The human consciousness is a strange thing. When awake and aware, our mind is full of mundane everyday things, mostly to-dos. Whilst asleep, however, our subconscious mind awakens and opens up a whole new world through dreams. Dreams dig up our hidden feelings and thoughts, and lay them bare for us to try and understand ourselves better. Of course, dreams aren’t exactly clear in what they try to convey to us. There’s always the dream dictionary for that. However, interpreting dreams isn’t the only way to tap into the subconscious mind. There’s also hypnosis.
The subconscious mind in itself is an enigma we’re yet to understand. So, to wrap our heads around the fact that hypnosis can unfold–and control–this subconscious mind can be hard. We could attempt to understand it clinically. After all, hypnosis is an acknowledged and accepted therapy for resolving issues of anxiety, depression, and other mental wellbeing issues. As per Campbell’s Psychiatric Dictionary, the British Medical Association defines hypnosis as “a temporary condition of altered attention in the subject which may be induced by another person and in which a variety of phenomena may appear spontaneously or in response to verbal or other stimuli.” Simply put, hypnosis is a state of trance, wherein an individual has a heightened sense of focus and concentration, and is highly prone to act on a suggestion.
Under hypnosis, individuals are not only highly aware of their subconscious mind, but are also able to recall memories they are otherwise unable to. Says Archita Reddy, a psychologist and hypnotherapist, “While seeking therapy, many can’t recall minute details from past memories. Hypnosis can help with that. Under the guidance of a trained hypnotherapist, an individual’s subconscious mind can bring up memories from the past week, month, even decades, presenting deep-seated issues that are behind persisting psychological problems.”
While hypnosis has been known to heal a person’s mind, it’s also been known to heal the soul, quite literally.
Many assume that an individual will have no control over the conscious mind when they are hypnotised. This is far from true. The hypnotist can only suggest that the individual act on a thought or memory. Reddy clarifies that while the person’s subconscious mind works on the suggestions, the conscious mind remains aware of the entire process. Ashwini K, an entrepreneur, attests to this. “It’s not a case of being completely gullible. Throughout the hypnotherapy session, I was aware of what my therapist was asking of me. I could remember it all even after the session ended,” she says.
There are various clinical hypnotherapies–Ericksonian, cognitive, hypnoanalysis and many more. What’s common among them all is the aim to improve the individual’s wellbeing. Hypnosis helps the individual to work on letting go of negative thoughts and behavioural patterns. But despite the clinical approach, hypnosis still remains fascinating for its mystical connection. While hypnosis has been known to heal a person’s mind, it’s also been known to heal the soul, quite literally. Generally, a hypnosis session helps bring up memories from a person’s past, but sometimes, it can bring up memories from a past life! Psychologists call it Past Life Regression (PLR) Therapy, a subset of hypnosis.
All hypnosis does is open up our conscious mind to the underlying causes of our emotional, physical, and behavioural issues, with the help of the subconscious mind.
According to the celebrated hypnotherapist Dr Brian Weiss, understanding our past lives can help us heal issues in our present lives. In his book Many Lives, Many Masters, he uses a number of case studies to demonstrate that past life memories unearthed through hypnosis can actually reveal and heal emotional and physical issues in the present life. It might be easy to dismiss the very concept by saying the subconscious can be over-imaginative. But that’s not the case, explains Reddy. She says, “The subconscious mind never lies. Besides, it’s only the conscious mind that has the ability to conjure up imaginations. During hypnotherapy, the subconscious mind presents the memories and the conscious mind only remains aware of it.”
Is a past-life memory even real? That’s probably the one question most people would ask a hypnotherapist. But if hypnosis can resolve persisting problems in the present–whether they stem from childhood experience or from a past-life experience we can’t consciously recall–does the answer to the question really matter? “Any unresolved issue that is carried from a previous life (or lives) has a chance to be addressed in the present life with the help of hypnosis. However, not all present life issues stem from a past life experience,” Reddy points out.
All hypnosis does is open up our conscious mind to the underlying causes of our emotional, physical, and behavioural issues, with the help of the subconscious mind. Despite advancements in the field of psychology, we may not be entirely sure how the mind functions. After all, the very concept of the mind is rather abstract. The mind experiences, feels, and knows. But can we prove it all? Only time will tell. For now, swimming into the depths of the mind could help us discover ourselves and improve our lives.