Hypnosis seems to have an air of mystery and intrigue. Is it mind control? A force for good or bad? Well, the secrete to eliminating any good ole’ fear is education, so here are 5 facts to explain how hypnosis works.
FACT ONE: Hypnosis is a state of hyper-focus.
A hypnotist will use a particular method to direct your attention to the topic of your session. The first goal is to get your conscious mind (the active one reading this right now) to just step aside briefly so the subconscious mind can focus on doing the work of changing your behaviours, beliefs, or doing inner exploration.
FACT TWO: Hypnosis is a state of heightened suggestibility.
When your conscious brain is not in total control, your inner critic is temporarily silenced, BUT IS ALWAYS PRESENT. Therefore, anything the hypnotist tells you or asks you to do will go into your mind much easier. Hypnotists have an ethical duty to always have your highest good in mind and, in fact, even if they didn’t, your conscious brain would ALWAYS interject if it detected something it didn’t like. You will never be made to say or so anything you don’t want to do or accept.
This is one of the biggest misconceptions about hypnosis, that we can be made to do or say things we wouldn’t normally do. You can’t, but the key idea here is that what is acceptable to you might be completely different to someone else. This is why stage hypnosis shows work. There are plenty of people who are happy to be on stage doing funny things and be able to “blame” it on hypnosis. If you weren’t in to it, you wouldn’t do it.
FACT THREE: Hypnosis uses lots of words, but not just ANY words.
Words have SO MUCH POWER. When we do hypnosis, we choose every word we say with the utmost care. Not only do we use precise words for the topic, we also use a particular cadence. These two things together allow us to bypass the critical conscious mind and plant the seeds of change. Think of it like planting vegetable seeds in a garden that has been lovingly prepared for them. The hypnotist plants the seeds, and the continuous inner work by the client waters and nurtures the plants. If you take care of your plants, you will reap a bountiful harvest (a pretty way to say ‘get what you want’).
FACT FOUR: Your brain waves can change during hypnosis.
Throughout your whole day, you are moving back and forth between a few types of brain waves: beta, alpha, theta, delta, and potentially gamma. Beta is your normal conscious state where you’re thinking and working. In alpha, you’re in a sort-of wakeful rest, similar to a light meditation. Theta is hypnosis magic. In theta, you are deeply focused and are highly connected to your subconscious (or superconscious, intuition, etc.). Outside of hypnosis, you reach theta in REM (dreaming) sleep. Delta is dreamless sleep. Gamma has been associated with flashes of insight or ‘ah-ha’ moments. Apparently, monks who are well practiced can access this state at will, but most of us don’t spend much time in gamma.
Now it’s important to note that successful hypnosis doesn’t require the theta state, only that you are more attuned to that deep inner mind.
FACT FIVE: All hypnosis is self-hypnosis.
You are 100% responsible for your success (or lack thereof) in hypnosis. You are the one in control and are directing the process. The hypnotist is purely the facilitator. Using the garden example again, the hypnotist is planting the seeds, but you are directing where the seeds are planted! You are the only person with a map of your mind, even if you aren’t consciously aware of it.
Fact 5 is my favourite thing about hypnosis. I love that people can find their way around their subconscious and direct themselves to information they didn’t consciously know. Forget clucking like a chicken for someone else’s entertainment, I want you to see yourself retrieving answers to questions or deliberately putting yourself into a particular brainwave. It’s magical and it’s so highly inspiring to me. Most important though, is how empowering to is for you.
That’s it! The highlights of how hypnosis works. If you are curious about why accessing the subconscious is so important, take a look at this post.