Different States of the Mind
Understanding How the Mind Works at Various Frequency Levels
The human mind is a wonderful and amazing piece of intricate machinery. With particular regard to hypnosis, the different states of mind we experience, are quite important to understand how and why hypnotherapy works.
There are two main parts of the human mind
The Conscious Mind
This is the analytical and critical part of our brain that governs our awareness or consciousness at any point in time. It is the final processing point for our decisions, actions or reactions in daily life which we are aware that we are making.
The Subconscious Mind
This is the 'deeper' part of the mind that is responsible for processing thousands of things at any one time and for storing everything we have experienced in our lives in differing degrees of importance. It sort of runs on 'Auto Pilot' without us even realizing it is doing so much. In this respect it is much like the hard drive of a computer that stores information that is accessed by the other parts of the computer/mind.
(Many other recognized institutions and researchers also refer to the 'unconscious mind' which is usually concerned with regulating the automated processes of the physical body. For the purposes of this article and also the school of belief that Mind Motivations and The Australian Academy of Hypnosis subscribes to, the subconscious mind encompasses the 'unconscious' mind also.)
The mind operates at 4 predominant Brainwave States or Frequencies
These different states are classified according to the speed of the predominant brainwave signals from one neurological point to another at any one point in time. This speed and frequency is measured in 'Hertz' and the figures are obtained using an Electrocardiogram (EEG) machine.
For the purposes of this article from a hypnosis perspective we are not covering the 'Gamma' ranges which exist beyond 40Hz...
1. Beta: This is where our mind usually operates in daily life. In such a state we have full conscious awareness and attention of everything around us and usually only one side of brain is operating. Beta is usually typified by brainwave cycles of 15 to 40 Hz (cycles per second) Higher cycles of Beta Frequency usually equate to stress, anxiety and 'over thinking' as the conscious mind becomes misguided or reacts negatively to a given situation. High brainwave beta frequency also equates to hypertension, increased heart rate, increased blood flow, cortisone production and glucose consumption. Generally speaking, you do not want to experience the high beta state too often if you are concerned about your health. (Some techniques are included below to ensure this does not happen)
2. Alpha: A mild daydream or light relaxation state. Operating in Alpha can be exemplified to when you are driving a car and just cruising around or when you get captivated into a good book and sort of lose track what is happening around you. Meditation is usually aimed at achieving Alpha and the brain operates in cycles between 9Hz & 14Hz. Alpha is typified by partial conscious awareness and partial subconscious predominance at the same time. It is useful to absorb information when in Alpha and is considered to be highly desirable for more effective studying. Alpha promotes more of the left side of the brain to be used for processing.
3. Theta: Deep relaxation where the conscious mind is, for the most part, 'switched off', and the subconscious mind is left to flourish. This is usually typified by sleep, dreaming, very deep relaxation and is where most hypnotists aim at taking their clients down to. Theta shows brainwave cycles operating at 5hz to 8hz. Theta is where ideas, visualizations and suggestion are more likely to enter the subconscious mind and consciously we become less aware of what is going on around us.
4. Delta: Extremely deep relaxation/sleep with complete subconscious operation. Delta is experienced in the deepest of sleeps and is interesting because it is proven that the physical body begins to recuperate and recover at a heightened level. You can be in waking delta if you are in an advanced state of meditation. This state is associated with 'kundalini' experiences. Delta is typified by slow brainwaves at 1Hz - 4Hz. It is interesting to note that a very skilled hypnotist who can take the client into Delta, is able to perform such phenomena as using hypnosis as a replacement for anesthesia during various medical surgery and this has been documented on numerous occasions medically and scientifically.
Transitioning Between the Different States
Although the human mind naturally switches between the different states of mind according to the current environment, situation, people or happenings of the individual, it is possible to artificially stimulate the brain into the different levels. As an extreme example when we are involved in a serious accident or injury, people sometimes enter into coma state. This is the brain's way of performing an emergency response to automatically enter into the deepest realms of delta for heightened physical recovery, trauma protection and mental recovery. This is a very good example of the brain's natural response to a situation where it lowers brainwave activity for instinctual protection means.
On the other hand, we can artificially induce a change in mental state for both positive and at times, not beneficial purposes. Stage hypnotists often invoke a sudden shift in brainwave frequency through a rapid hypnotic induction in the person to enter theta for entertainment purposes. Although many people find this funny and it does illustrate the power of hypnosis, there is no real positive purpose in doing this other then to have a laugh. There are many examples of irresponsible use of these techniques for Mass Manipulation, and these are simply a tragic use of something that can be so powerful for positive change.
There are many ways to artificially invoke a person to operate at different brainwave frequency states. These include hypnosis, meditation, music and audio, massage, drugs, alcohol, yoga, pilates, video games, TV, driving, reading and many more just to name a few. This can be very useful indeed. By learning the best way to lower your mind state to Alpha, Theta and even Delta, it is possible create numerous positive emotional, mental and physical benefits. For instance hypnosis is fantastic to instate the client into theta and then responsibly use direct suggestion, which is more fully absorbed by one's subconscious mind, to create permanent and lasting changes in the mind and body.
Meditation is also useful to achieve a light Alpha state wherein you can consciously process information and self suggestion to help change your emotions and feelings. Music and audio such as binaural beats, white noise, theta rhythm, nature recordings and other slow, repetitive trance inducing sounds can help you overcome insomnia and sleep better, perform self meditation, self hypnosis and achieve deep relaxation in the alpha, theta and at times, delta realms.
Deep relaxation on a consistent daily basis is proven to be advantageous for the mind and the body! It promotes clarity of thought, focus, better health and heightened mental, physical and emotional wellbeing.
In any case, if you are constantly stressed and operating in the high Beta levels, or if you never truly relax and hit Alpha and Theta except for a few hours a night when you sleep, then it is recognized that you will not be emotionally or physically reaching your optimum level of health. Worse still it really can have significant effects on your overall health. This is important to note. Therefore if you are too busy, stressed or have developed certain conditions which affect you from achieving consistent deep relaxation, you will benefit immensely from using some of the aforementioned techniques to help lower your brainwave frequency and achieve some relaxation. This really could change your life for the better in ways you never thought were possible.
Mind Motivations is a hypnosis organization and website, therefore it may seem that we are biased in our opinion, however it is our belief and that of many other respected bodies, that hypnosis, and more importantly hypnotherapy, is the best way to achieve deep relaxation and benefit from the ability to artificially stimulate the mind into lower activity levels for a variety of mental, physical and emotional advantages.
Hypnosis is a very powerful means to take the mind of the client or listener into the different levels of consciousness and brainwave activity. The spoken voice using professional hypnotic deepenings, inductions and confusion techniques is able to artificially induce lowered brain wave frequency into the Alpha, Theta and Delta realms. The special audio frequencies (Neurosonic Frequencies) contained in the background of all of Rick Collingwood's CDs and MP3s also contains special audio to further this transition. This means that the transition from Beta to Theta when using Rick's CDs or MP3s is all the more powerful and perfect to assist people who find it hard to be hypnotized.
So as you can see, the different frequencies at which the brain operates can not only be artificially induced for positive results but can also be directly targeted to produce more specific changes in shorter times. If you are interested in hypnotizing yourself and taking advantage of self visualization or more effective affirmations, then you can use this knowledge and apply it your own self improvement processes. Armed with this knowledge you can make more of a conscious effort to understand where your mind is at any point in time and to control it to your advantage. This is a very powerful skill if you can master it correctly. In the meantime if you are just beginning, then there are many Self Hypnosis CDs or MP3s will help you begin to make changes and learn more about how your mind works on a personal experience.