I wanted in this blog to share something about "Process Oriented Hypnosis". This is one of the interlocking healing modalities that I share with others. The other healing modalities are Tanran Reiki Energy Healing, Rebirthing Breathing, and Neural Net Repatterning. The healing modalities are interlocking in a number of ways. I started out doing energy healing and found that having the client breathe in a certain way vastly accelerated the healing results. Rebirthing breathing generates waves of pranic energy through the body. Energy healing can focus on specific blocks to the flow of pranic energy and open them up. What usually happens next is that some emotion will surface in the present experience of the client. The energy flow was trying to bring up this emotion as part of its healing process and the client resisted feeling the emotion because they did not want to feel it. With the support of an healing session, the energy tries again to do what it wanted to do and find conflict with the conscious mind of the client. I found that at this point process oriented hypnosis is helpful in order to help the client make peace with the natural energetic healing process that the body wants to do.
There are two basic kinds of hypnosis. The first one is suggestive hypnosis where the goal is to implant a suggestion into the subconscious mind and have this suggestion operate within the client. For instance, a person wants to quit smoking. The hypnotist will implant a suggestion or pattern of suggestions to help this goal. The suggestions could be as simple as "you have quit smoking", "you do not want to smoke ever again", "it feels healthy to not smoke", "you will feel an aversion to smoking", "if you feel tempted to smoke, an unpleasant sensation will make you not want to smoke again", and "whenever you think of not smoking, you will feel happy with your decision". The suggestions can be implanted by one of two suggestive styles. One is authoritarian style and the other is invitational style. The first one will have the hypnotist speak in a firm and knowing manner, like saying, "you are feeling your hand get heavier and heavier", "you are feeling no desire to smoke anymore", and "you are in a very deep trance". The second style respects the free choice of the client and shares in a more open ended language, like saying, "I invite you to go deeper into relaxation", "every time you exhale, you are moving deeper into relaxation", "feel how much you want to let this go", "let yourself go deeper", and "let yourself give your weight to gravity and let it hold you". Both suggestive styles do involve skillful use of language, and many hypnotists will, in the interview process, notice the kind of self talk that the client already does with himself or herself. From this they will design the language and thought suggestions that will prove useful to induce a trance and make the suggestions stick. Both require the free choice permission of the client in order to work. Some people will give it more automatically when they hear authoritarian language, while others will give it more easily with invitational language. My experience is that invitational language, because it openly respects the free choice of the client works better with almost everyone. When we feel an outside authority commanding us, we usually generate some unconscious resistance to the authority in order to honor our own free choice. In an advanced meditation, we learn we do not have to resist anything, can simply let the authoritarian voice be just another thought and let the thought simply not affect us. If we are at this level, we may not need the support of a hypnotic process. Usually those who use an invitational style of hypnosis will spend more time designing the language of the suggestions to harmonize with the client. This involves the study of neural linguistic patterns and healing metaphors, how to use body feedback to see how the suggestions are being received, and how to set up both the intent and the space of the hypnotic session.
Whether the suggestion is implanted through authoritarian suggestive hypnosis or through invitational suggestive hypnosis, it seems the hypnotic implant only lasts about 3 months. I have found in some follow ups that, if a person is time tracking, he or she will notice that, if for instance the suggestion is about not smoking, he or she is tempted to smoke again and that the temptation is as strong as before the hypnotic session. Sometimes a repeat session can reinforce the implant and allow the person to have another 3 months of relative success. Sometimes, though, the hypnotic implants will lose their force, as if the subconscious mind is gaining immunity to the hypnotic suggestions. Other times a person will experience what I call "rotation" where the addictive pattern will take on another form. Quiting smoking may lead to overeating.
The reason why this happens is because an addictive pattern is not merely a bad habit that can be eliminated. It serves a function in the emotional ecology of the person. It is usually used to repress an emotion that the person does not want to feel and which is usually linked with an issue or a problem that the person does not feel able to resolve. The addiction, then, is a partial solution to some problem. It may be in some sense a very effective solution, but the side effects of the addiction are the price a person must pay to keep this solution alive. Sometimes the problem feels so big that the addiction seems a very small price to pay. Other times the person does not weight the long term costs of the solution and only cares that the addiction solves the problem in the immediate here and now. The solution is solved by repression, by blotting out all awareness of an emotion.
Process oriented hypnosis does not attempt to implant a suggestion into the subconscious mind, but rather induces a trance that unifies the conscious mind and the subconscious mind into a functional whole. Rather than the two minds being in conflict with each other, they can function together. In this approach, the addiction is nonjudgmentally explored to see if it is a pattern that we can outgrow. In one case that I had worked with, the person wanted to quit smoking. I had her visualize a cigarette with a face on it and had her dialogue with her addiction. I contextualized her addiction as a relationship that she could explore through dialogue. Within only 15 minutes of dialogue, she changed her relationship with her addiction. She learned how to work with the repressed anger that the addiction was taking care of for her and outgrew the need to have this relationship. Without even implanting one suggestion to end smoking, she ended this addiction and did not even feel a temptation to smoke again. She had relationship closure with this whole addictive pattern. She emailed me three months afterwards to say that she was still feeling free from of any desire to smoke. She had done this because I shared that suggestive hypnosis tends to fade in power around that time and because this was her experience with a suggestive hypnotherapist. She had attained the same goal of being free from smoking that suggestive hypnosis tried to do, but more permanantly.
There is still a chance that the addiction may return much later, but it will not be because an implant is losing power. It could be that the emotional solutions she had learned may not fully work for her in a future challenge and that she might be tempted back to what was, in part, a supportive relationship with a price (side effect). She might give into this temptation or she might take the temptation as signal to empower herself to work through the emotion on her own or seek a less toxic supportive relationship. She could even go for another session at that point with a process oriented hypnotherapist to feel what her resources are to move through the emotional challenge that is arising. Each time some growth will happen and she will most likely outgrow the temptation to return to the addiction completely.
One way of looking at the difference between suggestive hypnosis and process oriented hypnosis is that each contextualizes the situation differently. In the first kind of hypnosis, the conscious mind of the therapist is placing a thought implant into the subconscious mind of the client. The client is agreeing with his or her conscious mind to have the therapist do this. So two conscious minds are in agreement to effect a change in the subconscious mind. The conscious mind is not cooperating with the subconscious mind, but is imposing its own agenda on the subconscious mind.
In process hypnosis, the subconscious mind is considered far more than a repository of suggestions, but is the larger mind that is running almost everything. When, for instance, I learn how to drive, the learning is stored in the subconscious mind. I find, for instance, that I might rapidly brake for a person who has stepped out in front of the car by surprise. Before the conscious mind had figured it out, the subconscious mind has already stopped the car. After a while, most driving is really being done by the subconscious mind, my conscious mind is tending the road, while the subconscious mind is pushing the gas pedal and operating the clutch. The relationship between the two minds is a functional unity. I can become conscious of anything the subconscious mind is doing and take it over, and visa versa. Anything my conscious mind releases is taken over by the subconscious mind. This kind of relationship we can call "a fluid relationship". The two minds are harmonious and are really part of a "unity mind" that includes both.
In Buddhism, the division into just two minds is considered oversimplified. Traditional Buddhism has Eight different kinds of consciousnesses operating within a functional unity. Amritayana Buddhism has twelve different kinds of consciousneses operating within a functional unity. The Buddha may have said that he had mapped 366 different levels of consciousness, but found only eight were needed to be known for the attainment of nirvana. Because Amritayana Buddhism focuses on also healing the mind and body beyond aging, disease, accidents, and death, it needs to notice four more levels of consciousness. Because modern culture is very externally focused, the division into only two levels is what most people use. Whatever we are conscious of and can command with conscious intention is the conscious mind, and whatever we are not usually conscious of and cannot command with direct conscious intention is the subconscious mind. Sometimes a hypnotherapist with psychic leanings will add the "superconscious mind" which has paranormal abilities. This is dividing the subconscious mind into its storehouse of conditioned learnings and our evolutionary potentials.
In Amritayana Buddhism, there is a level of consciousness where the body is an expression or creation of the subconscious mind. On this level, we unconsciously create all the sensations and symptoms our conscious mind is experiencing in the body. In the Qabalah, this is sometimes called the "formative level" (not a good translation, because there is more than one formative level, the Qabalah is a fairly large map of consciousness). We experience this level in a rudimentary way when we are angry and feel an upset stomach as a result. What conventional medicine calls "psychosomatic illnesses" is felt on this level of consciousness very directly. You do not have to deduce that some body symptoms are caused by subconscious thoughts. You can feel the whole formative process linking the thought, the emotion, the body sensation of pain, and the body symptom as a functional unity in present time.
Process oriented hypnosis therefore focuses a lot of attention on body sensations. This understanding is also why the Buddha, when teaching meditation, also taught his students to be "ever mindful of breathing and body sensations" as the basis for going deeper into the subconscious mind. They are the easiest cross over point into feeling the functional unity of the conscious and subconscious mind. When this functional unity appears, the principle of "the whole is greater than the sum of its parts" is true. There are greater resources when the two minds function together in a fluid functional unity. Sometimes miraculous healings, changes, and outgrowings can happen. Sometimes a solution is simple and obvious to the functional unity which cannot be seen when the two minds are out of communication with each other.
Modern culture is really built upon a functional chasm between the conscious and subconscious mind. The minds are often even put at war with each other. Freud tended to see the subconscious mind as a repository of primitive and neurotic states. He saw id impulses from the animalistic lusts of our ancient biological past and superego impulses coming from how we internalized the commands of our parents during childhood. The conscious mind or ego was caught between the id impulses and the parental ethical norms. I would go further to share that there is the seed consciousness of our potential Buddha nature operating as well. There is a part of subconscious mind that is wishing us to fully heal, regenerate, and grow from within us. It is sometimes called "Amida Buddha" in Buddhism. It is personified is a Cosmic Archetypal Buddha and was embodied by the Bodhisattva Dharmakara. In other words, this historical being integrated this evolutionary energy inside himself and became an "emanation" of Amida Buddha or an expression of this evolutionary and healing energy. When meditating on Amida Buddha, it is usually contacted as "tariki" the Other Power that saves us through divine grace. But in deeper stages of this process, we "become" Amida Buddha, we identify with this evolutionary energy inside us and let it operate within our mind, heart, and body. In relationship to our usual experience of our conscious ego mind, Amida Buddha is definitely a power outside ourself that can enter in to our mind, heart, and body and transform us. You could say that Amida Buddha is within our subconscious mind and can be accessed through hypnotic trance and cooperated with. Later on, when we realize that we are not our usual conscious mind, but are a larger consciousness than this. We realize that Amida Buddha is part of us and we are part of it. We first experience a functional unity with this power within us and then we reach a growth where this power has been integrated into our experience of consciousness. The language of the Pure Land Sect, which chants to Amida Buddha, is very different from the language of hypnotic process, but the maps are similar. What matters in either case is activating the functional unity, accessing the resources within the subconscious mind, and then learning to work within the functional unity to raise our life condition.
There are three basic levels of trance. They are light, medium, and deep trance. Light trance is simple enough so that people might not even notice that they have shifted from their usual conscious state. During the interview process, the client may not even notice that much of the hypnotic work is already being done. Healing metapohors are already placed within the conversation and the subconscious mind of the client is already accepting some of them and shifting. The process hypnotist already has, to one extent or another, a more fluid unity between his or her conscious and subconscious mind. The therapist is already operating this way in his or her life. This means that the very communication that is happening before the session officially starts has a different context. There are four levels of communication going on. There is the conscious and subconscious mind of both therapist and client interacting with each other making four present time interactions. If you add the superconscious mind or Buddha nature into the equation, then there are nine interactions. Sometimes the subconscious mind of the client is already linking with the hypnotherapist on all three levels and is already working.
When I have worked with clients, I have found that I often get dreams about what to do with a client. When I get a dream, it means that the next session will be fruitful and productive, because it means the subconscious minds are synergistically linked and are already working with each other. They are enlisting the help of my conscious mind to communicate something to the conscious mind of the client to help serve the process. I think many psychotherapists have a parallel feeling where they know a session is going to be productive because they have a subconscious feeling about the coming session. They may not understand this feeling in the same context, but they may be growing into a similar internal functional unity inside themselves.
This also means that a process oriented hypnotist is undergoing an evolutionary shift inside himself or herself. He or she is becoming Homo Telepathicus, the next species of human beings to appear on this planet. It may look like a small change in the beginning, but bringing the conscious and subconscious mind into a deeper functional unity is a vaster change than it might first seem. It seems that in the beginning of the human evolutionary process, the ordinary conscious mind had to almost fight the more primitive consciousnesses in order to establish itself and set boundaries to the other consciousnesses. It was busy functioning in a more isolated way from these forces in order to get a better feeling of itself. It was the "new kid" on the evolutionary block and was afraid of getting overwhelmed by the primal forces of the older more emotionally driven consciousnesses. The conscious mind is sometimes afraid of the full mammalian emotional intensity of our primal drives. It feels taken over by them and is afraid to lose itself in them. It seems that some of our conscious growth did involve some measure of repression in order to gain a conscious mind foothold in our life. But now it may be possible to have the conscious mind enter into a functional unity where the subconscious mind is seen more as a resource than as a threat. In this functional unity, new possibilities for very rapid positive shifts become available.
The actual session is done in medium trance. It is induced by focusing on body sensations, breathing, and deepening relaxation. The key is to maintain the conscious awareness while being more relaxed. The usual conscious mind state is either awake and tense or relaxed and unconscious. We cycle between subconscious mind dreaming and conscious mind waking, but in this case there is little communication between the two. When we have lucid dreams, we are feeling the two function together. When we go into medium trance, then same thing happens. Very often there are vivid dream images appearing during a session. Some Buddhist masters have integrated these two minds enough so that they never really sleep anymore. Arjuna, the student and devotee of Krishna in the Bhagavad Gita, is called "the conqueror of sleep" to show his access to this functional unity. I mention these points, because process oriented hypnosis is a form of meditation. The process approach has evolved from modern science, but does have its roots in the spiritual and meditation oriented religious traditions of Asia and the Middle East. It can serve the function of a Buddhist meditation empowerment and make solo meditation easier and more productive to do. It can help focus on an individual psychological problem and work it through to completeion. It is similar to the method of free association that psychotherapy uses, but is more grounded in breathing, internal energy flows, and body sensations.
Another difference between suggestive hypnosis and process oriented hypnosis is that in the former, at least in the classical medical model, the hypnotist does not go into trance, but stay conscious and puts the client under, sometimes even into a deep trance. In process orient hypnosis, the hypnotist goes into trance with the client and has a very different rapport with the client. In the very excellent book THE LAW OF PSYCHIC PHENOMENON by Thomas Hudson, the author talks about how the early hypnotists, following Mesmer, who did go into co-trance with the client, would experience more telepathy and deeper healing links with the client. The telepathic ability is already functional within the subconscious mind and becomes available to the conscious mind when it learns to be in rapport with the subconscious mind. When the Bode method was formed in the medical community, the reports of telepathy and paranormal phenemena happened less often. The previous antagonism between the conscious and subconscious mind that was part of the "conscious mind foothold phase" was regressed to. This made the possible results of hypnosis more limited.
The fear of a hypnotist controlling the client are really part of the fear of the conscious mind being overwhelmed by subconscious forces that it does not understand. The antagonism between the conscious and subconscious mind is at the heart of this relationship. In the Bode method, where the hypnotist stays conscious and the client goes unconscious, this relationship still has traces of this basic antagonism. Every addiction maintains this division by sometimes overwhelming the conscious mind or by blotting out a subconscious emotional feeling. The image of a Svengali is really a perfect metapor for this fear. This person was a stage hypnotist who may or may have not "hypnotized" women to having sex with him. What a perfect image of a primitive drive overcoming the conscious mind! The whole question of whether or not you can be controlled through hypnosis against your will is an interesting one, but only applies to suggestive hypnosis. It does not apply to process oriented hypnosis, since the intention is to create a functional unity between the two minds. Both minds are equally who we are, not just our conscious mind. We are actually more in control when we own both minds. Even in ordinary life, our conscious mind is not as in control as it think it is. This mind is really much smaller than our subconscious mind. It is still a primary directive power, but it does not beat our heart, pump our blood, cause us to feel hunger, to feel attracted to potential mates, or send electrons through our nervous system. Most of what keeps us alive, and our species alive, moment to moment is done by the subconscious mind. I would say that given our totality of consciousness, nothing happens without some part of ourselves giving permission for it to happen.