The genuine technique known as ‘hypnosis’ is a dialogue with the self, initiated by a third party. The ‘third party’ can be a living person, or a recording, and involve audio, visual – or both – stimulation. What is important is that the body is taken from a state of everyday ‘alertness’ and placed into a safe and profound state of ‘muscular’ (and postural) ‘relaxation’ (usually achieved whilst lying down, although also often pursued in a comfortable sitting position). It is universally recognised that when the body is relaxed (and all unnecessary muscular tension released), the surface mind activity of endless thoughts and emotions will also reduce and allow the individual experiencing hypnosis to access the deeper conscious levels of their awareness. It is vitally important to ‘relax’, ‘calm’ and ‘still’ the surface mind, as this is the harbinger of all problematic thought patterns and behaviours initiated upon them. All activity can be brought to a halt on the physical plane simply by an act of will and voluntarily undergoing 15, 30 or 60 minutes of hypnosis therapy. Although hypnosis is initiated whilst the individual is awake, there are some audio programmes that last 8 hours and which are designed to assist in achieving a good and peaceful night’s sleep. This being the case, what is ‘hypnosis actually doing?
Of course, I am not discussing stage hypnotism – which by and large I consider to be a fraudulent profession – nor am I limiting the subject of hypnosis to otherwise very compelling black and white films which through a swing of watch, crystal or other equally unlikely object, an individual is rendered apparently ‘unconscious’ and yet still ‘awake’ whilst being unable to think ‘independently’ and open to manipulation by others. This ‘mystification’ of hypnosis, although entertaining, is unnecessary. Hypnosis is not required in society for the unscrupulous to exploit the vulnerable, that process continues unabated and more or less under its own steam. No – hypnosis is a form of self-imposed (and therefore ‘voluntary’) assisted meditation, which sees an individual enter a state of profound physical and psychological relaxation which allows access to an enhanced awareness. Once in this state of depth awareness, the patterns of psycho-physical conditioning can be seen objectively and therefore ‘changed’ or ‘altered’ from the personal perspective of the individual concerned.
Although Buddhist meditation is self-imposed, it is still learned from a Buddhist Sutra or a living teacher (with the objective of uprooting greed, hatred and delusion), but there are forms of ‘visualisation’ meditation within Buddhism that allows for a teacher to guide a student through verbal direction and the ‘imagining’ of various Buddhist-related iconology (such as the ‘healing’ Medicine Buddha) within the mind. Hypnosis, however, is a secular activity with no direct religious connections, despite an assumed historical connection to the ancient Greek god ‘Hypnos’ (i.e. ‘sleep’). This connection is spurious, however, as research shows that the term ‘hypnotism’ was first coined (in English) in 1843 – short for neuro-hypnotism (1842) – by Dr James Braid of Manchester, England, with Dr Braid having acquired this term from the French scientist Étienne Félix d’Henin de Cuvillers – who first used it in 1820. An interesting discrepancy is that in my experience, neither meditation nor hypnosis is ‘sleep’ in the general use (and experience) of the term, although it is easier (if intended) for the individual to slide into a sleep state from that of hypnotic induced depth awareness and relaxation. Hypnotic programmes can be found ‘free’ on the internet and involve a peaceful voice directing the individual to relax and focus their awareness toward (or away) from a particular subject, attribute or idea. In essence hypnosis appears to be a form of neural-linguistic programming which can have varying degrees of effectiveness depending upon individual circumstance and quality of hypnotic suggestion. As with everything, think for yourself, explore and develop your own opinions.