Hypnosis is a changed state of awareness with increased relaxation, allowing for improved focus and concentration. There are 4 states of brain waves:
- BETA: Beta waves are generated with brain arousal and when actively engaged in mental activities. 15-40 cycles/second
- ALPHA: 9-14 cycles/second , A person at rest or in a meditative state, perhaps looking at a garden. Most hypnosis falls into this brain wave state.
- THETA: 5-8 cycles/second. Daydreaming or perhaps driving on a freeway and you are unaware of the last 5 miles. The repetitive nature of driving a freeway compared to a country road. This is when active dreaming is more experiential and REM opens a person up to a flow of ideas, like some automatic tasks such as taking a shower and creative ideas flow. You could hit snooze on your alarm and it’s possible to stay in Theta 5-15 minutes and receive a free-flow of ideas.
- DELTA: 1.5-4 cycles/second; this is the deep and dreamless sleep state.
Each of us are in a Theta state at least twice each day; the process of falling asleep or awakening takes you through these Brain Wave states. So yes, everyone can be hypnotized.
When Thomas Edison would hit a creative wall, he would nap in a chair with a steel ball in his hand. As we would start to fall asleep and his muscles relaxed, the ball would fall to the floor and wake him. This awakening happened just as dreamlike visions and thoughts, or ‘hypnagogia’ are happening. These are usually related to recent experiences and pass our mind unnoticed if we do not awaken. Edison found this would help spark his creativity and problem solving.
Salvador Dali also used this same technique while holding a spoon; he found creative inspiration for many of his imaginative paintings with this process.
This process has also been researched and shown to be effective if subjects are awoken before they hit Delta; they were 3x better at finding the solution to a math problem than those who remained awake (even though the images didn’t seem to be related to the math problem itself). (*Delphine Oudiette, Paris Brain Institute) The rational parts of the brain and inhibited in this way and the primitive brain has freer rein.
Dolores Cannon was part of a research done by the Monroe Institute where subjects were hooked up to a television. The TV would power off once their brain waves slowed down from Beta; no one could keep the TV on for more than 60 seconds.