As Clinical Hypnotherapists, most of us go around spending our time dispelling the myths commonly believed around the world about the state of hypnosis.
As I typically introduce in my public speaking appearances, when it comes to understanding what hypnosis is, people tend to fall into two categories. The first one knows very little or nothing at all about hypnosis. The second one has entirely wrong perceptions and information about it. This is due, in part, to the misleading portrayal of hypnosis long drawn by the entertainment industry, and it seems to affect people regardless of their level of intelligence, awareness and scientific knowledge.
A respected colleague of mine often jokes about the comments of a leading surgeon who, just before he was about to experience a session, interrupted my colleague to ask him with a nuance of anxiety in his voice: “Hold on! I have one more question before we get started! Can you tell me how many people have ever gotten stuck in hypnosis?” My colleague smiled at the surgeon, startled by this question coming from someone who had such in-depth knowledge and understanding of the physiology of the human body. He offered the following response: “Well, Doctor, you’ve been a leading surgeon in the operating room for how long, twenty-some years?” The surgeon nodded. My colleague continued: “In those twenty-some years, can you tell me how many patients you have seen, admitted in the hospital, for a state of permanent hypnosis?” The surgeon smiled and got the point.
However, the myths seem to be everywhere and to affect everyone. An intelligent and aware friend of mine recently made the comment that he believed you had to be weak of mind or lacking will power to be hypnotized. The opposite is the actual truth. First of all, hypnosis is a natural state of relaxation that we all go in and out of in the course of our every-day lives. We experience it any time we find ourselves operating on automatic pilot so to speak, when we are deeply relaxed and functioning effortlessly, without conscious struggle or exertion. Examples include when we take our morning shower and go through the process automatically, or when we drive a route we know well, and find ourselves arriving to our destination without having paid specifically strenuous attention to every portion of the way. Other scenarios include when we are immersed in the story line of a movie or a book, or absorbed in a study.
So the state in itself is an entirely natural phenomenon. What hypnosis does, however, is give you a road map for cultivating that natural state of being, with the precise objective of enhancing your quality of life, expanding your potential, sharpening your skills and overcoming specific limitations. As such, and in the same manner as with the development of any skills, knowledge or specific training, without will power or the focus of an intelligent mind, the journey won’t go far.
I tell my clients what I do is simply teach them how to access the most powerful part of their mind and learn to use it for their benefit. Once they have learned these techniques, the tools are in their hands for them to take to the level they wish to reach. When you book a one-hour training session with a fitness coach, you obviously cannot expect to walk in with a beer belly and walk out of with washboard abs. However, you walk out with the tools and a precise road map that will lead you, if you decide to follow it, from the beer belly to the washboard abs. I have never experienced the beer belly effect myself – considering I don’t drink beer – but I did develop washboard abs simply by following the steps required to get your body there. It’s easy as pie – so to speak – as long as you don’t overdo the pie part 😉
Well, the same goes with hypnosis. It is simply a question of retraining your brain to operate in line with your goals, objectives and overall well being. The more intelligent you are, the more will power you have, the further hypnosis and hypnotherapy will take you.