When I say what I mean do I mean what I say?

This is a classic ambiguous question, and by using two different meanings of the same word ‘mean’, it creates a temporary pause in your mind. You have to stop, go inside and work it out.

As your conscious mind is occupied, it is temporarily bypassed so any immediately subsequent statements can enter your unconscious mind unchecked, uncensored. In a simple sense, this is the essence of an hypnotic procedure. In hypnosis, we want to bypass your conscious mind and access your unconscious.

Ambiguity has several applications in hypnosis, another classic use is to allow someone to find their own answers, own solutions, their own interpretations and their own internal representation.

Why is this of value? However well you know someone, it is impractical to know them completely. So, for example, if I were to suggest to you that you should enjoy the coming weekend break, how many different ways could this be interpreted? Sleeping in, going hiking, having a massage, reading a book …. the list is almost endless. But, importantly, you know what this means for you.

The use of ’empty’ words such as happy, memories, whenever, maybe, dreams and so on are not the sole preserve of hypnotic suggestions. They are used extensively when someone wants to be deliberately vague and where they want you to fill in the gaps. For instance they are used in horrorscopes, by psychics and in marketing.

When you fill in the gaps, you take it inside your mind and make it yours. And when you make it yours, you are more likely to accept it and to believe what you are being told is true.

In the richness of the English language there is plenty of scope for ambiguity. With words such as duck, ship, sale/sale, bear/bare etc.

In fact any phrase or sentence where it is unclear from the context what the exact meaning is, is an ambiguous phrase or sentence. So if I said ‘they are running in the park’. Who are ‘they’, in which ‘park’ and why are they ‘running’?

And as you begin to understand all of this, you will start to see that hypnosis is a natural process you go through on a regular basis, each day you dance between your conscious and unconscious minds in a never ending waltz. So wouldn’t it be nice if you could spot when it is happening to you, to become more aware of your thinking processes. And as you read these words, you are beginning to enjoy knowing about yourself more and more, and as you know yourself more and more you are waking up and becoming more and more aware.

© David R. Durham

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