Thursday, January 22, 2015

"May I Have This Trance?"

The Art of Being Mindful

Hypnosis can be a scary concept. Much of what we know about it comes from stage acts where a guy makes people do embarrassing things. It is commonly thought that when hypnotized, we have relinquished the control of our thinking and behaving to someone else. This is untrue in that no one can make you do something against your values without your consent -- but hypnosis can change your behavior when you want it to. In other words, you must give your unconscious mind "permission" to change.  

A brief and very general explanation. 

We have two minds -- the conscious mind (where thinking and "will power" live), and the UNconscious mind (where involuntary reflexes and habits live -- things that happen automatically). When we are doing something "unconsciously" we are said to be "in trance." The truth is that we are all in a trance a lot of the time. For example, have you ever driven up to your house and wondered how you got there? Maybe you were sorting out a problem in your head, or re-living a conversation. Your conscious mind was working on the problem and your unconscious mind drove you home because it knows the way -- you've done it so many times it has become automatic. The instant anything you do becomes "automatic" your conscious mind has turned over the task to your unconscious mind. It takes a LOT of repetition for that to happen, but it happens all the time. And once that information has made the trip from the conscious mind to the unconscious mind -- it is "inked in" and very hard to change. If you've ever tried to break a bad habit, you know what I mean.

There is bad news and good news here.

You can be put into trance without realizing it and fall victim to some bad messaging. When you hear that you are "not good enough" repeatedly at an early age from a critical parent -- it may be very hard to actually believe that God adores you unconditionally -- even long after you've asked Him into your heart and know in your conscious mind that He died for you and that all of your sins are forgiven. The "old tapes" sometimes just keep on playing, keeping you trapped in low self-esteem and doubt.  

Here is the GOOD news.
Although it can be very hard to change a "bad" message that has become embedded in your unconscious mind -- it is not impossible, and it can even be effortless! Change rarely takes place in the conscious mind alone, though. That's why "affirmations" (repeating positive statements to yourself) really don't work very well. If you do them all day, every day for a very long time, they probably will eventually work -- but there's an easier way. Change your thinking for sure (in the conscious mind) but continue into the realm of the unconscious mind and it will go a lot faster and be a lot easier -- and you don't need to go to a hypnotherapist, although it might be helpful at first.  You can do it yourself through self-hypnosis. The easiest way to access your unconscious mind is through prayer, relaxation, and theta-state (right before you fall asleep, and right when you first wake up -- you know, the fuzzy place!). When you are in those states, the gateway to your unconscious is the most accessible. Also, some activities can put you in that state... things that you do automatically, like showering, walking and driving.  

Here's how self-hypnosis works for me.
I take two of the same 25-minute walks each day -- sunrise and sunset. I don't have to orchestrate the walk because it is the same walk everyday, so my unconscious mind does the work. During that walk, with earbuds (very important) I listen to uplifting, loving Christian music. It goes very deep into my being, and it is effortless. I end each walk with prayer. The walk is my worship time and the prayer is my relational time with God. It is now a habit that I crave. I encourage you to try it -- or some variation -- and see how God speaks to you when your defenses are down and your heart is open.  

I have a song for everything: 

"Jesus Loves Me" by Chris Tomlin; "Because I'm Forgiven" by Phillips, Craig and Dean; "He Will Carry Me" by Mark Shultz

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