By Lydia Wilson
For the Bali Times
KEROBOKAN ~ In this column last week, I mentioned the subject of hypnosis, and how a lot of people are frightened by it, thinking that in hypnosis, they will be unconscious and also be under the hypnotist’s control.
Perhaps my explanation here about what hypnosis really is will help clear the negative perceptions about it.
Hypnosis is actually a natural state of being that we enter into several times a day – when we meditate, daydream, watch television, paint and so on.
People in hypnosis close their eyes not because they are asleep, but to block out outside stimulants from entering their brain so that they can focus their full attention on themselves.
The word “hypnosis,” which comes from “hypnos,” meaning “sleep,” was first widely used by Scottish physician and surgeon James Braid (1795-1860). Although he later realized that hypnosis was not sleep and tried to change the name, but was unsuccessful.
In 1929, Hans Berger used an EEG machine, which measures the electrical activity of the brain, to discover that when a person’s eyes are closed the brain generates regular waves in 8 to 12 cycles per second (cps) range. He labeled these Alpha waves. Subsequently, other types of brainwaves were discovered: Beta, Theta and Delta.
With Beta waves (14-30cps) our conscious mind is active; we are physically alert and fully awake. This is the state where we conduct most of our thinking and reasoning.
In Alpha (8-13cps) we enter a state when we are daydreaming, just before sleeping at night, meditating, driving. Any task where time appears to pass quickly is usually done in this state. And nearly all hypnosis takes place in this range.
The brain reaches Theta-wave (4-7cps) level during deep sleep or when in a very deep meditative state. Although the conscious mind is awake, it is completely passive and some would say that in this state, we are able to access our super-conscious, which is part of the greater universal mind. This special range opens the door of the consciousness into the world of psychic phenomena.
Delta waves (0.05-3.5cps) occur during really deep sleep; the conscious mind is totally asleep. Not much is known about the delta range, except that to keep our body and mind healthy, we do need this delta-state sleep. We usually spend about 40 minutes each night in it.
All hypnosis is self-hypnosis. What a hypnotist does is only guide you into a deeper alpha or theta state that is usually difficult for us to do alone, so that you can access your subconscious mind and bring about its unlimited potential.
Have you heard of the saying that “most people only regularly use 3-10 percent of their mental ability”? It’s so true. Our subconscious capability is so amazingly powerful that it is often beyond what we can logically believe to be possible.
About nine years ago, while I was living in Hong Kong, we were invited to go on a family outing on a boat. There were six couples and seven children with us. We stopped at a place called Saikung. There was a beautiful cliff with caves there. The floor of the caves was full of sharp rocks. The children went swimming in the clear sea and swam to the caves. They were having fun discovering the place. I was standing alone trying not to feel seasick when my friend’s 13-year-old son came back to the boat. He was frantically crying out for his mother. I saw he had a 6-centimeter open cut which was about 1 centimeter deep on the right side of his right foot from the rocks. Looking at his deep cut, which was wide open and bleeding, I was sure that he would need quite a few stitches.
I could see he was in terrible pain, and even though I did not logically believe it myself, but having learned about how powerful our subconscious can be, I calmly said to him: “Do you know that you can heal yourself?”
He looked at me and asked how. As his feeling part (subconscious) was already active, which meant he was in the alpha state, I did not need to give him an induction to bring him down to it. I just calmly told him to close his eyes and to visualize green healing light swirling slowly around his open cut and gently healing it back to normal.
I could not believe my eyes because within less than two minutes, his wound was completely closed and healed, as if nothing had happened. All I could see was a very thin white line like what you would see if you gently scratch your skin with your nail. He opened his eyes, said thank you and jumped back into the sea to rejoin the other children. I was truly amazed when about half an hour later, he came back and proudly told me that he had had another cut on his left foot and that he had healed it himself. As my suggestion to him at the beginning was that he could heal himself, he believed it and did it himself. It was truly wonderful. Since then, whenever I come across adults or children who hurt themselves in minor accidents, I do the same as I did with him, and it works every time.
Scary hypnosis that you see in films, meanwhile, is pure fiction. But stage hypnosis is real. However, stage hypnotists want to give you the impression that they are the ones who have the power to hypnotize people, by putting them under their control and making them do all sorts of silly things. They’re like magicians: if they told you their secrets, it would take away the fun and mystery and nobody would want to watch.
What they don’t tell you is that it’s the subjects’ own power of concentration, focus, willingness to follow suggestions given by the hypnotist, trust and their own amazing subconscious power that makes them the stars of the show.
Our subconscious is so powerful that once it accepts a given suggestion, it will act accordingly and overrule the logical mind. I once saw a stage hypnosis show by one of the most remarkable hypnotists. His name was Ormond McGill, and he was 80 when he did the show at the National Guild of Hypnotists convention I attended in 2001. At the end, he sent everyone who was on the stage back to their chairs in the audience except for one. The man left on stage was the star of the show because he completely and willingly followed all the suggestions from the hypnotist.
This phenomenon can only happen when there is complete trust, a willingness to play along and basically the participant volunteers to do so because he is an extrovert and likes to have fun.
This particular participant was given the suggestion that when he stood up to go back to his chair in the audience, his feet would stick to the ground and he would not be able to move. I saw the participant open his eyes, stand up, try to walk – but he could not. It was funny to watch his expression, because consciously he wanted to walk back to his chair, but he couldn’t. It really showed me how powerful our subconscious is.
Hypnosis is just a tool, the best one available that we can use to access our subconscious mind. Hypnosis itself is not powerful – what is is our own subconscious mind: its ability to overrule our conscious mind; its creative power; its unlimited potential to create and to do the logically impossible – to achieve the best and the highest of what we can be.
I will continue on this subject with you next week.
Till then, love and peace.
Lydia Wilson is a transpersonal hypnotherapist based in Kerobokan, Bali. If you have a question you would like answered in this column, write to Lydia at firstname.lastname@example.org. For more go to www.bluelight7.com.