A14. Putting Together the Power of Words and Images - Part III

A14. Putting Together the Power of Words and Images - Part III

“Are you ready to experience hypnosis?” I asked DJ.

 

“Absolutely!”

 

“Great!  Go ahead and make yourself comfortable,” I instructed.  He adjusted himself in the cushioned black chair upon which he was sitting, and put his head back.

 

“When you’re ready, imagine your beach, and you can describe for me what you are experiencing.”

“Do I need to close my eyes?” he asked.

 

“Only if you want to,” I replied.  (If people are comfortable doing hypnosis with their eyes open the process works just as well.  Young children, individuals who become hypnotized very easily, and anxious people are more likely to keep their eyes open.)

 

DJ closed his eyes, and let out a soft sigh.  He was silent for a few moments, and then his lips parted slightly.

 

“What are you experiencing?” I prompted.

 

“I am on the beach,” he said softly.  He paused for a few moments.  “I see the blue ocean and the waves.   It seems to be low tide.  I am playing football.”  He smiled slightly.

 

“What do you hear?”

 

“The sound of the waves and my friends laughing.”  His forehead crinkled slightly as he concentrated.  “I can hear the football hitting my hands.”

 

“What does it feel like?”

 

“It’s hard and a little cold, because it fell in the water.”

 

“And what does it smell like?”

 

“Wet leather.”

 

“Good job.  Why don’t you finish playing football and nod you head when you are done.”

 

DJ fell silent.  I noticed that his eyelids were fluttering slightly and that his breathing had slowed, which are signs of being in hypnosis.  “OK, I’m done,” he announced.

 

“Is there any food around?” I asked.

 

“Yeah,” he whispered. 

 

“Do you want to eat any of it?”

 

“Yes.”

 

“What is the food?”

 

“Hot dogs.”

 

“What does it taste like?”

 

“Soft, warm, and there is a bit too much mustard.”

 

“Does it taste good?”

“Yes,” he replied, as he slouched more in his seat.

 

“Very good,” I responded.  “Now, notice how your experience on the beach has become more real the more you have paid attention to your different senses.  And notice how relaxed you have become.”  He nodded.  “Now, when you are ready to continue you can imagine playing football again, or lay down on the beach.  Either way I will talk to you about relaxing even further.”

 

DJ leaned his head to the left, and his mouth opened slightly as he appeared to relax even more. 

 

“Very good,” I said.  “So, you can start off by relaxing your forehead.”  I waited until I saw some subtle smoothing of his forehead.  “And now let the relaxation spread to your cheeks… and jaw.”  His mouth opened slightly more.

 

“And now let the relaxation spread to your neck.”  His head fell forward a bit. “And your shoulders.”  His shoulders fell.  “That’s right.  You are doing a great job.  I can see that you appear to be relaxing very well.”

 

“Now let the relaxation spread to your arms… and hands…”  I timed what I was saying so that every phrase I stated occurred while DJ was exhaling.  In this way I could be more in synchrony with him.

 

“Now, take a slow deep breath in.  And as you let it out slowly, notice how much your chest can relax.”  He inhaled slowly, and I noted that his stomach rose as he inhaled, which indicated that he was inhaling fully through use of his diaphragm, rather than using his chest muscles, which would have involved raising his shoulders, and the stomach sinking in as he inhaled.

 

Once DJ exhaled, I continued.  “Now, take in another slow deep breath.  Let it out slowly, and notice how relaxed your belly can become.”  As his stomach fell slowly when he exhaled, I added softly, “That’s right.”

 

“When you’re ready, let the relaxation spread.” I continued.  “To your back…  To your legs… To your feet…”  His legs became more relaxed.

 

“That’s right,”  I affirmed.  “Notice how relax you have become.  How peaceful and calm and tranquil you can be.  Very relaxed, serene, content, happy, and in control you are.  Notice how your breathing is easy.  It’s a great feeling,” I affirmed.

 

He nodded.

 

“This is a feeling you can have any time,”  I suggested.  “You can either go to the beach as you are doing now, or you can make your sign.  Go ahead and make your relaxation sign now.”  He closed his fist. “That’s right,” I responded.  “Tell yourself, from now on, whenever I want to relax without doing hypnosis, all I need to do is make my fist and immediately my mind and body will become this calm, even if I am not doing hypnosis.”  I noted that DJ’s lips were moving quietly, as if he was repeating what I said.

 

“Now, you can stay in hypnosis for as long as you like.  You can be there for a minute, an hour, even a year.   Only a few moments will pass in real time.  Let me know when you are ready to return.”  I stopped talking and waiting.

 

Some patients raise their hands within a few seconds, but often patients who are serious about the hypnosis experience or are gifted at it can take several minutes before they indicate that they are ready to finish.  I believe that allowing patients to take as much time as they would like in hypnosis gives them a feeling of control, and also allows their conscious and subconscious minds to do whatever work needs to be done in order to allow the patients to heal.  Further, allowing patients to choose when to return can strengthen their self-esteem as I demonstrate trust in their abilities to help themselves and guide their own therapy.

 

After 5 minutes DJ raised his right hand.  “Good,” I responded.  “Put your hand down.  Before you come back you can tell yourself four things.  First, congratulate yourself for your excellent imagination.”  He smiled.

 

“Second, remind yourself to practice going to the beach every day for at least two weeks.  Hypnosis is a mind/body skill.  The more you practice it, the better you become.”  His lips moved silently again.

 

“Third, remind yourself that whenever you want to relax without doing hypnosis, all you need to do is to make your fist.”  He made his fist, even though I had not directly suggested he do that.  “That’s right,” I acknowledged.  “When you make your fist your mind and body can become relaxed just like you are now, even when you are not imagining that you are at the beach.”  He nodded.

 

“Finally, before you come back you can tell yourself some good things.  For example, you might tell yourself that you like how you feel now, and that you will feel this way for the rest of the day.  Or you might tell yourself that your breathing will become easier now you know how to use hypnosis.  Or that you can become a faster runner.  Or that you will become a better student.  Whatever you want to wish for yourself, wish for it now.  And the more you tell yourself these things, the more they can come true.”  I paused to let the instructions sink in.

 

I then continued in a louder voice, “And after you have told yourself all these good things, when the time is right, and you will know exactly when that time is, you can open your eyes, and come back.”

 

I waited for 2 minutes, and then DJ opened his eyes wide and sat up straighter.  He looked at me, focused, smiled, and said, “That was amazing.”

 

To be continued next week.

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I had expected to have several more sessions with DJ in order to continue our post-transition work. However, we met on only two other occasions to discuss his career development path, and then he felt he no longer needed to return.

A26. Another Synchronicity of Events

After living in Syracuse for a number of years, my wife said that she was tired of the difficult winter weather there, which affected the city nearly half of each year.

A25. Guided through Life

During the summer prior to medical school I met with the Cantor at my parents’ synagogue and asked him to help me to continue to learn how to chant from the Torah.

A24. Finding my Spiritual Self

The amazing events with DJ reinforced ideas and feelings about life that I had been developing for a couple of decades. Thus far I have shared how my involvement with the world of medicine helped instruct me about how life can work.

A23. Return of a Friend

During the following two weeks until DJ’s next appointment with me, I kept thinking about the remarkable lessons that DJ and his subconscious were teaching.

A22. The Role of a Leader

DJ brought a copy of “Dharma Bums” to his next visit with me two weeks later. “You were right!” he exclaimed. “The part about the paths was not in the book.”