Hypnosis: A Powerful Relaxation Therapy That Works
When I ask clients if they have ever been hypnotized, invariably they will answer no. But in fact people go in and out of hypnosis every day. Think about it. When you are daydreaming you are focused inward. That’s a natural state of hypnosis. When you are engrossed in a good book and the children are yelling and the dog is barking, but you are oblivious to all around you. That’s a natural state of hypnosis. How about when you are in a movie theatre full of people. When the lights go down, it’s just you and Denzel or Leonardo DiCaprio on that screen. You are so narrowly focused that no one around you exists. A natural state of hypnosis.
Narrowly focused inward, aware of but oblivious to outside stimuli – that is the definition of hypnosis. Specifically, it is a state of focused concentration characterized by very pleasant feelings of relaxation, heightened imagination and increased responsiveness to an idea. While you are fully conscious, you are tuned out to most stimuli around you.
As a Stress Management Consultant, I was attracted to the study of hypnosis because it is a powerful relaxation therapy that helps people make rapid changes. A person with a lifelong fear of flying, for example, can take a plane trip after hypnosis. A person battling weight gain will lose her craving for fattening foods. A heavy smoker will throw away his cigarettes. A person suffering chronic pain can learn to manage it through self-hypnosis and live a better quality of life. A person burdened by a past mistake, trauma, abuse or guilt can have those painful memories neutralized through hypnosis and get to enjoy living life again.
Google “hypnosis” and you will find many scientific studies trying to define how hypnosis works. Using neuroimaging tools scientists do know that it is not a sleep state. The brain waves are in alpha (relaxed) rhythm as opposed to delta (sleep) rhythm. A hypnotized subject when told a white sheet of paper is red shows activation in the color perception area of the brain. Hypnotically induced suggestions of pain activate the brain area as if the subject was in real pain. The phenomenon of inducing goose bumps on the arm of a hypnotized subject by pretending to rub an ice cube on the arm has been observed and documented.
While the scientific studies of hypnotic phenomena are ongoing let me share this anecdotal story. While practicing self-hypnosis I had taught her, my client realized a wonderful side benefit. The blinding migraine headaches she had been experiencing all her adult life were relieved through hypnosis. At her next appointment she reported this to me. Her astonished declaration was, “I don’t know how …..but this hypnosis stuff really works!”