What happens during hypnosis?
Let’s take a closer look at the science behind it all. If you are like me, an inquisitive and analytical mind, you will want to know exactly how hypnosis works. This part of the site is for you. One thing to remember is this: The subconscious mind is always on, always listening, regardless of how conscious we are. So suggestions work with all brainwave levels. You should note that it’s rare for you to only enter one state during your hypnosis session. More likely you will begin by oscillating from Alpha to Theta, and sometimes when you become more accustomed to my voice you may drop down to Delta.
Our brain activity can be measured. Brainwaves are the electrical movements/activity in the brain. The frequency of these brainwaves can be measured using an electroencephalograph (EEG). Electrodes are placed on the scalp to measure the frequency of these brainwaves. From highest to lowest frequency, these brainwaves are called gamma, beta, alpha, theta and delta.
Gamma waves are the fastest of all the brain waves. They oscillate up to an incredible 100 cycles per second and possibly even faster, since they can be challenging to measure accurately.
When you are intensely focused on something, or fully engaged in solving a problem, your brain produces gamma waves. You’re likely at peak concentration and focus when your brain fires off gamma waves.
When we are awake and fully conscious, we are in Beta. It is the waking, thinking state. During beta, brainwaves range from 14 to 40 cycles per second. In beta, an individual thinks and listens, can solve analytical problems, make decisions, and intake and process information. In Beta our mind is most alert. This is our normal state of mind when working, studying and doing daily activities.
Beta is also associated with states of anxiety, fear, worry, paranoia, anger and aggression.
When we enter Alpha brainwave state the brainwaves are slower and is more indicative of relaxing and reflecting. During alpha, brainwaves range from 9 to 14 cycles per second. In the alpha state the reticular activating system in your brain starts to shut down. An individual is fully aware of his/her surroundings but in a much more relaxed state of mind than beta. Hypnosis and Meditation are often practiced in the alpha brainwave state. It is during this stage that suggestion work is mostly done.
Alpha is associated with: hypnosis, meditation, super learning, feelings of harmony & happiness, creativity and deep awareness.
Theta is an even slower state than Alpha and is perfect for daydreaming and intuitive thinking. During theta, brainwaves range from 5 to 8 cycles per second. It is the state between wakefulness and sleep. In this state of mind, memories, thoughts and facts that eluded a person in a wakeful state can be recalled. It is often in this state that answers to problems seem to appear.
Hypnosis and deep meditation are practiced in the theta state. Theta brain waves can also occur when you’re awake and in a very deeply relaxed state of mind. In a 2017 study scientists explored the way that theta wave activity seems to be linked to one particular type of learning. This type of learning occurs when you’re doing something that you may not have conscious access to, like learning to ride a bike. This is known as implicit learning.
Theta is associated with: deep hypnosis, trance-like meditation, accessing long-term memories, intuition, deep learning and visualisation.
Delta is the lowest and slowest brainwave state.
Both delta waves and theta waves occur when you’re asleep, but delta waves are the waves that dominate when you’re in a period of deep, restorative sleep. At the slowest delta level, sleep is deep and dreamless. Delta is a deeply restorative state and during that time you are not aware of what your hypnotherapist is saying, but the suggestions are being accepted.
Delta is associated with: deepest level of hypnosis or meditation, altered states of reality, deep restoration, strengthening immune system, healing, renewal and rejuvenation.
When you hear two slightly different frequency tones, one in each ear, your brain processes a beat at the difference of the frequencies. This is called a binaural beat. For example: Let’s say you’re listening to a sound in your left ear that’s at a frequency of 132Hz but in your right ear, you’re listening to a sound that’s at 121Hz. Your brain gradually falls into synchrony with the difference of 11Hz. Instead of hearing two different tones, you instead hear a tone at 11Hz, in addition to the two tones given to each ear.
What binaural beats should I listen to?
- Binaural beats in the delta (1 to 4 Hz) range have been associated with deep sleep and relaxation.
- Binaural beats in the theta (4 to 8 Hz) range are linked to REM sleep, reduced anxiety, relaxation, as well as meditative and creative states.
- Binaural beats in the alpha frequencies (8 to 13 Hz) are thought to encourage relaxation, promote positivity, and decrease anxiety.
- Binaural beats in the lower beta frequencies (14 to 30 Hz) have been linked to increased concentration and alertness, problem solving, and improved memory.