The exact origins of hypnosis are unknown however there is a reasonable assumption that suggests a form of hypnosis was used in the sleep temples of ancient Egypt 3,000 or 4,000 years ago. The Egyptian sleep temples are also referred to dream temples and it is believed that they were used as healing temples where people would go have all sorts of ailments fixed. It is also believed that a variety of techniques were used to help the patient such as chanting, fasting, dream analysis and cleansing rituals. Sleep temples of a similar nature also existed in the Middle East, in various parts of the Roman Empire and in Ancient Greece around 300-400 BC, and the Oracle of Delphi was a place in Greece where such a sleep temple existed.
In spite of the reality that hypnosis has been successfully used for healing purposes for thousands of years, there is still a great deal of unnecessary misconception and fear attached to it. Unfortunately in this world, humans have a habit of fearing what they do not fully understand, and then projecting their own fears onto the object in questions. As a result, throughout history hypnosis and many hypnotists have had a tough time.
Frank Anton Mesmer, after whom mesmerism was named, had a great deal of success with his patients but was expelled by Medical and Scientific Commissions in Vienna and Paris. James Esdaile, a Scottish surgeon, carried out hundreds of surgeries using hypnosis to anesthetize his patients, was publicly humiliated for his methods. James Braid, sometimes referred to as the “Father of Modern Hypnosis”, was also publicly vilified and some called his work “Braid’s Artificial Insanity”
Psychiatry got interested in hypnosis when Sigmund Freud studied it around the turn of the nineteenth century, but apparently Freud wasn’t a good hypnotist or more likely that simply wasn’t his path. And as his interest in hypnosis waned, so did that of psychiatry. However, after both World Wars, some psychiatrists and psychologists successfully turned to hypnosis to work with troops suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder after they found that more traditional methods didn’t achieve results. Finally, in 1955 the British Medical Association declared that hypnosis was a valuable medical tool. The American Medical association followed suit in 1958, followed by the American Psychiatrist Association in 1960.
In spite of that apparent recognition, even today hypnosis still struggles to earn its rightful place in society as one of the post powerful and successful means of treating illness…Perhaps it is the controlling influence of the pharmaceutical companies that seeks to use that influence to restrict all forms of natural healing wherever possible… or perhaps it’s still because people fear what they do not fully understand. I meet people all the time who have a misconception about Hypnosis. Recently I met some who had a very strong innate fear of hypnosis. Fortunately, she was sufficiently trusting to suspend that fear for a short time, experience some simple hypnotic relaxation and thereafter became a convert and start to process some quite deep stuff, which she happily stated “did her the world of good”... she was open to the experience and open to the possibility of change and that is all people need to be.
Just a few of the everyday realities that many people still don’t know about hypnosis are…
• It is a naturally occurring state that all humans experience at least twice a day. The half-awake half-asleep states prior to falling asleep and after waking are examples of naturally occurring hypnotic states and are even called the hypnagogic and hypnopompic states.
• When we are absorbed in a book, watching a film or listening to music, that is a hypnotic state.
• Sometimes when we drive somewhere, we lose track of time and don’t know we arrive there, that is a hypnotic state
• In these examples we are actually in a state of focused awareness, not asleep or unconscious.
Wikipedia says about Hypnosis: “contrary to a popular misconception – that hypnosis is a form of unconsciousness resembling sleep – contemporary research suggests that it is actually a wakeful state of focused attention and heightened suggestibility, with diminished peripheral awareness
The initial goal of hypnosis is to relax the client… and when we are relaxed, then the conscious mind stops “chattering” and assumes more of a passive, observer role and the unconscious mind becomes more accessible and open to positive suggestion.
As well as being the location for our autonomic functioning, the unconscious mind is also the storehouse for our behaviours, memories, beliefs et al, much like the hard disk on a computer. And also like the hard disk, we have often programmes or functions stored that no longer serve our best interests. In simple hypnosis we use mutually agreed positive suggestions that help the client to modify those old non-helpful behaviours going forward. It is essentially as simple as that and it works…
Albert Einstein famously said “that problems cannot be solved at same level of awareness that we created them” and that is how hypnosis works and is exactly the reason why hypnosis is so effective for people. By relaxing the conscious mind, we can help the client to move into that different level of awareness where solutions can be found and/or created.
A common misconception about hypnosis is that we lose control in some way; however the reality is that we have already lost our power. When we have non-helpful behaviours, habits, beliefs that are not serving us in our everyday life, then we are giving away our control to those old ways of being. The real truth is that we can actually take back control by using hypnosis.
And hypnotists don’t have special powers. They have just undergone simple, yet effective training courses. And anyone who does a simple training course can use or benefit from hypnosis. It can be used for deeper therapeutic goals of course, but equally it can be used in very simple ways for relaxation. In these busy 21st Century lives of ours, how many actually time the time to genuinely switch off and relax…without the TV, computer, phone or other gadget still on that is….
Simple hypnosis has all sorts of other benefits too; it does help to give us back greater control and that can be over our eating or exercise habits, it can be for areas in our lives where we need more confidence; it can help us sleep better at nights, study for our exams and tests more fruitfully, improve sports performance, reduce stress and generally feel better about ourselves and live more pleasurable lives.
I have a Foundation Certificate in Hypnosis Course starting in Loughton, Essex on the 24th July 2014. And my colleagues and I regularly run courses in various parts of the UK, in Europe and all over the world on behalf of the Regression Academy who specialise in Hypnosis and Regression Training. The courses we run are simple, from the heart and highly effective life enhancing courses.
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