The first time I understood the power of hypnosis was in 1978, when I was hired to videotape a hypnosis workshop. The instructor was a PhD psychologist. The participants were social workers interested in using hypnotherapy in their practices. Through guided imagery and trance states, participants learned and practiced techniques to help people make lasting change. I was fascinated.
Several weeks after the workshop, I had an opportunity to try hypnosis myself. I had been offered a job I really wanted, but it was in a non-smoking environment and I was a smoker. At the time, I smoked a pack of cigarettes a day. I was aware of the health perils associated with this bad habit. I’d try quitting before, but now my situation was dire. The new job started in a week.
Why not try hypnosis?
I remember being in a very relaxed state listening to the hypnotherapist’s voice. In my mind, I descended a stairway to a beautiful safe place where changes could be made. I don’t remember much else, but I do know that after the session, my desire to smoke was insignificant. A few weeks later, at a follow-up appointment, I learned that I’d been given a post-hypnotic suggestion to drink water whenever I wanted to smoke. I do recall carrying a thermos of water with me long before this practice was fashionable.
Fast-forward to the present. My friend Marge is a hypnotherapist who recently emerged from retirement to start practicing again. I have a session with her every couple of weeks. Sometimes we work on a specific concern, like my chronic low-back pain. Other times it has to do with difficult relationships or issues with my spouse or kids—the usual stuff of life. Regardless of the issue, Marge likes to work directly with the deep unconscious. She’s also a devotee of Milton Erickson, an American psychiatrist who specialized in medical hypnosis and family therapy. He’s also known for his approach to the unconscious mind as creative and solution-generating.
The Deep Unconscious
From what I understand, the deep unconscious is the part of ourselves that knows what the conscious part of us doesn’t comprehend—or doesn’t want to. In a deep state of relaxation, it’s possible to tap into that inner knowing. The hypnosis framework is similar for everyone, but the transformational journey is always unique.
What I love about this state of mind is the awareness and insight that result. How simple solutions to difficult problems appear so seamlessly. For example, I recently gained insight into an old thought pattern that has affected me since I was very young. A dialogue between adult Jan and young Jan helped me reframe the circumstances. In the process, I felt an enormous emotional release.
If you’ve ever thought about giving hypnosis a try, I encourage you to do so. At the very least, it’s completely relaxing. It also has the potential to change your life in beneficial and significant ways.
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