“Hypnosis is a condition of profound relaxation which you allow yourself to enter, during which time there is an altered state of conscious awareness”
To understand clinical hypnosis and hypnotherapy, it's useful to understand the concept of the subconscious or unconscious mind. This is the part of your mind that is the most powerful, containing infinite wisdom and memory and a very deep level of intelligence. It is your untapped resource for creativity and imagination. Your unconscious mind is the seat of all your emotions and therefore directs nearly all of your behaviour. Most importantly, your unconscious is also responsible for maintaining your body in good health and for all autonomic processes (e.g. breathing, blood circulation, tissue regeneration, repair, fight or flight responses etc.) There are over 20 trillion cells in the human body and over 2,000 chemical reactions in every cell every second of every day all of which happen unconsciously.
Your unconscious is constantly monitoring millions of bits of information every second and it is making decisions for you about the data. Studies show that we are only consciously able to process 7 unique pieces of data at any one time [Miller 1956 “The Psychology of the magic number 7 plus or minus 2”]. This is why there are so many processes which happen unconsciously or outside of our normal conscious awareness. Consider the unconscious as the part of you which looks out for you and learns how to guide you through life. Most of the time it does a good job but sometimes it makes mistakes and it needs re-education or re-training.
There has been considerable research work done with hypnosis to clearly demonstrate that it is the basis of many therapeutically useful methods of facilitating mind-body communication and healing. The work of Hans Seyle [1936 1976 “General Adaptation Syndrome”], Milton H Erickson M.D [The seminars, Workshops & Lectures of Milton H Erickson Vol 1 to 4] and Ernest Rossi [ The Psychobiology Of Mind-Body Healing] all validate the view that psyche, mind and brain are all pervasively linked to modulating body processes in health and wellness. The relatively new science of Psycho-Neuro-Immunology has developed from the understanding that mind and body are inextricably linked in a psycho cybernetic loop.
No one really knows how exactly hypnosis works but there are some useful theories which help us to understand an amazing and very useful phenomena. One particularly useful approach to understanding hypnosis is through the ultradian rhythms. Ultradian rhythms happen naturally at 90 minute intervals, plus or minus 30 minutes; they are subtle behavioural rest phases where people spontaneously enter a quiet or inner-directed resting mood. The Ultradian Rhythm is a naturally occurring trance state. A hypnotist is able to guide someone into this natural trance state for a given purpose.
Once in a trance state the mind is more receptive to suggestions. Imagine you are talking to a child aged 6, at that age you can tell a child about the “Tooth Fairy” or “Santa Claus” and they will accept what is said as being real. As they grow up the brain develops the ability to be critical and to question these suggestions (this is known as the “critical factor”). Through the use of language, metaphor, rhythm, and tone the hypnotist is able to effectively switch off the “critical factor” so that with hypnosis we can once again make suggestions that the brain is likely to accept. Hypnosis is a safe way of accessing your natural intelligence and issuing new instructions to enable you to create seemingly miraculous changes in your behaviour and your body.
Famous users of hypnosis include Einstein, Leonardo Da Vinci, H G Wells and Sigmund Freud. Hypnosis is also used by top athletes, successful entrepreneurs, entertainers and high achievers to imagine and condition themselves for success.