Therapeutic hypnosis: Ah-ha moments and afterthoughts

Part 5 of a 5-part series

I’ve been in a reflective mode lately. There are so many categories in our lives in which we feel compelled to keep striding forward, but once in a while it comes to light that in another category we are “just getting by.”

There’s nothing wrong with that – depending on the intensity of circumstances, getting by is just what’s possible sometimes, either for a short duration or an extended period of time.  

We all have to determine when, if ever, those things in the “just getting by” category need to be addressed or if they aren’t really a priority in life.   

At the end of the day, our body, its health, our internal mind’s chitter chatter, the food and beverages we consume, our absorption of other people’s thoughts, recognition, and criticism all tumble together into a complex mix. 

Join me in prioritizing yourself. Take some “me” time. Talk to someone. Listen to a helpful podcast. Journal your heart out. Reflect. Sit in silence. Meditate. If you can exercise with your chronic illness limitations, stretch, breathe, or perhaps take a short walk. 

I was given an opportunity to experience five modalities with a retired psychologist and thereby relay my experiences and thoughts on them to you. If you feel you could benefit from any of them, I hope you seek out an experienced provider.     

His advice, expert insight, and ways of approaching these modalities blew my mind. This provided me with an experience that I will never forget and will apply to my life through the normal human course of the ups and downs.

If I had zero health conditions (physical, mental, emotional) or ten – it would not matter. I had nothing to lose by trying new treatment options. I could only benefit. 

My internal mind has new buds of a hypothetical blossom. I owe this to him, Dr. Herrick. 

Our final modality session included a “hypnotic induction.”   

I stretched back in a recliner, eyes closed, retreated to my “happy place” again, and began HeartMath breathing to access the green zone. I have discussed HeartMath in a previous article. I cleared out any stress, any tension. 

At this particular appointment, I came in with a slight neck injury. The expert wanted me to “zero in on your neck, the discomfort and isolate that pain. I want you to gather up that pain and blow it out.”

I relaxed further and further, blocking out any outside noise, the inner mind’s dialogue, and continued to exhale stress / tension. 

“Each time you breathe in, you’re going to go more and more inward.  You’ll find yourself slipping more and more into your subconscious mind.”

“Allow yourself to settle down and go inward,” as he assured me “there is so much to learn about your life, what you’re doing, how your body works.”

By going inward “you are going to access incredible knowledge that will lead to greater wisdom and understanding,” Herrick said.

It is at this point he asked me to “Begin to think about a part of your life that has bothered you for a long time. We all have them. Sometimes it’s from our childhood, sometimes it’s just who we are as adults; different parts of our personality.” Individuals can have “several parts, whether it’s physical, emotional, cognitively, things that haunt them.”

I was asked to choose just one. It could be perplexing, difficult, or that I’m just seeking a revision of sorts.

I understood from the expert that once we get to this deeper state of understanding (in our heart), full relaxation, and embracing awareness not only about it, but “Where do I go with the issue? What do I do with it?” is a pivotal part. The guidance and clarity we receive can be quite instrumental in our own healing journey.   

He began to count back from 10 to 1. He used a very calm voice and informed me that I would be going “deeper and deeper into [my] subconscious.”

Little did I know beforehand, “Our subconscious mind is such an integral part of how we change our life.”

That by allowing this quietness, truly accepting and embracing it, “allows our subconscious mind to engage, heal, correct, re-arrange, help” understand “not only how did this issue come about, but what can you do to change it.”

Once insight is obtained about how to change the issue, I was asked to step back into my modern day life and visualize it, “Having whatever is needed to be different in [my] life” to obtain this desired outcome or “course correction.”

He further explained that, a person “can bring back significant alterations in [their] thinking, in emotions, and how [they] can change their life.” 

It is not by forcing it to happen, but by allowing it to happen.

“There’s a power that we have in our subconscious mind that allows profound incredible growth and progress,” Herrick said. I think this is beautiful, beneficial, and eye opening. Don’t we all have areas of life that we’d like to “course correct” or have a bit of a different ending to? 

The nice thing about this is that they can be “sustainable changes that can go forward. One must just allow the subconscious mind to complete the healing. The changes and understanding that follows will be particularly helpful in your progress toward health and wellbeing in your life,” he said.   

When my hypnotic induction concluded, I felt like I had just woken up from a short, though pretty intense power nap. I felt good and my neck pain was less than just a short time before. 

A really powerful message he left me with at the end of the visit was on the topic again of our “inner dialogue.” That when individuals inherently go back over stuff, “and we do this all the time – we go back over conversations, stuff that’s happening, and we do it in color.” 

Think about that – it’s common to replay situations in color. He said that when he uses a neurolinguistic program to help people sort through issues he changes the “angst” from color to black and white.  “And when it shifts to black and white, there is just this dramatic shift on an emotional level for people.” 

He then utilized a two-screen visualization. The screen on the left is viewed in black and white. The screen on the right is viewed in vibrant color. When one views emotionally charged experiences in black and white, there is a significant reduction in the level of stress. 

Unfortunately, most of our negative memories are viewed in full color.  This only adds to the perpetual stress that they create for us. In this visualization process, the viewing of these negative thoughts and feelings and experiences in black and white offers a huge reduction in the amount of discomfort. Ultimately he shrinks these pictures and they get so small they disappear. At that point, significant emotional shifting takes place. The screen on the right is one of vibrant color. After the black and white screen is closed down, I stepped into the right screen and was able to appreciate and value the benefits of a resolution to the issues that were bothering me. The colored screen allowed me a freedom to create a healthy vision and experience that I could rely on. 

When I left his office, I reflected on a few matters over the years that I had replayed in color. I didn’t understand the impact of viewing negative experiences in color. It didn’t lead to a resolution, in fact it only added to my level of distress. 

Did this visualization provide a benefit to me? The answer was my mind had been on ‘auto replay’ in color, which only increased my level of distress. 

This process helped me let go of the painful memories and to create, through the colored screen, a reinterpretation that was much healthier to me. 

By switching even analytically to a picture with less contrast, allowed me to step back, dissect it in a healthier way and close it down.

We all have areas of our life that include struggles. It’s common for us to replay past events in our mind much to our detriment.

The main takeaway from my hypnotic induction is that it is a powerful modality that can help reinterpret and readjust the continuing struggles that plague us in our inner thought processes. 

Coming next: The trifecta of chronic pain, stress, and anxiety is impairing health