Hypnosis Myth #1: “I Can’t Be Hypnotised”
Did you know you already “go into trance” lots of times every day?
Maybe you never thought of it like that before. So let’s define what a “trance” is.
Trance is a simply the “fixation of attention”. It is a state where you are focused on one thing (or a group of things) to the exclusion of all else.
Here’s my new advanced definition of trance for 2014:
A trance is any “state” (feeling) that commands your dominant focus, where associated ideas flow. It results from noticing something on the outside or inside of your mind. Ultimately, it always causes you to focus on your inner world. In trance, you give more of your concentration than normal to what you are considering. It is characterised by your inner self-talk, feelings and imagination “zooming in” on a common theme or themes. It is also a state that, when stabilised and reinforced, becomes habitual in certain contexts over time.
Have you ever been so absorbed watching a TV program that you didn’t hear your phone ring, or even notice someone else come into the room?
Have you ever been talking on the phone and been so “caught up” that you didn’t notice someone else trying to get your attention?
Or do you remember mislaying your house keys, only to find they were where you first looked? You had mysteriously hallucinated them away first time around!
Consider these common everyday trances:
- “TV” Trance – staring goggle-eyed at the “idiot box”
- “Losing your house keys” trance (“Negative Hallucination”)
- “Driving” trance” – Driving a car on autopilot and not remembering how you got to your destination
- “Gardening” trance – hours have gone by, but it seems like minutes – (“Time Distortion”)
- “Walking to work” trance
Of course these trances are harmless enough. But consider the flip side. See if you can recognise any of these “habitual emotional trances”:
- “Worry about a presentation” anxiety trance
- “Getting angry” trance
- “Resentment” trance
- “Frustration with my self” trance (usually accompanied by a lot of inner shouting)
- “Why did this happen?” trance
- “Confusion trance” – ever been at that place just before clarity where you feel “all at sea”?
- “Doubting that you can change” trance
Consider the following…“TRANCES I EXPERIENCED TODAY”
- “Love trance,” as I said goodbye to my wife
- “Taste trance,” as I imagined a delicious meal with friends
- “Nostalgia trance,” as I reflected on a past weekend in Prague
- “Excitement trance,” looking ahead to seeing friends
- “Have I got everything I need?” trance in the supermarket
- “Cycling, and keeping a keen eye out for cars” trance
- “I get to plan my new fitness regime” trance
- “Focused reading an exciting e-mail about how to communicate better with your clients” trance
- “Listening attentively to the amazing progress one of my clients made” trance
- “Looking forward to seeing my friend and business partner” trance
- “Have I got all my music on my iPod yet” trance
- “Mapping out my next series of NLP Practitioner training” trances
Several times in this series (and you’ll get to read about …at least 12 of these common myths), you’ll hear about Milton Erickson M.D. (1901-1980). Milton was one of the foremost hypnotists of the 20th century. He saw around 30,000 clients in his lifetime, and got hypnosis approved for clinical use by the American Medical Association (AMA) way back in 1958.
Here’s one of the main benefits of hypnosis: It is a process that allows you to get that “worrying”, doubting analytical part of your mind out of the way. That means you can stop what I call your “washing machine mind” going round and round. You can stop it saying “Why did this happen? Why me? This shouldn’t be happening? Was it because my mum looked at me funny when I was age 6?”
Milton Erickson (Pictured right) said this about trance: “Deep hypnosis is the level of hypnosis that permits subjects to function adequately and directly at an unconscious level of awareness without interference by the conscious mind.”
In trance, you have heightened abilities that you don’t normally have. As we’ve discovered, you experience these states all day long – when you “day-dream,” or when you think back on a vivid pleasurable experience like going on holiday…
Here’s the most important benefit of trance. As Milton said:
“When hypnotized, or in the hypnotic trance, the subject can think, act and behave in relationship to either ideas or reality objects as adequately as, and usually better than, he can in the ordinary state of awareness. In all probability this ability derives from intensity and restriction of attention to the task in hand, and the consequent freedom from the ordinary conscious tendency to orient constantly to distracting, even irrelevant, reality considerations.”
Of course this leads to an important question you are probably thinking: “How will I know I’m hypnotised?”
This is actually very subjective for the client because each person experiences a different inner world. A hypnotist, however, will be looking for lots of “unconscious signals” that include:
- Fixation of attention
- Pupil dilation
- Blood flow to lower lips
- Unconscious motor signals (non-verbal movements)
- Shifting in breathing
As a client, you may become aware of some of the following:
- Heaviness or lightness
- Sense of relaxation
- Mind wandering
- Not remembering everything that was said
- Mind quietening (but still hearing your “inner talk”)
Here’s the crucial thing to remember: You will still be aware whilst in trance. Hypnosis is actually a state of heightened awareness and attention. You will actually be more aware, not less aware.
Later on, we’ll see how this illusion or myth that some people are not “hypnotisable” came about from ostentatious stage shows. But for now, all your need to know is that everyone goes into trance all day long.
Scientists call these naturally-occurring trances “Circadian” and “Ultradian” body rhythms. Think of your Circadian Rhythm as your 24-hour body clock. And the Ultradian Rhythm is a 90-minute cycle where we naturally start to daydream. In this state, the mind relaxes and you enter a form of trance. Many people try to over-ride these natural cycles with extra caffeine and adrenaline.
Still doubt that you go into trance?
Let me tell you something shocking. Scientific studies done in the 1960s showed that one of the most hypnotic things, in almost every house, is a television. Within just thirty seconds of watching TV, a person will go from a waking beta brainwave pattern into a slower alpha trance state!
Here’s a sure-fire way you can prove that people go in and out of trance: next time you go into a room and someone is watching TV, stop and observe them in a “TV Trance”.
Signs of a “TV Trance” include:
- See how their face has changed
- Pay attention for their mouth hanging open
- Notice that they have stopped listening to you
- See their pupils dilated
Or how about children, absorbed in activities or playing. My little niece quickly goes into an “iPod trance”. We tried everything to get her focus back, but she was so deep in concentration that only when she was ready did she come back to conscious alertness!
We all go into trance. It is a naturally occurring phenomenon. You go into it every day. Advertisers, marketing experts, politicians and religious leaders all know this and use it to “hook you”.
However, you can rest easy because in the next post in this series, you will discover…
Curious about hypnosis? Pick up 2 free hypnotherapy recordings now.Google+