The Different Levels of Consciousness

Consciousness illustration

This week I thought I would talk about what is happening to our brainwaves when we are in the different states of mind (consciousness). In particular I wanted to discuss this in relation to hypnosis, in doing so helping illustrate what is happening mentally when we go into a trance as well as the role of the hypnotist.

There are 5 Main Levels of Consciousness (States of Mind)

These are defined by the predominant brainwave frequency measured in cycles per second (Hertz) at any point in time. They are as follows:

Gamma (40Hz+): This is when our mind is running very quickly - usually during times of high stress, anxiety, fear or panic.

Beta (15Hz - 40Hz) : This is basically the most normal state for us to be in throughout the day where are aware and doing things normally.

Alpha (8Hz - 14Hz): This is when we are in a bit of a daydream state. Usually it happens for meditation, deep thinking & light hypnosis.

Theta (5Hz - 8Hz): This is quite deep state of mind with minimal conscious awareness. It usually happens during sleep, hypnosis & deep meditation.

Delta (0Hz - 5Hz): This happens when we are in high REM deep sleep, deep trance hypnosis, Kundalini & coma states.

Conscious & Subconscious Roles

Generally speaking the lower the level of brainwave frequency (Hertz) the less conscious awareness you will have. What happens when our brainwaves slow down is that the roles of the 2 distinct components of your mind begin to change. Firstly you have your conscious mind which is responsible for analyzing and acting upon everything that you are aware of in the moment. Below this is your subconscious mind which is still 'ticking away' without you even realising it most of the time.

"Did you know that consciously we can only handle up to 6 or 7 different tasks at the one time. Subconsciously we are literally doing thousands of tasks at the same time."

The subconscious is responsible for storing memories of everything we experience, carrying out autonomous responses to different situations before consciously acting upon them, and even for making sure the physical body is functioning properly (breathing etc.). It is important to note that both functions of our mind have very important roles to play, and the interaction between these and our environment is what produces our reality. These roles consistently change as our consciousness best adapts to the different situations we face.

Different Levels Used During Hypnosis

As outlined above, we naturally enter into these different levels of consciousness throughout different parts of the day. The main purpose of hypnosis is to be able to transition the client into the lower states below Beta. Generally speaking the lower your level of consciousness (Hertz) the more receptive the subconscious part of your mind becomes. This is because as we enter into these lower levels in trance, our conscious awareness begins to switch off and 'have a break' so to speak.

As a hypnotist we have to be aware of this in relation to the client. For example, someone who is new to hypnosis and a little bit hesitant, I might just guide them into a lighter Alpha state of trance for the first time so they are still conscious of what is happening. This still allows significant changes to take place as the subconscious is still receptive to what I am saying, but it is generally a lot more comforting to the client because they know what exactly is happening. Normally for a repeat client or someone who is not too hesitant, I will aim to guide them into a theta level of trance. This means their subconscious mind is a bit more open to suggestion.

The very deep levels of consciousness within the Delta realm are usually reserved for people that are somnambulists (go into hypnosis very easily) or when I am doing work with the mind-body connection for physical issues. In the Delta realm the client will be in a very deep trance with little/none conscious awareness. It is in this state (like in deep REM sleep) that our body recuperates and recharges best. This is why it is often useful to use this state to address physical conditions because of the direct connection between suggestion - the subconscious - the parts of the mind responsible for physical processes.

In Conclusion

I hope this blog has been of use to address any questions you might have had about consciousness and hypnosis. If you would like to experience hypnosis to treat a particular issue please call me on 0449 802 972 (Australia) or email me here.

- Jacqui Dornan