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Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Hypnosis and Phobias

Of course, this is "old news" -- not only because the article itself is somewhat dated (Novemeber, 2012), but simply because therapists have used hypnosis for many decades to treat anxiety, panic attacks, and a variety of phobias.  In the case below, it is instead the unique nature of the project that makes the application particularly noteworthy. 

The BBC article alludes to a documentary about Felix Baumgartner, the Austrian skidiver, who became the first to break the sound barrier in free fall using a specially designed pressure suit.  Both the feel of the suit and the smell of the rubber caused him anxiety, but he was able to overcome his discomfort.  The training process lasted four years, during which he used hypnosis "to help him prepare mentally for the challenge."  The BBC text may be accessed through this hyperlink:  Enjoy! 


Saturday, December 14, 2013

What Is Hyperempiria?

It was my good friend and colleague, Dr. Don Gibbons, who discovered, identified, and coined the term, "hyperempiria," aptly named to imply "enhanced experience."  We note the distinction between hypnosis and hyperempiria in our book, Exploring Alternate Universes:  And Learning What They Can Teach Us:

<< Hyperempiria is most easily thought of as the opposite of hypnosis, because it takes us in the opposite direction. . . . A hypnotic procedure makes use of expressed and/or implied suggestions of decreased awareness, lethargy, or "trance."  Hyperempiria, on the other hand, utilizes instructions of alertness, mind expansion, and increased responsiveness and sensitivity to bring about a higher experience of consciousness in which all of a person's abilities are tuned to a higher pitch. >>

When asked about possible applications, I point immediately to enhanced creativity.  This response seems to invite the cynical reminder that hyperempiria won't change any of us into a Michelangelo, Mozart, or Shakespeare.  The observation is correct, of course, but my rebuttal is quite valid, also.  "True, but we can all create -- or at least hope to create -- our own futures!"

Hyperempiria may indeed be helpful for many people, and it has in turn spawned yet another important therapeutic device:  the BEST ME technique.  More on that anon.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Medical Hypnosis: More Applications

Had I started this blog some twenty months ago, I should almost surely have drawn attention to an article by Melinda Beck in the Wall Street Journal entitled, "Medical Hypnosis:  You Are Getting Very Healthy" (9 April 2012).  The text remains relevant, as it illustrates how hypnosis can help immensely with childbirth (so-called "hypnobirthing"), dentistry, and treatment of phobias, in addition to the highly exaggerated yet far better publicized applications involving smoking cessation and weight loss.

As Don Gibbons and I noted in Exploring Alternate Universes, "[h]ypnosis is neither a brazen fraud, as some skeptics insist, nor a divine panacea, as certain charlatans assert.  In the hands of a skillful practitioner, it can help people in many ways."  I respectfully submit that it should find far more use in both the medical and mental health fields.

For those interested, the hyperlink to Beck's article is below:

Friday, November 29, 2013

Can "Past Lives" Actually Help Us Heal?

This is a question that invites us to reflect upon our respective belief systems.  Some people devoutly reject the notion of reincarnation, others accept it as an absolute fact, and a given number fall into the "undecided" camp.  If anything should be obvious, it is that no one is likely to alter his/her beliefs on the basis of the two paragraphs that follow, below.

I find it easier by far to suggest that when people experience a past incarnation (most often through hypnosis, although there are other, more esoteric techniques), they encounter what is either a very real and literal past-life or something that may instead suggest a metaphorical representation of where they stand at present. Obviously, unless I can see compelling evidence of an actual past-life, I shall find it infinitely more palatable to translate the metaphor.

Dreams have been used in therapy for many years, and clearly they may be of profound significance.  So, too, hypnotically-guided experiences of this sort may prove therapeutic.  That said, however, I believe "alternate universes" -- accessed through techniques developed by my colleague, Dr. Don Gibbons, a clinical psychologist in New Jersey -- offer therapists something of even greater value.  More on that topic in near future! 

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Zen, the Sedona Method, and Health

Years ago, I was privileged to study with a Zen master, who shared with us important lessons about "letting go."  He explained that we tend to cling to what he termed, "the imprisoning chains and suffocating ashes of the past."  Before we can learn how to transcend the ego, we must first learn to let go of the attachments (whether pleasant or unpleasant) it has formed to events from that past.

Much later, I encountered the Sedona Method.  Yet another mentor helped me understand the concept in terms of three simple questions, best prefaced with their answers:  "yes, yes, and now."  (1) Would you let it go if you could (i.e., if you were actually able to do so)?  (2) Can you live without it (in the sense that you certainly cannot live without air, water, food, etc.)?  (3) Since you would let it go if you could, and it is quite apparent that you can live successfully without it, when do you plan to do so?  As simple as these questions appear, their therapeutic value is profound, and many clients have learned how easily they can indeed "let it go."

All too often, our psycho-emotional growth is impeded by of our refusal to acknowledge things as they are.  All too often, the anger, bitterness, frustration, resentment, and related negativity to which we cling will also affect our bodies adversely.  And (eliding into more esoteric realms) all too often our chakras become blocked, and the toxins we won't "let go" may even dampen us on the spiritual level. 

Of course, Zen is not psychotherapy, and the Sedona Method is not a panacea.  Both, however, have influenced my work, and their unifying thread is freedom from the past.  The emotions connected to one event or another, the related ego-attachments associated with those events, and the time and energy we squander while mired the past will invariably prevent us from living fully in the present. 

Saturday, November 2, 2013

What Is Meant By "Four-Level Healing"?

I believe that healing occurs on more than one plane, or level.  The first and most obvious of these is, of course, the physical; if we have pain or other symptoms of disease (think:  dis-ease!), these will capture our immediate attention.  That said, however, we often find that "healing" must occur across several strata.

The notion of psychosomatic components to illness is certainly not new.  Indeed, they were apparently noted centuries ago.  Hypnotists, in particular, draw attention to the power of words.  If we say that something gives us "a pain in the neck," we may find ourselves suffering from neck and shoulder pains; if we "can't stomach" a situation (job, person, etc.), we may encounter constipation, diarrhea, or ulcers.  Of course, many of the connections -- e.g., those involving general stress -- are far more complex.  However, in addressing physical symptoms, we must seek a better understanding of the entire problem. 

By the 8th century (and probably much earlier), Buddhists and Hindus had become aware of the existence of chakras -- vital energy points within the body.  When energy does not flow smoothly through these chakras, physical and emotional symptoms arise.  Thus, on a more subtle level, healing may involve the chakras as well. 

Finally -- and I always use this word cautiously -- we must reflect on spiritual healing.  This has nothing whatsoever to do with Bible-thumping or organized religion.  Instead, it deals with the part of us that transcends the body and the intellect; that which is in some ways greater than ourselves and may in fact address the reason we are alive.  While a forum of this sort is not suitable for lengthy discussion of this topic, we should at least be open to the possibility that the spiritual plane may also be involved in the healing process.

I shall recapitulate through example:  If a client has pains in the upper back, shoulders, and neck, these may arise solely from the physical load he/she is carrying, and thus be treated most successfully on the physical plane (e.g., through trigger-point massage).  If family, relationship, and/or work pressures leave the client with the sensation of holding the world on his/her shoulders (like the mythological Atlas), we shall find it beneficial to discuss these feelings and develop coping strategies, as the psychological pressures undoubtedly exacerbate the pains.  We may also find related chakric problems -- e.g., a recent breakup (heart chakra); inability to speak about or articulate one's problems (throat chakra) -- and these might also affect certain parts of the body adversely.  Then we might see that some of the problem involves an inability to let go (e.g., of anger, disappointment, frustration, or even the pain itself) or forgive (another or oneself), and this may require learning to transcend (as in "transcend the ego"), which is where spiritual growth enters the picture.  Some clients may respond wonderfully to treatment on a single plane, but others may require two-, three-, or even four-level healing. 

Friday, October 25, 2013 Is Now A Reality!

Welcome to the Four-Level Healing site!  I am delighted to publish this inaugural post, and I look forward to discussing a variety of fascinating topics in the future.