It works because in trance you focus intently on the subject at hand, to the near exclusion of any other thought.
In order to understand how hypnosis works, it is very important for you to understand the relationship between your conscious mind and your subconscious mind.
The Conscious Mind
The conscious mind, which accounts for 10% of your mind, is working right now as you are reading this. It is that part of you that is aware of what is going on right now. Choices and decisions are made by the conscious mind.
The conscious mind proper is our ego. Easily distracted, the conscious minds concentration rate is only 25% efficient. This state of mind analyzes and criticizes everything. It is logical and analytical and it is where we spend about 12 hours per day. It basically performs four functions:
- The conscious mind analyzes and acts as a problem-solver by evaluating whatever concern, situation or issue has its attention
- The conscious mind makes decisions that we often think are automatic, but in reality, engage a part of our conscious mind.
- The conscious mind exercises what we call willpower.
- The conscious mind also is the place of working memory. It is the memory we use every day to function.
Conscious decisions are influenced by the data stored in our subconscious mind.
The Subconscious Mind
The subconscious or alpha state accounts for 90% of our mind, and is most important to our understanding of hypnosis. Its concentration efficiency is nearly perfect at a minimum of 95%.
One of the most important functions of the subconscious mind is that it automatically controls our bodily functions: breathing, heart beating, eyes blinking, the immune system and organs, muscles, bones and tissues from the cellular level to its inter-relatedness as a whole body functioning.
The subconscious mind can be compared to a computer in that it stores the data for all the experiences we have ever had, every thought, every word that has ever been said to us, and everything we observe by our five senses. It contains our values and our core beliefs about ourselves.
In the same way as a computer, your subconscious mind operates on its programming. Also like a computer, your subconscious mind can be reprogrammed. We are constantly reprogramming our subconscious mind through our experiences and self-talk. If our internal dialogue is saying we are fat, a smoker, a failure, then that is what we become. If our programming says we are successful, motivated, free from bad habits, then that is what we are.
The fastest, most efficient way to change your bad habits or negative internal dialogue in fact the ONLY way a real change can take place -- is to bypass the "critical factor" and re-program your subconscious mind.
The "critical factor" is a part of the conscious mind. It's kind of like a guard at the gate between the conscious mind and the subconscious mind. It has the power to accept or reject suggestions from entering the subconscious mind. It has very good intentions. Its job is to protect us. Because change is viewed as a threat to our nervous system, any suggestion that does not match the existing programming automatically gets rejected. That is how it accomplishes its goal of protecting us.
The usual way we program the subconscious mind (and bypass the critical factor) is through our memories, habits, and emotions, but:
- Memories are only created through experience and you may need many positive experiences to diminish the effects of a negative experience. This could take a long time to create.
- Habits require willpower and time in order to become habits.
- Emotions either happen randomly or require changing the way you think about a situation and that can be enormously difficult and time-consuming.
There is another, much easier way bypass the critical factor, and that is through hypnosis.
Under hypnosis, the critical factor goes to sleep for awhile. The conscious mind stays awake, and can still make decisions. But now you're in control while your subconscious is receptive to any suggestion that your conscious mind wants to let in.
Close your eyes and pretend you can't open them. Keep on pretending and while you are pretending, try to open your eyes. You'll find it's impossible if you are concentrating hard on the pretense. Now you know very well that you can open your eyes at any time you change your mind and stop pretending.
All the time you were pretending that you couldn't open your eyes, your sense of judgment was completely suspended concerning that particular action.
This doesn't mean that you're hypnotized -- hypnosis is not obtained until selective thinking is established. That would be saying something like this: "So long as you keep pretending, you will feel nothing while the dentist is drillilng."
The subconscious mind, having no power to reason, accepts and acts upon any fact or suggestion given to it by the conscious mind.
During hypnosis you can set aside limiting beliefs that may have been preventing you from moving toward a more healthy, and happier you.
So you can see that there is no mystery or magic in the hypnotist. The power and magic is all in the subconscious mind of the person receiving hypnosis. The hypnotist merely helps you to use that incredible hidden power to achieve things in your life such as stopping smoking, losing weight, cutting down on stress, gaining in confidence and happiness, even excelling at your chosen sport.
Hypnosis is a complementary tool, and should never be used in place of qualified medical advice. Never start or stop any medication, therapy or treatment simply because you are trying hypnosis. Read this important DISCLAIMER.
*Taken from Hypnotherapy, by Dave Elman. Originally published in 1964, this book is one of the classics of modern hypnosis. Many anecdotes and case-studies by the non-medically trained author make it an enjoyable and easily-understood read. I used it in my training and refer to it often in my practice.
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