How to prepare for your stop-smoking hypnotherapy session
So you have decided to stop smoking, that is good! Your lungs and wallet will thank you. In fact, your whole body will – smoking is a key cause of so many nasty illnesses that listing them all would fill this entire article. Most of us realise that smoking is bad for our physical health, but are you aware that depression, anxiety and an increased risk of schizophrenia have all been linked to cigarettes?
But enough of the reasons as to why we should stop - this article assumes that you are stopping and that you have chosen hypnotherapy as the best route to a smoke-free life. Hypnotherapy is a good choice; according to the National Council For Hypnotherapy, by quitting smoking with hypnosis, a person is three times more likely to give up than if they used nicotine patches.
Many hypnotherapists tackle smoking-compulsion in a single two-hour session. Initially, the therapist is likely to discuss your smoking history - how did you begin smoking? Is there a pattern to your smoking now? Your hypnotherapist will explain how the mind works in relation to smoking - the objective is to arm you with such a high degree of self-understanding that even after the hardest day, you will have the clarity of thought required to say no to the primitive emotional part of your brain that craves cigarettes.
This discussion is vital to the success of your smoking-cessation therapy and will last about an hour. It will give you a clear understanding of the tricks your subconscious mind can play to knock you off the stop-smoking wagon.
After this, the hypnotherapist will get you on the couch to solidify all you have learned with a session of relaxation and trance, using guided imagery and metaphor the ground will be paved for your new healthier, wealthier and happier smoke-free life.
It is important to be aware that hypnotherapy is not magic; it can help you use your mind to make life-enhancing changes. However, the responsibility for carrying out those changes lies with you.
The work you do with your therapist will enable you to recognise the smoking impulses coming from the primitive emotional part of your mind for what they are, a dark propaganda for an expensive, unhealthy and ultimately fatal way of life. Furthermore, the therapy will help you to say a clear, unequivocal no to that part of your mind - an absolutely clear refusal to its child-like demands to continue with a self-destructive pattern of behaviour.
So what can you do ahead of your smoking-cessation hypnotherapy session to maximise its benefit? I suggest that you consider taking the following steps:
Think about why you want to stop, is it health? Money? Fitness? Family? Freedom? Whatever your reasons, reflect on them. Create a mental image of your future life - one in which you have left the unpleasant habit behind.
For example, if saving money is your main objective, create a mental image of enjoying a lovely holiday or buying a new car with the money you will save.
If fitness goals are your motivation, then vividly imagine what it will be like to breathe so much more easily during exercise - whether it is walking up stairs at work, excelling while playing a sport or enjoying the countryside.
Imagine living a strong and healthy life, free of disease - picture yourself in the different stages of your life, in each stage happy and healthy, able to enjoy an active life with children and grandchildren.
Smoking ages us prematurely, with a smoke-free life you will have energy and vitality that cigarettes steal from us - visualise your new energised lifestyle.
With this vivid picture of what you want to achieve in mind, settle down in a quiet and comfortable place;
1. Allow your eyes to close - set aside concerns, imagine putting worries into an old fashioned filing cabinet marked ‘for future consideration’.
2. Take steady slow breaths - fill your lungs at an even pace as your stomach gently rises, and breathe out equally slowly, until a steady rhythm is established.
3. Imagine what it would feel like if all your muscles began to relax - start with the skin of your scalp, and then allow the muscles around your eyes and your jaw to relax too; then your neck and shoulders, down through your arms, chest, back and stomach - down through your waist and thighs; all the way down to the tips of your toes - all the muscles of your body relaxing and letting go.
4. Imagine that you are at the top of a gentle slope in an area of beautiful countryside - picture it as you wish; perhaps you are making your way down a country lane, or maybe you are walking down towards a beach. Whatever you choose, just picture a warm and pleasant day: beautiful sights and sounds, wildflowers, the chirping of birds, the scent of woodlands - whatever you find most pleasing. Enjoy a peaceful daydream as you envisage yourself walking down and down this gentle path, and with each imaginary step you take, just allow yourself to become more and more relaxed. Allow pleasant images to drift through your mind.
5. Now turn your thoughts back to your mental picture of success, imagine it is the future - you have stopped smoking and you are enjoying all the benefits this will bring. Visualise your new, happy smoke-free life in as much detail as you can. Imagine the sense of pride and accomplishment you will feel.
6. When you are ready, just open your eyes and have a stretch – well done!
Repeat this imagination exercise each day for a week before your stop-smoking session and you will create positive expectation and motivation. You can picture your brain as a sat-nav; you have to enter a destination before the sat-nav can guide you and with this exercise, you are letting the deepest parts of your subconscious mind know where it is you want to go and just how good it will be when you get there.
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About Jon Creffield
Jon Creffield (HPD, DHP, DSFH) is a CNHC registered Solution Focused Hypnotherapist specialised in using relaxation, guided imagery and metaphor to help clients achieve life-enhancing changes. He is a member of the National Council For Hypnotherapy and the Association For Solution Focused Hypnotherapy. Jon is based in North Somerset near Bristol.… Read more
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