Karen Gray, licensed nurse and hypnotist, invited me to learn about hypnosis. Always fascinated by the brain and psychology, I jumped at the chance to learn how the procoess worked. I thought back to the magic hypnotist shows and thought: Is it like that?
What Does a Hypnosis Office Look Like?
I arrived at her office and asked her where I should sit. She immediately took the fluffy purple blanket off the leather chair (which was amazingly soft!) and said, ‘You get the comfy chair.’
Sounds good to me. I let my body sink into the cushiony leather chair and instantly felt more relaxed. Pen poised over my paper, I was ready to learn as I eagerly awaited Karen to start.
Why Should I Try Hypnosis?
Hypnosis Helps You Heal
She didn’t start with how hypnosis worked or the myths or her success stories. She started with her journey: how she rose above her difficult life circumstances to start her own business as a licensed hypnotist. As she shared she naturally peppered her stories with humor and I found myself laughing on numerous occasions. If I wasn’t laughing I was saying, ‘Oh that’s funny. Wait let me write that down.’ or ‘A lot of people can relate to that.’
After leaving a longtime abusive relationship, Karen felt lost. She described herself as a “puddle of mess.” Hypnosis was one of the ways she regained herself and recovered from the trauma.
Being on her own as a mom without having to walk on egg shells was an eye opening experience for her. Especially toothpaste, she said. At this point I was very curious how toothpaste could be transformative.
Toothpaste and Ice Cubes
She was standing in the aisle about to pick out the cinnamon flavored toothpaste she had always gotten for fifteen years because that was what her husband liked. She hated it and standing there in the aisle she realized: I don’t have to buy this. Instead of buying a tube of something else she might not like, she bought a bunch of travel sized versions to try (which I thought was a great solution and not one I would’ve thought of). I asked if she had a top three yet. Nope, but she’s just enjoying the experience of using which ever one she wants. Buying ice was a similar experience and really shows her fun personality. She always bought ice in a bag because that was expected, even though she thought it was stupid. So one of the first things she did was buy ice cube trays, but not just any ice cube tray. Ones with fun shapes. I didn’t even know that had ice cubes with fun shapes. I wanted to go out and get some. I loved listening to the joy she had for life and the small things that make you smile.
Suddenly she didn’t know what to do for fun. She tried all the things she used to do when she was younger but it was no longer fun, but she discovered she liked to cook and exercise.
On her journey she felt getting rid of resentment and breaking bad habits (like smoking) were essential to moving forward and hypnosis played a big part in personal progress.
After hearing her story, I could see that Karen clearly wanted to help others overcome their troubles too.
How Does It Work?
It’s essentially a process where you relax, distract yourself by imagining, and replace negative feelings and thoughts with positive ones: “At Green Mountain Hypnosis, you will learn why hypnosis is a natural process in which your mind is more receptive to positive suggestion, insight, and releasing negative feelings.” Karen describes hypnosis as the process that speaks the language of the subconscious. It allows you to change patterns of behavior.
There are no magic words; it takes work to develop a habit, but hypnosis makes the process a lot easier and faster. It is difficult to daily reinforce new habits and maintain the will power to overcome bad habits. If will power and imagination were in a competition, imagination would win every time because if will power was so easy we would never have any problems with motivation, Karen says. So true.
It’s Rapid, Effective, and Lasts Forever.
This was shocking to me. Permanent? No way. She says Charles Tebbetts, author of 8 Rules of the Mind says that you hang onto an idea until you have another one to replace it. For example emotional eating: we’ll eat ice cream to feel comfort until something better replaces it. This made complete sense to me, especially after reading the article The Power of Habit and loving it so much I read the book (which is amazing and fascinating!!!) because he talks about trying to kick the habit of eating a cookie every afternoon and had to get to the root of the problem: why was he craving a cookie? Hunger? Boredom? He tried to eat something else. Nope. He tried to go take a walk. Nope. Still wanted that cookie. Then he went and talked to someone. Ding Ding Ding. No more cookie craving. He learned that he was really craving socialization. So he replaced the cookie with spending time with people.
When I told Karen this she was like that’s exactly like hypnosis, but it probably took him days or weeks right? Yep. Hypnosis can do the same thing faster.
“It’s a natural and safe process which you have experienced thousands of times before, without even realizing it!” She said it was similar to when she distracted children during IVs by talking to them and explaining the process so they didn’t even realize they were getting the IV while she was talking or when she asked patients are you comfortable or do you need anything because if she asked if they were in pain, they would focus more on that.
What Can It Help With?
You may have heard people using hypnosis to overcome addiction but I learned hypnosis can help with so much more than that: “Our focus is helping our clients achieve their goals of overcoming their struggles with weight, smoking, anxiety, stress, pain, fears, personal achievement, habits, sleep, and many other concerns and issues.”
You come in wanting to lose weight but find the root of the issue is that you don’t feel good about yourself. You might come in afraid of horses but find out the root of the issue had nothing to do with horses. You might be trying to figure out who you are or going through a transition phase in your life full of uncertainty and not sure where to go next.
What is the Actual Process Like?
You come in and sit and talk to identify a feeling or goal you want to change or work on.
You need to be able to say when x happens I feel y, but I would rather feel z (fill in the blanks).
You don’t need to share any specifics; you can be general. Plus, you’re awake and aware the whole time. All this surprised me. After seeing hypnotist magic shows I thought you were completely vulnerable wouldn’t remember anything.
All you have to do is follow instructions: imagine this…think about this…nod your head…lift a finger… “You do all the work. I just say words. The brain knows what it needs to do.”
I wasn’t ready to be fully hypnotized, but her fun and open personality made me okay to do a quick experiment and try a session at a later date.
I Gave it a Shot
I closed my eyes. She had me think of a feeling I get from anxiety and give it a shape.
I made it look like a gray Pokemon character with black tipped tail and ears, which made me smile. Then she had me change its shape. I asked if I had to because I liked the way he looked. She said yes. So I imagined my son’s sitting. Then she had me change the color so he was wearing lime green.
Then she told me that at the count of three I would no longer have that anxiety and would think of the pleasant image.
The idea was to take the negative feeling, personify it, and change it so now the association was positive. All the drive home I was fascinated, thinking about the little gray Pokemon character and it still made me smile.
Of course the fact that I wasn’t fully invested and thereby couldn’t really picture in detail didn’t help and also that I chose something I liked to begin with instead of something I didn’t, made the experiment not as successful as it could’ve been, but for me that wasn’t the point. I wanted to understand a bit of what it was like and I did.
I left understanding the psychology behind the process and feeling comfortable enough with the process to try it and be fully vested so it was more effective, which was huge for me.
Does it Work?
It only works if you’re truly ready to let go and hear the words (I wasn’t yet). Karen says when people try to quit smoking and the hypnosis doesn’t work it’s because something kept them from wanting to quit; they weren’t ready. Those that resist the process won’t make progress. She joked she could never hypnotize her children because they don’t listen to her anyway: what does mom know kinda thing.
What Are Some Success Stories?
Once there was a woman who came in and couldn’t function in the every day world. Reading the news would give her a panic attack. After her first session she went home and tested herself. She binge read the news, starting with local news and moved on to more troublesome stories. No panic attack. When she came back to work on the skills she learned she said, “That was weird.” Aw! I’m sure this was a transformative and freeing experience for her. Now she can engage with the world again!
Another client was so stressed she couldn’t concentrate on work and was afraid she’s lose her job. Karen worked with her on building her confidence and self-awareness. The woman didn’t share her life story. Karen was completely ignorant of specifics. I like how Karen put it: She kept all her secrets. After the session the client cried and said she had never felt so whole in all her life and now she could finally move forward. Wow!
A man wanted to quit smoking but he was in so much pain from arthritis they couldn’t get to help him quit smoking at first. So she suggested he create a numbing sensation and grow it and expand it to different parts of his body where it hurt. She said he came out of hypnosis and had never felt so good. The relief lasted for four days. She was also able to help him quit smoking too. I wondered though, what did he do for the pain after that? Did he have to keep coming? No.
She gave him the ability to self hypnotize himself so that he could lessen his pain any time he wanted. “It’s better than a cortisol shot,” she said.
I really admired that she uses her trade as a gift of healing for others and shares it: “I give you a tool box and send you away. I don’t want you to depend on me.”
Moving Forward, Making Progress, and Self-Discovery
“I feel sometimes you see people” she says, “and you just want to tell them: ‘You are completely going to be okay.'”
She’s been there. She knows.
I feel like this sums up her compassion and love for others.
Check out Karen Gray at Green Mountain Hypnosis. It’s like a mini therapy session but you ‘keep all your secrets’ because it’s all about using your imagination. She’ll help you on your journey to being a better you, reaching your goals, and overcoming your troubles.