When someone comes to see you for hypnotherapy, you spend a long time talking about the state of hypnosis; what it is and is not, what it will feel like and so on, as it never truly feels anything like what you think it is going to feel like. Which begs the question, what exactly does it feel like?
Hypnosis is an altered state of consciousness, very similar to daydreaming nodding off or losing yourself in a really good book. In it, you lie somewhere between being asleep and being awake. How far along that spectrum you are going to be, we won’t know until we try.
Around 90 per cent of all human beings can go into some form of hypnotic trance, be it light, medium or deep. The 10 per cent who can’t include young children (we don’t go there as their minds are still forming), people with severe mental illnesses, such as schizophrenia (and who are on medication for such conditions), hard core alcoholics (i.e., chemically addicted and on a bottle of whiskey a day) and drug addicts who are heavily addicted to things such as heroin, crack cocaine and so on (their brain chemistry is sadly too fried for hypnosis to work at that time).
So, unless you are a young child, schizophrenic, or addicted to heavy drugs and lots of alcohol, you will be able to drift into a hypnotic trance.
At its most basic, it will feel a little bit like your sitting in a chair, slightly relaxed and pretending to be hypnotised. As you drift deeper and deeper, all sorts of nice and pleasant things can happen. You may feel like your drifting down into the chair, or the opposite, rising up out of it. So your limbs could feel heavy, or light, or tingly, or not there at all.
Your conscious mind is still operational in hypnosis. You might hear every single word I say and recall it with complete clarity; you may drift in and out of conscious awareness and just remember bits and pieces; or you may go so deeply relaxed, that you kind of remember what I was saying to you at the beginning then, all of a sudden, I’m asking you to wake up and everything in between is a blank.
However, it is your conscious mind that’s doing the listening or not listening and we don’t work with that part, we work with your unconscious mind and, in a state of hypnosis, your unconscious mind will remember everything that was said, even if you don’t consciously remember it.
Your conscious mind might even be disagreeable about the whole experience.
For instance, the first time I experienced hypnotherapy was for stopping smoking. The whole way through the experience, my conscious mind was saying, ‘Well, this is a load of rubbish; I can open my eyes any time I want. I can. Any time I want. It’s rubbish, I can just open my eyes . . . any time . . . I want . . . I can.’
But, I didn’t, not until the therapist asked me to. My unconscious mind was in charge, even though my conscious mind was objecting. And the therapy was a success.
If you don’t set up hypnotherapy correctly, people come out of it the other side saying that it wasn’t quite what they expected. When you ask them what they did expect, the reply is usually one of, ‘I don’t know; but not that.’
Set it up correctly, however, and most people wake from hypnosis commenting on how wonderfully relaxing the experience was.
More than a few people have come out of a hypnotherapy session with me saying, ‘that was just like taking a holiday.’
And that’s not a bad thing to feel like at all.