Arriving at work without clear knowledge of the ride getting there, completing an athletic event in “the zone,” watching television and not hearing someone calling your name, getting lost in conversation with a friend, remembering a commercial jingle from childhood, childhood in itself… What do these seemingly unrelated events have in common? All were experienced during a state of hypnosis.
Each instance involves a moment or series of moments that happened with laser focus and attention, without direction from the conscious mind. These are moments in which we are totally absorbed by a single experience and the rest of the world seems to fade away. Although this natural state of being happens several times every day, many people are unaware of what hypnosis really is. Even though stage hypnosis may represent the more popular perception, hypnosis is far from just entertainment like subjects clucking like chickens. Rather, it is a natural state of mind that offers prime opportunity for self-reflection, and an experience that has a profound capacity for healing.
The therapeutic quality of hypnosis may be challenging for some to imagine due to popular misconceptions based on stage hypnosis which has created some fear and trepidation about hypnosis. An appropriate definition of the hypnotic state is “total concentration on a single thought”. This happens every day both consciously and subconsciously, and everyone has the capacity to be hypnotized at varying degrees. Hypnosis works like this: a suggestive imprint is made in the subconscious mind by an advertiser, coach, parent, teacher or any influencer. The conscious mind and body then respond as a result of this imprint.
Using the schema of meditation and building upon it, the experience of hypnosis is much like that of some forms of guided meditation. As in meditation, anyone with desire, intention and motivation can experience the positive effects. In fact, it can be argued that meditation is actually a means of entering a self-hypnotic state, and the major difference between self-hypnosis and meditation is that hypnosis tends to have an end-point in mind (such as smoking cessation, weight loss, alleviation of certain phobias).
The process of hypnosis can feel quite different for everyone, but typically results in a feeling of relaxation and positivity after the session. Hypnosis and guided meditation are often seen as very similar processes experientially, using guided visualization and inner focus to create greater focus and increased sense of calm. As in meditation, the participant is always in control, and can come in or out of the experience at will.
According to Rod Kelly, therapeutic hypnotist and healer of Ancient Art of Self-Healing, we are not only in total control, but each one of us is “the only person in the world who has the right or ability to heal ourselves because this is our [individual] life’s journey.” He says, “I show how simple it is to become a self-healer [by facilitating] a change in attitude and a change in belief, since intention is powerless without supportive action.”
Kelly’s approach stems from physics, which he describes as a system of healing; he applies one law against another to help a client achieve a desired result. The foundation of his work is based upon the laws of positive and negative energy, and that positive energy consumes negative energy. He says that the cross-section of all disease is negative energy and the laws of physics work in our favor in terms of healing. Due to the instability and slower molecular spin of negative energy, a flood of positive energy causes negative energy to lose stability, and both cannot ultimately occupy the same space. Positive energy is enlightened energy, and negative energy is a lack of knowledge or enlightenment. At 71 years old, Kelly is in the best health of his life due to “listening to my own instincts and my five-part healing protocol.”
Hypnosis allows for varying shifts in consciousness that delve as deep as the cellular level to promote healing. It is the tool necessary to get past old beliefs, get to the core of the issue, and activate the Higher Self in the subconscious, where, Kelly says, Absolute Truth resides. Kelly’s approach combines science with Spirit, and hypnosis becomes the bridge to this path of healing.
The Power of the Subconscious Mind
Hypnosis works with the subconscious mind, and the subconscious mind holds our inner belief systems that have been developed from suggestive imprints and experiences from childhood. According to Dr. John Douillard of LifeSpa.com, 95 percent of what we do, say, feel and think is driven by the subconscious mind from experiences in the first six years of life. Our brain does act like a computer in this context, in which some programming that was established in childhood will serve us well, as we act from a place of love in our adult lives, yet other programming will limit us, as it is based in a place of fear. Both the positive, adaptive programming and negative, maladaptive programming, may not just stem from one generation, but many. Families suffer for generations battling disease of the mental, physical, interpersonal, intrapersonal varieties.
Lisa Zaccheo, founder and lead hypnotist at Mind Matters Hypnosis Center LLC, supports this as she says, “There is no guard to the gate of the subconscious until the age of five.” She says all programming, either positive or negative, that has been imprinted during those crucial years will continue to influence emotions and behavior for the remainder of the lifespan, unless we seek a means of reprogramming. This is where hypnosis can be a very powerful tool.
With hypnosis, the client is able to clear the subconscious mind of past hurt or trauma and hyper-focus the attention to go back in time to the place of the symptom’s source. In putting hypnosis in context, Zaccheo says, “Parents are our first hypnotists, whether they are giving positive or negative suggestions. Negative suggestions create fear and hypnosis does an incredible job at clearing the energy of fear.” Often the programming is being passed down from the parents’ subconscious from their own programming that they inherited, and unless the chain is broken, will likely continue on.
Debbie Kleinman, of Enlightening Minds Hypnosis, says she dispels myths and creates understanding in terms of the healing power of hypnosis. “In a hypnosis session, clients won’t do anything that they wouldn’t normally do, and the subconscious mind knows where to go to heal the trauma, even despite the conscious mind’s attempts to protect or repress the memory,” she explains. “There is room for understanding, and ultimately, forgiveness.”
Hypnosis is a powerful change-agent in people’s patterns of behavior, and often serves as a means to a common goal attained through more popular healing modalities such as therapy and inner work. According to Zaccheo, “hypnosis can be like therapy on steroids” and most of her referrals come from other clients or doctors who have seen results. It can effect change far more quickly and profoundly than a typical therapy session due to its efficient access and lasting effect on the subconscious. Through the process of hypnosis, inner wisdom is illuminated, and traumas or blocks that have been resulting in negative outcomes in a client’s life are cleared. Hypnosis allows us to seek “reprogramming” to release patterns that no longer serve us, look with compassion to those who have not been the people we needed them to be, and ultimately seek the forgiveness and clearing that may hold us back from our highest form of being.
The more conventional medical community is now recognizing the health benefits of hypnosis, and insurance companies are beginning to respond accordingly. Kleinman says that her therapeutic hypnosis sessions are now often being approved through Health Savings Accounts (HSAs), and may even be reimbursed by insurance companies. Hypnotherapy or therapeutic hypnosis was recently featured in the Wall Street Journal article, “A Surprise Medical Solution: Hypnosis”, which credits it with helping cure common gastrointestinal issues. Doctors have begun to refer patients to therapeutic hypnotists to get to the root cause of problems—a huge step for hypnosis in the general medical consciousness.
Like Kelly and Kleinman, Zaccheo highlights the individual’s power in healing, and compares hypnosis with other long-term health therapies. “We don’t want clients dependent on us. [Hypnotherapists] help people empty their emotional garbage, and maintain an even keel in the emotional energy body, therefore becoming self-dependent as opposed to other-dependent,” she says. Confidence and ultimate control of our health stems from an inner light that shines in each of us. This light is diminished by layers of fear that accumulate on top of the core, and considering the complexity of the human system, either the energy of this light or the energy of fear can permeate the entire body.
According to the laws of physics, two objects cannot occupy the same space at the same time, so we have a choice. We have a choice to shine brighter, but if darkness overwhelms, find inspiration from this ancient Maori proverb: Turn your face to the sun and let the shadows fall behind you.