Since this is my first blog entry, I thought I would write about my first career love: hypnotherapy. I stumbled upon it quite by accident: I had graduated with a bachelor’s degree in English from UC Davis, moved to Seattle and was trying to figure out what I wanted to be when I grew up (What the heck can you do with an English degree, anyway? Answer: write blogs). In May of 1998, my dad forwarded me an email about a hypnotherapy teacher in Seattle, Jack Elias, and when I read the email I knew I wanted to learn more. I immediately registered for his upcoming hypnotherapy training. I came into the classes with the same questions that everyone else has: “Will I be asleep?” “Will I remember what just happened?” “Will I cluck like a chicken?” “Will a megalomaniac force me to do evil things that fly in the face of my moral and ethical values?” Ok, maybe not everyone has that last fear. All of these questions hinged around my main fear of surrendering control of my mind to another person. Ooooooh…scary.
Hypnotherapy isn’t that scary, actually. No, it’s not. It’s very relaxing, and really fun (Take that, megalomaniacs! Hah!). It reminds me of the meditation classes I took in college. It’s just like daydreaming, but with more focus and attention. And all hypnosis is self-hypnosis, which means that you think it’s a good idea to relax, and you do. Easy. No one makes you do it. A hypnotherapist can’t make you do what you weren’t going to do already. And in that relaxed state, you can bypass the critical factor of the conscious mind and neutralize your inner saboteur. Have you ever “tried” to lose weight, and you knew that all you had to do was eat less and exercise more, but that chocolate ice cream in the freezer kept calling out your name? Hypnosis gets to the real root of why you keep obsessing over that chocolate ice cream, and makes powerful changes on a deep, subconscious level. I love that! Who can use a little inner peace and freedom in their lives? Answer: Everyone!
Quick tangent on the word “try:”
Remember in “Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back” when Luke crash-lands on Yoda’s planet in the Dagobah system? His x-wing fighter is stuck in the swamp, and he “tries” to use the Force to get it out. He “tries” and “tries,” but then gives up. Meanwhile, little, ancient, scrawny Yoda reaches his hand out and not only lift the x-wing up, but floats it over to a nice landing pad. He says: “Do or do not. There is no try.” I love that part. My best advice is to give up the word “try.” Take it out of your vocabulary, and you too can become a Jedi master. Set your mind to something, and just do it. When you “try” to do something, you’re giving yourself a weaselly excuse to fail at it. “I tried to lose 5 pounds, but that chocolate ice cream completely overpowered me.” “I tried to stop smoking, but then I went out for a beer and I had to have a cigarette.” “Trying” is your subconscious excuse to fail at something. ‘Nuff said.
Anyway, back to my original topic.
For the last 6 months, I’ve been honing my hypnotherapy skills and taking advanced hypnotherapy classes at the Hypnotherapy Training Institute in Corte Madera. One of the most fabulous things about taking hypnotherapy classes is that many students get to practice on me! We did a hypno-healing exercise, and I focused on my lung health (I’ve had mild, exercise-induced asthma since I was 12). In that profoundly relaxed state, I asked my subconscious mind to give me an image of healthy lungs that I could use in my life. And suddenly the image of thousands of red balloons appeared in my mind. They were all inflating and deflating with my breath. Balloons? Really? Think about balloons: the latex is so stretchy and resilient, and balloons can inflate to amazing sizes quite easily and quickly. The red color for me represents hemoglobin and the powerful capacity of my lungs to exchange carbon dioxide for oxygen and send those happy red blood cells throughout my body. I wouldn’t have come up with this image in my normal state, but when I was in hypnosis, the deep wisdom of my subconscious mind knew exactly where to go. And that’s what happens in hypnotherapy: the deep wisdom of your subconscious mind knows exactly where to go and what you need, and the hypnotherapist is merely the facilitator for helping you get there.
How has the image of thousands of balloons helped me in my life? Well, when I go to the gym now, I can exercise at an increased cardio rate without freaking out. So, I’ve been pushing myself harder without the usual fears of suffocation that tend to accompany shortness of breath for me. It’s a dramatic change, and all it took was a little deep relaxation and a facilitator who knew where to guide me.
Many people associate hypnotherapy with smoking cessation and weight loss, and it works very well for both topics, but for me, the sky’s the limit! Hypnotherapy melts away your inner saboteur and leaves you feeling empowered, in-charge, and at peace with yourself. A little food for thought.