We all experience a “hypnotic state” every now and then, doing normal day-to-day activities. We just overlook it because of lack of knowledge on the subject. For instance, when we take a nap our brain-waves shift from beta to alpha, just like during hypnosis. Also, when we are so much focused on a task that we don’t get distracted by whatever is happening around, it is likely we are in a light “hypnotic state”, another term for which is an “altered state”.
Similarly, for those who drive, you may have actually slipped into an altered state of consciousness when on your way home you were deep into your thoughts about a day’s events that when you finally reached home and parked your car you realized that you had no idea how you made it all the way and you thought to yourself “that was quick”, when in reality the drive was almost two hours.
Daydreaming is another example of naturally experiencing an altered state of mind. While daydreaming we get so connected to the imaginary situation and the feelings it generates that our body starts to react as if the events were real, which makes us enter a light hypnotic state, followed by certain physiological changes. For example, if I daydream about skydiving from 16000 feet up high, my heart starts pumping faster and my muscles tighten, as if getting ready to take the pressure, like I’m about to jump off the plane. So hypnosis is really a natural yet altered state of mind.
It is in this altered state of the mind where healing occurs, when the critical faculty is relaxed. Critical faculty, which develops by the age ten, works like a gatekeeper or checkpoint to the subconscious. Located between the conscious and the subconscious mind, it compares any new incoming ideas or information with the already existing ideas of the subconscious mind and resolves if the current information matches with the recognized patterns of the subconscious mind, or if it should be sent back to the conscious mind for further inspection.
During hypnosis, relaxation of critical faculty aids in communication between the conscious and subconscious mind. This communication allows for positive and beneficial suggestions, ideas and information to be accepted and acted upon by the subconscious mind. And this is what we aim to do as Hypnotherapists.