Note: Henry Leo Bolduc was a brilliant, compassionate, hypnotherapist and teacher, who helped tens of thousands of people during his 40 plus years of service. He passed away July 2011. Here is an excerpt from one of his articles.
By Henry Leo Bolduc
A century ago, doctors and other practitioners mistakenly believed that hypnosis (then called Mesmerism from its founder, Dr. Mesmer) was external—influenced by someone or something outside the self. Misconceptions linger and perpetrate misunderstandings. Some people still are fearful because they believe that they are yielding control to another person. Such fear becomes a stumbling block to growth and fulfillment.
Hypnosis, a self-induced altered state of consciousness, is 100% safe and natural. It is a level of mind which most people attain quite easily. The focus of attention is experienced, unintentionally, by almost everybody. With time and practice, almost anybody can learn to use it, with intent, to improve any general area of daily life.
Hypnotists occasionally hear such comments as, “I tried hypnosis once but it didn’t work” and “Hypnosis doesn’t work for me.” Some people, a little more ready to accept it add, “What can I do differently?” Although many people wonder whether they can be hypnotized either by self or by another person, most people experience hypnosis without realizing it.
At first, for some people, do-it-yourself hypnosis is difficult. Learning self-hypnosis/hypnosis without assistance is similar to assembling the parts of a bicycle while trying to follow the printed instructions. Perhaps you have struggled with such a task and you are aware of how challenging it can be. Some people assemble a bicycle easily; others assemble it while reading, re-reading, and analyzing the instructions; others struggle awhile and then hand over the task to a teenager who, most likely, will do it easily; and another group of people will look at the multiple parts, recognize the complications and ramifications, and seek the help of a professional person.
Similar to learning self-hypnosis: some people get written materials and try to follow any outlined method. Some of those people follow a good technique well; others follow it poorly and then wonder why it is not working for them; others decide to have a personal session with a professional hypnotist; and others recognize the need to take a professional course.
Why is do-it-yourself hypnosis difficult for you? Here are some questions for you to consider.
1. Have you determined your preferred learning style? Each person responds and learns in a unique way. Although groups of people might have much in common, each person is a little different from everyone else. In general, there are three major types of learners: visual, auditory, and kinesthetic. In addition, there are various combinations of all three.
If you have strong visual skills, then, you tend to learn best by seeing. You can look at the diagram and visualize how the parts of the bicycle fit together. In self-hypnosis, creative visualization (imagination) is one of the primary building blocks in making changes in life. If you are a visual learner, then, you tend to imagine something before you begin to create it in the physical world; it is in your mind before it becomes a physical reality. When you imagine yourself as doing poorly, you do poorly; when you imagine yourself, realistically, as doing well, you do well. Constructive imagination is used extensively in hypnosis because it makes a powerful contribution to success. If you are a visual learner, you, probably, use such words as: imagine, look, see, visualize, and other words related to visual skills.
If you are an auditory learner, then, you tend to learn best by listening to information. You respond to the spoken word. You probably like music and you hear songs reverberating in your mind. Auditory learners do well in making their own cassette tapes or Cds for self-hypnosis sessions. Auditory learners, often, can repeat entire conversations and they can be wonderful storytellers.
If you are a kinesthetic learner, then, you tend to learn best by doing—by taking a physically (as well as a mentally) active role in learning. Perhaps some people have shown you pictures or have give you demonstrations and others have explained information to you; however, you learned much better when you started practicing the new learning immediately. You will do very well with self-hypnosis when you practice it. The emotion involved in the motion increases the learning. Kinesthetic learners often report movement or subtle vibrations in their bodies while they are experiencing self hypnosis.
2. Are your expectations realistic? Perhaps you are not quite sure about the process of the trance state. Some people have unwarranted expectations and misconceptions.
a. If you are a beginner, then, you might need to know how self-hypnosis (and hypnosis) works. Self-hypnosis requires you to give yourself permission to make the changes which you want. Self-hypnosis is not imposed from the outside (as in the administration of medication, for example), it is a skill which you develop from within yourself. Perhaps you assume that hypnosis is imposed by a hypnotist. No so. Many years ago, Dr. Milton H. Erickson showed that all hypnosis is self-hypnosis. At the unconscious level of your mind, even though not consciously, you must give consent; otherwise, it does not happen. Similar to eating food, it is something that you do; nobody can do it for you. Another person can set a comfortable environment but you have to do the work yourself.
In the early years of formal hypnosis, there was strong use of mystery and control. During the vaudeville era, there was an appearance of strong control by the hypnotist. Even then, the volunteers had to agree to become hypnotized and to be a part of the show. Nowadays, there is increased knowledge and understanding regarding how one enters an altered state of consciousness. Hypnosis has become demystified. In essence, in order to enter a state of hypnosis/self-hypnosis, the responsibility rests with you. You have to want it to the extent that you will do the work yourself and not look to someone or something external to do it for you. Another person (even through an MP3 or a CD) can set a comfortable atmosphere but you have to do the work. Remember: nobody else can do it for you; you do it yourself.
b. Perhaps you expect to be out-of-touch with your senses. Actually, the senses are more acute when you are in an altered state of consciousness (hypnosis) than when you are in the beta (usually called waking) state. Your focus on your presenting issue (goal) is so strong that, although you hear, smell, touch, and/or see everything in your immediate environment, you remain on task. Even a short while ago—and, perhaps, remnants still exist-people who reported hearing such sounds as traffic noises and the ringing of the telephones from nearby rooms believed that, because they were able to hear those sounds, they were not hypnotized.
3. Have you learned to experience first and to analyze later? Perhaps you believe that you have to analyze and to interpret each detail as it happens. Although it is possible to work in that way (alternating in and out of hypnosis), most people tend to get better results when they gather the experience(s) first and leave the analysis until after the trance (inner work) part of the session. First, gather the parts which have to be assembled. Even after gathering all of the parts, you still might need help with analyzing how they fit into a unified whole.
When you are immersed in the inner journey, you are using, primarily, the right hemisphere of your brain. When you are analyzing, you are using, mostly, the left hemisphere. The shift to the left hemisphere for analysis brings a break in creativity and memory, a break in the session. If you focus on questions and doubts, then, you might get stuck at the first portal and you might prevent yourself from entering into your inner realms and gaining a deeper experience.
At first, self-hypnosis might seem difficult to learn because you are trying to do two things at the same time. Asking yourself, “Am I hypnotized yet?” is similar to the comical question, “Are we there yet?” As long as the mind is focused upon analysis, you are neglecting the creativity and the accomplishment. Learn to appreciate the creativity and to wait until the next part of the session to examine the mileposts. Hypnosis is an inner journey–a journey within; experience the journey wholeheartedly. When you look for markers along the path, you tend to slow your progress because you are stopping to evaluate your gain. In most areas of life, periodic evaluations are mandatory. In the hypnosis session, the periodic evaluation comes at the end of the inner work and is processed at the conscious level for conscious awareness.
In the relaxed/trance state, although the analytical part of the mind is passive, the creative part is very active. Most people report that, in hypnosis, the mind is more clear and more aware than during everyday levels of activity. While joyfully experiencing the journey, the mind reaches higher levels of creativity and wisdom. Enjoy the experiences and study them later.
Hypnosis, which, in therapeutic situations, always is self-hypnosis, is recognized as one of the modern miracles. New applications are being developed and researched constantly. Classes and courses are being taught throughout the world. Hypnosis allows you to increase the use of your mind’s potential. It can help you to improve every area of human development, especially in expanding your awareness of new dimensions of genius and creativity. Although, over the years, it has been used, mainly, reactively for habit control, stress management, etc., its use has become extended to encourage creative development and spiritual healing with a focus upon building a better life and a better future for all.
Hypnosis is evolving as the premier profession dedicated to holistic healing—healing the whole person. Self-hypnosis or altered states of consciousness or extended consciousness can help you to heal your life at all levels—spiritual, emotional, mental, social, physical, and even financial. It can be used to help you to work with virtually any project. Hypnosis makes the work of self-improvement creative and enjoyable.
When you use extended consciousness wisely, you can expand your awareness of your capabilities, your stored potential. The human mind always will have a new frontier because the horizon recedes as we approach it—humanity constantly extends its vision. Knowledgeable, trained, experienced hypnotists can show you how they have learned to make better use of the mind but you cannot buy it from them; you have to develop it for yourself. . . and after you have assembled the bicycle properly, you will have a free, easy, and enthusiastic ride with perfect balance and a joy for living.