Skeleton keys are designed to open a variety of locks; they are somewhat of a universal tool, thus allowing anyone who has one to open a lot of different doors. If only there was such a device to help us open our minds enough to enable us to create personal change and transformation and tackle the bigger issues we face; you know, the “stuff” like negative habits, feelings, behaviors and physical conditions that hold so many of us back in life. Well there is, and it’s called hypnosis, a naturally occurring state of consciousness that in clinical applications (hypnotherapy) is safe, painless, and powerfully versatile in facilitating behavioral, emotional and or physical change—like a master key for the mind.

A Long History of Healing

The recorded use of hypnosis as a tool for transformation and healing dates back more than 7000 years. Through the millennia hypnotherapy has ebbed and flowed in popularity, sometimes flourishing, sometimes almost disappearing, but always surviving— across cultures, geographies, technologies, and time itself—and for a very simple reason: it works!

Today, hypnotherapy is once again resurgent. Researchers and practitioners worldwide are uncovering the scientific basis through which the brain creates and benefits from hypnotic trance, thus taking hypnosis and hypnotherapy out of the realm of the esoteric and metaphysical and into the mainstream of modern healthcare and wellness.

Shattering the Myths

Notwithstanding the new science, however, for many, “hypnosis” still evokes images of piercing eyes, swinging watches, goofy stage-show shenanigans, bad plot-lines in bad movies or even worse, the specter of  losing control and being programmed to act against one’s will, getting stuck in some zombie-like netherworld, or even being possessed by Satan himself.

Fortunately, these notions¾all archaic and absolute nonsense¾are rapidly succumbing to the cold, hard logic of modern science. It is FACT that no one can enter hypnosis against their will, and they CANNOT lose control of their mind, or get stuck or be possessed, PERIOD! Ironically, the whole purpose of hypnotherapy is to help clients increase control over both their mind and body, and thus by extension, their lives.

We Are All Hypnotized Every Day

Most people are surprised to learn that virtually all of us experience hypnosis all by ourselves every day of our lives. Anytime you’re engrossed in a good book,  “zone-out” or daydream, find yourself pulling into your driveway but don’t remember the getting there, or watch a movie or TV show and laugh, cry, feel excited or happy, sad or terrified, you are in fact in hypnosis; you are hypnotized!

Of course, there appears to be a big difference between our blubbering when ET goes home or zoning out on the freeway and transcending a life-limiting issue. But it’s just that—appearance. Since hypnosis is merely a state of consciousness that can happen automatically or induced on purpose through a guide (hypnotist) or on one’s own (self-hypnosis), like a master key, its effect is all about the lock it’s used upon.

Try a Little Self Hypnosis Right Now!

Sit comfortably in a place— indoors or outside—without distractions or disturbance. Close your eyes and relax them completely; let the lids feel so heavy that they cannot open. Now, do the same with your jaw; let it droop as if the bones and muscles are jelly. Good. Breathe slowly and gently and progressively relax your neck and shoulders, then arms and hands, torso, hips, upper and lower legs, and feet by first tensing then completely releasing that tension in the muscles in each area. Next, refocus attention to your eyes; gently look up toward the inside of your forehead and breathe in; as you release the breath silently say, “totally relaxed, deep sleep,” You are in light hypnosis—nothing more to it. To come out, count “1, 2, 3, 4, 5 eyes open, wide awake.” You’re back. Congratulations, you just hypnotized yourself.

Deep Sleep! How it Works

Entering hypnosis involves both the conscious-cognitive and the subconscious-automatic parts of the mind engaging and creating a neurological “bypass” to homeostasis, our inborn and sometimes tenacious resistance to change and the unfamiliar. We thus enter a state of altered but cognizant consciousness almost identical to meditation—highly focused, open, and wonderfully receptive to new thoughts, ideas, behaviors and feelings both emotional and physical as long as they are in line with our desires.

With homeostasis essentially “turned off,” the conscious and subconscious minds conduct a sort of neurological summit meeting—a new “policy” is suggested, negotiated and ratified, and then with appropriate reinforcement, usually some number of sessions combined with simple, daily exercises, the brain essentially reprograms itself. In essence, we purposefully exploit and manipulate both neural plasticity—our brain’s ability to rewire itself—and the power and potential of the mind/body dynamic. Yes, we can teach old dogs new tricks!

Almost Limitless Applications

The potential applications for clinical hypnosis are extensive. Just a partial list includes:

Overcoming unwanted/unhealthy habits, (e.g., smoking, nail biting)

Changing behavioral and emotional patterns

Conquering fears and phobias

Increasing self-confidence and self-esteem

Improving focus, concentration and performance in sports, school, or at work

Analgesia and anesthesia for medical/dental conditions and chronic pain

Minimizing tissue damage, blood loss and accelerating healing from dental and surgical procedures

Easing the side-effects of chemo and radiation therapy

Managing (sometimes eliminating) many traditionally difficult-to-treat ailments like migraine, IBS, immune disorders, asthma, allergies, sexual dysfunction, and many more

No Silver Bullet

Naturally, like any tool or technique—however versatile—there are limits to the efficacy of hypnotherapy. It is not a panacea—some people and conditions do not respond—and it is certainly not magic, although it can work so quickly it may feel that way. Success requires genuine desire, willingness to experience induced hypnosis, belief in a positive outcome, and commitment to the therapeutic process.

Of course, to the millions who do benefit, these requirements seem a small price to pay for such a potentially wonderful result—feeling empowered and living life the way they want to rather than feeling stuck and helpless over their issues. It is a delicious way to feel, and something we all deserve to experience.