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“Are you going to make me bark like a dog, or quack like a duck?”
As a hypnotherapist, I hear comments like this all the time. It wouldn’t surprise me if you’ve already jumped to a conclusion about hypnosis yourself. Perhaps you’re convinced it’s woo-hoo, voodoo, and a bunch of hoopla wrapped together to entertain crowds at the county fair.
Technically, you wouldn’t be wrong…people have used the skill of hypnosis to entertain crowds. Mainstream media loves to drive our imagination wild with outrageous storylines. Have you seen “Get Out”? Makes you think twice about drinking tea with anyone. These exaggerated fiction tales make us leery. It’s no wonder most people stay away from hypnosis. Plus it’s our brain’s job to keep us away from the unknown and otherwise seemingly dangerous. We don’t like things we don’t understand. But, it’s also a part of human nature to question what seems invalid. It’s good to question, research, investigate, and come to your own educated decision.
The thing is, hypnosis has been studied and researched extensively for decades. Award-winning doctor Dr. David Siegel, was exposed to hypnotherapy by his father—a psychiatrist, and a trained Freudian analyst who first experienced hypnosis in World War II to provide aid to soldiers and offer an alternative to anesthesia. The golden child of hypnosis research, Dr. Spiegel is the Associate Chair of Psychiatry & Behavioral Sciences, Director of the Center on Stress and Health, and the Medical Director of the Center for Integrative Medicine at Stanford University School of Medicine. He’s legit. He’seven talked with the Dali Lama about how hypnosis relieves pain and depression in cancer patients and how “feelings lead to healing.”Hypnosis has also studied and utilized by well-known psychologists like Carl Jung.
Hypnosis is more than just some weird county-fairground trick. I often describe hypnosis as meditation with a goal while harnessing the power of a mind-body connection.
Hypnosis is the act of guiding someone into a state of trance to bring the mind and body into absolute agreement. Although each hypnotherapist may describe trance differently, they can agree on a few key qualities. Trance includes a deep state of relaxation, hyper-focus or intentional concentration, and openness or increased suggestibility.
A stage hypnotist makes suggestions to evoke an external response from the hypnotized volunteers, to entertain the crowd. A hypnotherapist’s suggestions are intended to create internal changes within the client. The stage bunch is open to performing simple tasks (laughing until you cry, dancing like nobody's watching, etc.) that they otherwise would allow themselves to do in their normal day to day life. They are open to it, the hypnotist suggests it, and in a deeply relaxed state, they react accordingly. “They are not thinking about themselves doing it, they’re just doing it.” It truly is that simple.
If it sounds too simple, it’s because it is. The truth is, most of us go in and out of trance every day, multiple times a day. It happens when you’re very relaxed or very focused and can feel similar to a daydream like state. Have you ever completely zoned out on your way to work and couldn’t recall how you got there? Could you, without a doubt, retrace every red light, stop sign, or right turn you made? No? It’s because you were in trance.
The only difference between hypnosis and these everyday trance states is that in hypnosis, someone induces the trance state for a specific reason or goal: healing, pain relief, stress relief, fear of public speaking, or increasing self-esteem, to name a few. The definition of hypnotherapy is clear from the word itself. Hypnotherapy is the practice of hypnosis for therapeutic purposes.
Hypnotherapy allows us to communicate directly with the subconscious mind, while letting you be in the driver's seat. The subconscious mind is the part of the brain that is on autopilot, running in the background, a reservoir that holds your ideas, beliefs, and perceptions. The interesting thing is that ninety-five percent of the time, we’re totally unaware of what’s running in the subconscious mind.
Imagine your mind is like an iPod. When you first get it, there are no programs to run or songs to play; you have to download them first. The mind at birth is like a brand new iPod, ready to download. From birth to about eight years old, your brain is in a theta brain wave, simply recording or downloading.
Theta is the brain wave we experience during trance and the same brain wave we desire in hypnotherapy. During these first eight years of life, each person is recording the world around him or her and loading the “programs” that we use for the rest of our lives—downloaded and stored in the subconscious mind. These programs are downloaded into our subconscious mind and run in the back of our mind forever. Just like an iPod, we can skip the song or program altogether, but it’s only a matter of time before it comes up again.
The purpose of hypnotherapy is to rewrite those old songs (or programs) you’re tired of and want to skip. When you’re deeply relaxed, open to suggestion, and truly desire that specific goal or outcome in your life, you allow that program to be overwritten. Hypnotherapy can reduce stress, anxiety, or aid you in reaching your specifically desired goals to enhance your life.
If you’re new to hypnotherapy, curious, or want to want to try it out for yourself, download this free deep hypno-meditation.
Acupuncture is extremely beneficial for various ailments ranging from digestion to carpal tunnel, but the level of effectiveness varies from person-to-person. I’ve had Sciatica patients spend months combating their back and leg pain, and others hop off the table in two hours, never needing a follow-up appointment. Some rotator cuffs take six weeks; others take two years.
Why is this?
While your body's response to acupuncture depends on the complaint or injury, it also depends on your overall health, and how well you take care of the injured site between sessions. If we eat junk food all the time, are inactive, don’t sleep well, or overwork ourselves, then injury is imminent, and recovery is going to be hard. Equally, if we ignore an injury or don't care for it, then we will likely stay injured for longer.
So, let’s break down what’s best for you when it comes to acupuncture:
“How often should you get acupuncture with specific ailments?”
This is different for everyone, but here are some general guidelines.
More is better.
Acupuncture has cumulative effects, so while most feel relief after one session, it likely will not have resolved the issue. Multiple follow up sessions are needed, and for your own comfort, it’s recommended that you use sessions before the effects have completely worn off each time.
Every time you receive a session, your relief should be more significant, and the effects should last longer—bringing the injury closer to resolution. With this in mind; the worse the injury, the more frequent you’ll want to receive acupuncture. Several times a week is standard, that way you will get out of discomfort faster, and you’ll need fewer sessions overall.
Understanding acute versus chronic ailments.
Some acute symptoms like nausea, dizziness, bleeding, swelling, or anxiety will clear up on the spot. However, for recent injuries pertaining to tissues, like a strained muscle, you can use three acupuncture sessions in one week with great effect. For example, with strained lower back muscles, you will feel less pain in one session, a significant reduction in inflammation and symptoms within three sessions. An ankle sprain is a little more serious and may take two or three weeks, but the general idea is the same.
With stubborn pain, or chronic issues like sciatica, skin rashes, nerve pain, hormone irregularities, it can take a bunch of sessions to see lingering results. Often there will be relief right after each session, but the symptoms return quickly (albeit with a little less vengeance). This just means the results are happening in smaller increments. For this reason, your practitioner will tell you to come in over three times a week for two or three weeks so you’ll get more relief faster, but you can space the sessions out as you begin to feel better.
“What can I do to make my acupuncture benefits bigger?”
As mentioned, how you care for yourself between sessions makes a big difference. Here’s a few pro tips.
Your practitioner will give you specific directions they want you to follow for your ailment, but generally, after an acupuncture visit, it is wise to drink a lot of water and rest.
Here’s the obvious thing we don’t often consider. If you get instant relief for your pulled hamstring, but then you go running the next day, it’s going to take forever to heal! That injured body part needs to be pampered and catered to. Your acupuncturist will give you food, supplement, lifestyle, and movement suggestions to use between sessions– use them all.
I’ve seen countless patients walk in with frozen shoulder, spend 90 minutes in the chair with various points and stimulation techniques, and then leave swinging their arm painlessly with 50% more range of motion. If they eat well, do their physical therapy, and are kind to their shoulders, the effects will last. Then, next time, we can add another 50% on to their range of motionBut, if they paint a house or swing a baseball, then I see them go right back to square one overnight. How we take care of ourselves between sessions really matters.
You will want to note any changes; no matter how small or irrelevant they seem. Your practitioner is armed with many protocols and techniques. They will always start with the combo that they’ve seen work best for your complaint, from there they will work backward or tweak it slightly based on the information you give them. Make sure to tell them every detail, even if it seems unrelated.
One lady, with unrelenting pain, finally revealed a game-changing nugget to me while nonchalantly laughing about her need to wear neck scarves everywhere. I found out she had been experiencing chills and had a significant aversion to wind during the summer. This “irrelevant” snippet made me radically change the protocol, and she was pain-free and healing rapidly within four sessions.
So, there you have it. How acupuncture benefits various body parts depends on the area concerned, but also on how we treat our bodies before, during, and after injury.