Lara Stewart-Panko

Understanding Hypnosis: Wacky or Worthwhile?

In my decade of being a certified hypnotist, I've had countless people share their understandable suspicion when the term "hypnosis" was brought up. TV portrayals of hypnotism have led us to believe it's something strange and weird (cue pocket watches and spinning spirals), and while comedic stage hypnotism shows can be entertaining, they're very different from applications of hypnosis that foster wellbeing. While I do have a great sense of humour, using hypnosis to get people to cluck like chickens is not of interest to me. Rather, I'm all about using a variety of tools -- including hypnosis -- to make your day-to-day life better and healthier.

Read on to discover what hypnosis actually is, how it can benefit you and why there's nothing scary nor bizarre about it.

What is hypnosis?

Hypnosis is a natural state of mind that you experience many times a day, such as when you're reading, daydreaming, engrossed in a movie, performing a repetitive task, and sometimes while driving. The brain waves that are predominant in the hypnotic state are the same ones that are predominant during meditation. (If you've done some meditation and found it difficult, take heart -- the guided aspect of hypnosis makes it really easy.) In the professional setting, one can enter into this relaxed, receptive state intentionally with the assistance of a hypnotist. A hypnosis recording is another way to fit the benefits of hypnosis into a full life.

The two major differences between the hypnotic state and your regular waking state of mind are:
a) In hypnosis, you are far more relaxed in all respects, and therefore more open to new suggestions and ideas.
b) In hypnosis, though you are still aware of your surroundings, your focus becomes more concentrated, allowing you to attend more fully to your inner world, enabling you to better use your imagination, choice and perceptions to understand and alter your beliefs, experiences, thoughts and behaviours.

How is hypnosis beneficial?

1. Hypnosis enables you to deprogram yourself of the negative, limiting beliefs you learned in the past, and provides you with an opportunity to replace them with healthier, more helpful, empowering convictions. Because your subconscious mind governs habits, patterns and beliefs (among other things), it serves as a driving force in your life. It is what determines -- in great part -- what you think, feel, say, do and create in your life. Hypnosis is a powerful tool you can use to change your mind, and thus change your life experience!

2. Through guided imagery and the application of a variety of techniques, the hypnotic state is an optimal frame of mind in which to resolve persistent issues, heal past pain and orient yourself to new ways of experiencing life.

3. If you're looking to address a physical concern, such as sleep, fertility or childbirth, hypnosis has an excellent track record of supporting favourable outcomes.

4. Regular relaxation and hypnotic practice enables you to automatically be more calm and centred overall, leading to improved decision-making, better sleep, greater health and an increased sense of peace and happiness. The positive side effects of hypnosis make it one of most pleasurable measures you can take to improve the quality of your life.

"Your mind is not a cage; it is a garden, and it requires cultivating." ~ Libba Bray

Is hypnosis safe?
The short answer is a resounding YES!  Given that the hypnotic state is something people enter into naturally several times per day (we just don't call it that; more often we refer to it as "being zoned", "concentrating" or "daydreaming") hypnosis recordings are considered safe for everyone.

Common concerns about hypnosis include:
Being controlled by the hypnotist...
While in the hypnotic state, you are in control of your choices.  You will behave only in accordance with your morals and you can choose to accept or reject any imagery or suggestions given. The brainwaves that are dominant when we're in the hypnotic state facilitate learning, and make us more open to new perspectives. These two factors help us make changes if we so desire.

Getting "stuck" in hypnosis...
This simply cannot happen. You can always choose to bring yourself out of the hypnotic state at any time.  For example, if you were in hypnosis and a smoke alarm went off, you would automatically alert yourself and respond appropriately. All* the hypnosis recordings you'll find on my site are concluded with an option to either return to wakeful alertness or, you can drift off to sleep. You're able to make this choice yourself with each and every listen. *(Excepting "Hypnosis for Healthy Sleep", which is obviously crafted to help one sleep.)

Being "unhypnotizable"...
Virtually everyone experiences hypnosis on a regular basis since it's one of the normal mind-body states. Nature has built it into our Circadian rhythm and wired us with a number of mechanisms that move us into that mode. While some people will experience the hypnotic state more easily or more deeply than others, hypnosis is an innate ability we all have, and practice serves to enhance our ease of experiencing this state of mind.

Doing something contrary to one's faith...
Some folks have been told that hypnosis is an occult practice, or that hypnosis may incur Divine punishment. Most Christian, Judaic and Islamic authorities assert that hypnosis is an acceptable practice, especially if it is being used to facilitate wellbeing. Given the range of spiritual views we can have, it is, of course, best for you to decide yourself if hypnosis aligns with your faith or not.

Playing with semantics...

Now that you have a clearer picture of many of the ins-and-outs of hypnosis, you may wish to simplify matters by calling it something else: guided meditation, guided relaxation, visualization. While these terms are not strictly accurate, who cares? If they make hypnosis more comfortable for you to use, or easier for you to talk about with others, go for it! When we want to reduce stress, be stronger and more capable or otherwise support ourselves in this challenging adventure we call life, it's great to have plenty of tools in the kit. Hypnosis is not a panacea (if only!), but it is a gentle yet powerful way to grant ourselves more peace and goodness.

If you'd like an understanding of how to use a hypnosis recording, click here.

If you'd like to see what hypnosis recordings I have available, visit the MP3s page.

If you'd like to learn about the hypnobirthing classes I offer in person in Hamilton, Ontario (or via Skype if you live elsewhere), visit the Hypnobirthing Hamilton website.

To your wellbeing!

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