Hypnosis might be magical, but it’s not magic. It can sure feel that way when the stage is set, the lights go down, and the hypnotist appears: but the hypnosis begins long before the hypnotist takes to the stage. The assistants are scanning the audience while the hypnosis master is brought to the stage with a grand introduction extolling the skills and mastery of the entertainer about to enthrall with their magic.
Amid loud applause, the hypnotist appears, charismatic and mesmerizing…and then they ask for volunteers from the audience, and a few enthusiastic people (plus usually a few skeptics) raise their hand and willingly make their way to the stage. The testing has begun – for at this point, these people have already colluded with the hypnotist to entertain the audience. For their own varied reasons, they want to be part of the show. They may really WANT to be hypnotized…or they may want to try and “prove” that hypnosis is a hoax.
A good stage hypnotist will then cull the herd by doing some suggestibility tests and sending those that do not pass the test back to their seats. After all, this is a show…and a good hypnosis show needs the willing and enthusiastic participation of everyone on stage. The remaining participants are already halfway to trance – impressed by the hypnotist, entranced by the experience of being on stage in front of an audience, and ready and willing to follow the hypnotists bidding and be part of the show.
For a stage hypnotist, the rest is easy. With flair and aplomb the hypnotist takes their subjects and their audience on a spectacular journey. Sometimes silly, sometimes mystical, stage hypnosis is pure entertainment, and although completely engaging it can also be misleading. Most people think hypnosis is what they have seen on television or on the stage at a county fair…or in Las Vegas. However, working with hypnosis for personal reasons is not the same as using hypnosis for entertainment.
Hypnosis is a matter of working with your mind in the way that your mind already works.
I had a hypnotherapy practice in Seattle for over 10 years, and have studied hypnotic language and how the mind works for many more. I will be talking about using hypnosis as a personal development tool periodically on this blog, so I thought I’d introduce the subject for future reference.
Hypnosis can be an effective and highly accessible method of behavior management, personal development, stress relief, releasing patterns and emotions, and much more. It may have some things in common with its more widely known stage cousin…but hypnosis is often not what most people think it is. It is not mind control. It is not the hypnotist “making” you do anything (like cluck like a chicken).
You don’t just disappear while the hypnotist goes in and messes with your mind. It is much more straightforward and less mysterious than that – and you are directly involved in the whole process. In fact, I have a friend that likes the saying “all hypnosis is self hypnosis”. To the extent that at some level you MUST participate in order for hypnosis to be effective, it is indeed all self hypnosis.
Self hypnosis can be a powerful tool for personal development, and working with a hypnotist can super charge your results. It is merely a matter of working with your mind in the way that your mind already works. You and your hypnotist (even if the hypnotist is a recorded voice or YOU) work together to bypass your critical factor and make a lasting impression on your subconscious mind. Your “critical factor”, by the way, is simply your conscious, reasoning, “thinking” (sometimes argumentative) mind.
Hypnosis is Everywhere
Have you ever been “lost in thought”? How about doing a repetitive task effectively even though your mind is busy wandering through the events of your day (like cooking, or washing dishes, or driving, or playing a video game)? Your mind does not hold every element of your experience in your conscious awareness – many, many aspects of your being and doing happen unconsciously. If you have ever zoned out while driving, or lost time in a good book, or felt emotional during a movie, then you have experienced something akin to hypnosis.
Let’s take the movie example for a moment. You, the “watcher”, know that the movie is a story, usually fictional, being told by a group of actors. You know there is a director, a camera crew, a multitude of other people and moving parts that make the story unfolding before you come to life on the screen.
When a movie is really good, when the story is captivating and the actors are talented and the work that happens behind the scenes is all done with skill and finesse…most people can forget they are at a movie, and just allow themselves to get lost in the story. They will feel emotions AS IF the story was actually happening. As a watcher, you may even feel as if the story is happening TO you…as if you were one of the characters experiencing what is happening, rather than being the watcher, sitting in a movie theater, immersed in a skillfully produced artistic creation.
That doesn’t mean that you don’t have some awareness of the movie theater. If something happened that was loud, or dangerous, or startling or annoying in some way, you might even emerge from your trance long enough to resolve the situation (perhaps telling the nuisance to get off their phone, you’re at the MOVIES!). Assuming the annoyance or danger dissolved, you might easily return to the story and lose yourself again…only to come back to full awareness when the movie was over.
Is Hypnosis for YOU?
If you have ever considered using hypnosis as a tool for personal development and change, I highly recommend it. I also recommend that you be CAREFUL when selecting a hypnotist with whom to work, or a recorded guided meditation or self-hypnosis program. Hypnosis works better for some people than others, but that is really a matter of how you utilize the tool.
Primarily, it will be effective for anyone who realizes they do it all the time, anyway. In other words, if you imagine, or worry, or get anxious or nostalgic, you are feeling emotions triggered only by your mind. THAT is a form of hypnosis. If you can do any of that, then you can use the same mechanisms to create what you want. You just have to learn how.
If you are someone who is easily entranced and highly suggestible, hypnosis will definitely be easier for you. On the other hand, you’ll want to be very careful about what you allow into your mind. I’ll write more about that in another post.
Meanwhile, think about the things you think about and what runs through your mind when you are “zoned out”. Imagine putting healing, helpful, even optimistic thoughts on autopilot, so that when you least expect it, you are programming yourself for success, health and well being.