Hypnosis is a mental state defined by slowed brain waves and focused attention with diminished peripheral awareness. The intense and yet relaxed focus brought about by hypnosis serves the purpose of fading the logical mind and opening the door to the subconscious.
Since more than 70 percent of our daily behavior is controlled by the subconscious mind, opening the subconscious portal is key to self-transformation and elimination of otherwise unconscious negative beliefs and behaviors. Many goals and behavioral changes can be achieved by this mental state: habit change, elimination of unwanted behaviors, pain management, improving performance, accessing long-forgotten memories or even past lives, to name just a few. This process is due to the mind-body connection.
That which is conceived of in the mind, especially with intense concentration, will come to pass in the body.
Although hypnosis is commonly associated with an external stimulus and suggestion by another person, ultimately, all trances are self-induced with full cooperation of the subject. This means that the individual undergoing hypnotic trance is choosing to focus in that way which creates the conditions necessary for changing their brain wave state. This can be done with the aid of an external trigger or prompt, but an external prompt is not necessary.
The word hypnosis derives from the term “neuro-hypnotism” coined by the Scottish physician, James Braid, around 1841. Two years later, Braid drew analogies between his own practice of hypnosis and various forms of Hindu yoga meditation. One of these ancient forms, Kriya Yoga, uses Ujjayi breathing (very slow, deep breathing) and visualization to quiet the intensity of thought activity. As the brain waves slow from Beta waves of about 14 cycles per second down to Theta waves of about 3.5 cycles per second, the blood composition bathing the brain changes from an acid to an alkaline state. As these two conditions change, the frontal lobes, normally bombarded by external stimuli, become passive, and the individual develops an inward gaze. In this trance state, the individual can walk into an intense activity, such as entering a shopping mall, yet continue to rest in the cocoon of tranquility, focusing only on what he or she chooses to focus on.
Over the last two centuries, Western scientists and hypnosis experts have identified three stages of trance level, initially called sub-hypnotic, full hypnotic and hypnotic coma. Likewise, there are three stages of intense concentration brought about by regular practice of Kriya Yoga.
Using the example of a person gazing at a vase of flowers, you, the viewer, during the first stage of concentration, notice everything about the vase of flowers in detail – shapes, colors, aromas, dimensions and shades. Once in a while, you will be distracted by thoughts, but by simply re-focusing on your inhalation and exhalation, you can become present and continue concentrating on more aspects of the vase of flowers. This is the first and most shallow stage of concentration.
As concentration deepens, you will notice aspects never noticed before. Life then becomes exquisite and multi-dimensional – colors, aromas, tastes, emotions and physical sensations become very vivid and rich. Previous disengagement with the seemingly ordinary fabric of life turns into a bedazzlement and awe of all the previously unnoticed layers that lie beneath the ordinary moment.
At stage two, you, as the person viewing the vase of flowers, begin to fade into the background as the vase of flowers takes over your entire being. You, the reader, may have already experienced this stage of concentration while listening to a beautiful piece of music and being consumed by it. During such a state of concentration, the notion of “I” or “me” disappears along with the passage of time. As the Ego-self and time vanish, so do your thoughts and in that vacuum of thoughtlessness, there are no regrets about the past, nor any worries about the future. There remains only this moment and the Lightness of Being.
In stage three, deep concentration does not end with you, the viewer of flowers, being consumed by the vase of flowers. If you continue following your exhalations down to oblivion, something strangely mystical happens. Both you and the vase of flowers vanish and merge into One. This Divine union with “what is” is the meaning of Yoga. Yoga means union. In that place of homecoming, you are one with your Essence, who you really are. The joy of homecoming, of union (Yoga) is overwhelming as the glory of who you really are naturally unveils itself before the world.
For those seeking better concentration overall, improved memory and problem solving, reduced stress, smoother interpersonal interactions, and a sense of being more grounded in your daily activities, self-induced trance offers a path to all this. Additionally, there is an internal sense of peace and joy which becomes baseline when an individual practices trance through Kriya Yoga on a regular basis.
Kambiz Naficy will conduct Level I and Level II Joy of Life retreats at WomanWell in St. Paul, MN. The Level I retreat, November 20-22, is open to all individuals who would like to achieve greater joy and peace in their daily lives. No previous experience with Kriya Yoga or meditation is necessary. For more information, visit the website joyoflifeorg.com or email firstname.lastname@example.org.