July 28, 2017
In a two-part series, Valerie Grimes, a certified clinical hypnotist with the American Council of Hypnotist Examiners and owner of The Flow Center in Dallas, Texas, discusses the unconscious effects technology usage is having on our mental and physical wellbeing. Anxiety, sleep disorders, and addictive behaviors are quickly becoming a social epidemic, creeping into our lives and effecting our work performance and relationships and effecting our mind, body and spirit. Grimes discusses the negative effects of technology seen in her practice and the positive results her clients are experiencing through hypnosis to combat anxiety, she also explains the science behind hypnosis.
HOW HYPNOSIS CHANGES CELL PHONE ADDICTION
Many self-help books by Napoleon Hill, Brian Tracey, and motivational speakers like Tony Robbins discuss the importance of making changes at a subconscious level. The hit book from 10 years ago “The Secret” opened up the concept of the inner workings of the subconscious for all its readers. Some of this information contains methods for making behavior changes consciously, but none of those can access the part of your brain that contains the behavior faster and more effectively than hypnosis.
Are you thinking of hypnosis as magic or mind control or a hoax? I hope not, but if so, you might want to read the scientific reports, more specifically, the research in the neural sciences that started over 10 years ago. That research supports what I and other hypnotists have known all along – the brain can make new connections that affect behavior. The grandfather of hypnosis, Dr. James Braid knew this way back in 1891.
Hypnosis vs. Traditional Talk Therapy
In the past several decades, conventional talk therapies for treating dysfunctional subconscious habits have been on the decline, while the practice of simply managing symptoms with drugs has increased. Meanwhile, however, the practice of treating addictive disorders and pain management with hypnosis has significantly increased. (4) Being a hypnotist and not a psychotherapist, I am not qualified to explain the difference in the talk therapy approach, but what I can say is that many of my clients sought help through hypnosis because they were frustrated with the lack of results for the time invested. In my understanding, it is because talk therapy work is done on a conscious level (the rational/reasoning mind), whereas suggestions made under hypnosis are at a subconscious level where habits, memories and emotions are stored.
Your Brain is Capable of Learning Something New
Our clients always ask how hypnosis works, we answer by explaining with the current published scientific research that demonstrates how change occurs in the brain. Let’s review the activity of mirror neurons, Neuroplasticity, and the switching of encoded memories and the emotions attached to them.
Mirror neurons are a type of brain cell that responds equally when we perform an action and when we witness someone else perform the same action. They were first discovered in the early 1990s, when a team of Italian researchers found individual neurons in the brains of macaque monkeys that fired both when the monkeys grabbed an object and also when the monkeys watched another primate grab the same object.
Neuroscientist Giacomo Rizzolatti, MD, who first identified mirror neurons, says that the neurons could help explain how and why we “read” other people’s minds and feel empathy for them. If watching an action and performing that action can activate the same parts of the brain in monkeys – down to a single neuron – then it makes sense that watching an action and performing an action could also elicit the same feelings in people.
An important point here is that the mind doesn’t distinguish whether what you are observing is happening to you or not. When we use that concept in hypnosis it is a powerful technique for eliciting new behaviors unconsciously.
For many years scientists believed that brain functions were set in early development and couldn’t be changed. Recent research in neuroscience, most notably by Norman Doidge, has changed this view. We now know that brains adapt naturally after a traumatic Injury.
Some of the first discoveries of neuroplasticity came from scientists investigating how brains recover after devastating injuries. Since the brain had been mapped out, with specific functions corresponding to specific areas, scientists were confused by patients who had an area of the brain destroyed yet could still perform the functions of that area. For example, in one case, a stroke victim regained use of her right hand and the ability to speak when the right side of her brain took over the functions normally assigned to the left hemisphere
Brain plasticity is a unique characteristic of neuronal cells. No other organ has the capability of rewiring itself to take on other functions. Hypnotic suggestions speed this process along and in a very specific way.
Switching the emotional association
We have now discovered that neurons in the hippocampus region of the brain can be artificially switched to encode memories as either positive or negative regardless of the original experience. In a hypnosis session, we can weaken an old negative emotional feeling around a memory. Neuroscience News reported, “Memories of experiences are encoded in the brain along with contextual and emotional information such as where the experience took place and whether it was positive or negative. This allows for the formation of memory associations that might assist in survival. Scientists have known for decades that neurons that ‘fire together, wire together’.”
What Is A Hypnosis Session Like?
In our work to help people overcome a behavior such as cell phone addiction we ask, “Is it a problem?” That surprises people. I usually have to go through a series of questions to find out what is missing in their lives.
If you are not making friends, if you have a hard time getting along, the lack of communication holds you back, you are sad, feel anxious, lonely, if your family is complaining, or if your children seem lonely or feel left out – these are problems. But is the phone to blame? When it comes to alcoholism, is the booze to blame? It is the reason someone distracts with the phone that is the problem. The underlying issue is there as you add to it the nonstop flow of information to the brain, and that is the recipe for anxiety.
After we determine the issue and discuss what the benefits for solving the problems are, we explain hypnosis.
Hypnosis occurs in a natural state of trance, like a state of focused attention or concentration very similar to being engaged in a hobby, a movie or reading a book. In trance, your conscious thinking mind has slowed and you are not concerned about the world outside, but rather focused on the task you are engaged in. Everyone experiences this. When you are concentrating in this way, you can find solutions to problems, access creativity, and change a behavior with the assistance of a certified hypnotist.
The next step is guiding them into trance, where the hypnotist along with the client discovers solutions internally to the external problems. Clients are always surprised at their ability to find the obstacle or to have the insight to the source of a behavior and to find a way to transform it. Through hypnosis, they discover their unique abilities and creative ways to solve the issue. Then we reduce the compulsion to be so attached to the distraction so we can activate ones innate ability to communicate with others in a meaningful and fulfilling way. This process creates happier and healthier humans. Clients are always aware of their responses and won’t respond to a suggestion that isn’t in their best interest.
During the hypnotic process, we also use technology. Repetition is another way we learn and using a hypnosis recording (an MP3 sent via Dropbox®) nightly for 14-31 days reinforces the private one-on-one sessions. The recordings are made of the actual sessions. This is a highly effective part of the process, as being guided into a hypnotic state enhancing one’s sleep experience, just please put it on airplane mode before listening so you are detached from the outside world.
Valerie A. Grimes is a certified clinical hypnotist with the American Council of Hypnotist Examiners. She assists individuals in achieving an optimum level of support through positive thinking and by teaching new habits and forming new beliefs available through the process of hypnosis. Her office is located at The Flow Center in Dallas contact her. She graduated from the Dallas Hypnosis Institute and Training Clinic in 2001.
Bridget Colia from an article June 4, 2009 provided information on the segment on Neuroplasticity