We visit a hypnotherapist when we have a ‘conflict of consciousness’ – that is when consciously we would like to behave and/or think differently, yet our unconscious mind does not comply, usually thinking it is protecting us.
So, what IS this unconscious mind of which I speak, why is that different to Freud’s ‘SUB-conscious mind’ or, indeed, ‘Higher Consciousness’ that folks talk of? Okay, it is all ONE mind, you know, though it is useful to think of it in its respective parts so we can make sense of why we can be ‘out of our minds’ with worry, or ‘in two minds’ about going on holiday, or ‘not in our right minds’ about something.
Well, the unconscious is defined simply as “that which is not conscious”. So, that blinking of your eyes you have been doing all day and not been consciously aware of, now notice how many times you blink a minute (probably a lot less when you are reading an article on a screen like this one, which is why our eyes get drier when using computers).
Hypnosis is Focus, not a system of belief
Simply put, you are not consciously in control of what stresses you out and we hypnotherapists talk to the unconscious mind and help it let go of certain stresses and focus on what your conscious mind says is important.
So now you are consciously aware of the unconscious act of blinking (sorry about that, as you are probably now trying to estimate, or even look up, what is the ‘normal’ rate of blinking!) sooner or later your CONSCIOUS attention will be drawn to something else, anything else, just something else. Then, as your conscious mind has five to seven things to process in this present moment, it releases its present occupation with your rate of blinking. You see, your consciousness knows that your unconsciousness will continue to blink whether you consciously think about it or not.
The prime directive of your unconscious mind is to protect the body and keep it safe. That is why you pull your hand away from something hot or sharp, or tickly, before the conscious mind joins in and wonders why you did that.
It is your unconscious mind which fired off your sympathetic nervous system when you saw someone else take flight from that tiny spider when you were small and learning about the world and what to be scared off – and also when you were not so small and witnessed your parents fight over having to pay bills they could not afford. When your body goes into fight or flight mode, it learns to keep you away from scary stuff.
Trouble is, a lot of our present day worries are, yes worrisome, though we can do little about that monsoon in a far away country or that volcano exploding and hurting all those people. Yet, we are triggered and we can physically feel the turbulence inside and we are in flight or flight about our own worries and everyone else’s worries too a lot of the time. That means our sleep is disturbed and our poor bodies get less and less downtime so that the parasympathetic nervous system state doesn’t get enough airtime to do its restoring and repairing duties, which is its job.
The science bit, brace yourself!
So, there are two divisions of the autonomic nervous system. They are the sympathetic and parasympathetic. In general they work in opposition to each other (but not always !).The sympathetic side helps the body adjust to stressful conditions, whist the parasympathetic side is active under normal circumstances.
For example: sympathetic nervous stimulation increases heart rate, sweating, and blood flow to skeletal muscle so we can utilise energy to run or fight.
Parasympathetic nervous stimulation decreases heart rate, sweating and blood flow to skeletal muscle, so we can utilise energy to restore and regenerate.
Yeah, yeah yeah, you probably know this. Though being in sympathetic states inhibits weight loss as the body seeks to get more energy in (eat, eat, eat!) and when it overloads, encourages us to do more of whatever our go to stress release is (drink, drink, drink!). All of our hormone secretions get screwed up as the body thinks you are under attack and your delicate balance of hormones goes awry. More seriously, perhaps, this is how stress can kill us, disturbing our heart rhythm and blood pressure.
Cardiovascular autonomic dysfunction and heart rate variability: Stimulation by the sympathetic nervous system results in the following effects on the heart Positive chronotropic effect (increase in heart rate): The sinoatrial (SA) node is the predominate pacemaker of the heart. It is located within the upper posterior wall of the right atrium, and is responsible for maintaining a sinus rhythm of between 60 and 100 beats per minute.
This rate is constantly being affected by innervations from both the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems. Stimulation by the sympathetic system nerves results in an increase of heart rate, as occurs during the “fight-or-flight” response. It has long been known that sympathetic stress/dominance occurs during heart failure or after myocardial infarction, and may trigger lethal arrhythmias. This sympathovagal imbalance is reflected by reduced heart rate variability (HRV). HRV is determined from ECG and has currently been used clinically as both a diagnostic as well as a prognostic factor for assessing cardiovascular autonomic dysfunction including cardiac autonomic neuropathy. Please refer a recent review article for specific HRV indicators and their interpretations.
Blood Pressure Regulation
In addition to the ANS, cardiovascular function is also influenced by numerous endocrine hormones. Released from the adrenal gland, epinephrine and dopamine (and ultimately, norepinephrine) are all involved in the initiation of the “fight-or-flight” response, while vasopressin, renin, angiotensin, aldosterone, and atrial-natriuretic peptide are all involved in water reabsorption for the purpose of blood pressure regulation.
read the full article “Autonomic and endocrine control of cardiovascular function”
Mind over Matter
The science of levels of conscious and unconscious process are set out below. So now you will know that it is a physical, measurable state, when someone tells you they are off to go meditate.
Beta 2-38 Hz
This is the Waking State; conscious mind usually very active; you would normally fluctuate at different levels of Beta during the day. (When a person is stressed they are at a high level of Beta.)
You are Awake, though the conscious mind is quiet. When you first get up in the morning or just before sleep you would be naturally in the Alpha state. This is the perfect state for visualisation as the conscious mind is quiet and it is easier to concentrate and focus your attention.
This is Sleep; where the Body is Relaxed and you are Dreaming; At this level your body is relaxed and you are in contact with your ‘unconscious’ thoughts and processing at a deeper level of mind. You can train your awareness to be active at this level with years of dedicated practice.
This is Deep Dreamless Sleep; At this level the body is healing itself. This state is now not as regularly accessed as it should be in order to be healthy. If you have a sleep monitoring fitness watch, you will have already noticed this.
These Brainwave States and Hypnotherapy
Meditative/Hypnotic State: ALPHA
- When you go to the deeper levels of sleep every night, your mind works out all of your current experience, refers to the past and projects into the future. It does this through dreaming and usually, we do not remember our dreams on waking.
- Sleep Studies on Subjects who have been awoken during the night to prevent dreaming, started within three days to get serious psychological problems and the studies were stopped. So, sleep AND dreaming is required to keep us sane.
- This meditative Alpha state is reached in deeper hypnosis, sleep learning and for reprogramming the subconscious mind when we need some readjustment, as with phobias. You can also receive messages and communications from your subconscious at this level. This is the spiritual level of meditation that advanced gurus seek to achieve.
- You can liken hypnotherapy as we access that Alpha state within you and so you do not need to have practised meditation for years, we speedrun the process and request your unconscious mind to sort out your problems.
There you have it! For more details, to ask questions, get a session of hypnotherapy or learn to become a hypnotherapist with us, visit www.jenniekitching.com now. Thank you for reading and go look after your mind!
Are you going out of your mind, or in two minds? Is your body repairing itself or are you continually anxious? It is all about the Unconscious Mind, read all about it here…