11 Truths About Hypnosis Series
#4 You’ll be conscious and alert the whole time in hypnosis.
“SLEEP!” This is a word you may hear during a hypnotic induction. It is not used literally but more of a shortcut for, “You are so incredibly relaxed, it’s as if you are asleep.” Why doesn’t the hypnotist just say that?! During the induction, the process of bringing your mind into a state of somnambulism, time is important. Your first session may include a longer induction because both you and your hypnotist are familiarizing with each other. Some individuals move easily into a state of hypnosis and some take a longer to get there. Your hypnotist may choose to use “sleep” to quicken the process into a hypnotic state. After suggesting this, you will become deeply relaxed with its use. Why does this matter? Depending on the quantity of the sessions you have with your hypnotist, time is of the essence. If it takes 30 minutes to achieve somnambulism, during an hour session, you only have 30 minutes to get to the nitty gritty. However, if it takes you 5 minutes to reach somnambulism, you now have 55 minutes to work on the reason for your visit.
You CAN actually fall asleep during your hypnosis session, because of the deep level of relaxation achieved during the process. Your hypnotist will gently wake you, if this occurs. If you are allowed to sleep, because it was not recognized that you were sleeping, you have just had the most expensive nap in your life! It is doubtful this will occur though, because your hypnotist wants you to receive the greatest relief from your session.
#5 Hypnosis works below the level of consciousness
There are multiple levels of consciousness. I have studied about the conscious, subconscious and unconscious parts of our mind. Regardless of how you break it up, only 5 percent of the mind is your conscious mind. This means 95 percent of our mindset comes from below our consciousness. Your personality, emotions, beliefs and habits come from your subconscious mind which has been developing your entire life. What does this mean? Though you may think you are making decisions with your conscious mind, you are actually making decisions from your subconscious. Let me discuss the different states of the mind, to give you a better understanding of how the mind works.
The unconscious mind was proven to exist by Dr. Ivan Pavlov. During Pavlov’s experiment, he used classical conditioning to create salivation in dogs by ringing a bell and then feeding. By consistently ringing a bell and feeding as a paired stimulus, this eventually caused salivation in dogs by simply ringing the bell alone. Not only did Dr. Pavlov prove a conditioned response was possible, he also proved that the response can be reversed.
The unconscious mind is also known as the Autonomic Nervous System (ANS). You may also refer to the ANS as the body’s brain. The ANS has several functions: to control breathing, the beating of our heart, emotional responses, reflexes, immunity and several others. These systems operate without us focusing on them, always working in the background. Can you imagine having to consciously control your heart beat? We would never be able to sleep because our hearts would cease to pump, the moment we lose focus.
As I continue to discuss the parts of the mind, you will see how they work together to keep us safe but also create unconscious decisions that can actually hinder our lives.
The subconscious mind is the sum of all of your experiences in life. It makes up your personality, behaviors, habits and beliefs. Once your beliefs are formed, your decisions and behaviors are automatic and are resistant to change. This is also the part of your mind that identifies individuals as “friend or foe”, almost instantaneously.
Have you ever met someone for the first time and had a feeling that you don’t like them? You can’t put your finger on it but there’s just something that makes you want to avoid this person. Because our subconscious is working off of beliefs that have formed over our lifetime, these initial thoughts could be incorrect. Sometimes biases created as a child have an incredibly strong hold on our lives. Over time, maybe we have learned that our parent’s beliefs are not our own. However, those initial perceptions are incredibly powerful and are resistant to change. Maybe that initial meeting with the stranger happened after one of you had a bad encounter with a boss or coworker. Over time, you may find your attitude shifts in regard to this individual, if you are willing to get to know them more. Possibly, you may grow to become lifelong friends. If you allow that initial internal response to control your life, you may write the person off for good and miss out on an amazing opportunity for friendship.
Let me give you another example of the power of the subconscious mind. This one is a bit more personal. I have almost drowned 3 different times in my life. One time was a sailboat accident where I became severely hypothermic. Another time, I was stuck under water, woven into the pool ladder and the final time was in the ocean. The ocean current carried me into a jetty and I had to be pulled out of the water by a lifeguard. My skin had been torn open by the rocks. I am lucky that I had a boogie board, with a safety strap, attached to my arm. That was the only thing that kept me from being pulled under and getting stuck in the rocks. Each of those experiences created a fear within me. I learned to be much safer around pools, not taking needless chances. Since my accident in the ocean, I have never gone more than knee deep in the water. I never wanted to swim in the ocean again. I don’t remember feeling “fear” as an emotion but my mind never suggested that “swimming in the ocean is fun” ever again. However, now that I have children, I can hardly watch them in a pool without having a panic attack. I was an experienced swimmer when all of my near drownings occurred. My children are still learning how to swim. I can’t even watch them in swim lessons because I “fear” something bad will happen to them. Because of the events that occurred in my life, I have a strong emotional reaction to my children’s lives. That is the power of the subconscious mind.
Maybe you have experienced something similar, based on an event that occurred in your life. Maybe you’ve been responding to situations in life and you have no idea why. This is where hypnosis comes in handy. Hypnosis works in the subconscious mind to find the root cause. The more emotionally charged an event in your life was, the more powerful the safety response is programmed. Through hypnosis, once the root cause is found, you can work through the emotional triggers to create a different response.
Notice how there is a stimulus and a response? Similarly to Pavlov’s experiment, in my case, the stimulus is any body of water and the unconscious response is fear. Again, the severity of the emotional response depends on the situation. I am more fearful for my children to be in water than myself. I am an overly protective and fearful mother, because of my experiences. It didn’t take classical conditioning for fear to become my go-to emotion. It only took a few highly emotionally charged events in my life to make that neurologic connection. Through hypnosis, I was able to create an alternative response to those events. I am now a more cautious and calm parent, instead of fearful and panicked.
Your conscious mind is 5 percent of your brain function. It is literally what your attention is focused on in the moment. Your conscious mind can only hold 7-9 bits of information at a time and with more studies, may be prove to be less. Your consciousness can also be easily refocused onto something else. This is important to note because there may be times your mind is hyper focused on an undesired thought. You can simply choose to focus your attention on something else. It may take several attempts to refocus your thought and not revert back, but it can be done.
The conscious mind protects you from information that is considered untrue, determined through interaction with the critical faculty. The critical faculty is a component of the mind that filters new information being received. It takes the new information and compares it against beliefs and perceptions ingrained in our subconscious mind. For example, let’s say you don’t believe in aliens. If you are checking out at the grocery store and you see a headline that reads “We Have Been Invaded By Aliens!” you are more than likely going to dismiss this as “fake news.”
Protect and Direct
All of the parts of the mind work in tandem to protect and direct. As you read above, the majority of decisions made are subconscious. Decisions are based on our life’s experiences and perceptions. Your brain is in a constant state of protection. Unconsciously grabbing a handful of candy or chips can actually your brain protecting you from stress or another uncomfortable feeling. Your brain receives the neurochemical, dopamine, that creates the “feel-good” feeling when eating sugar or crunching on chips; thus giving you a slight reprieve from the stressor. If you remember in the unconscious mind section, I briefly mentioned how Pavlov was able to reverse the conditioned salivation response in dogs. This is extremely important because we tend to think there is “no hope” when it comes to changing our habits, especially when you’ve tried to change hundreds of times. Grabbing a handful of candy or chips is a conditioned, unconscious response that can be altered. Your brain has an incredible ability called neuroplasticity, the ability to change continuously throughout life. Through hypnosis, you bypass consciousness and the critical faculty. Once you bypass those parts you get to work directly in the subconscious mind, the part of the mind that maintains your preprogrammed responses. While in a state of hypnosis, you work with your hypnotist to reprogram your brain. You have the power to change your preprogrammed responses and create new, more desirable responses.
Thank you for reading, I hope this post gives you a sense of confidence in yourself. You have the power to make any change you desire with the proper tools. Your brain is an incredibly powerful tool that can be used to become the best version of yourself, if you so choose. Next, I will discuss how hypnosis works for nearly every issue and it works REALLY FAST! If you haven't had a chance to listen to my relaxation audio, you can either go to www.EmergingHypnosis.com/stressfree to listen or download for free. OR you can view it on YouTube with this link. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wIeO9g9U1p8