How Does Hypnosis Work?

When I was younger, I heard some expert say that the average person uses less than 10 percent of the mind’s capacity. I used to wonder, “What is the other 90 percent doing?” Hypnosis is a method of focusing the attention in such a way to harness, utilize and direct that other 90 percent of the mind.

To quote one of my early hypnosis teachers, Dan Cleary CH, “Hypnosis is a method by which we can alter our state of awareness, allowing us to focus on issues of our choosing. Hypnosis is a tool which we can utilize to enhance or enable whatever we set our minds to accomplish…. In the hypnotic state we can access the subconscious mind to implement, at the most effective level, the changes we desire.”

For example, an athlete in the “zone” is able to focus his attention on the game at hand to the exclusion of everything else.  For a moment, the world fades away and only the ball and the hoop exist.

Another example of naturally occurring hypnosis, or focused attention, is daydreaming.  I am not sure if you have ever been in a really boring class or a meeting that just seemed to last for-ev-er.    Perhaps you started to daydream.  Suddenly, your attention became so focused on your inner world that things started to disappear in the outer world.  Before long, you were sitting on the beach in Hawaii or hiking a favorite mountain trail.  Maybe you were so completely engrossed in your daydream, focusing all of your attention on your inside world, that when someone asked you a question, you realized that you had no idea what was actually going on in the outside world.

Or maybe you have been reading a novel and found that you become so engrossed in the book that everything else fades into the background.  All of these experiences are examples of the focused attention that is characteristic of the hypnotic state.

William Wood


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