon the person will begin to notice changes in thinking and behavior. Hypnotherapy is not for the conscious mind, that is what we use counseling and CBT (Cognitive Behavioral Therapy or Talk Therapy) for.
In fact while in the hypnotic state a person will experience their conscious mind wandering, thinking about things like, “I wonder if I’m really hypnotized?” or “I need to stop at the grocery store on my way home from here.” Meanwhile, your subconscious mind is recording all of the therapists suggestions. Your conscious mind will bounce back and forth from listening to the words of the therapist to thinking entirely unrelated thoughts. This is normal and unavoidable. It is actually optimal because every time one comes back to the voice of the therapist, they go a bit deeper into the hypnotic state.
What Does Hypnosis and Hypnotism Feel Like?
Hypnosis usually involves the person experiencing a sense of deep relaxation with their attention narrowed and focused on suggestions given by the therapist, which are related to the clients’ condition whether that is a behavior they would like to eliminate, or a quality they would like to improve on. A hypnotherapist will often have the client use their imagination and visualization techniques to help them see the changes they want to make.
Some people they feel weightless, other people feel heavy, as if they don’t want to move their arms or legs. Typically people come out of hypnosis feeling very relaxed and rested almost as if they have just awoken from a nap, even though they were not sleeping.
Hypnosis is Ultimately Self-Hypnosis
It is generally accepted that all hypnosis is ultimately self-hypnosis. A hypnotherapist merely helps to facilitate your experience.
Hypnotherapy is not about being made to do things, in fact it is the opposite, it is about empowerment. The suggestions given by the therapist helps people make positive changes within themselves because it is a change that they really want.
Hypnosis is not effective once a person reaches the “Delta” state of brain wave function. At that point a person is asleep and in an unconscious state and the subconscious will not record information or suggestion.
The Hypnosis Alpha or Theta State
When a person enters the alpha or theta state, the therapist is able to suggest ideas, concepts and even help a person to visualize their goals. At that time, the subconscious mind is allowing seeds to be planted to then create the changes in reality. The changes occur in subtle ways but it is basically a way for your subconscious mind and your intellect to come into alignment. What is happening in hypnosis is that the analytical left side of the brain is turned off, while the non-analytical right side is much more alert.
This is the part of the mind which has to change in order for a behavior or habit to change.
The subconscious mind files and stores all of our life experiences both positive and negative. A kind of reprogramming of the subconscious (hypnotherapy) is sometimes required for people to make certain changes in behaviors which have been deeply rooted.
Hypnosis is considered a natural remedy for anxiety because the hypnotist is able to use relaxation techniques to help a person achieve a drug-free sense of peace and tranquility. One can also be taught self-hypnosis techniques giving them the ability to become relaxed anytime they wish to.
It’s important to note that a person cannot be “programmed” or made to do anything they would not ordinarily do, or behave in a way which is against their morals and beliefs. A person cannot get stuck in a state of hypnosis and remains fully aware of their surroundings. They are able to return to full consciousness or the “Beta” brainwave state at any time.
The Most Powerful Part of Your Brain Is the Subconscious
As a hypnotherapist, we help clients understand that the most powerful part of your brain is the subconscious. This part is 80% in charge. The other 20%, the intellect is quite weak in comparison.
The intellect knows what is good for us and what we “should” be doing in changing our habits such as for the New Year’s resolution for losing weight or quitting smoking. Our intellect would never have had us start smoking creating a habit which could kill us. Our intellect knows that we need to eat healthy food and exercise to maintain an appropriate weight and good health.
So why does our subconscious seem to fight these very logical, reasonable thoughts and ideas? It is simply because the subconscious runs on patterns, and another word for pattern is habit.
We get used to a way of being and our subconscious mind is very comfortable staying there. It’s primary job is to maintain homeostasis. The subconscious mind does not differentiate good or bad, healthy or unhealthy. The subconscious mind is operating from a position of “known” and “unknown”. In this way, it associates pleasure with “known” patterns and habits, (even dangerous and unhealthy habits) and pain with the “unknown” or change.
The good news is that using hypnotherapy is the fastest and most efficient way to communicate with the subconscious mind.
Patterns and habits can be changed because your subconscious mind runs on patterns, in other words it likes patterns. If you need help changing some patterns or habits, which we all do at one time or another, hypnosis could be the answer for you!
Does Hypnotism Really Work?
Your next question might be, “Does hypnotherapy really work?”, “Does psychotherapy really work?” “Does medicine really work?”
The answer to those questions is, “Sometimes it does and sometimes it doesn’t.” There are no guarantees for any treatment so I would say that it’s important to seek a treatment which resonates with you, that you feel comfortable with and it’s worth a try to see a hypnotherapist for whatever the issue is for you and maybe then you won’t be trying to change the same old things in 2016 or 2017.
If you live in the Denver or Lakewood, CO area and want to try a fun and relaxing therapy call me today!