What Is Hypnosis?
Hypnosis is a natural state of consciousness that you already experience every day. You enter this state when you day-dream, meditate, listen to rhythmic instrumental music, just before falling asleep, upon awakening, and when engaged in semi-automatic behavior like freeway driving. It is a state that you can learn to enter deliberately at any time through a process called self-hypnosis.
Put simply, “Hypnosis is a natural state of greater suggestability through more direct access to the sub-conscious.” –Duncan Tooley
You have most likely seen entertainment hypnosis where a hypnotist has a group of volunteers do entertaining things on stage. This type of hypnosis demonstrates the reality and the power of hypnosis, but that is its only similarity with therapeutic or performance hypnosis whose goal is some desired permanent change in health, emotions, habits, or skills. (For a full explanation of how entertainment hypnosis works, go see myth #12 of the Worst hypnosis Myths Busted here)
Hypnosis has long been used to help the body cure illnesses. “Sleep temples” are documented in Egypt, Greece, Rome, England, and India where healing hypnosis was induced by “priest-doctors.” Hypnosis was the normal anesthesia for surgery on soldiers during the Civil War. Today, thousands of surgeries and births are performed painlessly without drugs by use of hypnosis as anesthesia. Hypnosis is an approved stand-alone alternative wellness modality that does not require a license and is self-regulated through professional certification associations. The American Medical Association has endorsed numerous studies documenting the medical benefits of hypnosis. (See links) Many hospitals are now employing hypnotists on their staff to assist patient healing. . In hospital settings, hypnosis is often called “visualization” or “guided imagery.” Hundreds of thousands, perhaps millions, of smokers have quit instantly using hypnosis.
Hypnosis is used in sports because of the scientifically-established mind-body connection. Your mind runs your body. Instructions to the mind produce changes in the body. Instructions of increased skill, precision, or focus produce those effects in the body and increase the performance of athletes. Olympic teams have hypnotists on their staff. Hypnosis has been used by golfers for decades. Performance hypnosis is not limited to athletics. Skills of all types and academic performance can be enhanced by hypnosis. Many people use hypnosis to assist them to pass required professional examinations.