My First (formal) Hypnosis Experience

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—View from the far side of the recliner

My First (formal) Hypnosis Experience

My first formal hypnotic trance experience occurred June of 2007 in Sante Fe, NM at the Hypnotherapy Academy of America. I remember (always questionable) being one of the first students to get in the recliner in the front of the class. It was a revelation and mind opening experience.

It turns out that I and probably everyone with normal cognitive function has been in a hypnotic trance, many times, maybe most of the time. Every day dream, every time becoming entranced in TV, a movie, play, those times stopping the car at a familiar place and not remembering anything about driving there, pretty much anytime when our mind took us to some other reality when we were not actually asleep, is likely some form of trance. When someone states “I can’t be hypnotized” they are denying experiencing anything other than living in this exact moment in this exact setting. Kind of a sad! They actually mean that they have such a powerful mind/will power that no one can control their mind. Fortunately no one with those beliefs have shown up at my office. It would be an expensive few minutes for them and a complete waste of time for us both. When someone makes such a statement I don’t argue with them, after all they have such a powerful mind (is that the same as a strong opinion?). I do explain my understanding of what hypnosis and hypnotherapy is, almost more important, what they are not and the way I use them in my practice. People usually have a difficult time denying ever having a day dream or getting into some type of entertainment. Actually I have a free consultation by phone or in person so that never happens. What often happens is that a client or potential client states “I don’t know if I can be hypnotized” and that turns into a conversation instead of some talk show yelling match. I don’t yell so that never happens either. I’m pretty sure that by time we have the, “I don’t know if…” conversation they are ready to take a chance because they’ve tried everything else.

Alright back to my trance, because isn’t it really all about me, unless it’s all about you if you are the “me”? One of the amazing aspects about the experience is that I could clearly hear every sound in the room. I don’t know what I expected, but I remember being so surprised that I could hear every sound in the room. My classmates were trying to be quiet but I could hear pages turning, people shifting basically sounds that I would not have been conscious of if I was sitting in class doing anything else. It seemed like I would hear the voice of the hypnotist that just made sense. The fact that my hearing seemed enhanced was just amazing. That was my first WOW! so that what hypnosis is like learning experience.

I had many other learning experiences in those seven weeks. I had never seen a hypnosis entertainment performance so was floored, actually I didn’t hit the floor, to learn and experience that you could stand, walk, open your eyes and talk in a trance.  Also the experience of being in a trance so light that I seemed to be just relaxed and so deep that I could just barely hear and knew that I could move if I wanted to but just didn’t want to. There is so much more but I’ll save it for another time.

As always, experience is the best teacher. Although if it is a really bad experience it’s better if someone has the experience and you do the learning. I use the suggestion that “any sound you hear, even the sound of my voice, just helps you go even deeper into relaxation”. Many hypnotherapists use that suggestion as part of deepening the trance. My office is about 200 yards from a major railroad crossing and over a hundred trains a day go through Flagstaff. Incorporating extraneous sounds into deepening relaxation is both powerful and essential in my setting. Every time I give that suggestion I’m reminded of my first time in the recliner more than seven years ago.

So stay amazed and enjoy your trance!

Next time I’ll probably write about pain, so bring bandages, ice packs and aspirin. I am, most likely going to my 40th High School Reunion. That may be a different kind of pain, so maybe I’ll write about that.

Feel free to contact me with any comments and of course if you know someone who might be interested in these posts please send them on.
Don Berlyn


Learning Experience Choosing the wrong imagery

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View from the far side of the recliner

Learning Experiences Chapter 1

Choosing the wrong imagery for deepening relaxation;


Although I learned the technique of using the concept of an elevator to help the client go deeper into a trance it’s one that I don’t use. Many people if they aren’t flat out claustrophobic are at least uncomfortable in elevators. An elevator can be a socially awkward place, trying to avoid eye contact while your personal space is getting squeezed and memories from the many movies and TV shows that used the situation of people trapped in an elevator run through you head. Elevators can be funny, George Carlin talked about farting in one and sending it empty to another floor. (George Carlin had a lot of very funny things to say. His bit on gas is classic.) There are scenes with people in elevators used for humor but laughing even though very beneficial in many ways doesn’t help the person get to that deep place. It just isn’t worth it to me to use as a method to calm people. Stairs seem to work better for me. Maybe I like the exercise.

Other Imagery; Falling/Fire

I haven’t used the imagery of falling, off a building, a bridge, a mountain, a tree, into a hole, a well any type of falling other than “deeper into sleep”.

Fire, as in looking into can be very relaxing. Other aspects of fire could get you burned.


After asking about my client’s history to make sure there have been no negative experiences with water and determining that the client does find being in water in some setting is relaxing, water is my go to imagery.

The Learning Experience

I had a client and friend that had grown up near the ocean, went on at least annual river trips, basically water seemed like the perfect medium for relaxation. This person suffered from occasional incapacitating migraine headaches. Sometimes if you can catch them early enough it just might work to either stop it or at least take the edge off. This time the situation was doomed from the beginning. My friend already had the headache for a while, thinking that I could help her anyway (hey I was new at this) I went to her house. Then I made things worse by using the imagery of floating on the water with the gentle rocking of the waves helping you becoming even more relaxed. The feeling of rocking, gentle or not just made her feel nauseated. The only good things are that she is still my friend (I think) and her migraines have become infrequent. Maybe she just says that so I won’t offer to help.