One of the first questions that people often ask when they come to see me for their first hypnotherapy session, is: ‘What is hypnosis and how does it feel to be hypnotised?’
Most people know what an iceberg is, so let’s use that as an example. Only a small part of an iceberg is visible above the surface of the water and this is similar to the conscious mind; the part of our mind which is responsible for everyday thoughts, analysing information, using logic and making decisions. This ‘thinking’ part of our mind is what we use every day when carrying out ordinary jobs or tasks.
The majority of an iceberg is below the surface of the water and is similar to the subconscious mind; the much larger part of our mind which deals with memories, emotions and the autonomic nervous system. This part of the mind takes care of things such as your heart rate, breathing and how you interpret the world around you. In other words, all the things that you don’t consciously pay attention to because they happen in the background. It is this part of the mind that stores all of the individual behaviours and responses which make us who we are.
During hypnosis, the conscious mind becomes more passive, whilst the subconscious mind becomes more alert and receptive to suggestions and new ideas. In hypnotherapy, we use this process to communicate directly with your subconscious mind and suggest new thought or behaviour patterns. These new thought processes, when combined with your motivation and participation, can then enable new and positive changes to happen.
So what does hypnosis feel like?
The short answer is that there are no specific feelings associated with being in hypnosis because everyone experiences it differently.
Have you ever travelled somewhere and found that when you arrived, you couldn’t remember parts of your journey? Maybe you were driving along with the radio on or were listening to music on the bus or train. When you arrived at your destination, you couldn’t remember driving along a certain road or passing a particular stop. Or perhaps you can recall the last time you read a book that was so absorbing that you just couldn’t put it down. You became so focused on the story that the outside world began to seem a bit distant and background sounds no longer seemed to matter quite so much as you drifted off into your own inner world.
Most of us are familiar with this trance-like state and although we are not always consciously aware of it occurring, it is a natural form of hypnotic trance which is often experienced several times a day. Hypnosis is a natural and safe state of mind in which you are aware of everything that you experience. Although often mistaken as a form of sleep, hypnosis is actually an altered state of awareness where the subconscious mind is very receptive and alert.
During hypnosis, some people experience a sense of weightlessness, whilst other might experience a feeling of heaviness as their muscles begin to relax. Others may not feel very different at all, just very relaxed. The important thing to remember is that however hypnosis feels for you, all you need to do is relax and see where the journey takes you.