The truth about Hypnosis

           Hypnosis isn’t the exception. It’s the rule.
                                 ~Richard Bandler

Western thought has long valued the rational over the intuitive and the conscious over the sub-, un- or other-than-conscious. Even if you are aware of the power of hypnosis to help you overcome limitations and develop new skills and behavioral strategies quickly and easily, the chances are that you still like to have the sense that your rational, conscious mind is in control.

You probably grew up watching movies featuring evil hypnotists taking advantage of unsuspecting women and stage hypnotists asking those who were hypnotized to bark like dogs and squawk like chickens. You may still have that impression of hypnosis, or you may already be familiar with the value of the varieties of “trance experience.”

This page is intended primarily for those who are not already familiar with hypnosis and trance and for those who want to know more about how it relates to NLP and NLP training with SCS.

What Hypnosis Is—and Isn’t

Milton Erickson, M.D., considered the “Father” of Modern American Hypnotherapy and one of the principal influencers of Neurolinguistic Programming, defined hypnosis as “a reduction in the multiplicity of the foci of attention.” Although this statement is more a description of what happens than it is definition of what hypnosis actually is, it captures the essence of hypnotic trance.

You are actually in “trance” a great deal of the time perhaps without being aware that you are in that state usually called hypnosis. The question is which trance rather than whether trance. Whenever your focus of attention narrows—as it does when you read a good book, watch TV or a movie, engage in conversation, eat a meal, or drive a car—you experience a reduction in the multiplicity of the foci of your attention. You also enter a trance when you fall asleep (hypnogogic also hypnagogic) and when you wake up (hypnopomic).

The relationship between hypnosis and sleep is one of the reasons that some hypnotists may say, “You are getting sleepy, sleepy, sleepy. Your eyes are getting heavy, heavy, heavy.” You undoubtedly have had times when you have been really sleepy and your eyes were so heavy that you had difficulty opening them, and some hypnotists will use your memory of that feeling to help induce trance.

Hypnosis or trance is a common occurrence. Some people actually have an I can’t be hypnotized trance. Anything we do without focused, conscious attention is a form of trance. The trick is to choose the ones that best serve your purposes and contribute to your sense of Holistic Wealth.

While some trances can be so deep that you lose conscious awareness of the external environment, most are not. Even in a relatively deep trance, you will remain aware of your surroundings, as you are when you are driving your car and having a conversation with a passenger at the same time. Even when you are deep in trance, part of you remains alert and on guard for dangers in the external environment and suggestions you may not wish to follow. Some people may want to bark like a dog because they are in a “show business trance,” while you might reject that suggestion as being inappropriate.

Virtually all hypnosis is self-hypnosis in that you make a conscious choice to enter the hypnotic state because you want something from the trance, and you trust the source—whether yourself, an other person, or a recording. You never really “lose control.” In many ways, you gain control over beliefs and behavioral patterns that have been below your level of conscious awareness.

The Conscious-Unconscious Connection

The origin of many limiting beliefs and behavioral patterns remain buried below the level of conscious awareness. This kind of unconscious programming tends to be self-validating because it influences perception. If you believe that something is true, you can almost always find evidence to support the belief. If you believe that others can’t be trusted, for example, you will find evidence in the behavior of others that supports the belief.

Researchers have found some evidence to indicate that most conscious thought takes place in the left hemisphere of the brain, while most unconscious processing occurs in the right hemisphere. The left hemisphere is thought to operate with linear logic, while the right brain is thought to operate more intuitively. Perhaps more important than where in the brain processing takes place is the type of mental activity that occurs in each. The conscious mind tends to process according to the specific context of time and space, whereas the unconscious tends to operate metaphorically and in a “universal present.”

If I use the word bridge, for example, your conscious mind determines what I mean by context, while your unconscious mind sorts through the many meanings the word might have. The conscious mind tends to be linear, analytical, and abstract, while the unconscious tends to be both metaphorical and literal. The conscious mind thinks about the past and the future; it worries and it plans. The unconscious mind follows the established programming.

This is the reason that limiting beliefs and unwanted behaviors may continue long after the conscious mind has logically concluded that some other belief or behavior would better serve current purposes. It is difficult, for example, for an ocean liner steaming along to change course. The captain decides that a course change is required, but the water pressure on the rudder is so great that the rudder cannot be turned. Instead, a rudder on the rudder—the trim rudder—turns, and the water pressure against the trim rudder enables the rudder to move and to change the direction the ocean liner is going.

The conscious mind functions as the captain. It’s easy for the captain to give the order, but it is something else to get the ocean liner to turn. The trim rudder is the alignment of conscious and unconscious resources that occurs with NLP and hypnosis. Without the order from the captain and without the influence of the trim rudder, the ocean liner continues in the established direction. In one form or another, hypnosis facilitates the connection between your conscious decision and your unconscious resources when you are ready to change direction.

Replacing Programs That No Longer Serve Your Purpose

The unconscious mind begins the process of installing programs very early. Some say that the process began in past lives, but even if that is metaphorical rather than literal, recent research shows a remarkable amount of brain activity in the developing fetus. Virtually everything in the mother’s environment also influences the fetus, including the foods she eats, the air she breathes, the sounds she hears, and her emotions—especially those associated with feelings of love and safety and those associated with fear and worry.

By the time a child is born, it knows—at the unconscious level, at least—whether the world is a safe and loving place. The basic programming that influences much of adult behavior is well-established by the time the child reaches adolescence. The basic programming of early childhood is devoid of context and is often based on unfulfilled needs:

  • You never let me do what I want.
  • You always say that.
  • I can’t do anything right.
  • Everything I do turns to $#*!.
  • No one loves me.
  • Everyone hates me.

When programming based on need, scarcity, and fear dominate, an individual spends a good deal of his or her conscious energy focused on meeting poorly defined needs or in denial of needs. Because none of us had perfect parents, we all have some programming based on unrealistic fears. The fact that we have reached adulthood, for example, proves that someone met our needs when we were too little to meet them ourselves. That proof may be sufficient to satisfy the part of you that is conscious and logical, but it may not satisfy the part that is below your level of conscious awareness.

The preverbal child lives in a perceived eternal Heaven or Hell, depending on whether Mommy and Daddy are meeting his or her needs at the moment.
Good Mommy and Daddy provide food, warmth, and comfort. Bad Mommy and Daddy fail to respond to cries for attention for what seems like forever. The preverbal child lives on the Drama Triangle, with the Good Parents as Rescuers and the Bad Parents as Persecutors.

Using the trim rudder of NLP and hypnosis provides the leverage needed to change directions and chart a new course.

Convenient and Comprehensive Online Instruction

Your using Ericksonian hypnosis artfully is an essential component of Healing with Language. All you need to get started is a copy of the manual (Healing with Language: Your Key to Effective Mind-Body Communication) and $25 for a month’s subscription.

How much can you learn in a month? That’s up to you, and we will be glad to help. To get started, within the continental U.S., call (269) 921-2217, or send email to both of us.

Or you can think about it while you discover what you already know….

What Do You Know about Hypnosis?

If you already know a lot about hypnosis, you’ll find the following True/False quiz a snap. If you don’t yet know, some of the questions and answers might surprise you. The questions are on the first page, and the answers are on the second page. The file is in PDF format: What Do You Know About Hypnosis?

What Do You Know about Phobias?

Needles, snakes, spiders, dogs, and even worms…. The number of different things that can produce a phobic response is almost unlimited. Some people are afraid of being closed in (claustrophobia), while others are afraid of being in open areas (agoraphobia). In many cases, even those who know a lot about phobias find that they don’t know much about getting over them. The quiz will provide answers to your questions. The questions are on the first page, and the answers are on the second page. The file is in PDF format: What Do You Know About Getting Over a Phobia?

For the most convenient time and location for training, from within the Continental U.S., SCS uses Debra’s business line, (269) 921-2217, for telephone messages, or send email for more information.