While you are in trance your unconscious mind takes over, so you react to stimuli but do not consciously evaluate them. Much of your daily behavior is unconscious. When you are driving and you see a traffic sign you do not start to consider who designed it, or how it got there - you just obey it. You can easily obey the traffic sign while thinking about something else.

In the unconscious state the mind becomes responsive to suggestion. In hypnosis, under the guidance of a professional hypnotist, you can do things you cannot do in normal circumstances. For example, under hypnosis you can alter your heart rate, reduce your blood pressure, make one hand warmer than the other, recall long forgotten events, ignore pain, and perform many other body functions that are normally not within conscious control.

The theory is that because your mind is automatically and unconsciously processing the hypnotic suggestions and the normal process of critical evaluation is absent, it seems to your mind as if the suggestions originate from inside your own subconscious, rather than from outside. Your mind will therefore accept the suggestions as rightfully belonging there and will combine the new suggestions with existing knowledge about itself.

However, your unconscious mind will not accept just any suggestion. The primary function of the unconscious mind is to keep you safe. Anything which goes against your basic values or which might harm you is disregarded. If hypnotists could get people to do anything they wanted, then I could just go to the nearest bank and get the manager to give me money. It just doesn't happen.

Your subconscious regulates all your bodily functions like taste and smell, and your emotions. In hypnosis the subconscious is highly responsive to suggestion and so the hypnotist can suggest that you can taste lemonjuice, or smell oranges and the subconscious will generate the appropriate responses. You really do taste the lemons, or smell the oranges. Your mind cannot tell the difference between something vividly imagined and the real thing.

This is why the hypnotist can suggest that events in the past mean something different, or are no longer important or are fading away, and the subconscious mind will incorporate these suggestions into a new way of reacting to these things. Similarly, the hypnotist can guide you to imagining a future where you can do whatever it is you find hard to do right now. In hypnosis your powers of imagination are enhanced and the vivid images you create are accepted by your unconscious mind as being real and true. When you are guided to imagining yourself doing something or experiencing something, then the mind cannot tell the difference between that and what really happened, so it will incorporate all the things around that experience into itself. This means that if you imagine yourself speaking confidently to an audience then your mind will believe that you have done it and the feelings of confidence generated by that imagined event will replace any old feelings of fear and inadequacy.

How Safe Is Hypnosis?

Hypnosis is natural and safe. No one has ever been harmed by going into a hypnotic trance. While you are in trance you are aware of everything that is going on, you are not unconscious.

No one can be persuaded to do anything that conflicts with their own safety or their own moral values. If you are asked to do something you are not comfortable with you immediately pop out of trance and back to normal awareness. There is nothing in your own mind that can harm you, and modern hypnotherapy does not go back to old hurts and open them up again. Hypnosis is gentle and enjoyable, and most people regularly go into hypnosis as soon as they have learned how.

What If I Don't Wake Up?

That cannot happen. No one has ever got 'stuck' in hypnosis. It just isn't possible. Hypnosis is a natural state that you go into every day, your mind knows how to deal with it. Even if the hypnotist somehow went away and left you alone, your subconscious is still working to protect you. If there was any sudden alarm you would waken to full alertness instantly. For as long your mind is busy with whatever the hypnotist suggested, you will remain in trance, but when you finish you would gradually become aware of your surroundings and you would waken naturally, as if from a gentle snooze. When you leave the session you will be bright and alert and totally out of trance.

How Long Does Hypnosis Last?

Hypnosis not only works faster than most other therapies, once the change is made, it is permanent. Once you realize that there is no Santa Claus, you can never believe it again. It is simply impossible to go back to the old belief. It is the same with hypnosis. And a good hypnotherapist will leave suggestions that will empower your mind to keep on making the changes you want long into the future. Even after you

have left the appointment your mind will still be working in the new way. It is like teaching you how to cook instead of selling you a sandwich.