Many people think that hypnosis is something that has only recently been discovered but it actually been used, in some form, dating back millennia.
Studies have shown that it was used as a tool for treatment of the sick in ancient India, where people took their loved ones to the Temple for what was called “Nidra” or “Temple sleep.” The person that was unwell would stay at night to meditate and communicate with the gods.
It wasn’t until around 1770 that Western scientists become involved in the study of hypnotism, although at this time it was referred to as mesmerism, a term brought into favour by Franz Mesmer. As with most “alternative” treatments, over the years the benefits of hypnotherapy as a treatment for many disorders have been recognised more and more, and there are now a large body of practitioners which is continually growing.
But what IS hypnosis, exactly?
The human mind can be divided into two parts, the conscious mind and the subconscious mind. The conscious mind is the part that we are all aware of 100% of the time, that little voice in our heads reminding us of all the things we have to do today, including reading these written words in our head and digesting them. The subconscious mind controls everything that we are unaware of, things that we do automatically. It’s responsible for keeping our body functioning, our heart beating, blood pressure, breathing. It is the control centre for all our thoughts and emotions and it’s where our memories and life experiences are stored.
It is incredible how much of our lives are lived in an unconscious state! If you have ever driven a car along a highway or busy road and missed your turn off, that’s because your unconscious mind was driving while your conscious mind was thinking about something else. You have driven so many times that it has become an unconscious process and you don’t have to consciously be aware of changing gears or maintaining a safe speed like you did when you first passed your test.
The conscious mind is actually comparatively small, dealing with about seven bits of sensory information every second. The unconscious mind deals with about 2 million every single second! That means that the reality you’re actually aware of from moment to moment has been brought to your conscious attention by the unconscious, choosing seven bits which it thinks are important from the two million it’s just processed. How powerful is that?!
When observed individually the conscious mind can be seen to be more critical, analytical and logical and constantly makes value judgements. If someone were to say to you “smoking is really bad for your health, you really should give up” your conscious mind will come up with a dozen rational sounding reasons why you should keep smoking. Even if you do consciously admit that you should give up smoking, it’s not the conscious mind that’s keeping the habit in place.
On the other hand, the subconscious mind is quite literal and tends to take things personally; relating any information it receives to you as an individual. However , it’s also much more accepting. Hypnosis works by bypassing the critical conscious mind (usually through relaxation or linguistic techniques), and speaking directly to the unconscious in a language which it understands. It updates the unconscious mind with new and more helpful information, a bit like reprogramming a computer. It can be used to change associations, so that cigarettes are no longer seen as “friends”, but more realistically as the toxic killers they are. It can learn to deal with stressful situations without having to light up.
Since the unconscious mind controls our autonomic bodily processes, physical change can also be achieved through hypnosis. Pain control is a very good example. The mind alters our awareness of pain all the time. You’ll have experienced this yourself if you’ve ever discovered a cut or a bruise and wondered how it got there. Physical events are still occurring, but the unconscious has relegated them to the 1,999,993 bits of sensory information you’re not aware of every single second. Hypnosis can therefore be used to amplify that same response and apply it to a specific situation, such as the control of headaches.
So what does it feel like? Will I cluck like a chicken?
First of all, no, you won’t cluck like a chicken…unless you really want to! You see, you are always in control of your thoughts and actions, even whilst in trance, which is the term generally used when you have been hypnotised. The people we laugh at “under hypnosis” on the TV or stage are well aware of what they are doing, even though they are in a light form of trance. They are swept away by the fun they are experiencing in the situation and enjoying their part in the show.
The same is true, to a point, of clinical hypnotherapy. It will feel like a wonderful, peaceful and relaxing experience from which you will emerge feeling better, lighter and more in tune with life. While hypnotherapy is an amazing and effective form of treatment in its own right, it can be used successfully alongside acupuncture and other holistic treatments which are available at Pin Point Health. If you would like to make an appointment please call us on 07 3899 6911 or email us on the Contact Us page. I very much look forward to working with you.