I thought I’d start this week’s post with a portrait of Dr James Braid (1795 -1860) who’s known as the “Father of Modern Hypnosis”. He established hypnosis as a subject for scientific research and persuaded the medical establishment of the day that hypnosis was a valid clinical technique. In that sense, he can be thought of as the first “hypnotherapist”.
In this week’s post I give my definition of trance, hypnosis and hypnotic trance. The key point to take away from this week’s post is that hypnosis is a collaborative process between the hypnotist and subject. Hypnosis is not something that’s done to to you. To experience the benefits of hypnosis you have to willingly and actively engage in the process. In fact research suggests that a successful hypnotic trance experience depends more on the abilities of the subject than on the skills of the hypnotist. Later on I’ve included a table setting out some of the the elements that the hypnotist and subject need to bring to hypnosis to ensure success.
Trance is a naturally occurring moment to moment experience. We experience trance whenever we focus our attention on a single idea, thought or object. With this narrowing of focus our peripheral awareness is reduced – we essentially shift our awareness inside.
We spend our waking hours shifting from one trance to another. Each trance may last anywhere from a second to a number hours (like when we’re engrossed in a great movie). Here are some of the trances we might experience during a typical day:
• Engrossed in a TV programme, movie, book
• Exploring Facebook
• Texting friends
• Focusing on a task, activity, hobby
• Focusing on a monotonous or repetitive action
When we experience these trances we become so absorbed that we stop paying much attention to what is going on around us. For example, how often have you walked straight past a friend in the street while daydreaming?
Our mental blueprint
Our current reality is subjective and is generated based on our beliefs, values and life experiences – and these combine to form what I refer to as our mental blueprint.
Our mental blueprint is created from the trillions of neurons in our brain which organise themselves into neural networks. From a base of genetic and inherited information we continuously add to, and update, our blueprint with new or amended beliefs, values, experiences and learned behaviours.
Maintaining the integrity of our mental blueprint is a function of the conscious mind and in particular what is referred to by hypnotherapists as the ‘Critical Faculty’. The ‘Critical Faculty’ refers to the ‘aspect of mind’ that defends current beliefs/understandings from any ideas that may threaten them. Our critical faculty judges new information, ideas and beliefs and may reject those that don’t match our existing version of reality. For example if I suggest to you that the sky is green you are most likely to reject my suggestion. If I were to suggest to a NZ rugby fan that the All Blacks are the worst rugby team in the world this suggestion would most likely be rejected.
Hypnosis is the process used to intentionally guide a person into a hypnotic trance. When we engage in hypnosis we remain awake and alert. Hypnosis is not sleep or an unconscious state (see my FAQ page). During hypnosis we remain aware of what’s happening, what’s being said to us and most importantly we’re able to respond to suggestions and follow directions.
Hypnosis is a collaborative process. It requires the person seeking to experience hypnotic trance (the subject) to fully engage in the process of hypnosis and not be a passive participant. In fact research suggests that a successful outcome relies more on the abilities of the subject than on the skills of the hypnotist.
Here are some of the elements needed to achieve the benefits of hypnotic trance, separated into those required of the hypnotist and those required of the subject:
Hypnotic trance is a trance that we intentionally experience in order to make beneficial changes to our mental blueprint.
As mentioned earlier, when we experience hypnotic trance the conscious mind’s judgemental ‘Critical Faculty’ is distracted or by-passed, increasing the likelihood that beneficial suggestions delivered by the hypnotist will be accepted. Once we accept a suggestion our mental blueprint is updated, which changes the way we think, feel and behave. On emerging from the hypnotic trance we then experience a different subjective reality.
The changes we make to our blueprint can be temporary or permanent.
Temporary –For example, guided by a stage hypnotist a person changes their mental blueprint to believe, for a few minutes, that they are Elvis or that they are invisible.
Permanent – For example, guided by a hypnotherapist, a smoker changes their mental blueprint to become an ex-smoker. A person with chronic pain changes their mental blueprint to reduce their perception of pain. A person with a fear of flying changes their mental blueprint to reduce, or completely remove, their level of anxiety.
Because trance is something we do naturally, everyone has the ability to experience hypnotic trance. However, some people find it easier to experience hypnotic trance than others. The good news is that experiencing hypnotic trance is a skill which can be enhanced with practice.
If you’d like to experience hypnotic trance or experience the therapeutic or personal development benefits that hypnotic trance can help deliver, then give Tony a call (021 056 8389) or send him a message via the contact form on this website.
Right now Tony is offering a limited number of free one hour coaching consultations. Simply click here to read more about how you can take advantage of this opportunity.
Tony Yuile is a Clinical Hypnotherapist and Personal Transformation Coach based in Wellington, NZ where he specialises in helping people suffering from anxiety, stress, panic, phobias, trauma, depression and other anxiety related issues. Tony uses a range of techniques that may include coaching, clinical hypnotherapy, mindfulness, neuro-linguistic programming (NLP) and various psychotherapy approaches. If you are looking for 1:1 tailored support, contact Tony today to discuss what options might be available to you. If you think Tony could help someone you know, you might like to encourage them to get in touch.
This article contains the personal views and opinions of the author, which may change over time. It is intended to be for information only and does not constitute medical advice. For medical and health advice, always consult a qualified medical professional.