Mind Over Matter, Use Your Brain to Ease Your Pain
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The Power of Hypnosis

By Susan Bishop

What do you think about when you think about hypnosis? Do you think about people being made to bark like dogs and squawk like chickens? Do you think of people quitting smoking or giving up other bad habits? Some people think of magic, or of mind control. If you've been reading this column the last few months, you know that I am a Registered Nurse and a Hypnotherapist. This means I use the pleasant, natural state of hypnosis to help people make positive changes in their lives. I'd like to spend a little time today to tell you what that means.

Did you know that you have already been hypnotized? Even if you think that you can't - even if you've tried "without success"- you still have been there. We all have. Have you ever been reading a book, meaning to go to bed after a few chapters, but suddenly realized it was after midnight? Or have you ever started to drive to the grocery store, become engrossed in thinking about something else and then realized you're on the road to your office? Surprise - this is hypnosis.

Hypnosis is a very natural state of relaxed concentration, of focused attention. Any time you are deeply focused, but peaceful at the same time, you are in some state of trance. One way of describing it is if normal, wakeful consciousness is being in a well lit room, trance is being in a darkened room with a flashlight. This trance state can be light, when you feel like you are daydreaming, or spacing out. This trance can be deeper, when you become less aware of your external surroundings and more and more tuned into your internal self.

As the trance deepens you may feel heavy, or light, warm, or cool, or unaware of your body. Your breathing will deepen, your heart rate will slow and your blood pressure will lower. Although you can move any time you want in hypnosis, it may feel like too much effort and not worth the bother. Imagine as if you are resting in a hammock in a garden, watching the branches of the trees above you swaying in the breeze. Think about how peaceful that feels, rocking gently in your hammock, then think about wanting to get up to get a cold drink. You know you can, but consider how much effort it takes to move those arms and legs. No, you're not being lazy - you're in a light state of trance.

Another classic sign of trance is losing track of time. I know that I am frequently hypnotized by my computer. I will sit down to check my email, and, in what feels like moments later, I realize that my hands are stiff and I've been at the computer for over an hour. If you've ever tried to get your child's attention when he or she is watching television or playing video games, you can see how easily children fall into hypnosis.

So now that you know what it means to be hypnotized, why would you want to do this? The hypnotic state of deep relaxation allows you to bypass your conscious, critical mind to reach the deeper, subconscious self. This is important because much of who we are lives in our subconscious mind. Our memories, our creativity, our emotions and motivations all live in the subconscious mind. Therefore, much of what we feel and do is influenced by our subconscious mind. Indeed, if the conscious mind wants something, and the subconscious mind wants something else, the subconscious almost always wins.

For example, let me tell you about a subject who wanted to change a bad habit. She wanted to stick to her exercise plan. She tried educating herself about the importance of regular exercise. She tried planning to make exercise a regular part of her life. She even tried using "will power" to force herself to exercise. However, she never could maintain the way she wanted to. Under hypnosis she remembered being ill with heart trouble as a child. She also remembered overhearing the doctor tell her mother - "Don't let that child run - she could die". Even though she was now an adult and completely well, part of her remembered. Once her subconscious mind knew that she was safe now, she was able to stick to her exercise plan and reach her goals.

This is just one example. There are almost limitless ways to benefit from the state of hypnosis. I teach self hypnosis. In self hypnosis people can learn to program their subconscious minds to help themselves achieve profound, permanent change. I also offer private sessions. In private sessions we work together to discover and remove blocks to progress and to achieve deep emotional and physical healing. I work with the mind body connection to help people relieve chronic pain, manage illness and reach their own best possible wellness. The possibilities are endless.