By Gayle North, Positive Change Coach
Hypnosis is in the news these days. You may have viewed of Dr. Mehmet Oz’s TV shows where hypnosis has been demonstrated as a tool for helping people lose weight, stop smoking, relieve stress, and for making other positive changes. Newspaper and magazine articles about the effectiveness of hypnosis are appearing worldwide.
In the future, is very possible that we will see a door labeled “Hypnotherapy” in every hospital. Many hospitals are already employing hypnotists to help patients relax before surgery and to speed healing afterward.
The practice of hypnosis is very old. One of the oldest recorded uses of hypnosis may be in the book of Genesis 2:21-22 which says, “So the Lord caused a deep sleep to fall upon man and while he slept took one of his ribs and closed up its place with flesh; and the rib which God took from the man He made into woman and brought her to the man.” Was Adam in a hypnotic sleep used as an anesthesia so that he felt no pain during the removal of his rib?
Hypnosis has been used in almost every age and culture under a variety of names. Medicine Men of various tribes of peoples around the globe have used chanting, and other sounds and sensory experiences to induce hypnotic states during which people were often healed of illness. Miraculous healings reportedly took place in The Sleep Temple of Athens as priests chanted positive suggestions about healing until the subjects feel asleep and subsequently awakened feeling better.
I read recently that a growing number of surgical patients at the Belgian hospital, Clinique Universities St. Luc in Brussels, choose hypnosis and a local anesthetic to avoid the groggy knockout effect of general anesthesia. Patients are sedated but aware, and doctors say their recovery time is faster and their need for painkillers reduced. This method is feasible for only certain types of operations.
In the mid 80’s, a friend who was a nurse went on a medical mission to Sri Lanka with her husband, a doctor. Upon returning, she told me that hypnosis was used to perform most of the surgeries there. She said that chemical anesthesia was not always available and that doctors often preferred hypnosis because there was no pain, very little bleeding, and fast healing. That story helped to increase my interest in the power of the mind. Previously, I had used the Lamaze method for the births of both of my daughters. The Lamaze method teaches you to relax mind and body to create a slower brain wave state which is a light state of hypnosis.
Levi Leipheimer the famous bicyclist tells the story that while strolling the aisles at a Las Vegas convention hall, he was stopped by Josh Horowitz’ Liquid Fitness booth. Horowitz coaches both elite pro and amateur riders. His holistic approach to training includes a big dose of mental training, especially the use of hypnosis. He gave Leipheimer a copy of an Ultimate Cyclist CD he had created with clinical hypnotherapist Rick Collingwood and asked him to try it out and give him feedback about the recording.
Leipheimer, who felt he had greater potential than his performance had shown in the past, started using the CD that year, listening to it as he would fall asleep each night. The recording uses the listener’s subconscious mind to receive positive thoughts, including mental imagery about correct bike position and pedaling.
After using the CD, he won the Amgen Tour of California event two years in a row and was third in the Tour de France. He also won a bronze medal in the time trial at the Beijing Olympics. “When you get the mental part down,” he says. “The body follows.”
Two studies suggest that alternative therapies such as hypnosis and acupuncture may provide a safe way to relieve hot flashes caused by breast cancer therapy. More than 70% of breast cancer patients taking hormonal therapies have hot flashes, as do nearly 80% of those getting chemotherapy, according to the hypnosis study, published online in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.
In the hypnosis study, involving 51 women, Stearns randomly assigned women to receive five weekly hypnosis sessions or no treatment. By the end of treatment, women getting hypnosis recorded 68% fewer hot flashes in their study diaries, as well as improvements in anxiety, depression and sleep. Hot flashes also caused fewer disturbances in their daily lives. Women who got no treatment didn’t improve.