Hypnosis is nonsense, right? We’ve all seen those stage shows where people are made to squawk like chickens or do Elvis impressions in the name of “entertainment”. How can something like that possibly have any credence or use in the real world?
Well the fact is, hypnosis is just an altered state – a change in your brain waves – and if you’ve ever found yourself daydreaming, you’ve already experienced a simple form of hypnosis! So can we harness the brain’s capacity to go into different states to help ourselves when it comes to singing, or teaching? The research suggests that we can.
There have been a good many studies involving functional MRI scans, in which scientists have observed what happens in the brain of someone under hypnosis – they observed decreased activity in very specific parts of the brain. They also observed what happened in the brains of people who faked being hypnotised, and found that they didn’t show the same changes as those who had genuinely ‘been under’. Hypnosis is a sort of trance-like state in which the brain receives information in a different way, and people who can achieve that state can use it to achieve all kinds of positive outcomes including lowering stress levels, overcoming fears and handling pain.
In a recent article citing the top 10 careers most likely to be a causative factor in mental health problems, working in the arts ranked 6th and teaching 7th – added to which, as a demographic, performers and creatives are statistically more likely to suffer from mood disorders. This doesn’t mean that all performers and teachers will suffer from mental health problems but it does mean that they are more at risk, for all manner of reasons. With that in mind, anything that can improve stress levels and give people a sense of calm and control is a good thing – and that’s where hypnosis scores big!
This is why I am developing a range of self-hypnosis resources for The Voice College as part of my Imaginary Singer work. The first offering: Control Stress was released last week, and the second in the series, Memorising Songs will be out shortly. These are both bite-size programmes (around 15 minutes) that can easily be fitted into your day. A series of longer recordings will be released later, for those who want to dig deeper, and more titles will be added to the catalogue month by month.
So, will hypnosis work for you? It’s statistically probable – the vast majority of people can be hypnotised, and if you’re investing in a download it’s likely that you already believe that you can enter an altered state, and that’s part of the battle. Self-hypnosis is no magic bullet, but what we do know – for sure – is that lowering our stress levels and calming the brain makes us more receptive to information, more creative, more productive, and more capable of dealing with difficulties as they arrive. For people working in the arts and in teaching, those are gains that are definitely worth looking at!
You may be interested to know that there have been a lot of studies into medical applications for hypnosis, so here’s a link to 19 of those studies, and their results:
Oh but wait… you’re probably wondering why this particular creative and educator has suddenly decided to leap into the wonderful world of hypnotherapy. Fear not, gentle reader, it’s not so sudden! I qualified back in 2006, when I realised how useful this field could be to people in my industry. I’ve been using the training ever since, but recently realised that I could help more people by recording programmes than I ever could by working with them individually. And I promise I won’t make you cluck like a chicken or do Elvis impersonations.
I hope you find the developing series useful, and do let me know if there’s a specific performing or teaching-related area that you’d like me to address in a download. Meanwhile, here are some links to some more sciencey stuff!