Hypnosis - What's It All About?

Have you ever wondered about hypnosis? What is it, really? Can it be used to improve your life in some way, or is it just a stage trick?

Hypnosis is, in fact, real. It is not just a stage trick, and yes, it can be used for many purposes to improve people’s lives. When you use hypnosis, you tap into your own mental powers, in a way that can help you accomplish many things.

What can it be used for? Well, it’s amazingly helpful if you want to stop smoking. Quitting is a heck of a lot easier with hypnosis, and there isn’t the tendency to replace cigarettes with food, or to become a grouchy bear.

What else can hypnosis be used for? There are many medical uses for hypnosis, and it is used in some of the finest hospitals in the world: Stanford, Harvard Medical School, etc. It is used for pain management, dental pain and/or anxiety, preparation for surgery and many other things. It is used for stress reduction, insomnia, and to improve sports performance.

The first time I ever used hypnosis to help someone, it was for childbirth. A good friend of mine, knowing that I was studying hypnosis in my doctoral program, asked me if I’d use it to help her be less anxious during the birth of her first child. I did that for her, and I also suggested she’d have no pain. (Although I’d been taught that this was possible, I was skeptical, given that this was my first time using hypnosis, and what I had heard about childbirth, but I kept that doubt to myself). You could have knocked me over with a feather when she called to tell me that she really hadn’t had any pain! I’ve used hypnosis with countless pregnant women since. The results are not always quite that perfect, but it almost always does diminish the pain and anxiety, sometimes actually eliminates it, and makes for a much more comfortable and joyful experience.

Can anyone be hypnotized? Yes, it’s a natural state that we have all experienced many times, but generally don’t recognize if we’ve never had any training in hypnosis. As with most things, some people are naturally better at it than others, but we are all capable of using it. Just as we can all sing, but some of us naturally sing better than others.

What does it feel like? Many people expect to either be unconscious, which is not the case, or at least to feel something completely different than they’ve ever felt before. But really, being in a hypnotic state just feels very, very relaxing. Pretty much everybody likes it, and wants more of it once they’ve experienced it. To me it feels a lot like that twilight time just before falling asleep. You’re not really asleep yet, but you’re not really awake, either. If someone came into the room and said something, you’d hear them, but you’d wish they would go away.

But can you be made to do things against your will? No, you can’t. First of all, you are completely in control of yourself when you’re in a hypnotic state. You are not going to do something you are not willing to do. Stage hypnosis is very entertaining, and makes it look like the hypnotist has control. But actually, those on stage have volunteered, and are willingly participating and doing funny things. Are they hypnotized? Yes. Are they under someone else’s control? Not really. If the hypnotist asked them to do something objectionable, they would not do it.

What about self-hypnosis? This is another good thing about hypnosis. You can learn to do it yourself. After a few sessions, most people are able to use hypnosis on their own, and to achieve benefit from this tool whenever they choose. Often, when I’m working with a client, we will record their hypnosis session, so they can repeat the experience on their own as often as they like. They can begin to learn how to use hypnosis in many beneficial ways.

How might hypnosis be used to enhance your life?

© Catherine Aisner 2010


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