HYPNOSIS – It’s not like what you see in the movies.
Hypnosis is a natural state of selective, focused attention, and, even though it is 100% natural and normal, it remains one of the most fascinating phenomena of the human mind. Our ability to enter this unique state of consciousness opens the door to countless possibilities for healing, self-exploration and change. Hypnosis, called by different names in different cultures and times, has been recognized for thousands of years and used for many purposes.
When we enter into the absorbed state of hypnosis, we can use our thoughts, talents and experiences in ways not usually available to us. With the help of a trained professional, we can develop innate, individual abilities that enable making desired changes in our thoughts, feelings and behaviours possible. For reasons that are as yet not clear, the focused state of hypnosis allows changes to intentionally be made “automatically”, changes that we could not ordinarily consciously make.
Hypnosis has been used in the treatment of pain, depression, anxiety, stress, habit disorders, and many other psychological and medical problems. However, it may not be useful for all psychological problems or for all patients or clients. The decision to use hypnosis as a component of treatment can only be made in consultation with a qualified healthcare provider who has been trained in the use and limitations of clinical hypnosis.
In addition to its use in clinical settings, hypnosis is used in research with the goal of learning more about the nature of hypnosis itself, as well as its impact on sensation, perception, learning, memory, and physiology. Researchers also study the value of hypnosis in the treatment of physical and psychological problems.
How can a treatment aimed at your mind affect your body?
The body responds physically to thoughts. For example, when we think a frightening thought, we can experience increased heart rate, shortness of breath, “butterflies” in the stomach, muscular rigidity, sweating, shaking, and so on. Similarly, when we think a pleasurable thought, we can experience reduced heart rate, deeper breathing, relaxation of muscles, and so on. These are autonomic nervous system responses that are involuntary, but they can be utilized to promote health. When hypnotized, an individual is very open to suggestions that can enhance positive and diminish negative physical reactions.
Can anyone be hypnotised?
Some people find it easier to relax than others. By the same token, some people are able to go into trance more quickly and more deeply than others. About 85% of people can go into at least a light trance. For most therapeutic goals, light trance is enough to enable almost everyone to benefit from hypnotherapy to some extent.
In a relatively small number of situations, (say, when hypnosis is being used instead of a general anesthetic, e.g., as in labor and childbirth), a deeper level of trance may be needed. For these purposes, it is helpful to determine the trance capability of a given person, before making a decision about the advisability of using hypnosis as an anesthetic.
Even for those people (maybe 10-15%) who do not enter into even a light trance state, ?hypnosis may still be helpful to assist their relaxation and improve their suggestibility to ?constructive comments and suggestions.
Can children be hypnotised?
Because children are naturally imaginative, they naturally and easily engage in hypnosis and respond well to hypnotic suggestion for a wide variety of problems, e.g., self- esteem issues, anxiety, behavior problems, habit change, and certain medical issues. It is important that your child’s therapist be competent and experienced in dealing with your child’s particular issue or problem.
Will I be asleep or unconscious?
The word hypnosis comes from the ancient Greek word ‘hypnos’ meaning sleep, but it is mis-named. Hypnosis is NOT sleep. Sleep and hypnosis may seem similar since we may be relaxed and have our eyes closed (although not necessarily), but there are many differences. One main difference is that we tend to be in a relaxed state, but with heightened awareness! If a person were to fall asleep during a session, they would return to normal consciousness when asked to, or simply awaken after a short nap. They would feel refreshed, relaxed and would have no ill effects at all.
“I don’t think I was hypnotised–I heard every word you said!”
Some people, after a session of hypnosis, don’t believe that they were hypnotized at all. This likely comes from misconceptions about just what a ‘trance’ really is. There are differences between the brain waves of people who are asleep and those who are in?trance. In practice, people who are hypnotized often talk with the hypnotist, and can both answer and ask questions, hear everything that is said very clearly, and are perfectly well aware.
There is no mysterious feeling to being hypnotized and our minds are not taken over nor controlled. This expectation and perhaps a demand to have some mysterious experience beyond conscious control or awareness seems to leave some people disappointed and even denying they had any experience at all. These same people may actually have received substantial results and unconscious change.
Will I lose control of myself?
No, there is no loss of control. Hypnosis allows clients to be more focused and less distractible and more skillful in using their own mental abilities constructively. In this way, they can achieve more of their goals, and consequently, actually achieve more (not less) control of their personal comfort, health, and well-being. The ‘control’ misconception appears to originate from stage hypnosis which actually involves people doing what they want to be doing in a social agreement to be entertaining.
Can I get stuck or trapped in the hypnotic state?
The Basic Idea:
The basic idea is simple. Every night, while children are being tucked into bed, parents should ask…
“Can you tell me about your good and bad thoughts as well as the good and bad things that happened to you today?”
Then, as the events are being told (both good and bad), the parents should lightly and lovingly either tap or gently rub the EFT points.
Experienced EFT’ers can readily see the benefit for tapping on the “bad” things (we’ll talk about tapping on the “good” things later). As the child tells the story s/he is clearly “tuned into” the problem. Thus tapping on the EFT points is likely to resolve the issues or, at the very least, lighten their impacts on the child.
This is critical for children because they are constantly picking up “stuff” from parents, teachers, peers, television and so on. These inputs go on daily and accumulate over the years to fill what we adults often call our “emotional garbage bags.” If these inputs go unresolved, of course, they form unnecessary “limits” and thwart the attainment of our true potentials. These unnecessary fears, guilts, griefs and traumas often have a thunderous effect on our “adult realities” and cost us dearly in both our personal peace and our pocketbooks.
Some examples of the “bad” things children might bring up would be….
“Daddy scared me when he yelled at me.”
“I saw a monster eating people on television.”
“My teacher doesn’t think I’m very smart.”
“I can’t run as fast as Jimmy.”
“Donna is prettier than me.”
“The minister said I have to be perfect or God won’t love me.”
There are, of course, thousands of other examples that establish themselves as
uninvited guests in children’s psyches. Most of them are fictions and, arguably, have a far greater impact on how a child’s life unfolds than does their education.
Alert parents have an obvious opportunity to ward off these “self confidence suckers” on a daily basis. Further, the process can be very nurturing for both parents and children because children love to be touched (tapped, rubbed) in loving ways. As you are loving your (our) children in this way, you can ask them more questions about “what happened today” and get even deeper into the issues. Further, you can offer reframes (alternative thinking) while doing EFT which are much more likely to be effective than if you were just bringing them up in normal conversation.
This whole process is also useful for pre-verbal infants. Even though infants are not able to tell you what is bothering them, the mere fact that they are crying or exhibiting other signs of distress tells parents that something (e.g. a fear, trauma or physical discomfort) needs to be resolved. During these times of distress the infant is “tuned into” the problem and thus primed for EFT. The addition of EFT tapping to the usual “there-there’s” and other soothing language is likely to pay major long term dividends.
You may have noticed that I didn’t include the EFT Setup phrasing within this process. It would be useful to fit it in, of course, although children seem to be in less need of it than adults. When adding it in you might wish to use the language below (children light up when saying it)….
“Even though I have this ___________________, I’m still an awesome kid.”
As mentioned earlier, I think it is useful to tap the EFT points even while the child is talking about their “good” thoughts and happenings for the day. Properly done, the parental EFT’ing can add a soothing element to the discussion. Further, even though the child is discussing something positive, there is often a “comparing negative” behind it. For example, if the child says…
“My teacher complimented me today in front of the whole class.”
….the comparing negative behind it might be…
“But sometimes she scolds children or ignores them and I am afraid that will happen to me.”
In this case, even though the tapping is done on the “good” statement by the teacher, it is also likely to reduce the fear involved in the comparing negative. Thus, applying EFT to both the “good” and the “bad” items is likely to provide substantial benefits across the board.
Of course, we are all children (even though some of us have developed a few wrinkles) and thus this article need not be limited to a specific age group. Wouldn’t it be nice, whatever your age, for someone to ask you about your childhood “stuff”? And wouldn’t it be even nicer to resolve those issues daily? Maybe you could trade this favor with someone or just simply go through the process solo.
It’s never too late to have a happy childhood.
Will hypnosis make me remember things accurately?
No. Hypnosis can improve our recall of events that we believe happened to us. But hypnosis is not a way to find out the truth (whatever that may be) about events that are in dispute. That is, under hypnosis you may re-experience events, but there is no guarantee that you are remembering them correctly. Hypnosis only assists the subject in recalling perceptions, not truths.
Courts recognise this, and sometimes take the position that being hypnotized influences your ability to later testify in court on those matters. You should get legal advice before attempting to use hypnosis to improve your recall of events when there are, or might be, court matters involved.