by Rachel Remington
From the way that hypnosis is portrayed in movies and books, many people may assume that hypnosis is an evil power used against others to force them into carrying out tasks against their will, like killing another human or robbing a bank. On the contrary, hypnosis is a powerful practice that can help people resolve troubling issues they can’t seem to get past.
Aryn Whitewolf, 59, is a current student at Whatcom Community College, and has come back to complete a degree after deciding to close a hypnotherapy practice she owned for 10 years. She closed the practice because she was recovering from severe knee arthritis, and having her knees replaced, and wanted to try out a more active career after recovery.
Over the course of her practice, she helped people resolve a wide range of issues, including grief, smoking, test anxiety, or even physical concerns. “If you can imagine anyone with any issue, they’ve probably come through my door at one time,” said Whitewolf.
Whitewolf helped people to change bad habits, such as smoking cigarettes or overeating, by giving them specific suggestions and instructions during hypnosis that would help them to break the habit.
She helped people recover from medical issues as well. A woman who had experienced a stroke and could hardly talk or use her hand came in to see Whitewolf, and after a few sessions she began talking better, and started being able to use her left hand.
Daphne Sluys, math center coordinator for Whatcom, was a counselor for nearly 10 years, and used hypnotherapy as one of her methods of treatment on patients. She helped patients recover from sexual abuse, control their habits, or even be able to remember where they left an item they lost long ago through the practice of hypnosis.
Sluys encouraged people to use self-hypnosis, or guided imagery, to perform more successfully in school as well. A person is to set a goal and list three benefits of accomplishing it, then went on to imagine themselves in a relaxing place, like a peaceful beach.
Once in a relaxed state of mind, one is taught to remember a “trigger” that would remind them of that peaceful state of mind, like snapping their fingers or remembering a word as a trigger. Upon seeing the trigger again, a person is overcome with relaxation, and the ability to recall information more accurately.
Another form of hypnosis that Whitewolf used in her practice is called hypnobirthing, a technique that combines hypnosis with child birth in order to put mothers into a “comfortable, aware state, while allowing their body to do the work of birthing with little or no discomfort,” Whitewolf commented.
Hypnobirthing will usually shorten the time that a mother is in labor by a dramatic amount, but it is also a healthy method for the baby. Because the mother is in a relaxed state while giving birth, her body produces good chemicals that are healthy for the baby.
There are many misconceptions about hypnosis because of the way the media has portrayed it over the years. One of the biggest misunderstandings about hypnotherapy is that “people are afraid that someone is going to seize control of their mind,” said Sluys. The truth is, hypnosis is a way to open your subconscious and be in a state of being more open to suggestion.
Whitewolf explained that hypnotherapy is all about bringing people to a subconscious state so that they can be given positive suggestions that can help them change their thinking or behavior on an issue. “If you’re given positive suggestions, your mind will grab that,” said Whitewolf.
It is every person’s choice whether or not to take the suggestions they’re given, and hypnosis can’t change that. Sluys recalled a staged hypnosis performance at Whatcom about five years ago, when five volunteers were hypnotized on stage.
The five volunteers were told to act as if they were licking an ice cream cone in a sensual way, and a girl on the stage who felt uncomfortable with the situation stood up and walked off the stage. Although hypnotized, she had the choice to walk away from the situation.
Hypnosis can be used to improve your emotions, aid you in personal development, help you break habits, and even improve health conditions. “It’s a totally empowered state,” said Whitewolf.
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