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How does Hypnosis work?

Hypnosis is a very versatile and useful therapeutic tool. It can help with anything that your mind has some effect upon; that includes most of your life experience! Hypnosis directly addresses the subconscious mind and this is why it has the potential for lasting change.

Our subconscious minds are hugely powerful, much more powerful than our conscious minds. The subconscious mind runs most of our lives. Although we may like to imagine we are consciously in control of our lives in reality we are not. Most of our behaviour is automatic and repetitive and we don’t really need to think about it. On the whole this is good news, for example when you are learning to drive there appears to be an overwhelming number of things to think about and you have to concentrate hard. Once you are an experienced driver the vast majority of the time your subconscious mind takes care of the driving and you can relax behind the wheel, hold a conversation and still get to your destination in one piece.

Whilst the subconscious mind makes life much easier for us it can also hold us back. Evidence suggests that until the age of six our minds are in a ‘super learning’ phase. This is why children can learn several languages with ease at a young age, whereas it is hard work learning a second language later in life. Young children simply soak up everything they are exposed to. They cannot differentiate between ‘this is good for me’ and ‘this is bad for me’ or ‘this is true’ and ‘this is not true’. The subconscious mind cannot make these sorts of value judgements. The result is that we are subconsciously imprinted from a young age with some positive and helpful messages about life and some negative, unhelpful ones. Anything we hear repetitively or any event that carries a strong emotional charge will get imprinted onto the subconscious. These subconscious messages are the foundation of our belief systems.

We cannot reason directly with the subconscious, it doesn’t listen to the logical reasoning of our rational conscious minds. We can however communicate with the subconscious when we are very relaxed as that puts us into a receptive brainwave state where messages can be absorbed directly into the subconscious. Dr Bruce Lipton uses the analogy of a tape recorder. If we don’t like the message playing on a tape we can’t change things by shouting at the tape player, it will still play the same message. We have to record over the tape with a new message to make a change. This is essentially the way that hypnosis works. By relaxing the client the subconscious becomes open and receptive and by using hypnotic suggestions we can replace old negative beliefs held in the subconscious mind with new positive beliefs.

Issues which can be successfully treated with hypnosis include phobias, anxiety, low self confidence, fear of public speaking, insomnia, panic attacks and exam nerves. The mind body connection is now well established in relation to health. People who are anxious or stressed are prone to ailments such as IBS which in the past may have been labelled in a dismissive way as ‘psychosomatic’. These illnesses may start in the mind but the physical symptoms cause genuine discomfort and distress for the sufferer. Where the cause lies in the mind that is where the cure will be found. Many people find their chronic illnesses are noticeably worse when stressed, so for example asthma and eczema sufferers may also benefit from hypnosis.

Hypnosis can provide immense support in changing old unhelpful habits. Trying to use the willpower of the conscious mind to change a habit rooted in the subconscious is doomed to failure. It is only when the subconscious belief is brought into agreement with the conscious intention that real change will be made. This is one of the reasons that most weight loss diets, new exercise regimes and attempts to stop smoking fail. Hypnosis can enlist the power of your subconscious mind to align with and support your goal.

Most people will find hypnosis a relaxing, enjoyable and positive experience. A good hypnotist will talk to you about your issues before relaxing you into a light trance state and creating a hypnotic experience which gives your subconscious mind new positive messages. Often the hypnosis will utilise imagery as the subconscious mind can more easily absorb information in the form of pictures.

You can hypnotise yourself and there are many recorded hypnosis sessions available to buy of varying quality. I suggest it is usually most effective to work one to one with a trained therapist as you are more likely to get to the heart of your issues and receive a hypnotic experience tailor made for your needs. Find someone that you feel a comfortable rapport with and can trust. Ideally the hypnosis will also be recorded for you so that you can continue to work with the positive suggestions whilst you relax at home.

If you would like to learn more about the power of hypnosis I can recommend Heal Yourself with Medical Hypnosis: The Most Immediate Way to Use Your Mind-Body Connection by Dr Andrew Weil and Dr Steven Gurgevich.

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