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How Does Hypnosis Work?

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A lot of people have misconceptions about what hypnosis is, and how it works. These have usually been picked up from TV, films and stories heard about stage hypnosis. These misconceptions couldn't be further from the truth when we talk about therapeutic hypnosis, so I want to start by dispelling those, then talk about how hypnosis can help you and describe a typical session.

Misconceptions
1. "I won't remember what is being said to me"
This is quite wrong. A lot of people think that being hypnotised is just like being in a deep sleep, however, although hypnosis is a very relaxing state to be in, the person being hypnotised will be in a heightened state of awareness. Everything that is said will be taken in and you will notice all sorts of noises around you. With this awareness comes a high degree of focus so the background noises going on around generally won't distract you. It really is an oddly pleasant sensation, being so thoroughly relaxed yet fully alert.

2. "I'll be made to do things against my will"
Wrong again. You will be in a highly receptive state to suggestion (this is how you can have beneficial subconscious behaviour embedded) but your mind will naturally reject any ideas or suggestions that you find objectionable. You cannot be made to do anything against your will, so forget the stories and myths relating to people doing outlandish things, it just doesn't happen.

3. "I can't be hypnotised, it won't work for me"
This can actually be true. Your ability to be put into a hypnotic trance state does depend on you. You must be willing to be hypnotised for it to work and if you are a naturally imaginative or creative type then it is likely that it will be easier for you to be led into trance. Repeated sessions will also make it easier and quicker for you to enter a hypnotic trance. In the end, if you are willing to try hypnosis then you may be surprised at how easy it is to enter this natural and relaxing state. You might be equally surprised by the way you are brought out of a deeply relaxed trance to fully awake alertness.

A typical session will begin with 10 minutes or so of getting you relaxed. You'll be led by voice into a deeply relaxed state. Often you will be asked to think of happy childhood memories to help you to become re-accustomed to the imaginative state of mind that children generally possess.

Once you are into a relaxed state, the hypno-therapist will start to give you scenes to imagine that either re-enforce positive attitudes or restructure negative behaviours into positive ways of thinking. You may be given "triggers" such as clenching a fist or imagining a scene that become associated with the suggestions that you receive. These triggers give you a means to allow the suggestions to surface into your conscious thoughts after the session is over.

Towards the end of the session, you will be prepared to come out of trance and will be brought back to fully conscious awareness. The feeling as this happens never fails to amaze me, the transition from thorough deep relaxation to fully wakeful alertness that is so different to waking from sleep.

If you're thinking "Well this is all fine, but what's in it for me?", hypnosis can be used for relaxation, increasing concentration, improving confidence and self esteem and is often used to change habitual behaviour such as smoking or eating problems.

The subconscious stores a large amount of information that you may not even be aware of that affects behaviour. In a normal waking state, the analytical left-brain is in control but when you enter a hypnotic trance state, the right-brain has a chance to come forward in your awareness. In trance suggestions can be embedded in the subconscious in order to modify the non-logical subconscious thought processes.

Hypnosis is a very pleasant experience and has a lot to offer in terms of psychological well-being. If you want to achieve fuller mind power, then hypnosis could be just what you're looking for.
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