Conscious and unconscious are really just shorthand terms to describe the general characteristics of the human mind. The "conscious mind" is the bit where we tend to "live" - the bit you might think of as "you".  If there's a little voice reading these words out loud in your head, that's the conscious mind talking.  The unconscious mind is everything else! 

The unconscious controls all of the autonomic processes that you don't have to think about - the heart rate, the blood pressure, tissue growth, cell regeneration, the immune system and so on.  It's where our thoughts, memories and accumulated experience reside. It controls our emotions, our habits and our responses to the world. 

In many ways, it creates that world for us. The unconscious mind handles about two million bits of sensory information every single second. The conscious mind deals with about seven.  That means that the reality you're actually aware of from moment to moment has been brought to your conscious attention by the unconscious, choosing seven bits which it thinks are important from the two million it's just processed.

Hypnotherapy is used to help people positively change their behaviours and beliefs about themselves. The conscious mind is more logical, critical and analytical - it's constantly making value judgments. If somebody was to say to you "you really should give up smoking, you know, it's terribly bad for you", you're highly unlikely to become a non-smoker on the spot. You're more likely to come up with a dozen, rational sounding reasons as to why you should carry on smoking, or you might tell them to shove off and mind their own business.  Even if you do consciously accept that you should give up smoking, it's not the conscious part of the mind that's keeping the habit in place.

The unconscious part of the mind, on the other hand, is much more accepting. It's also quite literal and tends to take things personally, relating any information it receives to you as an individual.  Hypnosis bypasses the critical conscious mind and enables the practitioner to speak directly to the unconscious in a language which it understands - pattern, association and metaphor. 

As mentioned earlier, the unconscious mind is basically in charge. The vast majority of things that we do are unconscious, which we can be grateful for - if you had to consciously think about every single thing you did, you wouldn't do anything. However, it can lead us astray. Most problems are things that we've learned how to do at an unconscious level - we've just learned how to do them in an unhelpful way. 

Problems are often an attempt at a solution. This is true even for such apparently self-destructive habits as smoking. Many smokers start in their teens, when smoking is seen as a quick way to fit in, acquire adult status or generally appear cool. Through sheer repetition, the unconscious mind becomes convinced that smoking is serving a vital purpose - that it's "good " for you in some way.

Hypnosis works by updating the unconscious mind with new and more helpful information, like reprogramming a computer. It can be used to change associations, so that cigarettes, for instance, are no longer seen as "little friends", and are more realistically regarded as "toxic killers". It can also be used to mentally rehearse better ways of going about things, such as being able to deal with stressful situations without having to light up.

Since the unconscious mind controls our autonomic bodily processes, physical change can also be achieved through hypnosis. Pain control is a very good example. The mind alters our awareness of pain all the time - professional chefs, for instance, get burnt on a regular basis, but rarely notice it unless it's particularly severe. You'll have experienced this yourself if you've ever discovered a cut or a bruise and wondered how it got there. Physical events are still occurring, but the unconscious has relegated them to the 1,999,993 bits of sensory information you're not aware of every single second. Hypnosis can therefore be used to amplify that same response and apply it to a specific situation, such as the control of headaches.

Hypnosis works, then, by shaping our perception of reality by dealing directly with the unconscious mind, the seat of most of our problems, and most of our solutions too. 

Hypnotherapy sessions with me are 50 minutes long. Contrary to popular belief, the client is neither unconscious or asleep when under hypnosis; you are always in control of everything that happens and are still aware of the noises around you.

After a session some people report feeling nicely relaxed or that during the trance they felt very heavy & perhaps there was a feeling of numbness. Others say they felt like a balloon, floating & weightless. Some do not feel that they were hypnotized at all!

As Hypnosis relies on repetition, it usually takes a few sessions for people to see the full results of the treatment. Positive changes can be maintained with the use of self-hypnosis. 


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