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How does our brain operate? What Happens in Hypnosis?
What is the function of the various brainwaves?
The brain is an electrochemical organ; researchers have speculated that a fully functioning brain can generate as much as 10 watts of electrical power. Other more conservative investigators calculate that if all 10 billion interconnected nerve cells discharged at one time that a single electrode placed on the human scalp would record something like five millionths to 50 millionths of a volt. If you had enough scalps hooked up you might be able to light a flashlight bulb. Even though this electrical power is very limited, it does occur in very specific ways that are characteristic of the human brain. Electrical activity emanating from the brain is displayed in the form of brainwaves.
There are four categories of these brainwaves, ranging from the most activity to the least activity. Theta is the state that is most helpful in hypnosis, and in which the mind becomes very open and highly suggestible to the positive suggestions of the hypnotic guide - your therapist.
When we are awake our brain is actively engaged in mental activities; it generates beta waves. These beta waves are of relatively low amplitude, and are the fastest of the four different brainwaves. The frequency of beta waves ranges from 15 to 40 cycles a second of brainwave activity. Beta waves are characteristics of a strongly engaged mind. A person in active conversation would be in beta. A teacher, or an engineer would all be in beta when they are engaged in their work.
Alpha represents slower and higher in amplitude brainwaves that describe the dreamy reflecting state on mind. The brainwave frequency ranges from 9 to 14 cycles per second. A person who has completed a task and sits down to rest is often in an alpha state. A person who takes time out to reflect or meditate is usually in an alpha state. A person who takes a break from a conference and walks in the garden is often in an alpha state.
Suggested that it is a light state of hypnosis.
Theta brainwaves are typically of even greater amplitude and slower frequency. This frequency range is normally between 5 and 8 cycles a second. A person who has taken time off from a task and begins to daydream is often in a theta brainwave state. A person who is driving on a highway, and discovers that they can't recall the last five miles, is often in a theta state - induced by the monotonous process of freeway driving. Individuals who do a lot of driving, jogging, commuting often get ideas during those periods when they are in theta.
This can also occur while you are in the shower or brushing your hair. It is a state where tasks become so automatic that you can mentally disengage from them. During this awakening cycle it is possible for individuals to stay in the theta state for an extended period of say, five to 15 minutes--which would allow them to have a free flow of ideas about yesterday's events or to contemplate the activities of the forthcoming day. A person in a hypnotherapy session experiences a theta state of relaxation and allowing the mind to disengage from tasks, just following the voice of the therapist inducing positive suggestions.
This time can be an extremely productive and can be a period of very meaningful and creative mental activity. The ideation that can take place during the theta state is often free flow and occurs without censorship or guilt. It is typically a very positive mental state.
This is the state of medium state of hypnosis.
In Delta the brainwaves are of the greatest amplitude and slowest frequency. They typically center around a range of 0.5 to 4 cycles per second. But, deep dreamless sleep would take you down to the lowest frequency.
This is the very deep level of trance, of hypnosis.