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VERNON, B.C. /Troy Media/ – Mind magic has the power to help you face serious problems.

We’ve all seen people consumed by anger, worry or stress – or been that person.

You don’t have to be a doctor or psychologist to recognize that people can think themselves into illness.

Of course, the opposite is also true – we can think ourselves into wellness.

A recent Globe and Mail article, Hypnosis, grounded in science, explored the validity of that notion.

As a practising hypnotist and hypnosis performer, I love chatting with people about their apprehensions and hopes when it comes to the effect of mind magic. Hypnosis is a great strategy for resolving conflicts of the mind. This doesn’t mean you problems disappear, just that often the challenges or symptoms can be alleviated by controlling the direction of your thoughts.

Where hypnotherapy is designed to help an individual address their conflict, hypnosis stage shows provide a great opportunity to demonstrate the incredible capacity of the human mind in a fun and interactive way.

When I trained as a hypnotist with a group of fellow law enforcement officers in 2003 and 2004, we evaluated whether hypnosis (or guided imagery, as we referred to it), could be used to improve the performance of new recruits on tactical and written exams. Could results be elevated by introducing this modality to their training regiment?

We decided to investigate the possibility within the pepper spray component of training. The outcomes were staggering. Those who performed the protocols without the benefit of hypnotic sessions needed up to 40 minutes to recover and reported feeling the most anxious of the test group. Those who had hypnotic sessions prior to the task found they could remain calmer and recovered in less than half the time.

How can that be?

It’s all about expectation.

When the mind doesn’t know what to expect, it can conjure all kinds of frightening scenarios to fill the unknown. Guided imagery, on the other hand, influences the thoughts in a more productive manner. It gives the mind the power to choose a different outcome. When this technique is combined with physical reminders (or anchors), the results can be truly magnificent.

Hypnotic or suggestive therapy has been used as a healing technique since the beginning of recorded history. References to it can be found in the Bible. It was of prime importance in ancient Greece’s sleep temples, which were places of pilgrimage and healing.

In the Middle Ages, belief in miraculous cures associated with religious shrines was widespread. Healing was brought about by touch and prayer.

During the 18th century, Franz Anton Mesmer argued that the planets influenced mankind through their magnetic effects on the fluid that occupied all space. He discovered he could induce people into a trance-like state and concluded that he must be a kind of magnet, hence the term animal magnetism. This idea was soon discredited by a French royal commission, which found that the magnetic fluids didn’t exist.

James Braid examined mesmerism in the 19th century and reached similar conclusions. He coined the term hypnosis for the induction of a trance-like state through simple suggestion.

In the early part of the 20th century, hypnosis was used almost exclusively by stage performers, creating a distorted view of a very powerful therapeutic tool.

However, in 1955 the British Medical Association endorsed hypnosis as part of medical school education. In 1958, it was recognized by the American Medical Association as a healing modality. Since then, hypnotism has become a valuable addition to conventional medical treatment and sport performance protocols.

So why are we still so apprehensive about it?

Hypnosis is something we all do almost daily. Think about the last time you watched a good movie that moved you to tears or frightened you out of your seat. When you daydream while driving and miss your turn, you’re being hypnotized by your thoughts. When you’re so involved in what you’re doing that you don’t notice being cut or bruised, you’re in a deep state of hypnosis.

So if you can dream, if you can follow simple instructions, if you have a willingness to experience joy, remain motivated and open to the possibilities, then you can be hypnotized.

And that means you have another tool to deal with issues that trouble you.

Faith Wood is a novelist and professional speaker who focuses on helping groups and individuals navigate conflict, shift perceptions and improve communications. 

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