What is Hypnosis?
Simply put, hypnosis is a natural state of mind consisting of a deeply relaxed state (physically, mentally, and emotionally) in which there is a heightened degree of awareness and focus and an increased responsiveness to suggestion. The state of mind required for hypnosis is the alpha state, a natural state everyone is in every day of their lives. We experience this state when we're engrossed in a television show or a novel or are daydreaming. We're focused so intently on the novel or television show, that we are unaware of what else might be going on around us. If you've ever been driving your car and suddenly realized you haven't been paying attention to your driving for the past several minutes but you have been off somewhere daydreaming, that's the state of mind we're talking about. Highly relaxed and so focused on the daydream that you're unaware of what's going on around you (driving conditions, etc.) This relaxed, highly focused state of mind generates the brainwave state known as alpha. It's the same state you're in right before you drift off to sleep at night. Alpha is also the state of mind most associated with hypnosis.
Hypnosis gets us into a highly relaxed, focused state in which we are perfectly primed to receive suggestions from a hypnotist or ourselves (self-hypnosis). We're in the optimal state of mind to create changes in our lives. It’s the optimal state because our conscious mind, while still present, has taken a backseat to our subconscious mind. And it's our subconscious mind that stores our belief systems and carries out our patterns of behavior for us. During hypnosis our subconscious mind is in a heightened state of awareness and is more receptive to following suggestions. Our subconscious mind doesn't analyze what is presented to it; it simply accepts the information or directions it is given.
When we're in our walking around, awake state, our subconscious mind is extraordinarily busy. It is recording everything we take in through our five senses. Our subconscious mind is also directing all the involuntary functions of our bodies (breathing; blood circulation; digestion; elimination; etc.). And because our subconscious is so busy, our potential for creating change at the subconscious level is quite limited. But when we're in a hypnotic state, our subconscious mind becomes more focused and more attentive and, therefore, more receptive. Because it's nowhere near as busy as when we're in our walking, talking state. When we become quiet, close our eyes and begin to breathe deeply and relax, our subconscious comes forward in this highly focused, aware state—perfectly primed for our suggestions.
Hypnosis or Self-Hypnosis
Which is It?—In many ways they're the same thing. Personally, I prefer self-hypnosis because I believe it best describes the experience. Whether you work with the guidance of a hypnotist or hypnotize yourself, you are the only on who can actually put yourself in a hypnotic state. No one can actually make you relax and go into an alpha state. A hypnotist can give you suggestions designed to help you to relax, but in the end you're the one who makes the decision to relax or not. And keep in mind that during a session, your conscious mind is still present and you could choose to come out of the hypnotic state at any time. In essence, going into a hypnotic state of mind can be accomplished whether you have a hypnotist guiding you or whether you choose to guide yourself.
A trained hypnotist will be more experienced and will have a better understanding of the process, but anyone with a strong enough desire can learn to be a proficient self-hypnotist. We all practice self-hypnosis every day, though we do it unconsciously. Every thought you have is a suggestion given to your subconscious mind. Your subconscious mind literally takes in everything through our five senses. While some thoughts have little impact because there's little desire or emotion behind them, repetitive thoughts or thoughts that have emotional weight behind them, are creative in nature. We create our experience in this world through our thoughts and perceptions. Everyone practices self-hypnosis (or you might simply call it creation) every day. We constantly give ourselves self-suggestions, day in and day out. If you can learn to be more conscious with your thoughts, be aware of your thoughts, direct your thoughts, and let go of the thoughts that don't serve you, you can create powerful changes in your life. Since we all practice self-hypnosis, we might as well learn to be more effective at it.
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