Mindfulness has been gaining notoriety lately, not just in the realm of spiritual practice, but amongst serious academics and psychological clinicians as well. Something that years ago would’ve been dismissed as too esoteric is now becoming widely accepted as “the thing” we all need to do to improve our outlook on life and reduce the symptoms of stress, anxiety and/or physical pain. It is being promoted because it works. The funny thing is that we have more or less been encouraging this sort of practice in hypnotherapy for many years.
By its very nature, hypnotherapy is “mindful.” Being in a trance-like state allows for a greater internal focus and many of the practices and techniques utilised by hypnotherapists incorporate mindful approaches. Take for example, a hypnotic induction. Many inductions take the form of a full body scan, sometimes for the purposes of relaxation and other times to promote greater awareness of the body and where emotions may be stored. Then, when difficult emotions are sensed, there is typically an element of accepting the emotion (breathing into it) or allowing the emotion to take some sort of form so that its origin can possibly be established.
Another example of using mindfulness techniques is when working with weight loss clients. Hypnotherapists will often suggest that when food is eaten between sessions that clients are mindful of their emotions while eating and also suggest that they eat in a mindful way – focusing on savouring every bite and being aware of the signal being sent from the stomach to the brain when it has had enough food. By eating mindfully in this way,people can also be awakened to noticing just how sweet sugary foods can be (or salty fatty foods can be) which can, therefore, mean that only small amounts of these types of foods are needed to satisfy a craving.
Although hypnotherapy is typically solution-focused , the ideal solution for the overall wellbeing of the client is for them to accept themselves as they are, first and foremost, and to be aware of the strengths and resources that they already have inside of them to live the best lives possible. This can often be achieved by having a client visualise themselves in a past or future moment, tapped into their own inner resources, acting and feeling at their prime. They are, therefore, mindful of how they want to be feeling, acting and thinking in the future and by experiencing that in the present moment means that they can already be aware that these types of feelings are available whenever they need them. This can then lead to a greater self-awareness and an increase in emotional intelligence levels going forward.
This is why I often tell my clients that I am not hypnotising them, I am “de-hypnotising” them – awakening them out of their own trance-like states so that they can tap into the resources that their true-inner selves already have in abundance. This, too, seems to be on par with what mindfulness practitioners are seeking to convey to those they work with.
These are just a few examples of how mindfulness and hypnotherapy have more in common than may ever be credited. For a more detailed discussion of this, please see Michael Yapko’s recent book entitled: Mindfulness and Hypnosis: The Power of Suggestion to Transform Experience.