Hypnosis found close in effectiveness to counseling

A recent study conducted with 246 men and women who desired to quit smoking apparently showed that hypnosis is similar in effectiveness to traditional counseling.

Further, the study showed greater effectiveness for hypnosis in a group that identified themselves as having experienced depression!

The study was conducted over one year by researchers at the San Francisco VA Medical Center and funded by the California Tobacco-Related Disease Research Program.

It seems that a lack of research exists in this area. The design of studies is full of potential pitfalls as well, such as what script they hypnotist is using, whether or not they even use a script, their hypnotic technique, and more variables that can affect the outcome of using hypnosis to achieve any goal.

For more details on the study: http://pub.ucsf.edu/today/cache/feature/200806201.html

Posted by Steve in NLP / Hypnosis | Permalink | Comments (7)

Miley Cyrus Demonstrates the Authority Trance

Anyone who begins a study of hypnosis in earnest will eventually learn of the various methods of hypnotic induction, and one of those methods is by using the perceived authority of the hypnotist. The client who perceives an authority or an air of confidence in their operator will often go into hypnotic trance more easily than with some unknown fellow off the street.

We're taught that if we observe a client who might respond well to authority influence, we might use more imperative language in our inductions to calibrate for a better response.

Unfortunately, authority is used frequently to coerce and persuade people to do things they would not normally do, and according to Miley Cyrus that's what happened in her Vanity Fair photo session.  The news report I saw quoted Miley as saying something to the effect of "You just don't say 'No' to Annie", referring to the photography legend Annie Leibovitz.

This, I claim, is a great teachable moment for parents of Hannah Montana fans. Use this as an opportunity to discuss authority with your kids - where is authority legitimate, where is it not, what are reasonable boundaries, etc. Authority has its place in society but it can clearly be abused. While it's not appropriate to resist all authority for the sake of resisting (polarity responding, anyone?), it's often important in our "uptime" to think critically about situations in our daily lives that might not seem important at the time, but may have remifications later on.

Miley, I hope you've learned something about coercion and authority.  You have a respected place in the hearts of many young people. Please use that responsibly to teach positive values and do not abuse it.

Posted by Steve in NLP / Hypnosis | Permalink | Comments (1)

How to Use Motivational NLP While Exercising

Here are a few notes on using NLP to help with motivation in your daily exercise. I have been employing these concepts to keep my daily routine in place and I'm getting great results. Sorry it's not a very systematic, coherent article but it's meant to get my thoughts documented for further refinement later.

The old saying, "keep your eyes on the prize" holds true. With proper well-formed outcomes, it's hard not to exercise regularly because you'll always be able to see, hear, and feel the benefits of a healthy body. Build up that desired target state where you feel great because you're in such good shape, and then anchor a particular warm-up exercise to that state. Then use that warmup each time you exercise to "get your glow on" and fly through whatever exercise time will allow.

I suspect that a lot of chi kung (qigong) and yoga might work like this. Once you have efficient, well-refined biomechanics going on, your nervous system seems to recognize the physical benefits on an unconscious level and it keeps you going, perhaps even propelling you into mild euphoric states which are then anchored to and reinforced by the postures you're using.

Most people familiar with NLP and hypnosis will already have some simple trigger for the "motivated" state, since myriad techniques abound in virtually every book on the subject, even on TV... check out "I Can Make You Thin" sometime. If you encounter sluggishness or resistance once you've already begun your routine, or you're on a treadmill and don't want to stop and go back to your motivational warmup, just fire off your tried and true anchor from when you first started learning NLP techniques.

Another thought- if you're exercising by yourself, it's a great time to tune in to your self-talk. Either silence or make any desired changes to your internal dialogue while exercising. I remember a few times during Aikido training that the training was so demanding of my attention that the dialogue just shut off and great clarity of mind came about. Those moments were fleeting, but they provide reference resources that I can access in other situations. So use your solo exercise as a time to establish all kinds of internal states which you can access more easily at other times.

Posted by Steve in Motivation, NLP, NLP / Hypnosis | Permalink | Comments (0)

Question Yourself!

Some people might think that becoming more effective requires never questioning themselves.
I've encountered this proposition a few times, and I must say that I feel compelled to question it.

I'm reminded of the popular bumper sticker, t-shirt, or button that says "Question Authority!" Well, by what authority are they exhorting me to question authority? What authority specifically, and how specifically should I question it/them? 

Well, in this case specifically, I suggest questioning yourself by your own authority.  Confused yet? Let me elaborate.

When we notice our own internal dialogue, a common tactic is to try to go silent inside. A silent internal dialogue is frequently an indicator of flow state, so NLP, meditation, and hypnosis abound with techniques for silencing your mind.  But in some cases, it might be a useful tactic to "embrace and extend" your internal dialogue by questioning it with the NLP meta model. Can you see how that might be useful?

So when I say that I question myself sometimes, I am not committing the great "sin" against the American way known as "self-doubt", but I am literally asking questions of my internal dialogue.  Since it's part of me, of course it sometimes has interesting things to say.  So why not examine what it's saying by getting it to elaborate upon it's usually vague unspecified statements, and if consciously I think my dialogue is somehow disconnected from reality, I can reconnect it by using the meta model internally.

For those of you who don't know the meta model of NLP, I highly recommend Bandler and Grinder's The Structure of Magic, and any number of other good NLP books or web sites that can get you started.

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Musings on Why Diabetics Don't Take Better Care of Themselves

Devin Hastings has written a thought-provoking article on the American Chronicle web site covering the ins and outs of diabetes and how hypnosis might play a part in improving their quality of life. 

I'd like to point out and amplify his recommendation of Michael Yapko's books.  They are a treasure trove of information and, as you might imagine from anything I recommend, Yapko sticks to the solid technique and avoids faux mysticism and appeals to quantum physics.  I would expect nothing less from someone of Yapko's credentials, but with the deluge of Law of Attraction stuff out there, it's worth pointing out the value of the lack of "the secret".  :-)

Back to diabetes and hypnosis - in the specific diabetic cases where weight loss and exercise would be of benefit, it's possible that a good hypnotist could really help out.  Even simple motivation techniques designed to get people running, lifting weights, practicing martial arts, etc would be a boon; who wouldn't benefit from some exercise?  For specifics, check out Devin Hastings' article, which is a refreshing look at hypnosis among a sea of sensationalist media.

Posted by Steve in NLP / Hypnosis | Permalink | Comments (1)

NLP Weight Loss Podcast

No, I'm not starting a podcast, yet.  I'm pointing you to this podcast, Weight Loss and the Mind. Here's the description from their own site:

Weight Loss and dieting are an epidemic in today's society. It is more a function of how we think than anything else. There are hundreds of diets and exercise programs out there. Yet 'yo-yo' dieting is a cliche. We all know that there is more to it. Why do we eat foods we KNOW add weight and inches to our waist and hips? Why do we sit in front of the tube for hours at a time instead of going for that wonderful walk in the park?The answer lies in our MINDS. Each podcast, Shane and Scott delve into a different topic related to using your mind to achieve that long-sought-after goal -- a healthy body.

I haven't had a chance to listen in depth, but the blog makes this podcast look worthwhile as far as hypnosis / NLP podcasts go, apparently focusing on using the mind along with solid exercise and habit control methodology - no quantum magic.

I've been embarking on a side project of reviewing hypnosis and NLP podcasts as I come across them. So far, I've found plenty of manifestation / "Law of Attraction" / quantum quackery stuff... and you know what I think of that. I'll highlight the rare, no new age nonsense gems here as I find them.

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Hypnosis and Children - We Do It All The Time

Hypnosis and Beyond has a nice post about hypnosis and children. Sometimes in hypnotherapy training you're cautioned about using hypnosis with children, and of course caution is a good thing in all cases - make sure the parent is there, tape the session, etc.

But what are some of the ways that our hypnotic skills are useful in our daily encounters with young human beings? Children are learning machines! They are, consciously or unconsciously, modeling every behavior they see and hear, especially from adults. This brings to mind a great billboard I saw over the weekend. It has a picture of a little girl on it, with the text (paraphrasing): "Every time you yell at your spouse, she learns a lesson."   

Hopefully we, as adults, are conscious of the messages we are putting out when we're around children. They may notice things about our behaviors that we ourselves don't realize, just as though we were being modeled by an NLP expert.

One of the many ways that hypnosis happens with children on a daily basis is storytelling. I don't know if you have realized it yet, but storytelling is something hypnotists can do very well. And stories can carry unconscious messages, whether we know it or not. As you tell stories, to children or to adults, you might become more aware of the messages you're embedding in the stories, and whether your nonverbal behaviors are congruent with those messages... or not.

So, to boil this down to a nice list, here are just a few areas I propose might involve hypnotic communication with children, in nearly any context:

  • Stories
  • A mother's touch
  • Your tonality when speaking to and around children
  • Rhythm
  • Nursery rhymes
  • Television programming
  • Religious services (if you want your kids to take it seriously, you better take it seriously)
  • Metaphors and similes
  • Everything you do or say around kids

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Dr. Andrew Weil: For sugar cravings, hypnosis and stress control may help

Dr. Andrew Weil, pioneer in the field of integrative medicine, writes in the Tucson Citizen that sugar cravings may be helped by hypnosis, and the use of breathing techniques in order to reduce stress.

According to Dr. Weil: "Eating sweets can increase levels of the neurotransmitter serotonin,
which can help you relax, suggesting that some cravings are
stress-related. Studies at the University of California-San Francisco
reported last year that chronic stress may explain why some people
crave comfort foods."

Perhaps it's possible to ask your unconsious to help regulate your sugar cravings. The unconscious would have many resources at its disposal, most importantly the external behaviors that get us into trouble in the first place. Dr. Weil has suggestions for these behaviors as well, including choosing snacks with a low glycemic index, eating bitter foods, and he even recommends the supplement gymnema sylvestre.

For more information, visit the article itself on the Tucson Citizen web site, or visit Dr. Andrew Weil's own site.

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Posted by Steve in Health and wellness, NLP / Hypnosis, Peak Performance, Religion | Permalink | Comments (0)

ABC News Reports on Psychedelic Magic Mushrooms

Quite a surprise from the Google News site- the ABC News web site has published a Reuters article covering recent research into the beneficial effects of psilocybin mushrooms. Apparently 60% of the volunteers who received an extract of psilocybin reported a "full mystical experience".

But the interesting part  to me is the two month followup:

Two months after getting the drug, 79 percent of the volunteers said they felt a moderately or greatly increased well-being or life satisfaction, according to the report published in the journal Psychopharmacology.

Maybe we can't try and tease too much out of a wire story, but the  percentage of people from the study reporting a moderate or great increase in wellbeing evidently (according to this article) exceeds the apparent percentage of people who reported a mystical experience.

But other than this weird observation, perhaps we can ignore the means used to achieve a peak experience in this case and focus on the concept that peak experience can have lasting positive effects.
So are thosse of us using positive psychology, NLP, hypnosis, or even exercise and martial arts just chasing a high? I've heard that accusation leveled against  peak performance seekers many a time. Perhaps now, with research like this, we can begin to back up scientifically the lasting benefits of our personal mind tech.

Posted by Steve in Health and wellness, NLP / Hypnosis, Peak Performance, Religion | Permalink | Comments (0)

Hypnosis and Catholic Christianity

Jimmy Akin, a well-known Catholic apologist who holds the 2005 award for Best Apologetics Blog, today wrote a pretty good overview of the morality and safety of undergoing hypnosis from a Catholic point of view. Well, it's on a Catholic apologetics blog (an excellent one, at that), but really this can apply to any form of Christianity.

While he has reservations over whether altered states of consciousness even exist (he's actually pretty accurate in mentioning that hypnosis isn't too different from any other relaxed, focused state), he addresses the common fear of demonic exposure when he lays it out about as straightforward as I've ever heard it said:

On it's face, there's nothing supernatural about any of this, and that would make me wary of claims that one is opening oneself to the demonic.

I tend to take whether someone is open or closed to the demonic at face value: You're not inviting demons to influence you unless you're inviting demons to influence you. Since there is nothing overtly demonic about hypnosis (e.g., each hypnotic session does not begin with a prayer to a demon) there is no overt invitation to demons to influence you through it.

I'll add my two cents by addressing the new age hypnotists. Anyone who's been reading this blog knows that I'm advocating a highly ethical hypnosis practice that takes great care to keep clear of any religious or new age philosophy. No sane person would willfully invoke evil when doing hypnosis, but well-meaning new age folk will oftentimes slip in content that will convey their worldview to the client. They may not even realize they are doing it, but recall how powerful presuppositions can be!

Or on the flip side, a hypnotist from one of the more well-known religions might presuppose something that's so contrary to the worldview of the client, that the client won't even go into trance.

If you're confused by what I'm saying, go and review Richard Bandler and especially John Grinder when they write about the ins and outs of content-free hypnosis. Off the top of my head, I believe John Grinder's Whispering in the Wind goes into some depth on this matter of getting out of the clients way as much as possible.

Back to the Jimmy Akin topic- yes, classical hypnosis can be quite safe when practiced ethically, but do choose your hypnotist carefully. Certifications and medical degrees are not necessarily an assurance at this point; the best approach is to get a feel for the kind of person they are by checking references and discussing any concerns you have up front. And of course, you can affirm to your self, perhaps by using a self-hypnosis technique on your own, that your unconscious knows best what suggestions are ecological for you and which to discard as irrelevant.

Update: Jimmy has a follow-up post about the moral implications of hypnosis for Catholics here.

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