You’re always striving to be a better version of yourself. You do yoga, you’ve tried therapy and you floss your teeth every night. So why not give hypnosis a whirl? It’s been scientifically proven to help some patients reduce anxiety, calm irrational fears and might even help you quit biting your nails. So in the hopes of reducing my stress levels, I tried out a session with New York City hypnotherapist Alexandra Janelli. Here’s what might happen if you try it, too.
You might be nervous. Like, really nervous. Before your appointment, it’s totally natural to freak the hell out. What does being hypnotized feel like? What if I slip into a hypnotic state and never wake up? Don’t worry. It’s more like guided meditation—you can’t be hypnotized against your will, and it won’t happen unless you’re really open and relaxed.
You might divulge some heavy stuff. Before the actual hypnosis, your hypnotherapist will ask you what you’re hoping to accomplish. In my case, I wanted to reduce my anxiety levels and cultivate a stronger feeling of inner peace. Janelli asked me questions about my past and how stress manifests itself in my life. It was like a cross between an intense therapy session and a tough love chat with my best friend, and within minutes I had total trust in her.
You might cry. Once you’ve entered a hypnotic state, it’s totally natural for your body to release any emotions you’ve been carrying around. Just let it happen—your hypnotherapist has seen it all before.
You might twitch. While in a hypnotic state, patients may have movements called “abreactions,” which signal to the hypnotherapist that you’re feeling tense or having difficulty letting go of a concept they’re suggesting to you. You probably won’t notice these movements, but your hypnotherapist will (as they talk you through it).
You might lose track of time. When I was lifted out of the hypnotic state (Janelli counted to five as she gradually spoke at a louder volume), I felt aware of what had happened—but thought the whole process had been only two or three minutes long. Turns out I was “under” for 25 minutes. Whoa.
You might see a change immediately…or not for days. For the rest of the afternoon, I walked around slightly dazed, feeling like I had just taken a 90-minute nap or had a really relaxing deep-tissue massage. Once I got on the subway at rush hour, this feeling wore off, but every once in a while I’d remember something Janelli had said during our session and would then take a deep, relaxed breath.
You might notice other improvements. Janelli says it’s not uncommon to experience positive changes in other elements of your life after hypnosis, even if it wasn’t the specific focus of your session. For instance, you might feel inspired to eat healthier or notice your fear of flying has subsided. (This hasn’t happened to me yet, but as a nervous flyer, I’m keeping my fingers crossed for my next trip overseas.)
You might need to go back a second (or third) time. Some people can be totally transformed in one session, while others might require multiple follow-up visits. Or hypnosis might not work at all. It’s all about your brain’s willingness to go to a subconscious place and be open to suggestion. Hey, it’s worth a shot, right?