Just like mindfulness, hypnosis is a kind of meditation. The key to hypnosis is relaxation and the idea is that by relaxing your conscious mind, you can access your subconscious mind – hypnotherapy is where you use this access to make positive changes.
Similarly, in mindfulness, the idea is to focus the conscious mind on the present in order to create a relaxed state where you can observe your subconscious thoughts and make positive changes to them.
But what are the conscious and subconscious minds? The brain itself has no such division, but the idea is that the conscious mind is where you think and feel right now, and this awareness is limited to around 10 items. In contrast, the subconscious has an unlimited capacity and is home to your memories, skills, personality and ‘automatic’ functions.
Try thinking of it like a computer: the app you’re using now is its conscious mind, while the dormant apps and files are its subconscious. In humans, accessing your subconscious can be trickier, especially if there’s negativity in your conscious mind getting in the way! So relaxation is the key.
Improve your self-awareness
Once you’ve accessed the subconscious, the aim is to observe and respect its thoughts and feelings – this is all about improving your self-awareness. You should then have the knowledge you need to help your subconscious make positive changes to thoughts, feelings and behaviour. But how, you might ask?
The subconscious is always adapting so ‘relearning’ unwanted habits can be easier than you think. Remember how difficult it was as a child learning to brush your teeth? But now it’s easy, right? This is something you consciously learnt and repeated until your subconscious could do it automatically. So the trick is practise, repeat, practise, repeat!
You can see then that mindfulness and hypnosis have lots of similarities. There are hundreds of tried-and-tested hypnotherapy techniques that you can use to help with your mindfulness practice. For example, try relaxing with some hypnotic breathing or count downs, access your subconscious with a hypnotic visualisation, and make positive changes with some hypnotherapy mantras, suggestions or anchors. We’ll have more on these techniques in the next parts, and you can read about using a hypnotherapy visualisation here.