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Category:Hypnosis Coaching and Training

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The front cover of "25 Lessons in Hypnotism" by L.E. Young, a classic training text on the subject of suggestion and auto-suggestion
The front cover of "25 Lessons in Hypnotism" by L.E. Young, a classic training text on the subject of suggestion and auto-suggestion

Hypnosis is widely defined as "an artificially induced trance state resembling sleep, characterized by heightened susceptibility to suggestion."

Contents

What is Hypnosis?

The front cover of "Practical Lessons Hypnotism and Magnetism: Mysteries of Occultism Unveiled as published by L. W. deLaurence in 1928
The front cover of "Practical Lessons Hypnotism and Magnetism: Mysteries of Occultism Unveiled as published by L. W. deLaurence in 1928
The front cover of "Medical Hypnotism and Suggestion" by Alexander Verner; originally published circa 1904, this is a paperback reprint of the 1920s or 1930s
The front cover of "Medical Hypnotism and Suggestion" by Alexander Verner; originally published circa 1904, this is a paperback reprint of the 1920s or 1930s
An early 20th century print that depicts one aspect of hypnotism -- the induction of a happy or healthful vision of life's future goals realized, providing a mental image toward which the subject can confidently aspire
An early 20th century print that depicts one aspect of hypnotism -- the induction of a happy or healthful vision of life's future goals realized, providing a mental image toward which the subject can confidently aspire
The front cover of "Hypnotic Exhibitions" by Prof. L. A. Harraden, published in 1900; Harraden gave demonstrations of hypnotism to theater audiences by putting random audience members into trance states; this book presents his techniques
The front cover of "Hypnotic Exhibitions" by Prof. L. A. Harraden, published in 1900; Harraden gave demonstrations of hypnotism to theater audiences by putting random audience members into trance states; this book presents his techniques

Within the brief description given above, there are many words that bear closer examination, so let us begin by taking a clearer look at the terms included in that dictionary definition.

"An Artificially Induced"

The trance state resembling sleep does not originate with natural tiredness; it is brought about by a hypnotist inducing it in the subject or it is self-induced, after some training, by the subject on him- or herself.

The idea of "artificial induction" frightens some people, for they believe that in order to be placed in a hypnotic state, they will have to allow a portion of their will power or self-control slip away, either by giving guidance of their thoughts to a hypnotist or by separating the actively executive function of their minds from the passively receptive functions. In fact, being placed into a light trance by artificial induction is something that most of us have experienced, when our mothers rocked us to sleep or when we received a relaxing massage.

"Trance State"

A trance is a state of mind in which a person's consciousness of the environment or command and control of bodily motions such as speaking or writing, is partially or entirely not subjected to review and planning by the executive functions of the mind. Spirit mediums, Spiritualists, and those who divine or prophesy with spirit boards, as well as a great many intuitive psychic readers, regularly enter into light or deep trance states to bring information from the realm of Spirit to the material world.

The existence of a "trance state" can feel uncomfortable to those who fear that if they were to "lose control," they might reveal secrets about themselves or others which they wish never to be known. People who actively resist entering the trance state are simply "people who cannot be hypnotized." No one can force a trance state upon you, so if the idea is not to your liking, do not seek out the experience of hypnosis.

"Resembling Sleep"

Light hypnosis or a light trance sleep is often said to feel a bit like day-dreaming. Under a light trance, people have some consciousness of their surroundings, but will be disinclined to make much physical effort unless a loud noise or an actual threat jars them out of the state and back into their normal waking consciousness.

A deep trance state is very similar to regular sleep, except that the subject's mind is still working, and connections are being made between what is heard and what is being felt on the emotional level. In a deep hypnotic state the subject is insensible to the outside world and will have an extremely diminished connection to his or her proprioceptive senses. The subject's body may feel like it is floating, walking, lifting objects, laying down, or sitting quietly without reference to what is actually taking place. Upon awaking from the trance, the person may have no memory of what transpired, may recall it as if events had taken place in a dream, or, if instructed, may remember everything.

The fact that hypnotism "resembles sleep" creates a barrier among those who fear that they will "never wake up" and will have to live somehow as "zombies." The truth is not so dramatic, though, for just as with a regular sleep, your body will awaken from hypnosis naturally in due time, even if the hypnotist were to walk off and leave you asleep.

"Characterized by Heightened Susceptibility to Suggestion"

When a person is in a hypnotic trance, he or she is in a "suggestible" state of mind. It is possible to use this state of mind beneficially, as when coaching a subject to give up smoking or to have increased self-confidence. It is also possible to confuse a person and cause him or her to enact comical or inappropriate activities, to a certain extent, but not to the extent that the subject will readily violate his or her core moral values.

"Susceptibility to Suggestion" creates a barrier to hypnosis among those who fear that they may be placed under "mind control" and "forced" to enact behaviours which they consider unseemly or of which they disapprove. Those who have seen exhibitions of hypnosis on stage, during which audience members are placed in a trance and are asked to dance or sing, or to make their body "stiff as a board, light as a feather," may fear that a therapeutic hypnotist may impose upon them in the way that audience members were imposed upon. However, hypnotists who are committed to healing and helping clients will never use them as spectacles of fun or ridicule.

A Brief History of Hypnotism

Hypnotism is not new. The ancient Hindus, Persians, Chinese, Greeks, Romans, and Africans all recognized the power of suggestion and developed various techniques of thought control, which they used therapeutically to assist in medical, psychological, and spiritual healing.

In the past 300 years increased attention has been paid to the practice. It was systematized and openly discussed, first under the name "mesmerism," after Franz Mesmer, a German medical doctor who wrote extensively on the subject in the 18th century, and then as "animal magnetism," which was Mesmer's name for the phenomenon. By the late 19th century the modern term "hypnotism" was coined. It derives from the Greek word hypnos ("sleep") and the suffix osis ("to put to") and thus it literally means "to put to sleep."

How Does It Work?

The physiological mechanisms responsible for inducing a hypnotic trance have been widely studied by scientists and by hypnotists for more than 150 years. Quite a few theories have been proposed, and have gone in and out of favour, because although the phenomenon is well known, our scientific understanding of it has lagged behind.

Many practitioners believe that the best-known methods of inducting a hypnotic trance work on the brain by temporarily interrupting or displacing the everyday waking interactions between sight or hearing and the mind's sense of self-awareness and executive function. For this reason, they say, the more popular and effective means of inducing a hypnotic trance make use of repetitive movements of swinging objects, such as a pocket watch or pendant; rotating objects, such as a spinning spiral, hypno-disk, or hypno-coin; patterned and controlled hand-movements, called "passes," made near the subject's face; prolonged eye-contact; spinning or whirling the body around its vertical axis; or listening, with the eyes closed, to a slow and quiet voice speaking for a length of time.

The three major forms of hypnosis are one-on-one, in which the client engages the services of a hypnotist as a coach; group hypnosis, in which the hypnotist places several people into a trance at one time; and self-hypnosis, in which a person, following a course of training, learns how to bring about the trance without a personal coach's induction.

How Can It Help?

Therapeutic hypnosis, when administered by a well-trained, wise, and compassionate healer, can be used to address a number of conditions.

  • Hypnosis can be engaged to rid oneself of pernicious bad habits, such as smoking, drinking, or over-eating. Starting with a hypnosis coach and moving into autosuggestion is a popular method for this kind of work, in which the aim is to find freedom beyond an unwanted behaviour.
  • Hypnosis can lessen or remove repetitious negative self-talk, such as the false belief that one is a "loser," "unloved," "ugly," or "not good enough." In such a situation, a hypnosis coach can prepare a program tailored to your individual needs, which you can then follow on your own to release yourself from negative thoughts.
  • When employed alongside conventional medical treatments, hypnosis can bring a measure of relief from chronic pain caused by long-standing physical and mental conditions. For work of this kind, a reputable hypnotist will always want to be sure that you are receiving adequate medical care, because hypnotism is not a substitute for a doctor's treatment, but it has been shown to be an effective way to ameliorate and remediate physical and mental stress and difficulties.
  • Hypnosis can act as an adjunct to or as a substitute for affirmative prayer for those who are less religiously-minded and wish to work on themselves to increase self-confidence, grow in self-control, and become the best and strongest they can be. Agnostics and atheists who may reject the concept of a petition prayer or an affirmative prayer may feel comfortable with hypnotic autosuggestion as a method to produce beneficial life changes. Those who are used to intense prayer, especially those familiar with New Thought or Spiritualism may see in self-hypnotism or autosuggestion a comfortable secular analogue to their own religious traditions.
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