Against the backdrop of a laughing audience and a darkened room, Trevor Smith breaks into an enthusiastic onstage dance step every time Tom Jones belts out a few lines from "It's Not Unusual " over the pub speakers.
Trevor isn't an entertainer; he's one of the thousands of people who are hypnotized every year as part of a stage show. No one denies that a good hypnosis act is fun, but can the benefits of hypnosis roll out to other, more important aspects of our life?
From the grapefruit diet to the brown rice diet to the Atkins diet, people have bounced from one extreme method of weight loss to the next, frequently left with the after-effects of dieting: grumpiness and an almost irresistible urge to gnaw off your spouse's arm.
Hypnosis works by addressing your weight issues on a subconscious level, changing the way you see and think about yourself, and about the way you think about the food you're eating.
What is hypnosis?
Contrary to the implications in the stage show version of hypnosis, there's no magic involved. In fact, you're in a hypnotic state frequently in everyday life. Picture this: you're out shopping with a friend and you see a piece of furniture you like. You begin to picture what it would look like in your living room (and what your spouse would say if you bought it) and you become so lost in the daydream that you're startled when you realize your friend is talking to you.
You've experienced the first level of hypnosis; you left the upper level of analytical, conscious, active thinking and were open to suggestion.
How does hypnosis work?
Think of the brain in three distinct parts -- the conscious mind, the ego mind (which holds our beliefs) and our subconscious mind. "If someone thinks they aren't good enough, it doesn't matter how much they're told otherwise, the mind defaults to the ego mind and the belief that they aren't good enough," explains Jennifer Burgess, Clinical Hypnotherapist at Calgary-based Full Circle Hypnosis Ltd. "In hypnosis, we go to the subconscious mind to set up a new belief system."
Hypnotists who work in weight loss couple suggestions to eat smaller portions of healthy food with suggestions of boosted self-confidence and self esteem. In many diet programs the "feeling good" aspect happens after one looks good; in hypnotherapy the subject is encouraged to feel good about herself, with successful weight loss as a companion to those good feelings.
Will hypnotherapy make you embarrass yourself?
"You never lose your ability to be selective (during hypnosis)," says Nicoli. "So if you were to receive a suggestion that was against your morality or ethics, you just wouldn't respond."
Are there ways to set yourself up to be more successful in hypnosis-driven weight loss?
Hypnotists differ in their recommendation of how long to continue for maximum benefit and, of course, clients differ in their needs. Nicoli recommends 21 days of listening to his CDs; Burgess runs (generally speaking) six sessions after which a client may or may not return to "freshen up."
How can you get the most bang for your hypnotic buck?
Be open to the experience and relax.
According to Nicoli, three subgroups of the population are difficult to hypnotize: those with an IQ below 70, someone who is intoxicated and someone who just doesn't want to be hypnotized.
How can you find a qualified hypnotist?
Referrals and reputations are part of the equation to find a good hypnotist, but trust your gut on this one! Are you personally comfortable with your choice?
• What are your qualifications?
• Do you teach self-hypnosis?
• How much will it cost?
• Do you have references?
• How many sessions will be needed?
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