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Hypnosis & Health


by Roger W. Vaisey

I recently worked with a woman who has advanced cancer in her bones and liver. She has had cancer nearly 12 years and survived her doctor’s prediction that she had 10 years to live.

The sound of his voice as if recorded on a cassette in her mind had been replayed many times, and on the 10th year anniversary, low and behold she found her cancer had broken out again. Being an intelligent woman she caught what had happened and knew that she was somehow responsible for fulfilling his prediction. She told him to never again make such statements to her. He agreed.
How could someone be so influenced by one man’s statement? Of course it wasn’t just any man, it was a highly trained and experienced Doctor. What is going on here?

When one considers the subject of Hypnosis and health many things become clear. Consider the following. It is very helpful to make the distinction that human beings have at least two different minds, a conscious and an unconscious mind. The conscious mind is aware of 7+ or minus 2 pieces of information at any one time and that the unconscious mind is aware of every thing else. Our conscious mind is where we choose to put our attention like a light beam shining in a darkened room. Our other mind, you can call it what you like, I will call it our unconscious mind, is aware of all that is happening to us at any one moment and also takes care of the many bodily functions, like breathing, heart beat, digestion, chemical and physical balance and so on. Our unconscious minds are responsible for maintaining our health and for keeping us safe and in a state of homeostatic balance. It seems a truism to say that most people are very out of contact with their own unconscious minds, and are not even aware that they could be much more so, in many very helpful ways.

There have been times when I have felt cold, stressed, tense and overall feeling very run down, and in those moments I can easily allow a cold or flu to take over. If I catch the moment, and it is usually in a moment of 1 to 5 minutes, I can in a very straightforward way ask my unconscious mind to please take care of the virus and to keep me healthy. I have to also check out what is called the positive intention of the symptom of the cold/flu and if I do I find I have been working to hard or not giving myself enough love, care or attention. If I promise to myself that I will do that, then my unconscious will usually kick in and I am fine again. Very occasionally the prospect of 2 days in bed is actually a great idea, and I succumb to the cold.

This idea of positive intention behind every behaviour or symptom is a profoundly helpful one. The intention doesn’t have to be positive to the person now or to anybody else. It is just the idea that our unconscious mind’s main task is to protect us and to bring about a balanced equilibrium of health and well being. So when you get a reoccurring pain or symptom what could the message of that be from our body/unconscious to our consciousness? Very often when we pay attention in this way we realize we have been stressing ourselves, working to hard, pushing ourselves unnecessarily, or doing something that is not overall healthy or right for us. Maybe we are doing work that is unsuitable for us, or we are in an unhealthy relationship, or activity. The symptom is like a wake up call. It is dangerous to generalize about such a disease as cancer, yet it often seems to be the case that many cancer patients are really loving, caring, and most unselfish people who everybody likes. It could be that some of these people have been unable to set clear boundaries for themselves, as if they have always been more concerned in selflessly looking to support and help others before themselves, as if they have never learnt or even felt they were allowed to take themselves seriously as somebody who deserves and needs self-love.

Then consider the idea that mind and body form part of one system and cannot be divided as two separate entities. Much of traditional medicine has fallen into this trap. What we think profoundly affects our bodies. If we think dark depressing thoughts of every thing that can go wrong in our lives, we will quickly feel dark and depressed in our bodies. The words we hear from others, (especially spoken from such figures as Doctors) and the words we speak to ourselves are very powerful, and much ill health comes from them. Consider such phrases, as “I am sick of my job.”- “My boss makes me sick to my stomach.”-“ My colleague X is a regular pain in the neck.” Then people wonder why they get stomach cancer, bad digestion, or a bad neck. “When my wife died it broke my heart,” said a man who was lying in hospital after a major heart attack. My client with cancer was a German who had lived very happily in England for 15 years. When her life there went, as she put it, of the rails she said to herself that she needed to make a clean break and added the she remembers telling her friends “Oh dear it might be the death of me.” It nearly was.

Now where does Hypnosis fit into all this? Hypnosis is an old and powerful technique for bypassing the conscious mind (which is often critical and hindering) and directly accessing the intentions and wisdom of the unconscious mind. You can also easily give and receive suggestions to yourself and others.

In reality there is only self-hypnosis, and a skilled Hypnotists task is to make it as easy as possible for a client to go into their own trance and to connect with their own inner resources and abilities to heal themselves. Later it is appropriate for Hypnotists to teach clients to be able to do self-hypnosis for themselves so they can learn to easily and directly communicate with their own unconscious minds. The ability to create rapport with a client is a key skill and from that to teach clients how they can be more and more in rapport with themselves. By doing this people learn to have more direct communication with their unconscious minds, and can become more responsible and have more choices about their maintaining their own health.

As one gains more experience with this process you learn that unconscious minds are basically very friendly, very straightforward, and literal and if asked in a respectful yet direct way will do what is asked of them. The trouble for most people is that they do not realize this, so they develop the idea that their unconscious mind is the enemy, full of dangerous things. My experience is, that if you ignore it it will sometimes come back and give you a big hit. And if you are respectful, and appreciative it can become your dearest friend.

Of course all the various schools of medicine and healing have their appropriate place in all of this. And when you get good at communicating with yourself, your unconscious mind will even let you know when it is appropriate to get expert medical help.

I asked my client with cancer how she saw the cancer cells in her liver. It took her a while to realize that she saw them as white circular patches with a brittle texture in a dark red background. I asked her what her liver needed to deal with these patches. After a long silence she suddenly sat up and said that they needed light. I asked her how she could give that light and she said she knew how to do that and would regularly take time in the future to do that. She later said, that her situation is currently stabilized. The way we think of our illnesses and health profoundly influences that health, or ill health. Hypnosis is a great tool to support people’s own ability to heal themselves.
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