Hypnosis is simply an altered state of consciousness or awareness, and you have most probably experienced this yourself.
Motorway monotony can easily induce a hypnotic state, especially if the wipers are slip-slopping rhythmically on the windscreen. Staring into a candle or the flames of an open fire can have the same effect, so can listening to certain types of music or even watching TV.
There’s nothing new about the use of hypnosis for medical and therapeutic purposes: it has been widely used by different cultures for thousands of years.
The ancient Greeks had sleep temples where people were hypnotised as part of a healing process, and using an induced hypnotic state in rituals is still common in many cultures. It was used extensively in the 19th century as a form of anaesthetic, especially in battle conditions where nothing else was available. There are countless examples of operations, including amputations, successfully taking place with the patient under hypnosis. It was widely accepted and used by doctors who had few alternatives at the time. When Queen Victoria used chloroform to help with the birth of her third child, hypnosis fell out of fashion – but modern research and numerous studies have shown just how effective it can be across a wide range of problems and issues.
A typical human brain is like an iceberg, with just 10% showing above the surface of the ocean while the other 90% is hidden below the waves. Our conscious mind is the 10%, the part we use in our daily lives to co-ordinate our activities, analyse situations and make information-based decisions. The other 90% is our unconscious mind, the control centre of the body. It is the unconscious that monitors all the many physical and biochemical processes that keep us alive – breathing, temperature control, digestion and so on. Now that science has a better understanding of the mind-body connection, it is more widely accepted that the mind can – and does – affect our physical state of health.
Do you remember when you were learning to ride a bike or drive a car? You had to learn all the different movements and manoeuvres very deliberately and carefully, to make sure everything was right. But once you had learned it all, and had practised, it became almost automatic: all of those instructions had been passed from your conscious mind to your unconscious mind so that you don’t have to think about (say) putting your foot on the clutch before changing gear in a car, or where the footbrake is in relation to the accelerator. You just know. Your conscious brain only kicks in when there is an emergency situation.
The unconscious is also the source of creativity, imagination and emotions and it is the storehouse for everything we have experienced in life from the womb onwards. We have all read about increasingly-sophisticated experiments that clearly show how parts of the brain are linked to memories of past events, carefully stored in our unconscious.
Problems can occur when those memories or learned instructions are flawed in some way, and this affects future responses to certain situations.
Accessing the unconscious and changing those instructions is simple, safe – and highly effective!
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“ … hypnosis is the epitome of mind-body medicine. It can enable the mind to tell the body how to react, and modify the messages that the body sends to the mind.”
(New York Times)