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People have been studying and debating over exactly what hypnosis is for more than 200 years, but science has yet to fully explain how it actually happens. However, It is a state of heightened receptivity. The basic definition of hypnosis given by most hypnotists has been "a state of deep relaxation combined with focused attention directed toward a specific goal."
When a person enters hypnosis, there is a change in their brain wave activity, similar to that time just before sleep when the alpha state is entered. When you are wide-awake, the beta brain wave state is predominate, but as you become relaxed, it changes to alpha. For sleep, you also go further into the theta and delta states. During the alpha state, the mind is very open to visualizations and creating a rich sensory experience. Since you are up to 200 times more receptive to suggestions given even while in the light state of alpha, it is not necessary to go deep into hypnosis for change to be possible.
Some characteristics of hypnosis include:
People frequently ask what kind of things hypnosis can be used for, and they are often surprised by the vast array of possibilities. Usually the first thing I like to tell them is that hypnosis is helpful for anything where your mind is influencing the situation. And the human mind is really quite powerful – what you are consciously aware of is just the tip of the iceberg.
How do I know if I can be hypnotized?
Everybody has the ability to enter a hypnotic state, and in fact, you already do this naturally several times a day without even realizing it.
Have you ever had the experience of hitting the snooze alarm and then continuing to lie in bed with your eyes closed, aware of yourself and the room, but not quite able to wake up fully? You’ve been in a hypnotic state!
Another example of hypnosis is any time when you’ve been so deeply engrossed in an activity, such as daydreaming or watching TV, that your awareness of your surroundings has faded away.
What is a hypnosis session like?
During your first session, you’ll learn about hypnosis. You will understand how you will be using hypnosis and how your subconscious mind works. Most of this session is educational, because when people know more about the process and what to expect, they tend to do better.
After your questions have been answered, you will be guided in a brief hypnosis session where you start the process that will help you achieve your own goals. Once you emerge from hypnosis, you will spend time talking about your experience.
Before you leave, additional sessions will be scheduled. During those sessions you will spend much more time in hypnosis, where the real work will begin. It is recommended that sessions be spaced not more than two weeks apart; and depending on the issue being addressed, there are typically between four to six sessions. You will also receive audio recordings for you to listen to between sessions as well.
And much, much more…
It may look like sleep to the observer, but in fact a hypnotized person is simply completely relaxed. Although some individuals do become so deeply relaxed when in hypnosis that they may think they fell asleep, most people experience a heightened state of mental alertness, and tend to recall everything that occurred during their session.
What we call “hypnosis” is in fact something you already do naturally several times a day – without even realizing it! It is very similar to daydreaming or the “auto-pilot” mode you go into when driving a car, becoming so focused on inner thoughts that your awareness of your surroundings fades away. Have you ever had the experience of hitting the snooze alarm and then continuing to lie in bed with your eyes closed, aware of yourself and the room, but not quite able to fully wake up? This is another example of the hypnotic state. Hypnotists simply are skilled in helping individuals access this altered state at will, and use specialized techniques to change negative thoughts and behavioral patterns into ones that are positive and result in more desired behavior.
They are only a guide, a facilitator, who is trained in the art of hypnotism. But the power is supplied by you, the client. The hypnotist will only be in control as far as you give him/her the control. The hypnotist can only suggest, but it is your subconscious mind that determines whether or not the suggestion will be carried out.
You are in control of the process, including how deep you allow yourself to go into hypnosis. Your subconscious mind’s primary function is to keep you safe. You will only act upon suggestions that reinforce expected behavior, do not endanger your life, and are aligned with your own morals. Otherwise, you will simply ignore the suggestion, or perhaps even come right out of hypnosis.
Interaction between you and the hypnotist is needed for maintaining the state of hypnosis. Should the hypnotist stop speaking to you unexpectedly, you would either come right out of the hypnotic state, or simply drift off to natural sleep and wake up shortly after.
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