What is Hypnosis? And How Does it Work?
There is a lot of misinformation out there about hypnosis. Since I included hypnosis in my toolkit to help clients, a lot of people have asked “What is hypnosis? And how does it work?”. Here’s a post to help answer your questions about this fascinating topic!
Did You Know?
Many don’t know that hypnosis was used in the World Wars to operate on soldiers when anesthesia wasn’t available. Our mind are more powerful than we can ever imagine. Hypnosis harnesses the power of our mind to affect positive change.
What is Hypnosis?
Hypnosis is the bypassing of the critical factor of the subconscious mind and the acceptance of suggestion of the subconscious mind. In short, hypnosis is a way for us to relax the conscious mind (which is filled with thoughts, worries and chatter) and access the power of the subconscious mind.
How Does it Work?
By relaxing the physical body and the conscious mind, we can speak directly to the subconscious mind. I’m sure most of you have heard at one time or another that only 10% of our mind is conscious. The other 90% is the subconscious and unconscious mind.
NOTE: In most scientific literature the subconscious and unconscious are clumped together. I’ll separate them out in my explanation below, although the terms are sometimes used interchangeably when you are reading online articles.
A simple example is your morning routine.
Once you are up, if your bladder is full and you have to pee, you will automatically get up and go the bathroom. This is your unconscious mind in action that is responsible for involuntary actions such as breathing and is the long-term storage (sort of like the hard disk for your brain).
Next you may brush your teeth. This is not a conscious decision, but something you do automatically. When you were little and your parents taught you how to brush, you really had to focus and think about the act of brushing your teeth. However, after years of repetition it is now a task performed by your subconscious mind. This part of the brain is also like the RAM that holds short-term memories before they go into the hard disk (unconscious mind) for long-term storage.
You take a shower (which is also your subconscious mind at work) and pick out your clothes. Here your conscious mind plays a role in deciding what to wear (unless you are someone like Steve Jobs that wore the same thing everyday to remove as many conscious decision points in his day as possible).
You Are Hypnotized Everyday
Ever driven home from work and not even realized which route you took and how long it took you get home? This is a simple example of being in a state of hypnosis. You have driven from your work to home so many times that your conscious mind no longer needs to be involved in the process, so your subconscious mind takes over. You lose a sense of how much time as passed when this happens. The same can be said for watching TV. You are in a state of hypnosis, losing all sense of time while watching TV.
Hypnosis for Breaking Old Patterns & Programming
You may be consciously aware that you need to stop eating sugar. You are determined and motivated to stop eating sugar. However, if your subconscious mind is not in agreeance, no matter how hard you try to refrain from sugar, eventually the subconscious mind takes over. You have certain rituals of always eating something sweet after each meal. You have done it for years and now it is an automatic impulse to reach for dessert after each meal.
If you want to stop eating sugar you have to firstly want that change and secondly change the subconscious patterns that cause you to reach for sugar. This where hypnosis comes in. By working with a trained and certified hypnotist you can break ingrained habits, such as eating sugar after each meal.
I’ve never been a fan of band-aid solutions. I believe that disease and discomfort always have a root cause. This is why I become a nutritionist, to help my clients resolve their health issues by focussing on the root cause. Allergies often stem from poor digestion. You fix the digestion, the allergies resolve themselves over time. It’s much better than popping antihistamines for the rest of your life, don’t you think?
My approach for hypnosis is similar. I won’t sit there and read off a script for weight reduction without getting to the bottom of why the person overeats. Are they eating to suppress emotion? To manage stress? Or simply because they are bored? What perceived benefit is their mind gaining from over-eating?
If someone is addicted to eating cake and I just make positive suggestions to eat fruit instead but miss the fact that they equate cake with celebrations and happy moments in their life, then chances are that eventually they will start eating cake again. The idea is to get to why they choose that behavior and what it’s doing for them. Without that long-lasting change can’t happen.
What Can Hypnosis Help With?
- Weight management
- Eating disorders
- Irritable bowel syndrome, indigestion
- Reducing stress and anxiety
- Improve interpersonal relationships
- Confidence, self-esteem, self-worth
- Quitting smoking
- Migraines, panic attacks
- Phobias and fears
I hope this helped answer some questions about the science of hypnosis. Feel free to post more questions below and I’ll be sure to answer them!