What is Hypnosis?
The term “hypnosis” comes from the Greek word hypnos, meaning “sleep.” Hypnotherapists use exercises that bring about deep relaxation and an altered state of consciousness, also known as a trance. A person in a deeply focused state is unusually responsive to an idea or image, but this does not mean that a hypnotist can control the person’s mind and free will. On the contrary, hypnosis can actually teach people how to master their own states of awareness. By doing so they can affect their own bodily functions and psychological responses.
People respond to hypnosis in different ways. Some describe their experience as an altered state of consciousness. Others describe hypnosis as a normal state of focused attention, in which they feel very calm and relaxed. They typically remain aware of who and where they are and what transpired during hypnosis and do not lose control over their behaviour.
During hypnosis, your body relaxes and your thoughts become more focused. Like other relaxation techniques, hypnosis lowers blood pressure and heart rate, and changes certain types of brain wave activity. In this relaxed state, you will feel at ease physically yet fully awake mentally and may be highly responsive to suggestion.
Hypnosis makes it easier for people to experience suggestions, but it does not force them to have these experiences, so control remains fully with you.
All this can be summarised as:
- A heightened state of focused attention…
- …where you feel very calm and relaxed…
- …and where your unconscious mind will absorb positive suggestions or images to promote the achievement of your goals…
- …whilst remaining in control of your behaviour and consciousness during hypnosis
When something happens to us, we remember it and learn a particular behaviour in response to what happened. Each time something similar happens, our physical and emotional reactions attached to the memory are repeated. In some cases these reactions are unhealthy. In some forms of hypnotherapy, a trained therapist guides you to remember the event that led to the first reaction, separate the memory from the learned behaviour, and replace unhealthy behaviours with new, healthier ones.
Whilst hypnotherapy is used in treatment for psychological problems such as anxiety, phobias and habit stopping (such as smoking cessation), the same principles apply to the enhancement of sports performance, hence the growth in popularity of sports hypnosis, both at the elite level and for general amateurs at all levels.