Saturday, June 24, 2006

What If I Get Stuck in Hypnosis?

Fear #5: Stuck. Lots of people are afraid they'll get stuck in hypnosis; that they won't wake up.

It can't happen. It's physiologically impossible.

First, hypnosis isn't sleep. A person can't not wake up because they aren't asleep to begin with. If they were asleep, they wouldn't hear or respond to any suggestions.

Second, some people get so comfortable in hypnosis that they fall asleep. (This frequently happens when clients who have trouble sleeping come in for sleep improvement!) If that happens, the hypnotist just wakes them up the way they'd wake up any sleeping person.

Third, some people enjoy the experience of hypnosis so much, they don't want to come out of trance. If you've never experienced hypnosis, you may have trouble imagining how blissfully relaxed, at ease, secure, comfortable, restful and revitalizing the experience can be. No wonder some folks are slow to emerge!

Hypnotists are glad you are having a wonderful time, and we hope you'll come back for another session or show. We want to stick to the schedule, though... and right now, it's time for you to wake up. It may happen a little more slowly for some people, but it always happens.

Saturday, June 17, 2006

What If I Can't Remember What I Did or Said In Hypnosis?

Fear #4: Have total amnesia. Stereotypes hang on a long time because there's usually an element of truth about them. They appear to make sense. Careful examination reveals their limitations.

Is it possible to have total amnesia of hypnotic experiences? Of course. Look at highway hypnosis. You zone out and have no memory of passing the last 22 exits. Oops!

Similarly, a client may choose to leave the content of a hypnosis session in their subconscious once they emerge, letting the subconscious mind do all the reorganizing, resolving, and recovering, while the conscious mind focuses on things like the gross national product and where to get watercress in August.

This can offer incredible benefits. In her book You Can Be... Emotionally Free, Rita Bennett says that once you have decided to stop using your conscious mind to worry a problem to death, you need to post a NO FISHING sign. The subconscious is lazy. It doesn't like to be interrupted. Once you ask it to work on something, let it! Don't keep stirring things up! If you do, you'll turn into an annoying, irritating nag. Your subconscious is likely to crawl into the back seat and sulk. "Fine. If you know so much, you handle it!"

Forgetting the content of a hypnosis session can give the subconscious mind space to breathe. Not to mention tidy up all those loose ends.

The content of the hypnosis session may remain in the subconscious for a long time, or the client may remember it gradually over a few days. It might even come back all at once, or in a dream. It all depends on the individual. That is one of the wonderful traits of hypnosis. Your experience will be exactly what's right for you

It's very common for a stage hypnotist to suggest volunteers will remember nothing about the show until they are triggered in some way: taking a sip of their beverage, hearing the word "blue," or any number of post-hypnotic cues. Like any other suggestion, if your subconscious mind finds it acceptable, you'll act; if it doesn't, you won't.

Saturday, June 10, 2006

What If I Embarrass Myself?

Fear #3: Tell all my secrets.

Sometimes people are afraid of what they may say or do in hypnosis. The most common reaction I get when I tell people what I do is, "Are you going to make me cluck like a chicken?"

I ask, "Do you want to cluck like a chicken?"

In one-on-one client work, a certified hypnotist treats her clients with care and respect. You will not say or do anything you don't want to. The wonderful thing about hypnosis is that it puts control in your hands. You possess all the knowledge, skills, and capabilities you need to overcome your challenges. Those resources simply need to be focused and directed, which hypnosis allows you to do. Often, solutions occur entirely on the subconscious level. You don't have to say or do anything.

I have had exactly that experience myself. After a hypnosis session, I was puzzled by the way it unfolded. It did not seem to have anything to do with the challenge I was facing. I shrugged, went about my business, and forgot all about it.

Three days later, I noticed the problem no longer existed! It had been completely resolved, so unconsciously that I didn't even notice when or how it happened. I would tell you about the specific problem, except that I can't even remember what it was!

Such is the power of hypnosis.

What about stage hypnosis? Surely a stage hypnotist can control you the way a voodoo priest controls zombies. You may have seen people in stage hypnosis shows doing things you would find embarrassing.

You may also notice, if you look carefully, that other people do not respond to those suggestions. They simply sit quietly in their chairs. Others may become fully awake and aware, no longer in trance. This is what happens if you find a suggestion unacceptable. You may ignore it or wake up.

I love stage hypnosis, and I don't think it's ever necessary to embarrass people. I don't think humiliation is funny. Hypnosis can bring out hidden talents, release creativity, and tickle your imagination. It's easy to build a show that's fun for everyone, volunteers and audiences alike. If you ever come to one of my shows, you can be sure that the volunteers have the best time of all. They'll feel excited and proud of their abilities when the show is over - not embarrassed! - and they'll want to tell their friends about it again and again.

Saturday, June 03, 2006

What If I Can't Be Hypnotized?

Fear #2: You can't hypnotize me. I'm too strong-willed, too reasonable, too determined; too fearful, smart, uncertain, etc.

You're right. I can't hypnotize you.

Three things are required to enter hypnosis: expectancy, an IQ of average or above, and the ability to follow instructions. That's it. But if any one of those things is lacking, you won't be hypnotized. If you go into it to resist, guess what? No one can be hypnotized against their will. You are in control.

A friend of mine wondered what hypnosis was like, but he was nervous about it. I explained to him that hypnosis was a natural state of mind that we enter into naturally, every single day, hundreds of times, without even noticing it. I offered to give him an experience of how his subconscious mind, which already controlled things like his breathing and heartbeat and habits, could affect other areas of his life. I asked if he'd like to try one of the of the pre-tests we use for hypnosis. Although it is not hypnosis, it will give you an idea of what to expect.

So we ran through the pre-test, where you hold out two hands level with each other, concentrate on a feeling of heaviness in one and a feeling of lightness in the other.

His hands started to vibrate and shake while remaining perfectly level. I brought the pre-test to a close and said, "Open your eyes. You can see your hands remain perfectly even with each other, although your hands did respond with some vibrating and shaking."

"Yes," he said. "I was fighting not to let you take control of my mind."

(See earlier post about how hypnosis isn't mind control any more than braking at a stop sign is mind control.)

So if you don't want to be hypnotized, you won't be. At the same time, nothing can keep you from being hypnotized if you do want the experience.

It's up to you. You're in control.