WHAT IS HYPNOSIS?
Hypnosis is a natural approach to healing body, mind, and spirit. Hypnosis produces a natural state of highly focused concentration that connects you to your subconscious mind by combining carefully scripted guided imagery and deep relaxation. Used by athletes, scientists, creators and others to achieve higher levels of performance and happiness, hypnosis produces the “Aha Moments” that precede all significant changes in life.
In 1958, the American Medical Association approved a report on the medical uses of hypnosis. Two years later the American Psychological Association endorsed hypnosis as a branch of psychology. Today, hypnosis is more accepted than ever before. The benefits far outweigh the skepticism and bad storytelling of times past. Some of the uses are pain management, anxiety, weight loss, pre-surgery anxiety, habit control, relaxation, and to enhance sports performance, forensics, learning, physical therapy, rehabilitation, HypnoBirthing and more.
The most important fact for you to know is “hypnosis” or “the hypnotic state” is a natural state of being that we all enjoy every day. We most often experience it right before falling asleep or right before waking up. Many of us experience it while driving. Let me ask you a question to help you better understand. Can you recall at a time while driving that you were so engaged in your thoughts that you suddenly arrived at your destination hardly able to remember your trip? Or, can you recall a time when you were so involved in watching a movie that when it ended you felt suddenly out of place? The hypnotic state feels a lot like this.
Your conscious mind is responsible for analyzing, thinking, planning and short-term memory. Your subconscious mind is responsible for nearly everything else long-term memory, emotions, and feelings, habits, relationships, patterns, addictions, involuntary bodily functions, creativity, developmental stages, spiritual connection, and intuition, to name just a few. It is also important to know that our subconscious mind cannot process a negative. It perceives everything as real.
The subconscious mind is always open to suggestion, but it is accessed more efficiently while in the hypnotic state. Efficiency and effectiveness are why athletes use hypnosis to improve performance. Hypnosis provides a way to practice perfectly over and over without taxing the body. I think Muhammad Ali put it best. “If my mind can conceive it, and my heart can believe it – then I can achieve it.”
The core of hypnosis is that you can create an experiential vision, one that ignites your emotions helping you to feel it. Being able to “feel as if” creates a reference point and removes the awkwardness of newness, which increases positive outcomes. Remember emotions and the imagination reside in the subconscious. Emotion is the fuel of the subconscious while imagination is the language.
We often use hypnosis to help us replace unhealthy or unwanted habits with one of our conscious choosing. Habits are those repetitive behaviors that you do “without thinking.” Thinking is a function of the conscious, and everything else is in the subconscious. A habit can be eliminated by replacing it with another. Some patterns are easier to remove than others. Some habits are firmly held in the subconscious, which may require finding the causes and replacing them.
HOW HYPNOSIS WORKS
We have learned that the mind operates differently depending on the frequency of the electricity generated by the exchange of chemicals in the neural pathways. We spend a majority of our time in full conscious awareness where we measure the rate in beta waves, our fastest brainwave activity. Here we are fully awake, completely alert, and able to participate in physical activity. Our mind is attentive and uses logic to reason, evaluate, assess, judge, and make decisions. We are in touch with our emotional sensations such as anger, worry, fear, anxiety, tension, surprise, hunger and excitement. As we begin to relax into the daydreaming state, our brain activity slows down, and we start to utilize our gift of imagination, the door to the subconscious mind. When your brain activity slows down and begins to flow into the daydreaming state, your mind is relaxed but alert. Here a person is capable of accelerated learning, healing of psychosomatic illnesses, increased creativity, and memory improvement. You experience a sense of well-being, pleasure, and tranquility. As your brain continues to slow down, reaching the level of theta wave activity, you experience even deeper levels of tranquility, creativity and the deepest levels of conscious relaxation. You are restful yet alert. You experience an increased efficiency in problem solving, perceptual processing and memory retention.
It’s also important to know that your brain activity flows between the alpha and theta state while in the hypnotic state. You might feel like you are more deeply relaxed and more caught up in your imagination at times and less at others. The hypnotic state opens the doorway between the conscious and the subconscious. Here memories and new information become permanently stored and are easily accessible. In the hypnotic state, you are not really “thinking” in the traditional sense. You are “experiencing” without questioning. You are free of judgment or analysis, like when you watch a movie. It is here that suggestion can be made and is more likely to “stick.” The beauty is that without the conscious mind’s critic and judge getting in the way, you improve the possibility of making the changes you desire.
To put it another way, the power of the hypnotic state increases your ability to bypass the critical jabbering of your conscious mind. Yes, our conscious mind isn’t always our best friend. It often gets caught up in coping. It rationalizes, justifies, excuses and denies, projects, transfers, represses, reacts, displaces, intellectualizes, and sublimates to keep things the same. But that is only one aspect of the mind. The mind is dualistic to maintain homeostasis. It wants comfort and security on one end and the other end it requires stimulation, novelty, and change.
Sadly, Hollywood has used the idea of hypnosis as a way to scare people into believing that someone else can control your mind even though the truth is you are always in control. For you to enter the hypnotic state, you must choose to want it to happen. No one can guide you there by force, not even Kaa from The Jungle Book. Your will overrides everything.
Many people question hypnosis because of stage hypnotism because they worry they will be embarrassed. For others, it is fun and an engaging form of entertainment. Stage hypnosis works because some people have a big desire to please or be the center of attention. Thier desires override their fear suppressors, making it more rewarding than just sitting idly by watching. Generally speaking, if two or more emotions are in conflict, the dominant one wins out over the weaker. In your quest for success and self-improvement, the subconscious can be your master or your greatest ally. The goal is to use it on your behalf.