Mind-Body Matters Series #6: Full Body Scan


This a wonderfully simple and effective exercise that really connects mind and body.

Remember to begin with at least 3 big, deep breaths and use this deep breathing as you visualise breathing out through those areas of tension and discomfort and melting them away.

Make a note of the areas of the deepest tension and discomfort and then once you have completed one full scan, go back and pay special attention to the areas of tension you need to focus on the most. Keep repeating this process until you have eased all the areas of tension and discomfort and feel relaxed and at ease.

You will find that through the deep breathing, the visualisations and the easing of tension you will strengthen your mind-body connection, awareness and communication and feel so much better for it.

I recommend doing this at least twice a day, once first thing in the morning before you go to work and once before you get home at the end of each day.

Have fun exploring with this exercise and as always let me know how you get on.

Simon

Hypnosis and Fear of Dentists


stay-connectd

Unsurprisingly for many of you, a fear of dentists and dental treatment is a very common phobia in the UK and elsewhere around the world.

  • Almost half of UK adults have a fear of the dentist.
  • 12% of these suffers from an extreme dental anxiety.
  • Women are more likely to suffer from extreme dental anxiety than men.
  • Visiting the Dentist is ranked number one (22%) for making people nervous, even more popular than heights (19%).

Direct experience is the most common way people develop dental fears. Most people report that their dental fear began after a traumatic, difficult, and/or painful dental experience. However, painful or traumatic, dental experiences alone do not explain why people develop dental phobia. The perceived manner of the dentist is an important variable. Dentists who were considered “impersonal”, “uncaring”, “uninterested” or “cold” may develop high dental fear in patients, even in the absence of painful experiences, whereas some patients who had had painful experiences failed to develop dental fear if they perceived their dentist as caring and warm.

Indirect experiences

  • Vicarious learning
  • Dental fear may develop as people hear about others’ traumatic experiences or negative views of dentistry (vicarious learning).
  • Mass media

The negative portrayal of dentistry in mass media and cartoons may also contribute to the development of dental fear. This negative portrayal may come from such films as the 1932 comedy film The Dentist, the unrelated horror film The Dentist, its sequel, the 1933 cartoon The Merry Old Soul, and Marathon Man (the antagonist, Dr. Christian Szell, is a Nazi war criminal who tortures with dental equipment).

Stimulus Generalisation

Dental fear may develop as a result of a previous traumatic experience in a non-dental context. For example, bad experiences with doctors or hospital environments may lead people to fear white coats and antiseptic smells, which is one reason why dentists nowadays often choose to wear less “threatening” apparel. People who have been sexually, physically or emotionally abused may also find the dental situation threatening.

Helplessness and Perceived Lack of Control

If a person believes that they have no means of influencing a negative event, they will experience the feeling of helplessness. Research has shown that a perception of lack of control leads to fear. The opposite belief, that one does have control, can lead to lessened fear. For example, the belief that the dentist will stop when the patient gives a stop signal lessens fear. Helplessness and lack of control may also result from direct experiences, for example an incident where a dentist wouldn’t stop even when the person was in obvious pain.

Diagnosis of Phobia
Phobia of dental care is sometimes diagnosed using a fear measurement instrument like Corah’s Dental Anxiety Scale or the Modified Dental Anxiety Scale

It would be very interesting to read your experiences of dentists and how you feel about your 6 monthly appointment. In the meantime here are some case studies and also additional references at the end.

 

Study 1: Hypnosis in Pediatric Dental Treatment Using elements of hypnosis prior to or during pediatric dental treatment.

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23635894

Results: A review of the relevant research and literature shows that the advantages of using hypnotic elements and hypnosis in pediatric dentistry are evident.

Notes: Most dental practitioners are familiar with pediatric patients expressing dental fear or anxiety. Occasionally, the dentist may encounter a situation where all behavioral techniques fail, while, for some reason, premedication or general anesthesia are contraindicated or rejected by the patient or his/her parents and a different approach is required. Hypnosis may solve the problem in some cases. The purpose of this study was to review the literature about techniques that use elements of hypnosis and hypnotic techniques prior to or during pediatric dental treatment. There is a limited amount of literature regarding the use of hypnosis and hypnotic elements in pediatric dentistry. Induction techniques, reframing, distraction, imagery suggestions, and hypnosis are identified, although mostly anecdotally.

Pediatr Dent. 2013 Jan-Feb;35(1):33-6
By: B. Peretz, R. Bercovich, S. Blumer, Department of Pediatric Dentistry, The Maurice and Gabriela Goldschleger School of Dental Medicine, Tel Aviv University, Tel Aviv, Israel

Study 2: Hypnosis for Dental Procedure Pain
Effects of Hypnosis as an Adjunct to Intravenous Sedation for Third Molar Extraction: A Randomized, Blind, Controlled Study
http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/00207140903310782?journalCode=nhyp20#preview

Results: Intraoperative Propofol administration, patient postoperative pain ratings, and postoperative prescription pain reliever consumption were all significantly reduced in the hypnosis treatment group compared to the control group.

Notes: This study aimed to evaluate the use of hypnosis/therapeutic suggestion as an adjunct to intravenous (IV) sedation in patients having 3rd molar removal in an outpatient setting. The patients were randomly assigned to a treatment (n = 46) or control (n = 54) group. The treatment group listened to a rapid conversational induction and therapeutic suggestions via headphones throughout the entire surgical procedure along with a standard sedation dose of intravenous anesthetic. The control group listened to only music without any hypnotic intervention. Intraoperative Propofol administration, patient postoperative pain ratings, and postoperative prescription pain reliever consumption were all significantly reduced in the treatment compared to the control group. Implications of these results are discussed.

International Journal of Clinical and Experimental Hypnosis, Volume 58, Issue 1, 2009
By: Edward F. Mackey, West Chester University of Pennsylvania, West Chester, Pennsylvania, USA

Study 3: Use of Imagery to Make Easier Injection of Anesthesia for Dental Work
The use of imagery suggestions during administration of local anesthetic in pediatric dental patients.
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10997242

Results: The authors of this study conclude that imaging/imagery techniques may be successfully utilized in the administration of local anesthesia to young children (from three years of age) in an effort to mitigate untoward, pain-related stress.

Notes: The aim of this study was to evaluate the effects of suggestion before and during the administration of local anesthesia to children. Eighty children between the ages of three and sixteen years and who required at least one injection of local anesthesia were monitored. Retrospective examinations of their dental records provided the information regarding the behavior and dental treatment histories of the patients. All other data were provided through observation during the dental treatment phase. During the first treatment session, before the injection, each child was asked to select a favorite, pleasant memory or image. Where children had difficulty in identifying an image, one was proposed by the dentist. After an image had been chosen, the patients were asked to concentrate on the image and to visualize it during the procedure. The majority of children had chosen their own images, and significantly visualized the same images throughout the injection procedures. Image selection and visualization had no association with gender, age, the parent’s assessment of the child’s behavior, previous dental experience, behavior (both past and present) or, management techniques (both past and present).

ASDC J Dent Child. 2000 Jul-Aug;67(4):263-7, 231
By: B. Peretz, E. Bimstein, Department of Pediatric Dentistry, Hebrew University, Hadassah School of Dental Medicine, Jerusalem, Israel

References

  1. Bracha HS, Vega EM, Vega CB (2006). “Posttraumatic dental-care anxiety (PTDA): Is “dental phobia” a misnomer?” (PDF). Hawaii Dent J. 37 (5): 17–9. PMID 17152624.
  2. Milgrom P, Weinstein P, Getz T (1995). Treating Fearful Dental Patients: A Patient Management Handbook (2nd ed.). Seattle, Wash.: University of Washington, Continuing Dental Education. doi:10.1111/j.1600-0528.1996.tb00893.x. ISBN 1-880291-01-0.
  3. Erten H, Akarslan ZZ, Bodrumlu E (April 2006). “Dental fear and anxiety levels of patients attending a dental clinic”. Quintessence Int. 37 (4): 304–10. PMID 16594362.
  4. Stabholz A, Peretz B (April 1999). “Dental anxiety among patients prior to different dental treatments”. Int Dent J. 49 (2): 90–4. doi:10.1111/j.1875-595x.1999.tb00514.x. PMID 10858738
  5. Locker D, Shapiro D, Liddell A (June 1996). “Negative dental experiences and their relationship to dental anxiety”. Community Dent Health. 13 (2): 86–92. PMID 8763138
  6. Bernstein DA, Kleinknecht RA, Alexander LD (1979). “Antecedents of dental fear”. J Public Health Dent. 39 (2): 113–24. doi:10.1111/j.1752-7325.1979.tb02932.x. PMID 287803
  7. Hilton IV, Stephen S, Barker JC, Weintraub JA (December 2007). “Cultural factors and children’s oral health care: a qualitative study of carers of young children”. Community Dent Oral Epidemiol. 35 (6): 429–38. doi:10.1111/j.1600-0528.2006.00356.x. PMID 18039284
  8. http://www.dentalfearcentral.org/abuse_survivors.html
  9. Lundgren J, Carlsson SG, Berggren U (May 2006). “Relaxation versus cognitive therapies for dental fear—a psychophysiological approach”. Health Psychol. 25 (3): 267–73. doi:10.1037/0278-6133.25.3.267. PMID 16719597

Why We Are The Way We Are. The good and the bad of conditioned response.


It’s 4am and I’m awake again at the sound of the car door closing outside the window. My instincts are kicking in with my body and mind ready to respond in the blink of an eye and as I look around the room I realise I’m not in Baghdad or Kabul, Portharcourt or Baiji or anywhere else that is a threat, I’m on my own sofa in the living room of my own house.
My heart is racing as I struggle between two realities not completely sure which one to chose and not always knowing which one I prefer. It’s hard to step away from the chaos, fear and excitement that comes with combat, as crazy as it sounds it can feel more reassuring for a while than the quiet of a so called normal life with a host of new uncertainties that are alien and in their own way just as scary at times.

We were trained for years to respond to threats with a highly calculated, swift and utterly devastating level of aggression and violence on the battlefield, and to be able to turn that aggression down like a dimmer switch. It’s a hard skill to learn and one of many that never leaves you, and like so many it gets confused in the civilian life that we all end up in at some point.

When your brain is so used to high speed threat assessment it is easy for mistakes to be made in the civvy world because we feel constantly under threat as we navigate our new environment and unsure of the new rules of engagement. Sometimes we’re not sure who the enemy is and ironically, particularly in the early days, we are our own enemy. Our mind is struggling to cope, half knowing we can’t respond the way we do but not knowing any other way yet, until we learn what’s acceptable in this new world. And this takes time. Not something given up lightly in a frantically fast and ruthless world that we live in because time is a commodity, it’s precious and people and business hold onto it like it was a newborn child at times, protecting it with every ounce of strength they have.

Being conditioned into who we are has many advantages in both worlds. We are fiercely loyal, we have a work ethic that is second to none, we are extremely adaptable, learn fast and want to learn, we are highly disciplined, fantastic team players and very capable of getting the job done on our own when need be. We make great leaders because we have been trained and led by great men and when the shit hits the fan, there is no one else you would rather have by your side.

So when you meet or know someone who is struggling with their own mind as they work to come to terms with physical and/or psychological injuries from their time in the military, please share some of that precious time, allow them a little more of it and some space to come to terms with their new world.

And for you my brothers, when there is no need to brace yourself as the tailgate lowers and there are no more doors to kick in, no more need to try and squeeze yourself into the tiniest rut in the ground as the dirt kicks up all around you, when there are no more explosions that vibrate every organ in your body leaving you deaf, nauseous and disoriented and there is nothing left but deafening silence.

Remember that when the faces come rushing at you in those quiet moments, when you least expect them, with your heart racing as you check your exits and for people who are a threat, it is just your mind and the way you’ve been conditioned to be. Remember the simple things, remember to breathe, and as you breathe in clench your fists and as you breathe out open your hands and flex your fingers till they strain and imaging that you push those faces further away with every breath out. Keep doing this until those faces drift and fade into the distance and when they’re gone relax your hands at your sides and let that complete relaxation in your hands and forearms to flow all the way up to your shoulders, up your neck and into your head and face, then let that relaxation flow all the way down your upper body, through your hips, down your legs into your feet and all the way down to the ends of your toes. Remembering to breathe slowly as you do this.

You may well find this takes a bit of practice, as crazy as this sounds, but we all do it from time to time, we forget to breathe when we are stressed, under pressure and we tense up. So when you catch yourself tensing up like this, even if there are no faces to push away, just practice it like any other skill you’ve learned and create a new conditioned response when you feel stressed and threatened on any way.

Just as in the military and on operations we have each others back, well I have your back now. If you need to speak to clear your mind and get things off your chest then get in touch with me either on Facebook or my email, simon@simonmaryan.com and we can arrange a time to chat. We need to look out for each other just as much in this civvy world as we did in the military and sometimes more so. Despite retiring from that old world we will always be that band of brothers and that loyalty does not need to fade because we are not side by side physically anymore, technology has seen to that and made the world a much smaller place. So let’s take advantage of that and keep each other safe.

On that note ladies and gentlemen spoofers, I believe I am done.
Simon Maryan

Per Mare Per Terram

Mind-Body Health and Your Vagus Nerve


For me, being a therapist, counsellor or coach is just like being a good host at a dinner party, because a client is a guest in my practice and they have come because they need something from me that I can give them so I invite them in.

If my guest is thirsty, I give them a drink. If they’re belly is rumbling with hunger, I give them food. This is a basic duty of being the host with the most. And in my mind, the same principle applies to a client suffering from stress (and almost every client I see is).

When treating a negatively emotionally aroused client, the first thing I need to do is calm them down.

Don’t get me wrong, calm empathic listening can take the wind out of the sail of rising cortisol. But sometimes clients need immediate help. Their level of stress has become an emergency, and until you apply therapeutic psychological first aid, other diagnostics and treatments have to wait.

It’s equally useless to try to get someone who is dying of thirst to think about their long-term finances, you won’t get anywhere by attempting to help a stressed person until you address their need for relaxation and calm.

But why do people suffer stress in the first place?

People become stressed when they are not meeting their needs, or fear their needs will stop being met. (What if he/she leaves me? What if I lose my job?) A great visual for our needs is this image below which is an adapted version of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. When these needs, starting from the bottom up, are not met we begin to suffer psychologically and then physically.

Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs

Emotional stress is a signal that needs are not being met adequately, just as thirst is a physical stress signal that the body is dehydrated. Knowing how to deeply relax stressed clients – offering ‘psychological & physical first aid’ – is a prerequisite skill to make any other therapy or coaching remotely possible.

Quench That Thirst 

Using talk therapy or getting all analytical when someone is crippled by stress is like giving salted food to a dehydrated guest. Quench their urgent thirst first, then work out how you can help them in the long term.

Stress is the one thing almost all psychological conditions have in common. Depressed people always have more of the stress hormone cortisol in their bloodstreams (1). Addicted people are stressed because they aren’t meeting their needs, and they try to relieve that stress through the escapism of addiction (2). People develop panic attacks when they’re generally stressed. Emotional problems are caused by stress, but in turn cause more stress.

So, to me, it seems almost unforgivable for any therapist not to be exquisitely skilled in the art and science of relaxation. And this is why I believe all people helpers should be able to heal through calm – and why I have always trained coaches and therapists to do this.

Here are three reasons why it’s not just ethical but essential to know how to relax your clients deeply.

1. You can’t help your client until they’re relaxed and ready

sp_image_role_of_vagus_nerve

Pete was clearly on the brink of either exploding or imploding, I wasn’t quite sure which one at first. His facial muscles were rigid, and the deeply etched creases in his face indicated long term tension and stress. Sitting in front of me his breath was shallow, fast and heavy, just like he’d run to my practice – yet he looked frozen in place. It was blatantly obvious that he needed help and right now.

Crucially, as I began engaging in conversation I found that he couldn’t think. Every time I asked a question I could see his mind wander off somewhere else. He did say one very important thing though.

When I asked what it was that he wanted, he looked straight at me and said “Not to feel like I’m dying inside!”

“I can’t relax, ever”, he said. Yet relaxation was precisely what he needed. Natural, mind-clarifying relaxation, that is, not the alcohol and sleeping tablet induced semi-coma that he’d become accustomed to.

We know that depressed brains are stressed brains. Pete was depressed because his needs weren’t being met. And the double bind was that in order to help meet his needs, he needed to become less stressed.

Long-term stress inhibits the function of the left prefrontal lobe, which generates feelings of enjoyment and satisfaction (3) and facilitates calm cognition (4). To put it simply, stress inhibits cognitive function. We can’t think or learn when we’re highly stressed.

Without wanting to overcook the analogy, you can’t teach someone calculus when they are desperate for water. And good luck trying to do cognitive therapy with someone whose thinking brain is crippled by anxiety.

I gave Pete what he needed in that first session, which was deep rest and relaxation. He was a different person at the end of that first session: clear, calm and hopeful. I didn’t just tell him he could feel different. I showed him how to feel different. Pete now had some clear space in his mind to really think about what else he wanted from therapy, beyond the relaxation.

Constant stress and failure to relax makes people feel hopeless, disassociated from their personal resources, and therefore helpless. From there it’s not far to go to reach crisis point.

Of course, we can’t disentangle body from mind – it’s a false dichotomy. Helping your clients relax will also greatly help their physical wellbeing.

2. You can’t heal the body without healing the mind

vagus nerve

For me, a good therapist, counsellor or coach should be able to improve the physical health of their clients by quickly improving their emotional health.

High levels of stress are correlated with increased risk of obesity and diabetes (5), and can damage immunity (6) and working memory (7). Prolonged stress (ongoing activation of the sympathetic nervous system or ‘fight or flight’ response) also increases inflammation in the body (8), which can adversely affect digestion (9).

Stress-induced inflammation is also implicated in the onset of some cancers (10), heart disease (11), and the physical manifestations of depression (12). This is hardly surprising, as depression is essentially a sense of nervous exhaustion from the stress of unresolved worry and rumination (13).

On the other hand, good immune function, clear thought, and feelings of wellbeing can all be promoted through an amazing mechanism that is closely tied to the relaxation response. Let me explain.

The Vagus Nerve and Your Mind-Body Health

As a therapist or coach, your job is to help people feel better, to give them the calm and confidence to pursue their goals. When the mind is troubled, the body is troubled – and vice versa. Fortunately for us, there’s something we can use to dramatically improve mental and physical health and reduce inflammation throughout the entire body. It’s called the vagus nerve.

The vagus nerve is an incredible meandering bundle of nerve fibres that extends from the brainstem, through the neck and thorax, and finally to the abdomen, where it supplies the gut. This is the widest nerve distribution of any nerve in the body.

The function of the vagus nerve is closely tied to your health, both mental and physical. It interfaces with your parasympathetic nervous system (relaxation response) and controls the healthy functioning of the heart, digestive tract and lungs.

Low ‘vagal tone’ has been linked to higher levels of inflammation in the brain and body (14). Conversely, when the vagus nerve is stimulated and strengthened, inflammation is lowered throughout the entire body.

Social connections (15) and healthy diet (16) both stimulate the vagus nerve, but perhaps the most important and practical way of stimulating the vagus nerve is by practising deep relaxation. In fact, just the simple act of breathing slowly in and out (the exhalation needs to be longer than the inhalation) activates the vagus nerve (17).

Relaxation helps our clients feel healthier, not ‘just’ physically but mentally too. Relaxing distressed clients is not just dealing with the symptom – it’s also helping alleviate the cause. When people improve their vagal tone they become more able to make emotional, cognitive and behavioural changes.

But as well as all the benefits of relaxation in and of itself, the relaxed state offers a perfect medium for psychological change. It’s during relaxation that we can best help our clients by treating the cause of long-term distress – and here’s how.

3. Relaxation primes your client for inner work

vagus-nerve-x

I remember a client coming to see me who used to have CBT. He recounted how the ‘therapy’ would make him feel so stressed (with all the health implications that entailed) because the practitioner would ask him to replay in the sessions by focusing on all that was and had ever been bad in his life.

He learned to schedule the sessions on Fridays because he’d tried other days but found he had to take up to three days off work to recover from the ‘therapy’. So his weekends were ruined which added more stress from frustration.

This is absolutely insane. Our clients should feel better after every session.

Pete found that after months of building stress, the simple act of relaxing was incredibly therapeutic in itself. But we needed to deal with the reasons for the stress to prevent it from happening again in future.

All coaching and counselling uses inner work and what I mean by that is that even if you just ask a client what they want or ask them to think about the past, you are inviting them to go inside their minds to find the answer, to forget the room for a little while and enter a kind of light trance.

As a therapist, counsellor or coach, you are using a kind of trance focus whether you know it or not. Relaxed trance (and note that not all trance is relaxing) is the gentle medium through which change work can be done more powerfully and quickly. The relaxation part of any session is also the perfect time for a client to psychologically process earlier work.

People make intuitive leaps when they are relaxed and the unconscious mind has a chance to form new possibilities and solutions. Sometimes a reframe won’t take when a person is too stressed, but can be offered and digested in the mind during a state of deep calm and rest. It’s during deep relaxation that we can encourage real insight by having the client calmly use their dissociated, ‘Observing Self’.

You can help your client inwardly rehearse new positive behaviours by talking to them gently while they are deeply calm, resting with their eyes closed. This kind of rehearsal makes it more likely a client will actually carry out the behaviours required to help them toward their goals. And there’s more.

Relaxation is also the medium through which severe PTSD and phobias are lifted. The brain works through association but sometimes, as with phobias, addictions or low self-esteem, those associations can be harmful. We can use relaxed trance states as a way to unhook damaging pattern matches.

To put it another way, relaxation isn’t just the part of the medicine that makes it ‘taste good’. This natural and wonderful mind/body medicine also packs a real ‘nutritional’ punch.

Pete learned to relax himself once I’d helped him do it a couple of times. We used deeply relaxed hypnosis to not only help his vagus nerve adjust to a new, more generally relaxed Pete, but also to de-traumatise an old memory so that his flashbacks stopped and his nightmares faded away fast.

It was during deep relaxation that I helped Pete rehearse new, healthy behaviours to help him meet his needs better in future. What he said as he left the final session was brilliant:

“I never knew therapy was so enjoyable – I actually had fun!”

This is why I strongly believe that every therapist, counsellor and coach must to know how to deeply, quickly, easily and conversationally relax their clients.

Never let a client leave a session in need in any way, ever.

References:

1 http://ajp.psychiatryonline.org/doi/abs/10.1176/ajp.2007.164.4.617
2 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ao8L-0nSYzg
3 http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2907136/
4 http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0896627301003592
5 http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0889159103000485
6 http://www.nature.com/nri/journal/v5/n3/abs/nri1571.html
7 http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/10253890600678004
8http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/11/07/chronic-stress-health-inflammation-genes_n_4226420.htm and http://www.nature.com/nri/journal/v5/n3/abs/nri1571.html
9 https://dl.sciencesocieties.org/publications/jas/abstracts/87/14_suppl/0870101
10 http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0889159112001833
11 http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0022399901003026
12 http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0006322308015321
13 http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-24444431
14 http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17192580
15 https://genomebiology.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/gb-2007-8-9-r189
16 http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17192580
17 http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3216041/

Hypnosis and Alzheimer’s Disease/Dementia


dementia

incidence-of-alzheimers

I have seen first hand the effects of dementia on my grandmother, and it was horrendous to see the person I knew and loved fade away. In the last few months of her life, the occasions when she recognised me where less and less frequent and it was such a joy when the light was flicked back on and recognition of who I was flooded across her face. It was wonderful for both of us and in those moments she knew what was happening to her and she was completely lucid and aware, despite the tinge of sadness we made the most of these moments when I visited her. I used hypnosis with her to focus her on the many fun memories she had and also to help bring her back out of her delusions and sometimes, these delusions were upsetting for her, so I used hypnosis to distract and re-focus her attention onto positive, happy memories.

This is such a cruel disease that robs people of their identity, personality and soul and is equally traumatic for their families as they watch them fade away and much more research is needed to enable us to provide better treatment and care for those diagnosed.

Dementia-facts

Study 1: Hypnosis Can Improve Seven Aspects of Quality of Life for Individuals with Dementia
Alternative Approaches to Supporting Individuals With Dementia: Enhancing Quality of Life Through Hypnosis
http://dementiatherapyspecialists.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/08/Alzheimers-Care-Today-article.pdf

Results: This pilot study explored the use of hypnosis to influence 7 aspects of quality of life in individuals with dementia: concentration, relaxation, motivation, activities of daily living, immediate memory, memory of significant events, and socialization. The results indicate that hypnosis has a beneficial impact on quality of life on both a short-term and long-term basis. Unlike the other study participants, the participants in the hypnosis group showed improvement in all 7 items – some of which were maintained over a period of time, such as 21 months or more.

The study authors hypothesize that perhaps an individual with dementia is aware of his or her gradual loss of abilities. That awareness leads to increased levels of anxiety and depression – which are known to involve active cognitive processing. Because the individual’s limited cognitive resources are being used up by anxiety and depression, even greater loss of memory, motivation and ability takes place. The authors further hypothesize that hypnosis may decrease an individual with dementia’s anxiety and depression (through positive suggestion and relaxation), which – in turn – may free up otherwise engaged resources so they are available for the individual to use to successfully accomplish cognitive tasks.

Notes: Eighteen participants were recruited from 2 care homes and were randomly allocated into 1 of 3 groups, the hypnosis group (HG), the discussion group (DG), and the treatment-as-usual group (TG). The HG received weekly individual sessions of hypnosis carried out in their single-occupancy bedrooms at their residential or nursing home. Each session lasted approximately 1 hour. Thus, over the 9-month period each HG participant received a total of 36 hours of hypnosis in 36 sessions. Prior to the first hypnosis session, each participant received 1-hour consultation and interview to customize the terminology used during the hypnosis sessions. This ensured that the language used was familiar and personalized for each participant and to ensure comprehension of suggestions that were to be used.

Participants were also introduced to the process of progressive muscle relaxation. Participants were induced into hypnosis in 3 phases:

(i) eye closure

(ii) progressive muscle relaxation, starting at the scalp and moving progressively down toward the feet

(iii) a permissive induction. Permissive inductions “ask” each participant to allow oneself to become more relaxed. After deepening, the HG participants were given direct suggestions relating to the 7 items described earlier, along with additional “CRC” suggestions (Calmness, Relaxation, and Confidence).

health-alzheimers

Examples of the statements are provided below.

  • At the end of this session, and between now and the next time I see you, you will feel more relaxed and at ease, more motivated to do the things you want to do.
  • You will have clarity of thought; you will be able to concentrate for longer periods of time.
  • You will have fewer concerns and less feelings of anxiousness.
  • Spending time with others will have meaning and you will want to spend time chatting with others.

For each of the 7 items, all participants were rated on a 7-point scale, assessed once at the start of the study period and then at weekly intervals.

Alzheimer’s Care Today 2007; 8(4):321-331
By: Simon Duff, Ph.D., is a chartered forensic psychologist and a trained hypnotherapist, working at the Division of Clinical Psychology, University of Liverpool, and the Mersey Forensic Psychology Service, Liverpool, United Kingdom. Daniel Nightingale, Ph.D., was first trained in social work, then as a registered nurse in learning disabilities before completing a doctorate in both learning disabilities and transitional shock. He is a trained hypnotherapist and head of dementia services at Southern Cross Healthcare, The Alton Centre, Northampton, United Kingdom.

Progressive Muscle Relaxation (PMR)


One of the most simple and easily learned techniques for relaxation is Progressive Muscle Relaxation (PMR), a widely-used procedure today that was originally developed by Jacobson in 1939.

The PMR procedure teaches you to relax your muscles through a two-step process. First you deliberately apply tension to certain muscle groups, and then you stop the tension and turn your attention to noticing how the muscles relax as the tension flows away.

Through repetitive practice you quickly learn to recognise—and distinguish—the associated feelings of a tensed muscle and a completely relaxed muscle. With this simple knowledge, you can then induce physical muscular relaxation at the first signs of the tension that accompanies anxiety. And with physical relaxation comes mental calmness—in any situation.

Before practicing PMR, consult with your physician if you have a history of serious injuries, muscle spasms, or back problems, because the deliberate muscle tensing of the PMR procedure could exacerbate any of these pre-existing conditions.

If you continue with this procedure, you do so at your own risk.

There are two steps in the self-administered Progressive Muscle Relaxation procedure:

(a) deliberately tensing muscle groups

(b) releasing the induced tension

This two-step process will be described after you are introduced to the muscle groups.

After learning the full PMR procedure as follows, you will spend about 10 minutes a day maintaining your proficiency by practicing a shortened form of the procedure (given in the next section below). As you practice the short procedure, you will be simultaneously learning cue-controlled relaxation. Ultimately, you will acquire something that will probably become an indispensable part of your daily life, and the initial drudgery of practice will be long-forgotten.

Suggestions for Practice

It is recommended that you practice full PMR twice a day for about a week before moving on to the shortened form (below). Of course, the time needed to master the full PMR procedure varies from person to person.

Here are some suggestions for practice:

Always practice full PMR in a quiet place, alone, with no electronic distractions, not even background music
Remove your shoes and wear loose clothing
Avoid eating, smoking, or drinking. It’s best to practice before meals rather than after, for the sake of your digestive processes
Never practice after using any intoxicants
Sit in a comfortable chair if possible. You may practice lying down, but this increases the likelihood of falling asleep
If you fall asleep, give yourself credit for the work you did up to the point of sleep
If you practice in bed at night, plan on falling asleep before you complete your cycle. Therefore, consider a practice session at night, in bed, to be in addition to your basic practice
When you finish a session, relax with your eyes closed for a few seconds, and then get up slowly. (Orthostatic hypotension—a sudden drop in blood pressure due to standing up quickly—can cause you to faint.) Some people like to count backwards from 5 to 1, timed to slow, deep breathing, and then say, “Eyes open. Supremely calm. Fully alert.”

Muscle Groups

You will be working with most all the major muscle groups in your body, but for convenience you will make a systematic progression from your feet upwards. Here is the most popular recommended sequence:

Right foot
Right lower leg and foot
Entire right leg
Left foot
Left lower leg and foot
Entire left leg
Right hand
Right forearm and hand
Entire right arm
Left hand
Left forearm and hand
Entire left arm
Abdomen
Chest
Neck and shoulders
Face
Note. If you are left-handed, you might want to begin with your left foot, and so on.

Tension–Relaxation Procedure

Step One: Tension. The process of applying tension to a muscle is essentially the same regardless of which muscle group you are using. First, focus your mind on the muscle group; for example, your right hand. Then inhale and simply squeeze the muscles as hard as you can for about 8 seconds; in the example, this would involve making a tight fist with your hand.

Note. Beginners usually make the mistake of allowing muscles other than the intended group to tense as well; in the example, this would be tensing muscles in your right arm and shoulder, not just in your right hand. With practice you will learn to make very fine discriminations among muscles; for the moment just do the best you can.

It can be very frustrating for a beginner to try to experience a fine degree of muscle separation.

Because neglect of the body is an almost universal cultural attitude, it is usually very difficult to begin learning how to take responsibility for body “mechanics.” So take heart and realise that learning fine muscle distinction is in itself a major part of the overall PMR learning process. PMR isn’t just about tension and relaxation—it is also about muscle discernment.

But also relax a bit and realise that no part of the body is an isolated unit; the muscles of the hand, for example, do have connections in the forearm, so when you tense your hand there will always be some small tension occurring in the forearm. When PMR asks that the hand be tensed without tensing the arm, it is really speaking to the “clumsy” beginner who, out of total body ignorance, will unthinkingly tense everything in the whole arm.

So if you accept the fact that you are simply in the beginner phase—rather than perceive yourself as somehow inept—then you can have the patience to discern the fine muscles with practice.

It’s important to really feel the tension. Done properly, the tension procedure will cause the muscles to start to shake, and you will feel some pain.

Note. Be careful not to hurt yourself, as compared to feeling mild pain. Contracting the muscles in your feet and your back, especially, can cause serious problems if not done carefully; i.e., gently but deliberately.

Progressive Muscle Relaxation, stress management

Step Two: Releasing the Tension. This is the best part because it is actually pleasurable. After the 8 seconds, just quickly and suddenly let go. Let all the tightness and pain flow out of the muscles as you simultaneously exhale. In the example, this would be imagining tightness and pain flowing out of your hand through your fingertips as you exhale. Feel the muscles relax and become loose and limp, tension flowing away like water out of a faucet. Focus on and notice the difference between tension and relaxation.

Note. The point here is to really focus on the change that occurs as the tension is let go. Do this very deliberately, because you are trying to learn to make some very subtle distinctions between muscular tension and muscular relaxation.

Stay relaxed for about 15 seconds, and then repeat the tension-relaxation cycle. You’ll probably notice more sensations the second time.

The Full PMR Schedule

Once you understand the muscle groups and the tension-relaxation procedure, then you are ready to begin the full PMR training. Simply follow the list of muscle groups in the sequence given and work through your entire body. Practice twice a day for a week. Spend extra time, if necessary, until you can achieve a deep sense of physical relaxation; then you can move on to the Shortened PMR schedule.

The Shortened PMR Schedule

In the shortened form of PMR, you will (a) work with summary groups of muscles rather than individual muscle groups, and (b) begin to use cue-controlled relaxation.

The summary muscle groups. The four summary muscle groups are as follows:

Lower limbs
Abdomen and Chest
Arms, Shoulders, and Neck
Face
Instead of working with just one specific part of your body at a time, focus on the complete group. In Group 1, for example, focus on both legs and feet all at once.

Cue-controlled relaxation. Use the same tension-relaxation procedure as full PMR, but work with the summary groups of muscles. In addition, focus on your breathing during both tension and relaxation. Inhale slowly as you apply and hold the tension. Then, when you let the tension go and exhale, say a cue word to yourself (below). This will help you to associate the cue word with a state of relaxation, so that eventually the cue word alone will produce a relaxed state.

Many people find that cue-controlled relaxation does not have to depend on only one word; it may actually be more helpful in some situations to use a particular phrase. Some suggestions for cue words/phrases are:

Relax
Let it go
It’s OK
Stay calm
All things are passing
Trust in yourself

Summary

Initially, you should practice the shortened form of PMR under the same conditions as you practiced full PMR. After about a week of twice-daily practice you will then have enough proficiency to practice it under other conditions and with distractions. Or you might want to move on to the final process of Deep Muscle Relaxation.

The Effects of Cortisol On our Mind and Body


Depression

Over the last few months, I have been working more and more with stressed out people. I have been stunned at the age range to be honest as they have ranged from 10 – 80 years old.

I began to notice the increase early this year when many people started being made redundant in the Oil and Gas Industry in Aberdeen, where I am based. The downturn has created a huge amount of uncertainty which has lead to people feeling nervous, anxious, stressed and depressed and the knock on effects are quite significant. Many of my clients this year, on top of the initial stress have become insomniacs, they have either lost or gained large amounts of weight, have unexplained aches and pains, erratic mood swings, failed relationships…the list goes on.

This turns into a vicious circle, because the initial cause of the stress is still there and then the additional physical, mental and emotional symptoms add more stress into the mix and obviously compound the whole situation.

I have also recently started working with schools in Aberdeenshire running Stress Perception Workshops for both staff and pupils. It seems that the Curriculum for Excellence is creating and excellently high level of stress for all concerned and some pupils are becoming more and more stressed, depressed, suicidal and some resorting to self harming.

The self harming has also become something of a trend and there is a certain element of peer pressure to conform, and as you can imagine, this pressure is highly stressful for someone who really has no desire to self harm in the first place, yet in order to fit in they feel they have to run with the herd. This level of stress is extremely detrimental to the pupils ability to focus, concentrate, learn and absorb in formation and to remember it, this then adds more stress because they either feel they can’t pass they exams or they actually fail them. Pressure upon pressure upon pressure, until they break.

So after doing much reading, I have written this post today that I hope will help some of you to some degree or other and/or, perhaps help you help someone else.

STRESS
The stress hormone, cortisol, is a sneaky, insidious little bugger that creeps up on you. Even low levels over a long period of time can have hugely detrimental affects on your entire system of body and mind. Scientists have known for years that increased cortisol levels: interfere with learning and memory, lower immune function and bone density, increase weight gain, blood pressure, cholesterol, heart disease… and the list is significantly longer.

Chronic stress and elevated cortisol levels are also responsible for an increased risk for depression, mental illness, and lower life expectancy. Recently two separate studies were published in Science linking elevated cortisol levels as a potential trigger for mental illness and decreased resilience—especially in adolescence.

You can find research papers here:
http://www.sciencemag.org/search?site_area=sciencejournals&y=0&fulltext=Stress%20and%20mental%20illness&x=0&journalcode=sci&journalcode=sigtrans&journalcode=scitransmed&submit=yes

Our body releases cortisol through the adrenal glands in response to fear or stress as part of our fight-or-flight mechanism. The fight-or-flight mechanism is part of the general adaptation syndrome defined in 1936 by Canadian biochemist Hans Selye of McGill University in Montreal. He published his findings in a short seventy-four line article in Nature, in which he defined two types of “stress”: eustress (good stress) and distress (bad stress).

Both eustress and distress release cortisol as part of this general adaption syndrome. As soon as our fight or flight alarm system signals our body to release cortisol, your body becomes mobilised and ready for action, however, there has to be a physical release of fight or flight. Otherwise, cortisol levels build up in the blood which wreaks havoc on your mind and body.

Eustress creates a “seize-the-day” heightened state of arousal, which is exciting, invigorating and often linked with an achievable goal. Cortisol returns to normal when we’ve completed the task. Distress, or free floating anxiety, doesn’t provide any outlet for the cortisol and causes the fight-or-flight mechanism to backfire. Ironically, our own biology, which was designed to insure our survival as hunters and gatherers, is actually sabotaging our own bodies and minds in this sedentary, technology oriented age. So what can we do to put the pin back in this socially engineered hand grenade?

Fortunately, there are a few simple lifestyle choices you can make that will help you to reduce your stress, anxiety and lower your cortisol levels. Below are some tips to help you reduce your cortisol levels:

1. Regular Exercise: Martial arts and any martial arts based exercise classes, boxing, sparring, or a punching bag are fantastic ways to recreate the “fight” response by letting out aggression (without beating the crap out of anyone) and to reduce cortisol.
Any aerobic activity, like walking, jogging, swimming, biking etc are great ways to recreate the ‘flight’ outlet and burn-up cortisol.  A little bit of cardio goes a long way. Just 20-30 minutes of activity most days of the week pays huge dividends by lowering cortisol every day and in the long term.

I recommend a short burst of HIIT or High Intensity Interval Training. There are an abundance of training methods under this banner and you can find a host of them on Youtube. This gets your heart rate up high, gives minimal rest and puts your body and mind under pressure. The pay off is that your body also releases endorphins which make you feel good, so this is a form of Eustress (good stress) and is highly beneficial for you both physically and mentally.

Fear increases cortisol. Regular physical activity will decrease fear by increasing your self-confidence, resilience, and fortitude, which will reduce your cortisol levels. Yoga will have similar benefits with added benefits of mindfulness training.

If your schedule is too hectic to squeeze in a continuous exercise session, you can build up the same benefits by breaking daily activity into smaller doses. A simple way to guarantee regular activity is to build your normal routine activity into your daily exercise routine. Where possible start riding a bike to work, walking to the shops and walk at lunchtime, this also gets you out of the office and away from your desk and will get you thinking about other things instead of work. Use the stairs instead of the escalator or the lift.If you normally eat your lunch at your desk, maybe you could go to the gym at lunchtime and eat your lunch at your desk afterwards instead. All these things will add up and help you to reduce your cortisol levels throughout the day.

2. Mindfulness and Self Hypnosis: Any type of meditation will reduce anxiety and lower cortisol levels. Simply taking a few deep breaths engages the Vagus nerve which triggers a signal within your nervous system to slow heart rate, lower blood pressure and decreases cortisol. The next time you feel yourself in a stressful situation that activates your ‘Fight-or-Flight’ response take 10 deep breaths and feel your entire body relax, calm down and slow down.

Setting aside 5-15 minutes to practice mindfulness meditation or self hypnosis will develop a sense of calm throughout your nervous system, mind, and brain. There are many different types of meditation. “Meditating” doesn’t have to be a sacred or tree huggey experience. I’m often asked as to specifically what kind of meditation or self hypnosis do I use and how do I do it/use it. There are so many techniques/methods and to be honest it is best to explore and find what works for you and then refine it and make it your own. I suggest that you do more research, and fine-tune a daily meditation/self hypnosis routine that fits your schedule and personality.

3. Social Connectivity: Two studies have been published in the journal Science illustrate that social agression and isolation lead to increased levels of cortisol in mice that trigger a cascade of potential mental health problems—especially in adolescence.

Follow the link here to find theses papers and many more:
http://www.sciencemag.org/search?site_area=sciencejournals&y=0&fulltext=Social%20aggression%20and%20isolation&x=0&journalcode=sci&journalcode=sigtrans&journalcode=scitransmed&submit=yes

A team of researchers at Johns Hopkins established that elevated levels of cortisol in adolescence change the expression of numerous genes linked to mental illness in some people. They discovered that these changes in young adulthood, which is a crucial time for brain development, could cause severe mental illness in those predisposed to it. These findings, reported in the January 2013 journal Science, could have wide-reaching implications in both prevention and treatment of schizophrenia, severe depression and other mental illnesses.

Akira Sawa, M.D., Ph.D., a professor of psychiatry and behavioural sciences at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, and his team set out to simulate social isolation associated with the difficult years of adolescence in human teens. They found that isolating mice known to have a genetic predisposition for mental illness during their adolescence triggered ‘abnormal behaviours’ that continued even when returned to the group. They found that the effects of adolescent isolation lasted into the equivalent of mouse adulthood.

https://bbrfoundation.org/scientific-council/akira-sawa

“We have discovered a mechanism for how environmental factors, such as stress hormones, can affect the brain’s physiology and bring about mental illness,” says Sawa, the study leader. “We’ve shown in mice that stress in adolescence can affect the expression of a gene that codes for a key neurotransmitter related to mental function and psychiatric illness. While many genes are believed to be involved in the development of mental illness, my gut feeling is environmental factors are critically important to the process.”

To shed light on how and why some mice got better, Sawa and his team studied the link between cortisol and the release of dopamine. Sawa says the new study suggests that we need to think about better preventative care for teenagers who have mental illness in their families, including efforts to protect them from social stressors, such as neglect. Meanwhile, by understanding the flood of events that occurs when cortisol levels are elevated, researchers may be able to develop new compounds to target tough-to-treat psychiatric disorders with fewer side effects.

In another study, published on January 18, 2013 in the journal Science researchers from France revealed that mice who were subjected to aggression, by specific mice bred to be ‘bullies’ released cortisol which triggered a response that led to social aversion to all other mice. The exact cascade of neurobiological changes was complex but also involved dopamine. The researchers found that if they blocked the cortisol receptors that the ‘bullied’ mice became more resilient and no longer avoided their fellow creatures.

Close knit human bonds, whether it be family, friendship or a romantic partner, are vital for your physical and mental health at any age.  Recent studies have shown that the Vagus nerve also responds to human connectivity and physical touch to relax your parasympathetic nervous system.

The “tend-and-befriend” response is the exact opposite to “fight-or-flight”. The “tend-and-befriend” response increases oxytocin and reduces cortisol. Make an effort to spend real face-to-face time with loved ones whenever you can, however, even phone calls and Facebook can reduce cortisol if they foster a feeling of genuine connectivity.

4. Have Fun and Laugh Often: Having fun and laughing reduces cortisol levels. Dr. William Fry is an American psychiatrist who has been studying the benefits of laughter for the past 30 years and has found links to laughter and lowered levels of stress hormones. Many studies have shown the benefits of having a sense of humor, laughter and levity. Try to find ways in your daily life to laugh and joke as much as possible and you’ll lower cortisol levels. Watch your favourite comedy movie, favourite comedian or anything on Youtube for example that makes you laugh, feel good and happy, as this will begin to reduce your cortisol levels.

5. Music: Listening to Music that you love, and fits whatever mood you’re in, has been shown to lower cortisol levels. We all know the power of music to improve mood and reduce stress. Add reducing your cortisol levels as another reason to keep the music playing as a soundtrack of health and happiness in your life.

6. Quality Nutrition: What we eat and the quality of that food is important when life is good and we’re happy and content. When life throws a curve ball at you and you’re stressed, depressed, anxious and nervous, it is even more important to eat high quality nutrition.

Society has change much in recent years and life and work is becoming faster paced, we often look for the quick, easy and convenient option for food which is not necessarily the best option. So, to combat this, it is beneficial for you to look at high quality nutritional supplements that help to keep the physical symptoms of stress and anxiety at bay. When you feel good on the inside it makes you much more capable of dealing with the stresses of the outside world and one of the downsides of eating too much wheat, soft drinks, caffeine, alcohol etc, is that it puts your body’s PH out of balance and leads you into an acidic state. When your body is too acidic it promotes the growth of unhealthy bacteria, virus, fungus etc in your gut and causes joint pain and inflammation of muscles, tendons and ligaments. Also our gut becomes unable to fully and efficiently absorb the nutrients from the food we eat, which further runs down our immune system and metabolism.

When you redress that balance and return it to a slightly alkaline state, as you can see in the image below, our bodies return to a state of equilibrium that allows our gut to absorb nutrients efficiently and effectively which means we get everything we need to stay in the optimum state of health.

PH Range

Conclusion
The ripple effect of a fearful, isolated and stressed out society increases cortisol levels across the board for all of us and this creates a public health crisis and a huge drain on the economy. So, if we all work individually, and together, to reduce cortisol our levels we will all benefit and we will reduce the amount of stress hormones flowing around in our society and in individual lives.

In short, when we feel socially connected, safe, and self-reliant it reduces our cortisol levels. I hope the top tips presented above will help you make lifestyle choices that reduce your own levels of stress hormone and help you to help your friends, family work colleagues and perhaps even some strangers to reduce theirs and feel happier and healthier.

References:
https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-athletes-way/201301/cortisol-why-the-stress-hormone-is-public-enemy-no-1

http://www.sciencemag.org/search?site_area=sciencejournals&y=0&fulltext=Stress%20and%20mental%20illness&x=0&journalcode=sci&journalcode=sigtrans&journalcode=scitransmed&submit=yes

http://www.sciencemag.org/search?site_area=sciencejournals&y=0&fulltext=Social%20aggression%20and%20isolation&x=0&journalcode=sci&journalcode=sigtrans&journalcode=scitransmed&submit=yes

https://bbrfoundation.org/scientific-council/akira-sawa

https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-athletes-way/201312/why-is-the-teen-brain-so-vulnerable

Harness The Power of Your Unconscious Mind


Brain
Human beings are different from the rest of the animals on our planets in so many ways, and, one significant difference is that we have, and kind of understand, the difference between our conscious and unconscious minds.

Your conscious mind helps you live a happy and healthy life. You really wouldn’t be able to survive without it. Sigmund Freud is famed for his use the idea of the iceberg to distinguish the conscious mind from the unconscious mind and it is one model that makes it very easy to explain.

freud Iceberg

The “tip” of the iceberg that extends above the water represents the conscious thinking mind. This part of your mind is the objective or thinking mind. It only holds one thought at a time. It also identifies information, and processes it through the senses or through sight, sound, smell, touch or taste.

This part of your mind is constantly observing, matching patterns and categorising what is going on around you. The unconscious mind, which is the part of the iceberg below the water, represents everything else – which is a hell of a lot.

Even though the conscious mind helps you as you go through your day, it can also hold you back by keeping you stuck in unhealthy patterns. Learning how to break through these limitations is critical when using self-hypnosis because the conscious mind can interfere with all your good work.

Preventing Conscious Interference

Just for example you decide to plant flowers in your garden. There are a several ways you can go about it. You could research different seeds and figure out the best ones to plant, and then even add some fertiliser into your soil if it’s lacking nutrients for the plants.

Now, let’s look at different approach you could take. After following all of the steps above, you chose to go out into the garden everyday and dig up the seeds to check on their progress. Every time you did this, you would reassure yourself that everything was going to plan. However, as you can see, your constant interference actually did more harm than good, because if you took this approach, your garden would never progress.

The same thing that happens when you overthink something. This is your conscious mind interfering. If you want your mental garden to thrive and prosper, you need to leave it alone so it has space and time to grow.

The same thing applies when using self-hypnosis. In a sense you are placing an order just like you would at a restaurant. If you ever worked for someone who micro-managed you, how much work actually gets done as a result of them constantly interrupting and sing for progress checks all the time, wanting to review what you’ve done and constantly adding to your workload because they want to make changes and add other things in. It’s a bloody nightmare, frustrating and a complete waste of time and effort.

When you give your mind an order and constantly worry about how the order will be fulfilled, you are in a sense doing the same thing, you’re micro-managing yourself. If you find yourself doing this, there are some steps you can take to counteract this…

1. Keep Your Conscious Mind Busy

When you do keep your conscious mind busy, it can’t interfere as much. What you need to do is find other things to get involved in, this way your conscious mind is focused elsewhere and not on the problem.

If you have time, go for a walk or get stuck into a different task; this allows you to let it go and allow the unconscious mind to work its magic.

2. Stay Focused and Engaged

It’s important to trust your unconscious, and yes I know that it can be frustrating “waiting” for the unconscious mind to work its magic. If you find yourself in this little cycle, and you decide to try a different approach before the first method has finished, you are actually disengaging from the process which keeps leading you further from your goal.

The key is to keep yourself engaged, without being too engaged.

3. Utilise Ancient Chinese Secrets

The Chinese philosophy Taoism is based on the idea of trusting your inner nature and letting your unconscious mind do its work. This approach allows the conscious mind to sit back and appreciate things, setting the scene and then letting events play out as they will.

I appreciate that this may be easier said than done at times, however, here are few tips to help explain this…

Act without acting
This is also known as doing without doing or “Wei Wu Wei”. This might be a tad confusing at first, because it may be hard to imagine doing something without really doing it. When you hand the responsibility over to your unconscious mind, you are trusting that it knows how to do its job.

Know without knowing
This is also known as “Pu.” In the Tao philosophy, there is a saying that goes:

“The Tao that can be named is not the true Tao.”

What this means is that if your intellect can grasp it, feel it away and put it into a neat and tidy box, then you have probably missed the entire point.

The Four Taoist Stages

The Pre-Hypnotic Suggestion
Hypnotic Questions
Emotional Streaming
The Big Drift
Pre-hypnotic suggestions: These generally involve positive affirmations, visualisations and self motivational talk. Affirmations are statements that emulate the state of mind or condition you want to be in, and they are always set in the present tense. Affirmations can be incredibly effective and they are easy to create and use.

Hypnotic questions: These are sometimes called afformations, are also a great way to keep the conscious mind busy. You can say statements like:

“How quickly am I mastering the power of self-hypnosis?”
“Why is it that I am such a master of self-hypnosis?”

These are simple to create and by saying them, it actually gives your mind something to answer.

Emotional streaming or Emo-streaming: This is similar to the principle of hypnotic questions, except it’s based on emotions and moods. For those who find themselves getting stuck on the content of the goal, emo-streaming works well.

For example, imagine yourself at a certain point in the future, say a year or so down the road. Take yourself there in your mind and ask yourself how you would be feeling having already achieved your goal. Avoid “thinking” and focus on “feeling” instead.

You can even imagine yourself going way beyond that goal, imagining how you feel having achieved that all-important milestone.

The Big Drift: This involves allowing your mind to become a casual observer, noticing the responses that are happening, without making any judgments. In other words, you’re just allowing things to happen in their own time and way.

Trusting in the process of the unconscious mind is what this is all about. The Big Drift allows you to create a space in your mind where new possibilities can appear.

7 stages of the Big Drift

Prepare yourself
Review resources
Review your purpose or problem
Review possibilities
Choose a behavior or action
Integrate everything
Get on with your life!
All of these techniques work through the process of distraction. In the Big Drift, you start by preparing yourself by raising your hands up infant of your face, palms facing you and looking at your hands as if they weren’t really your hands. In step two allow oner arm to lower automatically, while you review your life lessons.

Once your arm reaches your lap, you can then review your problem or purpose for self-hypnosis. Step four involves allowing your second arm to descend while you review the myriad of possibilities.

The next step involves you simply choosing for yourself a new behavioural pattern. Step six involves closing your eyes, if you haven’t already done so and integrating all of the steps together.

Step seven is all about learning how to “let go” and learning how to get on with your life. Focusing on something too intently only slows the process down; so there is no need to think too much about your issue once you finish your session.

In order to listen to your unconscious mind, you need to begin tuning into your intuition and paying attention to your gut feelings about whatever is bothering you. The messages of the unconscious can be subtle, but other times they may metaphorically slap you in the face.

When you use self-hypnosis you really have no idea how your unconscious mind will present the opportunity or change to you. Using these methods allows you to open up your mind to a host of new possibilities – possibilities that your conscious mind could never come up with!

A top tip is not to take self-hypnosis or yourself too seriously, it’s meant to be a fun process. You can take as many or as few of these tips as you want, because only you know what works for you and you will only really find out what works for you when you play around with them all and practice with these techniques. This will enable you to find the combination that works best for you. With your conscious mind out of the way – anything is possible!

You need your conscious mind to help you make important decisions throughout your day. Without it, you could not function. Always keep in mind though that your unconscious mind is vastly larger than your conscious thinking mind. Using the idea of the iceberg once again, you can clearly see that your unconscious mind plays a huge role in your life.

Programming your unconscious mind is easy, once you decide what you want to work on. The truth of the matter is that many problems you have can be solved using self-hypnosis because your unconscious mind is quite brilliant and it can help you achieve any goal.

The trick is getting your conscious mind out of the way and these techniques can help you do exactly that.

One Final Word

Obviously I am a firm believer in what we can achieve when we learn to access and harness the power of our unconscious minds. However, sometimes we need a little outside assistance because when we are the root of our own problem/s, it can be extremely difficult to solve it from inside our own minds. If this is the case for you, then I strongly recommend that you do your homework and find yourself a Hypnotherapist in your area that you feel comfortable working with and use their knowledge and experience to help you resolve your problem/s and make the changes you want and need to make.

Whatever path you choose, I wish you every success and much happiness.

Simon

References:

Adapted from a post by the Hypnosis Training Academy