1. An artificially induced altered state of consciousness, characterized by heightened suggestibility and receptivity to direction.
3. A sleeplike condition.
I know the image you have in your head: you’re visualising a guy with a swinging pendulum who looks like the count from Sesame Street. He’s standing in front of me and he’s magically making me bite into an onion as if it’s an apple. He clicks his fingers and then I’m a dog with a bone. He claps and then I instantly snap out of it, on all fours and looking baffled and vulnerable on the floor. Shane St. James right? Yeah, I know what hypnosis is.
Well, not so much.
In fact, the session was conducted by a new friend of mine who I met through work. She is a busy woman. She works full time in a completely unrelated field, lives in a restored warehouse with her husband, paints the most magic canvasses and has two black cats; one which likes me (the boy) and one which is completely apathetic towards me (the girl). Over a coffee one day, she offered to do a healing & hypnosis session for me. Fascinated with the whole concept of hypnosis, I gratefully agreed.
The term hypnosis comes from the name of Hypnos which is derived from Greek mythology. In ancient times, Hypnos was the personification of sleep and resided in the underworld.
“So what exactly will happen here?” I asked before we went into her healing ‘cave’.
“Well, you know that feeling you get, just before you wake up or just before you go to sleep? That floating feeling where you are neither asleep nor awake? That is where I will take you. When you are there, I will ask your subconscious questions”.
In no way am I a skeptic, but I have to admit that the whole notion of someone else being able to get me to that meditative state kind of seemed unlikely. This is because my mind is rarely ‘quiet’. It’s messy like confetti and is layered with thoughts and ideas. Even when I try to go to sleep at night I can barely turn it off. But nonetheless, I bought an open mind with me and was hugely intrigued to see where our first session would go.
First off, she did an energy clearing of my body from head to toe. I could feel the heat from her hands as they hovered centimeters above my body. She hit the nail on the head with two particular ailments that are recurring. It was a good start. Then, after about twenty minutes, the hypnosis began. The lamp went off and the music was muted. I was asked to close my eyes to begin.
The strangest thing of all was how relaxed I felt with her leading the hypnosis. I wasn’t at all tense or uncomfortable. I closed my eyes and all I had to focus on was her voice and where it was taking me. Theory states that hypnosis is heavily based on suggestion. I guess everyone has differing experiences, as no two minds are alike. And the experience I had was this: She made me go on a mental adventure. She asked me to create certain images and environments in my head. She asked me to make it as detailed as possible. The imagery was so intense that I could hear both her voice and what I was seeing in my minds eye. With each twist and turn of the mental journey, I gradually became stupidly relaxed and seemingly weightless. The outside world melted away with each word she spoke. Even her voice changed into a deep and melodic flow of words. Every now and then my mind would wonder away to things that were happening in my day to day. But as if intuitively knowing, she would whip me back to where I was supposed to be by introducing a new image or a sound or a feeling for my mind to create.
Being in that state of stillness is incredibly calming. It made me realise how loud my mind is in its regular state. It made me more aware of the constant streams of dialogue happening inside my head. But most significantly, it introduced me to the idea that this heightened state of internal quiet actually exists within me. And if I can get myself down to that state every now and then, I am able to disconnect from all the noise of the outside world and just be in amongst the peace for a bit.
She also introduced me to the idea that within each of us is something called an ‘internal advisor’. It can be anything or anyone. It has always existed and will always exist within you, regardless. I got to meet mine. I had trepidation in doing so as I had the sneaking suspicion that it would either be Queen Latifah or Al Bundy. Thankfully, it was neither. Turns out my internal advisor is a huge but friendly dragon with luscious red scales. Not kidding. I was given some time to hang out with this creature and I was then directed to ask it a question.
In the silence which was my mind, I heard a voice inside my head ask “So big guy, what’s next?”….
The answer has yet to arrive, but I have a dragon-shaped inkling that it’s just around the corner.
"… whenever in his imagination a man sees delights, straightaway the vision, slipping through his arms, is gone, winging its flight along the paths of Sleep." (Argive Elders. Aeschylus, Agamemnon 420).