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THE APPLICATIONS OF HYPNOSIS AS A TOOL AND HYPNOTHERAPY AND NLP EMPLOYING THAT TOOL ARE ENORMOUS.
They vary from easy, practical uses that can be applied to self to more advanced techniques used by therapists or Neuro-Linguist-Programmers. Very common already is suggestion-hypnosis as a tool to reduce stress in order to change the frequency of the brain waves and make the whole body rest and recover. This rest will boost the immune system and consequently cause real physical healing and together with positive imagery and suggestion also physical cures of somatic illnesses. The second quite easy and well-known application is self-empowerment. In hypnosis, again, positive imagery, specific suggestions and mental rehearsal may raise your self-esteem, self-worth, confidence and energy for life. Self-empowerment implies also all kinds of academic or athletic achievements like an improvement in your concentration, memory, speed of learning, speed of reading, quality of performance during tests, in the job or at special athletic events.
More advanced already are all applications in behavioural change work. That covers all work done by Neuro-Linguistic Programmers or therapists. Here hypnosis is used to change your state of awareness by bypassing the critical thinking and making you more suggestible. Only like this, the professional then can reach and change all non-beneficial beliefs and unwanted behaviour patterns directly in the subconscious mind. That can be a re-frame of past experiences and therefore future situations. In NLP hypnosis is only used to change the ‘How’. So, it is very effective to change all kinds of behaviour that became a habit like smoking, eating disorders, substance abuse, negative and depressive thought patterns. It could be applied to manage anger, frustration and fears. Change work is also emphasized during NLP Coaching which uses hypnosis again to build up positive imagery of what you aim to achieve, to re-frame potential obstacles or eliminate limiting beliefs.
Besides that, the application of hypnosis in the medical field is most fascinating to me. Here we have a variety of somatic and psycho-somatic symptoms which we can target with hypnosis in a therapeutic framework. Pain management with hypnosis may completely substitute anaesthesia. Different ways to deal with pain in hypnosis usually cover changing the focus of attention by guided imagery or dissociating from the current situation by re-associating you to a past situation in your life that has been very pleasurable. Consequently, pain management using hypnosis would be beneficial for all kinds of pain in different areas such as child birth, dentistry, burns and general flesh wounds.
Depending on the depth of hypnosis it can also be applied in surgery; complementing or substituting anaesthesia. This level of depth is called the Esdaile State which is sufficient for major surgical procedures such as vasectomies, plastic surgeries or even open-heart surgeries. Within the medical field, hypnosis is also beneficial for removing or altering other physical or emotional symptoms like dermatological disorders, stuttering, tourette ticks, asthma, hypertension, impotence, panic and anxieties. So, an eczema for example can be treated symptom-oriented – we can apply hypnotherapy in order to prevent the client from scratching and find some relieve in imagining a cool pond with healing water. However, some of those symptoms may not have any physical origin but be related to a psycho-somatic root. We could find out that this eczema is a stress reaction towards a fear of tests. We may then teach you rather not to have the stress response in the first place. To achieve that we may apply hypnosis and do regression work in order to find the memory that initially started that experience. That is how therapy rather deals with the ‘Why’ – why do you experience certain symptoms (and not ‘How’, as approached by the Neuro-Linguistic Programmers)? Once you can go back to an initiating event in hypnosis, you understand the cause of the problem and therefore your past behaviour. You may then emotionally release it and start healing by experiencing the triggers in a neutralized and desensitized way. Like this also any kind of trauma such as accidents, abuse and war may be approached in order to modulate and normalize memories of those experiences.
Hypnosis can also be applied to increase the speed of recovery. This can be especially crucial in emergency situations. Burns, for example, can be treated with hypnosis not only to manage the pain but it was found that if directly after the accident suggestions for sensations of coolness are provided the inflammatory response could be decreased and a 2nd degree burn didn’t develop into a 3rd degree burn. Similar observations are made to stop bleedings and to relax patients in order to prepare them for the following procedures. This can be done, again, by positive imagery or regression work to guide the victims’ mind back to a time he felt totally relaxed.
Finally, past life regression is considered to be a form of therapy where hypnosis is used to uncover information which might have impact on your life today. Assuming that reincarnation is part of your belief system, all information of past lives is also stored in your subconscious mind and can be brought to the conscious mind same as all information relating to your current life. This may be used to treat specific symptoms, but clients also come to generally find explanations about overall perceptions of life or interpersonal experiences with close people around them.
What is hypnosis?
Hypnosis is a natural state of our mind. You experience this state of hypnosis naturally all the time you are falling asleep. What happens is that the frequency of your brain waves changes as you relax from beta to alpha or theta waves. In this hypnotic state you can take in suggestions more easily because your critical and analysing mind is resting. Like this we can access your subconscious mind which is carrying all your memories, learnings and behaviour patterns you might wish to change. As you are accessing the state of hypnosis, you are in an altered state of awareness.
Also, when daydreaming, reading a book or watching a movie, you experience hypnosis as you are focused only on one single idea. The conscious mind is completely focused on that one thing and does not apply any logic anymore. Like this you are able to feel what the protagonists of a movie are presenting. It does not cross your mind that all of this is only staged. The term ‘mono-ideaism’ which describes that phenomenon beautifully was formed by James Braid in the 18th century.
Does a hypnotized person lose control?
No! As hypnosis is a natural state of the mind which you already experienced, you might agree that even though you were deeply focused on your movie, you would still be able to smell fire in the house. This is because your conscious mind will kick in whenever it senses danger. And that applies also to any kind of suggestion you don’t want to take on board. You always have the power to resist. It is in your decision what suggestions you are going to act on because you only do what goes with your values and your desires. All hypnosis is self-hypnosis. You allow yourself to relax and take in only beneficial suggestions.
How does it feel to be hypnotized?
Again, how do you feel, when you are relaxed? Some people feel very light, some heavy as if they were sinking into their chair or sofa. Some experience euphoria and ‘zoom out’ and for some it might not even feel like they have been hypnotized because they could still hear every word. Whatever you sense is exactly right for you and many clients are perfectly able to achieve their goals without ever getting deeper than light hypnosis. Having said that, you get better and better at it with practice and trust in the process.
What is visualisation?
Visualisation - by the origin of the word - is what happens when you make up pictures in your mind. So, when you are able to recall how your car looks like you are visualising. Like this you are able to find it repeatedly on a crowded parking space. Same thing, when you try to imagine how it would feel like when you have already achieved to give your presentation. From that you understand that visualisation does not necessarily need to be a visual process only. For some people it is easy to recall or create pictures, others rather relate to sounds, feelings, even smells or tastes. The more we are able to use the complete variety of our senses, the more realistic the picture, the visualisation, becomes. In hypnosis we call that a vivid mental image which creates an emotion to empower us to move towards what we desire.
What is a regression to cause?
‘Regression to cause’ is a tool we can use to get to the root cause of a problem. Instead of only learning how to cope with a problem, ‘Regression to cause’ it to eliminate the symptom forever. Think about it like dealing with an eczema. I can teach you how to deal with the itching. But we can also eliminate the root cause, find out where, when and under which circumstances the eczema was formed, and the eczema will disappear. And why is that? Because you were revisiting that causing event with the power of your subconscious mind; because as you already learnt, your subconscious mind is the storehouse of all your memories. So, by directly going to that causing event, we find the emotion that is attached to that event. And that emotion, a negative one like fear or guilt, was repressed back then… when you couldn’t handle the situation properly, because you were a child and as children we have only limited knowledge and skills to deal with situations we don’t quite understand, that scare us, or we know are somehow wrong. Asa matter of fact, repressing memories or emotions doesn’t work like that. It’s still there and can come up in different ways. In can come up in dreams for example but it can also come up by certain symptoms to protect you from re-experiencing that emotion again. So those symptoms somehow make you aware that there is still something that is unresolved. And resolving that issue leads to relief. The emotion can be discharged, and you’ll be free of your symptoms because now there is nothing to repress anymore.
What is free association?
Free association is an easy to use tool for you to gradually get to the root cause of problems. It simply means that you allow your mind to wander through your memories. Your subconscious will automatically make sure those memories are linked while you just don’t do anything at all. That means by controlling your level of relaxation, your thoughts will drift to memories which have no need to be analysed or understood. They will be linked emotionally, and you therewith gradually guide yourself to the root cause of problems, to the initial sensitising event. And as you find this initial event eventually, it will be easy for you to see why it made total sense for you to react the way you reacted in the past. It was a logical conclusion of your subconscious mind in order to protect you, to take care of you. But what you get by uncovering those events is control of yourself again. Because you are releasing those memories and therefore your subconscious learns that there is no need to bring up behaviour that is no longer beneficial for you.
Why is it important to release repressed emotions?
A repressed emotion is linked to an event we could not cope with usually in the formative years as our resources and experiences might have been limited. So, the greater the negative emotions have been, the more vulnerable we have perceived ourselves, leading to an inner conflict. Negative emotions and as a result an inner conflict arise when we do things or experience certain situations that don’t go along with what is deeply rooted in our subconscious mind to be ‘wrong’. So, e.g. If I was made, as a child, to only follow instructions of authority figures without questioning them, I might have felt anger because I subconsciously knew I should have a right to express my own opinion. That is the inner conflict. As a result, and based on my personality type, I might either avoid and fear authority figures as an adult, I might always look for authoritarian partners because of my subconscious’ urge to repeat or I might externalize and become a teacher, supporting children to express their needs. Those symptomatic behaviour patterns are created to protect you from re-experiencing that kind of vulnerability again. Only when a behaviour pattern is perceived to be negative or not beneficial in order to achieve what you consciously would like to achieve, then it is time to release a repressed emotion. In the above-mentioned case, if I tend to avoid authority figures but want to study and always get triggered by the professor being very rigid in his approach, I might feel unable to proceed even though this is what I actually would like to be able to do.
“If you can change your mind, you can change your life.”
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