The human mind is composed of two elements, the conscious and unconscious. The conscious mind is the voice in your head, the one that you actively think with. It is critical and analytical, sorting information by comparing and noticing differences.
The unconscious mind contains your memories and intellect; it contains your emotions and directs your behaviour. The human mind is not physically separated into two; the terms conscious and unconscious are merely models for the way your mind works.
You may have heard the term 'left brain-right brain thinking', a theory which supports the idea that the conscious and unconscious minds actually reside in two separate parts of the brain. This is not the case.
In truth, although the brain is divided into sections which perform different functions, these sections are not clearly defined and do not reside exclusively in either the conscious or unconscious.
Depending upon the physical, emotional or mental tasks required of these sections at any one time, they may shift between unconscious and conscious control. For instance, repetitive tasks are easily handled by the unconscious, but any task which requires continuous assessment and re-adjustment to circumstances and surroundings might be better performed by the conscious mind. Thus, consciousness is not fixed - it is a spectrum of awareness which changes and shifts throughout the day.
The hypnotic state is a natural part of our conscious awareness that we often enter automatically. You are going to learn how to induce this state artificially with the use of hypnotic techniques.
I would like you to consider just how quickly you are able to tie your shoelaces. It's just a matter of seconds isn't it. Now think about each individual stage required to perform that simple task. If you had to describe to someone how to tie a shoelace it would take quite a long time since there are an amazing number of separate operations required.
I imagine you can remember first learning to tie a shoelace, the amount of hard concentration required. And yet now you do it so easily! That's because when you first tried to tie a shoelace you were using your conscious mind. Eventually, the repetitive operation became imprinted in your unconscious mind and now it takes no effort or concentration at all. This simple example is an effective demonstration of the extraordinary power of unconscious thought.
In the Chevreul's Pendulum experiment, we learned the power of suggestion; the ability to implant behaviour in the unconscious mind of somebody. This entirely natural ability, which we each possess, is the main component of performing hypnosis and it is a skill, as we shall learn later, that can be developed and enhanced by careful use of language.
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Hypnosis has been defined as a state of heightened suggestibility in which the subject is able to uncritically accept ideas for self-improvement and act on them appropriately. When a hypnotist hypnotizes his subject, it is known as hetero-hypnosis. When an individual puts himself into a state of hypnosis, it is known as self-hypnosis.