What is hypnosis?
Hypnosis in its modern day context is a set of spoken techniques used for inducing deepened states of relaxation in order to place positive suggestions into a person’s subconscious for them to work from and use.
The Subconscious mind is everything, controlling 95-99% of our daily lives. It is the database of information and experience taking up a total ten-elevenths of our overall mind.
The subconscious mind almost always wins over the conscious mind in our daily decision making, therefor seeking true contact with the subconscious as to clear out; negative beliefs, thought patterns, habits as well as trauma is essential for true and successful progression.
The use of hypnosis aims to alter our state of consciousness (awareness) in a way that relaxes the conscious part of the mind – while simultaneously stimulating and focusing the subconscious part.
This heightened state of awareness – reached using skilled, spoken relaxation techniques allows the therapist to then make appropriate, positive suggestions.
Despite hypnosis originating from the Ancient Greek word Hypnos, meaning “sleep” – During the hypnotic process we are actually “hyper-attentive” and therefor fully aware of everything, including our surroundings.
The Hypnotic process
“You do not have to put people in trance – they are already in trance. Their problems are born of their trances. Hypnotic processes are redundant. It is important to recognize that almost any therapeutic process makes use of redundancy.” Jack Elias, CHT
We have all found ourselves drifting off into dream like states of awareness many times before, be it driving in the car, travelling on the bus or riding along on a bicycle. Often this is why we reach a destination wondering how we got there so quickly.
These dream like states are what psychologists call “non-ordinary” states of consciousness or awareness.
Non-ordinary to the average person they may be, these states are completely natural to us as people and are intimate to our being.
We seem to spend so much of our daily lives working, using “alert problem-solving” states of mind, that we rarely make the time to experience and utilize these other states naturally available to us which have proven benefits to our wellbeing.
Hypnosis is merely a natural state of consciousness in which we are open to suggestions.
The Hypnotic process works when the subject is placed voluntarily into states of trance through different levels of awareness the brain creates (such as the Alpha and Theta states – see below) by a trained therapist using relaxation techniques such as; Progressive Muscle Relaxation (PMR) and Deepeners.
This is to uncover deeper into the individuals behavioral attitudes, where real focused change can be made to that individual.
The human brain works on four main types of brain wave activity; Beta, Alpha, Theta and Delta and these levels of human consciousness range from a state of alertness to a sleep state.
(There is no rigid boundaries setting these levels apart and each of us have experienced these varying levels thousands of times as a regular daily occurrence as mentioned above.)
Beta waves are the fastest working of the four brain waves and the slowest being Delta waves. – That reached by people in coma states and many deep states of meditation.
For the majority of us going about our daily lives, our brain wave activity rests at Beta waves, Of 15 to 40 cycles per second.
After this is Alpha waves which run 9 to 14 cycles per second and are slower than the beta waves representing a less aroused state. (After completion of daily tasks we can reach this brain wave state by simply sitting down for a deserved rest and relax.)
Below the Alpha waves is the Theta waves of 4 to 8 cycles per second. In this state a person could be dreaming or meditating and is associated with serene calmness. (This is a medium to deep Hypnosis state and emotional surges may become present – Theta waves are our subconscious mind where we hold past experiences, thought and behavior patterns.)
The last of these four main brain wave activities are Delta waves – the slowest of working waves – running at a mere 1 to 4 cycles per second. Here our subconscious mind is at a state of detached awareness and sleep and possibly representing a very deep hypnosis and / or meditative state.
It is mainly between the Alpha and Theta brain wave activity that hypnosis generally takes effect and these states can be likened to that of Buddhist meditators; Calm and tranquil with an opened awareness to focus and attention.
“Hypnosis cannot make you do anything that you do not want to do or that you morally object to and these states of awareness can only be achieved by a trained, skilled therapist in the first instance.
You cannot get stuck in hypnosis and indeed you can leave the state whenever you wish to.
This is true as our subconscious mind (accessed through hypnosis) work in only black or white (good or bad) therefor the subconscious mind is all about our survival instincts.”
Multiple studies have been done by the neuroscience world confirming the calming and coherent benefits of hypnotherapy for the mind. However, for reasons unknown many are kept from the general public resulting in much ignorance and skepticism surrounding the use of hypnosis. As a result people continue to seek pharmaceutical medication for their psychological based issues.
Vaughan Bell, a neuroscientist and Clinical Psychologist as well as visiting researcher at the Institute of Psychiatry – King’s College London, states;
“In recent years, hypnosis has seen something of a rebirth, and neuroscience studies using the technique are now regularly published in some of the most respected scientific journals.
“Hypnosis is no laughing matter – Contrary to popular belief, hypnosis cannot be used to make people do something against their will, even though the effects seem to happen involuntarily. If this seems paradoxical, a good analogy is watching a movie: you don’t decide to react emotionally to the on-screen story, but you can choose to turn away or disengage at any time. In other words, the effects of the film, just like hypnosis, require your active participation.”
Hypnosis has become an increasingly popular form of complementary, or ‘CAM’ therapy
Although according to the National Hypnotherapy Society
(the UKs first hypnotherapy body to achieve AVR (Accredited Voluntary Register)
Hypnotherapy deserves recognition not as a complementary therapy (such as aromatherapy or reflexology) but as part of a psychological therapy (such as counseling or psychotherapy.)
Hypnotherapy falls under 3 regulatory categories for CAM therapies – (Complementary and alternative medicine)
Under these categories, the government applies several tests with hypnotherapy for the principle reasons of keeping check on the degrees of risk and scientific evidence for effectiveness.
Hypnotherapy is ranked as a ‘Low-Risk’ practice relative to that of, say herbal medicine or similar.
Example; Misuse of herbs could potentially have detrimental effects to health, whereas misapplication of hypnosis carries far less proportional risk.