The other day Michael and I were driving, and I noticed the car ahead of me. I said: "There's James Bond." (My sister had dated James Bond for awhile, but that's another story. :) ) The license plate number featured a familiar trio of numbers in it: 007. Also, in the hot, red Ferrari next to me was the devil (or one of his henchmen) driving...that car featured 666. Amusing? Perhaps. But WHY did those ideas pop into my mind...James Bond and the Devil? I'll tell you why!

Because our unconscious minds are amazing meaning-seeking devices. Continuously looking for patterns! And finding them. You and me and each one of us, we are masters of pattern recognition. It's how we learn, and how we survive. How we learn to recognize mom's face as infants in the pixels of color dancing before our eyes, family, friends, a place of comfort, and how we learn to recognize danger as well. THAT MEANS THIS. That red and white octagon means lift my foot from the accelerator and move it to the de-accelerator. Now! So I don't run into the tail end of James Bond.

The mind loves to take what might appear to be random chaos, and attach meaning. Stars in the night sky, for instance. Constellations. To early astronomers, and to us, these are not just scattered blinking lights, these are mythological creatures with names and personalities, codified and recognized, parading across the sky.

I was in in Oregon giving a hypnosis talk, and I saw my cousin Eddie's face in the hotel bathroom wallpaper. He was THERE, I tell you. His exact profile. His mouth, his nose, which is absolutely distinctive and recognizable! Right next to the white rabbit. Random shapes become patterns, with meaning. We don't struggle to make these associations happen, they just do!

I invite you to read these sentences:

" Aoccdrnig to rscheearch at Cmabrigde uinervtisy, it deosn't mttaer waht oredr the ltteers in a wrod are, the olny iprmoetnt tihng is taht the frist and lsat ltteres are at the rghit pclae. The rset can be a tatol mses and you can sitll raed it wouthit a porbelm."

Your mind is effortlessly unscrambling the scramble. :) Because our unconscious minds make sense out of non-sense. And that's a good thing! And a useful thing.

When it comes to problem solving, it's massively useful. When we're feeling stuck/trapped/locked into a box of limited options (none of which may be appealing), our conscious mind is not much help. It scours the box. The solution to the problem is not there, in the conscious box. It's out there. Somewhere else. When we tap into the unconscious part of our mind, we are looking in a far, far, far broader spectrum, outside that box. Somewhere else. Everywhere else. At everything. And answers (meaning) are there in the larger jumble. Our unconscious minds can and do find it. And this changes everything and dissolves the box.

That's what hypnosis is about, and how it is useful. It's a doorway into tapping into the massive pattern recognition (problem solving) abilities of the unconscious mind.

In the news recently, a lady on the television game show "Wheel of Fortune" solved a 27 letter puzzle with only one letter showing, and 26 letters hidden. Her mind, her unconscious mind, took the information available (how many words in the puzzle phrase and how many letters per word and another letter she knew was NOT there) and scoured the universe for meaning. What English common phrase fits that criteria? And, she found it! Instantly, it seemed! Her unconscious mind fed it to her conscious mind. To those of you who viewed the footage of this amazing problem-solving feat, it did seem miraculous, did it not? It wasn't a miracle, it was simply her mind being good at what we all do. Make sense and attach meaning. In this case it was useful--she won a $6,000 trip to the Caribbean.

Not just this lady, I think we all should give a great big "THANK YOU, UNCONSCIOUS MIND!" shout out to our unconscious minds. They keep us alive and thriving, and do solve life's dilemmas when we get our conscious, linear thinking out of the way long enough for the useful and helpful patterns to reveal themselves.

Author's Bio: 

Connie Brannan, CHt., is a certified clinical hypnotherapist and Licensed Trainer of NLP (Neuro Linguistic Programming). She owns two businesses: Mindworks Hypnosis and Mindworks NLP. She's also a published author and creator of several hypnotic self help audio products. She is an active member in several hypnosis professional organizations, including the NGH (National Guild of Hypnotists), the NGHWA (National Guild of Hypnotists, Washington Chapter), the IAPCH, (International Association of Professional Conversational Hypnotherapists), The International Hypnosis Association, and the Society of Neuro-Linguistic Programming.