If there’s any more misunderstood practice than hypnosis, I’m not sure what it might be. Hypnosis has been portrayed in media as mind control, as brainwashing, as magic, as demonic, as almost everything except what it actually is. The truth about hypnosis is it’s a much more natural state than most people imagine, and I want to talk about some of the very basic truths about hypnosis in a few bullet points.
Hypnosis is the bypassing of your conscious mind and the accessing of your subconscious mind.
At first this sounds like the scary things you see in movies, but this actually happens all the time. Your conscious mental processes get “bypassed” any time something happens which your conscious mind is less equipped to deal with than your subconscious. Since your conscious mind is very analytical and, well, slow, it tends to deal poorly with heightened emotional states, surprise and shock, repetition, confusion, and any number of other things that your subconscious deals with instinctively.
Many hypnosis inductions are structured around these concepts, but they also happen in everyday life. Know anyone who has experienced “highway hypnosis”? How about someone who has developed a phobia from a traumatic experience, like someone in an accident suddenly developing a fear of driving? That’s a hypnotic experience. A hypnotist just knows how to do it intentionally, rather than how you usually do it accidentally.
Hypnosis is your brain’s natural learning state.
Ever heard of the concept of moving from unconscious incompetence, to conscious incompetence, to conscious competence, to unconscious competence? This is the process of how your brain gets programmed to do things automatically, with less and less of your conscious thought. A good example is walking. Look at a baby consciously trying to walk for the first time. Imagine if we took that much effort to do anything, ever. Instead, your brain delegates things like that to your subconscious.
Now, remember how I said hypnosis is the bypass of your critical mind? You don’t really develop one of those until you are 8 or 9 years old. Which is good, because you have a ton of learning to do as a youngster. As you get older, that critical, analytical part of your mind starts to develop and judge your life experiences through the perspective of your previous programming. You continue to learn, but you don’t accept anything that doesn’t get past your conscious mind. That’s why I can tell you I’m Batman and you don’t believe me, but someone in hypnosis on a stage show has no problem believing they’re Elvis. Logically, that makes no sense. But if the part of your mind responsible for logic isn’t paying attention … well, there’s a lot of people out there with some pretty crazy beliefs.
Hypnosis is your brain’s natural problem-solving state.
Your mind has several dreams over the course of a night, whether you remember them or not. Why? Because while the conscious mind sleeps, your subconscious is still actively processing and organizing the experiences of the day. Sometimes you’ll have a recurring dream if there’s been an especially impactful time in your life. If it’s particularly emotional, stressful, or traumatic, the dream may be quite vivid. Sometimes answers to problems can come to you in dreams. Sometimes it can simply be inspiration.
When your conscious mind forgoes all external stimulus, the mind tends to start making some up. This happens when you’re dreaming as well as it happens in hypnosis. In hypnosis, the process can be a little more directed, but much like in dreams, the end result can be that simply taking you into the state has the effect of you overcoming some internal block on your own, even without the therapist directing you. And it helps that your subconscious is the intuitive, creative part of your mind. Being in hypnosis is as natural as dreaming … after all, we’re simply triggering the same processes. A really good hypnotic subject is often referred to as a somnambulist, and the deeper states of hypnosis as somnambulism, which are terms which used to refer to what we now call sleepwalking. There are many parallels because they are very closely related, and serve similar purposes.
In Closing …
I can give more points and definitions, but I want to be brief here and hopefully this helps to show how hypnosis is powerful in therapy. If we’re accessing your natural learning state, then positive change becomes much easier, because if you can learn a new behavior (and even unlearn an old one), then suddenly a whole new world of understanding opens up to you and you no longer need to be help back by internal limitations. As I often say, most of my work involves helping people get more control over their thoughts, emotions, and behaviors, so if there’s something holding you back, like a limiting belief, or a phobia, or an emotion, or even just overactive or negative thoughts, talk to me right away and we’ll see how the work of hypnotherapy can help you specifically.
Take care, and be transformed by the renewing of your mind!