Spontaneous fainting, an unexplained phenomenon, is a clue to the nature of consciousness. The stereotype of a “fainter” is a woman of delicate constitution fainting dead away upon being frightened by a mouse. We laugh and think the idea concocted, a folk myth, or the result of Victorian corsets. It is none of these.
I guess 30% of us will instantly “faint” with nothing more than a touch and a few quick words. I can find no hard numbers, but this is not a myth, and it seems to have little to do with age or gender. It’s called “rapid induction” and is a staple of stage hypnosis acts. I have heard various vague explanations, but no serious exploration of it.
I’ve created this audio file to use this phenomena, and to put you to sleep.
Here is how it’s performed. You’re asked to relax, and to hyper-focus on what’s happening in the moment, paying close attention to the speaker, your breath, or a sensation. In a moment of distraction you’re commanded to release, or relax. The usual command is “Sleep!”, but others do just as well.
What happens next is odd. A few of us will just blink – and this is important, as there is no reason you should. Others close their eyes, and go into a calm and detached state, disconnected from thinking about external events. A third group—quite a lot of people—will faint dead away, and might hit the ground if they were standing.
We’re not unconscious, though we might appear to be—we are just experiencing a trance. It’s an experience similar to moments of dissociation that we feel quite frequently, except here we have no immediate desire to exit from it. It could be dangerous in some circumstances, but it cannot happen unless you consent to it.
We’ve entered “a hypnotic state,” which doesn’t feel much different from a normal state, except for how it’s induced. This is important: hypnotic states are normal states, occurring in an abnormal context. Sleep is a normal state. Falling asleep on command, or not falling asleep after hours of trying, is an abnormal circumstance. Hypnosis is the study of normal states in abnormal circumstances.
Watching Your Brain
It’s instructive to monitor a person’s brain as they change state, and I typically do this with a hand-held brainwave monitor. No other hypnotherapist I know does this, and this is too bad because showing my clients their brainwaves helps them better understand their minds and develop greater control. There is nothing fancy about brainwaves; they’re just the electrical sound of your brain at work.
If you participate in this exercise, you will experience a state which, while familiar, is not what you’d planned. This change of state is an opportunity to reflect, perceive, or move onto a different mental plane. At this point, more paths open to you than you normally allow.
This raises a host of questions about how we navigate our awareness, and what our awareness consists of. The one thing we can say with certainty is that there are a great many more states of consciousness than you are aware of, as should be obvious. Let me be more forceful: there are many more positive, life-affirming states you could manifest than those you know how to manifest.
Having described the process thus far, you may recall times you’ve changed your own state of mind. It’s similar to putting yourself in a meditative state, feeling emotional, or falling asleep. It’s an adult “time out.” While we often focus on “the facts,” it’s our state of mind, and that of other people, that make the most difference in outcomes and behavior.
The graph below shows the brainwaves of a subject who is falling asleep, and then waking up, over a period of 20 minutes. The horizontal axis is time; the vertical axis is the strength of the electrical signal recorded from their scalp. The colored lines plot the change in amplitude of the different brainwave frequencies over time.
In the first 4 minutes, on the far left-hand side of the graph, you see the varying, interpenetrating lines of Stage One sleep. There follow the calm and lower amplitude waves of Stage Two sleep. This gives way to the repeatedly tall background peaks – the delta waves – and oscillations in the colored lines of Stage Three sleep. In the last 30 seconds, at the far right, the subject returns to Stage One sleep, and then opens their eyes. This would all be entirely normal, except this person was sitting erect in an armless chair for the duration of the session.
I can talk you into these states, and talk to you while you’re in these states, and you can hear me even in these stages of sleep. Looking at your brainwaves afterwards can give you a deeper sense of your states of mind as things that are real and different. This can help you better manage your sleep patterns and emotions.
Try it yourself. Close your eyes, focus on a sensation, and think of nothing else. Then, intentionally release yourself into a deeper, blanker state. Try exhorting yourself with the command like “Sleep!” Just a command, not a discussion. Extend the resulting state for as long as you can. It may sound ridiculous to give yourself commands, but once you see it works, you’ll realize you are not as unitary a personality as you thought you were!
Your ability to maintain this relaxed state improves with practice but, if you’re like most people, your bored mind soon returns with commentary and you lose focus. When induced by another person, self-talk can be forestalled, and this relaxed state can be led, shaped, and extended for hours.
Sleeping outdoors a few days ago, I woke before dawn and couldn’t get back to sleep. I wasn’t thinking clearly, but I was thinking, and that kept me awake. I put myself through a series of relaxation exercises that left me relaxed but still distracted. A loud woodpecker broke the silence, pounding on a nearby tree. The shock derailed my train of thought and I dropped into relaxation. Then, for the first time ever, I witnessed myself fall asleep.
What happened? It took me a while to connect that experience with rapid induction, but that’s what happened: the woodpecker took me into another state.
I have recreated this for you by repeating the relaxation exercise and following it with something like the woodpecker. I’ve recorded this audio file, which I’ve titled “Woodpecker,” to put you to sleep. This is different from a relaxation exercise, which can create a relaxed state but may not put you into it. Woodpecker aims to do both.
I don’t know if it will work for you; it’s never been tried. Listen to it and see. Try it when you’re going to sleep, or listen to it if you wake up prematurely. It might work better than you expect, so don’t listen to it while driving or walking down the street. If this benefits you, thank the woodpecker.
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