TEDx 2015 Avinoam Lerner

TEDx Talk – Hypnosis for Cancer Recovery

TEDx 2015 Avinoam LernerLast 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.

hypnosis for surgery cancer

Surgery Preparation Secrets Your Surgeon will Never Share with You

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.

cancer surgery hypnosisWhile 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.

avinoam lerner dr. belanger

Integrative Mind Body Medicine and Cancer Recovery

If you happened to miss my recent discussion with Dr. Belanger on his radio show “Cancer Concepts and Complement” you can do so below; or use the link at the bottom of this page to visit his show’s web page on VoiceAmerica.com.

“We know conventional medicine is not enough because the cancer comes back too often.”
Avinoam Lerner


Click To Listen:

Join Dr. James Belanger from the Lexington Natural Health Center as he explores the benefits of Integrative Mind Body Medicine with his guest Avinoam Lerner.

Lerner is an integrative Medicine practitioner and a Clinical Hypnotherapist specializing in cancer care. His innovative approach to cancer recovery highlights the multidimensional nature of illness and the need to treat not only the body but also the Mind. Failing to do so; he argues, mean separating the person from the illness and thus failing to treat the root cause of illness. This result all too often, in cancer resurfacing in secondary medical condition.

Tune in and learn about the role of the Subconscious Mind in sickness and health and how you can engage your own Mind to improve your quality of life, resiliency and the rate of recovery.


avinoam lerner dr. belangerClick on the image to visit Dr. Belanger’s VoiceAmercia.com webpage.

It features many other topics of interest related to Complementary Medicine for Cancer.

Can the Mind Help Us Heal

The article below appeared in the February addition of SCIENTIFIC AMERICAN. In my view it highlights a very important technological breakthrough which has the potential to save many lives. And yet, because technology is missing the human factor and cannot address the Mind wounds that influenced the internal biological environment, made it vulnerable thus allowed illness to develop in the first place, it will not free us from the bondage of illness.  In fact it may produce more of it.

Thought-Controlled Genes Could Someday Help Us Heal

Scientists combined a brain–computer interface with an optogenetic switch to create the first-ever brain–gene interface

Feb 12, 2015 |By Simon Makin

People can control prosthetic limbs, computer programs and even remote-controlled helicopters with their mind, all by using brain-computer interfaces. What if we could harness this technology to control things happening inside our own body? A team of bioengineers in Switzerland has taken the first step toward this cyborglike setup by combining a brain-computer interface with a synthetic biological implant, allowing a genetic switch to be operated by brain activity. It is the world’s first brain-gene interface.
The group started with a typical brain-computer interface, an electrode cap that can register subjects’ brain activity and transmit signals to another electronic device. In this case, the device is an electromagnetic field generator; different types of brain activity cause the field to vary in strength. The next step, however, is totally new—the experimenters used the electromagnetic field to trigger protein production within human cells in an implant in mice.The implant uses a cutting-edge technology known as optogenetics. The researchers inserted bacterial genes into human kidney cells, causing them to produce light-sensitive proteins. Then they bioengineered the cells so that stimulating them with light triggers a string of molecular reactions that ultimately produces a protein called secreted alkaline phosphatase (SEAP), which is easily detectable. They then placed the human cells plus an LED light into small plastic pouches and inserted them under the skin of several mice.Human volunteers wearing electrode caps either played Minecraft or meditated, generating moderate or large electromagnetic fields, respectively, from a platform on which the mice stood. The field activates the implant’s infrared LED, which triggers the production of SEAP. The protein then diffuses across membranes in the implant into the mice’s bloodstream.Playing Minecraft produced moderate levels of SEAP in the mice’s bloodstream, and meditating produced high levels. A third type of mental control, known as biofeedback, involved the volunteers watching the light, which could be seen through the mice’s skin, and learning to consciously turn the LED on or off—thereby turning SEAP production on or off.“Combining a brain-computer interface with an optogenetic switch is a deceptively simple idea,” says senior author Martin Fussenegger of the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich, “but controlling genes in this way is completely new.” By using an implant, the setup harnesses the power of optogenetics without requiring the user to have his or her own cells genetically altered. Fussenegger and his co-authors envision therapeutic implants one day producing chemicals to correct a wide variety of dysfunctions: neurotransmitters to regulate mood or anxiety, natural painkillers for chronic or acute pain, blood-clotting factors for hemophiliacs, and so on. Some patients would benefit greatly from having conscious control over intravenous dosage rather than relying on sensors—especially in cases such as pain, which is hard for anyone but the sufferer to measure, or locked-in patients or others who are conscious but cannot communicate.

This article was originally published with the title “Thought-Controlled Genes.”

To read the original article: CLICK HERE

alternative cancer

Why Cancer Research Fail to Produce a Cure?

After decades of research and despite almost inexhaustible resources, huge budgets and unlimited manpower, no medical researcher or doctor for that matter can definitively say what causes cancer with 100% scientific certainty. Sure, you may get an explanation, but it too will depend greatly upon whom you ask and their field of study. How can this be?

No disrespect intended in this statement, and I do mean that. In reality a great deal of progress was made over the years and is being made as I write these lines. The bottom line is that more people survive their cancer today than in any other time. Still, the search for the elusive “cure” continues to no avail.

Could it be that researchers failure to find the Cure is the result of missing or overlooking a vital piece of the puzzle? Well, according to Viktor Frankl, an Austrian neurologist, psychiatrist and the founder of logotherapy, which is a form of existential analysis, the “Third Viennese School of Psychotherapy” the answer is a straight forward YES.

When it comes to understanding the human experience of illness, researchers only study illness from a one-dimensional perspective.

Medical researchers discuss internal and external contributors. They can point to genetic disposition and carcinogenic factors in our environment. All true! Psychologists can discuss the development of illness from a psychological perspective through the lens of Mental Science in the context of social influences, behavioral patterns and certain personality types. Still, all true! Yet, while each field provides necessary and important information about illness, they fail to see illness in its essence as a multi-dimensional event, and as a whole person event.

Viewing cancer treatment as a medical or biological event or only as a psychological event means robbing people of their true spiritual nature as Frankl’s model show us below. It limits their experience to one or two dimensions; we know that there are more dimensions.

Alternative Cancer Treatment

Viktor Frankl First Law of Dimensional Ontology

This is illustrated in the image above, which shows a cylinder suspended in a three-dimensional space. In the words of Frankl: “Projected out of its three-dimensional space into the horizontal and vertical two-dimensional planes, it (the cylinder) yields in the first case a circle and in the second on a rectangle. These pictures contradict one another. What is more important, the cylinder is an open vessel (open from the top, hollow) in contrast to the circle and the rectangle that are closed figures.” (Will to Meaning)

In other words, the human experience has many dimensions: a physical dimension (rectangle), a psychological dimension (circle), and a spiritual dimension (the cylinder).

Each projection provides important information. The rectangle reveals its height and width; the circle reveals its circumference. However, neither one of these projections tells us that we are actually looking at a cylinder. We know it is a cylinder only because we can see the original object.

Neither projection informs us that the cylinder is, in fact, an open system, closed only at the bottom. Each projection provides limited information, and therefore we do not have a truly accurate or complete understanding of what the source object really is.

Essentially, in my humble opinion, this is the very obstacle standing in the way of a cure. While the job of the specialist is to focus on a narrow field of study, this inability to see the whole picture is at the core of this issue.

The Healing Journey

The Healing Journey, Overcoming the Crisis of Cancer

Every now and then I get to meet a patient who truly inspires me. It can be their insatiable curiosity, their courage and open mind or simply the fact they read every cancer related book on the planet. Such one patient referred me to a book titled The Healing Journey by A.J. Cunningham which she found compelling.

The Healing Journey CunninghamAlastair Cunningham is the director of The Healing Journey program, a scientist and psychologist. Hi is a professor at the University of Toronto and a cancer survivor himself. The Healing Journey is a program for people who want to learn how to help themselves when they have cancer, or other serious chronic diseases. It is a practical course, providing simple, psychological and spiritual tools which promote inner harmony, peace and healing, methods that can help any of us become a “healed person”. The program has been developed and evaluated at a large cancer treatment and research center, and parts of it have been offered there and at cancer support centers since 1982.

What my patient found compelling about Cunningham’s program is that it reconcile science, psychology and spirituality. He and his team have taken the brave step toward a true whole person approach to recovery and it is that which prompted her to share this with me. There is tremendous value in this program and if you are fortunate enough to live in near any of the Wellspring Cancer Centers in Toronto and other parts of Canada I highly recommend you attend it.

As a practitioner, I found Cunningham’s language and the way he connected the dots through his writing very powerful and valuable. He provided a clear and concise explanation of the relationship between the physical organic event of disease and the psychological and spiritual dimensions.

“Suffering is a mental reaction to events perceived as unwanted. Much of the suffering cancer causes comes from reflecting on the diagnosis and what it implies, rather than directly from the disease itself. Cancer is thus an existential crisis, not simply a physical problem. If we consider the task of the health care professional to be assisting healing, and “healing” in the broadest sense to mean the relief of suffering, then various approaches can be used to help the patient, who may be extremely anxious for his or her life.” ~ A.J. Cunningham

You can read an abstract of The Healing Journey or click The Healing Journey link to purchase it on AMAZON.

“The usual medical strategy is to work directly on the body, attempting to remove the cancer and alleviate symptoms, thus eliminating or minimizing the physical cause of the suffering. A psychological approach is also feasible and , ideally, complements the medical , helping people to change their mental reaction to the situation by modifying the internal monologue and the distress thus engendered. A “spiritual” level in the healing of suffering is also available, and it has a long history in traditional cultures, although it is little understood by medical science.”

I am completely on board with this view but only to the point of defining “spirituality”. The Healing Journey definition of “spiritual” is “helping the suffering person to connect with an aspect of self that has been labelled as spiritual self, the Divine within, God, the Tao etc”. This view in my opinion has a religious aspect to it. A person suffering gain a sense of being a part of something bigger thus his experience or the threat to his body is perceived as much less important. My definition of “spiritual” is drawn from Viktor Frankle’s teaching and therefore revolves around Meaning, as meaning of life. Working from this perspective peace of mind and/or healing can be gained by finding meaning in every moment, in every event and stem from one’s freedom of choice. It is the freedom to find the “good” in that which is perceived as “bad”, the silver lining around every dark cloud if you will.

If you’re thinking we’re only splitting hair here, well that is your choice of course 🙂 as for me, I am grateful to learn about this valuable resource and Cunningham’s contribution.

If you are interested in learning more The Healing Journey Program, visit this link. It offers access to all the written material and audio recordings from the program on their website.

You can also watch this video:

Mind emotions and cancer

Is Your Mind Making you Sick

For just a moment, imagine your brain as an orchestra. Your musical instruments are your beliefs, perceptions, emotions and attitudes. Each instrument vibrates at a specific frequency to create a unique sound, the sound of your mind.

hypnotherapy cancerIf you could listen to the soundtrack of your Mind, what would it sound like? Would you hear harmonious or disharmonious sounds in your orchestra?

We have learned to observe good health as a state of harmony and balance within, and illness as a state of imbalance or disharmony. Therefore when illness is present, the sound is likely to not be harmonious which suggest the vibration generated by the entire orchestra is one of disharmony.

The Mind and Illness

Harmful beliefs, erroneous perceptions and unresolved emotional turmoil fuel the Subconscious with disharmonious vibrations, and the result is illness. In a state of illness, the soundtrack of your subconscious mind would be like an orchestra of untrained musicians playing un-tuned instruments.

We can safely say that without being aware of it and certainly without wishing for it, we “think” ourselves into illness because our thoughts, beliefs and emotions affect the body.

The Law of Vibration states that: “Everything in the universe is what it is by virtue of its rate of vibration. Change the rate of vibration and you change the nature, quality, and form. The vast panorama of nature, both visible and invisible, is being constantly changed by simply changing the rate of vibration, and as thought is a vibration, we can exercise this power. We can change the vibration and thus produce any condition that we desire to manifest in our bodies.” (Charles F. Hannel).

Risking oversimplification, I created the Subconscious Illness Paradigm model to illustrate how Mind factors affect our brain and our body.

Restoring Harmony to the Mind and Body

One of the most significant discoveries we’ve made is that we actually can “think” ourselves back into health. And though we are still exploring how and to what degree the above statement is true, we know that we have an innate capacity and ability to participate and our experience. And we can do so by changing our Mind, or better say, Subconscious Mind.

Boston hypnosisThe challenge for a long time was to form a methodical and systematic practice to engage with the Subconscious Mind and to do so in a way that is meaningful and authentic. To get the Subconscious Mind back into a harmonic state of health, we must identify, address and heal every aspect of the governing mental Paradigm that is not in harmony. We must change values, beliefs and perceptions that are negative and inhibiting to our health to positive and supporting of our health.

“The way to health is founded on the law of vibration, which is the basis of all science, and this law is brought into operation by the Mind, the ‘world within’. It is a matter of individual effort and practice. Our world of power is within. If we are wise, we shall not waste time and effort in trying to deal with effects as we find them in the ‘world without’, which is only an external, a reflection.” (Charles F. Hannel)

Immersive Healing which utilizes Clinical Hypnotherapy as its therapeutic vehicle is a method for changing disharmonious Mind patterns into harmonious. If disharmonious patterns promoted illness, then by changing from their quality from negative to positive, we change their effect from destructive to constructive and allow healing to begin. As outline in the Subconscious Health Paradigm model, discord, disharmony, and disease give way to mental, psychological and physical health.

The two Mind models illustrations can be found in my book The New Cancer Paradigm. If you wish to learn more about the Mind, illness and our individual ability to transition back into health, this book is to provide you tools and techniques to do so.

Help… I can’t Swallow My Chemo Pills

With many types of chemotherapy (chemo) drugs available these days, doctors can recommend one form over another based on their patients condition, tolerance and preferences. Chemo taken orally works just as well as other forms of chemotherapy and may be the right choice for patients experiencing adverse side effects to drugs administered via IV.
For those taking chemo orally there are plenty online resources such as the Dana Farber Cancer Institute page that provide tips and guidelines for a safe practice. Few resources however provide practical solutions to some of the challenges that arise from the need to swallow chemo pills.

For you and me the act of swallowing may be a simple one but over the years I have seen a good share of patients struggling, afraid of swallowing their pills. Some can easily swallow food but not pills; others will gag just thinking about how the pills taste or smell or even how it feels in their mouth. For these patients, hypnotherapy may offer the relief they seek, providing a practical and effective solution to overcoming this fear.

Hypnotherapy Help Cancer Patients Swallow Chemo Pills

The clinical term related specifically to the fear of swallowing is Phagophobia. hypnosis for cancer patientsIt relates to swallowing complaints when no apparent physical limitation is observed. A more general term for difficulty with swallowing is Dysphagia which addresses wider range of causes including fear, pain, or some other cognitive, anatomical or physiological problem.

The advantage of hypnosis over other psychological interventions is our ability to engage the fear subconsciously. This allows us to avoid inflating the fear or causing further hardship. The point of hypnosis of course is not to “make” or force anyone to act against their will but to help them resolve and dissolve the very thought process that feed the fear. Addressing the cause will change its effect. If one’s fearful thought process, belief system or perception associated with swallowing has altered from difficult, painful or dangerous to comfortable, beneficial and safe his or her behavior will change accordingly.

If you struggle with swallowing your medication be sure to discuss the option of hypnosis with your medical team. Never alter the course of your treatment without talking to your doctor first. Hypnosis is a safe, effective and noninvasive intervention but it should be integrated into your medical care.

The Power of Imagery

Assuming there is no physiological basis for your difficulties swallowing and that you want to keep improving your skill of swallowing on your own here is a good place to start.

Guided Meditation for FearThe power of the mind to influence the body is quite remarkable because Imagery is the most fundamental language we have. Our mind processes everything we do through images and we can harness this ability to promote desired outcomes such as an easier time swallowing.

Visualize success. In your mind’s eye see yourself calmly and easily swallowing the pill. Break the process into tiny bits of action and see yourself successful at each of them. Take it very slowly, and make sure you feel comfortable at any given moment. If tension arise for any reason go back and start from the beginning. Repeatedly visualizing success can have a very real beneficial impact.