Hypnosis: Hype or Heavenly?

By Krista Elliott

When you think of hypnosis, you might think of stage shows where people are pulled out of the crowd, put into a trance, and made to strut around and cluck like chickens, or do any number of embarrassing things. I went to such a show during my first year of university, and was drawn from the crowd. I remember starting to feel a bit drowsy, but that was as far as it went. And when he asked us to dance around like chickens? Well, I went along with it, not wanting to be the only one who wasn’t doing it. I sometimes wonder now how many of the others were faking it as well, and grin ruefully, imagining that the hypnotist is well aware of this type of thing happening and in fact, relied upon it.

Hypnosis, however, has come a long way from its stage-show days. Many people are turning to it as a way to quit smoking, lose weight, enhance their focus, and more.

What is Hypnosis Like?

Last month, I decided to download a weight loss hypnosis app, to try it out. There was definitely no “You are getting verrrrryyyy sleeeeeeeppppyyy”, but there was plenty of calm, soothing instruction on relaxing every muscle in my body and taking slow but deep breaths. Did I conk out? No. But you know that feeling when you’re almost asleep? When outside sounds take on a muffled quality and your thoughts drift and travel to illogical places? That’s what it felt like, and the soothing British lady’s voice was easy to focus on as she told me that I would only eat if actually hungry, that I would choose healthy foods, and stop when satisfied, instead of full to the point of pain.

Does hypnosis have clinical proof behind it? Not yet. Some studies have shown a possible benefit, while others have shown none. A quarter of the population is not able to be hypnotized, and effectiveness varies from person to person, which can present problems if study samples are small.

And as for me? Well, I’ve found it to be pretty amazing. Just being more conscious of those small decisions (like stopping when just satisfied, cutting out junk, and not being concerned about cleaning my plate) has made a major difference in my eating habits, to the tune of 14 pounds lost. But that’s me. Like they say, your mileage may vary. If nothing else, however, hypnosis is a great way to relax, take some time for yourself, and gain awareness of where you’re holding tension.

And if you feel like dancing around like a chicken afterward, then that can be kept between us.