Peace of Mind Through Hypnosis
By Sam Strike
Close your eyes and picture yourself lying under a giant oak tree in a sunny field. A cool breeze is blowing, and you hear it subtly shake the leaves above. You have nothing to do and nowhere to be. Now breathe.
This is how most of hypnotherapist Wendy Goldenthal’s clients spend their time with her – in a state of utter relaxation on a beach or in a forest, breathing deeply and feeling no stress.
She feeds positive messages to their subconscious minds, making suggestions that it’s easy to be a nonsmoker, and that every time you want sweets the desire turns into wanting a cup of water.
Hypnosis bypasses the conscious mind that craves food or a cigarette, or that fears spiders and bees and “reprograms” the computer that is the human mind. In the 1970s it was often referred to by the politically incorrect misnomer of “mind control,” but hypnosis is “powerful techniques to improve your life,” said Goldenthal, who runs her practice out of her Devon home.
Stress, smoking and weight loss are “the big three” that people use hypnosis to deal with, followed by fears, anger management, and recurring negative thoughts or feelings from which people can’t break free.
“Hypnotherapy is a lot about language and how we talk to ourselves,” Goldenthal said. “Our self-talk is more powerful than a steel bridge; and it’s easier to tear down a steel bridge than to change those thoughts. It’s mind-blowing.”
What it’s not is an overnight “magic pill.” Goldenthal teaches her clients the breathing techniques and positive thoughts that need to be repeatedly used for effective change. She doesn’t want them to be dependent on her, and they don’t have to be, she said.
Goldenthal will be debunking the myths behind hypnosis in a series of free talks, the first of which will be on the evening of May 19 at the Gryphon Café in Wayne.
“It’s not something to be afraid of,” she said. “Half of the people who meet me are truly scared and the other half are very interested and want to talk about it.”
Skeptical? Take the everyday example of what they call “highway hypnosis,” in which you drive somewhere and upon arrival wonder how you got there, she said. “Your subconscious mind is stopping at the stop signs, and your conscious mind is thinking about something else. It’s somewhat of a trance.”
Goldenthal laughs when the topic of what the majority of people think hypnosis is, or rather, is not.
She set straight some other myths, saying that people under hypnosis are always in total control of their actions; they can open their eyes, stand up, and walk out of a room. No one gets “stuck” in a state of hypnosis; and they don’t “fly around like they’re on drugs,” Goldenthal said.
“It’s basically guided visualization, allowing them to go to a serene place in nature, lie down in a comfortable seat, and I do the session while they’re in that comfortable place,” she said. “We could call hypnosis ‘guided visualization in a comfortable place’ because it’s the same tools and techniques.”
Most people who see her don’t believe the myths and misinformation that, for example, the hypnotherapist will make you give up your bank-account numbers or deep dark secrets.
You have to be willing to give up those secrets.
“We can’t make you do anything against your moral values… and if we could, my kids would come home from school, do their homework, cook dinner and run the vacuum. And if we could, the government would be doing it,” she said.
Hypnosis only works when someone wants it to work. That is the first requirement in the struggle between the conscious and the subconscious minds. The goal of the therapy is to take the struggle out of change, making it easier to do.
The quickest and easiest to change is the minds of children because “they don’t have all that mush in their brains” from decades of self-talk and negative reinforcement, she said.
Sometimes a person can pinpoint how or when a fear or feeling originated (called the Initial Sensitizing Event) and sometimes they can’t. A lot of things can happen when we’re little, and over the years the seeds start to grow, Goldenthal said.
Hypnosis is not used on children under the age of 4 or people with major developmental disorders because they haven’t formed the ability to properly concentrate. It’s one of the industry standards.
Goldenthal is a National Guild of Hypnotists certified instructor, and is also certified in HypnoBirthing, childbirth education for a calm, natural childbirth where she teaches deep relaxation techniques that can shorten some labors to four hours.
“It’s nothing new. It’s a philosophy and technique that in absence of fear, pain doesn’t necessarily have to accompany childbirth. The fear/pain tension syndrome is really powerful,” she said.
Goldenthal said she wishes she had known about hypnotherapy when she had her children, Ariel, 15, a freshman at Conestoga High School, and Matt, 11, a student at T/E Middle School. They live together with Roxie, a rescued greyhound who has been off of the racing tracks and in their home for four years.
Goldenthal also works part-time doing mortgage analysis and using her “left brain,” she said. She has worked as a stockbroker and investment officer, but “I finally found something I love and am committed to, and can continue to learn with.”
Her calendar is usually booked weeks in advance with people seeking her guidance.
And why shouldn’t it be?
The deep breathing and visualization, the messages of calm, peace and serenity as the waves wash to shore – it’s a vacation for the conscious mind.M