I Tried Hypnotherapy: Here’s What Happened
Unravelling Years of Self-Sabotage and Manifestations
Your perception is your reality. The things that you see, hear, and feel are filtered through the subconscious mind. The subconscious mind is a powerful secondary system that runs everything in your life. It stores your beliefs, your previous experience, your memories, your skills, and everything that you have seen, done or thought. It is also your guidance system.
The subconscious mind constantly monitors the information coming from the senses for dangers and opportunities. Through my journey overcoming trauma, I’ve learned a lot about the tendencies of my subconscious as I focused on my mental health and emotional wellness.
I was sexually abused as a child, which is only one of the far-reaching traumatic events that helped mold this human form I’m holding onto today. The verbal attacks, physical perversions and slimy memories that I feel in my body and mind ached to be dissolved.
Twelve years of therapy, including three months of in-house trauma treatments, eventually surrendered into alternative healing modalities- most of which have alleviated my symptoms.
The heavy drinking that plagued my late teens and early twenties splintered into obsessive workouts, days scheduled down to the minute, and a constant barrage of searching for ways to heal myself. Though my habits have improved as harmful tendencies morphed into healthier neuroticism, I’ve felt somehow less than I should be.
In a single session, I would unravel years of self-conditioning.
It’s been a long, winding journey through my hangups, blocks and challenges of mental wellness. Although I’ve spent years in psychotherapy, especially in my youth, I found that it just didn’t seem to ‘fix’ me. My brain spiraled back to traumatic situations, and I found myself anxious in public venues. I hyperventilated when I was alone. I chased after unhealthy relationships and abused myself.
Eventually, my depression and anxiety grew out of control. At 21, I was lost in my world, with increasing suicidal tendencies. It wasn’t until I discovered meditation that those persistent feelings subsided. Meditation saved my life. Mindfulness became a powerful stepping stone into owning my path, yet it brought me to my metaphorical knees once I discovered my true power. I was hooked. I found something that worked. This fascination with ancient forms of mind-body-spirit connections brought me to a turning point, and I wanted more.
I tried Reiki, Temezcals, and Qi Gong. Shamanism, relaxation therapies, and sound medicine are a few modalities that I believe brought the most drastic changes. My life seemed to take an uplifting turn. I was watching my own steady progression of increased wellness, happiness, and strength. Things are looking better.
Then I discovered hypnotherapy.
I reached out to a local hypnotherapist with the intent of trying her practice on ‘for size’. I’d done the same with many other professionals, from reiki masters, esoteric ‘gurus’ and the like. Out of pure curiosity, I wanted to know what being hypnotized felt like.
What I didn’t realize was that in a single session, I would unravel years of self-conditioning. Through meditation, I came to appreciate that all the anxiety, self-esteem issues, and negative emotions I experienced are all manifestations of my mind, but using hypnotherapy, I had the epiphany that I could train myself to heal myself.
My experience with hypnotherapy:
A slight numbing sensation crossed my entire face and upper body, similar to the feeling of novocaine before a dental procedure. I heard the sound of my voice float above me- wherever I seemed to be, that is. I couldn’t locate body parts. Though I knew my hands were clutching a blanket over my lap, I couldn’t feel the texture of the cover, nor could I locate where my arms were in relation to my torso. I felt both constricted and expansive at the same time.
I experienced pain, extrasensory lights and sounds, and what I can only describe as a mental ‘mist’ that enveloped my inner self.
I heard my voice tell the therapist I was falling. Falling where? I was grappled with the separation between body, mind, mental ‘self/voice’, and all the sensations I felt and didn’t feel… all somewhere in a void of space. I think my body was gently descending back into the chair I reclined on- but I knew it wasn’t physically possible to be moving through a hard surface.
I repelled backward, gliding deeper into something unknown, gradually slowing down as if trudging through water. Then I saw the ‘sacred place’ she had instructed me to imagine. At the beginning of the hypnotherapy session, I had told my therapist I was inside a library. This time, I observed it from above, in a vast area of Black. Nothing. Space. The strangest sensation came across my awareness: I felt both extremely heavy, and weightless, as I floated in ‘the dark empty’ beneath my eyelids
Throughout my 120-minute hypnotherapy session, I experienced pain, extrasensory lights and sounds, and what I can only describe as a mental ‘mist’ that enveloped my inner self.
I allowed myself to be guided through the session as we explored my mind-space, together, as observers. The therapist asked me to imagine my anxieties as objects, and as we manipulated them into representative articles, their purpose came into existence.
I recall feeling intense discomfort in my lower extremities. A dull ache permeated through my feet, ankles, and calves, throbbing consistently. When she asked me to describe the pain as a target exclusive from my body, I understood the feeling as a sort of cinderblock, brick, or weight that served the purpose of holding me in place.
My career anxiety manifested itself as a physical symptom.
Further into the session, I began to interact with another “self” who explained that the purpose of the ‘cinderblock’ was to keep me grounded and protected. At the therapists’ instructions, the extra self and I altered my ‘ankle-weight’/anxieties into a different form of protection- an umbrella -that would shield and protect me, rather than hold me down.
The floating void I was suspended in dissipated, and a bright meadow materialized. I stood next to a sparkling lake and felt my toes squish into soggy grass next to the lakeshore.
My second self stood next to me, her hand enveloped in mine. Her skin scintillated just like the lake bed, and I felt her wordlessly speak to me, expressing that my current situation and experiences did not correlate with the inner turmoil I was feeling.
I can’t accurately describe the way that we communicated- but I understood that I wasn’t experiencing anxiety, I was creating the anxiety. I was afraid of feeling stress in my body. I wasn’t being ‘held down’ (by a weight), I was holding myself back. I was avoiding my stress rather than acknowledging it the way it wanted to be seen and felt.
Integrating newfound perceptions
Something in that hypnotherapy session clicked- and I began to acknowledge stress in my body without giving in to the feeling of it. I was able to understand the feeling and move past it without becoming it.
It’s hard to quantify the amount that hypnotherapy has altered my life, but I can tell you this: I see myself differently. I’m more inspired to work and to share my growth. My mental chatter is more positive. I noticed that my mental engagement was enhanced and I concentrated longer without distracting thought-patterns interrupting my flow.
I experienced more clarity, higher self-esteem, and a kind of ‘glow’ that surrounded my daily life in the days and weeks that followed. I see the physical pain I experience (non-injury related) as a direct result of negative thought patterns and stress levels. I don’t allow myself to ponder situations that might not occur. Instead, I’ve recognized them for what they are: negative distractions and unrealized worries.
I’ve taken a hard look at memories I once pushed into the back of my mind, and realize that I can separate the emotion from the experience. For example, the verbal and physical abuse I experienced after the familial sexual assault? That used to hurt to think about.
Now, I’ve been able to disassociate the previous pain with my current situation. It doesn’t feel like it’s happening to me again, at this moment. And because I’ve been able to ponder past experiences without allowing the stress-memory to take over, I’ve been able to uncover potential conclusions.
Perhaps my perpetrators’ way to handle their guilt from my sexual assault was to verbally abuse me, which led to altered self-image. It’s not necessarily about finding a reason why it happened…its about finding a satisfying way to ruminate on my life experience and to understand how it affected me, rather than why it happened.
I’ve been trying to give up the idea of changing who I am. Rather, I’m trying to integrate the good and the bad experiences, and to accept the parts of myself that I view as negative, less-than, or otherwise unworthy. I’ve tried to look at myself hard, and see the parts of myself that I previously ignored. I see my triggers as places that are seeking the light of day. They just want to be seen.
I’ve see my life clearly- especially in regard to relationships choices and friendships. I’ve learned how I seek validation, and began to own that knowledge, and challenge those behaviors. I look at my life now, and it’s so much more peaceful and happy. I needed to face the nasty thoughts and feelings I had internalized subconsciously all these years. Though my mind might be manifesting anxiety, my core beliefs and self-limitations were, and are, the culprits.
Meditation might have alleviated my symptoms, but hypnotherapy helped me see the thorns that still existed in my mind.
The subconscious mind is one of the most powerful weapons that you have in your arsenal. It could be the difference between living a rich and fulfilling or poor and unhappy life. Though I know I’m still changing (hopefully for the better), I’m still shocked at how much I learned from a single hypnotherapy session- and how much I still have yet to learn from my own mind.