Consciousness is basically defined as the state of being aware of one's surroundings and internal thoughts and feelings.
But what exactly is consciousness? That's a question that philosophers have been asking for centuries, but a good consciousness definition can be hard to come by. Answering this question could be very important to your self-hypnosis practice, however.
That's because the role of the conscious mind is almost as important for self-hypnosis as the unconscious mind. If you can't get your conscious thoughts to slow down and step aside, you won't be able to benefit from self-hypnosis.
Most people using self-hypnosis believe that this technique allows direct access to the subconscious mind, without any interference from the conscious mind.
While the conscious mind is extremely important for day-to-day interaction, it keeps us safe, it can actually get in the way when you want to look at and influence your subconscious mind.
Normally, the conscious mind acts as a “gate keeper”, problem solver and decision maker as it sorts all the information given it by the subconscious mind. When it comes to making changes in your behavior, however, the rules your conscious mind uses to get through the day can turn into a barrier to change.
That's why it's so important to put your conscious mind aside during self-hypnosis. While your conscious mind assumes it runs the show, it is really the subconscious mind that is in charge.
Your subconscious mind helps you engage in tasks like driving, and put together all those plans and ideas that seem like they come out of nowhere. In fact, every conscious thought you have has been proven to originate one-half second before you think it in your subconscious mind. (Read - Mind Time: The Temporal Factor in Consciousness by B. Lebit)
By reaching past your conscious mind, the part that does the active decision-making you are aware of, you can actually make changes in your subconscious mind. The deep relaxation and focus that are part of self-hypnosis are an excellent way to separate the two in favor of the unconscious mind.
Your conscious mind isn't entirely turned “off” during self-hypnosis since most people are still aware of what's going on. But it does end up “taking a back seat”, allowing the subconscious mind to be available in ways that normally only happen while you're asleep.
Practicing self-hypnosis regularly however can help you get a better understanding of the separate roles played your conscious mind and subconscious mind.