WHAT IS HYPNOSIS?
Hypnosis has been used successfully for decades to help people deal with weight loss, smoking, pain, fears, spiritual enlightenment and many other issues. Some other cultures are more in touch with their “inner minds” and as a whole express much less disease, both emotionally and physically. Hypnosis has been approved by the American Medical Association and many other reputable organizations as a fast, effective treatment for many issues. But to understand hypnosis, you must first understand how your mind works.
Let’s separate the mind into 3 parts to make it simpler. You have your Conscious mind, your Subconscious mind and your Unconscious mind. They all work together, and they all have different jobs and responsibilities.
THE CONSCIOUS MIND
This is the part of your mind where you live your life. Your daily thoughts, opinions and actions come from your conscious mind. It is responsible for your short-term memory, which recalls phone numbers, people's names and other things stored temporarily. It also makes the little decisions that you need on a daily basis…"should I make that phone call now or wait until later…" is a good example. Your conscious mind is also your analytical mind (ever hear those voices in your head - arguing!?). Some people seem to be much more analytical than others - you probably know someone who analyzes everything over and over again. Your reasoning mind is also part of the conscious mind. The reasoning mind must give you a reason for everything that happens and everything that you do. Even if it has to make it up! Ask a smoker why they smoke - they will probably tell you that it relaxes them. That it makes them feel calmer or more at peace. The problem with this is that nicotine is a stimulant - it actually increases the metabolism. So here you have a case of the conscious mind making up a reason, just because it has to. Willpower is also part of the conscious mind. How strong is your willpower? Are you one of those people that has great willpower the first two weeks of the year, right after you've made all your New Years' Resolutions?
So this is how you live your life - in a conscious mind that's analyzing everything, making things up and really inconsistent, is that it? True, the conscious mind is quite weak, when you think about it.
THE SUBCONSCIOUS MIND
Then you have the powerhouse - the subconscious mind. The subconscious mind is like the most powerful computer on earth. It can process faster, store more material and generate your reality.
The subconscious is responsible for several things:
Your long-term memory
The subconscious mind has stored everything you've ever seen, touched, smelled, heard and experienced in your whole life. Even from before you were born - it's all in there. At any point in time an experience hypnotist can take you back to re-experience any event in your life - how about your second birthday? And you would be there like you were re-living it.
Your conscious mind can only handle so many inputs. Even where you are now, there are thousands of inputs - the light, the temperature, the sounds, the reflections off each object in the room…it goes on and on. Your subconscious mind puts this picture together for you and only presents your conscious mind with what it believes is relevant for you at this time. If you're presented with too much input, you lose your focus, become confused and your productivity declines.
Your subconscious mind is responsible for the generation and storage of emotion. Here's where we run into real trouble. In our society, we have no constructive ways to release emotion. We teach our children not to cry. We say, "Stop crying or I'll give you something to cry about." We're not supposed to get angry - we get punished for that. You can't feel sad, guilty, or afraid. So what happens to those emotions? They get generated, but where do they go? If the emotions don't get released, the subconscious will find a place to put them. It may store them in your head (migraines). Maybe it stores them in your stomach and intestines (Irritable Bowel Syndrome). Or maybe it stores them in your neck, shoulders and chest causing anxiety and stress.
The subconscious' biggest job is to protect you. And it will - from all danger, real or perceived. Now this was very useful in the ancient days when we were all sleeping in trees. If you moved a little during your rest, you'd wake up with a start - that instant awareness that would keep you from falling out of the tree. Or you ran into a bear - the fight or flight response would pump up your adrenaline, increasing the energy to your body and giving you speed to get away. And this protective trait is still very protective, increasing your awareness to alert you of possible dangerous situations - in parking lots, walking through parks, etc. But sometimes this protection goes awry. Imagine walking through an elevator in a hotel. You pass a really pretty, fragrant inside garden on the way, and enjoy it as you wait for the elevator. As you board the elevator and it begins to rise, you start to feel a little uncomfortable, but you don't think much about it. Maybe that lunch you just ate was too spicy. So you go on with your day. Two weeks later, you board an elevator in a clients' office. As soon as the doors shut, you are struck with a sense of panic - you feel like you have to get out of there, or else you'll die! You have no idea what's going on - you feel totally out of control. The only thing you know is that you absolutely must get off the elevator - NOW! So you go to see a hypnotist. Through hypnotic investigation you recall that when you were young, your brother locked you in the closet for over an hour (until your mom got home). While you were in there you were afraid and angry. You could smell your mom's perfume on some of the coats in the closet, and you just waited, yelling for someone to let you out. Then your mom came home, let you out and scolded your brother, and you forgot about it. But the event was stored in your subconscious mind - along with the fear and anger you were feeling and not able to express. Then you went on with your life. So why would this cause a fear of elevators? As you passed that garden on the way to the elevator, you smelled a faint floral smell, much like the one that your mother used to wear. Then you entered a small, closed in space and your subconscious mind made a connection - back to that time in the closet where you were afraid and angry. It decided that to keep you safe, it would pull up these panic feelings - in response to the "perceived" danger of being locked in a closet, and there you are. Terrified to go into another elevator in case those feelings come back again.
Until you're the age of 5 or 6, there are no barriers as to what goes into your subconscious mind. Everything is accepted as your reality. Everything your parents tell you, everything your friends say, what you hear on the radio and TV, even things that strangers say to you. And this becomes the programming by which you live your life. Maybe someone said that you had chubby cheeks. Or baby fat. Or maybe that you would be fat just like everyone else in your family. Hmmmm.
Then when you are 6 or 7, you develop a filter. We call it the Critical Factor, and it's stationed between your conscious mind and your subconscious mind. The job of your Critical Factor is to evaluate all suggestions coming in and accept them or reject them. It doesn't make that determination based on if the statement or suggestion is positive or negative (that would be too easy), it makes the determination based on if the suggestion matches what is already in your programming. If someone says "you're looking great!" and that's consistent with your programming, the critical factor allows it to go right in. But if it's not consistent - maybe you've been programmed to see yourself as fat, the critical factor rejects that statement and in doing so reinforces the programming you already have. Is it any wonder that it's so hard to change?
So here's what happens. You're 30 pounds overweight. You have been for years. You've been on diet after diet, only to gain all the weight back, sometimes even more than you lost. Then you find a diet that's actually working for you. You easily drop 10 pounds and start to feel pretty good. You're fitting into a smaller size - those jeans you haven't been able to wear in 10 years, but you held onto them to "motivate yourself" are almost wearable. And then it happens. Somebody says "Hey, you're looking pretty good - have you lost some weight?" All of a sudden your critical factor kicks in and grabs that statement. It says "Hmmm, is this consistent with our programming? Oh no, I can't accept that statement. Wait a minute, she's lost 10 pounds? That's not right! Emergency! Kick it into gear, we gotta get her fat again." You end up with your head stuck in the refrigerator, cleaning out the leftovers for the entire week. Then you go for the junk food, feeling horrible, defeated and hopeless. Wondering all the time what happened. And then the feelings of guilt complicate the situation - how could you be so out of control?
Can you see how the critical factor keeps you from changing? No matter what the problem, you might be depressed, you might have anger issues, or even health issues.
Hypnosis, by definition, is the bypass of the Critical Factor of the mind, allowing your hypnotist to work directly with your subconscious mind, the part of your mind that drives your feelings and behavior. Through specific techniques, your hypnotist will guide you into a wonderful, relaxing state of hypnosis and guide you to find the cause of your issues and resolve them.
In hypnosis, you will be fully aware and an active participant in the session. You are in complete control at every moment, though you may have feelings of heaviness or lightness. Most people get very, very relaxed as their mind becomes distinctly focused. Your hypnotist will be guiding you through techniques and exercises to uncover the cause of your issues and resolve them. Then you get to re-create yourself. You begin to experience changes in your life that are natural and consistent with your new view of yourself. You get to choose who you will be.
At the end of your session, your hypnotist will answer any questions you have. You may still feel very relaxed at the end of your session, some people feel a bit groggy. This is because your subconscious mind has processing to do, and is still focusing on changes. This is completely natural and will dissipate after a good night's sleep. Some people, however, feel very energized by a session and will jump right into things that may have fallen behind.
Whatever your experience, it is right for you.