So how does hypnosis work ?
First of all it is important to know that all hypnosis is self hypnosis. That simply means that nobody can hypnotize you against your will, though it can be done without you realizing it if you are not educated about hypnosis.
It may surprise you to know that you are going into hypnotic states on a regular basis, probably without realizing it.
Hypnosis is the process of guiding a person into a trance state also referred to as an altered state of consciousness. Hypnosis can also be described as guided meditation. The hypnotist guides the client into the altered state. The word altered simply means changed and the key thing that has changed compared to the normal waking state is that the client is in a more relaxed state both physically and mentally. If we were to measure the client’s brain waves we would find that they have slowed down.
Going into an altered state is very natural. We do it every single day. Every time you go to sleep you enter an altered state and you tend to go much deeper into relaxation than in most hypnosis sessions. When you go to sleep you tend to lose conscious awareness. While this can happen in deep states of hypnosis it is a common misconception that you will be unconscious while hypnotized. Most of the time the client is fully aware of what is happening while hypnotized.
Anybody familiar with meditation knows that there can be no meditation without concentration. As hypnosis is essentially guided meditation the same is true with hypnosis. In order to guide the client into the hypnotic state the hypnotist must guide the client into a relaxed yet highly focused state.
The process of guiding the client into a hypnotic state is called induction. There are virtually endless different ways to perform an induction. Many inductions are verbal, using well chosen words and language patterns as well as the tone of voice of the hypnotist to guide the client into hypnosis.
Other inductions are completely non-verbal using simply body language to hypnotize the client. Some inductions are virtually instantaneous though these usually require the previous use of post-hypnotic suggestions to be effective. A post-hypnotic suggestion is a suggestion given to the client while in the hypnotic state to have a certain response to a unique signal after returning to the waking state.
By guiding the client into a meditative or hypnotic state the hypnotist is able to access the unconscious mind of the client directly. In the normal waking state the information passed to the unconscious mind is filtered by the “critical faculty”. The critical faculty determines what is true or false based on the existing beliefs held. This makes it difficult to adopt new beliefs in the waking state even if we want to.
We can change beliefs in the conscious state through the use of repeated affirmations but it is a slow and tedious process. Affirmations are positive statements designed to bring us closer to our goal. For example, “I am getting healthier every day”.
The same affirmation given in a hypnotic state is much more potent and effective because it is not filtered anywhere near as much by the critical faculty.
It is important to note that the critical faculty is still operating but in a diminished capacity. However should the hypnotist make a suggestion that is clearly detrimental to the client (e.g. Give me all your money) he will quickly discover that the critical faculty is alive and well.
The hypnotic state is a very useful state for facilitating accelerated personal development and overcoming old habits and beliefs that are restricting you from getting the most out of life.