My Personal Hypnosis Story:
A Journey Of Mind Body Healing
When I was 25 years old my story changed. You know how it is when you forge ahead,
working hard to find some magic answer to questions that keep changing or sometimes to one BIG question that seems to keep getting closer until it jumps further away again? For me that elusive answer had to do with the question, both big and small, that had evaded me every day of my life up until then: how could I get comfortable in my body?
I think many people wonder about this for many different reasons. For some the discomfort has to do with anxiety or depression or mood issues, for some it is self-esteem, addiction, feeling different from the rest of the family or the community, some feel judged for the how they are seen on the outside and how to create cohesiveness between that and what is on the inside. A great many reasons make us pursue this quest for truth. In my case, it had to do with the mind body relationship and my health.
My mother tells me that even as an infant I was uncomfortable in my body. I was 7 years old the first time I remember realizing that it wasn’t normal to always have physical pain and I was 9 when it occurred to me that I did not always have a cold but just very severe allergies. My health problems built from there, stacking up and defying both conventional and alternative promises of cures.
In the spring of 1995, I asked a graduate school professor to train me in hypnosis. I was 25 years old and I was about to find the gift of my own power, the gift of choice.
The two most statistically reliable and valid ways to measure hypnotizability were developed around 1960 and are still used today for research. They are the Stanford and Harvard scales of hypnotic susceptibility (see below for references). My professor hypnotized me using the Harvard scale in his office. It took about an hour and I heard everything that he said and it was very pleasant and relaxing. When he told me that my arm was like a lead bar that I could not bend, I was surprised to find that I really could not bend it despite my best efforts! Through a series of 11 items ranging from tasting things that weren’t there to simple physical experiences like not being able to bend my arm, I saw my world changing. Of course there was nothing physically stopping me from bending my arm, but I really could not bend it! In that moment, I wondered how many other times in my life I had perceived myself to be blocked, unable to do something, sure of the facts, when really those “facts” were perhaps just perceptions?
I came out of the Harvard Scale questioning what “the truth” really meant, and realizing that I was the author of it. I suspected that if you could easily and successfully suggest to someone under hypnosis that her arm would not bend and have that actually happen, that likewise you could successfully suggest all kinds of things about the immune system, pain, sleep, digestion, anxiety, public speaking, test taking, and more.
It turned out my assumptions were correct and, months later, after getting trained in hypnosis, I started doing self-hypnosis twice a day like meditations that were very specific and tailored to my own health problems. Within 6 months my symptoms were dramatically different and, what’s more, my blood tests were much better, my sleep was better, and my allergy skin tests had gone from 69 out of 80 welt-sized positives down to 19 out of 80 (in other words, the extreme reactions that I had to things like trees, pollens, dust, etc. went way, way down, objectively speaking)!
I felt happier, healthier, and more empowered than ever before. I soon began making personalized hypnosis recordings for patients in a medical practice where I was working and saw similar results consistently. I began to read studies that had been published in scientific journals for many decades and saw that my improvements were not unique. I realized that we can not always directly change our external circumstances but we always have some power to change our internal perceptions of those circumstances and that makes all the difference in the world. When you do this, you own your power; the strength belongs to you and you will find that the more you do this, the more you seem to return to yourself and the more freedom you have.
Shor, R.E., & Orne, E. C. (1962). Harvard Group Scale of Hypnotic Susceptibility, Form A. Palo Alto, CA: Consulting Psychologists Press.
Weizenhoffer, A. M., & Hilgard, E. R. (1962). Stanford Hypnotic Susceptibility Scale, Form C. Palo Alto, CA: Consulting Psychologists Press.