In our last post, we learned how we are responsible for what’s happening in our lives from our health to our relationships, and that what we are seeing as results currently is a reflection of the beliefs held in our subconscious mind created from experiences we had when we didn’t have a conscious mind to clarify it for us. In this entry, we are going to learn the mechanics behind my favourite tool for change; hypnotherapy.
As we learned last time, we have a conscious and a subconscious mind. The conscious mind is only a small portion of our total thoughts but it acts like a filter for information going into the much larger subconscious mind. We learned that the subconscious mind is where all of our body processes such as breathing, digestion, and metabolism originate from, but most importantly, we learned that our belief systems are housed here, and if we want to change what is happening in our lives, we must change the programming of the subconscious.
So how do we do that? First, let’s understand a little about how the brain works. Neurologists have discovered that our brain can “work” at several different speeds. The four most important ones are: Alpha, Beta, Theta and Delta. When the brain is working the fastest, it is said to be in Beta. Beta is the conscious mind, the logic and reasoning, and the filter. Slow the brain down slightly, such as when relaxed, and it moves into Alpha. An example of when the brain might be in alpha is when we are watching a movie and we are able to tune out people and activities around us, or when we are driving and are so lost in our own thoughts that we miss our highway exit. Slow the brain down even more and it goes into Theta which is usually associated with meditation, and even more, and it goes into Delta, which is sleep and dreaming.
As I said, Beta is the conscious mind, anything slower than that, is the subconscious mind, meaning, if we slow the brain down, the conscious mind turns off and the subconscious is fully accessible, listening and has no filter to what is going in. So, if we relax ourselves into any state other than beta, we can reprogram the subconscious mind. This is the very purpose of hypnotherapy; relaxing the mind so as to grant access to, and reprogram the subconscious.
Now another important concept that we only briefly touched on in our last article was the fact that the subconscious mind doesn’t know the difference between fantasy and reality; what it observes, it believes to be true. To prove this point, scientists did a study on a test group of people. The group was divided into two smaller groups, and in one group, the test subjects were asked to perform a physical exercise repetitively each day for several weeks. Their muscle mass prior to beginning the regimen was recorded. The second group of subjects was asked simply to imagine doing the same exercise for the same amount of time each day for several weeks. Their muscle mass was also recorded prior to beginning the regimen. After several weeks the muscle mass of all subjects was recorded and what scientists found was that all the subjects had built the very same amount of muscle mass, leading to the conclusion that imagining the exercise was as effective as actually doing it. In other words, the subconscious mind had perceived that it was exercising and proceeded to direct muscle to be built in the body in accordance with the need from the physical exercise!
Interesting to say the least, but how does this help us? Very simply, we can imagine a scenario, and the subconscious believes that it has actually experienced it. If the subconscious believes it has experienced it, it then forms belief systems around it; imagining programs the subconscious.
There is one last piece of the puzzle I must introduce before we can tie all this together, and that is the way in which our subconscious learns. We know that we can expose the subconscious to positive experiences which it believes to be true, but how do we “teach” it the new beliefs, and therefore, the new behaviours we wish it to have? There are two ways: emotion, and repetition. We are all familiar with the concept of repetition in learning. If we spell a word over and over again, eventually, we remember how to spell it. This is because with repeated exposure, the filter of the subconscious is surpassed and the information being repeated gets dropped to the subconscious. When most people think of hypnotherapy, they think of someone repeating positive suggestions to the person being hypnotized. Repeating statements going straight into the subconscious is a great way to make change, but can take a long time because of the repeated exposure necessary.
There are times however, when the repeated exposure isn’t enough. If the subconscious mind is holding fast to a belief that opposes the positive statements, even repeated exposure will not make the change. In this case, root cause work is needed. In root cause hypnotherapy, we use imagination and emotions to help reprogram the subconscious. The client is asked to imagine a life event the way they would have liked it to have occurred, usually imagining it in a more supportive way than what actually happened. Since the subconscious believes the imagined events, it begins to create new belief systems based on the supportive scenario. Along with imagining new events, the client is encouraged to feel the emotions that go along with such events. Feeling these emotions allows the subconscious to solidify the new behaviours and let go of old ones immediately. These new belief systems cause the client’s reality to change the moment they come out of hypnosis. They now believe something completely different, and more supportive for themselves, and unless the beliefs are further reprogrammed, they are permanent.
In the next article, I’ll put everything we’ve learned together in an example to show just how hypnotherapy can change our life, our relationships and our health.