Hypnosis Pre-Talk


Before you first experience hypnosis and start using it to make wonderful, beneficial changes in your life, I would like to say a few words to answer some of your possible questions and to dispel a few popular myths and misconceptions you possibly have about hypnosis.

One very common idea that people have is that being in hypnosis is the same as being unconscious, but that wouldn’t work, even I it was acceptable, as I need to communicate with your subconscious or unconscious mind to help you achieve anything from hypnosis. That wouldn’t be possible if you were out cold!

My own first experience of hypnosis was one of being extremely relaxed and calm, but aware of what was going on round me. It was a large training course run by Paul McKenna with over 400 people in the room and we split into pairs or groups of three to practise hypnosis. The room was very crowded with assistants rushing about the room helping people when one of them nearly knocked me of my chair. Despite being in hypnosis with my eyes closed, I did not react in any way and just thought “that was odd” and continued to focus on what the hypnotist was saying to me. My normal reaction would have been rather more aggressive.

Two Different Levels of Mind

The human mind operates on two levels, the conscious and the unconscious or subconscious mind. The conscious mind is where we spend most of our waking life. It’s where we make everyday decisions and analyse things. The unconscious mind operates just below our level of consciousness and generally manages the things we do automatically, like breathing and digesting our food.

We may consciously decide to put on our shoes, but our unconscious ties the shoelaces – assuming it knows how to. Do you remember how difficult that was for a while when you were very young? That was when you were doing it consciously and thinking a lot about how to do it. You may remember the same problem learning to ride a bike or drive a car.

The Conscious Mind

Your conscious mind basically does four things; Firstly, your conscious mind analyses. What is that? Well that is the part of us that looks at problems, analyses them and tries to create solutions to those problems. It is that part of us that makes decisions all day every day: “shall I open the door”, “Shall I have something to eat”, “what shall I worry about”. Even though they seem to be automatic behaviours, we make a conscious decision about whether or not to do these things.

The second thing our conscious mind does is to rationalize. This is the part of us that, especially in western cultures, always has to understand why – why things happen and why did I just do that. This can cause us so many problems as we give any problems more and more credence and power. More conventional and traditional methods of counselling or psychotherapy are often very much concerned with looking at causes of our problems and it is I feel that all this does is to teach us “why” they happen as opposed to giving us the skills required to change unwanted habits and behaviours. The more we think about “why” we do things, the more we seem to embed the unwanted behaviour into our lives.

The third part of our conscious mind is will power that teeth gritted determination that so many of us are proud to demonstrate. How many times have we used our will power alone to make changes and found that our will power weakens and that change is temporary or nonexistent? We have will power to overcome immediate problems, not long term ones.

The final part of our conscious mind is our short-term memory. By that I am referring to the things that you need to remember to function on a day-to-day basis, so that when your phone rings you know to answer it rather than stare at it wondering it is, or ensuring that you cross the road without someone running you over.

Put it all together and our conscious mind is logical, rational, analytical and focussed on the short-term, a bit like Mr Spock from Star Trek. Unfortunately, our conscious mind often over analyses things and sometimes ends up with the wrong answer. I remember in my childhood that my first answer to an exam question was usually right – before I changed it after further thought!

Your conscious mind is wherever you happen to be focussed on at the current time, but your unconscious mind is noting and recording on everything it can hear, see, smell, taste or feel – all the time or see. As an example, each of our eyes has something like 6 million direct connections to the brain with about 40 of them – the ones for the fovea – connected to the conscious mind, covering what were are currently focussing on. The remaining 5,990,960 are connected to the unconscious mind, covering your full peripheral vision.

The same goes for our other senses. I am sure you have been in a busy, noisy environment, such as a restaurant or a bar, and have been engaged in a conversation with someone and individual, and all the sounds going on around you just seem to blend into the background. Then suddenly someone else ten metres away can punctuate their sentence with your name and you pick it out as if it was being spoken to you.

If you take that conscious awareness and point it inside of yourself instead of outside into the world, you begin to become aware of your inner self, your unconscious mind, which is the part of you that we work with in hypnosis.

Your Deeper Inner Self: Your Unconscious Mind

Your unconscious mind is tremendously powerful and automates as much behaviour as it possibly can, so that we do not have to consciously think about it.

We are amazing learning machines and we learn behaviours and habits consciously and then our unconscious mind automates them and does them on autopilot so that we do not have to think about doing them.

Your unconscious mind has within it all your long-term memory. Just about every blade of grass that you have seen in your entire lifetime is stored away in your long-term memory ready for instant access given the right cue. As an example, if you have ever seen a live stand up comedy show. You watch the comedian and hopefully laugh heartily as you listen to lots and lots of jokes. Then when you leave the venue, you can remember none of them, or one or two at best! Then, a week later, a friend that you were with can just start to tell one of the jokes and you instantly remember the whole joke. The joke was stored away in your unconscious mind, just needing the trigger to find it.

You may experience the same thing listening to one of your old music albums that you haven’t played for a long time. I often can’t remember he words until the track starts, but then I can sing along happily, even f you turned the music off. I also start singing the next track before the previous one has finished!

If that sounds confusing, just think, you are currently breathing, your heart is beating, you are digesting your last meal, and your mind/body is regulating your body temperature and many other things. Your unconscious mind is managing a whole range of wonderful things without you having to consciously think about it. You are not sitting around thinking “I really must remember to breathe”.

Your unconscious mind is where you get your gut feelings, your instincts and intuition that communicate with you sporadically from time to time. Like when someone is saying all the right words to you, but you get a different feeling about them.

Your unconscious mind is a bit like a computer. Throughout your entire lifetime it has programmed itself with every skill you have ever gained, all your experiences, relationships, interpretations of the world, influences and beliefs. All this has culminated in your computer functioning with that programming. Hypnosis is simply a way of accessing that computer and understanding and updating that programming so that it becomes instinctive and intuitive for you to make the changes that please you. Your unconscious mind is the seat of your emotions and where your behaviours exist and it is the part of you that we work with in hypnosis. Hypnosis is a way of us stepping over your conscious mind and accessing the unconscious mind to make powerful and profound changes.
Naturally Occurring Hypnosis:

You may be surprised to hear that hypnosis is not new to you. I am sure that you have experienced natural trance states many times before, in fact I know it. For example, when you have been driving in a car and thought to yourself “how did I get here?” or when you have been reading a thrilling book or watching an exciting film and found yourself completely absorbed and with your heart pounding. Have you ever watched someone watching a physical sport and starting to move with the action – they are in a hypnotic trance. The only difference between these naturally occurring states and those that we use in hypnotherapy is that with the hypnosis, you intend to enter the state, you are in control of it and it is just like a slightly amplified, deeper version of the state. That is it. Sometimes it is simply like sitting in a chair with your eyes closed, not the magical mystical or unusual experience that some people are led to believe it is. And you are always in control.

It is important – very important – here to know that you cannot be made to do anything in hypnosis that you don’t want to do or wouldn’t normally do. If I ask you to stand up, you will probably do it. If I told you to go and rob a bank, you wouldn’t, unless that was your normal habit in life and you were comfortable to do it again on my say so!

What about Stage Hypnosis?

What about stage hypnosis you may ask, where the hypnotist asks people to do things that they would not normally do? Or would they? I have observed that many people who get up on stage “to be hypnotised” are extroverts who want to be the life and soul of the party. Typically a good stage hypnotist will select those people who want to be on the stage and then go through some sort of selection test to pick the ones that really want to perform. They also create an uninhibited atmosphere where everybody expects them to act silly anyway. I do not believe that the hypnotist makes the people on stage do anything they don’t want to. In fact, I have seen someone come out of hypnosis during a stage hypnosis performance and explain that he wasn’t ethically comfortable with a specific thing the hypnotist asked him to do. Up to that point he was participating fully in the show.

What if I don’t come out of hypnosis?

People are often concerned about what happens if I get stuck in a trance? The simple answer is that you can come out of trance any time you like, regardless of the hypnotist. It may be that you are so comfortable in trance that you may not want to come out immediately when the hypnotist asks you to. It’s your choice when you come out.

Anyone Can Go Into Hypnosis!

Anyone can be hypnotised as long as they want to be, even insomniacs, drug addicts, schizophrenics, people experiencing chemotherapy and people who are convinced that they cannot relax or be hypnotised. They all can and they all do.

All that is required is that you have an open mind, that you expect it to work and have progressive, motivated thoughts about the processes, follow the sessions and allow them to help you to help yourself to make the changes you want and deserve.

Final Thoughts

Finally, during an individual hypnosis session, I may ask you to do a number of different, seemingly contradictory, things with your mind. You could be forgiven for thinking “What exactly am I supposed to be listening to and doing?” The simple answer is that you listen to and follow as much or as little as you want to. Remember that is your conscious mind thinking those thoughts, and that is not the part of your mind that we are working with and making the change with. I am sure that there will also be times when you’ll be thinking “am I in hypnosis, what am I supposed to be thinking or feeling?” Again that is your conscious mind thinking that thought and it does not matter what it is thinking, just trust that your unconscious mind is absorbing all that you want it to.

There will be times in the sessions when I ask you to imagine things. Imagining things does not have to mean visualising. If I ask you to think of a favourite place, you can imagine what it would look, sound, feel, smell and taste like, you don’t have to be seeing a picture perfect cinema version of it in your mind. You can imagine, sense, think or just know it without seeing it or picturing it in every detail. If I asked you to imagine the sound your feet make when you walk across gravel, you know the sound I am talking about and you can imagine it, but you are not necessarily hearing it in your ears, you can imagine it. That is all I ask.

So, hypnosis is not like being unconscious, it is almost like having heightened awareness, it requires you to want the change, have an open, positive mind, as best as you can, and allow whatever happens to happen, without trying to grasp at what you think should happen, just let it happen…

Categories : Hypnosis
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