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What is Hypnosis?
By Paul Gustafson RN, BSN, CH


Hypnosis is the Greek word for sleep chosen by scientist James Braid in 1840 to describe the very natural process of opening our subconscious minds for a period of time. During this relaxed moment we can do two things, remove old unhealthy or unwanted values and patterns and replace them with new healthy desirable ones. We all go in and out of trance many times a day. We call it day dreaming, staring or zoning out. Have you ever driven to the store and realized you remembered no details of the drive? You were in a hypnotic trance.

The subconscious mind is where we store all our beliefs, values and it controls our bodily functions. Our conscious mind is the critical factor. It judges, critiques, approves or disapproves of what gets stored in the subconscious mind. The conscious can send back unhelpful/unproductive values and beliefs for the subconscious to store. This bad information can become part of our repetition of life. Values like smoking, unhealthy eating, stress or performance anxiety.  It becomes part of who we are.  

Think of the subconscious as a greenhouse. Roses and poison ivy will both flourish in this fertile environment. With hypnosis you do the weeding, pruning and healthy reseeding to stay happy and strong.  

To make conscious level changes on issues that are programmed and repeated year after year on the subconscious level is like clipping the weeds off at ground level. With hypnosis you have the advantage of not only being able to pull them out by the root, but also by doing some direct deep seeding and rapid growing of new healthy replacements.

With hypnosis we relax, focus and close down the conscious mind allowing the subconscious to open. This can either be done by accepting our own silent self-direction, listening to a self-hypnosis audiotape or with assistance from a hypnotherapist. Once at the desired level of relaxation the subconscious is open for inventory. Once suggestions are planted reinforcing this process daily for about a month turns these concepts and images into your reality. What your mind can conceive your body can achieve.

I say desired level of relaxation because we don’t need deep trance to effect positive change. Are we in a deep hypnotic trance when our subconscious receives the instructions to accept smoking as a pattern for life? Not at all in fact advertising is based on the premise that messages get through to our subconscious minds by simply staring at a TV screen.  
A light hypnotic trance just like the one you sometimes experience while driving.

People try over and over to lose weight, stop smoking or become better golfers or public speakers at the conscious level. Their results are mostly limited and discouraging. Not only do you get the job done effectively with hypnosis but also it feels good. You feel rested, refreshed and recharged. There is a sense of focused, centered peace with people who have been hypnotized. With hypnosis there is no withdrawal, patches or gum, no sedation, medications, prescriptions, interactions, allergic reactions and once you know the technique, it’s free. What a deal.


Paul Gustafson RN, BSN, CH runs Healthy Hypnosis in Burlington Massachusetts. He has ten years of nursing experience and eight specializing in the field of hospice nursing. His medical background offers a solid foundation supporting his clinical approach to hypnotherapy.
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