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Q & A About Hypnosis, Trance States, Hypnotherapy And Transpersonal Hypnotherapy

By S. Nathan Stein, Monday, February 05, 2007

What Is Hypnosis?

Hypnosis is generally considered to be an altered state of awareness that is very different from the sleep state or from the normal conscious state. It is generally agreed that in the most basic state of hypnosis- known, as the trance state- people are much more open to suggestion as the critical faculty of the mind, is bypassed.  Another characteristic of the trance state that is generally agreed upon - is that a person’s attention is narrowly focused- a phenomenon called selective attention.  Very often people are taught to relax to facilitate entering into the trance state.  There are an incredibly large number of ways to induce a trance state.  Some are very elaborate and can take some time to work, while others can virtually work in a very few seconds.   The fact is, we naturally go in and out of trance states continuously throughout the day. For example, whenever we go inside ourselves for any reason, or daydream, or get absorbed by anything, or engage in repetitious or monotonous activity, we enter a trance state. Also just before falling asleep at night or just prior to becoming fully awake in the morning, we enter a trance state. Whenever we do anything on "auto pilot", we are in a trance state.


What is the difference between Hypnosis and Hypnotherapy? 

 While Hypnosis is a trance state of awareness described above, Hypnotherapy is both a profession and a series of guided processes that uses the methods & principles of hypnosis and related fields.  Hypnotherapy is applied to a broad range of physical and emotional issues, including unwanted beliefs and behaviors which limit a person in one or more ways.  Hypnotherapy is not used to diagnose medical or mental conditions or diseases. 


What is Transpersonal Hypnotherapy and how does it differ from conventional Hypnotherapy? 

The major difference is that Transpersonal Hypnotherapy works holistically and beyond- that is it works with the whole person- body- mind and spirit- not just the body and mind (i.e. transcends body & mind) and with the shared goodness that connects everything.  Its underlying assumption is that at the core of every one of us, is an innately pure being that is whole (meaning unbroken-completely well & pure) and completely at peace.  Another key assumption is that the underlying root of all our difficulties or problems we experience is the trance states of who and what we think we are and how we must relate to everything else.  The basic underlying strategy in Transpersonal Hypnotherapy is to dissolve the disempowering trance state/s at the root of a problem and treat the associated trauma. 


How is Transpersonal Hypnotherapy as practiced at WolfStone Unique?   

The Transpersonal Hypnotherapy practiced at WolfStone blends eastern and western views and techniques applied to Hypnotherapy.  It offers tremendous depth and breadth of tools and approaches, combining such thing as: depth hypnosis, regression therapy, past life therapy, inner child therapy, sub-personality and archetypal transformation, NLP, Ericksonian and quantum hypnosis, meditation and prayer techniques, shamanic journeying, comprehensive treatment planning, etc.  


Can anyone be hypnotized? 

 While the answer would depend on who you asked- my answer is- “yes, of course”.  Hypnosis is a common, ordinary occurrence-everyone has a natural ability to enter into trance.  Everyone goes in and out of trance, the basic hypnotic state, naturally, easily and spontaneously, throughout the day.  In all probability, anyone reading this article has already entered into trance state several times already with out realizing that was what happen and therefore did not call it hypnosis.   Daydreaming, runners high, before sleep, upon awakening, reading, watching TV or a movie, video game playing, a boring meeting, or a highway drive, etc. - all naturally entrance you.  Anytime you move from an outward awareness to an inner awareness you enter trance.  Words you use induce trance too; "wonder," "amaze," "puzzle," understand," "curious," "mesmerize," "hypnotize," and “pretend” –among many others- cause you to go inside to make them make sense.  The thinking process itself, which inevitably deals with concepts, ideas and beliefs about your self and every one and everything else, is a series of trance states.  The fact is, whether you know it or not, you practice hypnotism everyday by the things you say to yourself and others.


Who Can Perform Hypnosis?

Literally everyone can. Anyone who makes a conscious decision to and can concentrate for a few moments can easily learn the steps it takes to induce a self-hypnotic trance.  You hypnotize yourself with repetitive actions and thoughts. This is called autosuggestion. Mothers and fathers are master hypnotists and their verbal and nonverbal conditioning of their child often stick for life. Advertisers use hypnosis in all their work and so do religions.

Professional hypnotherapists receive special training in the technique and use of hypnosis before they achieve certification from a professional group.  Typically, depending on the group- this can involve from 150-300 hours of training and practice.   To choose a professional hypnotherapist, find out what training and experience they have and if they belong to a hypnotherapy organization.
Professional groups, like the National Guild of Hypnotists, and schools such as the ml:namespace prefix = st1 ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags" />Wolfstone Transpersonal Learning Center, offer training and opportunities to keep skills updated.  Hypnotherapy is a hypnotherapist’s main focus and training.  In contrast, other therapists such as psychotherapists may have only limited training and consequently have a limited focus on hypnotherapy. 


How does hypnosis feel?
Familiar!  People in hypnotic trance are aware of everything going on around them and can often carry on a normal conversation with the therapist.  They are not asleep or unconscious in any way.  Typically hypnosis results in relaxation where muscles, nerves and mind relax. Some describe it as feeling passive, placid and mellow, others as filled with light or being surprised by new perception.  People are often profoundly moved by their transpersonal hypnotherapy experience and feel it is difficult to find the words to adequately describe what they felt. When in hypnotic state there is often a distinct experience of automatic, spontaneous or thought or action as compared to the feeling you get with conscious choice.  Your senses are usually heightened and your awareness is heightened many fold in comparison to normal awareness.  Returning to regular "room awareness" makes everything more peaceful.


Each hypnotic trance may be different from what you expect, or from the last one you experienced because moment to moment you are a different person.  Your experience of trance will differ from somebody else because it is uniquely personal. Sometimes part of us can be hypnotized while another part is not. This makes it possible to be in a waking trance.  For instance, if you are driving a car and having an animated conversation with your passenger, the part of you driving may be unaware and hypnotized and the part of you talking, fully conscious.


Hypnosis looks different than it feels. From the observer's point of view, the client might appear resting or passed out and, therefore, we might presume that the client is unconscious. Actually, clients are super-conscious and keenly aware of everything going on around them. This keen focus may leave the client feeling like they aren't doing anything particularly unusual.


Why do some people have doubts about Hypnotherapy? 

Sometimes Hypnotherapy is often misunderstood because it looks different than it feels and because people confuse hypnotherapy with stage hypnosis.  The Media cliché "Look into my eyes you are in my power" and the stage performance, “Cluck like a chicken” has sometimes caused a false impression of its value and workings.

Some doubt the value of hypnosis because they themselves have not experienced its benefits. And there is a tendency for the conscious mind to judge new unfamiliar ideas harshly. Once they experience hypnosis for themselves, they know how safe and rewarding it is.

Some folks fear the unknown. Others are afraid of being vulnerable. Some have a notion that hypnosis will force them to "go out of control" and then they will reveal some buried truth that they're "not supposed to." Some feel they will lose control or, even worse, look foolish.

While in trance your inner wisdom is your guide and that wise part of yourself will tell you the truth. Such truthful insights are a tremendous relief. And, you need not worry; your subconscious mind will only reveal what you choose to reveal. In a trance, any suggestion that violates morals or self preservation is greeted with a natural "cancel, cancel."


Can Hypnosis Be Dangerous?

 Practiced by you (with appropriate training) or a qualified hypnotherapist, it is safe, satisfying and self-empowering.
Being hypnotized by parents, teachers, mates, co-workers, etc. or your own self-talk to believe you are less than, incompetent or a failure- are some of the real dangers of hypnosis. 

When you learn to choose which suggestions you receive or act upon, you take back control of your life. If you don't control your subconscious mind, it will definitely control you!


Do I loose Control while in a trance state? 

Definitely not.  As described above, you can’t reveal secrets or be made to do anything against your moral or ethical codes.  And at any time you can count yourself out of the trance state by simply counting from 1 to some other small number-say 5 or 7.


If I can’t visualize or imagine very well can I still be hypnotized? 

The fact that basically everyone who uses his or her conscious thinking mind is hypnotized implies that you can visualize and imagine well enough to do it!  The problem is many people have a weird sort of performance anxiety about visualization and imagination.  Sometimes this is related to the fact that what they are asked to imagine or visualize is not believable to them or is too big or abstract a concept.  Actually the very idea of not being able to visualize or imagine is a hypnotic trance in itself- that takes effect because of self talk and comments by others that a person can’t visualize or imagine very well.  A hypnotherapist, especially one trained in how people internally represent their experience, can help you discover how visualization and imagination can best work for you.  For example, maybe you can’t visualize numbers hanging in the air or on the sky but could easily see yourself writing numbers on a pad of paper or a black board.  Most people who think they can’t visualize- if asked to visualize what their car looks like (assuming they had one) or one of their children, etc. would not have much difficulty doing it.  

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