The scientific-materialistic point of view holds that the brain is the Mind. Or that Mind is a by-product of the brain. That means the body is making decisions for us. I think of the brain more as a biological receiver and transmitter of perceptions. Not a decision-maker over which we have no control.
Brain and mind are often used interchangeably. But for our purposes we need to make a distinction. The brain is an organ in the body. We don’t work with that.
We work with the Mind.
The mind has to do with perceptions and feelings and beliefs. But mind and body do not work independently. While no one can say for certain what the Mind is or how it actually works there are several models that can assist Hypnotherapists to make sense of the healing process.
Mind Conceives – Body Achieves
German New Medicine (GNM) suggests that the brain functions to perceive what’s going on in the environment and transmit signals throughout the body. So, the Mind is reading what’s going on in the environment. And it’s taking in that information through the 5 Perceptual Channels on the body.
Those perceptions make an impression on the brain. And then the brain sends a signal through the nervous system of the body to generate an appropriate response. If there is a perceived threat the brain will register what GNM calls a “biological conflict.” This is so the body will respond without the necessity of thought.
Those perceptions make an impression on the brain. And then the brain sends a signal through the nervous system of the body to generate an appropriate response. If there is a perceived threat the brain will register what GNM calls a “biological conflict.” This is so the body will respond without the necessity of thought. We call this stress.
Symptoms of a stress response include:
- Heart beats faster.
- Muscles tighten
- Blood pressure rises.
- Breathing quickens
- Senses get sharper.
Stress is the body’s natural response to the perception of threat. A biological conflict is a basic threat to survival. All mammals experience this. The nature of the perception determines which part of the brain is impacted and how the body will respond.
The area of the brain impacted decides which part of the body will be affected, whether it’s bones, lungs, heart, skin, or something else. The brain sends a signal to a specific organ so the body can respond appropriately to that specific threat. It’s all based on the perception.
The Mind-Body System is brilliant … except for one little thing …
The Subconscious Mind makes no distinction between real and imagined. So, an imaged threat can generates the same responses as if that threat was real. The nervous system is designed to keep us alive so it mobilizes every part of the body for action.
When the mind perceives a threat, real or not, the brain automatically sends a signal through the nervous system. Stress hormones like adrenaline and cortisol are released because they help make us faster and stronger. This ensures that we are better able to escape or defend ourselves.
All good . . . if you're under attack . . . This ability to respond automatically, without thought, will make you faster and more powerful. It helped us to survive as a species. But most of us are not facing actual threats in daily life. What we’re dealing with are imagined threats and figurative threats in daily life. Time pressures, too much to do, too much information, bureaucracy, interpersonal conflicts, health concerns, money worries and so on. These perceived threats generate exactly the same stress hormones keeping the body on Red Alert.
Every client that comes to see you brings you a problem that is rooted in some kind of stress. For example,
- Anxiety problems
- Anger issues
- Sleep problems
- Physical complaints
Stress hormones disrupt every system in the body.
Chronic stress leads to disease. Studies show that stress:
- Suppresses immune function
- Slows healing
- Results in chronic illness.
- Increases inflammation in the body
- Makes muscle and joint pain worse.
- Causes fatigue and exhaustion, mentally and physically.
- Causes insomnia.
- Accelerates aging.
- Kills brain cells
- Results in mental fogginess, forgetfulness, and confusion.
- Causes weight problems
- More ….
It’s Not That Stress is a Bad Thing
Stress isn’t bad. It’s a natural, biological response to a situation of danger. When the danger passes, the stress hormones are flushed out of the system. And all systems return to “normal.” That is, unless “normal” has become a chronic stressed out state.
The body knows how to heal itself. But stress inhibits its ability to do so. It can only take so much of a stress-load before something gives. That’s when symptoms erupt.
Stress-related complaints include:
- sleep problems
- chronic pain
- intestinal complaints (GERD, IBS)
- high blood pressure
- hair loss
- skin disorder (eczema, hives)
- weight gain
It’s Not What’s Happening Now
When stress becomes chronic, it’s not what’s happening NOW that’s the problem. It’s the accumulated stress from the past and how a person learned to cope with stress in the first place that’s the problem. For example, young children don’t know how to interpret everything that happens in their environment.
Things routinely happen that stress a Child out. It doesn’t even have to be an actual threat. Mommy and Daddy having an argument can stress the child out. If Mom and Dad are stressed, that can be perceived as a threat by the Child. The body will then generate a stress response. Watch for this in your regression sessions. What’s happening in the event and how is it being perceived as a threat? That’s what’s generating the stress response.
The Stress Response is Not the Problem
A stress response is the body-mind doing what it was designed to do – protect. The underlying problem is that the event is still unresolved. There’s still energy trapped in the event. And over time that energy can build up inside and eventually express as a physical or behavioral complaint. Resolve the underlying stress and the mind and body will be able to relax. Then the body can heal itself. Naturally.
Dr. Hamer of GNM states that any disease is the result of a life experience. The perceptions that form in the event will decide how the body will respond. So it’s an individual thing. That’s why treating the symptoms often won’t resolve the problem. The problem is based in the individual’s perception of an event in the past.
All mammals experience biological conflicts based on the perception of threat. The perception of threat generates stress. The nature of the stressor creates a specific biological conflict. Some examples of biological conflicts are:
- Separation conflict (separation anxiety)
- Attack conflict (vulnerability)
- Territorial conflict (boundary issues)
Chronic stress is what happens when the body gets stuck. When the body gets stuck in a stress response, the symptoms and behaviours it results in can seem irrational. There’s nothing actually happing in the moment-NOW to warrant that response. There’s no real threat.
The body doesn’t need to act to protect itself by running away or defending itself. But the body doesn’t know that. The body can’t think so it can’t make decisions. It’s just runs the survival programming.
The solution is not to treat the symptoms. The solution is not in trying to change the behaviour. It’s in identifying and resolving the underlying cause of the stress. Once you resolve the actual cause of stress the body-mind will do what it was designed to do – restore balance to allow healing.
Stress Causes Pain
Stress hormones increase inflammation in the body. Inflammation does a lot of damage to the organs of the body. It causes brain fog. It causes joint and muscle pain. Removing the stress that’s generating inflammation will reduce physical pain.
Stress Inhibits Cognition
You don’t need to think when you’re facing a threat to your life. Your body needs to respond instantly to ensure survival. The problem is cortisol kills brain cells. This can result in brain fog. Releasing the internal stress will improve cognition, memory, and mental clarity.
Stress Causes Weight Problems
Stress contributes to overweight because the body is operating in survival mode. As a result, it holds onto the weight.
Stress causes a person to overeat because eating provides pleasure. It causes us to relax. The problem is that a body under stress isn’t able to discern when we have had enough to eat.
The stress hormone, cortisol, has a numbing effect. That’s part of the protective function of the body. It ensures that you won’t experience the pain of being eaten in the event the saber tooth tiger catches you. But when there’s too much cortisol you have to eat more to get the feelings of pleasure and relaxation.
Cortisol also signals the body to store weight and not build muscle. Muscle burns fat. Stress just makes it harder to get rid of the excess weight.
Cortisol also affects the metabolic system which regulates blood sugar which can result in carb cravings. Carbs are converted to sugar in the bloodstream. Too much sugar can lead to metabolic disorder which is a precursor to diabetes.
Not to mention that dieting, itself, is stressful - mentally and physically. When the body is seriously stressed out, it’s easy to see how a person can get stuck in the endless cycle of try-fail dieting tactics. Stacked on top of whatever is causing the stress, there can be multiple layers of unresolved negative thoughts and feelings including:
- Negative self-talk
- Body issues
- Health concerns from being overweight
- Negative emotions associated with being out-of-control
What to Look for in Sessions
When does the client think the problem got started? This will give you a starting point to bridge back from.
What triggers the unwanted behaviour? Look for the feeling that comes on just before they do whatever they’re doing. Behind that there’s a thought. What you will find in your regression sessions is that stress-generating events (perceived threat) will follow a predictable pattern.
1. The Perception of Threat
Something is happening in the event that is being perceived as a threat. This may not be obvious at first, especially with very young children. But even confusion can be life-threatening to a child because not being able to make sense of your environment means you don’t know how to respond to meet your needs.
2. The Body Contracts
When there’s threat, the body automatically contracts to pull away from the danger. The contraction is uncomfortable. It’s usually felt as tightness or pressure in the body.
3. A Decision is Made
The body can’t make decisions. It just responds. The mind makes decisions. And the first decision will be about “who I am” in relationship to whatever is happening. That decision will then generate an emotional response.
4. An Emotion Arises
Usually, the initial emotional response will be fear. But it could be any emotion based on the thought that arises. Sadness or frustration are also common. Anger tends to come after fear or frustration. So find out what’s beneath the anger if that comes up.
Emotions motivate us to take action. Emotions like fear and anger are there to motivate us to run away or defend ourselves. But when there is no opportunity or ability to take action the body goes into a “freeze-response.” This effectively traps the energy in the body until it’s safe to let it go. This is Nature’s Way.
All mammals do this. Once the threat is in the past the animal will naturally discharge the energy. The tightness and tension will let go. And the body will relax. But when it comes to humans there’s a problem - humans have developed the ability to think.
We tend to override our Nature with thinking. We don’t “shake it off” when the traumatic event is over. We hold onto it, carry it with us wherever we go. Subsequent events that are a match for the initial trauma will then reinforce the “truth” of the initial perception.
Because the energy of the initial traumatic event hasn’t been released we’re now “sensitized” to a specific stimulus-response pattern. That sense of imminent threat (stress), along with the decision which gave it meaning (belief), will go with us everywhere we go. Every time it gets triggered, the pattern gets stronger.
5. An Action/Response Follows
Behaviours form because they are congruent with the thought and emotion associated with the specific event. Habitual behaviours are the result of repetition.
The behaviour always serves a positive purpose. For example, self-soothing or metaphoric expression of the trapped energy (such as inability to run away expressing through restless-leg-syndrome).
Unwanted behaviours are Subconscious solutions. The problem is they only offer temporary respite. As a result, they must be repeated. Through repetition they become habits. But the behavior isn’t the problem. The Real Problem is In The Past.
Most of the time, the real problem is an accumulation of stress from the past. When there’s nothing going on in the present moment that’s an actual threat your body doesn’t need to be trying to run or fight to protect itself. It doesn’t need to be generating all those stress hormones. But it doesn’t know that. It’s just running a program.
The solution is to focus on the underlying cause of stress. Once you resolve the actual cause of stress the body-mind will do what it was designed to do – restore balance to allow healing. So next time your client lands in an event from the past watch for this pattern.
Stephen Parkhill, the author of Answer Cancer, calls this pattern the “Thought-Cause-Alignment.” The thought is the actual cause of the problem. It’s the meaning that has been given to the perception associated with the event.
It begins with the initial perception of a threat. Then, physical sensations will be felt in the body. Tightening or constriction in the body feels uncomfortable.
Thoughts arise about what’s happening. Whether conscious or not, decisions are being made. Meanings are being assigned. And these interpretations are the “truths” of the Child. Especially look for this decision – Who am I in this? (or because of this.)
Emotions that arise in response to the thought are congruent with the meaning given to what’s happening. These emotions serve to motivate action. When there is no opportunity or capability to take action, a freeze response occurs. This locks the energy of the event into the body.
Behind the unwanted behaviour is an uncomfortable feeling that's still trapped in the event that caused it. i.e., Initial Sensitizing Event (ISE). That’s the event holding onto the first perception of threat, as well as all the thoughts and feelings associated with that perception.
The solution is to collapse the underlying pattern. Neutralize the feelings trapped in the ISE. Change the thoughts responsible for generating those feelings and the unwanted behaviours will no longer serve any purpose. As a result, the client is free to consciously make newer, better choices and take action based on those choices. Simple, right?
How to Collapse A Pattern
The easiest way to collapse the underlying pattern that’s responsible for generating the unwanted symptoms is to track the pattern back to it's roots.
Mind and body do not function independently. If you change the thought, you will change how it feels. Changing how it feels will change the response/behaviour.
Connect the symptom to a feeling. This gives you a Bridge to the past.
The feeling acts like a container for the event that caused it. Held within that event is a specific set of circumstances in which the client assigned meaning to what was happening at that time. The thought is the cause of the unwanted feeling.
Often, the event is in childhood. Thoughts and decisions about events in childhood are frequently based in erroneous perceptions. Changing the thought will automatically change how the client feels about the circumstances defined by that event.
Unwanted behaviours often formed as a way to cope with the internal pressure of unresolved emotions. Emotions don't come out of nothing. They're based in a life experience. Changing how the past experience feels will automatically change the subconscious response/behaviour.
Once the pattern has been neutralized, the Mind will be wide open to allow suggestions for positive change. Compound new behaviours. Reinforce the rewards that come with having made these changes.
What the Mind expects, tends to be realized. - Gerald Kein
Remember - nothing changes if nothing changes! Use future pacing to test the results in your session. Then, test the results in the client's daily life.