Hypnosis is a process of changing beliefs where both client and practitioner understand what is happening. Both know that the client’s mind has the power to create real and lasting change within the client’s body, and hypnosis is seen as a direct means of activating the mind’s power.
Guiding the client into a hypnotic state is itself based on suggestion and belief. If the client believes that staring at a bright light will cause him or her to go into hypnosis, it will. And if the client believes they can be ‘put under’ by staring deep into the hypnotist’s eyes, then it will happen exactly as they expect. Alternatively, if the client believes the hypnotist will fail, that belief also bears fruit.
A good hypnotist leverages natural responses in the induction process. By asking a client to focus on his or her breathing, the hypnotist can follow with a suggestion that the client will find themselves relaxing more and more. Since we normally relax anytime we focus on an internal process like breathing, the client subconsciously connects the response to the suggestion and gains a measure of belief in the hypnotist and the induction process.
Once the client has a solid belief in the hypnotist and the session itself, there are many techniques the hypnotist may use to access the subconscious mind directly, where most of our beliefs reside.
One such technique, which has gained a measure of popularity in recent years, is the use of the “ideomotor effect,” a muscular response to a subconscious thought. Traditionally, this effect has been used in such devices as the Ouija board, pendulum divination, and dowsing. Hypnotists use this same effect to produce phenomena such as hand levitation, catalepsy (muscle rigidity), and deep physical relaxation. They also use this effect for communicating with the client’s subconscious mind using unconscious movements such as eye blinks or finger twitches.
In it’s currently popular form, the ideomotor effect is used in “applied kinesiology,” a controversial practice involving muscle testing to communicate with a subject’s subconscious mind. Supposedly, a person’s muscles are weaker in the presence of harmful substances or thoughts and stronger when in the presence of more beneficial substances or thoughts. Most practitioners of applied kinesiology refute the claim that they are using hypnosis despite the obvious connection.
Whichever technique a hypnotist may use to help a client change his or her belief system, the process is generally one of direct communication with the client’s subconscious mind. Through the ideomotor effect and verbal response, the hypnotist is able to gain information about the client’s current beliefs, and may change those beliefs to more empowering ones with direct suggestion.
Some hypnotists are able to help their clients produce astounding cures, while other hypnotists use exactly the same procedures with the very same clients and fail miserably. The difference comes down to the client’s beliefs in the two hypnotists. These beliefs are usually the result of each hypnotist’s ability to match the client’s pre-existing expectations, and his or her ability to formulate suggestions that integrate well with the client’s other beliefs.
Hypnosis can be used to alter any belief you may have, and does so very directly. Some people are very comfortable with this directness, while others prefer to change their beliefs in a more playful manner.