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.
Hypnosis has long been an ally in the fight against, and the healing of cancer. For the most part it was utilized as a therapeutic intervention for treatment side effects. Common uses of hypnosis in cancer treatment were to speed recovery from surgery and ease physical discomfort and emotional distress which is part and parcel of conventional treatments.
So what is the difference between this type of hypnosis for cancer and Immersive Healing? To explain this difference think about a general medical practitioner such as your primary care physician and a specialist like an oncologist. Your PCP is well educated and skilled but he or she is trained to diagnose and prescribe medication. He or she can properly direct you when needed to a specialist of a particular field who has greater skill in that field.
Immersive Healing utilize and an advanced hypnotic protocol called Regression to Cause. This is a specialized protocol that requires a certain level of experience and knowledge. It demands the facilitator will harbor certain qualities and abilities that are not taught in regular hypnosis courses like intuition, the ability to work with and contain immense emotions that are being released etc. This qualities and abilities are not something that can be acquired easily; they must be built into the personality of the facilitator, hard wired if you will.
Furthermore, Regression to Cause as structured in Immersive Healing is a very active or dynamic technique which demands the client be active, part of the process and involved in his or her own experience. Generally speaking, in other hypnotic protocols the client is more passive i.e. he is absorbing rather than letting out.
The more general type of hypnosis, the type which you might be familiar with, uses a hypnotic technique that is known as Direct Suggestion. In this type of practice the client is led into a hypnotic state; once in this state of mind, the therapist embeds positive suggestions and affirmations into the client’s subconscious mind, with the aim of producing more desirable patterns of thought and behavior.
Direct suggestion hypnosis can be extremely effective when carried out by an experienced hypnotherapist. It is especially effective for those who wish to overcome a fear or phobia, or to give up a bad habit like smoking. It has more to do with changing behavioral patterns and thoughts patterns than healing illness. It is not what it was designed to do.
When we are dealing with cancer we need to pull out all the stops; we need to use the most powerful weapon we possibly can in order to fight the illness. I believe that the hypnotic protocol of Regression to Cause is this weapon. It allows us to access the deepest layers of the Subconscious Mind; where the seed planting of the illness is found. By healing the cause i.e. the Mind, we ultimately can heal its effect, the Body.
By identifying, addressing and healing the Subconscious Mind patterns that weighed heavy on the innate immune system and produced the conditions where cancer can develop we eliminate the energy that feed the cancer and kick start the dormant immune response. With a fortified immune system and greater resolve to heal all forms of medical interventions will preform their healing better. This in turn increase your odds for recovery.
In previous posts we explored the promise of hypnotherapy for treating and healing cancer. But what if you are unable to attend regular hypnosis sessions because you don’t feel well enough to do so, or because you an experienced hypnotherapist or for any other reason?
If this is the case for you, the next best thing you can do, as an alternative to face-to-face treatment, is to listen to an audio program such as my Guided Imagery for Cancer CD. There is an assortment of audio programs available online from many different practitioners, but as you’ll find out, not all products are equally effective.
Before you choose which one is right for you, listen to a sample of it. Do you like the voice, tempo and even accent of this practitioner? Hmmm…
For me it was important to produce a highly professional product with recording studio quality. It was also important for me it will be easy to follow the guided meditation. I infused the audio with powerful suggestions, imagery and metaphors to calm your Mind, sooth your body and help you heal from within.
The beauty of an audio program is that you can listen to it as often as you like so it’s very cost effective. Whether you listen to it while waiting for your doctor appointments, whale watching or before you go so sleep you will surly benefit.
It combines imagery, sensory awareness and auto-suggestions to engage your imagination and Mind. These techniques share some qualities and blend very well together. It is this combination that helps you to become immersed, and therefore fully involved, in a healing experience. It what helps you to shift your focus and attention from whatever emotions you are going through – be that fear, stress, hopelessness or rage to calmness and hopefulness.
The CD can also be used during any procedures you are having for cancer, such as chemotherapy. Listening to the CD during a procedure can help you to shift your attention from the clinical external environment to an inner positive and desirable one. The metaphors, mental images and suggestions used in this CD help your mind to create a better experience within yourself, which is important because we know that the mental images we hold within our minds have an effect on our bodies – for better or for worse.
A prime example of this is worry; when we worry about things that haven’t happened; we play out different scenarios in our mind. These scenarios affect us even though they are just imagined; the more we worry the worse we feel. If we want to empower ourselves and create the optimum conditions for healing within our bodies, it is important for us to have a tool that we can use to help ourselves – a tool that can help us to create better, more positive state of Mind.
My CD, The Healing Power of Your Mind: Guided Imagery for Cancer does this and also helps you to drift off into a sound a peaceful sleep that will leave you feeling refreshed when you wake in the morning. Healthy sleep patterns are crucial when it comes to healing the mind and body but can be difficult to achieve when we are feeling worried, stressed or afraid because of illness.
If you are interested in the concept of Immersive Healing but are unable to attend sessions with me, you may find my Guided Imagery CD helpful during your own healing journey.
If you read any of my previous blog posts you already know my view on illness – we cannot truly heal the body without also healing the Mind. Even more so, by healing the Mind we increase the effectiveness of medical treatment.
In saying that we must also heal the Mind I am not saying there are no organic factors in illness such as toxic environment, carcinogenic agents etc, of course there are. Still not everyone exposed to them end up with cancer. Something else is factoring our vulnerability to attacks on our health both from within as much as without and that is our Mind.
This is no breaking news, after all the scientific community acknowledges the Mind play a role in illness and health. The scientific study of Psychoneuroimmunology (PNI) validated these finds back in the 70’s. In the simplest of terms, PNI relates to the study of how the mind interacts with the body’s nervous system and how this, in turn, affects the function of the immune system.
The debate as it seems is no longer whether the Mind plays a role in illness but rather whether it plays a big enough role that it can promote the healing of illness.
Much of the focus of PNI has been on the subject of stress, but the term ‘stress’ can be misleading – ‘stress’ is such a huge area and means so much more than feeling overwhelmed because we have too much to do. Stress in the context of PNI refer to a range of states of mind that many people experience, such as fear, guilt, anger and shame. These states of mind, when experienced consciously or subconsciously, for an ongoing period of time may be harmful to our health if we do not address them properly.
In terms of the body’s immune system, PNI has found that these negative states of mind can be toxic – they can weigh heavily on the immune system and disrupt the optimum function of this powerful, inbuilt healing mechanism. This is what Immersive Healing which utilizes hypnosis as its therapeutic vehicle is designed to remedy.
The hypnotic protocol of Regression to Cause hypnosis is the heart of Immersive Healing. It allows us to identify the root cause of these harmful states of mind; what’s more, it allows us to address and to heal these states of mind. In doing so, we are able to revive the immune system. Reviving and strengthening the body’s defenses we increase its ability to heal itself, which can help you to improve your ability to fight cancer.
The healing of the Mind as facilitated by Immersive Healing will improve your odds for recovery. It will fortify your immune system, lessen the impact of treatment side effects and improve your quality of your life. Furthermore, it will help you cultivates hope and strengthens your will to live. These elements are vital when it comes to your ability to recover.
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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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