Focussing attention in normal everyday life
Hypnosis is a healing art and a science too. The purpose of this series of articles is to explore the various art forms that can be considered and used in that healing. It should not be surprising to learn that these art forms often have their roots in ancient, well used and tried methods, for example the sleep temples of ancient Greece.
Whilst dreams are frequently used as a means of healing and of a release of emotional energy, this article is exploring the kind of dreams and dream state that the client will seek out, with the help of a qualified professional, in order to overcome barriers or improve on behaviours and thereby, in some way, improve performance. Before addressing the dream state a definition of hypnosis and the trance state will be give
The Institute of Clinical Hypnosis (ICH F1, p1) provides a number of definitions for hypnosis:
- All hypnosis is self-hypnosis.
- A focussed state of attention
- A naturally occurring state of mind that people dip in and out of all of the time.
James (2005, p1) has a useful way to describe the hypnotic experience that follows the focus of these articles. She focuses on the degree to which hypnosis is a “conscious experience” during which the individual is “aware and in control throughout”, which seems to indicate the degree to which the individual or client gives permission to move into the state of hypnosis and the influence they have over it. This permissiveness tends to support the first definition.
James (2005, p1) also goes on to describe hypnosis as “the process when the individual feels less aware of surroundings and more aware of internal events”, which aligns itself with the second definition, suggesting a “focused state of attention”.
Deikman (1982, P120) develops further and refers to this fixed state of attention as “trance” which he says gives the impression that the person is in type of sleep, oblivious to external stimuli, focused internally and yet still able to respond to suggestions and commands. He claims that although special, this state of consciousness can occur for brief periods in ordinary day-to-day preoccupations i.e. the third definition, being a naturally occurring state of mind that people dip in and out of all the time. Wolinsky (1991, p14) provides some examples:
- Beach trance - imagining being in a relaxed, pleasant place.
- Phobia trance - phobia trance where the focus of attention is on a perceived fear.
- Kitty trance – regressing back into baby kind of language.
- Love trance – being in a state of bliss.
Griffin (2003, p59) explains further that trance can be induced through music, dance, drugs, rituals, shock, language, sexual activity, stories and as he says “any stimulus that arouses strong emotion and, paradoxically, any form of deep relaxation that lowers emotional arousal”. It seems that the definitions for hypnosis could be as many and varied as the means by which its trance state could be experienced.
These articles will discuss the ancient and different ways including the ways in which the hypnotherapist guides the individual or client into their own self empowering state, but will also expand on that to include the various ways of using, for example various meditative states, the use time sitting in nature, listening and moving to repetitive beats, or using the warmth of saunas or even of the, now much vaunted, firewalk – why do they work in accessing the trance state (which will be re-defined here as “the internal guidance system” and how can they be simply applied in modern everyday life?
Griffin (2003, p65) goes on to make a strong case for linking the trance state to the REM state that natural occurs in sleep everyday (he calls this the dreaming state) in which much of the natural (such as the foetus development in the womb or dream sleep) programming of human behaviours occurs. Many claim to have used the benefit of a steady (7 to 11 per second) drum beats to induce a healing trance that matches the rate of that heart beat. So it is possible to adopt Griffins assertion that hypnosis is about assessing this programmable REM state as a fourth definition for hypnosis, trance or the inner guidance system.
Wolinsky (1991, p9) that this “fixating of attention” (or trance), is a state that hypnotherapists attempt to induce in order to facilitate healing. It is the therapist’s role to direct the clients focus towards their internal processes and focusing their attention.
The writer considers that all the definitions have practical merit and application, demonstrating that the hypnotic state is normal, in aiming to achieve, a focussed state of attention in which the mind can learn and program (or reprogram) itself more efficiently. That seems worth exploring further.
- Bateman, A et al (2008) “Introduction to psychoanalysis; Contemporary Theory and Practice” Routledge, Hove, UK.
- Deikman, A (1982). “The Observing Self”. Beacon Press, Boston, USA.
- ICH F1, Foundation Course (F1) 2011. Institute of Clinical Hypnosis (ICH)
- James, U (2005). “Clinical Hypnosis Textbook; A guide for practical intervention”. Radcliff Publishing, Oxford, UK.
- Griffin et al (2003), “Human Givens; A new approach to emotional health and clear thinking”. HG Publishing Ltd, Chalvington, Sussex, UK.
- Wolinsky, S. et al (1991), “Trances People Live; Healing Approaches in Quantum Psychology”. Bramble Books, USA.
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