The rationale behind the state of hypnotic trance was originally defined by Dr. James Braid (1795-1860) as neurohypnology. The term was later shortened for neurypnology and referred to a state of sleep of the nervous system.
A renowned Scottish surgeon and scientist, James Braid was an influential pioneer of hypnosis and hypnotherapy. He is regarded by many as the first genuine hypnotherapist and the father of modern hypnosis. Braid believed hypnosis was a valuable aid to nervous disorders. He did not consider hypnosis as a replacement for other forms of treatments or medicine in general, but as a valuable complement to further enhance the health and well being of people with functional nervous disorders.
Both terms (neurohypnology and neurypnology) became obsolete by the end of the 1880s to be replaced by the term hypnosis. The word itself is derived from the Greek hypnos which means sleep. In his first book on the matter, Neurypnology (1843), Braid describes hypnosis as a state of physical relaxation accompanied and induced by mental concentration.
This precise state of physical, mental and emotional relaxation of the nervous system is something we all experience in our day-to-day life. It is an absolute prerequisite to our physical, mental and emotional well being. Sometimes we experience this as we sleep, other times when our conscious mind momentarily takes a back seat and our attention drifts away, or when we find ourselves functioning on automatic pilot – such as when training or driving. At this level of deep, physical, mental, emotional relaxation, our conscious mind momentarily steps out of the way, allowing our subconscious mind to process and store the information we have received throughout the day. This process is critical to the well functioning of our mind and body.
Without the ability to reach this level of deep relaxation, in our sleep, through our day dreaming or via a deep state of relaxation, we would not be able to function. Rare cases of fatal insomnia demonstrate that people who are unable to retreat to that level of the mind typically die within months. In the state of deep physical, mental and emotional relaxation known as hypnosis, our body is able to restore and recharge itself. As we reach this deep level of relaxation, our tissues soften, our blood vessels loosen. This enables our blood to flow more fluidly through our system, bringing vital oxygen to the brain and essential nutrients to our vital organs. Our brain wave cycles slow down to the alpha and theta levels of electrical activity. The chemical and hormonal levels produced by our brain and released in our body recover healthier balance. Electroencephalograms of the brain in that state show a decrease in cortisol levels (steroid hormone produced under stress, tension and fear and responsible for aging, immune system deficiency, increased sensitivity to aches and pain). An increase in endorphins, dopamine and norepinephrine levels is also noticed, enabling us feelings of contentment, well being and better clarity of mind.
The state of neurypnology, hypnosis, or more simply deep physical, mental and emotional relaxation is therefore a key component to our overall well being, balance, health and ability to effectively cope with the stimulations of day-to-day life.
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