Throughout June, my Up Your Creativity workshops have been helping artists unlock their creative potential. Today, London-based hypnotherapist Catherine Spence explains how she uses hypnosis to help creatives achieve their goals.
If you’re looking to have more creativity in your life, hypnotherapy may have the answer. Maybe you’re starting a new project and not sure what direction to take it, or maybe you’re halfway through something but hit a wall of creative “block”, or perhaps you’ve made something you feel is ready to market, display or to be read but you’re lacking the confidence to get it out in the public realm. Hypnotherapy can assist with all of these critical stages of the creative process.
Hypnotherapy is not really as stage hypnotists would have you believe; it’s not about someone else controlling your mind, but about being guided to a mental state where you are on the border between being awake and being asleep. This is the point where your brain is most creative, as you will know from those occasions when you’re nodding off and find your thoughts becoming very dreamlike and often completely nonsensical! This soft and dreamlike state is extremely powerful however, if you learn to harness it and use it to form new associations in your brain.
As hypnotherapists, we are trained in helping people with very different types of mind or personality to relax and let go of the busy mental chatter of London life and to centre themselves with a clear mind and soothed emotions. From this position, we can help you mentally rehearse situations you may find very anxiety-inducing, such as approaching shops who may be interested in selling your work. Our brains work by forming connections between individual nerve cells; whenever you learn anything you are creating new neural connections in your mind. Many of us grew up feeling anxious in certain situations and now have a learned habitual tendency to always be nervous in similar situations. We may think it’s just part of who we are and we’re stuck with it, but the truth is that if you can learn one behavioural pattern, you can learn new ones, at any age. And as an adult, you have the power to choose what kind of patterns you want to develop. For instance, you can learn how to be relaxed and confident while networking, just by using visualisation and mental rehearsal. Hypnotherapy gives the opportunity to learn these new patterns in a safe and supportive situation and studies have shown that mentally rehearsing tasks has a positive effect on performance in real-life.
If it’s a creative boost you’re after, rather than help with anxiety, the good news is that as creative types, you are very likely to be a good candidate for hypnotherapy, because being generally in touch with your imagination and your emotions is very helpful in inducing a trance-like state. In this state, your brain produces the same frequency of electric activity as it does during REM sleep, which is when it produces dreams at night. By keeping yourself in this state, without waking up or fully nodding off, you can look at your project from novel angles and find original new approaches that are unique to you. The hypnotherapist’s role here is to provide a bit of structure to the trance, to give suggestions, to notice if you’re slipping too deeply into unconsciousness, and to be a supportive person to talk through any feelings of vulnerability that often come up when you’re creating something from your heart.