Sometimes even someone with strong willpower just can't seem to quit a negative habit, release pain or conquer a phobia. If this sounds familiar, you might want to give hypnosis a try. Through the subconscious mind, hypnosis can treat psychological and physical problems. It can impact sensation, perception, thoughts and behavior. It can even help you remember a previous life. In the end, hypnosis will help you feel more relaxed, calm, happy and empowered.
We've all seen hypnotists perform on stage or television, but there's more to hypnosis than just making someone cluck like a chicken. Hypnosis has been used for centuries for pain control, including during the Civil War when Army surgeons hypnotized injured soldiers for amputations, according to the American Psychological Association (APA).
Hypnosis, sometimes called hypnotherapy, uses verbal repetition and mental imagery to induce a "trance-like state" for the purpose of increased focus. It's typically described as a calm and relaxed feeling, and usually opens people up to the power of suggestion, according to the Mayo Clinic. It will help you gain control over anxiety, pain and undesired behaviors. But, it's important to know that although you're more open to suggestion during hypnosis, you don't necessarily lose your sense of control. That said, using hypnotherapy to assist treatment should only be completed with a qualified healthcare provider who has been trained in clinical hypnosis.
When you undergo hypnosis, you'll stay aware of what's happening.
When you're in a receptive state, a therapist will suggest ways for you to achieve your goals, such as reducing pain or eliminating cravings. They may also help you visualize positive mental images of yourself to accomplish these goals. But contrary to how hypnosis is sometimes portrayed in movies, you won't lose control over yourself while under hypnosis. You'll generally remain aware and remember everything that's happening. Eventually, you'll even be able to practice self-hypnosis, as needed, like after a chemotherapy session. Now let's have a look at what else hypnosis can do for your subconscious mind.
If you suffer from frequent insomnia and generally poor sleep, hypnosis may help you, suggests Dr. Max Shapiro, a psychologist with Harvard-affiliated Massachusetts General Hospital. If you're a good candidate for hypnosis, you'll be taught how to go into a trance-like state, says Dr. Shapiro. Hypnosis is very effective for blocking the distracting chatter that often interferes with sleep. "Hypnosis may also work to energize the brain-wave patterns that are connected to sleep," suggests Dr. Shapiro.
During a trance state, you focus on your own past experience of "falling asleep easily, effortlessly and comfortably," Dr. Shapiro explains. From this point, you're then taught to practice going into a trance at bedtime and recreating those feelings. Apparently half of the people who use hypnotherapy see improvement after a few sessions. Others may require several sessions. In fact, nine out of 10 people find hypnotherapy useful for insomnia.
Hypnosis may alter your perception of pain, even if it's severe.
If you're not resistant to hypnosis — and unfortunately some people are, according to the APA — it can effectively control pain. In fact, when it comes to pain relief, it's one of the most researched areas in hypnosis. A 2000 study shows that hypnosis can alter the psychological experience of pain, and apparently, it may even work on severe pain. In addition, research from the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences in Texas compared 13 studies (excluding studies of headaches) from hypnosis for the treatment of chronic pain. Researchers found that hypnosis consistently produced significant decreases in pain associated with a variety of chronic pain disorders.
Harvard Medical School psychotherapist Jean Fain discusses on Oprah.com how you can lose weight with hypnosis. Through hypnosis, the "weight loss" answer lies within, say Fain, and you won't need another crash diet or the latest appetite suppressant. Slimming is about trusting your distinctive abilities. People tend to believe what they are seeing. In other words, the expectation of being helped is essential. So, if the suggestion is made, you will probably expect your weight loss plan to work.
Hypnotherapists usually harness the power of symbolic imagery by inviting subjects to put food cravings on fluffy white clouds or in hot air balloons and send them up, up and away, says Fain. If your favorite fast food restaurant has the power to steer you off your diet, hypnotists can use the power of suggestion can steer you back on course.
Hypnosis can help you overcome phobias in just a few sessions.
For many, hypnosis can be extremely effective for phobias and fears because it provides the opposite of anxiety — deep relaxation. At the same time, it teaches the mind a different way of responding to the phobia or fear by detaching the trigger object from the emotional response and uploading the brain with a new, more realistic response.
Soon you'll learn to gain a sense of internal control over the fearful or anxiety-producing trigger, suggests the Wellness Institute. Advantages of hypnotic desensitization over traditional methods include enhanced scene visualization. Hypnosis may also encourage behavioral responses to certain fearful situations through mental rehearsal. And that mental rehearsal can successfully help you cope with tense situations regarding anxiety and phobic disorders.
Hypnotherapy is also a useful tool for regressing you into a previous lifetime. While it may sound unbelievable, psychotherapists like Dr. Brian Weiss have been studying the phenomenon for decades. Past life therapy is very effective for treating fears, phobias and anxiety, according to the International Board of Regression Therapy (IBRT). In fact, there are reported links between past life and current life experiences that people with various fears and phobias suffer. Sometimes, just the act of recollecting the past traumatic event — experienced in another lifetime — is enough to conquer a fear or phobia.
Past life regression therapy is a way to delve into the subconscious mind and unlock deep rooted beliefs that dictate fears, anxiety and phobias. Many people who undergo a regression through hypnosis successfully remember a past life as if it were a story unfolding. Or they may see nothing more than a snapshot or a glimpse of a scene. But it's not necessarily the events of a past life that heal the person. Instead, it's the deeply transcendent emotions they generate. Past life regression allows you to remember who you are, who you once were, where you have come from and why you are here. As you do this, emotional healing naturally follows.