By Dr Tracie O’Keefe DCH December 2000, published in Tai Chi magazine, UK
The most important principle of holistic living is that mind, body and spirit are inextricably part of the same whole. Whether you are a highly trained and disciplined practitioner of a martial art or a single mother trapped on a drug infested, crime stricken housing estate the symmetry of the three experiences needs to be co-ordinated to achieve any kind of excellence in your life. Discipline, organisation and exploration of the mind are parts of the same long-term path to your own Nirvana.
Hypnosis has been used for thousands of years in China, Ancient Egyptian sleep temples and Grecian dreams temples, and by the church under the auspices of counselling and guidance. It has also been used as some types of meditation, and lately by modern medicine and psychology in the form of clinical hypnotherapy. When a hypnosis practitioner puts a person into a trance it is called hetero-hypnosis and should only ever be practised by highly qualified, skilled and registered clinicians. The results of hypnotherapy can be profound, helping people resolve skin disorders, tackle Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), create anaesthesia and analgesia, and with faster recovery from surgery. Hypnosis can help with a large number of psychological disturbances, depression, phobias and anxieties. We also use hypnotherapy to increase learning ability, memory recall and improve confidence and concentration levels.
Self-hypnosis, however, is a mental discipline that can be learnt by anyone to open up the amazing potential of the mind that can help guide the path of your body and free the journey of your spirit. A person who owns large parts of the planet, wins a profusion of gold medals or preaches to nations is simply poverty stricken if they have not travelled and explored the vast inner regions within their own mind.
No matter where you go, you go in your own mind
Each day people turn up at my practice telling me what they are unable to do, think or be. They have bought into propaganda about their inabilities and then turned those limited statements into self-fulfilling prophecies. The structure of modern life is unnatural, as human beings need periods of contemplation as much as they need external interactive stimulation, but they are general tearing around from place to place and back again. We are what we create ourselves to be and are constrained only by the prisons hallucinated within our own minds.
Self-hypnosis happens when a person puts their conscious mind to one side and allows the unconscious to take over. This is achieved by going into an altered state of awareness, known as a trance. Since the unconscious mind is the larger mind, its abilities far exceed those of the conscious mind, and it automatically naturally knows how to resolve problems that the critical conscious mind cannot. Positive suggestions and psychological exploration can be used in a trance to help a person move forward in whatever direction is right for them. Because people are more susceptible to suggestion in trance, behavioural change can take place easily and speedily.
I teach people to practise self-hypnosis 20 to 30 minutes every day, taking themselves down into a deep relaxing trance, positively reprogramming their beliefs and attitudes. Then the unconscious mind can check all the body’s systems to see that the parts are working in balance with each other. Whatever needs healing gets the very best attention that can be given – self-healing. Through psycho-imaginary techniques you can re-oxygenate your blood, boost the immune system and check the kind of vitamins and minerals needed to gain optimal nutritional intake.
Since I have to read a lot for my job, I personally file away everything I have learnt that day during self-hypnosis and draw up knowledge from the depths of my unconscious that I will need during the next 24 hours. My memories now even go back to being in the womb, which can sometimes be useful when trying to understand myself and my family. More than that, the body already has millions of years of memory about how to function to its full potential – one just needs to tap into the unconscious to release that knowledge. You can learn to trust your unconscious more. After all, it looks after you while you are asleep, constantly checks your blood levels and keeps you alive…nature really does know best when given a chance to express itself.
I encourage people to be highly conscious of their health, moving towards eating raw plant foods and exercising regularly. At 40 something I wake up in the morning bursting with energy and looking forward to the day ahead. This is what I teach people to achieve with the mindsets they install in themselves. Don’t wait to win the lottery because the odds are it will be a long time coming and you will be a long way down the queue anyway…be a winner now.
My body can always be my temple
What you eat is what you become and the thoughts that you install in your mind determine the kind of person you will be. The question each and every one of us needs to ask ourselves is: Are we going to be motivated by our actions or stay subjected to being mainly reactive in a prescriptive society?
Many people are out there looking for love, success, riches, and hoping to find some spark of recognition that their life has been worthwhile, but if you are looking outside yourself for that commendation it will never come. As a hypnotist what I teach to people is that it starts from the inside outwards…whatever you want in your life you must create it within yourself…only then can you guarantee having sufficient of what you seek. Anything extra you encounter along the way is more than a bonus, but you do not rely on it to survive. If you were stranded on a desert island for the rest of your life, how would you create enough, love satisfaction, appreciation, confidence and personal strength?
Solutions to problems can be worked out in your own mind first. Each breath you take is preceded by an internal communication, so take control of those messages and install in your programming whatever you want to happen. Psycho-imaginary hypnotic techniques have been used in sports and martial arts rehearsal for thousands of years. If you know where you are going and what you are doing, that reduces any sense of anxiety, allowing you to focus intensely on the task in hand.
But much more important than any technique you will ever learn is an underlying respect for nature and the concept that confidence begins with peace and compassion…never, ever with arrogance. What you sow in the universe is ultimately what you will reap. Greatness and strength always begin with humility. If you should ever doubt that, sit yourself down in front of a Shaolin priest, Tai Chi master, yogi or master hypnotist and watch them practise their arts of physical, mental and spiritual excellence.
Life starts from the inside outwards
For many years I was a professional dancer, so the level of awareness about the physical self is important to what I bring into my hypnosis work with people. When the flesh is looked after, the mind and sprit have a holy place to live. Western society is plagued with diseases of its own making, such as arterial sclerosis (blockages of the blood vessels), diabetes that develops through sugar imbalance in diets, and anxiety through smoking, caffeine and tannin intake. If people treated others the way they often treat their own bodies, it is possible that they would be accused of neglect…what do you think?
Hypnosis is different from prayer and some forms of meditation because it is more psycho-proactive and directive in that you are less subject to but part of the whole planning process. People develop all the time as life is constantly changing, so to be able to programme yourself to how you want to change is a critical and acute ability that you can learn to do with self-hypnosis. Imagination is the key, but many of us were brought up in cultures where too much imagining was considered a sign of weakness and not part of the natural biological and psychological processes.
The rule-driven living process that requires us to follow preset paths to accommodate social order often constrains our creativity. This creativity is the way to go in your mind in order to find physical, mental and spiritual excellence. Through hypnosis you can also motivate thought-changing deep emotional states that are among the strongest of drivers. Part of my work has been working with what I call foundation states of being, which are sensory experiences created through hypnosis that underly everything that you do.
Hypnosis is fun. It has to be because my…Number 1 rule of life is…Have fun…no matter whether you are a teacher, police officer, or grave digger. Self-hypnosis can be a time for sanctuary when you go off alone and service your mind to release the potential of your body and free your spirit, each acting harmoniously with the other to create mind, body and spiritual excellence.
What I want from my clients is that they go out into the world being able to operate their own minds and lives so they do not need me anymore…evolution has taken place. This philosophy does not make me very rich financially, but it is the most successful way I have found of working over the years. My reward is in seeing people creating success by their own measures, and that is what I call wealth.
Dr Tracie O’Keefe DCH, BHSc, ND, Clinical Hypnotherapist, Psychotherapist. Counsellor, PACFA registered Mental Health Professional and Naturopath In Sydney. You can get help by booking an appointment with her at Australian Health & Education Centre.