Hypnotherapy and the therapeutic power of mindfulness
11th November, 20150 Comments
Written by: Stephan Toque HPD DHP NCH AfSFH
Mindfulness based hypnotherapy, as its names suggests, places a strong emphasis on mindfulness practice. But what exactly does mindfulness mean? What is being mindful? In this increasingly fast-paced world we live in, life can be relentless, frantic and exhausting - but it doesn't have to be this way. We are often caught up in habits, patterns of thought and behaviour that unbeknownst to us, tend to imprison us in a smallness that is definitely not the full story of who we are! We might have a strong intuition on occasion that what is really missing in our lives in some profound way is us. Our willingness or ability to actually show up fully in our lives and live them as if they really mattered, in the only moment we ever get, which is this one, now.
Mindfulness is a way of being with and attending to experience with awareness rather than judgement. It is about learning to bring a sense of approach and acceptance to the present moment, just as it is, right here and now, however pleasant or unpleasant, easy or difficult rather than worrying or reminiscing about the past and/or negatively forecasting the future. Mindfulness is a practice and life skill, a set of tools to develop insight, clarity and discernment into the vast range of feelings, sensations and thoughts that comprise the human condition. Mindfulness helps you to become more aware of the unhelpful thought patterns that can trigger and perpetuate stress, anxiety and low moods. With such awareness comes choice and an improved ability to respond skillfully to life’s hurdles. It means learning to experience the world in a more immediate way without being constantly overwhelmed by stressful thoughts, feelings and emotions. Mindfulness techniques help you to access an inner sense of calm, allowing you to find a stillness from which you can deal with the ups and downs of life with a much greater sense of control and balance.
A mindful attitude helps you to deal with stressful thoughts, feelings and emotions by acknowledging their existence, but not getting caught up in them – learning how to let them go. Different techniques such as creative visualization and dis-association are often used to this effect.
The origins of mindfulness
A recognition of the therapeutic power of mindfulness in dealing with stress, anxiety and depression has been growing across a range of different schools of therapy in recent years, particularly Cognitive Behavioural Therapy and Solution Focused Hypnotherapy.
It actually is an area of expertise well suited to hypnotherapy whose practitioners are experts in teaching clients how to relax and access feelings of inner calm, well-being and resourcefulness. Mindfulness has a very ancient heritage, rooted in Eastern religion and philosophy and associated in particular with Buddhist concepts. But it must be stressed that, used within therapeutic contexts, the approach has no religious aspect to it.
It is all about cultivating a state of mind which can help you to deal calmly with the stresses and strains of modern living.
Hypnosis and mindfulness
Mindfulness based hypnotherapy can help you access the inner sense of calm you need to deal with uncomfortable or distressing thoughts, feelings and emotions. Mindfulness is traditionally developed through the practice of meditation, which does have close similarities with the types of relaxation techniques associated with hypnosis but it is much more than meditation. It is really about cultivating an attitude of mind which can be applied in all sorts of everyday situations.
Long-term benefits of mindfulness based hypnotherapy:
- Improved ability to cope/engage creatively with short and long-term periods of stress.
- Increased calm, relaxation, balance and presence of mind.
- Much greater enthusiasm and energy.
- Lasting decreases of physical/psychological symptoms: stress, anxiety, depression.
- Enhanced ability to cope with and manage physical discomfort and chronic pain.
- A greater sense of control to working with difficult situations.
Mindfulness approaches put you more in control and give you the self-sufficiency to move forward confidently with your life in ways which are rewarding and long-lasting. Hard evidence for the beneficial long-term effects of mindfulness is gaining support from the new brain scanning techniques which are leading to major steps forward in the ways scientists understand the brain.
It is also important to point out that mindfulness helps us a great deal to change our patterns of thinking and changing our patterns of thinking has a strong influence on the way we view or interpret the world around us. Anxiety, stress and anger are, more often than not, caused by our negative thought patterns. They are not caused by the environment per se. It is our way of interpreting the world around us, of interpreting our reality that will trigger stress, anxiety or anger. If the events in one’s life were what triggers emotional responses then, all students at university would, before an exam, experience panic attacks and all the victims of an earthquake would display the same emotional response. We know this is not the case. We can therefore see that the way we think actually determines the way we feel. Every thought form has an impact that shapes moments to come. Our thoughts define our universe. It is not a secret that the thoughts you "seed" in your mind and the concepts and beliefs you accept, feeling them sinking into you day after day, inevitably influence your own living reality.
About the author
Having studied and practiced mindfulness for many years, I cannot stress enough its numerous benefits. I think this article "Hypnotherapy and the therapeutic power of mindfulness" will clarify how these benefits actually impact every aspect of our everyday life.
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