by Hervé Boisdé
With every new client I always do a quick exercise in the first session that's meant to demonstrate the "power of the subconscious mind". I hand the client a small pendulum, the kind you can find in New Age shops with a stone or crystal at the end, and tell them to hold it up in front of them, at eye level. Then I say "Without consciously moving the pendulum with your hand, just look at the pendulum and imagine it swinging back and forth...just like a clock pendulum. See a clock pendulum in your mind's eye....like a grandfather clock...swinging back and forth".
And then invariably, within a few seconds, the pendulum will start swinging back and forth. Then I ask the client to imagine it changing direction and going in a circle. And then usually it will start shifting almost immediately and go into a circle. After the demo the client is generally stunned, and will say something like "Did I do that?" or "That's so weird!". Then I say, 'Yes, you did that. Or rather your subconscious mind did it for you.' This is because the subconscious mind controls certain muscles in the body: the heartbeat, breathing, reflex motor response, and tiny imperceptible muscle movements called 'micro-muscle movements'. The swinging of the pendulum is created by those micro-muscle movements, which are controlled not by the conscious mind, but the subconscious mind.
This quick exercise is a great way to demonstrate the mind/body connection. But it also demonstrates hypnosis. When the person is using his/her imagination to visualize the clock pendulum and is causing the actual pendulum to start swinging this is actually an altered state. It's trance, a form of hypnosis. The client's eyes are still open but they are experiencing relaxed, focused, concentration. That's all hypnosis is. Just like meditation, the brainwaves slow down and the person experiences some relaxation in the body while, simultaneously, they are able to focus and concentrate more easily. When a person has their eyes closed, the hypnotic trance can be even easier, and deeper.
So why is this even important to someone other than a hypnosis geek like me? Because most emotions and issues have a corresponding feeling in the body. Stress can cause headaches, digestive issues, sexual dysfunction...just to mention the tip of the iceberg. But many issues are not necessarily caused by accumulated stress in the mind/body. Insomnia for example might be caused by an emotional block in the subconscious mind that was formed in childhood by a negative event (trauma) that is getting triggered again in adulthood. Anxiety triggered by public speaking might be a symptom of a limiting belief created in elementary school. In fact, most "blocks" are formed in childhood, before age 8. This is because the critical factor (the gatekeeper between the conscious mind and the subconscious mind) has not yet formed in early childhood, making young children more vulnerable to negative events that can leave a lasting impression.
Hypnotherapy is, in effect, about healing these blocks, or limiting beliefs, and replacing them with more positive beliefs. One of the techniques available to hypnotherapists is to use regression to trace the issue back to the source. We are in fact going back to the memory of the negative event/trauma that created the block. One of the best ways to locate that memory is to use the body. The client's problem creates an emotion, a negative emotion, or else they wouldn't be coming to me to get help. We can locate that negative emotion in the body....maybe it's a feeling of a knot in the stomach....or tightness in the chest...or perhaps a feeling of heaviness in the heart. We use the body to go back in time to when they first had that feeling. The subconscious mind will remember when that feeling was first felt and bingo!...that's the "initial sensitizing event", when the block was formed. Then the hypnotherapist can do a trauma reversal on the memory to help heal the block.
The great thing about hypnosis is that the mind/body connection goes both ways. When a person goes into hypnosis they experience the healing effects of being in parasympathetic mode. This is the opposite of the stress response, when the nervous system is in 'fight or flight' mode. Parasympathetic mode is naturally healing to the body and to the mind. Because when the body is relaxing, so does the mind, and vice versa. Parasympathetic mode allows the body processes to function more optimally. Digestion, metabolism, the immune system, blood pressure, and the body's hormone levels are regulated to healthy levels. Just going into hypnosis not only helps with stress levels, but it's actually healing to the body as well. That's why I teach many of my clients self-hypnosis to manage stress and to allow their bodies to heal more efficiently.
As more and more studies emerge about the effectiveness of hypnotherapy for medical issues, we shouldn't be surprised. Modern science now recognizes the mind/body connection. Now it's up to the medical establishment to see the full potential for hypnosis to heal the body as well as the mind.