“What does the wind look like?”
I didn’t know how to answer. My young and curious friend often asked me these types of questions and I was always so happy to answer them. Her questions helped me see the world in an entirely new light. A light that only the blind could see.
“C’mon, tell me. What does the wind look like?”
Another long pause. And then an impatient sigh.
"No one will ever tell me for some reason. That can only mean one thing.”
“Oh yeah?” I asked. “What?”
“It must be really ugly. But what’s confusing is that it only seems ugly in the winter.”
The sun was warm on our skin, and the wind brought salty smells of the ocean which was not far away.
When I closed my eyes, I could almost imagine the gentle breezes kissing my eyelids.
“Whenever something or someone is ugly, and I ask someone to tell me what they look like, usually all I ever hear are either barely audible gasps or awkward pauses and starts and stutters... But actually you’ve been completely silent this whole time.”
“Wind is invisible to the eye.” I responded. “Mostly, it’s invisible. To be more precise, you can’t see it but you can see its effects.”
I provided a few examples, covering the wide spectrum of these effects: from the ugliness of harsh storms to the sweet summer breezes we were experiencing now. She took it all in. After a few moments, she spoke, with confidence this time, without a trace of the irritation she shared with me earlier.
“The most powerful things in life are invisible, aren’t they?”
Yes. When I think of powerful, invisible forces that have consequential impacts that we all see, hear, and experience, emotions are the first thing that comes to my mind. Emotions are truly powerful, and their sources are often hidden and mysterious yet they drive behavioral impacts that we all see, hear, taste, smell, and experience.
Speaking of seeing, hearing, tasting, and smelling, there’s a very close connection between our senses and our emotions. In fact, one of the first lessons we receive as hypnotherapy students is how to use our client’s senses to deepen their hypnotic experience and facilitate healing. The term we use for this process is AVKTO (pronounced “avocado”) which represents:
A = auditory (hearing)
V = visual (sight)
K = kinesthetic (bodily sensations)
T = tactile (touch)
O = olfactory (smell)
So, as I'm inducing relaxation with my clients, and guiding them along a path to greater self-awareness in their “special place” (counting up from 1-10), I'm also activating their senses as much as possible.
“1, notice how the path feels on the bottom of your feet, 2, look to the left and the right of the path, 3, deeper and deeper relaxed, 4, imagine the sounds you’ll hear in your special place…5,..."
Throughout the hypnotic experience, I’ll ask my clients to notice what they may see, hear, sense, feel, or smell. This deepens their relaxation, as well as tightens the connection between their subconscious mind, their emotions, and their body - all of which facilitates healing.
It’s important to note: not everyone experiences hypnosis in the same way, every single time. For example, some folks are primarily visual, some are visual and auditory, others may be primarily kinesthetic, and still others may incorporate all of their senses under hypnosis. And each time you experience hypnosis you may have a different experience, depending upon how deeply relaxed you are, or what the particular issue you’re working on happens to be.
What is clear is that the more you experience hypnosis and hypnotherapy, the faster and easier it will be for you to relax, and the more rich the experience will become.
Other key take-aways:
*Keep an open mind - try not to have too many specific expectations. The more open you are to whatever happens, the more expansive the possibilities for healing. At the same time, trust your gut and make sure you feel protected, grounded and focused on your intentions for healing.
*Avoid comparisons - you may hear from others about their amazing, other-worldly experience that has completely opened them up, and you may feel a bit jealous or left out. This is your ego talking, don’t take the bait. You’re getting what you need in precisely the way you need it.
*Remember, you’re in control - this isn’t stage hypnosis where the intention is to entertain the audience (often at your expense). As your hypnotherapist, I’m your guide. I facilitate the process and follow your subconscious wherever it takes us. With your higher self and inner wisdom directing us, you’re in full control and can stop the hypnosis - by opening your eyes - at any time.
*Use self-hypnosis - with self-hypnosis, you can work on flexing your hypnotic and sensory muscles - all on your own time and in your own way. I wrote this article which outlines each of the steps in the self-hypnosis process in case you’re ready to give it a whirl.
In the meantime, stay tuned.
Hypnotherapy can offer dramatic results for a variety of emotional, mental and physical issues. The challenge is that there are many cultural myths and stereotypes to overcome in order to be open to trying hypnosis as a therapeutic modality.
Here are a few of them you may have heard or may have had, and how you an overcome them for greater healing and self-awareness:
1. You'll embarrass yourself. Let's face it. Humiliation is often part of a why an audience finds a stage hypnotists show so entertaining. We're laughing at the person who's "under a spell".
Why this is a false belief. The difference between hypnosis and a stage hypnotist's act lies in intent and consent. The ethical hypnotherapist has an intention of serving her client with full integrity and confidentiality, obtaining a client's consent and reminding them that they have full control of their experience. Hypnotherapists are therapeutic guides whereas stage hypnotists are entertainers.
2. You won’t remember anything. Your hypnotherapist will ask you what your goals for your session are, and among them will be that you will bring back all you discovered and learned during your session. She'll reinforce these by using post-hypnotic suggestions.
Emotional, mental, physical and spiritual integration is a core benefit of hypnotherapy. I would imagine you'd want to remember all you can discover about yourself during a guided meditation or trance session. Much of the value of this healing modality lies in our ability to quickly get to the root cause of our imbalances or sense of unease. This relies on remembering the key details and "take-aways" of each experience. (Anchors are a great tool for this, look for a blog article on this soon).
3. You’ll be triggered at some distant point in the future. To be honest, the discoveries you make during your sessions may continue to unfold over the coming days and weeks. That said, you'll have more tools and support systems to rely on to help you during these moments.
EFT is one of the best tools for integrating new emotional and spiritual discoveries into your energetic system and consciousness. This transformative process involves tapping on your energetic meridians while acknowledging and accepting what is. Additionally, while tapping, you also express your desired outcomes (e.g. affirmations). This clears any lingering blocks and "takes the edge of" lingering emotional triggers or physical manifestations of pain and anxiety.
4. You’ll disclose secrets without your consent.
See number #1 above where we talk about the importance of ethics, integrity, consent and confidentiality. Despite the fact that the state of CA does not license hypnotherapists, you can still do your own homework to validate your hypnotherapist has your best interests in mind. Before meeting with them, have a call or email exchange to determine what their stance is with respect to the core values of consent and confidentiality. During your face-to-face interview, at the start of the session, if you still have concerns in this area, ask your hypnotherapist to record your session so you listen back to what their specific words are, how directive they are in their communications, and in general, how they hold the space for you. Remember that you are always in control, which brings us to the last myth to debunk.
5. You'll lose control. All hypnosis is self-hypnosis which means in essence - you are always in control. Without your active consent, it's not actually possible to be hypnotized. And, the more resistant or tense someone is to hypnosis, the more time it may take for them to relax enough to be hypnotized. So as long as your hypnotherapist holds a space of self-empowered and non-directive healing, you'll be grounded and aware of your place in this experience as well as have the courage to let go for deep healing and transformation.
When it comes to hypnotherapy, the more empowered you feel during the experience, the more transformative the experience. Feel free to ask your hypnotherapist for what you need to feel whole, grounded, and complete before, during, and after your session.
Stay tuned and good luck on your road to self-healing. After all, you're always in the driver's seat.
These blog articles offer pragmatic tips on how to tune into your own inner wisdom.