How it all works
Throughout life we adopt key beliefs and behaviours which originate from various sources, these include automatic programs which are instinctive and critical to our survival, family traditions and beliefs learnt from childhood, some behaviours may simply be beneficial for our lifestyle, whereas others appear to be opposite to what we consciously desire. Undesired habits and behaviours manifest in response to an event or a situation that the subconscious mind is attempting to protect us from. The mind does what it thinks you want and what it believes to be for the best to ensure your survival on this planet, it is programed to move you away from pain and towards pleasure, however the way in which the mind does this does not always reflect what we actually want to do or how we wish to behave. There is a misunderstanding between the automatic sub conscious programming and our conscious attempts to deal with certain situations. This is where dialoguing with your subconscious to upgrade old beliefs to literally change your mind can be instrumental in achieving positive change, however this is easier said than done because, as most of us have experienced, simply wanting to make a change does not always result in the change being achieved. This is due to the hidden nature of the sub conscious mind making it notoriously difficult to access and modify from an everyday conscious state, however by using hypnosis to access the sub conscious directly and capitalising on the neuro plasticity of the brain this change can be achieved quickly and effectively.
The science of changing your mind
Years ago it was believed that the structure of the brain was set and that what you were born with is pretty much what you get or that programming of the brain was completed during early childhood and set from around the age of seven years or so. Whilst the first seven years of childhood are indeed significant in terms of development, modern science has revealed that the structure of the brain can actually be altered throughout life and at any moment. This dynamic ability that the brain has to re-wire itself is known as neuro plasticity.
Our brain cells, or Neurons, communicate via a network of electro-chemical signals, each neuron is capable of maintaining connections with around ten thousand other neurons and these connections or networks change as we learn things. Chains of these signals result in an emotional response or feeling, a thought or an action. The more often the feeling, thought or action is practiced, i.e. the more often that particular combination of neurons fire together, the more they wire together and the stronger that pathway becomes. Hence the saying ‘Neurons that fire together, wire together’. As frequently used pathways become stronger the communication becomes faster and therefore more natural and habitual with less conscious input, of course this is true for actions, or reactions, regardless of whether we deem them to be positive or negative. Ultimately our brain’s structure is a culmination of all the thoughts and experiences that we have had up to this very moment. When new information is learnt, repetition is required in order to make the corresponding pathway stronger and ultimately become the automatic route in the network for that information. Pathways that are not consistently or regularly used become weaker and are eventually pruned from the network, as the saying goes; use it or lose it.
It is not just physical actions which change the structure of the brain through neuro plasticity, just thinking or imagining particular behaviours can change brain structure as well. Mental practice alone will contribute to the wiring of the brain, this is evident in sports people, athletes and other professionals who mentally visualise the successful execution of their discipline or activity in addition to the physical training. This is also the reason why hypnosis is so powerful and can be so beneficial; hypnosis opens up a direct link to the subconscious mind where suggestions can be accepted and repeated without the critical factor of the conscious mind, thus speeding up the process of re-wiring the nerve cells and in turn speeding up positive change in our lives.
At the root of all our thoughts emotions and behaviours is this communication between neurons; the combination of synchronised electrical activity of the neuro networks is called a brain wave due to its cyclic and wave-like nature. Brain waves are typically categorised into different groups based on their frequency in Hertz in order to explain them, in reality though, overall brain activity is a combination of all frequencies at the same time, however the quantity and strength of each individual type varies depending on the activity being performed and the categorisation is used to explain when the individual brain wave type is likely to be dominant.
The alert nature of the Beta state makes it less effective for re-wiring or re-programming the brain, this is due to the conscious part of the mind attempting to make sense of everything or applying logic, re-wiring the brain for positive change is most effective when lower frequency brain waves such as Alpha are dominant and the conscious part of the mind is quietened, this allows access to the sub-conscious where change can take place.
The practice of hypnotherapy is designed to take the mind out of a beta dominated state through to an Alpha dominated state and into complete relaxation where hypnotherapy can be the most effective.