We all know what it’s like to have a wish for something better. Some sort of an idea of what life could be like if only we had a decent night’s sleep, lost a bit of extra weight or felt a bit more confident to speak up at work and social situations.
Yet for some reason we get stuck with the problem (the weight, the sleeplessness or the lack of confidence) instead of what we’re hoping for, the good stuff, and what difference that would make to our lives. This is an important point as the brain listens obediently to what it is fed. Yes people, when you tell others you are ‘useless at sticking to a diet’ or “rubbish at public speaking’ you are solidifying that belief into your mind. Not that great, right?
What we focus on expands.
When we spend a lot of time worrying about our problems, and let’s be honest most of us do, we are actively creating more problems. How? Because we are filtering out any evidence to the contrary. All we see is confirmation that our problems are ‘real’.
The neural connections in our brain wire together and create more pathways relating to that which we focus on. So if you spend your days worrying about not sleeping, guess what? You will probably not sleep that well. This is why it is so easy to get addicted to a negative feedback loop. The more we think it, the more we experience it. Nice to know then that there are ways we can change this unhelpful chatter and start living more fulfilled lives. Hypnotherapy can be one of those ways.
Hypnosis is ancient.
Hypnotherapy has been around for thousands of years and been used in medicine and healing practices since B.C. In Greek mythology the god of healing, Apollo, was well known for helping patients with incurable illnesses. His daughters, Hygieia (hygiene) and Panacea, would lead the patients to his temple. He’d find out what was troubling them and then tell them to have a little sleep, known as temple sleep, from where solutions to their healing would arrive in a metaphor. This worked very successfully and formed part of Apollo’s legacy in history as a healer.
During the 20th century hypnosis was widely used in Russia’s hospitals, particularly for hypno birthing, and during WWII, hypnotherapy was used extensively. Dr. M Ralph Kaufman used hypnosis to elicit calm and sedation for battle weary soldiers, setting up tents in the middle of the battle zones to treat his patients from trauma and ‘neurosis’.
In modern times, mainly thanks to the latest neuroscience, we now know a lot more about the study of clinical hypnotherapy and trance, which is firmly rooted in evidence based research. And this is important as the name hypnosis still conjures up strange images in peoples minds. Hypnos means sleep in Greek and what we are really doing as clinical hypnotherapists is to elicit a state of mind where positive suggestions can be easily absorbed by the subconscious mind, leading to change.
It is interesting to note that in France, hypnosis can be offered by GPs as a viable alternative for treating a variety of illness and is also used in surgery. You can read more here.
EEG and hypnosis.
The reason we know hypnotherapy works is that we can use Electroencephalography (EEG) to measure what happens in the brain during hypnosis. Simply put, it records electrical energy in the brain and can detect changes very quickly. Brainwaves? Really? Yes, really.
The brainwaves detected from an EEG reading can give us valuable information about what activity is taking place when we are doing/experiencing certain things. Here are the brainwaves we are interested in:
BETA – fastest brainwaves associated with energy, excitement, nervousness or anxiety. This is where we are at work perhaps, doing highly complex tasks, taking an exam (stressful anyone?) or talking to many people at once or mega multi tasking (our brain does not like multi tasking so it requires much more effort). Your brain operates fast and knee jerk reactions not unusual.
ALPHA – this is a nice relaxed state when you are chilling at home reading, being creative, having clarity of mind. We have more access to problem solving here than in a BETA state and we feel calm, centred and things tend to flow. ALPHA brainwaves can be seen as natures anti-depressant and we simply feel more positive.
THETA – these brainwaves are associated with REM (rapid eye movement) sleep, or the early stages of falling asleep and it is the state you are in during hypnosis. It can be likened to a focused state of attention and when you are here you have access to advanced problem solving and learning, to re-programme the brain with ideas and beliefs that you really want to believe, long-term improvement to memory whilst stimulating immune-system functioning.
DELTA – the slowest of brainwaves, associated with deep sleep and also of being unconscious. This is where deep healing takes place (sick people sleep a lot) as well as growth and body repair (babies), there is increase in melatonin which induces sleep and reduction of cortisol. Associated with spiritual, out-of-body experiences.
So what does this have to do with me?
We all have the capacity and capability to know what we want and also how to go about getting it. Yet sometimes we are not able to ‘tune’ in to the answers. We are too busy, stressed, worried, tense and anxious, which depletes our ability to navigate to a desired destination. We’re driving without aim. We have lost the tools and abilities to know what to do next.
When my clients come to see me they have a million reasons why things are not working. And they are all valid and understandable reasons. Life is difficult and challenging, we fall off the wagon, go off piste and loose the plot from time to time. And this is why hypnotherapy can be so effective – it deals with what your hopes are today and how that would make your tomorrow different.
During the hypnosis part of the session you are accessing your Theta state, a state where you have access to your advanced problem solving skills, able to come up with answers and solutions that are just right for you. It is not linear or logical, your subconscious mind instead responds to metaphors and visual imagery. It also happens to be rather an enjoyable state to be in with most clients reporting feeling relaxed, refreshed and calmer walking out of the clinic.
If this sounds interesting and you’d like to find out more, or if you have any questions about hypnotherapy in general, then get in touch with me to find out how it may benefit you or someone that you know.