In many of my articles of Hoosier Hypnosis News I talk about the unconscious mind. However, we don’t spend a lot of time talking about what that means. How we learned about it. Or, most importantly, what it does. Truth is, we still don’t know everything it does for us. But each and every day we are learning more and more.
More Than A Suggestion
The idea of hypnotic suggestions is ancient. We know that as early as 1150 B.C. Egyptian priest/physicians (a dual role in that time) repeated positive suggestions to their patients in trance. Ambroise-Auguste LIebault (1866) and Hippolyte Bernheim (1889) theorized that the effect of hypnosis is the result of suggestion. In the modern era, Ericksonian hypnosis and NLP (Neural Linguistic Programming) came to dominate what would become clinical hypnosis. Even the currently popular term of hypnotherapy today is that a hypnotist induces trance and then gives suggestions to influence change in the mind.
We know that these suggestions have an effect. Trance heightens suggestibility by relaxing different connections in the mind (add link to neuroscience series) thereby allowing suggestions to make a greater impression on the unconscious. Hypnosis is far more than a state however. It is an active process within the participant either guided by another or performed by one’s self. Hypnotic trance does more than increase suggestibility. It also creates an opportunity for the unconscious to fulfill the desire that led them to schedule, show up, and participate in an appointment.
Power Of The Unconscious
The unconscious remains an underestimated partner. We often emphasize how much work the conscious mind does analyzing things, but the unconscious never sleeps, while the latter does. It manages our dreams, but also has a lot of other important work to do. Overemphasis on the delivery of suggestions greatly underestimates the role of the unconscious in the process.
In fact, our culture spends a good deal of time denigrating the unconscious. As a culture we like to think that we are always in control. That the waking part of our mind has or can find all the answers. More importantly, that we are perfectly in control and aware of each and every one of our motives and beliefs. Anyone who has looked back at their actions can attest to this. We all have moments in which we have asked why we took an action. Or looked back and realized that we took an action for a reason other than what we originally thought.
Limitations Of The Conscious Mind
To be quite frank, the conscious mind is very limited and highly unaware of the unconscious process. Many things cannot even be done on a conscious level. In fact, conscious effort has been known to hinder the efforts of the unconscious. It’s just like when you are looking for an answer to a problem. You get so focused and frustrated. But then you start thinking of something else and all the sudden the answer comes to you like magic. In many cases, this is a case of the conscious trying to solve a problem the unconscious is far more adept to solve.
Many believe that the unconscious is smarter than the conscious. I’m not so sure there is evidence enough to support that yet. However, it is infinitely more capable of working quickly and efficiently using the data we provide to it. In fact, many clients have found the best solution they could imagine while in a trance or hypnotic state. Primarily because you gain greater access to your unconscious resources in these situations.
Conscious Interaction With The Unconscious
All that being said, these two halves of a whole do interact and influence each other. However, while they are capable of interacting they are also independent of each other as well.
Consider that analogy above again. The problem that solved itself while you weren’t consciously thinking about it. Your unconscious continued to search through your mental index for that information even after your conscious gave up. If that doesn’t essentially prove their independence from one another, I don’t know what would. Hypnosis works similarly with an augmented effect. While the client is fixated on the words being said (or the case of self hypnosis a mantra or breathing pattern) the usual patters of awareness are interrupted. Thus, allowing the unconscious to quickly search for the solution to the problem and possibly even implement it right then and there.
Sudden Insights…Or Not
I find that sometimes clients have a sudden insight about their problem while in hypnosis. Others are completely unaware of the work their unconscious does. Having acted as the subject on several occasions, both can be the case, even in the same individual. Nor does someone need one or the other outcome to obtain success. Sometimes clients come out of hypnosis knowing what has changed and other things they merely know that something is different. Even if they cannot explain how or why.
Find Your Authentic Unconscious
It remains common to hear about the positive physical effect of hypnosis or meditation. However, the benefits go much farther than that. Hypnosis offers each of us a distinct opportunity to develop our most authentic, well rounded, and spectacular self. Each of us are different and each person will gain different benefits from hypnosis, free from the usual limitations and interference of the conscious mind.
As a hypnotist, my role is not only to deliver suggestions or induce trance. My role is to facilitate the expression of your individual process. Of your personal development. Hypnosis is far more than a relaxed state of increased suggestibility. It is a tool that far too few of us understand enough to appreciate or use its might for life changing effects.