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What’s happening in the brain during a hypnotic trance?


How does hypnosis work?

Before working with us, our clients have made many attempts to change on their own (or with professional help), but, despite their determination, they have not been able to move forward. How is it possible for hypnosis to succeed where will power and well-structured conscious efforts have failed?

The answer to that question is that habitual behaviors, body reactions, emotions, beliefs, etc., are carried out by automatic programs in your subconscious, the part of the brain you are not aware of. It may be astonishing for you to realize just how little of what you do, think, feel, etc. comes from the “thinking” part of your brain and how much of who you are lies in the subconscious. What is even more remarkable is the degree to which you can influence these automatic subconscious programs: you can modify them, delete them, and replace them with new programs. Anyone can learn how to do it. And this is what we’ll teach you during your hypnotherapy process.

Basic information about your brain

Everything that you think, feel, perceive, everything that you do, and everything that your body does to maintain your life is the result of processes happening in your brain. Your brain operates through the coordinated actions of two separate parts: the conscious mind and the subconscious mind.

Your conscious mind is the part of your brain which allows you to think and perform other cognitive tasks. You are fully aware of everything that’s happening in your conscious mind. Your conscious mind works only when you are awake and shuts off when you are asleep. Even though your conscious mind is very powerful, it only accounts for about 5% of your total brain activity.

The real action, 95% of your total brain activity, happens in the parts of your brain that you are not aware of, your subconscious mind. The subconscious mind creates your emotions, feelings, and associated automatic body responses. The subconscious is the area of your brain, where your beliefs and patterns of physical and emotional behaviors are stored. Your subconscious serves as a vast database of information: anything you’ve experienced since the time you were born, no matter how insignificant, is filed and stored in your subconscious in the form of sensory and emotional data sets. Unlike your conscious mind, your subconscious works 24 hours a day, even while you are sleeping, constantly scanning your external and internal environment, automatically responding to a vast majority of stimuli and forwarding only a small amount (5%) for the conscious processing.
In its constant work, your subconscious is driven solely by two objectives: survival and pleasure (or avoidance of displeasure). All actions of your subconscious are carried out by either reflexive or automatic programs (programs executed without your conscious awareness).

Some of the programs carried out by your subconscious are pre-programmed in your DNA, meaning that you are born with these programs. These programs direct your heart to pump blood, your lungs to fill with air, your endocrine system to release hormones, your vascular system to dilate or constrict your blood vessels, and so on. These are essential programs designed to sustain your life.

Other subconscious programs are developed throughout your lifetime in response to your life experiences. These acquired subconscious programs serve two functions: they protect you from potential physical or emotional harm or displeasure and make your life easier by directing your body to automatically perform routine, learned tasks. These acquired programs are the source of your habits, automatic behaviors and reactions, beliefs, expectations, and emotional responses. Since these programs are acquired, they also can be modified or replaced by programs that you will deliberately design to fit your needs. Hypnosis is one of the most effective methods used for reprogramming of the subconscious.

How do your subconscious programs develop?

As mentioned earlier, your subconscious continuously scans your external and internal environment and immediately responds to any potential (physical or emotional) threats. Here is a simplified diagram of a response pathway to a stimulus detected by your subconscious:

how hypnosis works

Click on graphic to view in full size.

Once you’ve completed a given sequence, your subconscious files that response pathway in its memory bank. If, at a later time, you encounter a similar event (trigger) or experience the same thought, emotion or body sensation, your subconscious will recognize it, immediately match it with the response pathway on file and execute the same sequence of reactions as the sequence triggered by the original event. In other words, it will follow the previously established pathway.

Each repetition of the sequence will strengthen the pathway, so after a number of repetitions, the pathway will become an automatic, fixed subconscious program. If the initial event or thought has a strong emotional charge, the response pathway may become automatic even with just one initial run through the sequence.

Is it possible to change subconscious programming?

Yes, you can change any acquired subconscious program. When you look at the flow chart explaining how your programs develop, you can see that even though you cannot control events around you, if you could deliberately change the thoughts associated with your triggers, your responses to them would be different. This means that you can change specific subconscious programs by changing your thoughts and mental images associated with their triggers. And that’s what we help you with during your guided hypnosis sessions.

What properties of hypnotic trance allow for reprogramming of subconscious programs?

A hypnotic trance allows you to create vivid and realistic images and thoughts, as well as to access specific emotions in response to suggestions given by a hypnotist. Since your subconscious does not have the capability to differentiate between a real experience and a vividly imagined one (neurophysiological responses to imagined and real events are exactly the same), the images and thoughts you deliberately create in your brain when you are hypnotized feel to you and to your body absolutely authentic and real.

This property of the hypnotic trance presents an amazing opportunity – when in hypnosis, you can create and practice new response pathways simply by imagining yourself thinking, feeling, and behaving the way you wish to think, feel, and behave. The effects of this mental practice on your brain are exactly the same as if these events were happening in real life. With an adequate number of repetitions, your new subconscious programs will replace your old programs. If you are able to enter a deep hypnotic trance, you may reprogram your subconscious with just one mental rehearsal of the new programs. If you are working in a lighter trance you may need a number of mental rehearsals to accomplish your goals.

“Before working with Teresa I could not control my temper. I was impulsive and always agitated. Hypnosis made it possible for me to learn how to control my emotions and behave in a calm way. Now when I look at people who behave the way I used to behave, getting angry and agitated over nothing, I just think: ‘I used to be this way, but I no longer am’ and I feel great.” Read more about what our former patients say >



Read patient testimonials:

Watch video testimonials and read what our former patients say about hypnosis at New Body ~ New Mind.

Would you like to schedule an appointment?

To schedule an appointment, simply fill out our appointment request form online or give us a call at 617-969-8995. Prior to scheduling of your first appointment, we will conduct a telephone interview to determine if hypnotherapy is an appropriate option for you. If you are a good candidate for hypnotherapy, we’ll schedule your appointment and e-mail (or mail) you a questionnaire. We will ask you to return the questionnaire at least one week prior to your first hypnosis session. Your answers will help us further clarify the issues discussed during the telephone interview, enabling us to better prepare your hypnotherapy sessions.

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