Hypnosis is simply a state of being very relaxed, both physically and mentally. Nothing more, nothing less.
Unfortunately, people have all sorts of wild ideas about what hypnosis is and therefore sadly many people are apprehensive or even scared of it. They’re scared of the unknown.
Some people expect to be put to sleep; you don’t go to sleep. During sleep we’re not consciously aware of what’s going on around us; our Conscious Mind switches off (although the Unconscious Mind continues, which is where dreams come in) and the body totally relaxes. In hypnosis although the body is totally relaxed the Conscious Mind is still present. This means you can still think and hear – which surprises many people.
It is this combination of a very relaxed body and an awake yet relaxed Conscious Mind that gives us access to the Unconscious Mind – and the ability to make positive, permanent changes to the programming within.
What does it feel like? Think about how you feel when you first come to on a lazy Sunday morning… aware of the sensation of warmth from the sheets or duvet surrounding your body… aware perhaps of the sounds of birds or traffic beginning to penetrate your world… but your eyes are still closed, you’re still not quite there and if someone looked at you they’d think you were still asleep, lying there so peacefully. But you know you’re awake. At this point your Conscious Mind is still inactive; you haven’t yet started to think, the hustle and bustle of the day is still at arms’ length. Those important questions like “what am I going to have for breakfast? What jobs have I got to do today?” are just waiting to enter your mind.
This state is very close to hypnosis. It’s called being in a trance. That limbo state between being awake and being asleep. Being in a trance is very natural, something we do every day; we’re just not normally aware of it. Hypnosis is just a slightly deeper state of the same type of trance, very pleasant, very relaxing – it’s not weird at all! And it’s perfectly safe: since your conscious mind is still very much ‘there’ this means you’re always in control (not the hypnotherapist) and you can never be made to do what you don’t want to do. What’s more, you can’t get stuck in it either! Although how many of us wish we could on those lazy Sunday mornings I wonder?
How Does Hypnosis Work?
It’s the permanent activity (or Mind Chatter) of the Conscious Mind that prevents us from accessing our Unconscious Mind. So when you’re very physically relaxed (e.g. Sunday morning), and your Conscious Mind relaxes with you, the barrier between it and the Unconscious Mind is lowered. At that point, any messages can go directly through to the Unconscious Mind.
Our Unconscious Mind can be compared to the hard drive on a P.C.: it takes in information and stores it, permanently. Because it’s not logical or rational (that’s the job of the Conscious Mind) it can’t automatically change or update this programming. You’ve often heard how childhood experiences or programming can affect the way you live your life as an adult; absolutely true, even if that programming is irrelevant or incorrect 20-30 years on.
When the Conscious (rational) Mind is out of the way, hypnosis allows us to change the programming to the way we want it to be. Habits and emotions, which are kept in your Unconscious Mind, can be changed under hypnosis.
You do have to actually WANT to make those changes. A hypnotherapist can’t make you do something you don’t want to do. If you’re given a suggestion under hypnosis that you don’t consciously like or want, or isn’t congruent with who you are, your Unconscious Mind will simply ignore or reject it.
Not only is hypnosis extremely pleasant (that deep relaxation does wonders for the body and mind!) it’s also perfectly safe; you are in control all of the time, not the therapist. If your Unconscious senses at any time that you are in danger (e.g. the fire alarm goes off) you will become fully alert immediately; your Unconscious is your guardian, it protects you.