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“Are you going to make me bark like a dog, or quack like a duck?”
As a hypnotherapist, I hear comments like this all the time. It wouldn’t surprise me if you’ve already jumped to a conclusion about hypnosis yourself. Perhaps you’re convinced it’s woo-hoo, voodoo, and a bunch of hoopla wrapped together to entertain crowds at the county fair.
Technically, you wouldn’t be wrong…people have used the skill of hypnosis to entertain crowds. Mainstream media loves to drive our imagination wild with outrageous storylines. Have you seen the movie, Get Out? Makes you think twice about drinking tea with anyone. These exaggerated fiction tales make us leery. It’s no wonder most people stay away from hypnosis. Plus it’s our brain’s job to keep us away from the unknown and otherwise seemingly dangerous. We don’t like things we don’t understand. But, it’s also a part of human nature to question what seems invalid. It’s good to question, research, investigate, and come to your own educated decision.
The thing is, hypnosis has been studied and researched extensively for decades. Award-winning doctor Dr. David Siegel, was exposed to hypnotherapy by his father—a psychiatrist and trained Freudian analyst who first experienced hypnosis in World War II to provide aid to soldiers and offer an alternative to anesthesia. The golden child of hypnosis research, Dr. Spiegel is the Associate Chair of Psychiatry & Behavioral Sciences, Director of the Center on Stress and Health, and the Medical Director of the Center for Integrative Medicine at Stanford University School of Medicine. He’s legit. He’s even talked with the Dalai Lama about how hypnosis relieves pain and depression in cancer patients and how “feelings lead to healing. ”Hypnosis has also been studied and utilized by well-known psychologists like Carl Jung.
Hypnosis is more than just some weird county-fairground trick. I often describe hypnosis as meditation with a goal while harnessing the power of a mind-body connection.
Hypnosis is the act of guiding someone into a state of trance to bring the mind and body into absolute agreement. Although each hypnotherapist may describe trance differently, they can agree on a few key qualities. Trance includes a deep state of relaxation, hyper-focus or intentional concentration, and openness or increased suggestibility.
A stage hypnotist makes suggestions to evoke an external response from the hypnotized volunteers, to entertain the crowd. A hypnotherapist’s suggestions are intended to create internal changes within the client. The stage bunch is open to performing simple tasks (laughing until you cry, dancing like nobody's watching, etc.) that they otherwise would allow themselves to do in their normal day to day life. They are open to it, the hypnotist suggests it, and in a deeply relaxed state, they react accordingly. “They are not thinking about themselves doing it, they’re just doing it.” It truly is that simple.
If it sounds too simple, it’s because it is. The truth is, most of us go in and out of trance every day, multiple times a day. It happens when you’re very relaxed or very focused and can feel similar to a daydream like state. Have you ever completely zoned out on your way to work and couldn’t recall how you got there? Could you, without a doubt, retrace every red light, stop sign, or right turn you made? No? It’s because you were in trance.
The only difference between hypnosis and these everyday trance states is that in hypnosis, someone induces the trance state for a specific reason or goal: healing, pain relief, stress relief, fear of public speaking, or increasing self-esteem, to name a few. The definition of hypnotherapy is clear from the word itself. Hypnotherapy is the practice of hypnosis for therapeutic purposes.
Hypnotherapy allows us to communicate directly with the subconscious mind, while letting you be in the driver's seat. The subconscious mind is the part of the brain that is on autopilot, running in the background, a reservoir that holds your ideas, beliefs, and perceptions. The interesting thing is that ninety-five percent of the time, we’re totally unaware of what’s running in the subconscious mind.
Imagine your mind is like an iPod. When you first get it, there are no programs to run or songs to play; you have to download them first. The mind at birth is like a brand new iPod, ready to download. From birth to about eight years old, your brain is in a theta brain wave, simply recording or downloading.
Theta is the brain wave we experience during trance and the same brain wave we desire in hypnotherapy. During these first eight years of life, each person is recording the world around him or her and loading the “programs” that we use for the rest of our lives—downloaded and stored in the subconscious mind. These programs are downloaded into our subconscious mind and run in the back of our mind forever. Just like an iPod, we can skip the song or program altogether, but it’s only a matter of time before it comes up again.
The purpose of hypnotherapy is to rewrite those old songs (or programs) you’re tired of and want to skip. When you’re deeply relaxed, open to suggestion, and truly desire that specific goal or outcome in your life, you allow that program to be overwritten. Hypnotherapy can reduce stress, anxiety, or aid you in reaching your specifically desired goals to enhance your life.
If you’re new to hypnotherapy, curious, or want to want to try it out for yourself, download this free deep hypno-meditation.
Since 1992, April has been recognized as Stress Awareness Month. It was established to help shed light on the issues behind stress, teach us how to fight it, and create methods to overcome it. While this initiative has existed just shy of three decades, this year it seems particularly important.
With a year under our belts in pandemic mode—a lot of us had to get creative when it came to keeping our cool. On top of that, everyday stresses didn’t just magically disappear during this time either. Just think about it—have you ever been in a situation that was overwhelming? Maybe you’ve had a looming deadline or a to-do list that seems, well...totally un-doable? If you’ve ever felt you were in over your head, please know you’re not alone—you never are. At one time or another, we’ve all been affected by stress—although each person may manifest it differently. Me? I'm definitely a frequent rider on the "hot mess stress express."
There are many ways to help combat stress—some of us seek out support from friends and family, while others find solace in taking up meditation or unwinding with a relaxing yoga class. Whatever helps you find peace, just keep doing you. But also know we have some resources to help you overcome stress whenever the need arises.
Here are some blog posts that are always available to you when you feel a little stressed out:
When in doubt, breathwork expert and sound healer, Shanila Sattar, always has tips to help ground yourself—especially in times of need. In this blog post, she gives you the recipe for incorporating self-love into your daily routine by encouraging us to ask ourselves these questions: How do we treat ourselves? How do we talk to ourselves? What foods are we putting into our bodies? How are we thinking about our overall well-being when practicing self-love? As we all know, self-love defines and redefines itself for everyone over the years, here are a few foundational tips to think about when easing into your self-love journey.
Yoga Nidra, or “yogic sleep,” is a practice that has been around for thousands of years and it aims to restore the mind, body, and soul through deep, guided meditation. The way it works is like the way a power nap helps one feel refreshed during a particularly exhausting day, except you aren’t technically sleeping. I describe it as a long-form of savasana—anywhere from 30 minutes to one hour. (Real talk: savasana is one of the best parts of practicing yoga, am I right?)
TLDR: I learned that I could conquer stress in a matter of minutes with Yoga Nidra.
Are we safe in saying this last year brought up a ton of emotions the likes of which we did not plan for? The good, the bad, the “unprecedented”—our hearts and minds have been taken on a wild rollercoaster ride, and for many of us, our mental health is suffering. With our minds running in thousands of directions, it’s hard to notice our own needs. Yes, our attention to the goings-on of last year is vital but caring for ourselves is as important as ever. Here are some tips from our favorite yoga instructor, Dani Schenone.
Have you been feeling it? The big emotion floating around the last year is the Big Anxiety. Coupled with the stress of what the COVID-19 pandemic has bought for millions of people, disturbed wellness routines, and worry, we have a recipe to create massive damage to ourselves. Adjusting to the new normal, with social distancing practices in place and adapting to precautions and routines, may be the root of even more anxiousness for many as we’re navigating uncharted territories.
If you've got those familiar feelings of stress and anxiety coursing through your body right now, you're definitely not alone. We get it. Times are uncertain, our mental health is taxed, we're doing what we can to reduce stress and anxiety in general, and relaxation has taken a back seat. It’s no secret that stress is proven to weaken our immunity, so now more than ever, it's important to relax, deal with what's happening, and find the coping mechanisms to help you reclaim your mental health and reduce your involvement in stressed moments. Let's deal with stress and anxiety together and see what we can do to reduce them.
Meditation will change your life if you let it. The pace of our modern life is at least ten times what it was just 10 years ago. Technology improved our lives but also created a more frenetic and stressful pace. If we decided to stop, breathe, and become more mindful, we would reduce stress and experience much more enjoyment in each moment of our everyday lives.
There’s always something to worry about. Whether it’s our career, relationships, dating, or trauma, we go through moments that bombard us with negative thoughts that can make us feel anxious and stressed. Our worries may often define our choices, our view of the world, or ourselves. This doesn’t mean they are faults, flaws, or downfalls—we just need to practice managing them in a healthy way, placing deserved value on self-care. Yoga is only one connection. Check out these seven yoga poses that can help your mind and body when you’re experiencing anxiety, depression, or overall stress.
We’re all guilty of our routines and habits running our lives at one point or another. We’re all guilty of being attached to our schedules and our to-do list. We’re all guilty of running on a loop every now and then. As the energies of 2021 continue to shift, we get to ask ourselves the intentions of why and how we are participating in the places we are participating in, the thoughts we are thinking, the habits we are cultivating, and the communities that we are a part of. This intention and mindfulness process can not only shift our own experiences but of those around us as well.
If you have found meditation to be useful in trying times, right now is an incredible time to also try virtual sound baths to receive the deep sound healing benefits. As many of us are processing a variety of emotions as a collective—stress, worry, fear, anxiety, uncertainty—we can start to cause long-term damage to our bodies, especially to our immune and nervous systems. Giving ourselves self-care in a way that is easy, non-intrusive, and simple, can be the perfect way to help your body restore.
These resources aren’t the only thing we have to help you deal with stress—they’re just the tip of the iceberg. In fact, there are tons of classes available to you on the Mindbody app and through Mindbody Flex to help you reignite your calm whenever you’re feeling overwhelmed. And always remember, at the end of the day, your best is always good enough.