Does Hypnotherapy Work?
Imagine you’re seated in a big, deep, velvet-upholstered antique purple armchair. You look out the window across the street where the wind is blowing in gusts, whipping dead leaves around the parked cars, shaking store signs and rocking the streetlights high on their poles. You sit back in the chair and lift your feet to make yourself comfortable. Your eyelids grow heavy and your body slumps into the chair, eyes wide open, gazing into nowhere as you hear the gong: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5.
Your subconscious takes over and suddenly you’re in a tropical paradise, basking in the sunshine, lying on your stomach in a teeny-weeny yellow polka dot bikini on a white sandy beach. You’re relaxed, filled with happiness and peace. A soft lilting voice penetrates the trance-like state you’re in, “Anoop, your mind is at peace like a lake with no ripples. Feel the warmth of your bed cocoon you into a restful state of mind.”
For the next twenty minutes, you hear the same soothing voice repeating the message over and over again: “Every limb and fiber of your body is relaxed so that you are easily able to drift into sleep effortlessly and easily, anytime you wish. Your entire body is winding down, winding down, drifting deeper and deeper into total relaxation. You will sleep continuously throughout the night, undisturbed, and wake up only in the morning, after your body has rejuvenated itself.”
At some point, you fall asleep, a deep, dreamless sleep. You wake up only to the sound of the gong: 1,2, 3, 4, 5 and a strident voice saying, “Wake up now.” After days of sleeplessness and hours spent tossing and turning, twisting in bedclothes that feel dreadfully hot, you finally feel rested, awake and alert.
Welcome to the power of hypnotherapy!
In recent years, hypnosis has become an accepted medical therapy to treat a variety of conditions, including weight loss, stress reduction, quit smoking, self-esteem issues, insomnia, pain control and anxiety attacks. Hypnotherapy or hypnotic suggestion is the act of guiding someone into a trance state. Different experts define the trance state differently, but they almost always refer to:
A deep state of relaxation.
Hyperfocus and concentration.
Why is it effective? “All your beliefs about yourself and how your life ‘ought’ to be are stored in your subconscious. To change your life on any long-term or permanent basis, the subconscious has to be reprogrammed, making your beliefs more positive and life-affirming. Then outward change becomes almost effortless—no longer based on mere willpower, which is from the conscious mind, “ says Arlene Thompson, clinical hypnotherapist, in her marketing brochure, titled ‘Be All You Can Be.’
I have struggled with insomnia for years; I have invested hundreds of dollars in sleep aids, including prescription and non-prescription drugs, sound machines, noise-canceling headphones, but nothing worked so I decided to try hypnotherapy instead. For the first fifty minutes of my two hour session, the therapist and I talked about my goals, my anxieties and my sleep difficulties. Then, came the hypnosis part. Being under felt like being in a very relaxed state, but I was still completely conscious.
“The idea that hypnotists can take over the minds of their subjects and control their actions is, an entirely media-driven myth. In the trance state, you control all of your actions, you can hear everything around you, and you cannot be forced to do something against your will,” writes certified hypnotherapist Cassie Salewske.
My session ended with my therapist giving me a recording of the hypnosis portion to listen to when I’m at home. (PM if you want my therapist’s contact number)
The results? It’s been a week, and I’ve seen mixed results. Some nights I do fall asleep to my therapist’s recording and enjoy undisturbed slumber for 7-8 hours. Other nights, I still struggle with insomnia inspite of listening again and again to my personal sleep recording. However, I continue to believe that we can harness the power of suggestion for therapeutic purposes.
Onwards to sleep-filled nights and sunnier days!