What is hypnosis ?
Everyone experiences hypnosis regularly. It occurs just before you fall asleep and just as you awaken. Other examples include losing track of time when reading a good book or when watching something interesting on television. In essence, hypnosis is simply a state of heightened relaxation and altered awareness.
When you are relaxed in this way, it is possible to make contact with your subconscious mind in order to effect change in your life. The subconscious is an untapped resource for creativity.
The subconscious mind is the seat of all your emotions and therefore directs nearly all your behaviour. Most importantly, the subconscious is responsible for maintaining the body in good health and for all the autonomic processes, e.g., breathing, blood circulation, tissue repair and controlling blood-sugar level.
Hypnosis is a doorway to this inner world, the enchanted realms of your imagination and emotions. Using hypnosis, whereby the subconscious mind can be contacted, 'inner power' can be harnessed to promote desired changes and physical well-being.
Explanation of the relationship between the conscious and subconscious mind
The conscious mind, the left brain, processes information logically and linearly, literally in a straight line: 1,2,3,4,5, etc. It is rational and organised, often referred to as the "analytical mind". The left brain also controls our voluntary (somatic) nervous system.
The subconscious mind or right brain, on the other hand, sees relationships in information and processes them in random, abstract patterns, even when pieces to the answer are missing. The right brain is creative, intuitive, irrational and emotional. The right brain controls our involuntary (autonomic) nervous system. Through ideo-motor responses (physical movements or behaviour in response to an idea or thought in the mind), we can speed up or slow down our heart, and even alter the chemical balance in our body to fight off disease. The subconscious mind, therefore, runs our bodies for us, controlling all the automatic processes of nervous and hormonal control, e.g., breathing and controlling the blood-sugar level. It is the home of our emotions, creativity, imagination and all our memories.
The two sides of our brain communicate with each other constantly, mixing logical, rational thoughts with the abstract and emotional, with some people using the right side more and others the left.
Many authorities believe the subconscious uses 90% of the brain’s capacity and that from birth (possibly even while in the womb) it has been recording everything that happens to us. We use our conscious minds to analyse events and make decisions when they are based on logic rather than insight or feelings.
The mind, then, can be likened to an iceberg: the conscious mind, like the 10% which sticks up above the water, helps us with daily decision-making processes and also assists us in new situations where we have to apply rational thinking to fathom out what to do and how to do it; the subconscious mind, like the hidden depths of the iceberg (the 90% submerged) below the water, works on "auto-pilot" and deals with a variety of tasks, such as the emotions, imagination, memories and the autonomic nervous system.
Another metaphor which can be used to clarify the relationship between the conscious and subconscious mind is that of a dark room (which represents the subconscious mind). If one enters the room with a torch, representing the conscious mind, one can pick out details of the room, focusing on only a few things at a time. So, although the rest of the room is there, one cannot see it, just as one cannot ‘see’ the subconscious mind.
The conscious mind remembers only a part of what the entire mind has learned and experienced throughout life. The subconscious mind remembers everything that has happened to us. Often the conscious mind represses what lies in the subconscious mind and these events can only be recalled by a given stimulus such as a particular perfume, or picture, linking us to a past memory. Or, if a traumatic experience has been repressed, this can sometimes only be recalled in a process used in hypnosis known as regression. An interesting fact is that the subconscious mind has no concept of time. So something that happened at five years of age still feels as though it is happening now, and with the same intensity as it did then. The conscious mind does have a concept of time and through regression this time distortion can be rectified and the 'event' re-framed and put into its correct perspective.
So in hypnosis, which is an altered state of consciousness we are able to (and so do) manifest heightened suggestibility and selective thought, by-passing the critical evaluating facilities of the conscious mind and becoming able to penetrate the subconscious.