Hypnosis – better understanding this powerful therapeutic tool.
All hypnosis is self-hypnosis. It is a voluntary state and a familiar state. Most of us will go into this state often, for example, when we get “lost” in thought or during an activity which is enjoyable such as reading a good book, watching tv, or anytime we go into what can be described as the “zone”. This is a pleasant state in which your brainwave activity slows and your body and mind are in a lovely relaxed state. A state where time may lose its meaning – we are neither thinking about the past nor the future and instead we are present in the moment.
The hypnosis that you experience in both Cellular Release Therapy® (CRT) and HypnoBirthing® is achieved through a progressive relaxation script, which brings your mind and body into a relaxed state. Your conscious mind does not get turned off, in fact for most people, the conscious mind is quite alert and vigilant, paying attention to what is going on. This is very normal.
To understand how and why hypnosis works it is valuable to have an understanding of how our minds work and how this influences the functioning of our bodies.
The mind can be described, very simply as, the conscious mind and the subconscious mind. Overall, the mind is about processing sensory information from the world around us and directing the body to respond and work at optimal performance in the environment that the mind is perceiving. The conscious mind is defined as the part of mind that is responsible for rationalizing, paying attention, logical thinking and reasoning. It is also known to control all of our day to day activities that we do on a voluntary basis. It is called the gatekeeper of the human mind. It also keeps track and communicates with the outside world and inner self through receptive sensations, thoughts, speech, pictures, writing and physical activities. However, according to latest research studies, the conscious mind has been found to be highly dependent on the subconscious mind, which decides how humans function as a whole.
The subconscious mind is defined as the section of mind that is responsible for all our involuntary actions and also the place where all of our experiences and memories are recorded, processed and stored. For example, the continuous process of breathing, blood circulation, and heart rate are known to be controlled by an individual’s subconscious mind. Also, all our emotions are controlled by the subconscious mind. This is why we feel negative emotions like sadness, fear, and anxiety even without wanting to experience them in response to various circumstances. The subconscious mind is also known to be the storage place where individual beliefs, attitudes, and memories are held and retrieved from.
Our mind, particularly our subconscious mind, is like a computer, able to receive, process, record and store huge amounts of information. Everything we experience in our lives is recorded and stored in the subconscious as memory. When we have an experience, it is filtered, through a very complex series of events, in several different regions of the brain and will eventually end up triggering the autonomic nervous system, either the sympathetic part (our fight or flight response) or the parasympathetic part (our rest and digest response). When these systems are triggered, they release unique and powerful neurotransmitters and hormones such as, adrenalin, catecholamines, oxytocin, and endorphins, which travel throughout our bodies on a cellular level and affect changes to respond to the experience. This includes turning the immune system on or off, setting off inflammatory responses, affecting our rate and quality of breathing, our heart rate and blood pressure, etc. All of these responses create either the conditions for resting and digesting (growth) or fight or flight (protection).
Our bodies are designed to work optimally when we are in our parasympathetic mode. Ideally, we are in this mode 95-98% of the time and switch into the sympathetic mode just 2-5% of the time to deal with a specific threat. Unfortunately, the world in which we presently live, most of us are spending a far greater amount of time in a sympathetic state – on high alert and ready to leap into action. Our experiences then are constantly shaded by a need to react and respond for protection.
We also live in a time where most of our stress energy (the things that trigger the sympathetic nervous system) cannot be discharged by running away or physically fighting them off. If the events or experiences are significant (major events such as physical trauma, divorce, abuse, adverse childhood experiences, witnessing violence, etc.) they become trapped in the body and the subconscious mind as a reactive memory. This then causes continuous triggering of the sympathetic nervous system response, which then continues to activate in our bodies – depressing the immune system, accelerating our heart rate and blood pressure, accelerating our breathing and making it more shallow. These triggered responses become part of the memory of these events and that is how we are left with memories that carry reactivity with them. We remember not only the experience but all of the feelings, the fears, the shock and trauma, the beliefs about the world and our safety in the world that came from that experience. As we accumulate more experiences in life, we then begin to develop belief systems and patterns of thinking that flavour our perception of the world, life and how we respond to it.
Traumatic experiences, internal conclusions and beliefs about the self that result from these experiences, gradually accumulate over the years. At some point, it can make perfect sense to the subconscious mind to create an illness or an imbalance of some sort in the body, mind or emotions. This is called somatization. The chronic stimulation of the sympathetic nervous system eventually leads to more noticeable signs that the system is not functioning optimally.
The subconscious mind knows everything that has happened to us, it is a super computer processing information at about a million bytes per second. Additionally, the subconscious mind never sleeps. When we are asleep it is only our conscious mind that has gone to sleep. The subconscious mind has the ability to heal and effortlessly transform whatever traumatic experiences, upsetting feelings and sabotaging habits we have. This transformation usually happens without having to re-experience the original trauma. This process works by releasing from your subconscious and cellular memories those beliefs, experiences, feelings, habits, and imprints connected with a specific theme and/or experience. The subconscious generally wants to release and clear, a lot like defragging your computer, because it can’t run as efficiently when it is constantly bogged down by inefficient patterns and beliefs.
It is very common for people to report that after doing CRT they feel lighter, calmer and less reactive. The reason for this is that the subconscious has been able to neutralize the events and experiences through the clearing and therefore allow the sympathetic nervous system to stand down. This allows us to move away from a constant feedback loop of being triggered by past experiences, to be in a reactive state and to feel the need to protect ourselves from the world around us every second. Simply put, the energy savings to the body are enormous when it no longer has to be on mental high alert at all times.
So how do we gain access to the subconscious mind?
There are several known ways to access the subconscious mind. One of the most common and easiest ways is through hypnosis. Hypnosis begins with bringing the mind and body into a relaxed state, generally through a simple progressive relaxation script.
When we allow ourselves to relax we bring ourselves into a parasympathetic state where both the body and mind are relaxed. Through hypnosis we are able to relax the physical body, bypass the critical factor of the mind, and utilize other levels of consciousness. Levels of consciousness are measured through the frequency of electrical brain wave activity. There are 4 levels of consciousness: Beta, Alpha, Theta and Delta. Our general conscious state is Beta where we are awake and alert. Alpha is that half awake and half asleep state, the state we are in when we are day dreaming, engrossed in a good book or movie, or watching the flames of a fire. In the alpha state, conscious awareness is redirected. Theta is the state that occurs between the light drowsiness and relaxation of alpha and the more profound heavy sleep of delta.
By using progressive relaxation scripts the mind is brought into the familiar and relaxing alpha state. Once the mind and body are relaxed the conscious mind (the part of the mind that is responsible for rationalizing, paying attention, logical thinking and reasoning) can stand down. In that moment there is nothing for it to rationalize, analyze or logically think and reason through. It doesn’t go away or leave completely, it just softens and allows the gateway to the subconscious to be opened. The subconscious mind can then be accessed. The subconscious is the non-reasoning, computer-like part of our mind, which receives, processes, and stores information. When given the opportunity and the assistance of suggestion or direction, is able to re-align (or defrag) the information that exists within it. As mentioned previously in this article, the subconscious generally wants to reorganize, release and clear because it can’t run as efficiently when it is constantly bogged down by inefficient patterns and beliefs or those reactive charged memories that shift us away from the parasympathetic and into the sympathetic state.
Common concerns and attitudes about hypnosis
Very often people hold some definitive misgivings and beliefs about hypnosis, here are some of the common ones:
1. Being afraid of getting “stuck in hypnosis”. This just does not happen. If the practitioner were to simply stop talking and walk away, one of two things would happen; either the client would simply slip into a natural sleep for a few minutes and then simply wake up; or the client would be naturally roused by the absence of the practitioner’s voice.
2. Fears that financial or family secrets will be revealed. Since you are aware throughout a hypnosis session, it is you who controls what will be revealed. Hypnosis is not a “truth serum”.
3. Fears that the hypnotist will be in control of your mind. You are totally in control, can hear everything that is said, and can respond verbally and physically. The body relaxes as if asleep, but the mind remains alert.
4. Have doubts about your ability to “go into hypnosis”. Almost anyone who wants to be hypnotized can achieve the relaxed state of hypnosis. Hypnotherapy is a therapy of consent. It is not like going under anaesthesia where there is a loss of control or volition. Instead, a person goes “into” hypnosis or deep relaxation.
5. Fears that you may do things that will be humiliating. You are fully in control, nothing will occur unless you want it to. Stage hypnosis has left us with this myth and false impression of hypnotherapy. Again, hypnotherapy is a therapy of consent.
6. Fears that you may do something that is against your moral standards. This can be a common misconception. A person will not do anything under hypnosis that you would not be inclined to do normally. Since the practitioner does not control your mind or behaviour, there is little likelihood of any betrayal of morals (unless you are looking for an excuse).
Cellular Release Therapy® and HypnoBirthing® both employ hypnosis to affect change. If you would like to learn more about either of these therapies, please click on their text to read more on our blog pages. If you would like to book an appointment for CRT or HypnoBirthing please click on the ‘Book Appointment’ tab in the top right hand corner of your screen, or call 778-640-1119 to speak with one of our front desk staff.