How to know when you are in hypnosis
Many people wonder what it's like to go into hypnosis. Perhaps you're concerned about going for hypnotherapy and whether you'll be able to 'do it right'. Relax - this article is here to give you a few key understandings and to put your mind at ease so that you can know you'll do well.
What is hypnosis?
Hypnosis is widely misunderstood, perhaps due to what people see on stage and TV hypnosis shows where it looks like people are being controlled by a hypnotist. However, the reality is that these people are screened and selected, usually from the entire audience, because they have proven themselves to be the most cooperative and willing to do whatever the hypnotist says.
It is often said that "all hypnosis is self-hypnosis" and this is a good way to think about it because, in reality, the only person who can hypnotise you is yourself. Your hypnotherapist is trained and skilled, not at "doing hypnosis to you" but at guiding you into a hypnotic state. They can only do it with your cooperation.
How easily and deeply you go into hypnosis will likely be a reflection of the degree to which you:
- understand that you are in control
- trust your hypnotherapist
- are willing and happy to follow their instructions
So,if youunderstand that "all hypnosis is self-hypnosis" and are willing to really go with the instructions, then you will go into hypnosis and you will do well.
The next distinction to make is that hypnosis is not the same as sleep. You can feel relaxed and sleepy but, if a person falls asleep, then they aren’t in hypnosis anymore… they are asleep.
Hypnosis is that daydreamy state where you aren't asleep but you aren't paying attention to your environment around you either.
You know that Sunday morning state perhaps where you've woken up, you're lying in bed and you know you're not asleep anymore but you just drift and float in and out of fleeting thoughts, memories, images and visions that just seem to occur to your mind without you doing anything. An effortless flow from deeper realms of your mind.
Thirdly, hypnosis is really about bypassing conscious resistance to selective information and ideas. So, think of it this way, imagine you were having a disagreement with someone you didn't trust. This person is trying to ram their opinions into you to prove that they are right and that you are wrong. This is likely to get your mind into a very uncooperative state where you will become critical and pick apart what they say, looking for any flaws in their reasoning.
Now, hypnosis leads to the opposite state, where the critical conscious mind just doesn't care so much to interfere or even get involved much if at all. Your hypnotherapist is very careful to speak in ways that allow the information to be received so easily and agreeably, that it never jars the conscious mind into that critical mode.
A well-trained hypnotherapist is able to speak in ways that are so smooth and irresistible to the unconscious mind. The critical faculty of the conscious mind moves aside and says "No danger here, this is safe and good" and the information is allowed through to be processed unconsciously.
So, another key understanding about hypnosis is that your mind is in a softened state of receptivity. And, if you find your attention wandering off to other thoughts, then that's a good sign that nothing is 'flagging up' your need for critical interference. If you experience a softening to what is being said rather than a critical voice questioning it, then that's a sign you are in a hypnotic state.
In a nutshell, if you notice yourself sitting there and thinking through each statement made and asking yourself: "Really? Is that true? Why are they saying that? What was that? What did he/she say? I'm not sure I heard that/ understand that. What?", then your critical voice is too prominent and you are unlikely to be in hypnosis.
However, if you notice yourself just hearing words and not bothering to critically intervene and question them, then it's a good sign that you're going into hypnosis. If you lose track of what they say and your attention drifts, that's a good sign you're in hypnosis. If you feel deeply relaxed (although that's not essential) that's a good sign. If you are aware that you create the state yourself by following the instructions and embracing the co-operative dance, as such, between you and the hypnotherapist, then you can rest assured you'll do just great.