As the past year has seen us reassessing our habits and health, the power of hypnosis comes to the fore in a whole new way – here’s how you can do it type in
If you’ve seen someone staring into space lately, they may not be dreaming, they may not even be meditating. It is possible that you are in a deep state of hypnosis.
As 2021 chugs and mental health issues like anxiety and depression hit all-time highs, many are looking for new wellness treatments that feel both holistic and new. Hypnosis is a rapidly emerging option – it’s even offered at large spas like the Four Seasons New York City and at various acupuncturists and yoga studios around the world.
“The demand for hypnosis has increased lately, which I believe is due to a number of factors,” explains Ana Tucker, licensed psychotherapist and clinical hypnotherapist. “COVID has seen people assess their quality of life in new ways, and this life review has sparked a desire to change old habits or situations that no longer serve them, like ending an unhealthy relationship or looking for a more meaningful job. I also see growth in neuroscience, a deeper understanding of neuroplasticity, and the role hypnosis plays in changing the way we think, feel, and experience the world. The power of hypnosis comes to the fore in a completely new way. “
Wondering what exactly is hypnosis? If it sounds like meditation, it is, but it takes this focused thinking to the next level: “The truth is, a guided meditation or visualization can be very similar to a hypnosis session,” explains Ewa Josefsson, a certified hypnosis practitioner in Miami , Florida. “The main difference is how focused hypnosis is on changing your thoughts, as opposed to meditation, which is generally about noticing, observing, and accepting your thoughts.” Hypnosis – or hypnotherapy, as it often does – uses guided relaxation, intense focus, and concentration to try to reach a heightened state of consciousness.
“Our emotional state is controlled by our subconscious … we cannot consciously convince ourselves that we are feeling better” – Ana Tucker
Studies have shown that hypnosis has helped people quit smoking and experience less pain. “Hypnotherapy is a powerful tool for relieving both anxiety and depression,” adds Tucker. “Our emotional state is controlled by our subconscious, and this part of the mind has what is called the critical factor. The critical factor is considered to be the gatekeeper to the subconscious and does not allow information that is inconsistent with the established subconscious belief. Therefore we cannot consciously convince ourselves that we feel better. ”
During hypnotherapy, the mind can relax and the critical factor is open to new information. It is a directional line into the autonomic nervous system that controls feelings of fear and provides a feeling of well-being. “A hypnosis session always begins with the practitioner asking what you would like to change in your life – change is at the core of what we do. Sometimes we even call it ‘change work’, ”adds Josefsson.
Hypnosis has been depicted many times in pop culture and therefore people tend to view it as extreme treatment. But once it is distilled, the core of hypnosis is just a tool for changing thoughts, behaviors, and habits. “It can be a way to eliminate harmful childhood beliefs, change habits like quitting smoking or getting more daily exercise, and it can also be a way to refine your mindset and shape the life you want “Says Josefsson.
And while hypnosis can’t erase memories like it can movies, it can reformat memories to make them less painful. It is often combined with counseling or therapy to help people block pain or perceive things differently. “We often think and feel that our personalities are set in stone, but in reality our self-talk and habits follow patterns we have learned in the past – and they can be updated.”
“Change is the core of what we do. Sometimes we even call it ‘change work’ ”- Ewa Josefsson
If you are thinking of trying hypnosis for yourself, there are a number of ways to try it out. Some yoga classes make it a focus. Josefsson, for example, integrates it into her yoga classes. She uses positive affirmations to lead her students into a hypnosis statement. “During a yoga class you may be more open to seeing, thinking and feeling something new in order to experience a change in your way of thinking.”
“Many veteran yoga teachers take this opportunity to offer positive and uplifting suggestions about what is essentially a form of hypnosis, whether they know it or not,” she explains. “If you’ve ever had a great revelation during a yoga class, you know what I’m talking about! The teacher may have said an affirmation like, “You are perfect now,” and although you’ve heard that phrase before, this time it really was true.
You can also do it yourself. Tucker recommends finding a comfortable private space to relax in, with a hypnotic goal in mind, and writing it on a piece of paper in positive language, repeating the positive statement silently or aloud three times. After expressing your intention, close your eyes and take 10 slow deep breaths to relax as you breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth. “At this point, you can imagine yourself becoming more relaxed by counting backwards from ten to one, or you can imagine walking down a set of ten steps,” she says.
“Imagine yourself at the end of the stairs in a salutary safe room and repeat your hypnotic suggestion ten times. Allow yourself to feel the excitement that comes with reaching your goal and visualize how you will accomplish your goal. When you feel ready, imagine yourself going up your stairs, then just open your eyes and enjoy your new skill. “