John used to down two scotch and waters before dinner every night just to relax enough to make the transition from work to home life. But after dinner he would be so relaxed he’d nod off while reading the paper and find himself unable to go to sleep upon retiring. He desperately needed to unwind after a stressful workday as a management executive and was looking for an alternative to “social drinking” when he stumbled upon hypnosis.
No after work John takes a fifteen minute “transition break” by closing himself off in his bedroom, turning off the lights and the phone and putting on some soft music. He slips into comfortable clothes and stretches out on his bed or recliner. As the music begins to soothe his nerves his thoughts turn to his “safe place,” a mental haven where he has gone many times to escape from the stresses of the outer worlds. Here in his own imagination John is in complete control. He can visit his favorite location – a stretch of deserted beach – or another safe place in a cool pine forest where he listens to the nearby waterfall. Wherever he is, John knows he is safe, comfortable, and in complete control, with no one asking anything of him or wanting anything from him. Here he can – and does – imagine himself as he desires to be – healthy, happy, relaxed, and at peace with himself and everyone around him. If he experienced any difficulties at work, he puts these problems into the basket of a hot air ballon and watches them genlty blow away, knowing that they will be taken care of in the best possible way. John may take a dip in the ocean or playfully dance under a gentle waterfall, cleansing both his mind and his body of all stress, all tension, all negative emotions, and feeling a restorative healing energy take place as he continues to enjoy this peaceful, relaxing state.
After about fifteen minutes, John instinctively ends his imaginative journey and slowly returns his thoughts to the present, reminding himself that he is back in his room feeling refreshed and revitalized, yet completely and fully relaxed and ready to enjoy his evening with the family.
The relaxed, good-natured John who emerges from the bedroom is a completely different person from the harried, stressed and sometimes short-tempered man who went in. John’s family members, as well as John, are grateeful that he has discovered hypnosis.
John is just one of a growing number of people who find that hypnosis works for them as an effective, non-drug alternative for stress reduction. With stress an ever present part of today’s lifestyle and the growing evidence of the link between stress and illness – including such conditions as hypertension, heart disease, ulcers, immune deficiency diseases, and even cancer – hypnosis provides welcome relief with no side effects.
Hypnosis, simply put, is a relaxed and focused state of mind. Most people can be trained to enter this state of deep relaxation and purposefully narrowed attention easily and safely in just a few sessions with the help of a trained hypnotherapist. Once the training has taken place, most clients can induce a self-hypnotic state, following the instructions of the hypnotherapist. Unlike alcohol or drugs, hypnosis can be used anytime and anywhere. All that it requires is an opportunity to relax for a few minutes. Once can practice hypnosis while gazing out an office window or sitting in a quiet corner of the office break room.
By quieting down the body and the mind hypnosis sets into motion a chain reaction of physiological responses, such as hormonal changes and changes in the immune system function. Hypnosis reduces the effects of stress on the body by thwarting the “flight or fight” response, lowering heart rate and blood pressure and relaxing muscle tension. These changes, in turn, stimulate other positive changes such as lowered production of stress hormones and increase of protective T-cell production by the immune system.
Since the 1970’s a growing number of scientific studies indicate that hypnosis, among other mind body therapies such as biofeedback and meditation are effective options in the treatment of illness where stress is a major factor. While not meant to take the place of traditional medical care, hypnosis can act as a useful adjunct therapy – one that is not only effective but enjoyable as well. One such study at Duke University showed that practicing relaxation resulted in reduced hypertension and reduced blood sugar levels in test patients. Another study indicated that the practice of hypnosis could increase the chance that in-vitro fertilization procedures would be successful for patients.
With more studies every day illustrating the effectiveness of hypnosis for stress reduction and its accompanying health benefits, shouldn’t you try hypnosis? It’s simply, easy, and pleasant. Contrary to popular myth, a hypnotherapist does not “take over” your mind or influence your thoughts, except at your request. You are aware at all times of the suggestions that are offered and your mind will automatically reject any suggestions that conflict with your values, morals, and beliefs. Also, the suggestions will lead you to more relaxation, a healthier and more balanced life.
Dr. Dave Hill, DCH
“All our dreams can come true, if we have the courage to pursue them.”