Ten Most Frequent Hypnosis Questions (Part 1)
I am lucky enough to get to meet new people all the time. When I do, inevitably, the conversation turns to our respective careers. It never fails that, when I say the words, "I'm a hypnotist," I get some pretty varied and interesting responses. Hypnosis isn't something most people are used to hearing or even thinking about on a regular basis. Certainly, most people have never met a hypnotist. If I'm being totally honest, I really love that moment of surprise most people have. Some people are very intrigued and others get a little nervous, but all of them have a lot of questions. Today, I'm starting a blog series of the 10 questions I get asked most frequently.
Question 1: What is Hypnosis?
It's a great question! It's also a difficult one to answer. In fact, if you were to ask ten hypnotist to define hypnosis, you might get twenty answers. One of the greatest hypnotists of all time, Dave Elman, defined hypnosis as "a state of mind in which the critical faculty of the human mind is bypassed, and selective thinking established." Pretty straightforward, right? Well . . . maybe not.
What exactly does that mean? A critical faculty and selective thinking?
Think of your brain as having two parts, a conscious mind and an unconscious mind. Remember this is just a model, a metaphor, but a useful one to use. Your conscious mind is everything which you are actively thinking about or doing. Perhaps it's that grocery list, or the meeting you have at work tomorrow or the paper you have to write for that class. Your unconscious mind, on the other hand, is everything that you're doing which you are not actively thinking about or doing. I could be wrong, but I would imagine that most of you aren't actively controlling your heart valve synchronization or your liver enzymes. The critical faculty is like a firewall between the conscious and unconscious minds that filters information to make sure only the stuff that either protects you or gives you pleasure makes it through to the unconscious.
Selective thinking is something we've all experienced. You're so focused on one particular thing that, even when someone is talking to you about something else, you'll automatically turn the conversation into something about that thing.
But even that doesn't really help does it? That's because hypnosis can't be explained or defined unless you have an experience to go along. The good news is, every person reading this post has experienced it! Have you ever been driving and realized, suddenly, that you have no idea what happened for the last few minutes? Have you ever become so absorbed in a book that you're no longer seeing the words on the page, but your imagination is playing the story like a movie? For that matter, have you ever become so engrossed in any activity that someone trying to get your attention had to say your name three or four times before you noticed?
Accessing those memories will give you a better definition of hypnosis than any words. Because hypnosis isn't a word to be defined. It's an experience to explore.