We can sometimes understand phenomena and processes more easily if we imagine them in pictures and similes. I therefore ask you to imagine that you are like a fruit, e.g. a peach, with a skin, pulp and inside a core. The shell is what is usually called consciousness but which I prefer to call your outer part. The pulp inside is what is traditionally called the unconscious or subconscious, what I call your inner part. In the center is what you can experience as your innermost self, your core.

As you learn to enter hypnotic states, it is as if you are making an inner journey that goes from the shell, the periphery, ever further into yourself. What characterizes altered states of consciousness such as hypnosis is that we experience something that can be called an expanded consciousness.

The first important skill you need to develop to embark on this journey is observation. It sounds simple but can be demanding to implement in practice. In our Western culture, we are more focused on doing, acting, than observing. Even observation is in itself an act because it is by no means a passive approach. But to understand what happens when we enter hypnotic states, we distinguish between the observer and the operator. Operator is someone who trades, acts with the help of implements, instruments or tools. An observer is someone who observes what is happening from a distance.

Observation training is the royal road to our inner self and constitutes the first step on the inner journey from periphery to core. As observers we learn to “let what happens happen” and just observe all the thoughts, feelings, perceptions and physical reactions that spontaneously arise without intervening, influencing or engaging in any way, we leave to our inner part to be an operator. With the fact that, through the observation training, we manage to take more and more observing positions towards more and more of what happens and is around us both inside and outside the body, we therefore delegate to our inner part to control our behaviors to an increasing degree.

When I work with hypnosis, I do not ask my clients to behave in any particular way. I am not asking you to close your eyes or fixate on a certain point, nor to relax or think about your breathing. I ask you to just observe what happens spontaneously. It is when you feel that you are letting the different parts of the body do exactly what they want that you enter hypnotic states.

You learn a special approach to what you experience. You have the same approach to the body, e.g. to your thoughts. You don’t deny their existence, but you also don’t grasp at them, don’t spin on them. You concentrate on observing everything that arises of thoughts, feelings, perceptions, physical reactions.

As long as you are still in a light hypnotic state, you can choose what you want to concentrate on. But your observational approach leads you deeper into hypnosis and sooner or later you reach a limit. If you go over it, you no longer feel that you choose what you concentrate on. Instead, you feel that something or someone other than you has taken over and is making decisions on your behalf. But even if you can experience it in the beginning, nothing outside of you has taken over. You have just left it up to your inner part to be the operator and to decide what you need to concentrate on in order to feel and function as well as possible.

A common perception is that it is our outer part that is the operator, but in reality it is our inner part that always operates the most. It is the one that ensures that we can think, feel and act spontaneously. It generates all of our automated behaviors, which are most of them. Even in ordinary waking states it is so, but in hypnosis it is so to an even greater degree.

The depth of hypnosis is determined by how active the outer and inner parts are as observer and operator respectively. The more active the inner part is as an operator and the outer one as an observer, the deeper we get into hypnotic states, i.e. into ourselves.

When your outer part takes the perspective of the observer, it results in your inner part making sure that you are captured in every moment and concentrate on what is most important to you at that moment. You can say that through the observation training you activate the control mechanisms that make you end up right. The inner part acts as a target finder, pre-programmed to find the target you need to focus on right there and then more than anything else in order for you to feel and function as well as possible. This means i.a. that the inner part sorts out the thoughts, feelings, beliefs and physical behaviors it considers unnecessary while highlighting the important. It’s like panning for gold. At first you only see a brownish-grey slush. But as you get rid of it, yellow shimmering nuggets – gold – eventually emerge.

When you learn to disconnect unnecessary thoughts etc. in this way, you enter hypnotic states that you experience as very positive.

So you don’t have to make any effort to get rid of negative thoughts. It fixes your inner part as you are sufficiently observant. The only thing you need to think about and remind yourself of is to be an observer.

When, through the observation training, you have cleared away enough of the unnecessary thoughts, which can sometimes be the same as all thoughts, you feel free. Your brain, which is the most complex part of the body, needs special treatment. While your body as a whole needs to rest once a day when you sleep at night, your brain needs to rest several times a day. It does this by emptying itself of unnecessary thoughts. Sometimes this means, as I said, all thoughts.

As the quantity of thoughts decreases, the quality of thoughts increases. A brain that is constantly thinking produces mostly unnecessary thoughts. It exhausts itself and the quality of the thoughts deteriorates. But when it is allowed to rest and empty itself as often and as much as it needs, it develops higher quality thoughts. Since no negative and other unnecessary thoughts stand in the way, you can then learn to plant new positive thoughts that can then more easily take root and grow.

You may be wondering if it isn’t difficult to make observation a habit. It can be difficult at first but with time it becomes easier for two reasons:
– The inner part gradually takes over the job of making sure you are an observer and
– the number of thoughts gradually decreases as more and more of the unnecessary ones are cleared away.

No matter what problems my clients want help with, I recommend that they start by going through a training program whose A and O is the observation training. If symptoms or problems disappear because you practice observation long enough, they are simply a habit that is a product of negative thoughts. If they do not disappear, they probably have deeper roots in the form of unprocessed experiences. In that case, more extensive work is needed in the form of processing in hypnotherapy. How much work it becomes therefore depends on
– how extensive the negative and other unnecessary thoughts are and
– whether these originate in unfinished experiences.

Getting deeper into yourself can mean two completely different things:
– that you experience a deepened well-being
– that you enter into the processing of unprocessed experiences.

In the first case, it is positive. Even in the second case, it is positive provided that you have entered into a processing because you have trained observation sufficiently.

Jonas Sandberg

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