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 Homeopathy: Demystifying Hypnosis 

Are you scared of hypnosis? Many people are, either for personal reasons or because of religious beliefs, most of which result from misconceptions about the process. Almost all of the people who fear hypnosis think they have never been hypnotized, or would not choose to be hypnotized if they were given the chance. In fact, however, most of us have experienced hypnosis many times, but we haven't known it. Have you ever stood in a supermarket checkout line, idly daydreaming, only to realize with a start that the person in front of you had already checked out their groceries, while you had checked out of normal awareness? Have you ever gazed into a flickering fire, remaining transfixed by the dancing flames, without thinking? Ever zoned out in a hot tub in a state of total relaxation, or missed your exit on the freeway while you were somewhere else? All of these experiences are states of natural hypnotic trance, and very few of us would be afraid of them. What scares people is the idea that someone could control them and alter their actions, beliefs or personality against their will. Stage hypnosis has contributed to this fear by causing people to bark like a dog, cluck like a chicken, or do something embarras- sing or outrageous in front of a lot of people. The truth is that no one can use hypnosis to cause you to do anything which you are fundamentally not in agreement with. If you bark like a dog, regress to age 5, or embarrass yourself it is because you are already open to that experience, want to have a good time and cooperate with the suggestions given to you by the hypnotist. Stage hypnotists only select those subjects who they have observed to be highly suggestible.

What is hypnosis? Hypnosis is a simple natural state of mind available to all of us as a wonderful tool for healing and personal growth. From our experience, it is an altered state of awareness, in which other aspects of the mind besides the conscious, thinking mind (which may be partially present or not present at all) can be accessed. Hypnosis involves an inward focus of attention, bodily relaxation, and a receptivity to ideas and suggestions which come either from one's own mind or the verbal instructions of the hypnotherapist. Various phenomenon are commonly reported by those who have experienced hypnotic trances. Almost everyone reports that they are very relaxed, often with a sense of heaviness or floating. Their breathing rate often slows down, facial muscles smooth out into a relaxed expression, and there are often small unconscious movements of muscles, or fluttering eyelids, indicating changes going on within the person. Many people report that they never felt so good as when they were in trance and they don't want to come out, but everyone does. If you did not come out of trance when you were instructed to do so, you would simply fall asleep and awaken naturally when you were ready.

How is hypnosis useful? Hypnotic suggestions can be likened to software for your mind. You can program in useful suggestions and beliefs about how you want to be, what you want to do and how you want to feel about yourself or anything else in your life. Hypnosis reaches your subconscious mind, the first level of mind below your conscious waking state, which often comes out naturally in memories, dreams, daydreams and the little voice in your head which reminds you of important and trivial details. This part of your mind has amazing abilities to remember the past, gather and utilize information from both normal and para- normal sources, feel emotional states, relieve pain, heal the body-mind, change habit patterns and program your future. The subconscious responds much like a small child. It is very literal, obedient, and accepts suggestions which are either stated directly or in the form of stories or metaphors. In hypnotherapy the subconscious mind is accessed easily and worked with to accomplish the goals of therapy. Deeper, or unconscious, levels of the mind may also be tapped in order to produce other hypnotic phenomena such as anesthesia for pain relief.

Hypnosis helps in understanding the root causes of illnesses which stem from traumatic events, emotions, beliefs, past lives, and physical imbalances. We have used hypnosis many times to understand inexplicable illnesses for which we or the patient can find no con- scious reasons. Often illness has a metaphorical basis, as in the patient who is experiencing a difficult situation as a literal "pain in the neck", or when a person who is feeling a lack of emotional support develops knee or lower back pain and weakness. One patient developed chest pain after the breakup of her marriage, which was her way of expressing her "broken heart". In hypnosis, she could express and relieve her grief which allowed the chest pain to go away.

One of the most important uses of hypnosis is to resolve and heal old traumatic incidents. This is based on the idea that it is the way we remember our past that affects us, not what actually happened. Through hypnosis you can go back in trance, remember memories that have been repressed and change your history, developing new abilities to deal with traumas, and resolve and express emotions which have been buried for years.

Changing habits. Hypnosis is very successful in working with people who want to stop smoking, lose weight or change unwanted habits, obsessions and compulsions. We work with the parts of the personality that are in charge of the behavior, and find them a different way to get their needs met through a more constructive or enjoyable behavior. It is possible to link the triggers for the habit in such a way as to elicit the new behavior instead. Sometimes, making the habit aversive to the patient works, or giving direct suggestions about doing something else which is incompatible with the habit, but desireable to do. Hypnosis can produce very long lasting results in changing habits if the correct methods are used for the individual client.

Hypnosis has so many wonderful and exciting applications that we can only begin to dis-cuss them here. We recommend that you experience it for yourself with a well-trained, expe-rienced hypnotherapist You can also learn self-hypnosis and experiment on your own. We are sure that you will be delighted with the changes in your life and your health, once you have gone beyond fear into the real experience of hypnosis.

Drs. Judyth Reichenberg-Ullman and Robert Ullman are naturopathic and homeopathic physicians and cofounders of the Northwest Center for Homeopathic Medicine in Edmonds, WA. They are coauthors of The Patient's Guide to Homeopathic Medicine and Beyond Ritalin: Homeopathic Treatment of ADD and Other Behavioral and Learning Problems. They can be reached at (206) 774-5599.

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 About The Author
Judyth Reichenberg-Ullman ND, MSWJudyth Reichenberg-Ullman, ND, DHANP, MSW is a licensed naturopathic physician board certified in homeopathic medicine. She graduated with a degree in ...more
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