As a hypnotherapist, part of my work with clients involves explaining how hypnotherapy works and playing the role of “myth buster.” That has become necessary because of the great amount of mistaken notions about hypnosis that’s out there, mostly due to misrepresentation on TV shows, movies, etc. It doesn’t help that hypnotherapy is often compared to and confused with stage hypnosis and other entertainment-driven practices such as mentalism, street magic, etc. It’s been my experience that a lot of people, including other practitioners and healthcare professionals, share at least a few misconceptions about hypnosis.
One recent example came from a client of mine. After a few sessions, she started noticing marked positive change. This client happens to be someone who goes easily and deeply into trance, and hardly ever remembers much about the session on a conscious level. As it often happens in these situations, she couldn’t believe that something as seemingly simple and easy as a hypnosis session (which she often felt as if she’d slept through and couldn’t even remember), could start making such a big difference in her life. So, every time we’d meet, she would question me about how hypnotherapy works. I was only too glad to answer all her questions to help her feel as comfortable as possible with the process. One of those times, however, she mentioned that she had spoken about it to someone she knew, a massage therapist who claimed to also be trained in hypnotherapy. She had told this person that she was mostly zoned out during her sessions and couldn’t remember almost anything. The well-intentioned but ill-informed practitioner told her that it was not working, then; and added that she needed to be alert and engaged for it to work. So I had to explain to my client that this is one of the most common misconceptions about hypnotherapy. I told her that, although it might feel like being asleep during session sometimes, she’s really not completely asleep or unconscious. She’s actually in a sleep-like state or somnambulism, which is between awake and asleep (in the Alpha/Theta zones), and not in deep sleep (Delta zone); in that state, she might lose conscious awareness but her subconscious is still engaged, listening to the sound of my voice in the background and duly recording the message. That’s how she always knows when I’m counting her back up (which is referred to as “awakening”). As my client was still looking a bit unsure, and also wondering about the content of the scripts I had been using, I offered to show her the script I had used in our last session, explaining that it would give her a good idea of what we had covered but it wouldn’t be exact, since I customize it for each client. Well, the moment my client started looking at the script, she cried out in instant recognition: “Oh, I remember this! I remember the door and the key and everything!” Merely glancing at the script was enough for her conscious mind to get triggered into remembering what her subconscious had already recorded. She was quite surprised about it, and was finally convinced that the therapy was working as it should, and her subconscious was doing its job.
Light or Deep Trance? Trance levels vary for countless reasons. For instance, some scripts are more interactive than others, so you might be more alert during those. Or you might be curious about the process or a bit nervous during your first session, which could also cause you to stay more alert. Or your levels of stress might be higher than usual that day; or unexpected background noises might pull you out of your relaxation mode; or your mind might be distracted by your to-do list; etc. Or you might simply feel more comfortable staying alert through the process. Of course, the therapist will do the best to help you stay relaxed and engaged in spite of distractions. But, in general, your own subconscious will do whatever is best for you at the time. If there’s something you need to remember on a conscious level, you will be more alert during the session; or go in and out (in for the part you need to remember consciously and out for the part that you will retain more on a subconscious level). If your subconscious needs your conscious mind out of the way for some deep healing and change, you are likely to zone out for most of it. As illustrated above, if you do go into a deep hypnotic state (or sleep-like state), you might not remember everything (or anything) on a conscious level, once you are awake. And that’s OK; your subconscious mind still records the message. You can actually train your mind to stay conscious and aware during a deep trance, but that’s not necessary for the hypnotic suggestion to work
IN SHORT: Hypnotherapy works through subliminal suggestion, regardless of how deep the state of hypnosis. The hypnotic trance achieved by the client can be light, deep and everything in between; and significant change can happen at any level of trance. You can learn more about the science behind Hypnotherapy (including studies proving its effectiveness and theories discussing why it works) by exploring the sources under References.
OTHER HYPNOSIS AND HYPNOTHERAPY FACTS:
1) About Hypnosis and Hypnotherapy. Hypnosis is a trance or altered state of consciousness that's between waking and sleep, and is characterized by increased suggestibility, relaxation and heightened imagination. It's a natural state which we achieve many times throughout the day, without even realizing it (for instance, when we become so involved driving, watching TV or a movie, or reading a book, etc, that we lose awareness of where we are). We just don’t refer to it as going into a hypnotic trance; we call it “zoning out.” Hypnotherapy is a therapeutic method of healing by using hypnosis.
2) Hypnotherapy is completely different from stage hypnotism, mentalism, street magic, etc. What entertainers seek to accomplish is to distract your conscious mind through rapid induction and confusion techniques, so that they can get you to temporarily believe certain things and act in certain ways for the purpose of entertainment. But for that to work, you still need to be a willing participant. And even when it does work, it will be short-lived, as your subconscious will seek to go back to normal (and “normal” is certainly not clucking like a chicken!). This process is called homeostasis, or a natural state of balance, and it will soon occur even without suggestion removal by the entertainer. A hypnotherapist, on the other hand, discusses goals with you before the session so that you are aware of and in agreement with the positive suggestions that will be made to the subconscious during the session. Then the hypnotherapist intentionally induces a trance to help bring you into a relaxed and focused state, which makes the positive suggestions much more effective. And even in such planned circumstances, if you have too much resistance or mixed feelings about the goals you are trying to accomplish, your subconscious might not accept the positive suggestions, or just accept them to a certain degree. The bottom line is: the more motivated you are, the better it works.
3) Hypnotherapy is not mind control. Nobody can force you to do anything you don’t want to do through hypnosis. You have to be willing to accept the suggestions. As I mentioned above, even in the case of stage hypnosis, the participants need to be willing to play the game.
4) Hypnosis is not dangerous. There has never been a documented case of harmful results from the therapeutic use of hypnosis. It is easy to be brought back from a hypnotic trance; there has never been a documented case of someone unable to come out of it.
5) All hypnosis is a form of self hypnosis. Different techniques can be used, either on your own or with a hypnotherapist as your guide. But even when you engage the help of a hypnotherapist, it’s your subconscious doing the work of opening up to and accepting suggestions for positive change. As I mentioned before, the more motivated you are, the better it works. Most people are capable of reaching a hypnotic state, as long as they are motivated to do so.
6) Hypnotherapy does not work better on weaker minds. In fact, the stronger the will of a person, the more likely they are to achieve success in hypnosis. This is because people are most influenced by their own suggestions and, in actuality, put themselves in a hypnotic state. A therapist's role is to guide them in this process. Hypnotherapy will only be effective if you want to be helped and want to resolve your problem. In a hypnotic state you will either accept or refuse a suggestion.
7) Potential Issues with Hypnotherapy. There are some issues which can potentially decrease the effectiveness of hypnotherapy by impeding or slowing down progress, such as resistance (often caused by the client being of two minds about a goal; having fear of symptom removal; trying too hard; being over analytical; having lack of rapport with the therapist; suffering from extreme anxiety or other mental health issues; etc). The hypnotherapist should be able to help the client through some of these issues, at least to a certain degree; however, the client needs to be willing and open to change. The combination of hypnotherapy with counseling or other behavior modification practices can be beneficial in such cases.
There are also potential risks involving hypnosis; some of these are: abreaction (a strong emotional reaction to a memory); physical reactions (especially if the client has epilepsy, lung or respiratory disease, etc); recollection of blocked memories (which can cause an abreaction); and false memories. It is important to remember that such occurrences can be great opportunities for a client to remove, resolve and release past issues or trauma. It’s also important to understand that recollected “memories” might be real; but they could be distorted and embellished, much like being in a dream state. Such recollections could also be just a symbolic representation of what the client felt during a hurtful or traumatic moment. A qualified hypnotherapist should be prepared for and able to handle such issues, and also know when to call for additional professional help or refer the client.
8) Hypnotherapy is a safe, natural and non-invasive way to guide you through positive change. According to the Mayo Clinic, “Hypnosis that's conducted by a trained therapist or health care professional is considered a safe, complementary and alternative medical treatment.” It can be of great use in the treatment of many behavioral, physical and psychological conditions, such as stress, anxiety and panic, fears and phobias, pain, fatigue, health issues, sleep distress, self esteem and motivation, loss and separation, depression, learning disabilities, bed-wetting and many others. It is often used for weight loss, smoking cessation, athletic performance, natural child birth, regression, etc.
BOTTOM LINE: So, once you choose a qualified professional or learn how to practice self-hypnosis, how do you get the most out of your sessions? Simply put: motivation... and an open mind.
Gisele Marasca-Vargas; 05/12/2016
Clinical Hypnotherapy: A Transpersonal Approach, by Allen S. Chips, DCH, PhD
Hypnosis for Change, by Josie Hadley and Carol Staudacher
On The Hypnotic Induction: http://integralhypnosis.com/induction.htm
Theories of Hypnosis: What Makes It work? http://www.counselorsassociated.com/lifechange3c.htm
Various research, training and educational materials supplied by SWIHA - Southwest Institute of Healing Arts
So my husband and I recently lost one of the rescue cats we’ve been sheltering, feeding and trying to get adopted. His name was Solo, a sweet, gentle and friendly Tuxedo cat who was very loving and protective of the other cats in the colony; especially his smaller siblings. After a week-long search, we found poor Solo’s body in a neighbor’s yard, close to the fence between our homes. We believe he got into some rat poison. It was quite shocking to find him that way. I wept inconsolably because of the sad way he died, as well as the condition of his body, which was already in the first stages of decomposition; and for not having had the chance for a proper goodbye. But I also cried for not having realized how seriously ill he was and tried to do more about it (he had looked shaky and non-responsive a week before, so we tried to catch him to take him to the vet but he escaped, and because we couldn’t find anything visibly wrong and he seemed to be doing better, we decided to just keep an eye on him; unfortunately, that was the last time we saw him alive). I also wept for not having been able to find him a permanent home soon enough; for the deep pain I witnessed and felt in my husband, who had developed a soft spot for Solo; but above all, I cried for the kind of world we live in, where too many living beings suffer from neglect and ill-treatment, and where too many are killed so casually and mindlessly, often just for our convenience.
After my husband asked permission to enter the neighbor’s backyard, we went together to pick up Solo’s remains and bring him back to our house, the place that was never meant to be his permanent home but was the only home he knew for the almost three years of his life, ever since he was just a little kitten hiding with his siblings under our shed. We buried him in our backyard, saying our final goodbyes. Ironically, about a week later someone called and asked if Solo was still available for adoption. They were looking for a neutered Tuxedo male to keep company with a Tuxedo female who had recently lost her companion. Solo would have been perfect. The call came about two weeks too late.
A few days later, we attended an event with a few friends and acquaintances. One of the people there was a man who had lost his younger son to suicide just a few months before. I can’t even imagine the kind of pain that man had gone (and was still going) through. I also remember feeling embarrassed about how much I was still suffering for the loss of a rescue cat, and how self-conscious I felt after a friend asked what was wrong with me, and I shared it with him. I caught myself trying to justify what I was feeling and why I was still feeling that way.
Over the years I’ve suffered my share of losses, as everyone else. In the past year alone, my grandmother (with whom I had a very special connection) and a cousin-in-law (a special and wonderful young woman with whom I also shared a special connection) passed away. In addition to Solo, we also lost three other rescue cats; one of them was especially hard, as it was a sweet little kitten who got severely sick and had to be put to sleep. I still carry all of them with me.
As these events caused me to muse about loss more than usual; and considering that every single one of us deals with loss on a regular basis, I decided to write down some thoughts and feelings in relation to this important and reoccurring theme.
1) Loss is always about much more than who or what you lose. As it happened in relation to the death of Solo the rescue cat, loss can bring up many other issues to the surface, including fear of death, feelings of powerlessness and hopelessness, etc. Generally speaking, the more significant the loss, the more intense the grief. However, as our losses can be connected with so many different aspects of our beings and existence (including past experiences of loss), the significance of each loss is quite personal and individual.
2) Loss is loss is loss. No loss should be considered greater or lesser than another; comparing losses is an exercise in futility. There’s no right or wrong here. So I shouldn’t have compared my grief for the loss of our rescue cat with the grief of the gentleman who lost his son. Losses cannot be compared by quantity or quality. Of course, it’s still a good rule of thumb to not try to engage someone who just lost his son to suicide by speaking about the loss of your rescue cat. Each person tends to feel very intensely about their own loss and most likely wouldn’t respond well to a comment that might elicit comparison, especially if they are still grieving. When someone is in need to sympathy for their loss, it’s always better to address their needs without bringing up your own loss, anyway. However, you should be able to go through your own grief process without guilt or shame. Which bring us to the following thought:
3) There’s no shame in loss. Or there shouldn’t be. Easier said than done, as I happened to prove with my own personal experience. However, that’s what we should strive for: understanding that grief due to loss is a very natural feeling that needs to be honored and experienced without guilt or shame. In spite of the fact that many of us believe in a higher realm where souls are eternal, it’s still hard to disconnect ourselves from the pain caused by the very real losses in our physical world. The thing is, we are also physical beings, and it is OK to acknowledge and feel loss in this realm.
4) Suffering more for the loss of one person (or animal companion, etc) over another doesn’t mean caring more for one over the other. Among other things, the circumstances involving someone’s death can make it harder for the people who survive them. As I mentioned above, I lost my grandmother and my cousin-in-law just a few months apart in the past year. Although I was a lot closer to my grandmother than I was to my cousin-in-law, in some ways I suffered my cousin-in-law’s death more intensely. The reasons were that my grandmother died at the age of 97, having lived a full life, having had the chance to see most of her family for her 97th birthday celebration a couple of weeks before (with family coming from out of state and even of the country), and having her wish for a good death fulfilled (she died peacefully in her sleep, and mostly in good health). My cousin-in-law, however, was only 41 and died painfully of cancer in the prime of her life, leaving her husband and her 6-year-old son behind, not to mention a mother who had recently lost her husband (my cousin-in-law’s father) to cancer, and whose son (my cousin-in-law’s brother) also has cancer.
4) Those of us who are highly sensitive people (HSP) might feel loss even more deeply. As I mentioned on my blog article “This Is Too Much!!!” About Highly Sensitive People, what is moderately stimulating to most people is overwhelming to highly sensitive people, who make up about 20% of the population. One more reason why it’s wise to not compare degrees of grief and loss.
5) The grieving process is not linear. So we shouldn’t expect it to follow a preset pattern. For instance, although the five stages of grief and loss (denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance, as per Elizabeth Kubler-Ross’s model) are a generally accepted standard, we can’t expect to go through one by one and be done with it. While some stages might be easily identifiable, others might be hardly noticeable or existent. It’s also common to swing back and forth among them, mix them up and even create a few combos of our own... So it’s better to just go with the flow, accepting and honoring our own process as it is.
6) There is no statute of limitation in relation to loss. Therefore, there should be no rules concerning when and how we are supposed to “get over” a loss. Of course, the exception should be that it’s advisable to seek help to cope with grief and loss whenever that is leading to self-destructive and other destructive behavior.
7) There’s always loss. We are always losing someone or something throughout our entire lives. Accepting this basic principle can help us through the losses we’re certain to suffer. The more acceptance we can muster, the less we grieve. Yes, easier said than done, but something to work towards nonetheless.
8) Loss and change often go arm in arm. The reverse is also true. Change is the fiber of life; so is loss. We lose people (friends, family, romantic partners, etc), jobs, homes, opportunities, memories... But there’s always another where that one came from. Which brings us to the next thought about loss:
9) Something to lose, something to gain. The upside of loss is gain. We often gain a lot from our losses, from deeper understanding and awareness, maturity, etc, to new people, things or circumstances that come into our lives to fill that void or empty space and redirect our sense of purpose. It’s a natural law of the universe. The gentleman who lost his son knows painfully well that no one can ever replace him; but he has another son who now needs him more than ever. Some people who go through similar tragedies also choose to get involved in support groups and volunteer for organizations that have suicide prevention lines. In our case, just a few days after Solo was gone another stray Tuxedo cat showed up at our house, needing food and shelter. Of course, the newcomer can never replace Solo, who will always be in our hearts. But it is the nature of our universe to create new relationships and circumstances once previous ones are gone.
10) Loss is an illusion. We take loss very personally, and concentrate on the feeling that someone or something was taken away from us; we even express it that way by talking about “our” losses. However, nothing and no one really belong to us during our temporary passage through this world, do they? In addition, if we believe in the eternity of our souls or energy beings, and that nothing is wasted in the universe, only transformed, then loss doesn’t really exist from a broader perspective. Likewise, if we get technical and consider the quantum physics principles involving space/time and alternate realities. Whatever set of beliefs floats our boat is worth a try. Maybe believing that loss is an illusion or that everything happens for a reason won’t make us suffer any less; but it can offer some comfort. In my case, when things are tough I repeat to myself these well-known Abraham-Hicks words: “You are loved. All is well.”
11) We are simply not in control. One of the most important things that loss teaches us is that we are not in control. Concerning Solo, the truth of the matter is that my husband and I weren’t in control of our neighbor’s actions (using the rat poison), or Solo’s actions (eating the rat poison and then running away from our help). We were in control of our own actions, but only from a limited perspective and incomplete understanding of the whole situation. So, ultimately, we were not in control of what happened to him. And the bottom line is that everyone is always doing the best they can with what they know at any given time. That’s worth remembering whenever we start getting into the blame game (blaming ourselves or others) concerning a loss.
12) We are not alone. There’s always help. That doesn’t mean we can’t take whatever time alone we need to mourn and grieve a loss. But there’s great value in allowing ourselves to be vulnerable and sharing it with others. For one, we are reminded that everyone of us deals with loss. In addition, if we are feeling spiritually disconnected due to loss and grief, sharing with others helps us reconnect and feel like part of the web of life again.
FINAL THOUGHT: If all else fails, remember these famous words: “This too shall pass...”
My heartfelt condolences to everyone in grief,
Gisele Marasca-Vargas; 04/27/2016
Yes, Highly Sensitive People, or HSP, is a thing. There’s solid research that supports this concept. According to expert Dr. Elaine Aron, author of The Highly Sensitive Person: How To Thrive When The World Overwhelms You:
“The brains of highly sensitive people have more activity and blood flow in the right hemisphere, indicating an internal rather than an external focus.
What is moderately arousing to most people is overwhelming to HSPs.
HSPs often have decreased serotonin levels resulting from the repeated stress of over arousal.
Likewise, they have more reactive immune systems (allergies) and more sensitive nervous systems.
The sensitivity trait is just as likely among men as among women; both represent about 20 percent of the population.”
Taking into consideration that 20% of the population currently corresponds to approximately 1.48 billion people worldwide, that’s too high a number for it to be just the latest fad, anyway. But hey, I get it. Many well-meaning parents, teachers and others responsible for rearing children want to understand what’s going on and do right by their kids, but don’t want to be taken for a ride in the process. With all the behavioral health trends that keep coming up, it’s hard to tell the difference between a legitimate thing and yet another label which legitimizes bad behavior. Or the difference between highly sensitive kids and over indulged brats, or between highly sensitive adults and dysfunctional drama addicts. The thing is, although being highly sensitive can lead to disorders and disorderly behavior, it’s not a disorder. Although it can lead to mental health problems, it’s not a mental health problem. It’s simply a different, more intense (sometimes much more intense) way of perceiving, relating to and connecting with the world. Of course, highly sensitive kids can become over indulged brats, and highly sensitive adults can be socially inept people or dysfunctional drama addicts. Why? Maybe part of the problem is simply the lack of awareness and information about how to raise a highly sensitive kid into becoming a functional highly sensitive adult. It can be hard to understand, relate to and deal with a highly sensitive child. The key is to remember that it’s also very hard to be one. Highly sensitive children are also referred to as “orchid children.” According to the article Genetic Roots of “Orchid” Children by Bruce Bower, “a Swedish expression that translates as ‘orchid child’ refers to a youngster who blossoms spectacularly if carefully nurtured but withers badly if neglected.” An orchid in a field of dandelions, the highly sensitive child has a much more delicate personality than his peers and needs a protective environment to properly flourish.
From early on in life, highly sensitive children have to live with the perception that they are different; that they don’t quite fit in; that there’s “something wrong” with them, according to others. Because they are so sensitive, they experience tremendous hurt, which may result in self-hatred and self-destructive behavior. In addition, highly sensitive people often have the capacity to understand or perceive what’s going on with others better than many do themselves. So they can become a bothersome and inconvenient presence to a lot of people, and frequently receive (and/or deeply feel) negative feedback from their input, such as anger, rage, fear, sadness, withdrawal, defensiveness, etc. In family dynamics, the highly sensitive child usually plays the role of the "scapegoat" or "screw up" or "problem child" (the "scapegoat" is the truth teller of the family; this role is played by the most sensitive and emotionally honest child, who often verbalizes or acts out the "problem" or dysfunction that the family is attempting to cover up or deny). It doesn’t get any better as the highly sensitive children grow up. I’ve heard many of my clients say that they are constantly told such things as: “stop being so annoying”; “why do you always have to see more into it or make a bigger deal than it is?”; “stop being so sensitive”; “calm down, you’re being irrational”; “you’re overreacting”; “you’re overthinking it”; “why do you care so much?”; “anyone else can handle this, so why can’t you?”; “you don’t know everything!”; etc. Of course, highly sensitive people are not always right about how they understand, feel or perceive things; but they are often on the right track, which annoys a lot of people.
A client once told me that it took her years to be able to see a dead animal on the road without crying, which used to cause her to be regarded by friends and family members (not to mention herself) as weird. Other clients say that they didn’t feel like they ever fit in; that they didn’t have a place. Some mention that they see (and intensely feel) too many things that are wrong with the way we live, the way we treat other humans and other living beings, the way we are destroying the planet, etc; and they simply can’t live with all that and go on pretending nothing is happening, ignoring what’s happening, or profiting from what’s happening, as so many do. They see the unfairness and injustice of the rigged system, along with all its rigged subsystems, that our modern society has become. And they want it to stop. Many of them do manage to thrive and become the dreamers, the doers, the game changers, the rebels with plenty of cause; but they often give so much of themselves and get so deeply involved that their cause sucks the living energy out of them. In addition, many highly sensitive adults often get discouraged easily, at the first sight of a challenge or disappointment; or simply change they cannot handle or suffering they cannot bear to witness. Others are lost and confused; they go into hiding for self preservation, often numbing themselves with mind altering substances (legal and illegal) and/or suffering from severe health issues which cause intense physical, emotional and mental pain. In short, many are hiding because they can’t find their place and their way; and they can’t function in this rigged system without it chipping away at their very souls.
Under References and Related Articles there are many suggestions that can be incorporated as part of the highly sensitive person’s survival kit, as well as sources of information for the non-highly sensitive people who have HSPs in their lives. As a highly sensitive person myself, I share some of what I have learned and offer a few suggestions below.
For the non-highly sensitive people out there:
For the highly sensitive people out there:
References and Related Articles:
1) The Highly Sensitive Person: How To Thrive When The World Overwhelms You, book by Dr. Elaine N. Aron
2) Are You Highly Sensitive? test from Dr. Elaine Aron’s website:
3) The Plight of the Empath or Highly Sensitive Person:
4) 16 Habits of Highly Sensitive People:
5) What Makes A Highly Sensitive Person?:
6) Genetic Roots Of “Orchid Children”:
7) On The Trail Of The Orchid Child:
8) Are You A Highly Sensitive Person? What You Need To Know About The Science Of This Personality Type:
9) Orchids and Dandelions Abloom - Best of Neuron Culture:
Do you struggle with meditation? I certainly did for many years. The problem began with the fact that, just like exercising, meditation always felt like hard work to me. One more thing on my plate, rather than a break from all those things on my plate. Another issue involved the amount of information about meditation out there, with each source offering a different idea of how you’re supposed to meditate and what you’re supposed to achieve when meditating (such as a blissful feeling, a state of mindfulness, some kind of enlightenment, a blank mind, etc). The fact that I’m a goal-oriented perfectionist and a bit OCD about everything I do didn’t help in the least.
I also have to admit that on occasion I suffered from meditation-oriented Enlightenment envy, which didn’t help, either. One such incident happened a few years ago, when a close friend of mine pretty much got herself an “enlightenment” experience during meditation without even trying. Her meditation practices had been even spottier than mine used to be, to say the least. To add insult to injury, at the time she was feeling annoyed at anything even remotely spiritual-sounding. During the prior months she had been spending a lot of time stewing about her issues, not taking any step forward, and actually taking a few back. Then, one fine day, she was chatting with a friend on the phone about these issues, and he said to her: "Remember who you really are." That struck her to the point of bringing her to tears. So she started repeating to herself: "Remember who I am," and then just "I am" several times during her meditation that evening (by the way, she had completely stopped meditating for a while, and I was the one who had insisted several times that she should start doing it again). Then, all of a sudden, BOOM! She's there. She had the whole experience, from complete union and connection with everything in the Universe to ecstatic bliss to total clarity about her purpose here to absolute consciousness that she had planned her experience and could change it however she chose to, etc. She even got a vision of her surrounding "reality" completely dissolving into pure light!!! After I forced myself to congratulate her on her wonderful experience and got passed my frustration with myself, I managed to have a good meditation session that evening. I even felt blissful for a few seconds, but when I tried to emulate my friend's "I am" exercise (which is very powerful, by the way) in an attempt to get passed that state and go further, a voice popped in my head, saying: "Relax. You are trying too hard!" No kidding.
Over the years I tried all kind of tricks and different styles of meditation to quiet my monkey mind, at no avail (fire breath; tensing and releasing; breathing meditation; moving meditation; smiling meditation; candle meditation; etc). I tried prayer and affirmations (not as meditation practice, but to help me get into a meditative state). I tried mantras and mudras. I tried toning and chanting. I tried rosaries and mala beads. I tried short, mid-length and long meditations. I tried guided visualization and creative imagery. I tried sitting on the floor or in a chair, lying down, dancing. I tried changing styles not to get too complacent and staying with one style for a long period of time to create continuity and consistency. With all that rigamaroo, I still managed to “meditate” better when I was in the shower or washing the dishes (in other words, not trying too hard). Of course, there are thousands of different styles of meditation out there (maybe more), and I haven’t tried the great majority of them. I haven’t tried Vipassana (the Buddhist meditation technique that means insight into the true nature of reality, which my husband has been practicing for over 23 years), Yoga Nidra (“yogic sleep” meditation that some of my friends and clients practice), crystal bowl meditation (technique also practiced by several friends and clients, which utilizes the sound of crystal bowls to serve as the focal point of your way into relaxation); or crystal meditation (supposedly a fast way of accelerating your inner and outer growth, as well as your power level), just to mention a few (FYI, I’m planning to try a Rose Quartz meditation led by my friend Amy Traver, as I like to stay open to different techniques). In addition, there are many techniques that I probably didn’t try consistently enough. But I can say I did try.
Why did I try so hard? Because meditation is great for you! According to Deepak Chopra, meditation “reduces stress and anxiety; makes you more calm and relaxed; makes you happier, energized and more motivated; reduces your heart rate and blood pressure; gives you better concentration and memory; makes you look younger; allows you to sleep better at night; makes you more productive; improves your relationships; and opens you up to creativity” (Ten Good Reasons to Meditate by Deepak Chopra). Want more reasons? Want to know some of the scientific research behind it? Check out this article: Twenty Scientific Reasons to Start Meditating Today. On a more personal level, in my line of business I suggest to a lot of people that they should meditate. How could I make such a suggestion if I weren’t willing to do it myself? So I did try. Hard. Finally, I decided to accept the fact that there must have been a good reason why I chose to make this seemingly simple process so hard; obviously some lesson I wanted to learn. I also had to understand and, most importantly, accept this simplest of all truths: We are all unique in our sameness. Each one of us is completely different from everyone else, and we have our own individual ways, systems, processes, timing, etc, to get it done (whatever "it" is).
And just when I was finally able to relax about the whole idea, I tried a system that got me the closest to achieving satisfactory results, and which I still practice today. My system is as follows:
Since I started practicing meditation that way, several things have happened. For one, I actually enjoy meditating now; it doesn’t feel like hard work anymore. In second place, because I’m not trying so hard, every now and then something interesting does happen. Similarly to the friend I mentioned above, once I even experienced a vision of myself dissolving into particles, swirling around and blending with the particles of everything else around me. That was cool. Another time I was feeling very sad about something that had happened and shedding tears during my meditation. At that moment I was taken by surprise with memories and visions of happy moments that made me laugh at the same time that I was crying. A voice popped in my head, saying: “Pain and joy are two sides of the same coin.” I had studied that concept before, but that time I really understood it; not only intellectually, but on a much deeper emotional and spiritual level. That was beautiful. Sometimes, with my eye closed, I also see violet swirls (this color is often associated with the third-eye chakra, the energy center located between the eyebrows, and it’s supposed to assist those who seek the meaning of life and spiritual fulfillment). That’s awesome.
But I don’t meditate with the intention to have such experiences anymore. As a matter of fact they often catch me by surprise, and I believe the main reason they’ve been happening is that I stopped focusing on achieving or expecting them during meditation. Now, what seems to happen the most when I’m meditating (other than the frantic jumping around of my eternally fidgety monkey mind) is that I get in touch with my inner guidance and get answers to my questions; which, according to some, is not supposed to be the purpose of “true” meditation. But it’s quite useful! And what happens just as often during meditation is that I create; I get ideas. I’ve written in my head entire blog articles, hypnotherapy scripts, books segments, etc, during meditation. I’ve also come up with ideas to expand my practice, plan workshops and a lot of other practical, useful advice. Well, that’s not supposed to be the purpose of “true meditation,” either; or so I’ve been told. But all of this makes me very, very happy. I feel excited and energized, ready to sit down and write or get work done after I meditate. So, I keep going with the flow.
In short, my suggestion to everyone who would like to enjoy the countless benefits of meditation but still struggles with it is: keep trying until you find something that you truly resonate with; that really works for you; that helps you achieve results that are meaningful to you. And then, no matter what everyone else’s opinions and expectations are about it (including your own), just do it!
Alternate Nostril Breathing
Ten Good Reasons to Meditate by Deepak Chopra
Twenty Scientific Reasons to Start Meditating Today
On the previous article, “It’s Not What You’re Eating... It’s What’s Eating You!” I mentioned that to achieve long-term habit and lifestyle changes we need to address the issues behind the overeating and other bad eating habits that caused the extra weight. I also mentioned the advantages of hypnotherapy for weight loss and management over other available methods. On this article, I list 10 proven tips to help you in your weight loss/management process, no matter what plan or program you are currently following.
10 USEFUL TIPS FOR WEIGHT LOSS/MANAGEMENT: *
1) Make sure to eat your bigger meals at breakfast and/or lunch and your lightest meal in the evening. That can be a hard change to make, especially due to busy work schedules. A lot of people end up eating a light (and often unhealthy) lunch at their desks or on the run, and only have time to prepare and eat a good meal in the evening. However, that’s the time of the day when your body’s metabolism and digestive capacity slow down, and you won’t be using most of the calories you’re loading yourself with before bed time. This habit can also cause digestive issues and sleep trouble. In addition, by eating light or skipping meals during day, you’re depriving your body of energy when it needs it the most.
Better Idea: Try preparing your heavier meals in the evening and packing them to eat for lunch the next day. Choose lighter fares in the evenings (preferably before 6 pm; think light breakfast or light lunch kinds of meals). Start the transition slowly, maybe two to three times per week. If you feel hungry right before bed, try having just a 1/4 cup of almond milk or other milk substitute, or some tea with milk, etc, to take the edge off the hunger feeling until your body gets used to the new routine.
2) Avoid eating meat at night. Protein takes a lot of energy to digest and break down. As our metabolism slows down in the evening, the body can’t properly digest meats. That means a much longer process time, during which the meats sit in the stomach, releasing the same toxins as decomposing cadavers. As mentioned above, that can cause digestive issues and affect the quality of your sleep.
Better Idea: Avoid eating meats and other heavy foods at night. Choose lighter foods such as cereal with milk, boiled eggs, sandwiches. Check out 8 Foods That Disrupt Sleep and The Best Foods to Eat at Night.
3) No liquid during meals. This is important because digestion starts in the mouth, with the saliva helping to break down the food; so if you drink liquids while you eat, you can dilute that process. Not to mention that the liquids you ingest during your meals can expand your stomach and slow digestion. This change might be hard in the beginning, as your mouth will probably feel very dry without the help of beverages. However, if you gradually reduce the amount of beverages until you stop drinking during meals, it might take a few weeks but your salivary glands should “jump start” again and you won’t have that dry mouth feeling anymore. You’ll probably even grow to dislike having liquids with your meals after that, as the food will feel “watery” and less tasty in your mouth!
Better Idea: Ideally, it’s best to avoid drinking liquids less than 1/2 hour before or until 1/2 after a meal.
4) Cut out all sodas, including diet. Most everyone already knows that cutting out sodas is a great way to start losing weight and become healthier, as they are loaded with sugar and calories (and are very unhealthy for you in many other ways). However, do you know the importance of also cutting out diet sodas? Among other things, diet sodas lack nutritional value; can hurt your heart and be bad for your bones; are associated with headaches and depression; and can lead to an increased risk of insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes. Not to mention that drinking diet sodas is actually connected to weight gain rather than loss, as artificial sweeteners can lead to an increased craving for high calorie foods (see 10 Reasons to Give Up Diet Soda).
Better Idea: See Diet Tip: 8 Ways to Cut Soda Pops and Lose Pounds.
5) Drink more water. Yes, 64 oz or about 8 glasses per day, give or take (depending on a few different factors, some people need more or less). I often hear from people that they don’t like to drink that much water because they keep having to go to the bathroom all day. But that usually happens just in the beginning of the process of consuming more water, until your body gets used to the new water intake levels. After that, your process of eliminating stabilizes. You also get to a point that you feel completely parched if you don’t drink enough water throughout the day.
Others mentioned that they forget to drink water during the day, or don’t remember how many glasses they did drink.
Better Idea: That used to be my case, too. The way I solved that problem was to buy a 32-oz BPA-free water bottle, fill it in the morning, drink it throughout the day, then fill it again; once I finished it for the second time, I knew I was done for the day and everything else after that was extra.
6) Watch for the pitfalls of low fat, low cal diets. Many programs out there claim to help you shed those pounds while you can still eat what you like. Beware of the pitfalls of such diets; they are often loaded with sugar, which can end up by causing serious health issues. A good friend of mine was having serious health issues which included swelling of the face, eyes and feet. Here’s what she recently found out and shared with me:
“I had to realize that I could not take short cuts around my health and had to take charge. My no junk food and low calorie diet of 1,200 a day that I have been doing for years was not working. I realized that my so called “healthy” food consumption was killing me (literally!). My breakfast protein bar and 8 oz soy milk were packed full of sugar. My daily lunch routine of a Lean Cuisine [meal] was packed with sugar. My afternoon snack of a small yogurt was packed with sugar. When I added up what I was eating, yes, it was low in calories and low in fat but so freaking high in hidden processed sugar (about 30 to 40 teaspoons of sugar a day)! No wonder I was so sick. My doctor said my liver was fatty and was showing signs like I was drinking [alcohol] daily!!!”
My friend had to stop her consumption of not only sugar, but also artificial sweeteners and so called “natural” sugars from processed “health” food. Her liver levels are finally back to normal and she has lost 8 pounds to date. She’s not hungry, has no cravings and feels healthy.
Better Idea: Make sure your diet is low in sugars, and has plenty of lean protein and whole foods such as fruits, vegetables, some grains, healthy fats (nuts, seeds, avocados, coconut oil), etc, as well as a minimum amount of processed foods. Read the labels of processed foods, even the “healthy” ones. Eat organic foods as much as possible (affordable sources of organic foods are: Trader Joe’s, Costco, Aldi, some local farm markets). Try replacing favorite high-sugar snacks such as fruit-flavored yogurt for healthier substitutes, such as organic whole plain yogurt with a teaspoon of fruit-sweetened fruit spread. If necessary, consult a knowledgeable nutritionist. Also remember to allow yourself an occasional treat (depending on your weight loss and management goals).
7) Choose the weight you want to achieve, rather than the number of pounds you want to lose. If you constantly remind yourself of the pounds you don’t want to have and are trying to lose, you place yourself in a resistance mode. According to the Law of Attraction, by giving your attention to what you don’t want, you just attract more of it, the same way that you attract what you do want. The Law doesn’t differentiate between the two.
Better Idea: Take a positive and self-affirming step instead; choose your target weight and keep it in mind at all times, especially during moments when you’re feeling discouraged and beating yourself up. The mind is very powerful, and will work hard to achieve the goals you set for yourself.
8) Do not weigh yourself more than once a week. Everyone who’s been on a diet knows how obsessive scale checking can become. Since our weight fluctuates throughout the day and from day to day, this can lead to a lot of disappointment, to say the least; it can also become an excuse to despair and give up. There will be ups and downs during your weight loss process, even when you’re doing everything right; and that doesn’t mean failure. However, sometimes it might indicate the need for some tweaking in the plan; it’s a learning process.
Better Idea: Try weighing yourself just once a month.
9) Cleanse at least once a year. Cleansing is a great way to detox and reboot your body, and it often helps you shed a few pounds in the process. There are countless types of cleanses available out there (herbal, juice, special diets, fasting, etc). It’s advisable that you consult with your doctor or nutritionist about the best option for you.
Better Idea: Cleanse twice a year. I got used to doing an herbal cleanse in January or February (to recover from the excesses of the holiday season and prepare for the allergy season); the other is at the end of the Summer (for similar reasons).
10) Don’t beat yourself up when you slip. That not only doesn’t help, but it also can make things worse, even causing you to give up in the middle of the process. Slips are common, and even to be expected. The important thing is to understand that you’re still in control, and you can simply pick it back up where you left off.
Better Idea: Forgive yourself for the slip(s) and stick to your goals. Seek help and support during your weight loss and management process. Remember you’re not alone, there are a lot of people going through similar challenges. Try shifting negative self-talk to constructive thoughts and trouble-shooting ideas. When things look bleak, have faith in yourself and keep your target weight in mind.
As you incorporate all or at least several of these into your life style, you’ll be well on your way to a much healthier and thinner you.
* Please check with your doctor before incorporating any of the listed tips to make sure that no health issues are present and need to be addressed, such as thyroid imbalance; and that there are no other reasons why any of the listed tips would not be advisable for you.
Two Large Meals (Breakfast & Lunch) Are Best at Controlling Weight
8 Foods That Disrupt Sleep
The Best Foods to Eat at Night
10 Reasons to Give Up Diet Soda
Diet Tip: 8 Ways to Cut Soda Pops and Lose Pounds
When I first started noticing the "coloring books for adults" fad, I couldn't help but think: "Really? What other gimmicks will they come up with next?" Well, little did I know then that I was about to become a big fan of the whole idea...not to mention a coloring book addict.
As soon as I decided to set aside my "I'm too old for this and I don't want to look ridiculous" attitude, I remembered a transformational psychology class I had in school which required that I chose my favorite activity from when I was a child, practiced it for a week and then reported on it. Which activity did I choose? Coloring. I still remember the wonderful feelings I had from reconnecting with my childhood that way: the sense of freedom, of childlike innocence, of pure and simple joy...
But that's just one of the many benefits you might notice when you start coloring books on a regular basis. This activity is not only fun; it helps you get in touch with your artistic, creative side, and you might find yourself using that creativity at home and at work. One of the clients to whom I recommended it mentioned that, after trying the coloring books for only one week, she was able to accomplish during that week the work that normally would have taken her about a month (creating new brochures, flyers and business forms for her company).
Among other advantages, coloring books can also help you de-stress, relieve anxiety and even achieve a meditative state. It calms the mind, allowing you to feel more centered and grounded. I have personally noticed its mood balancing effects, as well as an increased sense of joy and contentment. From an integrative care perspective, this activity has the potential to help improve your health in general, as the shapes and colors you choose are likely to be exactly the ones you need for the healing and balancing of your body, mind and spirit.
I didn't think I had time for this; now I make time for this because of its countless benefits. I have also recommended it to friends, family and several of my hypnotherapy/life coaching clients, and with great success.
Coloring therapy is often used with children and young adults by many therapists and health centers, and it's gradually becoming more common as part of the treatment of certain healthcare issues in adults, such as addiction recovery symptoms.
In short, coloring books are no joke!
Gisele Marasca-Vargas; 02/2016
Coloring For Stress
Why Adult Coloring Books Are Good For You
"There's only one corner of the universe you can be certain of improving, and that's your own self."
--- Aldous Huxley
I'm all for making lists and writing affirmations about the kind of relationship we desire and the kind of person we want to have it with. However, the truth is that the best way to improve our relationships is to start by improving ourselves. It's the good old Law of Attraction at play: That which is like unto itself is drawn; or, simply put, like attracts like. As we get into alignment with our true selves, we attract others who are in a similar process; current relationships improve, or end to create space for more satisfying and fulfilling connections.
So, if you were to ask me to help you understand why you seem to be stuck in negative relationship patterns, and what you can do about it:
This powerful process of reconnecting with your best self can also help improve your relationships with friends, family members, co-workers. Whether you go through it by yourself or with a partner, the benefits are priceless.
Weight loss/management is big business in the U.S. There
are literally thousands of products and services out there that
promise to help you take your pounds off and keep them off.
Many are classified as unhealthy and even potentially harmful;
others are recommended by doctors and specialists.
The problem with most existing methods is that they do not
address the issues behind the overeating and other bad eating
habits that caused the extra weight. They usually work only on the conscious mind level, often ignoring subconscious causes. Therefore, even when people are able to lose weight, they often fall back into old habits and gain it all over again. So it’s well worth keeping in mind that “it’s not what you’re eating, it’s what’s eating you” (Dr. Janet Greeson).
The advantage of Hypnotherapy is that it can tap into the subconscious and reprogram unwanted behavior via suggestions. In addition to performing hypnosis sessions to help make your process of losing and managing weight a lot easier, a hypnotherapist can also help the client determine the causes behind the issue and create a customized program to facilitate breaking old patterns and unhealthy habits. Hypnotherapy also works very well as a complement to other weight loss and management programs.
In short, hypnotherapy is a safe, natural and non-invasive way to guide you through a healthy lifestyle shift that will help you master your body while still being able to enjoy what you eat. No diets that leave you hungry, no pills that might make you sick, no constant feeling of deprivation... For these reasons, more and more people are seeking hypnotherapy as a safe therapeutic option.
Out-of-control stress is the number one underlying factor to the onset of disease in the body. Aside from the emotional toll stress takes, it also affects our health, says Diane Robinson, PhD, of UF Health Center. Stress is not always bad; some of it is necessary to help us achieve our goals. But long term stress can, among other things, affect our immune system, compromise the digestive system, lead to depression and result in the general deterioration of health.
At this day and age, most of us are aware of the potentially damaging effects of chronic stress. We also know there are many things we can do to prevent, reduce and cope with stress, such as proper diet, exercise, rest and play time; practicing meditation and relaxation techniques such as yoga and breath work; etc. So why is it that most people don't practice stress management on a consistent basis, or at all?
One of the reasons is that, in our fast paced society, many of us learn to carry stress as a badge of honor, showing to the world (and ourselves) how productive and needed we are. On a physical level, we can also become addicted to the cortisol and adrenaline that get released into our system when we are in "fight or flight" mode. However, not only does the continuous release of these hormones wreak havoc in our bodies, it gets us hooked and looking for more. "Like a drug addict, you need a bigger fix all the time," says Debbie Mandel, a stress management specialist and author of Addicted to Stress.
In addition, the way we perceive and handle time can have a lot to do with how much stress we feel in our lives. According to Gay Hendricks, author of The Big Leap, we need to make the switch from our Newtonian perception of time (which says that there's only a finite amount of time) to Einstein Time (in which time is relative, so we need to take charge of the amount of time we have and realize we are where time comes from). From that perspective, we can then figure out areas in our lives that we are trying to disown and take full ownership of it (in other words, become aware of the fact that our life circumstances stem from ourselves, and we can change them). According to Hendricks, "stress and conflict are caused by resisting acceptance and ownership," and the stress will disappear once we are able to accept and claim ownership of it.
Whichever the causes behind stress, hypnotherapy can be a valuable tool for stress management. Through hypnotherapy we can tap into the subconscious and reprogram unwanted behavior via suggestions. In addition to performing hypnosis sessions for stress reduction, a hypnotherapist can also help the client determine the core issues behind the stress, as well as help break unhealthy habits and patterns. For these reasons, more and more people are seeking hypnotherapy as a safe, noninvasive therapeutic option.
Are you curious about Past Energy Release or Past Life Regression?
By Gisele Marasca-Vargas
Many people want to try it just out of curiosity; however, it can also be very effective as a therapeutic tool. PER Therapy, also referred to as Past Life Regression, is a technique that uses hypnosis to recover what many practitioners believe to be memories of past lives or incarnations. During a PER session, the client experiences such memories as mental movies, slides, images, thoughts, feelings and sensations. Although there is no conclusive evidence to prove the reincarnation hypothesis, and many people consider past life memories to be just creations of the mind, there are enough studies and researches to demonstrate that it is a plausible hypothesis. However, true or imaginary, these memories can be used to work through and help release, resolve and remove current issues and root trauma, as well as promote self-development. In other words, you don’t have to believe in reincarnation to benefit from past life regression therapy.
You might want to consider Past Energy Release Therapy if:
1. You have a feeling, phobia, situation, etc, that you just can’t seem to resolve and that doesn’t seem to have any explanation or known source.
2. You are really attracted to (or repelled by) a period in history for no apparent reason.
3. You really love (or dislike) a specific language/culture/country for no apparent reason.
4. You just know how to do something even though you have never learned it.
5. You haven’t found anything in your life that explains certain feelings and impressions.
PAST LIFE REGRESSION FAQS:
• How Will I “See” My Past Life?
It’s different for each person. Some people might “play” it in their minds as if they were watching a movie; others might “hear” in their minds a description of what’s happening; yet others might just have a “knowing” of what is transpiring. Also, some people might perceive scenes of one past life in a linear progression; others might go back and forth, or even jump to scenes from other lives. The best way is to go in with no expectations of how you might experience it; just go with the flow. And if your subconscious does its own thing and doesn’t follow the script, that’s ok, the script is meant only as a guideline.
In case nothing at all happens, it’s also ok. There’s nothing wrong with you; maybe it’s not time for you to go through this experience at this point in your life, or in this group environment. Whatever happens (or doesn’t happen), it is your decision and only yours, even if it comes from a subconscious or unconscious level.
You can choose a theme for your PLR experience or leave it open ended; if you choose a theme, however, keep in mind that your subconscious might have its own agenda.
• What If I'm Making It All Up?
It's ok. Scientific studies show that past life regression therapy works if the client believes the experience is real or not. The bottom line is that whatever you feel you wish to experience is the right thing for you. The important thing to look at is what comes to your mind. Once you are in a relaxed state, your mind will offer you the information you are meant to work with at that time. It can happen that your conscious mind will try to be critical of or interfere with your experience as you go through the session; allow it to do what it must. However, try not to censor yourself in any way; again, just go with the flow.
• What If I See Something Or Someone I Don't Like?
What a great opportunity that will be! That way, you can discuss what bothers you and why it came to you at this time in your life, so that it can be taken care of and resolved; sometimes, the healing can be instant. Occasionally, an abreaction can happen (explain). Since you are the one in control throughout the process, you can choose to experience the regression as an outside observer, or to not feel any emotions or pain. You can also choose to come out of it at any time. However, unless you really feel you can’t handle it, it’s recommended that you allow yourself to go through it, as it’s a great release/healing opportunity (as mentioned above).
• Will I Speak In A Different Language?
In most cases, the experiences are reported in the person’s current language, although there have been cases of people who were able to speak in a language previously unknown to them during a session. In such circumstances, they can be asked to “translate” the experience by speaking in their current language.
• Can I Also See My Future Lives?
You may also look into your future through progression sessions. Rather than premonitions, I tend to believe that such sessions show you more of a symbolic representation of future possibilities. Again, true or imaginary, your visions of the future can be used as an opportunity for higher awareness when making life choices.
• Many Lives, Many Masters, by Brian Weiss
• Old Souls: The Scientific Evidence for Past Lives, by Tom Shroder (based on the research work by Dr. Ian Stevenson)
• Children’s Past Lives, by Carol Bowman