“What the mind can conceive and believe, it can achieve.”
It is almost February. How are you doing with your New Year’s resolutions? If you’ve been successful, congratulations! If not, why not try hypnosis, an effective, scientifically proven tool to help you reach your goals?
Hypnotherapy works. Quite simply, hypnosis is a deep state of relaxation where your subconscious mind is more receptive to ideas and suggestions. It has been described as ‘half-awake, half-asleep’. It is very similar to that ‘miles away’ feeling you probably find yourself in from time-to-time when you let your mind wander. Hypnotic states are characterized by a tremendously pleasant state of relaxation.
Everyone experiences the state of hypnosis many times during the day, including that time just before you fall asleep at night. Meditation, daydreaming, being absorbed in a book or music or television, driving and arriving at your destination without recalling all the usual landmarks, … these are a few examples of the state of hypnosis.
Hypnosis is a natural and effective technique for accessing the subconscious mind – the key to unleashing our potential, changing our unwanted habits and behaviors, and finding solutions to our problems and concerns.
You may associate hypnosis with people on stage walking like a duck or disco dancing while thinking they are wearing fins. Stage hypnosis is real and fun. It is important to note that the participants are all more than willing to be silly. Trained stage hypnotists choose their subjects carefully. The subjects like the attention, are open to suggestion, and are prescreened to be easily hypnotized. In other words, they choose to walk like a duck.
As with stage hypnosis, it is crucial that you understand that ALL HYPNOSIS IS SELF HYPNOSIS. You can feel perfectly safe under hypnosis. You will never do anything that is not in line with your wishes. Your conscious and subconscious mind will reject any suggestion in which you do not fully agree.
Let’s use weight loss as an example. Hypnosis is a powerful tool for people genuinely motivated to lose weight. In a study of 60 women separated into hypnosis versus non-hypnosis groups, the group using hypnosis lost an average of 17 pounds, while the non-hypnosis group lost an average of only a half pound.
In another study, two dieting groups (one using hypnosis, another not using hypnosis) were followed over the course of two years. The hypnosis group continued to get results, the non-hypnosis group did not.
In a meta-analysis study, results demonstrated that adding hypnosis to weight loss treatment increased weight loss by an average of 97% during treatment, and even more importantly, increased the effectiveness of post treatment by over 146%.
Hypnosis can produce life-long positive changes in the manner in which you approach dining. A typical session might include the following:
Induction – Counting backwards, staring at an object, and/or progressive relaxation. Progressive relaxation is a process of relaxing all of your muscles, from the top of your head to the tips of your toes. This will allow your conscious mind to relax, making way for your subconscious mind to receive the suggestions you desire.
Deepening technique – Usually counting backwards. This, somehow, signals the brain to go deeper into relaxation.
Imagery – Visualization works because certain areas of the mind cannot distinguish between what you see with your eyes and what you see in your mind. You can manipulate your mind and body to believe that what you are visualizing is real. You can insert any visualization that brings you a sense of beauty and peace. The purpose of this section is to tap the pleasure centers of your brain, putting you in a more conducive frame of mind to make positive changes in your perception of yourself, and also serves to relax you even further. Examples are a tropical beach, a mountain cabin, a spring meadow, or any place that brings you a sense of tranquility. It is very important that the imagery is congruent with your likes and dislikes. For example, if you are not fond of birds, the phrase, “imagine the sound of the seagulls flying overhead…” might snap you right out of your relaxed trance.
Suggestions – Once deeply relaxed, with your subconscious mind receptive to change, you will be given a number of suggestions. One of the most powerful tools of the suggestion process is in “seeing” the outcome. You will “see” yourself at your desired weight. Other highly successful visualizations include seeing yourself, dining in a healthful fashion, eating slowly, savoring each bite. Other examples of positive suggestions include: “You crave healthy food. You love fresh, crispy salads full of colorful, dark, rich greens, red, orange, and purple vegetables…You love these antioxidant rich foods. They make you look good, they make you feel good. You eat only lean meats, and you eat only until you are full. You dine sitting down, and you eat slowly…” As with the visualization, the suggestions must be congruent with your dining goals. If you are focused on dining in a low-carb fashion, if your hypnosis session offers a suggestion such as “you crave whole-grain foods,” you will sense a contradiction and the session may falter in effectiveness. You should agree 100% with all of the suggestions.
Some people respond to negative suggestions, some do not. Negative suggestions would be something like, “and you have lost your appetite for fatty foods. In fact, fatty foods disgust you, and you can barely stand to look at them. You don’t like the way they taste, you don’t like the way they look, you don’t like the way they make you feel. You are free from temptation.” This author, admittedly, had a “thing” for french fries. No longer. Positive suggestions did not work. Only after the suggestion that the vats of fat in which fries are fried are filled with all sorts of unsavory things … was I able to finally find french fries distasteful. (Seriously, have you ever seen the debris in the french fry vat?)
Affirmations may be a part of this phase. These are similar to the suggestions, but more concise. For example, “I love to dine on healthy foods,” “I drink two full glasses of water before beginning any meal,” “I exercise at least twenty minutes every day.”
Return to consciousness – This last part is simply to bring you back into consciousness, usually by counting up, from 1 to 5. (One, … you are beginning to become aware of the room right now. Two … you might want to wiggle your fingers and toes. Move around a little bit. Three … take a deep breath and as you exhale, smile … with a happy sense of anticipation that something wonderful is about to happen. Four…slowly, gently, open your eyes. Five…you are awake, relaxed, refreshed, and rejuvenated. You feel a sense a quiet confidence you have not felt before.
Hypnosis is also helpful for smoking cessation, anxiety, pain, and to help you develop positive habits such as exercise.
Keep in mind that hypnosis is not a magical cure. It is simply a tool. An effective tool, if you are in the right frame of mind.
Cochrane, Gordon; Friesen, J. (1986). Hypnotherapy in weight loss treatment. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 54, 489-492.
Kirsch, Irving (1996). Hypnotic enhancement of cognitive-behavioral weight loss treatments–Another meta-reanalysis. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 64 (3), 517-519.
Allison, David B.; Faith, Myles S. Hypnosis as an adjunct to cognitive-behavioral psychotherapy for obesity: A meta-analytic reappraisal. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology. 1996 Jun Vol 64(3) 513-516
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