What is Hypnosis?
You think you know what hypnosis is, don’t you? You have seen all the stage shows and the shows on TV. It’s fun, entertaining and the hypnotist seems to be able to get
people do all sorts of stupid stuff! You are not sure how he does it, but for sure, You are definitely not going to let someone mess with your brain like that!
However, if I was to ask you to explain hypnosis to me, I am pretty sure you wouldn’t be able to give me a concise description. Would you? No doubt you would feel pretty frustrated, given you ‘know’ what it is, but describing hypnosis feels a bit like ‘smoke and mirrors’ – you can’t seem to find the right words.
Explain Hypnotic Trance
In fact, even those who have studied hypnosis and have a fair bit of knowledge on the topic, can have trouble coming up with actual definitions when someone asks:
“So, what is hypnosis?” and “What is the unconscious mind?”
I am sure it doesn’t make you feel any better, but you are not alone.
It’s not always easy to explain what can’t be seen.
So, we thought we would put together a Simple Guide to Explain Hypnosis, Trance, and the Unconscious Mind.
Imagine driving home from work or, perhaps after picking up the kids from school. You’ve done it dozens of times; maybe even hundreds.
You know this trip like the back of your hand. You know exactly how long it will take you, how often you get ‘stuck at the lights.’ If it was safe to do so, no doubt you could drive home with your eyes closed.
Your attention tends to drift during the trip given how familiar the route is to you. You pull up into your driveway and realize that you can’t recall the last few kilometers of your journey.
This has happened to you, hasn’t it? I have experienced this phenomenon many hundreds of times. What happened: you were in a hypnotic trance. Yes, believe it or not… you were ‘hypnotised’ by the sameness of your journey!
So, What Is Hypnosis?
Hypnosis is a highly focused state of mind whereby the unconscious mind is free to act without interference from regular consciousness.
What’s more… it’s a totally natural state that you might find yourself in at any time throughout the day.
Yes, I am serious. Think about your day – today, or yesterday! What were some of the activities you were doing? I’m talking about your job, reading, watching TV …… but it can be any activity when you get so absorbed in what you are doing, that you lose track of time, or zone out from whatever else is going on around you.
Maybe it’s something that happens when you’re reading a particularly fascinating novel. Or you get mesmerised by the raindrops running down the kitchen window as you gaze out into the world beyond the pane. It could happen when you are driving a car; learning a new dance routine; balancing your bank account. Or when you indulge in any hobby that occupies your mind completely.
You know that feeling when time stands still, and you are ‘just in the moment’ absorbed and focused totally and completely on what you are doing, seeing, or watching.
Well, guess what? That’s hypnosis.
The Two Parts of Us
Hypnosis is only possible because it gives you access to the unconscious mind. And, the only reason you use hypnosis is to access the unconscious mind.
Here’s a simple explanation to help you understand what that is.
When it comes to hypnosis, the human brain is often explained in two parts: a conscious mind and an unconscious mind.
The conscious mind
is the part of the mind you are using to read this text. It’s your “wide awake” mind, your intellect, and all the things you are aware of. This is where we think, make choices, decisions, and have free will. It’s also where all the ‘head-chatter’ and self-criticism happens.
You probably think it’s your conscious mind that takes in all the information from your environment.
While that is partly true, the conscious mind can actually only deal with between 7 and 9 bits of information at any given time.
You can only consciously focus on so many things at once before they start to get confusing, or you lose track of some of them and our conscious mind simply shuts down temporarily.
We are bombarded by trillions of ‘bits’ of information every minute and this amount is getting larger as the ‘internet of things’ grows.
But the unconscious mind is a totally different beast. Your subconscious mind never misses a thing. This part of your brain sees and absorbs stuff even when you don’t.
The unconscious mind is everything that’s happening in the background of your mind. It works automatically without any conscious help from you and can handle millions of pieces of data all at the same time.
This ‘automatic recording’ is great and is very useful when we need to ‘recall’ old skills that we haven’t used for a while, or store new facts for a task we are learning to do. Once recorded. It is stored forever. It’s a bit like the hard-drive on your computer, it is recorded forever.
Accessing the Unconscious Mind
Great, but why is it so essential that we access the unconscious mind anyway? Well, there are lots of reasons. By tapping into the power of the unconscious mind, you can find answers to questions or situations that are causing you to feel “stuck” in life.
Connecting with the unconscious mind also gives you the ability to heal from the inside out . This allows you to process buried and unresolved trauma, abuse, or negative emotions that have resulted in ongoing issues like anxiety, depression, fears, phobias, and feelings of unworthiness and lack of confidence.
Language of the Unconscious
The unconscious mind is also where your innate creativity lies along with the ability to imagine and dream those big, bold goals of yours. Imagination is the language of the Unconscious.
It is, also where all your memories are stored. This is why it is essential for your therapist to tap into your memory files and re-write or re-frame those memories by resolving those past events and eliminating issues that prevent you from moving forward.
To do this, the unconscious mind needs absolute focus and attention. And this is where hypnosis comes into the picture – because it gives you this directed focus.
A Quick Recap
To see how the conscious & unconscious minds work in practice, let’s return to the activity of driving your car.
When you learned to drive, there were so many things to remember. You have to steer, signal, accelerate, brake, watch your mirrors, keep an eye on the road and try not to run over any pedestrians. At first, you are ‘consciously incompetent‘ everything was confusing and difficult. But, the more you practiced, the easier it became. Very quickly, you became consciously Competent! It becomes second nature and something you just do automatically.
You don’t have to go through the ‘process’ anymore. Your unconscious mind takes care of all of that for you. You have become unconsciously competent.
That’s how it’s possible to drive your car from one place to another and not ‘consciously’ remember the journey. But, if something or someone, needs you to recall an event on that trip, with a little prodding, you will remember every detail. It’s stored in the unconscious until you ‘consciously’ need to access the information (you didn’t even know you had.) I hope that gives you a glimpse into the power of the unconscious.
Hypnosis is Powerful
Hypnosis is a technique that helps you communicate, with the client’s agreement, with the unconscious by bypassing the conscious mind. When communicating with the unconscious, powerful suggestions are made to facilitate positive changes in your life. Hypnosis is fast, effective and long-term, but, you must ‘want’ the outcome. This means You make the decision to make a change and hypnosis can make it easier to achieve.
Is Hypnosis Mind Control?
The word “hypnosis” comes from the Greek word “hypnos,” which means sleep. Scotsman, James Braid, coined the term “hypnotism” because he thought that people seemed to be asleep when they were in a trance. However, people must be awake to achieve the best results
Braid tried to correct this definition later, but the term hypnosis had stuck. That probably explains why Hollywood screenwriters relied on the line “you are getting sleepy” whenever they showed powerful hypnotists at work in B-movies.
But make no mistake: hypnosis is not mind-control. Far from it.
Hypnosis creates transformations
But in a nutshell, hypnosis is a form of communication between two people. In order for someone to be hypnotized, they have to be willing to participate.
In its purest state, hypnosis exists to help people make positive changes in their lives, from breaking bad habits, eliminating phobias and fear, managing pain to eliminating emotional trauma experienced in the past.
Thanks to media hype and cinematic sensationalism, many aspects of hypnosis have been exaggerated or completely misunderstood.
One of those aspects is trance.
In the movies, people in a trance are little more than brainless zombies who do whatever the hypnotist asks them to do, uttering “Yes, master” as they do so.
But ‘real’ trance is nothing like that. It’s simply a relaxed state where you focus your thoughts and energy inside, instead of focusing on the outside world.
Wide Awake – In Trance
During a hypnotic trance, you remain wide awake, able to hear and understand everything that’s happening.
It is possible to experience a deep trance with your eyes open, but most people find it easier to relax when you close your eyes.
At the very least, trance is a very relaxing state of mind where you’re able to forget about your worries.
Hypnotherapy is a tool to deal with whatever issue clients decide to address.
So, What is Hypnosis?
The next time someone asks you to explain “what is hypnosis” or that rather mysterious “unconscious mind,” you’ll be able to reel off the definitions and facts explained in this article… and you may change someone’s life by introducing them to the power of hypnosis!