Even today, some people have a mistaken idea that hypnosis is something the hypnotist ‘does’ to the person being hypnotised – like some mystical zapping (of course, if that were true, I’d be straight down the bank for a little zapping of the bank manager before zapping the dog to walk itself, followed by a quick zap of my teenage daughter to Go. Tidy. Your. Room…).
In fact, James Braid – the ‘father of hypnosis’ – described the process as ‘focused attention upon an expectant or dominant idea or image’. It is something the person being hypnotised does to and for themselves and the therapist just shows them how (at least a good one will). Therefore, as you can imagine, hypnosis is a skill that requires engagement and concentration.
As such, one of the many things I love about hypnosis is how this level of concentration makes me feel afterwards – it’s like I have just given my brain a thorough work-out. I always feel great: renewed and energised. For me, this article nicely articulates why that would be so. Not least, it says:
“The mainstream view in neuroscience and medicine today is that the living brain is actually “neuroplastic”—meaning that its “circuits” are constantly changing in response to what we actually do out in the world. As we think, perceive, form memories or learn new skills, the connections between brain cells also change and strengthen. Far from being hard-wired, the brain has circuits that very rapidly form, unform and reform”.
If feels like a good training session because it IS a good training session. There’s so much going on in there! In a short, focused amount of time not only am I exercising my brain by actively engaging with the act of hypnosis, but I’m imagining real world scenarios and influencing all those connections too. Phew!
Unfortunately, many people experience a similar process when they ruminate on a problem. For example, so clearly do people with phobias imagine their worst-case scenarios they may even have a physiological reaction to it – their heart rate might increase, palms start to sweat, they may start to feel nauseous, dizzy, or experience a desire to run away and so on. Even worse, all those unhelpful brain cell connections are strengthened by thinking, perceiving and learning the very thing they wish to avoid.
How much better to put such neuro-plasticity to good effect? To recognise how the circuits ‘form, unform and reform’ and start directing the process to strengthen helpful pathways instead? Hypnosis is an incredibly effective way of doing this. It enables you to learn, reinforce and adopt beneficial connections. Thus, you can gain more control over all that forming, unforming and reforming that’s going on. A fabulous brain gym if ever there was one..