In order to understand what hypnosis truly is, it is essential to first comprehend what hypnosis is not. The myths regarding the notion of hypnosis may normally block one’s true understanding of this fascinating combination of art and science. There are four common misconceptions regarding hypnosis.
Hypnosis is not:
1. Sleep – A common question normally asked is: “Is hypnosis like sleep?” The answer is no, it is not really like sleep because you will be alert the whole time. You will actually be hyperattentive. The aim of hypnosis is to help one reach a heightened state of awareness. (A state between sleep and awake)
For a deeper understanding: There are four basic brain wave categories: Beta – Alpha – Theta – Delta. Each of these categories serves a different purpose for the mind and body.
Beta (13 – 30 Hertz): This is the awake state. It is also the state most athletes are in during competition.
Alpha (8 – 12 Hertz): This is halfway between sleep and awake. The body is relaxed, the mind tends to drift and daydream. It is also the state you are in during meditation and hypnosis.
Theta (4 – 7 Hertz): Higher states of Theta include memory recall, fantasy, and lucid dreams. The deeper states of Theta include R.E.M. or Rapid Eye Movement, the state you are in while dreaming.
Delta (0.5 – 3 Hertz): This is the deepest part of sleep. Most bodily functions have shut down and the unconscious mind uses this time for repairing the body, healing, and replenishing the used enzymes from the day’s events. This state is critical for an athlete who needs to heal from injury.
2. A state of unconsciousness – When you are unconscious, your brain is functioning in the Delta brain wave. You have no conscious control over any part of your body, and no conscious awareness over what is going on. This is the exact opposite of hypnosis. Under hypnosis, many people describe having a heightened state of awareness, and a greater control over bodily functions that they normally would not be able to control, such as blood pressure, pulse, and respiration. Hypnosis requires the active participation of both the conscious and unconscious processes.
3. Being gullible or weak-minded – Hypnosis is not biased against race, creed, sex, intellect, or religion. It is a naturally occurring state that everyone enters into several times throughout the day. To say that you can’t be hypnotized because you have too strong of a mind makes about as much sense as someone saying they can’t lift a vase because they are too strong. Hypnosis is about one thing – following instructions. If you can follow instructions, you can be hypnotized. In cases where the person ‘couldn’t be hypnotized’ this usually means that the hypnotist lacked the communication skills sufficient to speak to the client in a way that they could understand, or that the client had an IQ Level of 0. There are no non-hypnotizable clients.
4. Being controlled by someone else or a loss of self control – Despite what Hollywood has tried to inspire, the science of hypnosis is really quite simple, very safe, and easy to do. At no point will you lose control. In fact, most people describe the hypnotic state as a time when they feel even more control over their mind and body.
Many expect hypnosis to be a magical state where they float out of their body, lose track of their senses, and have no conscious recollection of what happened. Nothing could be further from the truth. Instead, you remain very aware of your surroundings and can hear anything that goes on. You will most likely have a heightened state of awareness. As far as losing control of your senses, the worst thing that could possibly happen is that you would fall asleep and wake up feeling very refreshed. You are no more suggestible during the time you sleep at night than you would be if you were to just fall asleep during hypnosis.
One may ask: If in fact you are in control the entire time, how does this explain stage shows where people are barking like dogs? Well, they volunteered to be on stage, they consequently volunteered to have fun. And as long as the suggestions remain fun, the people on stage will happily entertain the audience. The stage hypnotist is very skilled in his or her ability to select the right types of personalities for a show. They select the highly suggestible, highly extroverted people who love being the center of attention. The same people who bark like dogs, or quack like ducks are usually the same people dancing with lamp shades on their heads at a party.
Now that we have clearly illustrated what hypnosis IS NOT, let’s move on to what Hypnosis IS…
What is Hypnosis?
Hypnosis is a state characterized by extreme suggestibility, relaxation and heightened imagination. It’s not like sleep, because the subject is alert the whole time. It is most often compared to daydreaming, or the feeling of “losing yourself” in a book or movie. You are fully conscious, but you tune out most of the stimuli around you. You focus intently on the subject at hand, eliminating any other thought. The words hypnosis and hypnotism both derive from the term neuro-hypnotism (nervous sleep) devised by the Scottish surgeon James Braid around 1841. Nervous sleep is often compared to the relaxed mental state between wakefulness and sleep.
In this special mental state, you will feel uninhibited and relaxed. Presumably, this is because you tune out the worries and doubts that normally keep your actions in check. You might experience the same feeling while watching a movie: As you get engrossed in the plot, worries about your job, family, relationship fade away, until all you’re thinking about is what’s up on the screen. And when in this mental state, one may be guided into an altered state of conscious awareness in which psychological and physical changes, beyond normal conscious capability, may be achieved.
The philosophy is based on the following premise:
– The human mind is a collector of various experiences.
– It has a natural tendency to judge these experiences and form associations of like and dislike.
– We get attached to these experiences, define ourselves through them, and therefore give birth to the human ego.
– The ego is a false sense of the self, which binds us with pain/pleasure through associations with the external environment.
– We are now victims, where the environment controls our happiness.
Hypnotherapy helps you separate yourself from the ego and neutrally observe it by gaining the awareness of the experiences, people, conditioning and beliefs that define it. Once we are able to neutrally observe these attachments and through a guided scientific process, release them with loving kindness, we no longer allow them to dominate us. This empowers us to break free from recurring vicious patterns, and gain the self-realization that we are not our ego. Therefore, no matter what experiences we have, we are and always were complete! It then becomes easy and effortless to open our hearts and minds to the bliss, stillness and completion that is present within us.