Have you ever thought, “Hypnosis sounds great, but I’m not sure I can be hypnotized. I have to be in control, and I have trouble relaxing.” Or maybe, “I’m very stubborn.” or “I don’t have a very good attention span.”
If you have, you aren’t alone. Many people are surprised to learn that hypnosis is a natural state of consciousness that we all typically experience several times a day.
Have you ever found yourself so immersed in an activity, like working on a task, playing a game, or reading a book, that you were less aware of other things happening around you? Maybe someone came into the room and spoke to you, and while you knew they were there, you didn’t hear what they’d said? Whenever this happened for you, you were experiencing a different level of conscious awareness, and this is exactly what happens during hypnosis.
Another great example is a phenomenon called “highway hypnosis” which refers to the experience of driving along a familiar route, only to find that there is a landmark or whole town you don’t remember going through. You were using your subconscious mind in a state of “auto-pilot” to do the familiar task of driving the car while your conscious mind got bored with the familiarity and wandered off. If something had changed significantly enough, your conscious mind would have snapped back to attention, all without you even being aware that anything had been happening behind the scenes.
When you experience hypnosis with a professional hypnotist or with a therapist, they are using specific language patterns and suggestions to induce the same type of alteration in your conscious awareness. In this state, you are more receptive to new ideas and suggestions, and changes in thought patterns and behaviors can be made easily without practice or reinforcement.
What Is Required to Be Hypnotized?
All that is required to be hypnotized is a willingness to participate in the process and to make positive changes in your life. No matter how good the hypnotist is, they can’t make you do anything.
No two people are just alike, and no two people experience hypnosis the same way. While some may go very quickly into a deep trance that resembles sleep, other people experience the process as a lighter state of trance and are fully aware of everything happening around them. An experienced hypnotist knows which tools and techniques to use to get each client to that state of consciousness that allows change to happen more easily.
Why Does Hypnosis Work?
To understand how hypnosis works, we can look at the mechanics of the mind.
Your mind is the conceptual framework of the processes of your brain, and it is made up of three parts. Imagine an iceberg, with the little part on top, the water line, and the big part of the iceberg underneath.
That big part represents your subconscious mind, and it is immense, and very powerful. Your subconscious mind is in charge of everything that you don’t have conscious control over, like all of your body functions, and also your habits, your behaviors, your emotions, and your inner dialogue.
Your subconscious mind speaks in the language of imagination and emotion and it's always acting in your best interest. When we experience behaviors and feelings that don't fit into how we want to be right now, that's often because the subconscious mind is working with outdated information. We learn from the moment we're born how to interact with the world around us, and all of those lessons and strategies stay with us until we replace them with something better.
The water line on that iceberg represents a filter called the Critical Faculty. That filter sits above the subconscious mind and only allows in certain kinds of information. Your subconscious mind can't hold on to two opposing beliefs at the same time oh, so your Critical Faculty only lets in information that you already agree with. This is why we think that change is hard, because while we are consciously aware of how things should be different if we have trouble implementing them as new behaviors because of the filter.
The top part of the iceberg represents your conscious mind. Your conscious mind is responsible for logic and reason and rational thinking. It's the part of you that knows how you want things to be in your life. Your conscious mind speaks in that language of logic and rational thinking, so not only does it have a language barrier with your subconscious mind it also doesn't have a way to get information through the critical faculty.
This is where hypnosis comes in. When using hypnosis we use a specific set of language patterns, tonality, and words designed to tap into your imagination. During the process your conscious mind inevitably gets a little bored and begins to wander. This detachment of the conscious mind causes that Critical Faculty filter to begin to lift just enough, giving us access to your subconscious mind. In this state of consciousness we can begin to introduce suggestions for changes that you would like to see in your life. Because the filter is thinner, you are more open to accepting those suggestions and those changes begin to implement naturally and automatically.
You also have certain safeguards in place. Even in hypnosis, you cannot be made to do anything that you are not willing to do. Hypnosis can help you to eliminate the subconscious barriers that may have been holding you back, and help you to build and tap into your resource states more efficiently and effectively.
Creating Changes with Hypnosis
It may be helpful to think about the change process of hypnosis in the same way we think about updating the operating system on our phone or computer. When we find our behaviors and feelings aren’t giving us the results we want, it's a lot like our internal operating system is out of date. Everything is still functioning, it's just using outdated information. You can think of the process of hypnosis as accessing your internal operating system and installing patches and updates, so that everything runs a bit more smoothly, with more functionality, and better outcomes.
The changes that a person is able to create using hypnosis vary in awareness between very profound and very subtle. Oftentimes these changes are immediately obvious, such as when a person experiences less stress, fear, or anxiety in certain situations. Other times the changes are more subtle, or subconscious, and are most apparent when comparing them to past behaviors. One of the most fascinating things about using hypnosis is that you are creating changes in the subconscious mind, so it can often seem as though your new patterns of feelings and behaviors are just how things have always been.🍥
Karen Gray is a Certified Hypnotist, Registered Nurse, and Director of Green Mountain Hypnosis. For more information visit GreenMountainHypnosis.com