Last week I had the privilege to speak at a TEDx event here in Boston. Few months of preparations and countless revisions of my talk boiled down to twelve minutes on stage. My initial thought to the invitation to speak at the event was it should be easy to talk about what I do day in and day out for a living, in theory Yes, in practice, oh boy, I was in for a surprise.
The challenge wasn’t being on stage or speaking in front of such a big audience, this I was comfortable with. The challenge presented itself when I thought about introducing the topic of utilizing hypnosis for Cancer recovery to an audience who knows little or nothing about the mind, its nature and relationship to the body. If I was to be successful of delivering this message it had to be done in a clear and interesting way. I had to avoid professional jargon and find a way to make this information accessible.
I was fortunate to have the support I needed, both from the organizers as well as from my wife. They helped me sift through the material and make this talk both accessible and meaningful. Now that the actual talk is behind me I can see how important it was for me to be able to distill the core message from the vast amount of information I wanted to share.
I wanted people to hear that the potential for recovery, from any illness but especially cancer, goes beyond simply submitting their body to treatment, and that their mind is their greatest ally in the recovery process. I wanted people to recognize that harnessing and mobilizing their inner resources through hypnosis can and will have transformative effect.
When I described Illness as a call for us to take action it resonated with many. Intuitively we know that illness, or for that matter symptoms in general are the tangible evidence of what really goes in our minds. They highlight the need to live more authentically, more in tune with ourselves, more aligned with our sincere and relevant core values.
If feedback from attendees is any form of measuring success, I am satisfied that my message was heard. Now, I can only hope my talk will somehow make its way to the TEDx mother-ship, that is the TED.COM platform so more people can learn their mind can and does intervene with their immune system and that there are ways for them to play a more active role in their recovery.
Any surgical intervention, even a minor one, can be a trying life event. The very thought of going under the knife and surrendering control has the power to provoke a wide range of challenging mental and emotional responses.
While severity changes from one person to another, it is common for patients scheduled to undergo surgery to report elevated levels of stress, fear, anxiety and even depression. These are likely to increase when the surgery date is nearing or the procedure is considered to be major or lifesaving.
Your Mindset Matter
Unresolved mental patterns and emotions can produce a negative mind-set that may affect our quality of life and limits our experience. Essentially, a negative outlook and attitude can negatively impact treatment outcome and inhibit recovery. A more optimistic mind-set, as study suggests, means patients recover more rapidly and show an increased survival rate.
The study, which looked at 431 colon cancer surgery patients, found that the 13% of patients who had quality-of-life deficit and scored below 50 on a 100-point scale were almost 3 times as likely to have serious post-surgery complications to those who scored 50 points or above. In turn, those with complications were hospitalized an average of 3.5 days longer than the others.
Hypnotherapy for Surgery
Helping patients successfully attend to quality of life issues is critical for a favorable outcome. Having utilized many therapeutic tools over the years, I can say with confidence that hypnotherapy is the most suitable tool for the job. It is the tool of choice because it works in the realm of the subconscious Mind where the root cause of the beliefs and perceptions fueling a negative mind-set can be identified, addressed and resolved.
“Quality of life as measured in the study (mentioned above) is about more than happiness and how well people feel physically”, says Dr. Bingener or the Mayo Clinic. “It also includes the financial, spiritual, emotional, mental and social aspects of their lives and whether their needs are being met.”
Though hypnotherapy can help patients prepare for surgery in several ways, I wish to highlight the two most common challenges I see in my practice. These two challenges are fear/anxiety and grief. While each has its own set of characteristics, they are often weaved into a debilitating cycle that defines patient’s experience and outcome.
An example for such cycle is as follows: fear of being under anesthesia can lead to feelings of loss; loss of control. Loss of control bring about more fear, fear of waking up during surgery and feeling the pain or fear of not waking up from surgery at all… this in turn can bring about grief over loss of health, independence, identity which feed into fear of being a burden, disfigured etc…
The list, we keep going over and over in our mind, of things that can go wrong seems without end, but the reality is that with the advancement of technology and medicine surgery is for the most part a safe procedure.
Conscious VS Subconscious
If the above statement did not comfort you or lessened your fear you are in good company. The truth of the matter is that knowledge isn’t enough to put our minds at ease. Everything we know about hospitals, illness, surgery and recovery, for good and for bad was learned. A headline in the paper, conversation around the dinner table, a developing story watched on TV etc. and for all intended purposes it would not have been a good headline or topic of conversation if there was no real drama, a real punch of negativity and fear embedded in it.
If we harbor negative beliefs around surgery despite the fact we ourselves never had any bad experience to reference; it means we acquired these beliefs from someone or somewhere else. This is precisely why hypnotherapy is such a valuable ally in addressing, resolving, creating and maintaining the right attitude and mindset because it allow us to work in the realm of the subconscious mind where these erroneous beliefs and perceptions reside.
While conventional therapy (as in talk therapy) primarily engages the conscious mind, hypnotherapy primarily engages the subconscious mind. It therefore allows us to recall, review and override erroneous beliefs and perceptions, address the root cause of negativity and establish a mind-set conducive to recovery. Changing the cause from negative to positive means changing the effect and thus establishing a healthy mind-set vital to favorable outcome.
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About Avinoam Lerner
Avinoam Lerner is a Practitioner in the Field of Complementary Medicine specializing in Cancer Wellness & Recovery. Author of The New Cancer Paradigm.
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