Hypnosis & Your Super-Helpful Subconscious Mind
Updated: Sep 8, 2022
HYPNOSIS—WHAT TO EXPECT
Will I be knocked out, with no memory? Or cluck like a chicken?
No. Not at all.
Stage hypnosis, which is what you’re thinking of, is quite different from clinical hypnosis. Clinical hypnosis is a process which helps the mind completely open; where both conscious and subconscious mind are receptive and capable of amazing things. It’s a state of deep relaxation accompanied by a HYPER-awareness, rather than UN-awareness.
Why do I want to be hyper aware?
In general, people walk through life unaware of a lot of what is happening around them because human brains purposely use selective attention. Without that tool, people would be deluged with information every second of every day and be unable to focus on any one thing.
Don't believe me?
If you have a minute, there is a cool experiment you should check out. Just go to the ‘Selective Attention Gorilla Video’ and sit back for the ride. It’s awesome and only takes about 3 minutes to go through!
Your mind’s ability to selectively focus is accomplished through a specific brain process, called synaptic pruning, which typically starts happening around six to nine months of age. Until then, you may notice babies staring at a blank wall for hours (perhaps watching patterns of light or texture) or getting startled or overwhelmed by everyday sounds and activities. This is because they see and hear EVERYTHING, all the time which is what helps them learn so much, so quickly.
When synaptic pruning takes place, the mind removes unnecessary neural forks in the brain—so the baby no longer has to hear the furnace kick on, or feel the way the air plays across their skin unless they want to or unless they pay specific attention. They've learned what they needed to from that stimuli, so they can move on. Doing so frees up their mind to focus more deeply on other things.
Unless you are on the extreme end of the autism spectrum, you can, and DO, selectively attend to the world around you.
Under hypnosis, your mind completely opens up, like a baby’s—and remember a baby’s mind learns, changes and grows at a fantastic rate! They learn social cues, language, dexterity and a million other things simply and easily because their brains are so open and malleable. With hypnosis, you can harness that same magic.
You’ve actually experienced a simple variation of that magic focus throughout your life, although you may not have realized.
Think back to a time when you woke up to a song playing first thing in the morning and that song got stuck in your head... ALL DAY!
Or, perhaps, you were thinking about a work issue just as you were nodding off and dreamt about it all night--your subconscious mind chewing on the problem, coming up with solutions, playing through scenarios, or reinforcing ideas (sometimes relentlessly).
Imagine using that to your advantage. Hypnosis is an ideal pathway to controlling your own thoughts and behaviours, by harnessing that relentless focus!
As an aside, just as you’re dozing off and first thing upon awakening are the times when your mind is most open naturally, and when suggestions are most easily implanted. Because of this, it’s the ideal time to listen to a targeted hypnosis recording.
What if I'm not receptive?
Picture yourself standing in the kitchen, slicing a lovely, yellow, perfectly ripe lemon. Watch the juices flow as you cut into it. Notice the citrus scent. Now, take a wedge of that lemon and put it into your mouth. Did your body respond? Did your mouth pucker or salivate? Now, hear the sound of Styrofoam rubbing together or fingernails scraping down a chalkboard. Imagine yourself touching a wet wooden spoon. Did your arms get goosebumps? Did you shiver? Do you yawn when someone around you yawns?
The degree to which you reacted to any of these ideas is your degree of responsiveness, and every normal brain responds to a certain extent.
The point I'm making is that there is no lemon, no nails, no Styrofoam, no spoon. And yet your body responded.
Your body reacts as if these things are real. A mere thought stimulates a physical response! And this response demonstrates the power of your subconscious mind.
If you involuntarily respond to a random idea, imagine what can happen when you consciously take control of the thoughts in your head!
What if I don't go into a trance?
Some people are more receptive to a trance state and find themselves going very deeply ‘under’. I often watch clients ‘opening doors’, climbing steps or navigating the hallways of their mind. By contrast, some people are barely affected. It depends upon the person. Interestingly, the depth of trance has no effect upon the session’s success. People may experience a very deep trance, and resist suggestion, or have a very light trance and find the session extremely helpful. Read on for how and why.
Will it work for me?
What matters MOST is willingness & desire to change. There is always a reason for any behavior.
Ask yourself, how does the behaviour help you? What does it do for you? And be honest! Do you consciously or unconsciously see your behavior as protective or helpful in some way? Do you sincerely want to make the change, or just think you *should*?
Understand, no hypnotist can make you do anything you aren`t fully willing to do!
If you've ever seen a stage show, you'll have seen examples where a volunteer on stage suddenly sits up, comes out of the trance, starts looking around, and is escorted off to some place in the background. What happened was the hypnotist made a suggestion that went against that person's beliefs, their conscience, or their morals so their mind resisted, threw on the brakes and *POOF* the person woke up.
A behaviour or habit will continue until it ceases to be helpful, or until there is a good alternative. A smoker, for example, may believe they need cigarettes to relax and may have tried to quit a number of times, but can't seem to let it go for good. Why?
Step 1: Smoker quits.
Does really well for a day, a week, a month or, sometimes, years.
Step 2: Something happens. Life is like that. It can be overwhelming sometimes, right?
Step 3: Smoker feels stressed and believes cigarettes will relieve that stress (even though MULTIPLE STUDIES have shown the opposite); i.e., that cigarette smoking increases stress. But, the person believes smoking will help, and they don't necessarily have a healthier alternative quick to hand.
Step 4: Smoker relapses back into the habit.
Nothing changes until it changes. If there is resistance, then there is a reason for it (hidden or otherwise). In this case, the obstacle is the belief that smoking can help the person cope with stress. The trick in breaking a habit is finding the underlying motivation for the behaviour, removing it and or refilling the 'hole' left behind with a better habit.
Once all blockages are removed and the conscious and subconscious minds are willing… hypnosis works.
Just like you’ll yawn when someone else yawns or like the thought of fingernails scratching down a blackboard will make you shiver.
Your mind controls every part of you.
What do you mean my mind controls every part of me?
Your subconscious mind is the world’s greatest research assistant and is always eager to help you prove your thoughts are true.
If you choose to think ‘People don’t like me very much’, your mind will instantly start pulling files to help you reinforce that belief-- to provide 'proof'. You’ll remember scenarios where someone was unkind, thoughtless or where you felt disrespected.
On the flip side, if you change that thought to, ‘People like me very much’, the opposite happens and you remember situations and loved ones who actively sought you out, did thoughtful things, and wanted to spend time with you.
The key is harnessing your subconscious mind in an effective way so you are free to choose your best path and create your own reality. Hypnosis is a fabulous tool for taking back control!
WHAT CAN HYPNOSIS HELP WITH?
Breaking unhealthy habits
And pretty much everything else.
BEFORE YOUR SESSION
To help your self be as successful as possible, here are a few tips:
1. Be willing & open. If you come in reluctant or resistant, you’re wasting your money!
2. Avoid coffee or other caffeinated beverages before a session. Clinical hypnosis involves relaxation, and you want the calming process to be simple, easy and effective.
3. Where possible, come alone because it’s easier to control your after-session mind when you’re only concerned about your own thoughts—rather than trying to resist the thoughts or opinions of others.
4. If someone will be with you during your one hour reset (discussed below), prepare them beforehand. Even well-meaning questions from a loved one can plant seeds of doubt, implying that failure is a possibility and you do NOT want that when your mind is particularly open to suggestion.
What kind of questions do I mean?
· Is it gone?
o Suggests: It might not be gone
· Does it still ___?
o Suggests: I expect it is still ____.
· Do you feel different?
o Suggests: Maybe there’s no difference.
· Did it work?
o Suggests: Maybe it didn`t work.
All of these *concerned* questions can accidentally/unintentionally de-rail your recovery and bring you right back to square one. With one or two words, someone you trust can undo all of the work you and I do together!
Remember, good or bad, your subconscious mind—your super-efficient helper—is always ready to supply the proof you need to make something real!
5. Remember that, if you want, you can resist me and any hypnotic suggestion, and that doing so is a complete waste of your hard-earned money.
No hypnotist can make you do anything you don’t want to, but we CAN help you get out of your own way! Your mind can do absolutely phenomenal things for you, if you allow it.
6. Expect that sometimes conflicting beliefs or traumas may need to be released first, before full healing can take place.
AFTER YOUR SESSION/ HELP YOURSELF SUCCEED
Once your session is complete, your subconscious mind remains more receptive than usual for about an hour, so it’s important to protect your progress during that time. Guard your words and thoughts and very carefully.
Remain quiet and in a quiet environment.
No music (with lyrics).
No phone/computer/tablet/electronic interaction.
In a nutshell… for one hour after the session... be quiet within yourself.
If possible, go out for a walk in nature, sit on a park bench and watch the clouds in the sky, meditate, whatever—but allow time for the suggestions to firmly take hold and time for your mind to reset. Take some YOU time.
Once that time has passed, you’re good to go.
Janet Nahirniak, B.Ed, M.Sc., has been helping clients as a Master Hypnotist and certified clinical Hypnotherapist since 2006. Her focus on neuroscience and psychology during her Master's degree gives her keen insight into how things like trauma, mental health issues, & chronic pain can physically change the brain. She brings that scientific background, along with her natural compassion, to her hypnosis and hypnotherapy practice to ensure her clients get the safest, most informed, and most effective care possible.