Great, question! Though hypnosis is powerful, effective and rapid for many types of issues, there are some things that it isn't the best tool for. So, let's talk about what hypnosis is good for and why.
Many before me have tried to define and explain what hypnosis is. Heck, even Benjiman Franklin wasn't able to really define it. And, even now, with modern techniques, scientific processes and 3,000 years to come up with an answer, we still have trouble defining it. My personal short answer is it is Meditation with Purpose; but that's really a dodge because it doesn't define or, in any way, explain what, when or how.
So, let's try again.
What is hypnosis? It is, in short, a purposeful and often un-purposeful shift in mental state from external stimuli to internal focus. Imagine... right this very moment, as you read these words, you are, in fact, listening to an internal voice narrate what you are reading. Am I right?
You are listening internally to what we consider the inner voice, our own mind's voice, as such. Well, if that's the case, is that the same voice that you use or hear when you speak out loud? Well...crap... What about when you are considering a problem looking at the pros and cons? Whose voice(s) are carrying on this conversation in your mind?
So, when we shift our mental awareness (i.e., imagination? consideration? retrospection?) inside ourselves, we are entering a hypnotic state. Now, you may think, "Yeah, but I'm not in anyone's control...I'm not quacking like a duck or something weird like that." and, yes, that is true. Not all mental states are, for a lack of a better analogy, deep enough to allow big changes in our perceptions and beliefs. But don't for a second think that the shift in your mental focus wasn't a form of trance.
Consider this: your shift in focus allowed you to push the outside world out of your immediate perception so that your imagination, creativity, wisdom, knowledge and experiences could work together to come up with an answer to a thought. This could be a near-instant meeting of the minds...or you may find yourself "thinking on it" for minutes even. When you come back to the outside perspective with your solution or answer, you accept it and move on with your day, right?
Now, let us take that one step further and consider a situation where you have had a long-held belief. Let's say that "Bob" said something that upset you, so much so that you have held a grudge for many years. One day, you find yourself reminiscing about the experience and you realize that, in retrospect, the conversation you thought you heard, wasn't correct. You only remembered the actual words used and because, in this moment, you are not thinking about it with the same emotional weight, you can--and do--reconsider it in a new light... That's right, now, in this moment of clarity, you find that your original response to what you had perceived was wrong. Now, with this new thought, you release the emotional values you had carried for so long.
You've just experienced transformational hypnosis.
Now, take that last example and apply it to Fears and Phobias. You're afraid of heights, huh? Well, we ask, "Why is that?" You answer back, "I don't know...I just know that I've been afraid of heights my whole life."
Hypnosis is great for fears and phobias because those are learned experiences. No one is born with a fear of spiders, or flying, or going across bridges. These are all learned by past events in our lives. Here is the biggest most important bit of knowledge: everything that we experience...every thought, every feeling, every sight, emotion, words spoken or heard, are recorded in detail in our subconscious mind.
By shifting our mental focus inward in a--again--poor analogy, deep state, we can, literally, be guided back to a time and event in our past. Because of this, we do not simply recall, or "see," ourselves back at that time and place, but, rather, we find ourselves reliving that moment as if we were actually back there... feeling those feelings, thinking those thoughts. And, because you are the "you" of now, your perspective of that past event can be seen differently. With the help of a hypnotist, you can look at the event with fresh eyes and make the mental shift, right there and then.
Take this example; you're four years old in your backyard... that picnic bench is just close enough for you to reach up and grab that low limb of the tree. And, on this day, you choose to do that very thing.
You're excited, you're determined and, boy oh boy, look at you go! You are climbing that tree like a monkey... all the way to the top you go. Looking out, you realize, "Wow, this is great! I've climbed all the way up here; I can see the top of the house. I can see my friend, Billy, playing in his backyard... this is SO COOL..."
And then, the thought strikes you as you look down, "How do I get down from here?"
Fear jumps out at you. Panic sets in, and the next thing you're in a full-blown panic attack, screaming and crying. Of course, Mom or Dad comes out and gets you down safely, but the damage was done. From that day forward, you are not a big fan of heights.
What if the "You" of now, your older self, could go back in time and say to your younger self that "it's going to be okay...you did get down in that past moment." Your older self's knowledge instills that new thought into that younger version of yourself. Presto Magic'O, you have popped that fear bubble at its source... and on the count of five, wide awake... one, two, three, four and five...
That's the power of hypnosis.
You come back to the present perspective and external focus with a slight change in belief based on a past event. No more fear of heights.
Hypnosis is our ability to focus our mental mind and make change. Hypnosis is the Input / Output system of our subconscious mind. It is, in short, our ability to change our own beliefs.
We could end this article here, but we haven't touched on the "why" really clearly enough. Imagine that your subconscious mind is a hard drive with a detailed database of your life... all of the feelings and emotions, actions and reactions. Why hypnosis? Well, here is the trick.
When we're children, we believe anything, right? Want to test this? Just grab your 4-year-old niece or nephew up and tell them, "Hey there's a big giant purple dinosaur with candy in the next room for you." Of course, the kid runs out, believing you. You think to yourself, "That was sooo funny." So, you grab the 12-year-old son or daughter and tell them the same thing. But, of course, they look at you like, "Dad, we call bull, we don't believe you for a second."
Why the difference in their response?
Well, it's called different things, but I prefer the Critical Faculty, or frankly, the bullshit meter. That layer, or mental filter, that allows new knowledge in (new belief) or rejects it out of hand as disbelief. If it's accepted, it slips right through that critical factor and is recorded as belief in your database. If not, it is rejected as false and is never allowed near your mental database of what you know as reality.
Here is another important piece: whatever is allowed into our database is REAL to us. What color is an orange? What if we could reach into your database and change that "value" to, say, green? For you, the reality would be that, anytime you saw the color orange (i.e., what everyone else sees as orange), you would believe that it was, in fact, green.
Mind Control, anyone? Well, don't worry. There is a safety feature built into our minds to keep that very thing from happening.
See the power of your subconscious thought?
If bad data is recorded and saved to your database, your world view, your beliefs and, thus, your reactions to the world around you are a direct response to what's in there. How would you see "dogs" if, when you were very young, a very happy dog jumped on you. If your perception at the time was fear, from that point on, your trust in dogs would be destroyed. But, if you could go into that database and re-write it to include the context of the dog being overly happy and too large for the younger you to physically stand up to, well, wouldn't that change things for your future viewpoint?
I did mention that there was a safety feature built into our minds though, and that is absolutely true. Imagine this model, on top is your conscious mind and below that is your subconscious mind, But, in between the two is that buffering layer, the critical faculty. The layer that deflects disbelief and only allows in those things that we accept as true. If we removed that layer, well... we'd believe anything now, wouldn't we? :)
Good thing we have a failsafe.
You see, you can imagine it like this: when we slip the critical faculty out of the way for a bit of tinkering, our conscious mind slips over to the side, as it were, and takes over that function. It's over there watching what's going on and, as long as it doesn't conflict with our inner morals, or object to a specific "change," it allows an update to the data. But here is the important part... if something very important was to be suggested that did not line up with your beliefs, then the conscious mind steps in and acts as the critical faculty and, in most cases, would bring you out of the trance state immediately...
Did I mention that, without a level of trust and rapport, your hypnotist is going to find it very, very difficult to guide you into a trance to begin with? That's right. You always have a level of control at all times during trance. Of course, if you don't believe me, you can always deposit a portion of your next paycheck to my account... I won't mind really...
Why Hypnosis though? Well, because it's the only way to change our perspective of a past event. We can't go back in time and redo the event itself but, with a focused state of mind, we can re-visit the event with a fresh perspective-- and with that, change the emotional coding that was originally designated and written down in your past.
Near instantaneous change can happen for many people, for many reasons and with many experiences.
I do hope this article has helped in some way for you. As always, we look forward to your thoughts, ideas and questions. Join us on Facebook at www.survivingtothriving.group.