Stress is a fight-flight state of arousal. It’s good if you’re in a situation of threat where you need to focus intensely and respond automatically. For example, if you’re being chased by a bear, you need to respond without thought. That’s the purpose of the stress response – to get you clear of the danger.
But we live in a highly stressful society. Too many people are living with chronic stress, day in and day out. That’s a problem because when the body goes into a stress response it shuts down functions that are not necessary for immediate survival. You don’t need things like digestion and healing when you’re facing down a grizzly bear. You need to run!
The Body Can't Tell the Difference
The body can’t tell the difference between a real and an imagined threat. It just responds to things based on our perceptions. And most people are dealing with imagined threats on an ongoing basis. Things like not enough time or not enough money. Add computer problems and your cell phone alerting you every 30 seconds and you’ve got stress!
When stress becomes chronic it generates the kinds of problems that people turn to healing practitioners for help with. For example, some of the conditions that are stress-related are:
- Anxiety and depression
- Asthma and allergies
- High blood pressure
- Diabetes and obesity
- Smoking and overeating
- Tension and Migraine headaches
- Digestive problems
- Premature aging
This is really just the tip of the iceberg.
Back in the nineties, I did a five-day training in energy healing Rosalyn Bruyere. Bruyere is a clairvoyant healer who is best-known for her work in a seven-year study that was conducted at UCLA with Valerie Hunt and Ida Rolf.
Ida Rolf is the creator of a body-work technique called Rolfing. And Valerie Hunt is the scientist who recorded all the data using high-tech equipment. So during this study, Ida Rolf used Rolfing to release trapped energies from the body of the client. And while Ida worked on the body, Valerie Hunt monitored physiological changes with medical machines. And Rosalyn Bruyere’s job was to record shifts that she was observing in the client’s auric field.
During the training with Rosalyn Bruyere, she said something that I found very interesting. She said that the reason energy-based healing techniques like Reiki, and Touch-for-Health, and Rolfing are so effective is because they help to calm the energy system of the body.
This makes more more energy available for healing.
Years later, I heard Dr. Robert Scaer say the same thing about EFT (Emotional Freedom Technique). Now, Robert Scaer is a serious scientist. He holds degrees in both neurology and psychology. And what he said is that tapping has been shown to calm the nervous system of the body.
When you calm the energy system of the body, it has more energy available for functions that are needed for healing. So anything you can do to help a person to relax is going to support them in healing.
This is also true of hypnosis.
Now, some people think that hypnosis is relaxation. And that’s not true. Hypnosis is the by-pass of the Critical Faculty of the Mind. And you don’t need relaxation to do that. But relaxation can be attached to hypnosis. The problem is that not every client is able to relax.
Some clients are too wound up or too anxious to be able to relax into hypnosis. And trying to MAKE them relax can add to the problem. They’ll run into resistance. They’ll struggle to maintain their focus. They’ll think they can’t be hypnotized. And they’ll come to the conclusion their situation is hopeless - which is entirely untrue.
Relaxation is the antidote to stress.
But there are different ways to get to the relaxation. The key is to use a client centered approach and match it to the client’s energy. If the client can relax, then you can go with relaxation first. If they’re too wound up, then let the relaxation be a by-product of the healing process.
Either way, the energy system of the body will unwind. They’ll feel better. And the mind and body will begin to let go of the internal stress. So they can begin to heal. But the approach you choose will depend on the client.
The question is – can the client relax?
Can they close their eyes and keep them closed? This may sound silly but I had a client who was so anxious, he couldn’t relax enough to keep his eyes closed. So a relaxation induction was out of the question. We needed to use a different approach.
A preliminary test you can use is the eye lock test. This is a standard part of the Elman Induction. But you can use it before you begin the induction to test the client’s ability to relax.
The eye lock test is simply to have the client close the eyes. And imagine that the eyelids are so relaxed that they just won’t work. Then give test them a test. And make sure they won’t work.
If the client can pass the eye lock test, you can transfer that relaxation to the rest of the body. So, in this case, it would be okay to proceed with a relaxation induction. And ease the client into hypnosis gently using suggestion for physical relaxation. As the client relaxes, more and more, the nervous system will settle down. And as they release physical tension from the body they’ll start to feel calmer.
The mind tends to follow the body.
As they focus on relaxing physically the mental machinations will start to slow down. And they’ll get quieter inside. In this relaxed and peaceful state the client will feel much more comfortable. These are the ideal conditions for healing to happen.
Comfort equates with safety. In this state it’s safer for a person to face the underlying issues that are causing the problem – whatever it happens to be. This is important because every problem is the result of a life experience.
Most of the problems hypnotherapists work with are rooted in traumatic memories. Recent research in trauma therapy indicates that the only way to completely resolve a traumatic memory is by confronting it. You need to extinguish the thoughts and feelings that are generating stress in the person’s mind and body.
That stress is coming out of past experiences.
To release the internal stress the client needs to look at what’s causing it. So, that’s Option A. When the client is able to relax, relaxation hypnosis is an appropriate choice.
Once they’re feeling relaxed, peaceful and calm, you can guide them into past events that are contributing to the problem. They can safely face what happened in the past. And you can help them to release whatever energies got trapped in that event and this will free up the energy they need to heal.
When relaxation is too difficult for the client, or they just can’t pay attention, or there’s a high level of resistance, you need a different approach. For example, a highly analytical client will find a slow, progressive relaxation induction boring and irritating. A high anxiety client can’t stop fidgeting. And they can’t focus their attention long enough to get where you need them to be.
The thing to recognize here is that this client’s brain is moving much too fast for a slow induction process. Their brain is firing on all cylinders. This is a problem a lot of people have when they take up meditating. They’re too keyed up to settle down for more than a few seconds. So what do you do?
Match the frequency by working quickly.
Rather than trying to MAKE them slow down match their speed and use a rapid induction. Get them into hypnosis. Then bring up the feeling. If they’re all wound up they’re already half-way there, anyway. So just bring up the feeling. Then bridge back.
The trick is to work quickly. Rapid induction and regression requires skill. And you can’t do a rapid induction and then s-l-o-w-l-y guide them back to a past event. The client will emerge themselves if you give them time to think.
You need to by-pass the Critical Function quickly. Then immediately move to the next step. Bring up the feeling – quickly and powerfully. Then bridge back – quickly. So there’s no time to think. And no questions asked.
This means you have to keep talking.
And forget about suggestions for relaxation. Just fire the suggestions in rapidly. “Do this. Good! Now do this. Good! ”
Get the client into a past event as quickly as possible. That’s where all the tension is coming from. So get to where all the internal stress and tension is coming from and release it there. The client will feel an immediate shift for the better. Then they’ll begin to relax.
When the energy system of the body lets go of the pressure, it starts to relax. It happens automatically. So the client will start to feel better right away. And like Rosalyn Bruyere said, when the energy system or nervous system relaxes, it frees up the energy they need for healing.
This is the beautiful thing about healing.
It’s not something we do. It’s something that happens – given the right conditions. All you have to do is create the right conditions. Then stand back and watch the mind-body system do what it was designed to do – heal.
This is SO important. You don’t have to try to fix the whole problem all at once. You just need to SHOW the client where the problem got started.
Every problem is the result of a past experience. So it’s not what’s happening NOW in their daily life that’s causing the problem. Whatever is going on in their daily life is just putting fuel on the fire. But it’s not causing it. And you can help them put the fire out - for good.
Option A is to relax. And then release.
Option B is to release. And then relax. Let the relaxation be a by-product of the releasing process.
Now, obviously relaxation hypnosis requires less skill than rapid regression. This is why we learn relaxation techniques to begin with. They’re easier. But rapid regression is necessary with client’s who can’t relax. And you’re going to get clients who won't respond to relaxation techniques. They’re not difficult clients. They’re not resistant clients. They’re scared human beings who are under WAY too much pressure and stress. You can help them to get out from under all that pressure.
So that’s it. Modern living is stressful. And stress impacts everybody. The antidote for stress is relaxation. But not everyone is able to relax. And some issues are too pressing to waste time trying to get a person to relax.
Fortunately relaxation isn’t necessary. All you need is hypnosis so you can get to the cause of the problem. So start assessing your clients before you do the induction process. All it takes is a little preliminary test to see whether or not they can relax. You can do that with a simple eye lock test.
If your client passes the test, then relaxation hypnosis is an option. It can help them to feel more comfortable. And this will make it safer for them to go back to situations in their past that are contributing to the problem.
If they’re too wound up, and they’re simply not able to relax, or they can’t pay attention, or they just don’t understand the instructions, switch gears. Use a rapid induction.
If you’re pressed for time, use a rapid induction. If you’re bored with doing long-winded inductions, start using rapid inductions - because you don’t need relaxation. You can let relaxation be a wonderful side benefit of having released all the internal pressure.
When the mind and body start to relax – healing will start to happen. And it will happen naturally.