Being Your Own Hypnotist
I am still surprised when people walk up to me, “Do you really believe hypnosis is real?” I don’t understand why I necessarily get shocked, a lot of very simple explanations seem mystical in nature. Look at the butterfly: who would have ever believed that such a homely looking creature could turn to be so beautiful. You can take two explanations from it, either believing its mystical or science. Or both!
I recently completed a great training put on by a couple out of Texas, Carol Kershaw, EdD, and her husband Bill Wade, PhD, both hypnotherapists who have been in the field for decades and know enough to teach the world all the tricks they’ve learned. I’m reading their book The Worry Free Mind, something I need for my practice, and quite frankly, myself.
I’m only a chapter into this book, but the refresher on brain waves is wonderful; I remember this portion in my own hypnosis training, and the more knowledge you have on brain states, the better! It’s sad to think that this portion of knowledge was missing from my entire college education; I believe I skimmed the surface in a high school psychology class.
Why I’m dismayed about there not being enough knowledge on brain states is how I believe if we knew more about our brain waves, we’d be able to have more power over our own mental health! All of us know that eating less sugar decreases our chances of getting diabetes and other health-related problems. Some of us know that going for a walk helps us if we’re experiencing depression-like symptoms. If we knew the science behind it, there may be increased chance of us doing the very things that help our mental health!
So what are brain waves? Brain waves are defined by electrical impulses that are constantly firing through your brain. They are measured in hertz and range from .05 hertz to 100 hertz. In addition, any time you are outside of the Beta brain wave, the norm state, you are putting yourself in a state of hypnosis. We travel through different brain waves throughout the day, meaning, any time you leave that home base of Beta, you are hypnotizing yourself. Several times a day, you are being hypnotized!
I call Beta the norm state (12-35 Hz), as it can be for many of us, however, some individuals run more on the other brain waves. It can generally be considered the home base (though it is not for everybody), because it is the brain wave where we pay attention and set about cognitive tasks throughout the day.
Once you leave Beta and enter another state, you then enter a state of hypnosis. The lighter state of hypnosis is Alpha (8-12 Hz). This state is common when watching a form of entertainment whether sports, television, being at the movie theater, or even light meditation. Slow down your rhythm more and you’ll enter Theta (4-7 Hz). This state can be a deep state of hypnosis and it is also the state you enter before sleep. It is a state of creativity, imagination, and great capacity for learning, making it the go to state hypnotists like working with when individuals come to them for hypnosis.
The lowest state is Delta (0.05-3.0 Hz), a deep state of rest/sleep. Dreaming does not happen in this sleeping state but growth hormones increase their release when in this state. It is also a state that enables powerful healing capacity.
The highest brain state is Gamma (35-70 Hz). This is also a state where intuition and creativity spikes. It is a more fast-paced state of mind, but with decreased worry. Individuals can also get to this state through meditation. This state is also found to have increased experience of interconnectedness. It is found to be a more spiritual state and can be accessed with years of meditation practice.
There you have the five brain wave states, and with a little familiarity, you may be able to note when you have your own brain wave changes. If you’ve never noticed them before, it could be that you either never paid attention or have never experienced them before, which is highly unlikely since our brains have a need to change their state constantly (as the writers estimate, every 90-120 minutes). I believe this is why we can only tolerate watching a movie for so long (unless you absolutely loved Star Wars or Lord of the Rings that much)! It is why we crave taking a break, watching tv, sugar, getting outside, going for a walk, having a cup of coffee! Some of us, however, have so much stress that our brains crave more than what these natural activities bring us, and we push for more intense states of brain state changes! If that is so for you, I suggest you either adjust the stress you have in your life or seek professional consultation on the matter.
In summary, I wanted to provide this explanation to make hypnosis seem less mystical, because I believe the more mystical it appears, the less responsibility you take in utilizing the hypnosis experience. Hypnosis is a marvelous path for many changes and the more hooky we make it, the less power it gives us. I believe people tend to believe something that they can understand more easily. In fact, maybe if we gave hypnosis another name, such as brain power or mind state change, it is possible that individuals may be more interested in it. On the flip side, there are also individuals who love hypnosis because it is mystical in a sense. If that is what you are drawn to, then carry on and continue to hole the mysticism of it.
As I continue reading more into The Worry-Free Mind, I hope to share more tricks, or should I saw instead, tools, with you. Only two chapters in and I already have so much to share!