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April 01, 2009

Hypnosis: Interstate to the SubConscious

About a week ago I decided to write a story on hypnotherapy for the paper and two hypnotherapists here on Salt Spring generously offered their time and experience to hypnotize me.

“When I count backwards from five you will be wide awake and feeling good,” she says. One...You’re beginning to come back...Two...feel the energy moving through your body...

She (the lady in the photo) asks me what I want to work on. I didn't want it to be really personal since I was writing it for the paper. She suggested I ask what it is about Salt Spring that has attracted me here so strongly and why I'm here and to invite in abundance of all kinds. That sounded good to me.

I sit in a chair with a footstool. She puts a warm blanket over me, tells me to get comfortable and inhale a few deep breaths. “Let all your worries go. This is your time,” she says. “You are sinking so deeply into the chair.” She continues this relaxation process for a while. She raises the palm of her right hand high above my forehead. “Follow my hand,” she says. “Your eyelids are getting heavier.” She repeats this and by the third time I feel like I’d have to make a real effort to open my eyes. She tells me that when I hear the sound of her fingers snap I will feel five times more relaxed and sink deeper. She snaps her fingers and continues. I feel as if I’m going strongly inward.

The rhythm of her words leads me on a journey down a staircase, deeper and deeper down, through a garden gate. She asks me a question that I now can’t recall. She tells me to pay attention to the scents, the sounds, feel the warmth of the sunshine and imagine every aspect of this beautiful place. As she’s speaking, out of nowhere, I strongly hear the word Love. Love. I'm aware of the word. It's such a delicious sounding word. I can almost feel warmth around my heart when I am experiencing this.

Then, I see my hand join with a man’s hand. I see our hands very clearly clasped but only from the elbows down. As I walk into the garden, I see us kneeling. I'm facing him. I can visualize him so clearly. He has a dark beard and dark hair. I don’t recognize him. I’ve never met him but his energy feels very familiar.

I feel so happy. It's very gentle, generous, accepting energy actually. I've experienced this before when a man from my past, (no longer alive), and I were at our very happiest. I have no idea what this means but I trust it means SOMETHING! After all, it’s coming from my all-knowing subconscious.

I’m aware of what’s going on the whole time and at first that bothers me. I’ve seen too many Raveen-type stereotypical demonstrations of hypnosis on TV. I keep waiting to lose consciousness and enter a trance. I was a little disappointed that it doesn’t really work that way – not this time – for me.

The hypnotherapist was a former nurse at Children’s Hospital in Vancouver where she said she was always asking "why?"

“Perfectly fit and healthy parents would have babies with serious problems. Mothers with serious drug addictions would have perfectly healthy babies.” “I began to question everything," she said.

She called her strong ability to pick up on others’ emotions as a gift from her soul which has led her on a 15-year journey studying alternative healing practices including shamanic healing in Mexico. "Hypnosis,” she says “is about re-empowerment.” “At no time as a hypnotherapist can I make you do anything you don’t want to.”

The next day, I meet Leah Hansel of CORE Personal Success Coaching here on Salt Spring. She uses Eriksonian hypnotherapy named after Milton Erikson, a psychiatrist considered to be the father of modern hypnotherapy. Hansel is energetic and incorporates hypnotherapy into her coaching work. The Eriksonian style of hypnosis is less directed and relies not on commands, she says, but on suggestions. “You may begin to feel deeply relaxed.” “Some people – especially people who have trouble with authority - may not easily take to directed hypnotherapy because they don’t like to be told what to do and that creates resistance.” Her relaxation process seems more like listening to a gentle meditation tape, but the effect seems similar.

I've been interested in hypnosis for a long time. I saw a free lunch hour lecture once put on by a woman from Victoria. She was speaking to UBC Medical students which I thought was very cool. Then, I took a one-day workshop from Lee Pulos.

I think partly because I have had a lot of experience with a type of therapy called E.M.D.R. and the experience of that for me was amazing that I am very interested in the subconscious and the wonderful feast of visuals and guides that exist there. Puzzles for the conscious to unravel as best it can when the subconscious is accessed.

E.M.D.R. has nothing to do with hypnosis but the visual pictures that are called up while undergoing E.M.D.R. for me were always so fascinating; metaphors for what I was experiencing emotionally or more specifically metaphors that might lead me to unearth why it was that I was experiencing what I was which was strongly emotional.

Not to mention that it was extremely valuable, effective and a quick way to access deeply buried emotions, beliefs about oneself, retrieving them and reprocessing them in a way that meant re-experiencing them and removing their hold over you so negative and instinctual patterns of behaving could be extinguished and replaced with more neutral positive and effective responses.

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