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Hypnosis - the state between sleeping and waking

by: Michael Sanford
Hypnosis is a state of consciousness one enters and leaves naturally all the time during your day-to day experiences. It feels very much like day dreaming i.e., the state between sleeping and waking. Hypnosis is a guided fantasy. In this state of relaxation you are more open to suggestions. In this state (also called alpha) your brain wave vibration rate slows down, giving you access to your Subconscious Mind. While your Conscious Mind is still completely aware of what is going on the whole time, in this relaxed state of mind, your subconscious mind has the ability to accept information given to it by the hypnotist.

Hypnosis is a valuable tool for self-empowerment and continuous personal growth.
Hypnosis is a state of heightened suggestibility. We are all influenced by suggestions. Hypnosis uses this natural human process to change negative patterns into positive patterns of behavior.

There is nothing mysterious about hypnosis.
There are five components necessary to induce hypnosis.

Motivation - You must want to be Hypnotized
Relaxation - Hypnosis is a state of deep relaxation.
Concentration - You will use your ability to concentrate.
Imagination - You will use your vivid imagination.
Suggestion - You will hear and respond to suggestions.
Its application is based solely on the relationship between the conscious mind and the subconscious mind.

The subconscious mind, having no power to reason, accepts and acts upon any fact or suggestion given to it by the conscious mind.
As long as there have been human beings, there has been hypnosis. We use this commonly occurring, and natural state of mind, unknowingly, all the time. It is just natural for us. For example, if you have ever watched a television program or a movie and became really absorbed into the program, you were probably in a trance.

Advertisers understand this. They use television programs to induce a hypnotic trance and then provide you hypnotic suggestions, called commercials!

Everyone has already experienced hypnosis, by accident or intentionally.

Another common example of this naturally occurring state of mind is when you are driving down the road, with your mind focused on some other task (a day dream perhaps), and next thing you know, you have passed your next turn.

The hypnotic state is an optimum state for making changes in your life.

During hypnosis you can set aside limiting beliefs that may have been preventing you from moving toward a more healthy, and happier you.

In order for you to understand how hypnosis works, it is very important for you to understand the relationship between your conscious mind and your subconscious mind.

Since everyone has experienced light levels of hypnosis at different times, don't be surprised if you don't feel hypnotized. All that is required to be hypnotized is a motivation to be hypnotized, concentration, imagination, relaxation, and the willingness to respond to suggestion. There are ways to check for the depth level of hypnosis, usually in a one-on-one session.

During hypnosis, you will remain conscious of your surroundings. Some of the sensations you may experience are:

Tingling in your fingertips or limbs
A sense of numbness or limb distortion
A sense of being light and floating away from your body
A heavy feeling like you are sinking
A sense of energy moving through your body
Feelings of emotions
Fluttering eyelids
An increase or decrease in salivation.
When you notice that you are noticing these sensations, do not become alarmed or you may shock yourself right out of your trance. Just expect the trance to occur gradually and it will. Suggestions stay with some individuals indefinitely, others need reinforcement. The effects of hypnosis are cumulative: The more the techniques are practiced and posthypnotic suggestions are brought into play, the more permanent the results become.

Brain-imaging study has shed light on why some people are more susceptible than others to hypnosis. By hinting at the brain processes involved, the analysis also suggests that hypnosis - both the stage and therapeutic varieties - does have genuine effects on the brain's workings.

Those who are easily hypnotized show different activity in a brain region called the anterior cingulate gyrus, which is involved in planning our future actions, reports John Gruzelier of Imperial College London. In a hypnotic trance, the function of this region may be impaired, he says, meaning that subjects are more likely to follow a hypnotist's suggestion: "The hypnotist tells you to go with the flow, and so you don't evaluate what you're doing."

Peter Naish
Open University, UK

This is consistent with the idea that those who are easiest to hypnotize tend to describe themselves as generally letting go of their inhibitions quite easily, Gruzelier told the British Association Festival of Science in Exeter, UK, on Thursday.

Mind games

Some experts have argued that hypnotism is not a real physiological phenomenon at all, but rather the result of hypnotists imposing themselves on their subjects, who may be simply swept along. Stage hypnotists are often accused of intimidating their 'volunteers' into playing along for the sake of the show.

This effect is certainly part of the picture in performance hypnotism, says Gruzelier. "Lots of it is due to personality and persuasiveness, but then that's showbusiness," he told Such tactics can cause people to ignore the potential of genuine hypnosis to ease painful diseases, he adds: "Unquestionably, stage hypnotists give hypnotism a bad name."

"Humans like to comply; they don't like to be embarrassed," agrees Peter Naish, who studies hypnosis at the Open University in Milton Keynes, UK. But he insists that underneath the coercion used by charismatic stage acts, a physiological effect is occurring. "The evidence really is there; hypnosis is not miraculous," he adds.

Gruzelier studied 24 subjects, half of whom were categorized as succumbing easily to hypnotism, and half of whom were resistant. He scanned the volunteers' brains while they tackled a problem called the Stroop task, a test of mental flexibility that requires subjects to categorize a list of colours presented in a different colour - the word 'green' printed in blue, say - depending either on the name or the actual colour.

Gruzelier tested the subjects before and after they underwent a standard procedure used by hypnotists to put their subjects into a trance. In resistant subjects, the anterior cingulate gyrus was less strongly activated after the procedure than before, showing that their brains were working less hard as they got better at planning how to complete the task.

But in hypnotized volunteers, the anterior cingulate, and the regions that govern it, were more strongly activated when they were in a trance, showing that they were struggling harder to plot their actions, Gruzelier reported. He suspects that this impaired ability to plan for oneself makes people more suggestible.

This process may underlie hypnotists' ability to influence their subjects' behaviour, be it stopping smoking or barking like a dog whenever they hear Elvis Presley. Subjects frequently report that they feel compelled to do something even though they know they don't really want to.

Gruzelier also suspects that hypnotism may interfere with subjects' evaluation of future emotions such as embarrassment. A region in the brain's medio-frontal cortex, close to the anterior cingulate, governs our perception of how we will feel if we take a certain course of action, he says. If connections between the two regions are impaired, stage volunteers might happily act without thinking.

That may well be the final weapon in the showbiz hypnotist's arsenal, says Gruzelier. By not only making volunteers suggestible but also taking away their sense of shame, the possibilities for public ridicule are immense. "The structure that monitors the emotional consequences of future actions becomes disconnected," he suggests. "So you make a fool of yourself."

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