What is Hypnosis?

Hypnosis is a natural state of mind, experienced by everyone.  It is a wakeful state of focused attention.  Have you ever been so engrossed reading a good book that you didn’t hear conversation directed toward you?  Or perhaps you can remember a time in school when you were looking out the window, thinking about playing with your friends after school, when all of a sudden the teacher called on you to give an answer and you had no idea what the question was!  Many people have experienced driving along the highway and completely missing a familiar exit because their mind was focused on something other than taking the correct off ramp.  Most of us remember watching good movies that held our attention and emotions to the point where we laughed and cried along with the actors, even though it was “just a movie”.

All of these examples I’ve described above are examples of involuntary hypnosis.  By “involuntary”, I mean that the state of hypnosis was not necessarily consciously intentioned, but happened due to circumstances favorable for a wakeful state of focused concentration to occur.  When we experience involuntary hypnosis, we are in a highly “suggestible” state, and our minds are willing to accept concepts, situations, emotions, and events as “true”, to the exclusion of other alternatives.

Think of the example of a good “tearjerker” movie – when we are emotionally moved by the acting and the story, we are experiencing a state of high suggestibility brought on by involuntary hypnosis.  The same is true for romance novels and other forms of storytelling and performance:  they can have a strong, trance-like effect on their readers’ or audience’s emotions, in which present life is suspended and all attention is focused on the story or performance.

Many times we are involuntarily hypnotized by events and situations which may do us more harm than good.  In his book, The Path of Mindfulness Meditation, psychologist Peter Strong states:  “Through cultural and parental conditioning, we unconsciously acquire patterns of reactivity that produce mental anguish and suffering and then spend the rest of our lives trying to free ourselves of these habits …most of the time we are not aware of our habitual reactions and we blindly obey them as if under a hypnotic spell.  We become angry or sad, frustrated or afraid when events happen, but never stop to question whether we need to react in these ways.”

As children, our brains are in a rapid state of growth, and highly suggestible.  The influence of our home and cultural environments have a great impact on our beliefs and behaviors as we grow into adults.  When Dr. Strong writes about “conditioning”, he is referring to those negative influences we are exposed to from childhood onward, day after day, year after year.  Influences that are accepted as “reality” even though the influences are negative.

Some examples of negative influences may include:

  1. alcoholism and drug abuse
  2. child abuse
  3. mental illness
  4. parental conflict
  5. poverty
  6. mass culture focused on consumerism, status, violence
  7. traumatic events:  death of parent, serious illness, war, etc.

Habitual negative reactions that may develop as a result of repeated exposure to these influences include:

  1. Low self-esteem
  2. Chronic anger
  3. Smoking
  4. Compulsive Eating
  5. Anxiety/Panic
  6. Depression

The good news is that we have the ability to “wake up” from any type of hypnotic trance at any time.  Just as the lights come up after a movie is shown at the theater, and we realize it was “only a movie”, we can bring the same type of awareness to negative influences and subsequent dysfunctional reactions that have been on “autopilot” in our lives, causing suffering to ourselves and others.  Awareness is the first step in emotional freedom.

As a trained hypnotherapist, I show you, through self-hypnosis, how create a safe place within yourself.  From this safe place, you learn the simple, but profound practice of awareness and mindfulness, which allows you freedom of choice in any life situation, for the complete transformation of your life.

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2 Responses to What is Hypnosis?

  1. Pat Steiner says:

    I am a 65 year old retired school teacher who has always been able to enjoy life and help others do so also. Thirteen years ago our only son married a young woman who has turned my world upside down-she goes out of her way to put roadblocks between our son and us and also our grandchildren. My husband and son and I have tried to find common grounds but she really is only interested in being in control on everything. My husband can just ignore the situation for the most part but it tears me apart emotionally. I can’t stand having our son and grandkids caught in the middle. I realize that Jamie is not going to change-she doesn’t think she needs to. I must change how I deal with her and what she does to me. I’ve never been good at standing up for myself and it has taken its toll. Is this something that could be worked on with hypnosis? Thanks for your time. Pat Steiner

    • Hi Pat – yes, hypnosis and mindfulness can definitely help with your situation. We often suffer when reasonable life expectations go unmet, but there is a way to move beyond suffering, into an area of non-judgement and well-being. Feel free to contact me for an appointment. Sincerely, Ruth

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