Hypnosis, Meditation, and the Influence of Conscious Awarness on Pain and Suffering
How We Perceive Pain and Suffering Can Be Altered
What has been known in modern times as "hypnosis" is an understanding of conscious and subconscious skills that were also known and used by many traditional and historical cultures to both medical and spiritual ends. Many of the meditational techniques of Chinese, Japanese and Tibetan spiritual traditions,as well as those found in Sufi and West African Ifa medical practices, are exactly similar to those used by modern hypnotherapists.
For some people, the thought of using hypnosis to address problems of pain and suffering seems exotic and unfamiliar. Incorrect respresentations of hypnosis in popular culture, fiction, movies and televison has created many false and incorrect impressions of this very valuable ability which almost everyone possesses. With few exceptions, almost everone has experienced states of conciousness exactly similar to what hypnotherapists recognize as trance states. In fact, these altered states of consciousness are commonly experienced, if mostly unnoticed and often poorly understood.
If you have ever daydreamed, or been "lost in thought", or have become absorbed in a musical performance,book, movie or television show to the point that you have become less aware of the people or physical enviroment that surrounds you, you have experienced a "trance". Although there are a lot of mistaken associations with the word "trance" in our society, the most appropriate perspective is to recognize that our level of attention and consciousness varies along a large spectrum every day, and the ability to move seamlessly into an appropriate state of consciousness for the task at hand is a valuable asset.
Achieving hypnotic abilities are closely associated with the ability to imagine and with creativity. The contribution of these skills in the areas of art, music, invention, literature, cooking, agriculture, all branches of science and,in fact, every area of human endeavor is impossible to quantify.
Pain is both a sensation and an emotional response to that sensation. Although the sensation of pain can be classified along axes of sharp, aching, burning, itching, and tickling, the emotional aspects of pain, as well as painful emotions, are much less easy to categorize.
These latter aspects of suffering are in general more completely addressed by traditional Oriental medicine and its long tradition of meditational study of emotional imbalances. In fact, the Tibetan system of than by modern psychiatry, whose focus is centered in pharmacotherapy. Meditational or hypnotic techniques can readily be adapted to address these emotional sources of suffering, even more so when they allow the sufferer to examine other aspects of their habitual response.
Most people can learn self hypnosis in just the same way that most can learn the basis for meditation. Both can be seen as a form of biofeedback without the need for any machines. With practice, the patient learns more about how both their habitual perception and responses can be directed away from those which increase pain and suffering, and towards those which reduce pain and suffering. In that sense, there is really no difference between the objectives of traditional medical hypnosis and all of the spiritual and non spiritual forms of meditation that I have studied.
Like any skill, some people are going to make quicker progress as a result of natural ability; discipline and determination, or both.
All Hypnosis is Self Hypnosis
Because all hypnotic phenomena are perfectly natural aspects of a normally functioning central nervous system, almost everone is already very familiar with the experiences which are utilized in trance work. At first, it is easier to explore this with an experinenced practitioner. With some subjects, an ongoing relationship with one or more participants in sessions provides better progress than when the subject works alone. In some cases or with some problems, solitary self hypnosis is a more useful tool.
For more information about hypnotic or meditational training, please call our office.