The mere mention of the word “hypnosis” is enough to elicit eye rolls and endless jokes about being put under the spell of a charlatan dangling a pocket watch. But if you separate clinical hypnosis from the theatrical spectacle that is “stage hypnotism”, you’ll find reams of scientific studies that confirm its ability to treat everything from pain and anxiety to insomnia and addiction issues.
Still, we know there’s a lot of skepticism surrounding hypnotherapy, or treatment by means of hypnotism. So we turned to Christine Deschemin, a master hypnotist and founder of Renewed Edge hypnotherapy centre in Hong Kong, to find out more about how it works and why you should try it.
It’s like meditation, only more advanced
If you consider the millions of books, apps, websites and YouTube videos on the topic, it seems everyone is talking about meditation and its incredible mental and physical benefits. But what if it could do more? “When you think about meditation, it’s about calming the mind and expressing gratefulness,” says Deschemin, who’s certified by the National Guild of Hypnotists in the US and holds an MBA from Harvard Business School. “Hypnosis gets you to the same relaxed state, but it’s like meditation with a goal. It’s actually more advanced.”
Deschemin points to hypnotherapy’s ability to treat complicated conditions such as IBS, skin problems and performance anxiety, calling it “the Rolls-Royce of mental health aids”. Whereas meditation can certainly help reduce stress and increase positive feelings, hypnotherapy works to create real change on a subconscious level.
It takes away the struggle of kicking bad habits
How many times have you tried to lose weight or quit smoking, only to give up and go straight back to your old ways? “What happens is that most eating is emotional; it’s related to the subconscious mind,” Deschemin says. “Diets don’t work. What works is dealing with the irrationality of eating too much.
“People have to understand we’re not rational. We think we’re coming to decisions rationally but they’ve already been filtered by society, your teachers, your parents, your siblings, your neighbours—they’ve all programmed you to think and act in a particular way.”
By working on this deeper level, hypnosis can erase negative programming without you having to struggle at it. “It’s about learning to unlearn,” Deschemin says. “As far as I’m concerned, I haven’t found any other method to do that.”
It sets up your brain and body for success
Even if you don’t have any bad habits to break, hypnosis can serve as a powerful self-care tool. “Everyone thinks about exercise for the body, but no one thinks about helping the brain work differently,” Deschemin says. “Hypnosis is like yoga for the mind.”
By shifting the way the brain works, not only can you be more creative and seize more opportunities but you can also help the body work as it’s intended. Studies have shown hypnosis’s ability to improve immune function and accelerate bone growth, among other physical benefits. “It’s about realisation, reinvention,” Deschemin says. “And that’s pretty compelling.”
You can do it yourself
In simplest terms, hypnosis is a state of focused awareness. “Self-hypnosis is the ability we have to go into that relaxed state of focused awareness,” Deschemin explains. “You actually go into that state many times a day, like when you’re engrossed in a book or you’re watching a long movie and it feels really short.”
So why not use that ability to your advantage? Deschemin has created the UpNow self-hypnosis app to allow anyone to enjoy the benefits of self-hypnosis from the comfort of home. Most recordings are around 25 minutes long and cover topics such as sleep, pain, stress management and personal development.
Deschemin advises listening to a single audio for 30 consecutive days, but other than that it’s simple: put on your headphones, relax (sitting or reclining in any way you choose) and listen. She created the app partly in response to the stigma around mental health in Asia and a lack of access, but it’s particularly apt for anyone staying home and struggling to come to terms with the coronavirus pandemic.
At the very least, it will leave you super relaxed
If you choose to do a session with Deschemin or another hypnotherapist, you’ll begin by establishing what it is you hope to achieve. In Deschemin’s case, this is an extremely important part of the process, in which she helps clients to detail all the benefits they can hope to gain from the change in condition or behaviour.
Once you lie down (on a comfortable lounge), Deschemin puts on some background music and starts talking. “There’s a process,” she says. “You have the induction, where you help them relax. We might focus on the breath, for instance. Then we have the deepening stage and then the suggestion stage.”
The process can take upwards of 45 minutes but, trust us, it will feel like a lot less. At the end of our session, we felt incredibly rested (but not as if we’d been asleep) and our thoughts clearer and more settled. To embed what had been said during the session, Deschemin gave us a recording of the background music to listen to for a month. Since then, we’ve been listening to it every night before falling asleep and can already sense a significant shift in our mindset. Our verdict? You shouldn’t be scared to try hypnotherapy. Once you do, you’ll probably wonder why you didn’t try it sooner.