In hypnotherapy we are dealing with the deep mind, and a pretty strange and lawless place it can seem.
However, observation suggests there are some often surprising laws which seem to hold fast in this domain.
Some of these may seem controversial or counter intuitive, but they certainly make good food for thought and debate.
Let’s start by looking at a couple of the laws which underpin successful hypnotherapy.
The law of cause and effect – everything happens for a reason. Despite appearances, the world is not random, and everything happens for a reason, meaning that your actions have consequences.
Whatever your situation now, it is the result of past choice and events, and future states will be dependent on actions taken now.
This both burdens us with the weight of responsibility and liberates us from the sense of being mere pawns in someone else’s chess game. Call it karma if you will, but you have more power than you might think.
Then we have the law of physicality – every thought creates a measurable effect in the body.
This is obvious if we use extremes as examples – if you think about something which you find terrifying, deeply sad, or very arousing, there will be an immediate physical response.
But the same thing applies to all of the thoughts which lie somewhere between ecstatic pleasure and heart-pounding fear.
Thoughts leave marks, and as humans we are thinking all day long, usually with very little awareness. Cheerful, positive thinking will have a beneficial effect on the body compared to the tension created when we indulge in envious comparing or intricate revenge fantasies.
As with the previous law, this both empowers us and makes us face up to responsibility.
You are in the driver’s seat – are you going for a pleasure cruise or are you going to make the tyres squeal?
Hypnotherapy, yoga, meditation and other natural approaches can be powerful allies, and are on offer in Athens, Greece.
Can anyone be brought into a trance in hypnotherapy?
Well, if you really don't want to, you won't. A hypnotherapist can't make people do anything against their will.
But anyone who has fallen into a reverie while sitting in a traffic jam, been soothed by the sound of lapping waves, or lost themselves deep in some all-consuming task has, to some extent, experienced trance.
It appears to be a natural human ability, and one that a good hypnotherapist can utilise to bring about changes to thinking and behaviour.
For the definitive word on the matter, let us turn to the Elvis of hypnotherapists, the unconventional guru Milton Erickson: "Anyone who is human is going to get into trance ... experientially I have determined that all patients can go into a trance state - that anyone can.
"Now is it necessary to know that you are in a trance? No it isn't.
"How deep a trance is necessary? Any trance that is of sufficient level to let your unconscious mind take a look, a mental look at what's going on is sufficient.
"In those mental looks and understanding you learn a great deal more than you do by conscious effort.
"And you should use your mind at the unconscious level, even while you are using it at the conscious level."
Discover the benefits of trance with me in Athens, Greece.
Hypnotherapy deals with the sub-conscious, and those can be some murky waters to wade into.
There is lot of misinformation and exaggeration out there about the hypnotherapist’s art, with people often doubtful, fearful or fascinated.
Some are adamant that they could never be hypnotised at all (this is rare), while others simply don’t understand the mechanics by which healing work can be achieved.
Perhaps most central to the myths and rampant clichés is the image of the hypnotic induction.
The Hollywood version involves the swinging gold watch on a chain, used to lure the recipient into a zombie-like state, in which he can be duped into doing anything from biting into an onion to killing his dog.
Here at Best Self Therapy there is very limited use for raw onions or dead dogs, but states of heightened suggestibility are certainly useful, so is there anything to the watch swinging?
The answer is yes, but rarely. The whole point of induction is to help calm the chattering rational mind and let the right brain come to the fore.
Focusing the attention on one thing is a way to do this, be it eye fixation, an external sound or an internally repeated phrase.
Not everyone will achieve a deep level of receptivity with this technique however, and any hypnotherapist worthy of the name should be able to choose from at least four or five methods of induction. It would be a very small minority of hypnotherapists these days who rely on the old golden watch.
Another option would be a simple progressive relaxation, where each part of the body is addressed and given permission to “melt”.
Then there is the confusion method, whereby the therapist tries to overwhelm the conscious mind, burdening it with complex tasks or bemusing sentences until the gatekeeper is fully occupied and the door to the subconscious can be accessed.
Inductions can even be physical, as with the many street hypnotists to be seen on YouTube, combining an element of surprise and authorative hands-on direction of the client.
The key to all of this is “whatever works” One man’s meat is another man’s poison, and all that.
The induction is simply setting up the right conditions under which the actual therapy can be delivered, be it for smoking, weight loss, depression or whatever else happens to be presented.
What goes on deep down in the sub-conscious will always be something of a mystery, but a good induction should help deliver you deep into those murky waters, far below the froth and noise of the conscious mind.
•I'm here in Athens Greece to assist in just such explorations. Do say hi.
“Giving up smoking is easy – I know because I’ve done it dozens of times.”
Yes Mark Twain, many a true word is indeed said in jest.
Can there be a more useless, bemusing addiction than smoking? Food issues are something that naturally arise for almost everyone in some form at some time. Technology is ever-present and often essential. Sex and shopping are time honoured techniques for taking the worried mind off matters at hand. Many drugs will simply annihilate the status quo and leave the partaker in a state of dopey bliss or hyper alertness.
But these cigarettes…
The first time you tried the body was aghast. Tobacco smelled disgusting, it was presented in a box covered in images of black lungs, and nowadays it is less likely to evoke James Dean than pensioners standing outside a bingo hall. But puff you did, much to the shock of your body, which would have been immediately aware of constricted blood vessels, raised blood pressure, and a suddenly soaring likelihood of cancer, heart disease, and people trying to subtly avoid smelling your breath as you speak to them.
Naturally the body thought that this must be an aberration, an ill-conceived experiment to be abandoned in favour of fresh air and the ability to taste your food. But no…
For better or worse, we are not creatures of logic and rationality – otherwise the world would be a much more orderly and predictable place.
Kicking cigarettes (or indeed cigars, pipes or chewing tobacco, if that is still a thing) is no easy matter, which is why hypnotherapy can be such a blessing.
There is no one approach that can be blanketed over every smoker and every situation. Rather, a good hypnotherapist will want to know about the triggers, the places, people and situations that tend to have you reaching for the lighter.
Then, after guiding you into a state of deep relaxation where the chattering logical mind is settled down, there is the chance to uproot some of the old sub-conscious programming – the behavioural grooves that have been etched in to the mind by months or years of repetition.
What has been done can be undone, and a hypnotherapy session may take you back to the past, to reduce anxiety around an event or to remind the body of how good it can feel without the use of tobacco.
The negative aspects of inhaling such a toxic substance can be greatly emphasised and magnified, making the prospect of lighting up vastly less attractive.
The client’s own fear of the consequences can be brought to the surface, rather than suppressed, and when this fear is acknowledged it can be a powerful fuel for change.
Positive intentions can also be utilised, and these will be generated by each client, depending on their lifestyle and priorities – the job of the hypnotherapist is simply to uncover these and put them to good use.
There is much that can be used in the hypnotherapy toolbox, and as a trained kundalini yoga and meditation teacher I can also bring in some postures and meditations that will aid the process, if that is something the client wants to explore.
So don’t remain a slave to this nasty addiction any longer – get in touch with me and stub it out for good. After all, quitting smoking is easy – just ask a certain writer.
•Best Self Therapy offers Hypnotherapy, counselling and kundalini yoga meditation in Athens, Greece.