Common questions about hypnosis
Yeah, OK, we don't really do divorces.
Unfortunately not, at least when it comes to physical talent. You might be less inhibited, but if you cannot play the violin, or moonwalk, then when hypnotised you will still be unable to do those things. However under hypnosis you might believe that you can, which is the basis for many excellent gags.
You may be more agile or stronger however, and there is plenty of evidence to show that hypnosis allows you more or better physical control.
An interesting effect does occur where you are an amateur at something, and held back by self doubt and internal criticism. Under these circumstances you may find that in trance you are a much better performer than when fully conscious, because you are no longer getting in the way of your own talent. Public speaking anyone?
Being hypnotized is a skill, and the main thing is an attitude of willingness and cooperation. All you need to do is relax and listen to the hypnotist and do what they suggest. You will be hypnotised. If you approach it as a contest of wills, or if you resist doing what the hypnotist suggests, then you will not be hypnotised.
In essence it is only three things:
- Be willing
Hypnosis is relaxing and fun. Most people experience a feeling of freedom, like they had when they were children. This is what allows them to do playful and silly things and enjoy it! Many people report that they were aware of what was going on all along, but they just went along with it. They generally also feel that they could choose to stop cooperating at any time. In some ways, being hypnotised on stage is like gaining instant access to the talents of improv actors (such as those in “Whose Line is it Anyway?”).
When you volunteer to come onto the stage, the important thing is to relax and to follow the hypnotist’s instructions. There’s little point in volunteering if you treat hypnosis as a contest of wills. The hypnotist is unlikely to overcome your resistance, and won’t even try because dealing with resistance makes for a boring show.
After one show in early 2006, I spoke to a woman who had volunteered, but was soon dismissed from the stage. She told me that at the beginning of the hypnotic induction she had gone along with my suggestions and felt herself slipping easily into a trance. When she noticed this she decided that she was making it too easy for me by co-operating (!?!) and so she started resisting my instructions. She quickly found herself coming out of the trance she had entered and was wide awake at the end of the induction. She had trouble grasping that hypnosis was not something that I would do to her, but something we would do together. Co-operation isn’t optional. Co-operation is how you get hypnotised. When she was co-operating everything was fine, but funnily enough, when she resisted it didn’t work. Even funnier to me was that she was surprised by the outcome. I have no idea where she got the notion that this was meant to be hard. It is in fact very easy.
Whether learning to drive a car, learning to ride a horse, or learning to go into a trance, the point is to follow your teacher or guide.
Many years ago I attended a seminar call Money and You, which was presented by a company run by Robert Kyosaki (author of ‘Rich Dad, Poor Dad’). After the seminar I joined the team of volunteers who rang up referrals and invited them to the seminar. This was telesales by a team of volunteers.
I assisted with enrolments for three seminars, and each time I topped the sales charts by enrolling more people in that seminar than any other volunteer. Robert’s promoters ran sales skills training and they give instructions on how to talk with people and how to enroll them, etc. I remember being asked often how come I was so successful at selling. Most people just didn’t believe my answer. I told them that I went to the sales training seminars, and did exactly what they told me to do. It was really that simple, yet so many people thought there had to be more to it, or that it had to be hard.
Once you put aside the technicalities such as the venue, lighting, etc (not that you should do this lightly), there are really two main factors that determine how good a hypno show will be:
Some people are keen to experiment and try things out. Some are more conservative. Generally, those who have been on stage will volunteer again, because they had so much fun. That is why it is important that the hypnotist does not ask the volunteers to do anything that would deter them from volunteering a second time.
The show is nothing without the volunteers, and it amazes me that some (thankfully only a few) hypnotists demean or embarrass their volunteers. I make it a point of pride that the only person who is embarrassed in any way is me (come to the show – you’ll see). The volunteers have honoured me with their trust, and I will not abuse that. I want them to have such a good time that they will want to come up on stage every time.
How Safe They Feel
Once on stage it is important for the volunteers to relax and to follow the hypnotist’s instructions and suggestions. They can only do this if they feel safe. They should be physically safe, and confident that they will not harm themselves physically, or behave in such a way that damages them socially.
It is the job of the hypnotist to create a safe environment on the stage that allows the volunteers to relax and to participate fully.
The Nature of the Audience
A supportive and encouraging audience can make the difference between an ordinary show and an outstanding one. Cheers and applause make a world of difference to the show. Except during the hypnotic induction, a silent audience gives the show a heavy feeling and can be off putting for the volunteers. Equally the audience needs to be attentive. That’s why shows in public places like malls, and parks rarely work.
Their Trust in the Hypnotist
Not only is it important for the hypnotist to be encouraging and supportive of the volunteers, they also need to trust the hypnotist. In New Zealand and Australia the concern I hear most from prospective volunteers is that they might be asked to do something really embarrassing. Many people have seen some sleazy / creepy hypnotist humiliate a “victim” and don't want that for themselves. I completely agree. For that reason I am careful to make clear to the audience and volunteers that they will always have choice about participation, and I will not “make” them do anything they would be embarrassed to do.
Having said that, when in a trance, most people are freer and more extroverted than they would be otherwise. I think few of us would step onto the stage and do an Elvis impersonation cold. We would need encouragement, a few glasses of wine, practice etc. Alternatively, we would need to be unconscious (and you will be). The key thing is that having impersonated Elvis, or Madonna or whomever, no one would feel that they had done something so outrageous that they couldn’t show it to their friends and family on video.
That’s why we don’t ask our volunteers to have sex with the furniture. Such skits can be funny for the audience, but since I for one wouldn’t want to do that on stage even with the benefit of alcohol or hypnosis, I wouldn’t ask anyone else to do it either. I have no objection to other hypnotists doing such shows. But we don’t do them.
How They Feel at the Time
If you’re stressed or preoccupied you might find it harder to relax. Or perhaps you’ll find it easier to relax completely. Depending on the circumstances, sometimes you’ll find it easier to trance out.
One of the key influences here is your relationship to the other people in the audience and on stage. If you are a parent and your children are also on stage, you might find it hard to stop being mum or dad and to relax. Your role as parent might override your role as volunteer. This can also occur with authority figures. If you are a “general” and you have your “troops” there, it can take a special kind of self confidence to relax completely and to be silly on stage. This is the reason why we don’t mix adults and children on stage.
All these factors influence how you feel at the time, and can change from moment to moment, and from day to day. That’s why some people are dismissed from stage during the show. Its not that they have failed in any way, but that the hypnotist has come to the conclusion that the volunteer is not going to go deeply enough into a trance to have fun during the show.
That doesn’t mean that next time that same person might not be a star. That’s why we always welcome people back onto the stage in future shows, regardless of how it went for them previously.
When it comes to volunteers, the more the merrier. Literally!
Being hypnotised is very, very easy. I can teach you in a couple of hours how to hypnotise others. The reason that learning to be a hypnotist takes so much longer than 2 hours is that you have to know what to do once a person is in a trance (very important), and you have to learn how to deal with all the other stuff, including people who consciously or unconsciously decide that it has to be harder than it really is.
If you want to learn hypnosis from a counseling and helping people perspective, I highly recommend Richard Bolstad. Richard is possibly the best teacher I have ever had. I cannot say for sure he is the very best only because I have been blessed with several outstandingly good teachers in my adult life. Richard has a gentle NLP based teaching style, he teaches you the same style. I did both my NLP Practitioner and NLP Master Practitioner training with Richard and his team.
For a slightly more traditional approach to hypnotherapy and the very highest standard of teaching and ethics, I’d recommend Anny Sleghten and the folk at the Alberta Institute of Hypnosis. They trade as www.success-and-more.com. Incidentally, this is where I completed my stage hypnosis certification and diploma. The stage hypno training is delivered by Attila Kun, a successful hypnotist and magician in his own right.
Yes. Amnesia is quite rare for participants in That Hypno Show, and if it occurs, we restore all your memories of the show as you leave the stage.