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Hypnosis - the gate way to the subconscious mind and the unlimited potential!
“Hypnosis” is a term which comes along with many associated myths. As a result, it is an entity which people are feared to learn and be engaged in. Through this article we aim to explain: what is hypnosis, the neurological basis of hypnosis and some applications of hypnosis with the aim of breaking down the myths in the society and to promote the use of self hypnosis, which is a very valuable tool and a skill which every individual should acquire to have a better life.
American Psychological Society defines hypnosis as a cooperative interaction in which the participant responds to the suggestions of the hypnotist (the person who performs the act of hypnosis).
How does the mind work?
The mind functions in two basic states:
1. the superficial or the conscious mind
2. The deep or the sub-conscious mind
The conscious mind is the mind active during the alert day to day life and is driven predominantly by the left hemisphere of the brain (which is the dominant hemisphere in most individuals). This mind is logical and scientific. Therefore, it acts as a filter for the enormous amount of information received by all the senses (vision, hearing, smell, taste and touch), registering the information which are only considered relevant and important by the conscious mind. Any suggestion which appears to alter the firmly held beliefs, habits and desires are rejected by the conscious mind. The abilities of the conscious mind are relatively limited and it is subjected to fatigue over time.
In contrast, subconscious mind is the creative, infinite paradigm of the mind which is driven predominantly by the right hemisphere of the brain (the non-dominant hemisphere in most individuals). This mind has an infinite capacity to receive information and this is where the firmly held beliefs, habits and desires are being held and based on these the subconscious mind influences the conscious mind to carry out day-to-day activities. Therefore, the subconscious mind is the basis of an individual’s personality, habits and beliefs. As the bio-psycho-social model in modern psychiatry explains, the psychological status of a person (the mind) has a strong influence on physical health and well being. So, a positively oriented subconscious mind not only helps to build up the personality and positive thinking but also can be used as a tool to combat many physical diseases and discomforts as well.
What are the benefits of hypnosis?
Hypnosis is one technique, which has the ability to access the subconscious mind by-passing the filters of the conscious mind. Therefore, this allows altering the firmly held beliefs, habits and desires in a positive and constructive manner. This is used to:
1. Get rid of unwanted habits – smoking, drug addiction, excessive consumption of alcohol
2. Get rid of phobias – social phobia (fear of being in public)
3. Promote healthy behavior – prevent excessive eating to reduce obesity, increase the urge to exercise
4. Improve concentration and memory
5. Implant constructive ideas – positive thinking, winning mentality (e.g. – sports), following goals
6. Improve certain skills – presentation, communication
This can also be used therapeutically and is used extensively in many diseases:
1. To increase the pain threshold so that the requirement of analgesics can be effectively reduced (e.g. – cancers, rheumatoid arthritis)
2. To boost up the ability of the body to combat infections and cancers – there are reported cases of curing cancers which were diagnosed medically to be terminal and un-curable with the use of hypnosis to implant positive thoughts
3. As a modality of treatment in almost all the psychiatric disorders – depression, obsessive compulsive disorders, addiction
What happens in hypnosis?
The activity of the brain produces electrical waves which can be recorded using electrodes placed over the scalp. This is the basis of electroencehalography (EEG). The waves of the brain are seen to behave in four basic ranges of frequency depending on the activity of the brain.
Beta waves, also known as fast waves are the waves seen when the brain is quite alert and active (i.e. – when the conscious mind is dominating). With the loss of this conscious control of the mind, the brain waves tend to slow down. When the brain is in the q state, the suggestions which are given are easily perceived by the subconscious mind and stored. This process of slowing down occurs naturally in sleep, when the conscious mind rests and the subconscious mind becomes awake.
There are many techniques to slow down the brain waves without the individual falling asleep. Hypnosis is one of the most effective techniques which can be used for this, which makes the subject concentrate on a particular object or a point by looking at it or in mind with the eyes closed, and the focus is strengthened by spoken words. Other such techniques include:
2. Music (e.g. – theta frequency music)
4. Anaesthetic and hypnotic drugs
These techniques are in fact combined to hypnosis by many practitioners, in order to achieve the q state of the mind quickly. Once the q state is achieved, suggestions are delivered. These may also be delivered repeatedly in several sessions to reinforce the suggestions. The ultimate result is a strengthened mind oriented at the desired behavior or the goal. In our next article in this series, we will be discussing some common questions and myths regarding hypnosis.