Thursday, November 24, 2011


A client (we’ll call him Joe Black), used to down two scotch and waters before dinner every night just to relax enough to make the transition from work to home life. But after dinner, he would be so relaxed he’d nod off while reading the paper and find himself unable to go to sleep upon retiring to bed. He did not want to take drugs or chemicals that might harm his body and mind, but he desperately needed to unwind after a stressful workday as a management executive and was seeking an alternative to ‘social drinking’ when he talked to a friend that recommended hypnotherapy.

After Mr. Black came to me for a session, he learned to take fifteen to twenty minute ‘transition breaks’. He finds a quiet, solitary spot, such as his den or bedroom. He turns off the lights and his cell and phone. He sets his iPod on soft, instrumental music. He changes into some comfortable clothes and stretches out on his bed or recliner.

As the music begins to soothe his nerves, Mr. Black begins to think of his ‘safe place’, a mental haven where he has learned to go to release the stresses of the outer world.

Here in the inner sanctuary of his own mind and heart, Mr. Black is in complete control. He can visit any one of his favourite locations – a stretch of warm, white sugar sand on an uninhabited beach, or a sunny meadow beside a cool pine forest with a gently gurgling brook flowing through it.

Wherever he is, Mr. Black knows he is safe, comfortable, and in complete control with no one asking anything of him or wanting anything from him. For these few moments, there is no place else he needs to go and nothing else he needs to do. Here, in his inner sanctuary, Mr. Black can and does imagine himself as he chooses to be – healthy, happy, relaxed – at peace with himself and everyone around him.

If Mr. Black experiences any problems or difficulties at work during the day, he wraps them up in brown paper, ties the package with string, puts them in a brightly coloured hot air balloon and watches them gently float away. He releases them, knowing they will be taken care of in the best possible way.

During this reverie, Mr. Black may take a dip in the ocean or even the gentle brook, cleansing both his mind and his body of all stress, tension, or any negative emotions may yet linger. He feels a restorative, healing energy take their place as he continues to enjoy a serene, relaxed state.

After about fifteen minutes, Mr. Black instinctively ends his journey of self-hypnosis and gradually returns his thoughts to the present. He reminds himself that he is back in his room feeling refreshed and revitalized, yet completely and fully relaxed, ready to enjoy his evening with his family.

The relaxed, good-natured Mr. Black who emerges from his room is a completely different person from the harried, stressed and sometimes short-tempered man who went in. Mr. Black’s family members, as well as Joe himself, are grateful that he has discovered hypnosis.

Mr. Black is just one of a growing number of people who find that hypnosis works for them as a successful, effective, non-drug alternative for stress reduction. With stress increasing as an ever-present part of the 21st century lifestyle, and the mounting evidence of the link between stress and illness – including such conditions such as hypertension, heart disease, ulcers, immune deficiencies, and cancer – hypnosis provides welcome relief with no side-effects.

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