Redefine Yourself!

Redefine Yourself! - A person standing in front of a mirror posing for the camera - Joseph Bennette

Tonight, our beautiful and inspiring fitness instructor Abby started the class by asking us a simple question: “Are you ready to redefine yourself?”

And in this one sentence, she summarized the spirit of the work we do all day, every day, building Athletes of the Mind©. Learning how to pick up the pieces after adversity obliterates us and everything we thought defined us, rise from our very ashes and rebuild ourselves stronger, better, more efficient, more resilient than before.

The correlations between the foundations of my teachings and advanced athletic training are not coincidental. My lifelong athletic training has shaped my path and serves as the backbone of my philosophy and approach. For decades, I have been teaching people from all walks of life how to use the power of their minds to transform their existences, survive and thrive, soar over obstacles and join the few, the proud, the Adversity Athletes©.

Becoming an Athlete

Learning to become an athlete of the mind follows the same principles as those of physical athletic training. It requires methodology, scientific knowledge and understanding of the process, desire, drive, discipline and repetition. Once you get started, your 3Ds take care of themselves: desire, drive and discipline begin snowballing the moment you get moving. It is the very principle of Newton’s law of motion: an object in motion tends to stay in motion.

Understanding Adversity

Some of us are hit by unspeakable adversity. The kind that leaves you shattered, fractured, face down in the dirt, robbed of your strength, stunned, speechless, betrayed and defeated.

What do you have left?


Your mind controls everything. Control your mind, control everything.

Together, we can rebuild you. We can make you stronger, faster, more resilient, more efficient than before. We can ignite within you a force, a drive, a passion for living you never even knew existed.

There is Only One Question

Are you ready to show them what you’ve got? More directly, are you ready to discover how strong you truly are?

Get to Know Your Brain

Get to Know Your Brain - A close up of a watch - Medical imaging

Interestingly, the part of our body that defines who we are and allows us to understand, process and react to the world around us – our brain – is the part we seem to know and understand the least. In our Get to Know your Brain series, we shed light on the control center of your being, the part that makes you you.  When you know how your brain works, you can change the way you feel, think, act and react.

Did you know: the brain is made up of about 75% water, uses 20% of the total oxygen and 20% of the blood circulating in our body. Hence, the better we hydrate, the deeper we breathe, the more relaxed we are, the better our blood flows through our body and the more efficiently our brain functions.

Researchers from the universities of East London and Westminster found that students who drink water during exams obtain higher grades, performing 10% better than those who don’t – the difference of a full grade. Visual attention and memory are also proven to increase with better hydration. This is due to the enhanced performance of the brain when properly hydrated and the fact drinking water is shown to alleviate anxiety, which is known to negatively affect performance.

With clinical hypnosis, we learn how to change our brain wave cycles to enhance our mental capacities. This partly explains the rejuvenating and restorative boost experienced during and after hypnosis. It also accounts for the superior clarity of mind and mental focus experienced during hypnosis, which enables us to recover or retain considerable amounts of information, very often out of reach when we function in the conscious level of the mind.

Fear of Needles

Fear of Needles - A person wearing a blue hat - Surgeon

Working in Cooperation with the Medical Field

As clinical hypnotherapists, we do not independently work with medical conditions, diagnose, treat or prescribe. We do not practice psychotherapy, we teach and train our clients how to shift limiting beliefs, reach their goals and enhance their well being using self-hypnotic techniques.

We only assist with diagnosed physical, mental and emotional symptoms with the authorization and under the supervision of medical doctors, psychiatrists, psychologists, nurse practitioners. Please note we do require a physician’s authorization before scheduling sessions and work only under physician guidance. Working in close cooperation with your medical team enables us to ensure your progress in an optimal manner.

Conquering Fears

I just had another fascinating demonstration of the permanent and radical effect of hypnosis to eradicate lifelong uncontrollable and debilitating behaviors.

All my life, I have had an acute phobia of needles, blood tests being the worst of it. You can control your fears, to some degree, grabbing all of your courage and facing them, repeatedly, until they no longer have an effect on you. Phobias are another matter altogether. Phobias typically place you in an uncontrollable life-or-death state of panic. You either freeze, fight or flee, and occasionally (if you are like me) all of the above. When you are combat trained, with a decade of martial arts and self-defense training under your belt, let me tell you, it’s not a pretty picture to find yourself fighting what you perceive as mortal combat in a hospital lab. I cannot tell you the number of times I have left a state of absolute chaos behind. By far, some of the most embarrassing snapshots of my journey.

Hypnosis for Irrational Fears

While I have used self-hypnosis, hypnosis and clinical hypnotherapy all my life to propel me in everything I do, I admit I had not yet taken the time to address the acute phobia of needles that has defined me always. After all, that is definitely not something I have to face every day. Quite the opposite, I’ve gone to great lengths to avoid facing it. Last year, for instance, during my annual medical visit, the doctor ordered a complete panel of blood work to get a general overview of my health. “Just take the elevators to the 2nd floor,” she indicated. “I’m sending over the lab request, they’ll be waiting for you upstairs.” I nodded, exited her room, went straight to my car and left. I didn’t even look at the elevators. A few hours later, I received a phone call from the doctor’s office asking where I was, indicating the lab was still waiting for me to come out of the elevator. I didn’t return the call. They followed up a week later. I still didn’t return the call. That was me with blood tests until last week. Not that I never had them, of course, with my lifestyle of extreme stunts of all sorts, I’ve been in and out of ER and on IV more often than I wish to remember, but it always took extreme measures to get me perforated. I’m talking about 10 hospital staff members wrestling me to the ground, shoving an oxygen mask on my face and struggling to restrain my kicks and punches kind of measures. The type that leaves everyone involved permanently traumatized.

Understanding the Root Cause

After a lifetime suffering through this, I finally had enough. I called on a colleague and made an appointment.

Phobias, like trauma and other deeply anchored, lifelong patterns, require regression to cause hypnosis. Self-hypnosis, suggestion hypnosis, NLP or other types of light conversational work are never going to permanently resolve lifelong automatic negative behaviors like phobias, depression, anxiety, addictions, whether to food, tobacco or other substances. Unless you address the actual cause of these problems, anything you do will act as a temporary bandage, possibly distracting you for some time. As long as the cause remains active, it lies under the surface and will prompt the negative behavior to return sooner or later.

Anytime we deal with lifelong negative behaviors, anchored early in life in the subconscious mind, they need to be regressed to their source or root cause, addressed and resolved in order to obtain lasting change. This is something those of us who are experienced and specialized in regression to cause with clinical hypnotherapy excel at. And this is not something that can easily be self-applied. We need to pair up and allow another to work on us, in order to be more fully receptive in the process.

Hypnosis Experiments with Fears

My colleague and I did an interesting experiment with this. In the first session, we decided not to resolve the cause and instead, experimented with switching my brain’s reaction to needles, pasting an imprint of the most exquisite experience I could remember over the phobic reaction. I made an appointment with an acupuncturist, and as I lay on his table, I allowed him to insert 2 long acupuncture needles into my body. There was progress, indeed. However, it was an exercise in will power and the nervous tension was still present, even if noticeably reduced.

I made a second appointment with my colleague and asked him to regress the phobia to its cause. This time, after igniting and exacerbating my visceral panic for needles, as we do in our process of regressing to cause, we sent my mind back to the initial sensitizing event (ISE). The ISE is the root cause for the negative behavior targeted. Amazingly, I found myself in the womb, before being born, witnessing the unforgettable trauma of losing my twin brother. The event forever engraved itself in my consciousness in the form of what I perceived as a “spiral of death.” A notion which, until recently, had been difficult for me to fully comprehend or explain. Losing the one who was my other half to this lethal spiral that took him away, left me behind in the darkness, alone, afraid, abandoned and devastated. Talk about an imprint.

In Utero Imprints

A baby in the womb is acutely aware of what is happening around them. They feel the emotions of their mothers so intensely, they identify with them as if they were their own. When the begining of a miscarriage was suspected, my mother was placed on bed rest and began receving multiple shots and blood tests to monitor and stabilize her condition. From within, the trauma I experienced was solely focused on the devastating loss of my twin brother in what I perceived as an irreversible spiral of death that tore him away from me.

While the memories become burried as you are born and continue on with your journey, the trauma remains active in the subconscious level of the mind. This is not something that can be soothed by someone’s words ensuring you that from now on, whenever you think about needles, you’ll feel wonderful. With trauma, as with anything anchored early and deeply, the only way out is through.

Parts Negotiation Hypnosis

Once we had regressed the phobia to its root cause, we added parts negotiation to the equation. We asked my subconscious mind the reason why it responded so violently to anyone who approached me with needles. Parts dialogue at this level of the mind enables us to receive genuine responses from the parts of the mind responsible for the behavior. “To protect her from death” is the answer we received. That’s when the negotiations need to take place.

Parts negotiations require psychological understanding, patience and compassion. We explained to this part of my mind that while its goal was valuable and honorable, it had actually become counter-productive. We pointed out that in my life of today, I had become a smart, independent, adult woman, very capable of making the right choices for my safety, health and well being. And while preserving me from death was a valid goal, the needles I chose to accept no longer represented a death threat. Quite the opposite. Today, they were actually a way for me to preserve my health and well being, enabling me to receive the medical check ups necessary to maintain optimal health.

I’m a perfectionist and I like to leave no stone unturned when I work with regression to cause. I asked my colleague to give a new role and function to the part of my mind that had been working so diligently my entire life to protect my safety by fighting to the death against needle threats. You can’t easily remove a part’s sole purpose without first reaching a clear, mutual understanding and second, giving the part a new role to perform. Since the goal of this part was to ensure my survival, we asked if it would be willing to continue in its function to preverve my health, by focusing instead on ensuring I received proper rest and nutrition and remained aware of potentially endangering situations. The part agreed. We had a deal. We emerged me.

Releasing Irrational Fears with Hypnosis

Last week, I returned to my doctor’s office for a check up. Tactfully, she didn’t mention the fact I pulled an MIA (Missing In Action) for last year’s lab work.  Again, she ordered a complete blood panel to be drawn on the second floor. I didn’t say a word. No matter the number of miraculous transformations I continue to witness, day after day, in the course of my work, I still look at each and every one of them as independent miracles and never take them for granted or guaranteed. A life spent fighting needles to the death is not something you easily forget.

I left the doctor’s office and went to my car. After storing my notebooks, I locked the car and walked back toward the medical center. Once in the hallway, I took the elevator to the 2nd floor and made my way to the reception lobby. The entire time, I was wondering where and when I would turn around and leave. There was a wait at the reception desk. When the attendant finally waved me toward her, I indicated I was here for blood work. She checked me in and asked me to have a seat in the waiting room. I was still there fifteen minutes later when a nurse called my name.

Last time I was at ER, which was earlier this year, a male nurse approached me to take my blood. All I could say was: “I have bad news for you…” He understood right away. This time, looking at the nurse in front of me, I tried to be more subtle: “You should know, I have a severe, uncontrollable phobia of needles. I tend to kick and punch. It typically doesn’t go over very well.” She looked at me with a concerned look. “I promise I’ll try to cooperate as best as I can,” I added. “This is not something I control too well.”

I took my iPod, turned the music on, laid down on the table and extended my arm. This alone was a miracle in itself. My arm usually curls up in an iron-clad fold that no one and nothing can unfold. More often than not, they end up taking blood from the back of my hand. As I laid there listening to my music, the nurse took two vials of blood and gently tapped me on the shoulder to let me know it was finished. I looked at her startled. “You did very well!” she said with a smile of relief. I walked out of the medical building, stunned. Little did she know the extent of the traumatic chaos she had just avoided.

Working in Cooperation with the Medical Field

As clinical hypnotherapists, we do not independently work with medical conditions, diagnose, treat or prescribe. We do not practice psychotherapy. We teach and train our clients to shift limiting beliefs, reach their goals and enhance their well being using hypnotic techniques. We only address diagnosed physical, mental and emotional symptoms with the authorization and collaboration of medical doctors, psychiatrists, psychologists, nurse practitioners and social workers.

We require a physician’s authorization before initiating work to support your medical team with your overall wellness and work only under your physician’s guidance. Working in close cooperation with your medical team enables us to ensure your progress in an optimal manner.

Maximizing Brain Health

Pain Management - A man and a woman in a white shirt - Medicine

Keeping our brain healthy plays a critical part in every aspect of our life. It affects our ability to think, plan, feel, remember, work, play and has a profound impact on the quality of our sleep itself. Scientific studies show we can control the health of our brain and that doing so considerably decreases our risk for mental health problems, including Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia.

Physical and Mental Activity

Our brain contains around 100 billion neurons. Each linking to others in a network encompassing trillions of connections. This makes the human brain the most complicated entity in the universe. Like the rest of our body, our brain, if neglected, will gradually lose agility, flexibility and begin deteriorating. In order to remain sharp and well functioning, both the body and the brain need regular exercise. Physical activity ensures better blood flow to our vital organs, including the brain. It encourages the production of new brain cells, lowers stress and reduces the risk of heart attack, stroke and diabetes. Mentally stimulating activities, such as studying, learning new skills or languages, playing an instrument and other forms of intellectual stimulation also strengthen brain cells, reinforcing the electrical activity between existing cells and prompting the production of new cells. The repetition of learned tasks is what enables specific neural connections to become active and operational. In other words, the more we continue learning, the smarter we continue being.

Cigarettes, Drugs & Alcohol

The casual use of cigarettes, drugs and alcohol in itself has physical implications that severely damage every single organ in the body. We all know smoking causes permanent lung damage and drinking irreversible liver damage. What is less understood is that regular alcohol and drug use prompts irreversible brain damage. The chronic and potentially life-threatening deterioration of the brain and body due to alcohol and drug intake can start with symptoms as simple as changes in sleep patterns, loss of quality or quantity of sleep, shortened attention span or decrease in coordination. Symptoms can gradually worsen and lead to severe cognitive disruptions and serious mental health conditions. Chemical substances alter the chemistry of the brain responsible for coordinating our motor skills, motivation and emotions. Prolonged use causes permanent damage to the areas of the brain responsible for our psychological and emotional well being.


Nutrition plays an essential part in the health of our brain. A healthy diet rich in dark vegetables, fruits and antioxidants enhances the functioning the brain. High intake of saturated fat and cholesterol is known to clog arteries and contribute to stroke and brain cell damage. Studies show people who are overweight are twice as likely to develop dementia later in life. Those suffering from high cholesterol and high blood pressure are six times more likely to experience brain function degeneration.

Maximizing Brain Health

To sum up, a healthy nutrition combined with physical and mental activity, social interaction and overall fitness is the best way to keep our brain healthy and our neurons sharp.

K9 Hypnosis

K9 Hypnosis - A dog wearing a costume - Schnoodle

I had the opportunity, some time ago, to demonstrate a rapid induction on a canine subject in a state of acute panic. The demonstration was so compelling and effective, the vet handling the animal stared at me stunned and offered me a job on the spot.

It was a quick, radical induction. In less than three seconds, the subject went from an uncontrolled state of panic, with two people struggling to restrain him, to a complete state of somnambulism, where he remained for fifteen minutes solid, until I brought him out. This enabled both the medical team to proceed with their intervention quickly and effortlessly, and the canine subject to receive medical attention peacefully and painlessly.

While he was checked, probed and administered shots, his tissues did not flinch or react in any way, confirming he was in a state of complete hypnotic anesthesia.

Two things enabled me to do this. The first one is my lifelong experience training and interacting with animals and wildlife, which makes it easy for me to establish rapid rapport. The second one, obviously has to do with my professional practice of hypnotherapy. When you work in clinical hypnotherapy, you go in and out of hypnosis all day long, as you teach others how to access the subconscious level of the mind. The more you journey back and forth between the conscious and subconscious levels of the mind, the shorter the bridge between them becomes. This means professional hypnotherapists enter deep levels of hypnotic trance in the blink of an eye, anytime and anywhere they need to.

In this case, all I had to do was place both of my hands around the dog’s cranium. Positioning my thumbs between his eyes, I moved in close, stared deep into his eyes, and applying gentle pressure with my thumbs, I dived into a deep level of hypnotic trance. Holding his gaze, I brought him to depth with me instantly and without a single word.

As a Wilderness Emergency Medicine First Responder, I am trained to respond to critical, life-threatening situations with authority, calm and confidence in my training, knowledge, skills and experience. Similar principles apply to Emergency Hypnosis. Subjects in a state of shock, fear, panic and pain are experiencing heightened emotions and already have intense focus and concentration: the prerequisites enabling access to the subconscious level of the mind. They are acutely receptive and desperately seeking guidance. The state of fear in itself creates a strong desire for help. Stepping forward in these cases, with calm, controlled, stable and confident leadership skills, positions you as the rescuer the subject in fear is hoping for. All you have to do is calmly escort them to safety.

Once the medical procedure was completed, the vet turned toward me startled: “How did you do this?” she asked. “I saw you applying pressure to a specific part of the dog’s head. Was it how you were able to immobilize him?”

“I used a pressure point, between the eyes,” I responded, “applying gentle but firm pressure.” I had to clarify: “I’m a clinical hypnotherapist. I do this for a living.””I used a pressure point, between the eyes,” I responded, “applying gentle but firm pressure.” I had to clarify: “I’m a clinical hypnotherapist. I do this for a living.”

“Do you need a job?” she asked. “Can we hire you?”

I looked at the doctor and smiled, thinking: “Boy, would I be in trouble if I placed a closed sign on my door and left my clients.”

The Scope and Boundaries of Hypnotherapy

Hypnosis Conference – Portland, Oregon - A large body of water - Ocean

Clinical hypnotherapy is not a licensed medical profession. As such, hypnotherapists do not independently work with medical conditions, diagnose, treat or prescribe. By law, only licensed medical practitioners are authorized to diagnose, treat or prescribe for medical conditions. As clinical hypnotherapists, we address diagnosed conditions only with the referral and collaboration of licensed health care professionals. We do not practice psychotherapy, we teach and train our clients how to access more of the potential of their minds, shift limiting beliefs, reach their goals and enhance their well being using self-hypnotic techniques. When we address diagnosed physical, mental and emotional conditions, it is under the supervision and guidance of medical doctors, psychiatrists, psychologists, nurse practitioners and social workers. Working in close cooperation with your medical team enables us to ensure your progress in an optimal manner.

Physician’s Authorization and Supervision

Please note a physician’s written authorization is required prior to initiating work on diagnosed conditions. If you are currently taking prescription medications, do not stop or reduce your dosage without your doctor’s approval. We work in cooperation with your medical team. Your continued progress is monitored by your doctor. This enables us to provide you optimal results.

Athletes of the Mind

The Alchemy of Adversity - A person standing in front of a building -

The core principle of our operations is simple: we train Athletes of the Mind.

When you work with us, we teach you how to use your own mind to master, overcome and conquer any limitations standing in the way of your well being, peace of mind, joy and personal fulfillment.

Most of all, we start by conquering our inner demons. Those deeply rooted wounds which, for a lifetime, have hindered our capacity to experience joy, freedom, peace of mind, success and perfect self-expression. We teach those struggling through adversity to become Adversity Athletes © and expand their potential, skills, capacities and capabilities in any direction they wish to take them.

Training Athletes of the Mind does not mean we neglect the body. The human brain is estimated to contain about 100 billion neurons.  Neurons can live more then a hundred years. Exercising both our brain and our body is the best way to keep our neurons sharp, alert and healthier. As Roman poet Juvenal wrote: “Mens sana in corpore sano” (a healthy mind within a healthy body).

On an athletic level, we take those once labeled as not athletic and turn them into the ultimate athletes, allowing them to reach heights above and beyond their wildest dreams. The mind controls everything we experience. It regulates the beats of our heart, our circulation, our respiration, our temperature. It analyzes, deciphers and processes everything unfolding around us and determines our ability to respond and react accordingly. Studies of competitive athletes have long demonstrated that those who train with their mind alone achieve better results than those who train solely with their body. Combining both mental and physical training is the surest way to transcend our limitations and transform our performance and results.

Once we understand how to enable our mind to work with us, rather than against us, our experience of life itself becomes effortless, enjoyable and beautiful.

Specialized Expertise

Genvièv’s lifelong athletic training shaped her path and serves as the backbone of her teachings.

A swimmer, downhill skier, equestrian and gymnast through her childhood, she later became an aerobic fitness instructor at the University of Nice and within leading fitness centers in Paris during her academic studies.

In the US, she became a member of the International Hapkido Federation’s Black Belt Program, acting as an assistant instructor within the Federation. For years, she trained one-on-one with a former Lieutenant in the Foreign Legion Anti-Terrorist Unit who taught her hand-to-hand combat, self-defense, ground fighting, knife combat and weapon skills.

An Emergency Medicine First Responder, certified by the Wilderness Medicine Institute and the Emergency First Response Corporation, Genvièv is also a deep sea rescue diver. She served onboard the Professional Ski Patrol of Mt. Hood.

Choices and Illusions – by Eldon Taylor

Choices and Illusions – by Eldon Taylor - A sign on the side of a building - Choices and Illusions

The only way to discover the limits of the possible is to go beyond them, to the impossible.” Arthur C. Clarke

Today is the official launch date of the newly edited, revised and expanded hardcover version of Eldon Taylor’s New York Times Best-Seller Choices and Illusions – How did I get where I am, and how do I get where I want to be? The updated release of Choices and Illusions comes with Unlimited Personal Power – a free InnerTalk subliminal CD designed to reprogram your mind with energizing affirmations for success, confidence and creativity.

Working with Eldon and his wonderful team on his book launches always is a fascinating experience I welcome with much enthusiasm. A former criminalist specialized in lie detection and forensic hypnosis, Eldon spent his life studying the functioning of the human mind. He earned doctoral degrees in psychology and metaphysics, is a Fellow with the American Psychotherapy Association (APA) and served as an expert witness in court cases involving hypnosis and subliminal communication. Relying on solid scientific research, Eldon approaches the workings of the human mind with a pragmatic yet innovative view. And since the mind controls everything we experience, from the functioning of our bodies to the way we perceive and react to everything that is unfolding around us, his teachings are immediately applicable in our day-to-day lives.

In Eldon’s words:  “Many believe that self-help and self-improvement is about rags to riches, failure to success, and so forth, when indeed it’s the beginning of a journey into self-discovery. Inside every human being is an eternal truth and a life purpose. Using our mind power is simply starting the engine on the path toward self-actualization.”

As we progress through the journey of our life, each choice we make takes us down a certain path. Yet, few of us realize the choices we make are conditioned by others, often not even our own, and that hidden factors keep us from being in line with our true worth and reaching our potential. Once we understand the web of illusions most of us live under and by, change finally becomes within our reach. When you are ready to break free from your own limitations, the simple teachings offered in Choices and Illusions open the gates to the discovery of your full potential.

Choices and Illusions explores the scientific research conducted on thinking and beliefs, the functioning of the brain, how our own thoughts, actions and reactions are controlled by others, why we sometimes fall short of reaching our goals and how we can transcend limiting beliefs to finally create the life we always wanted, realize our potential, experience peace, well being and even help make the world a better place.

In other words, Choices and Illusions awakens us from years of passive negative brainwashing and leaves us with eyes wide open onto new worlds of infinite possibilities.

Editorial Reviews

“When you realize just how much of your actions are automatic and how many of your choices are actually made by your subconscious, you understand the illusion we all have lived most of our lives! Eldon Taylor’s book Choices and Illusions delivers both the path in and the way out to move from where you are to where you want to be, and it does so in straight talk everyone can understand. This book should be required reading for young and old alike!”
— C. Norman Shealy, M.D., Ph.D., author of Energy Medicine

“In Choices and Illusions, Eldon Taylor takes us on a delightful and provocative odyssey through the corridors of consciousness. Using solid science, practical spirituality, and common sense, he shows that our perceptions can be changed—and, once different, can catalyze dramatic improvements in our health and well-being.”
— Dawson Church, Ph.D., author of The Genie in Your Genes

“Choices and Illusions opens our minds to explore inwardly—to explore how our minds work and how to harness our minds to become clear about our purpose in life and the Love that we are.”
— Gerald G. Jampolsky, M.D., author of Teach Only Love and Good-bye to Guilt

“Eldon Taylor has given us tools to transform our minds and therefore our lives.”
— Linda Evans, actress and author

“We are living at a time when people are searching for answers to fundamental questions in their lives. This book can be, if applied, a road map to personal enlightenment and empowerment. It can ‘tune in’ the frequency you are currently operating on. More important, it helps you see that you can manifest change.”
— John Edward, psychic medium and author of After Life and Understanding Your Angels and Meeting Your Guides

“Choices and Illusions is a smart, practical book by a grand master of the mind. If you want to get out of the box of your own thinking, and touch a greater reality, Eldon Taylor can show you how.”
— Joan Borysenko, Ph.D., author of Your Soul’s Compass and Inner Peace for Busy People

To learn more about regaining control of your life with hypnosis, click on the following link: Hypnosis in Portland, Oregon.

Dispelling the Myths

Hypnosis Conference – Portland, Oregon - A large body of water - Ocean

As Clinical Hypnotherapists, most of us go around spending our time dispelling the myths commonly believed around the world about the state of hypnosis.

As I typically introduce in my public speaking appearances, when it comes to understanding what hypnosis is, people tend to fall into two categories. The first one knows very little or nothing at all about hypnosis. The second one has entirely wrong perceptions and information about it. This is due, in part, to the misleading portrayal of hypnosis long drawn by the entertainment industry, and it seems to affect people regardless of their level of intelligence, awareness and scientific knowledge.

A respected colleague of mine often jokes about the comments of a leading surgeon who, just before he was about to experience a session, interrupted my colleague to ask him with a nuance of anxiety in his voice: “Hold on! I have one more question before we get started! Can you tell me how many people have ever gotten stuck in hypnosis?” My colleague smiled at the surgeon, startled by this question coming from someone who had such in-depth knowledge and understanding of the physiology of the human body. He offered the following response: “Well, Doctor, you’ve been a leading surgeon in the operating room for how long, twenty-some years?” The surgeon nodded. My colleague continued: “In those twenty-some years, can you tell me how many patients you have seen, admitted in the hospital, for a state of permanent hypnosis?” The surgeon smiled and got the point.

However, the myths seem to be everywhere and to affect everyone. An intelligent and aware friend of mine recently made the comment that he believed you had to be weak of mind or lacking will power to be hypnotized. The opposite is the actual truth. First of all, hypnosis is a natural state of relaxation that we all go in and out of in the course of our every-day lives. We experience it any time we find ourselves operating on automatic pilot so to speak, when we are deeply relaxed and functioning effortlessly, without conscious struggle or exertion. Examples include when we take our morning shower and go through the process automatically, or when we drive a route we know well, and find ourselves arriving to our destination without having paid specifically strenuous attention to every portion of the way. Other scenarios include when we are immersed in the story line of a movie or a book, or absorbed in a study.

So the state in itself is an entirely natural phenomenon. What hypnosis does, however, is give you a road map for cultivating that natural state of being, with the precise objective of enhancing your quality of life, expanding your potential, sharpening your skills and overcoming specific limitations. As such, and in the same manner as with the development of any skills, knowledge or specific training, without will power or the focus of an intelligent mind, the journey won’t go far.

I tell my clients what I do is simply teach them how to access the most powerful part of their mind and learn to use it for their benefit. Once they have learned these techniques, the tools are in their hands for them to take to the level they wish to reach. When you book a one-hour training session with a fitness coach, you obviously cannot expect to walk in with a beer belly and walk out of with washboard abs. However, you walk out with the tools and a precise road map that will lead you, if you decide to follow it, from the beer belly to the washboard abs. I have never experienced the beer belly effect myself – considering I don’t drink beer – but I did develop washboard abs simply by following the steps required to get your body there. It’s easy as pie – so to speak – as long as you don’t overdo the pie part 😉

Well, the same goes with hypnosis. It is simply a question of retraining your brain to operate in line with your goals, objectives and overall well being. The more intelligent you are, the more will power you have, the further hypnosis and hypnotherapy will take you.

Hypnotic Trance

Hypnotic Trance - A man looking at the camera - Tinnitus

The rationale behind the state of hypnotic trance was originally defined by Dr. James Braid (1795-1860) as neurohypnology. The term was later shortened for neurypnology and referred to a state of sleep of the nervous system.

A renowned Scottish surgeon and scientist, James Braid was an influential pioneer of hypnosis and hypnotherapy. He is regarded by many as the first genuine hypnotherapist and the father of modern hypnosis. Braid believed hypnosis was a valuable aid to nervous disorders. He did not consider hypnosis as a replacement for other forms of treatments or medicine in general, but as a valuable complement to further enhance the health and well being of people with functional nervous disorders.

Both terms (neurohypnology and neurypnology) became obsolete by the end of the 1880s to be replaced by the term hypnosis. The word itself is derived from the Greek hypnos which means sleep. In his first book on the matter, Neurypnology (1843), Braid describes hypnosis as a state of physical relaxation accompanied and induced by mental concentration.

This precise state of physical, mental and emotional relaxation of the nervous system is something we all experience in our day-to-day life. It is an absolute prerequisite to our physical, mental and emotional well being. Sometimes we experience this as we sleep, other times when our conscious mind momentarily takes a back seat and our attention drifts away, or when we find ourselves functioning on automatic pilot – such as when training or driving. At this level of deep, physical, mental, emotional relaxation, our conscious mind momentarily steps out of the way, allowing our subconscious mind to process and store the information we have received throughout the day. This process is critical to the well functioning of our mind and body.

Without the ability to reach this level of deep relaxation, in our sleep, through our day dreaming or via a deep state of relaxation, we would not be able to function. Rare cases of fatal insomnia demonstrate that people who are unable to retreat to that level of the mind typically die within months. In the state of deep physical, mental and emotional relaxation known as hypnosis, our body is able to restore and recharge itself. As we reach this deep level of relaxation, our tissues soften, our blood vessels loosen. This enables our blood to flow more fluidly through our system, bringing vital oxygen to the brain and essential nutrients to our vital organs. Our brain wave cycles slow down to the alpha and theta levels of electrical activity. The chemical and hormonal levels produced by our brain and released in our body recover healthier balance. Electroencephalograms of the brain in that state show a decrease in cortisol levels (steroid hormone produced under stress, tension and fear and responsible for aging, immune system deficiency, increased sensitivity to aches and pain). An increase in endorphins, dopamine and norepinephrine levels is also noticed, enabling us feelings of contentment, well being and better clarity of mind.

The state of neurypnology, hypnosis, or more simply deep physical, mental and emotional relaxation is therefore a key component to our overall well being, balance, health and ability to effectively cope with the stimulations of day-to-day life.