“You’re getting sleepy,” the hypnotist said as he swung the pendulum in front of the young woman’s face. She seemed calm despite being surrounded by hundreds of people. I sat glued to my television set. I would never volunteer to be hypnotized in front of an audience like that.
What if I revealed my deepest, darkest secret? What if I said something embarrassing? What if I lost control? What if I quacked like a duck?
Those movies I watched when I was a kid (which showed villains hypnotizing their victims) had made a powerful impression on me.
Hypnotherapy is a technique that allows you to enter into an altered state of consciousness in order to access and influence the subconscious mind. We enter into these altered states several times a day: when we drive our car and don’t remember how we arrived at our destination, when we stare at our computer screen and daydream, when we zone out while watching television, when we drift off to sleep and when we just begin to wake up. The difference is, in hypnosis, we allow ourselves to enter into these states consciously. The hypnotherapist guides us into deeper levels of relaxation, so that the conscious mind can be distracted, while the subconscious mind can be impressed.
Hypnotherapy is one of the only complementary therapies that has been proven by scientific research and has been approved by the American Medical Association and the American Psychiatric Association.
No one can be hypnotized without his or her consent and no one can be forced to do anything against his or her will. All hypnosis is “self -hypnosis” or “a state of selective thinking” whereby the subject (who is always in control) chooses to experience only what is relevant to the issue being addressed.
A certified hypnotherapist in private practice in Hendersonville, TN agreed to hypnotize me so we could discuss “what it was like” on my radio program. Seated in her comfortable recliner, holding her hand and focusing my eyes on a point on her forehead, I had no trouble entering into a relaxed state. The sound of her voice was reassuring and soothing. I felt comfortable, nurtured and safe.
As I closed my eyes, she guided me into deeper levels of consciousness and just when I felt that I had arrived at the deepest state, she asked me to go even deeper, counting down from ten to one. Before the session, we had discussed the issue I wanted to work on (weight loss) and together, we floated back to a time in my life when I experienced feelings associated with that issue. It didn’t matter if I didn’t “see” anything, what was important was to describe what I was “feeling.”
I was amazed that the images and feelings that came up were so meaningful. Scenes from
my childhood provided insight and allowed me to make the connection between my beliefs and my behavior. Her words guided me into an imaginary library where I read the titles of books that left positive impressions on my mind. The experience left me empowered. I came back feeling like “the invincible woman.”
She told me that every session was different depending on what the person wanted to work on. The relationship and rapport with your hypnotherapist is crucial to the process. The more comfortable you feel, the greater your experience, the deeper your state of relaxation, and the more powerful the session.
What I had witnessed earlier on television was stage hypnosis - a combination of hypnotic suggestion, mystique, and entertainment - quite different from the hypnotherapy discussed here. But now I have no fear about being hypnotized in front of a live audience and if I end up quacking like a duck, it will be OK, because I’ll know that on some deep level - I really wanted to.