Mention hypnosis and most people think of a person being put into a trance with a swinging pocket watch thanks to Hollywood. But, in reality, it’s far from that image. The truth is all hypnosis is self-hypnosis. It’s you, allowing yourself to go along with whatever you’re seeing, thinking or hearing in the moment.

Hypnosis is a natural state of being most people drift in and out of throughout a normal day. You’re watching a movie and start reacting to what you’re seeing is an example. It means you’ve momentarily stepped away from your life and imagined that what you’re watching is happening to you. Or perhaps you’re reading a book and don’t hear the doorbell or phone ring, or even the person next to you talking to you. Again, you were totally engrossed by the story and blocked out everything else around you.

This tendency of the mind is exactly what a trained hypnotist uses in their session work with a client. Try it for yourself by following these instructions: “Close your eyes. Allow your body and mind to relax. Think about being on a beautiful sandy beach, see the blue green water, feel the warm sunshine, smell the salty ocean air…” If you did this, for a moment you were on that beach and felt very relaxed. Going into hypnosis is that simple.

All healing is self-healing. You can either let it happen or block it out. The results you achieve are based on what you’re thinking. Modern medicine is always coming up with a new pill for whatever ails us; drug trials are routinely run to check effectiveness. Here is where the scientists discovered what they call the placebo effect. They would take a group of people who had the illness the drug was meant for and separate them into two equal-sized groups. One group got the real medicine while the other group received the placebo—a “sugar pill”—instead. No one was told which group they were in. Only 60-75 percent of the people in the real medicine group got better while 25-40 percent of the participants in the placebo group also healed. Repeated drug trials produced similar results. It was what the participants were thinking or believing that was causing the results, doctors’ concluded. Some people in the real medicine group thought they had received the placebo and stayed sick, while some people in the placebo group thought they were given the real medicine and healed.

Some progressive surgeons have tried and discovered this same principal. They convinced some of their patients that they had had the minor surgery when they really hadn’t, and found that those same patients made complete recoveries. Again proving what the mind believes, it will achieve, as mentioned by Bruce H Lipton, Ph.D., in his 2006 book The Biology of Belief.

Our Minds are Very Powerful

Many people only consider hypnosis for habit control—such as quitting smoking, losing weight, or seeking help to relieve fears, phobias, anxiety or stress. But there is much more hypnosis can do. You can use it to heal your body of short-term ailments, long-term chronic conditions or even very severe illnesses. Hypnosis is routinely used to alleviate migraines, tinnitus, arthritis, pain, and even the effects of cancer and chemotherapy.

We have come to know that too much stress in our lives will make us sick and that stress can and will manifest with many different ailments. But when we do get sick, most people look for a physical cause rather than a mental cause. Ayurvedic medicine—which has tracked all the sickness’ mankind has ever had in the last few thousand years—has noted a probable meaning to each and every one. Louise L. Hay wrote about these and her own observations in her book Heal Your Body. It states that chronic negative thinking will eventually produce a corresponding illness in the body.

Your Mind Can Heal Your Body

Hypnotists know that not only is there negative thinking, but also a “story” is playing somewhere in the subconscious mind that needs to be changed or reexamined in order for the client to regain their health. Visualizing the desired solution will also aid in the healing or resolving of the problem. For example, too much stress in a woman’s life has caused a stomach ulcer. Her doctor tells her to learn to relax, perhaps meditate, change her diet, maybe take some ant-acids, and that there is no cure—only time will heal it. The woman tries this but the pain is too great and it’s taking too long. Then the idea of hypnosis is considered. A competent hypnotist teaches relaxation techniques and guided imagery to be practiced everyday in self-hypnosis. At home, in her self-healing, she visualizes the ulcer being closed. Within nine days, she found the pain was gone—and so was the ulcer.

There is more power in our minds than anyone has ever taught us. Take medication if it’s indicated but consider how much easier and faster you could heal if you also engage your mind in healing your body. More and more, modern medicine practitioners are learning to treat the mind AND body. Now we should too.

Catherine Gambardella, CH, is a certified hypnotist, intuitive consultant and life coach. She is the Connecticut Chapter President of the International Association of Counselors and Therapists and the Central Connecticut Chapter President of the National Guild of Hypnotists, where she is on the faculty. She currently has a private practice in Madison, CT. Connect with her at 203-245-6927.