As children, we were taught by cartoons to believe that hypnosis was all about swaying pendulums and colourful swirly eyes, resulting in blindly following every command of the hypnotiser. Often portrayed as the work of the villain, this collective childhood memory has meant that proper hypnosis has received a pretty bad rap.
Sure enough, the point of hypnosis is to alter our current state of mind to give prominence to the subconsciousness rather than the conscious brain. But the misconception lies in the fact that hypnosis does not equate to a deep sleep; rather, it induces a trance-like state wherein our minds are focused, and are in an exaggerated state of awareness. By that definition, there’s no way you could be commanded to rob a bank.
A hypnotist, however, can plant ideas in your head, ideas that may alleviate anxieties, tensions and underlying stress-related issues. Issues, perhaps, that give rise to insomnia?
According to Dr Hilary Jones, in his book titled Doctor, What’s the Alternative?, hypnotherapy is the art and science of suggesting concepts and changes to lifestyle in a hypnotic state to confront immediate, conscious anxieties. In the case of insomnia, Jones claims that hypnosis first and foremost identifies the the underlying psychological stress leading to poor sleep, and then reasons and advises on a subconscious level to reduce the symptoms in the present state.
I’ll take, for example, my insomniac mother. Her daughter is far away in a different country, and she rarely messages home to let her know how she’s doing. Of course my mother is worried; I’ve given her plenty of reasons to do so! But a trip to a hypnotherapist calmed her mind. She realised that I was safe and taking care of myself, despite all the irrational scenarios she was conjuring in her head. The fact that I did not call her often was not a sign of danger, just poor timing and (often) forgetfulness. A few sessions later, and would you believe it? She sleeps like a baby these days.
Be it emotional, psychological or physical disorders, hypnosis confronts deep-rooted behavioural patterns that impact day-to-day life. Be it an addiction, instinct, fear, or mounting levels of stress, hypnosis alters and reprograms the mind to tackle the problems in the conscious state in a more calm and rational manner.
So if you find yourself in the same state as my beloved mother, and you’re teetering on the fence of another Ambien or pillow mist in the night, give hypnosis a shot. You never know what you might just resolve.
Promise it’s a whole load more than just swinging pendulums and swirly eyes.