Before listing specific questions and answers, let me briefly outline what I believe about the Mind-Body Connection. I believe that we each have a body and a mind, and that they are functionally inseparable. That is, you cannot have one without the other. And they (body and mind) communicate together in many ways, on many levels, in their activity of health, well-being, and disease. Examples of this communication include the impulses of the nervous system, chemical messengers influenced by our emotions, thoughts, ideas, images in mind, and many more unique processes of information sharing that occur within and between every cell and organ of our body.

You will hear me refer to just Mind-Body when emphasizing the inseparableness or togetherness of mind and body. But I believe that each of us is more than a “body”, more than a “mind”, and more than a “mind-body”. I believe we are Spirit. By Spirit, I mean that we are the life force, the vital energy, the living essence that vitalizes or instills life to the physical equipment of body and mind. Remove the life energy or life force from a living thing, plant or animal, and all that remains are the cells, tissues, organs… lifeless. I believe we are more than just the physical matter of body. We are Spirit. We are an energy.

I don’t proselytize any religious ideology and I respect whatever beliefs each person holds dear and true for them. I just want to point out that in addition to the communication within the Mind-Body processes, we are the essence of the life force that vitalizes or energizes the Mind-Body process, which I am choosing to call Spirit. And Mind, Body, and Spirit work together in our experience of health and well-being.

What is Hypnosis?
I think of hypnosis as a system or collection of methods that allow us to enhance the communication and sharing of information between and within the Mind-Body. We can do this entirely by ourselves, with the help of others, and by using learning materials such as books, videos, and audio programs. But whether someone helps us (such as a trained therapist) or we do it all by ourselves… All hypnosis is Self-Hypnosis.

What is Trance?
A hypnotic trance is a state of consciousness when an individual’s focus of awareness allows them to become greatly absorbed in the experience and sensations of their ideas. A daydream would be a good example of “trance.” For in a daydream, you are aware of where you are and what you are doing, but at the same time you are very absorbed in the experience and sensations of your thoughts, ideas, and images of that daydream. In other words, hypnotic trance and a daydream are the same process. Most daydreams might begin when we are bored or have little to actively think about. And “trance” is what I call that state of consciousness when we deliberately set it into being. Hypnosis includes many different ways to set that daydream-like state of mind or trance into being. These include what we call induction techniques, imagery methods, focusing concentration, and forms of passive relaxation and meditation. If you think of a daydream as a trance, then you have experienced trance-state throughout your life every day in many ways. Learning to use this exquisite tool to enhance Mind-Body communication for healing, greater performance, comfort and relaxation is easy and very beneficial. The word “learning” in the previous sentence is a key to understanding hypnosis and trance. Once you discover how to achieve the results you want, you have also taught that achievement to your body and mind, and you own those abilities for as long as you practice them. What kinds of abilities might one learn this way? Overcoming anxiety on an airplane, relaxing smooth muscle of the intestines for more comfortable digestion, relieving pain or producing one’s own anesthesia, improving sleep patterns, changing habits, improving concentration skills, alleviating nausea associated with chemotherapy, to mention only a few.
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What Trance is Not
Trance is not any form of “going under” or “going out-of-it.” At all times, the individual in trance is aware of where they are and what they are doing. The individual in trance is in control at all times. And at any time the trance may be discontinued, just as we do with a day dream. Stage hypnosis, for purposes of entertainment, has promoted a much distorted idea of hypnosis and trance.

What makes Hypnosis work?
The key ingredients are: motivation, belief, and expectation. Your motivation is “what you want,” both consciously and subconsciously. Sometimes we may say we want something, but at a deeper level (subconsciously) we may actually want something else. Your beliefs about the Mind-Body connections have to be fueled by your faith in yourself, and by what you tell yourself via thoughts, images, and feelings. You can enhance and fine tune these beliefs by learning, listening and practicing mind-body connection skills and selecting and keeping what you find works best for you. Expectations are what you believe will happen. There is no room for negative desires, thoughts, or expectations. I personally think this is where our Spirit or life force influences the quality of communication within the many different channels or of mind-body interaction. Think of your Spirit as a great radio transmitter, your mind as the radio station announcer, and your body as the listening audience of a talk show. That transmitter (life force or Spirit) sends out a vibratory energy that is received by every cell and fiber of your body, and is understood by your thinking mind. And just as a radio announcer may focus on their message and delivery without having to be concerned with the transmitter, the individual doing hypnosis practices their skills of mind-body communication and does not have to worry about how their body is doing its job. The energy is there, that is your nature as a Spirit or life force, which is who and what you are. Your thoughts, ideas, images and emotions convey the messages throughout your body. And your body or subconscious mind cannot tell the difference between what is real and what is imagined. This is important to remember. Your subconscious mind, that mind of your body, cannot tell the difference between what is real and what is imagined. You put it in mind and it is transmitted. An example would be a time when you were frightened by a toy insect only to discover it was made of plastic. It didn’t matter that the object wasn’t real. When you thought it was real, your body produced a very real physical reaction of anxiety… until you thought or believed something else. Positive thoughts and ideas about health, healing, and comfort can work in the same way to help us transcend or rise above what physically is happening in order to begin changing that physical experience. Another factor that makes hypnosis work is that the hypnotic suggestions are phrased in a manner that is most effectively understood by the subconscious mind. The "language of the subconscious mind" is a whole topic in itself.
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What makes the audio programs work for me?
The audio programs provide you with the best instruction I can offer in helping you learn how to experience your abilities with hypnosis. By listening to the audio you gather phrases, thoughts, and ideas that you may find useful in first experiencing “trance” and secondly, to “utilize” the trance-state to influence the mind-body. Like trying on new clothes, you will select what fits and feels good to you and your beliefs, desires, and expectations. You will practice and try out your own ideas and images and discover what you want to practice into a greater skill. Think of the audio as a set of training wheels that allow you to quickly get on and use your bicycle to get where you want to go and to learn the skill of bicycling at the same time.

How is Hypnosis different from meditation or relaxation?
Actually they are similar and share many features. But hypnosis or trance are not identical to meditation and relaxation. In meditation and relaxation, often it is the experience of just being in the relaxed or meditative state that is the goal. There is great benefit in achieving a relaxed or meditative state of mind and body. And that is usually the goal of those that regularly practice meditation and relaxation exercises. What makes hypnosis and trance different is that getting into that meditative or relaxed state of mind is only the first part. The second or important part of the hypnotic process is in “using” that state of consciousness to more effectively transmit and deliver the messages you desire throughout your body or mind-body. In other words, hypnosis is similar to meditation as a process for achieving a creative and peaceful state of mind. The difference is that, in mediation, that state of mind is the goal, and in hypnosis the emphasis is on actively using that state of mind to achieve what is being suggested by our words, thoughts, and ideas. Also, trance and relaxation are not the same thing. You do not have to be in a trance to be relaxed, and you do not have to be relaxed to be in a trance. But they go together beautifully and a relaxed state is very motivating and reinforcing.

How can hypnosis help me?
Hypnosis can help you achieve a greater capacity to be in control of yourself, mind and body. By learning hypnosis you are practicing skills that let you use and have greater access to abilities that are already within you. The range of possibilities is huge. You can influence your body for greater comfort and well-being, such as influencing blood flow, lessening or removing pain, stimulating immune response, to mention only a few. You can overcome anxieties and fears, you can remove habits, and you can improve and enhance performance skills, and achieve greater focus and concentration of mind and emotions. In short, hypnosis can help you tap in to the resources of mind (consciousness) and body (subconscious) within you to achieve greater control and discover more of your potential for health and well-being.

I’ve seen hypnotists on TV. Will you be able to control me that way if I practice hypnosis using your audios?
The answer is NO. Most of what is presented in “stage hypnosis” is very distorted and misleading. A common misconception is that the hypnotic subject is under someone else’s control. That is far from the truth. While doing hypnosis or in trance, you are in control. That is the whole purpose of it: to achieve greater personal control. So how is it that when on stage a person can sing like Elvis or do things they otherwise would not do? They became a willing volunteer when they agreed to go on the stage. They are there for entertainment and “being hypnotized” becomes a wonderful way to let down one’s inhibitions. Sort of like, it was the hypnosis making me act foolishly, not me. Also, stage hypnotists are usually very skillful in selecting individuals from the audience who are already demonstrating excellent hypnotic skills, such as staring and being intensely involved.
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Hypnosis is against my religion. Is there some other technique I can use for healing and/or well- being?
Yes. You can use guided imagery, visualization, biofeedback, autogenics, and relaxation techniques. Some of the audios offered here provide a relaxation approach without any reference to hypnosis or trance. But be aware that all these methods are very similar and use many of the same ways for mind and body to work together more effectively under your control.

What is mind-body medicine?
That is a term now used to refer to all the many approaches in helping individuals use their mind to influence their bodies for healing and improving well-being. These approaches include: visualization, guided imagery, biofeedback, autogenics, relaxation exercises, Reiki, cognitive-behavioral therapy, to name only a few.

Is it safe to let others listen if I am using my audio while going to sleep at night… and will it affect them in the same way?
Yes and No. Yes, it is safe for others to listen with you. And No, it will not have the same effects for them unless it is within the realm of what they desire and need. If you are listening to an audio for weight loss, they will be affected only to the extent that they would need and want to be affected. If they do not need or want to lose weight, they will enjoy the relaxation experience, but will not respond to the suggestions that are outside of their desires. If you are listening to an audio for relaxation or healing, they might respond to the suggestions that serve their health and well-being. Our patients tell us that their partners, children, and pets seem to become as conditioned to the relaxation response as well as they do.

Why don’t more doctors use hypnosis in their practice?
It takes time, specialized training, practice, and a special personality style. Some doctors find it easier and faster to dispense a prescription than to teach their patients the techniques that allow them to substitute skills for pills. And it does require a special personality style to genuinely and sincerely establish the therapeutic rapport that makes this effective for the patient. It is more than just words. It also requires a genuine caring and desire to help the individual learn how to do self-hypnosis.
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What if I fall asleep while using an audio program of hypnosis?
Drifting to sleep with hypnosis is fine.  Many individuals use their hypnosis to fall asleep easily.  Your eardrum still move to the sound waves and the message is still available subconsciously.  If you arouse or alert to a waking stae relatively soon after the trancework portion of the audio, you were not asleep.  But if you awaken an hour after the audio has ended, you probably fell asleep at some point.

How do I know if I am in a trance?In the same way that you know you are daydreaming.  A daydream is a wonderful exampl of "trance".  For in a daydream, you are aware of where you are and what you are doing, but at the same time you are absorbed in the experience and sensations of your thoughts, ideas, and imagination.

What if I find the experience uncomfortable?
Although it is rare to experience discomfort with hypnosis and relaxation, it does occasionally happen for some individuals.  If that occurs, you may either discontinue or practice while sitting up, to consciously listen attentively and develop more familiarity with the process and content of the audio program.

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 Your questions will be answered and may be included here for others to read as well.


Steven Gurgevich PhD