If you have a problem and are thinking about hypnosis you may wonder what it feels like to be hypnotised by a hypnotherapist.
Many people do a lot of thinking before going to see a hypnotherapist. That’s normal because you want to know if hypnosis will help you. You are weighing up the pros and cons. But if you haven’t met someone who has been hypnotised or if you haven’t spoken to the hypnotherapist yet you don’t know what hypnosis is like.
What is the difference between hypnotherapy and stage hypnosis?
You might feel sceptical because stage hypnosis has had a negative impression.
But remember stage hypnosis and hypnotherapy are not the same.
Stage hypnosis is about entertainment with hypnotic techniques. The intention is to make people laugh and entertain them.
Hypnotherapy is about therapy with hypnosis. The intention of hypnotherapy is to help people feel better and develop their lives. Hypnotherapists follow a code of ethics and want to help. Many hypnotherapists are also trained in other helping professions such as counsellors, psychotherapists, psychologists, or doctors. A qualified hypnotherapist always assesses your suitability for hypnosis first.
So with the confusion that exists between stage hypnotists and hypnotherapist, it’s ok to feel wary. But you should know that hypnosis is real and has helped people for centuries. There is lots of evidence from research that tells us it’s not something that is made up. Also, there is evidence from people who have experienced hypnosis, fMRI scans and PET scans that there are brain changes happening when someone is hypnotised. Finally, although the importance of what you expect needs to be taken into consideration when being hypnotised, there have been several studies with hypnosis, hypnotisability and hypnosis showing that hypnosis is more than a placebo effect.
You need to be willing to be hypnotised so this blog will help you to understand aspects of how it feels. Asking questions and discussing your needs beforehand with the hypnotherapist is always a good idea before making the booking.
Some myths about hypnosis
If you are asking about how hypnosis feels you may need to clear up some myths about it.
Hypnosis doesn’t make you lose control, in fact, with problems like smoking it helps you to take back control because it’s the habit and the chemicals in the cigarette that has control over you.
Hypnosis doesn’t make you go to sleep, although the suggestions that are given by the hypnotist can help you to sleep at night if that is what you want to change.
You won’t reveal all your secrets during the session unless you feel you trust the hypnotist and want to tell him or her things that you haven’t said before. And that doesn’t necessarily need hypnosis. You choose, but remember that letting go of secrets that have been weighing you down for a long time can feel cathartic.
When hypnotised some people describe it as an altered state of consciousness.
However, you may experience some psychological changes like a time lag when in hypnosis. Some people, feel that the hypnotherapist was talking for about 10 minutes when the actual time was more like 40 minutes.
Other people feel distant or dissociated. It’s like daydreaming where you know that you are in the room but your mind is focused elsewhere.
In the hypnotic state, you can experience suggestions easier especially if the suggestions are what you want. So positive suggestions will help you to feel better.
Using our senses in hypnosis
Our brains gather information by using the senses; sight, hearing, touch, taste and smell.
Experiencing things related to sight
Focusing or fixing on an object can be used to help someone enter the hypnotic state. I’m sure you have seen old pictures of dangling watches. This is just a method of you using your eyes through fixation to experience hypnosis.
There are many more objects that could be used to help someone focus. For example, people might be asked to focus on the end of a pen, on the hypnotist’s finger, or their eye. In fact, it can be any object that fixes the gaze.
In hypnosis, most people choose to close their eyes so you will feel the same as you do when you close your eyes to take a nap. With closed eyes, a proportion of people may see beautiful colours, while others see nothing. In hypnosis, some people hallucinate or visualise things while other people don’t. Furthermore, different sessions may mean that you experience different things.
Experiencing things related to hearing
In theory, people can be hypnotised anywhere so sounds around won’t bother you when you are in hypnosis. If the hypnotherapist works from an office on a busy road the traffic noises will seem like they fade into the distance when you focus and listen to the hypnotist’s voice.
Some hypnotherapists use music, but many don’t. So music isn’t necessary for trance.
During a session, you should focus on the voice of the hypnotist. You may notice that they speak quickly or slowly, in a monotone voice or in a calming way. Every hypnotist uses their voice in a different way to get the same results, hypnosis. The words that they use are important and the way they are used. Sometimes a hypnotist will tell you a story and sometimes they will use direct words like ‘You are now a non-smoker because you choose to say no thank you when you are offered a cigarette.’
But the voice isn’t the only thing that can help you to experience hypnosis. Even people who are hard of hearing or deaf can be hypnotised if they want to be and the hypnotist has the skills to do it.
Touch can be used in many ways during hypnosis. For example, to help you get to that hypnotic state you might be asked to focus on your fingers. This technique is called magic fingers. As you focus on your fingers, while your hands are clasped together, your fingers move together and the hypnotist gives you suggestions. When the fingers touch you can go into a trance.
Some times the person who is in hypnosis uses touch to help themselves to reinforce positive things. So as you sit there with your eyes closed, the hypnotherapist might ask you to press your thumb and finger together when you are calm and relaxed. This is called an anchor and will help you to experience a calm and relaxing feeling when you are not with the hypnotist by just repeating that thumb and finger action again.
Most hypnotherapists do not touch clients these days but some may decide to touch you, with your consent given prior to hypnosis. For example, some practitioners may touch you on your arm to reinforce a positive suggestion. To keep you focused occasionally some hypnotherapists may lightly tap you on your forehead. Others may gently press down on your shoulders to help you feel more relaxed and go deeper into hypnosis.
Obviously, with hypnosis delivered online, there is no touching so touching is not an essential requirement to be hypnotised either.
Experiencing body sensations
It is possible to feel physically different when hypnotised.
Movements of the body often become less so you might want to scratch your hand but you can’t be bothered. Another interesting hypnotic phenomenon is that you can be given suggestions for your arm to become stiff and it will become stiff, or your eyelids to feel stuck and they can feel stuck but this is temporary and the effect would revert back. Although many people feel relaxed, it’s not essential to get body relaxation to get the benefits of hypnosis.
Consequently, if you do relax your breathing slows down with hypnosis so you will breathe calmer.
Some people experience tingling in their fingers as their muscles relax. It is also possible to feel warmer or cooler.
There are some people who get heavy feelings which can make them feel more relaxed. While on the other hand, other people get light, floaty feelings.
Particularly if the hypnotist suggests it you can feel your hand and arm getting lighter. This feeling of lightness can result in your arm levitating. Therefore, you experience a floaty feeling in your arm and hand. This is a common picture seen in textbooks of someone who is hypnotised.
During hypnosis, if you have attended for say pain management you can also notice that pain reduces or disappears while you are in hypnosis.
Something to consider
There are some negative feelings related to hypnosis but these are rare. It has been reported that people might have a slight headache, feel a bit dizzy, nauseous or anxious when coming out of a trance, but this usually wears off quickly and shouldn’t be a problem in future hypnosis if the hypnotherapist is told about it. If you have a form of hypnosis called regression there is a possibility that things you remember from the past will be distorted or develop false memories. Nevertheless, according to Lynn, Martin and Hrauman (1996) hypnosis is not a dangerous procedure when practised by qualified practitioners and researchers
Experiences related to taste and smell
In hypnosis, it is possible for the hypnotherapist to alter taste and smell if it is beneficial to the treatment. For example, if someone wants to stop smoking then the smell of cigarettes in the future will be offputting.
It is also possible to link a smell that someone doesn’t like and makes them feel anxious to a positive feeling with a positive suggestion.
In conclusion, when you ask the question ‘What does it feel like to be hypnotised?’ the answer is going to be different for different people. Also, the feelings might be a bit different each time that you are hypnotised. Besides it depends on what you are seeking hypnosis for as problems like tinnitus and pain could reduce while in the hypnotic state.
Generally, people report that hypnosis is a pleasant feeling. It makes people feel relaxed and is often described like have a restful nap in the day. It’s like recharging your batteries and switching off from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. Furthermore, it’s a process that uses the power of your mind to make the changes that you want to make.
If you want to find out more about hypnosis contact Linda at Awaken the Change.