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What Is Hypnosis ?

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Doug Buckingham

What Is Hypnosis ?

Posted by Doug Buckingham 1099 Days Ago


Whenever I do a talk or workshop about hypnosis, one of the first questions that I like to ask the group is how many people have ever experienced hypnosis. With a smaller group that are there to study, you might get 40-50pct of the group raising their hands; and with a larger audience for a talk, it will probably be a much smaller percentage.

You can then point out to the group that they have all experienced hypnosis, or at least something similar to it, many times in their everyday lives, for example…

  • When we are completely absorbed in a book, watching a film or listening to music, so that you lose track of time, or do not hear someone calling you, that is a hypnotic state.
  • When you drive somewhere that we you regularly, that is often an automatic activity, and you may be only vaguely conscious of how you got there. That is because the driving skills and route are stored in your subconscious mind, which remembers everything. When you do an automatic activity of this nature, you often drift into hypnotic trance.
  • Daydreaming (thinking about the future), or thinking about past events (reverie)
  • In the zone whilst exercising
  • The half-awake half-asleep states that happens prior to falling asleep and after waking are examples of naturally occurring hypnotic states and are called the hypnagogic and hypnopompic states.

It is always useful to remember and remind clients and other people who might benefit from hypnosis that hypnotic trance is a naturally occurring state of awareness, and the above are just a few of the everyday realities where and when many people experience hypnosis or similar states.

However, when you go to someone to experience hypnosis, or they come to you, it is slightly different as the hypnosis is being used with a specific goal in mind, so you will tend to have more focus when experiencing hypnosis. With that in mind a possible description of hypnosis is that you are in a state of focused relaxation when you experience it, and most people’s experience of that is that it is something they are inclined to enjoy.

It is also worth noting that hypnosis is a reasonably conscious experience, as there is always part of the mind that is still reasonably alert and observing proceedings, even if it is in a much more relaxed manner than normal. Like in the hypnagogic state, where a person is half-awake and half-asleep as they are starting to fall asleep at night, they may be aware of noises inside or outside of the room. However, it is unlikely that they will disturb someone unless they are particularly intrusive, or unless the person is especially anxious.

An old description of hypnosis on Wikipedia used to suggest that “contrary to a popular misconception - that hypnosis is a form of unconsciousness resembling sleep - contemporary research suggests that it is actually a wakeful state of focused attention and heightened suggestibility, with diminished peripheral awareness”.

Which is an excellent description of what hypnosis is and far more helpful for people than what they might have seen on TV or a stage show.

The reality is that hypnosis itself is a very pleasant state to experience; it is relaxing for most people, and there is nothing to do and no one to worry about. Inevitably, the mind will drift in and out during hypnosis, in the sense that at certain times, you are likely to be less aware of your external environment than others, and more focussed on your inner landscape. 

And all through this time, you are making powerful and positive changes that will benefit you in the here and now. What better way to change your world?