In order for the subject’s subconscious mind to accept ideas, all hypnosis and hypnotherapy rely on suggestions being delivered in hypnosis. But, what exactly is the subconscious mind, and what is the difference between it and the conscious mind?

It’s worth noting that the subconscious mind is sometimes referred to as the ‘unconscious mind.’ They are, nevertheless, essentially the same thing. We like the term’subconscious’ since the phrase ‘unconscious’ conjures up thoughts of oblivion in some people’s minds, and as you surely know, hypnosis is a conscious state of concentrated attention, not an unconscious condition. So, we’ll allude to the subconscious throughout this blog, but it’s absolutely up to you if you do the same.

The conscious and subconscious mind’s constructions

You wouldn’t be able to tell the difference between the conscious and subconscious minds if you looked at a human brain (or a brain scan). Because the conscious and subconscious minds are metaphors for how the brain functions, this is the case. Many different parts of the brain are employed to accomplish conscious operations, while other areas of the brain are engaged when we’re doing something unconsciously (or subconsciously), such as driving a car.

When you’re driving a car, various parts of your brain start to work together. The frontal lobe and prefrontal cortex have a role in decision-making and judgment. The parietal lobe aids in the integration of sensory information as well as spatial awareness. While driving, the occipital and temporal lobes process visual information and make choices about the relevance of noises heard. When you make a judgment while driving, the cerebellum helps to coordinate muscle actions and balance. However, some of these processes are deliberately carried out, while others are carried out automatically.

Despite the fact that the conscious and subconscious minds do not exist physically, they are a brilliant metaphor or construct for explaining how our minds might work in different ways. This is useful when discussing hypnosis and the ‘power of the mind’ to potential volunteers and clients as a hypnotist/hypnotherapist.

The self-aware mind

Let’s start with the conscious mind before moving on to the subconscious mind. The conscious mind is the sum of all the elements of your mind and mental processes that contribute to your ability to think about things right now. ‘Conscious thought’ refers to everything you’re thinking about right now. You’re aware of what’s going on, and you’re mostly in charge of your thoughts.

This ‘awareness’ extends to one’s actions and movements. The conscious mind will take the lead if you’re consciously thinking about what you’re doing, such as when trying to master a new skill (such as a sport). When you’re doing something, you already know and have done a lot of, like tying your shoelaces, your conscious mind takes a back seat, and your subconscious takes over, accomplishing the action without you having to think about it very much, if at all.

At any given time, the conscious mind may process up to 40 different external inputs per second and remember between 5 and 9 things (using the short-term memory). Your conscious mind has the ability to accept or reject suggestions, and your ‘free will’ is regarded to be a conscious process guided by your conscious mind.

The mind’s subconscious

The conscious mind is in charge of what you’re thinking about or planning to do, but the subconscious mind is in charge of everything else.

Your memories and beliefs are stored in your subconscious mind. It takes care of all your unconscious body activities, such as pumping blood, breathing, processing food, and everything else your body is doing right now without any conscious effort. The subconscious mind, on the other hand, learns first and foremost. It’s a massive data bank that stores all of the knowledge you’ve ever encountered in your life (though, whether you are able to consciously access said information at will is a different matter).

The subconscious is, in a sense, a creature of habit. The subconscious learns through repetition, and it accepts new knowledge by comparing it to all of our past, relevant learnings, as well as using the filter of what we are consciously thinking at the time and our ‘critical factor’ (more on that in the next blog). The subconscious is always ‘alive’ and taking in information, which helps to explain why we dream what we do and why we can often combine external sounds and events into our dreams while we’re asleep (such as a dream incorporating an alarm sound, that is actually your morning alarm clock going off beside the bed).

The subconscious mind can process 20 million bits of information about the environment you’re in per second, as well as 100,000 chemical reactions per cell per second, whereas the conscious mind can only handle 40 pieces of information per second. This means that the subconscious mind processes 400 billion bits of data every second!

Because the subconscious mind is not logical and frequently works better with imagery and symbols, just instructing someone what to do during a hypnotherapy session does not always result in the desired outcome. This is why, in order to communicate more effectively, well-trained hypnotherapists learn to use a variety of indirect and symbolic therapeutic tactics in addition to direct suggestions.