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8 Things I Learnt From Being Hypnotised

By someone other than Biggie. Because apparently, it is possible.

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1. Hypnotherapy feels weird. Like, indescribably weird.

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At the start of our one-hour session, hypnotherapist Georgia Foster sits near my feet, talking to me in the kind of voice everyone would assume a hypnotist to use - calm but firm.

I am lying on the floor in one of our meeting rooms, after being given the choice between the carpet and the table. Apparently, you need to be horizontal to be hypnotized and preferably rugged up, as your body tends to drop a few degrees in temperature once it's all happening.

After a few minutes, she tells me she's going to stop speaking to me and start speaking to my inner critic. This is when things get... interesting.

Georgia moves closer to my head and begins to speak. As soon as she does, I lose feeling in my legs - as she told me I would. They become so heavy I wonder for a moment if I could move them if I wanted.

As she starts to speak to my inner critic, I picture what I must look like right now, as my eyeballs roll from side-to-side behind my extremely heavy eyelids. As she continues to tell my inner critic that it isn't welcome in my mind anymore, I remember stories I wrote in high school and favourite passages from books I read years ago, while visualizing a dark shadow in my mind shrinking and shrinking.

It sounds intense. And it was.

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2. Hypnotherapy can be used to treat depression, addiction, irrational fears and other stuff.

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One of the first things I asked Georgia as I sat with her before our session began was why most people seek her out.

"Hypnotherapy is therapy-based science," she explained, pointing out that there's a big difference between the work she - a qualified psychologist - does and the work of stage hypnotists that embarrass people on stages in Vegas. Good to know.

Georgia went on to tell me that she specialises in alcohol abuse, but her patients can have everything from intense anxiety to trouble finding love. After reading about the types of programs and sessions Georgia runs, I asked to have a "treatment", which would help fix writer's block - or, in my case, see what she could do to rebuild my confidence after an old boss pretty much crushed it flat. (Thanks! And hi!)

3. Each day, we all fall into a state of hypnosis. Unsurprisingly, one of these times is just before we fall asleep.

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"The thing about hypnosis is that it's a natural state of mind," Georgia explained. "In order for you to go to sleep at night, you need to go into a hypnotic state. It's a half-awake, half-asleep experience. Actually, they say we go into hypnosis about every seven minutes. It's a natural phenomenon." I nodded and recalled my daily bus trip, which I can scarcely ever remember.

Having practiced meditation, I was surprised when Georgia said it didn't matter if my mind wandered completely away from what she was saying. In fact, I didn't have to try and listen at all. All I had to do was lie there.

Can do.

4. In the most basic of explanations, hypnotherapy is about making those negative thoughts we all have just fuck off.

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Before we got started - well, before I was laying on the floor listening/not listening - Georgia explained that for most of us, the reason we can't do something (be more confident, write, quit smoking, commit to someone) is because our "inner critic" is telling us we can't.

Mine, I assumed, would be that version of my own voice that occasionally reminds me how good a writer I used to be, the voice that points out times I'd missed the mark on a story and posing that question my logical-thinking mind refuses to think: Maybe she was right. (Again, HI THERE.)

5. You don't have to go back and relive any shitty memories or explain why you assume you feel this way.

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Well, you can if you want - but you don't have to.

Being a sensitive soul, I have a tendency to get awkwardly choked up when talking about bad things that have happened to me. Thankfully, according to Georgia, this isn't how hypnotherapy needs to work. This was extra great to hear since I was at work, wearing non-waterproof mascara.

Happily, I let go of my prediction that a hypnotherapy session would involve being told to go back to that time when you were five to see what god-awful thing fucked you up for life.

6. Hypnosis is about tapping into the unconscious mind and our ~feelings~.

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"The conscious mind isn't that intelligent at all," Georgia tells me, when I ask how hypnosis actually works. "It's in the unconscious mind that all the emotional habits are stored. In hypnosis, that's where we go and start to shuffle things around."

She further explained that when we want to do something - like, be more confident, or stop drinking - our conscious mind can be totally into the idea, but unless our unconscious mind is on the same wave-length, so to speak, there's no way that whatever you want to achieve is going to happen, since our feelings and unconscious rule all.

If you've ever made a bad decision even though you DEFINITELY KNEW BETTER then this should make total sense to you. Even more so if you're someone, like me, who long ago accepted that the heart (feely feels) always wins over the head (thinky thinks).

7. Hypnosis has a weird stigma about it. But in my opinion, it shouldn't.

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"I've noticed hypnosis is coming out from under a cloud of weirdness," says Dr Robert McNeilly MBBS, who I spoke to after a week of listening to the hypnosis recording Georgia gave me. "Medical people, as well as psychologists and therapists, are showing an increased interest as they discover that hypnotherapy is a respectful way of helping people with a wide variety of issues."

I don't know if I ever had a real "issue" but I do feel good.

8. I feel different. And I don't really care at all if it is just a big mind trick.

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The same way I trust that mindfulness, visualization and even mood boards can change a person's life (or, change it enough anyway), I trust that for some people, hypnotherapy could really make a difference - even if it was just a case of changing a person's outlook on things.

"All problems are learnt limitations," notes Dr McNeilly. "We can make use of the experience of hypnosis to unlearn any unhelpful limitations and learn something preferable."

At the end of the day it does make sense - if you can't succeed by telling yourself that you can in fact do something or be different, the next thing to do is find someone else to tell you that you can.

While it might not be ~scientific~, if you - like me - always appreciate someone (read: your mum) telling you that you can do anything, then you - like me - might find hypnotherapy a perfect way to remind yourself that maybe, just maybe, you ain't so bad after all.

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