2) Hypnosis

People who have not experienced hypnosis often conjure up an image of being under someone else’s control, and perhaps quacking like a duck on stage. In real-life hypnosis, you are never under anyone else’s control. You can think of hypnosis as a guided imagination exercise. The clinical definition of hypnosis is simply “focused attention, in the absence of critical thought”.

One way that many people love to be hypnotized is by going to a good movie. As we sit and watch a good movie, we become “lost in the movie”. The more we are enjoying the movie, the more we typically let go of our critical thinking, and just let the movie guide our imaginations. While watching the movie, we are not thinking to ourselves “I am sitting in a room full of people I don’t know, staring at light patterns being flashed on a wall”. While that may be exactly what we are doing, that is not what we are thinking about. Most of us are also not thinking about exactly how each special effect was probably achieved, which dialogue was dubbed, which scenes actually involve stunt people instead of the lead actor or actress, etc.. Thus, a good movie is good hypnosis. It guides our imagination in a way we want our imagination guided.

Of course you might now wonder how good hypnosis can alter your clenching and grinding, which is most likely happening in your sleep. Fortunately it is not at all necessary to have a hypnotist (or even a recording of a hypnotist) speaking to you while you are asleep in order for your clenching and grinding to be able to be reduced by hypnosis.

Hypnosis sessions may be thought of as an excellent way of altering a currently existing thinking pattern by learning and practicing a new thinking pattern. Once we have learned something (especially if we have practiced it repeatedly to the extent that it has become a habit) we can’t actually “unlearn it”. The actual neural pattern in our brain will not go away (though it may weaken quite a bit over time if it is not used much), however adding a different pattern on top of the old one (and practicing the new one regularly) can strengthen the new pattern to the point where it becomes more likely we will subconsciously go into the new pattern then that we will subconsciously go into the old one.

The good news is that hypnosis can alter almost any thinking pattern. The bad news is that it may not be obvious what thinking pattern should be altered (and how it should be altered) in order to change the habitual clenching and grinding cycle so that clenching and grinding is reduced (or eliminated). Just as with the mouth guard example above, it is of course also possible to alter a subconscious thinking pattern (through hypnosis or otherwise) such that clenching and grinding actually gets worse. This is not likely to happen with a skilled hypnotist, but it is definitely something to take heed of, and alter the course of hypnosis if the clenching and grinding problem seems to be getting worse.

Recorded Hypnosis Versus Live Hypnosis

So perhaps you look up a good hypnotist, and find that his or her going rate is $150 per hour (actually not an unusual rate for a good hypnotist) and you think to yourself “boy, that hypnosis CD I saw on the Internet is a bargain, I think I’ll use that instead”. That certainly isn’t a bad idea to try (especially if there’s a money-back guarantee), but several things should be kept in mind during that trial. First, make sure you are careful to stop the hypnosis if you find it is making the problem any worse.

Second, if you find that the recorded hypnosis program helps a little, keep in mind that a recording can’t watch your reactions and change course to be most in synch with what helps you, while a skilled hypnotist can. A skilled hypnotist who is actually observing what helps and what doesn’t help in your particular case can tune the imagination exercise of the hypnosis to give you new thinking patterns in the areas where you in your unique individual situation could most benefit.

Self Hypnosis

Self hypnosis may be thought of as the practice of guiding yourself into subconscious thinking patterns, using your conscious mind to create those patterns. Self hypnosis has the same benefit of flexibility and adaptability available through hypnosis sessions with a hypnotist. It is certainly possible to purchase recorded sessions which do a good job of teaching the skill of self hypnosis. If you are motivated to learn such a new skill, purchasing a self hypnosis course may be a good investment, in that it may be cheaper than a couple of sessions with a good hypnotist, and it may leave you with a useful and flexible skill that you can apply in a number of ways to have different aspects of your own subconscious thinking go more in the direction you would want them to.

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