The Spiritual Side of Hypnosis
By the Rev. Jay A. Morrison, United Methodist Church (Indiana Conference), Retired
Miriam Couch was given a cookie whenever she did something that pleased her mother. Because she enjoyed the rewards, she tried hard to keep her mother happy. By the time she got to elementary school, the other kids called her, “Sophie davenport, the overstuffed Couch.” Feeling bad about herself, she would go straight for the cookies when she got home because eating them made her feel like she had done something good.
Miriam was my mother. By the time I got to elementary school, they called me “Tony baloney, macaroni, and cheese.” The roots of obesity run deep and often originate as vicious cycles that begin very early in life.
As a Christian, I learned that prayer was an effective way to deal with problems. I used to pray that God would free me from the sin of gluttony, so that I might lose weight. I prayed for help facing temptations. The problem with my prayers was that I was doing all of the talking. True prayer is a spiritual communion with the divine. It is really about connecting and listening.
People of faith, who spend personal time in prayer, would not think of it as practicing hypnosis. Guided meditation, accompanied by spiritually stimulating music, is nothing like being in a spellbinding trance. These things seem either unrelated or contradictory. But we may be playing with semantics.
Prayer is fully relaxing and opening up to hear the truth in deep places within. It is sometimes called “meditation.” Deep breathing, stillness and tranquil posture are a part of prayer and meditation.
Positive Changes Hypnosis does not engage in imposing anything like an unconscious hypnotic trance. There are no parlor tricks or mind manipulations. In fact, what they do is more like the practice of faith. It is relaxing with guided meditation, not unlike common activities at religious retreats. Imagine Benedictine monks sitting in a monastic setting with an organ softly playing hymns, while a priest is reading the scriptures or chanting the psalms. It is that kind of experience.
It is also healing. Because life happens to us all, sometimes it hurts. In the midst of life’s struggles we are inclined to seek out “comfort foods” to compensate. It actually works for a while; eating starchy foods with stimulants like sugar and caffeine makes us feel good for a short period of time. There are a variety of substances that enable us to escape life altogether! But all these things are harmful to our health, our happiness and life itself.
The meditative processes of Positive Changes Hypnosis helps us to release the pains that lead to negative behavior and select positive alternatives to enhance our health. The idea is to reduce anxiety, relieve stress and improve our uses of food in response to life.
It is hard for smokers to change their behavior to quit smoking. But it is not as hard for heart attack victims to quit smoking in order to survive. The difference is how they see themselves and feel about what they are doing. There is a paradigm-shift in the thinking and feeling that motivates positive behavior. Being addicted to saturated fat and starchy carbohydrates is not unlike smoking. Positive Changes Hypnosis endeavors to influence the paradigm-shift.
Obesity is epidemic in our culture. Most efforts to solve the problems have failed. People are suffering and our health care systems are becoming overburdened with complications exacerbated by corpulence. Health insurance companies charge people as much for being overweight as they do for smoking. In fact, fat people cannot get cost effective life insurance at all.
Yet, nothing can be done unless people begin to change their thoughts and feelings related to their eating habits. I have lost 33 pounds and weigh less today than I ever have as an adult. My BMI is 20.6. My prayers are answered!
Saving individuals from this suffering should be a mission of faith-based institutions. It is the mission of Positive Changes.