I’m walking in a leafy forest along a well-worn path. Tree branches bend over my head forming an arbor, yet I can still see flecks of blue sky through the treetops. Sunlight filters through, lending a warm glow to the scene. I sniff and smell the pine sap and listen to the soft padding of my shoes on the dirt path. I feel content and relaxed—even though I’m not sure where I’m going.
Lost in the woods? No, I’m wandering through my subconscious, thanks to the assistance of hypnotherapist Lynelle Brantner. To help me understand hypnotherapy better, I agreed to experience three sessions with Lynelle. We met in a darkened room at Wells Therapeutics, and Lynelle invited me to sit in a comfy chair. We chatted a bit about a few areas of my life where I felt I needed improvement. Then the hypnotherapy began.
Years ago my brothers and I would hypnotize each other in a closet. Dangling a shiny necklace in front of the intended victim, one of us would chant, “You are getting sleepy. Very sleepy. You are getting sleepier now.” After a few moments of this, the closet hypnotist would count to ten and say, “Now you will do whatever I command.”
I don’t remember being hypnotized—maybe I blocked it from my memory—but I do remember once when I hypnotized my little brother, Tommy, and then sent him downstairs to the kitchen to do the dishes, one of my chores. Later, after I told him to “snap” back to reality, he swore he didn’t remember doing the dishes. I was a pretty gullible kid, so I believed him. Besides, I got him to do the dishes for me, so the hypnosis was a success as far as I was concerned.
Most of us have memories of hypnotists on television. They fell in the category of magicians and tricksters—at least in my memory. But the fact is hypnosis, or the more contemporary term hypnotherapy, is now recognized as a legitimate form of therapeutic treatment. By definition, it’s simply a state wherein our subconscious mind can communicate with our conscious mind. A hypnotherapist uses a variety of techniques to induce this state—such as tapping into your imagination, guiding you to a deeply, relaxed state, identifying metaphors, and yes, even counting!
In her pleasant, sing-song voice, Lynelle guided me into my subconscious—at least that’s where I think I went. She prompted me to think of a “happy, safe” place, and that’s how I ended up walking in the woods. It felt natural to be there, but there was a part of me that wondered what would happen next. I felt like I was truly on a journey without knowing my destination, a journey into my own thoughts and emotions, where a chance image or encounter might spark enlightenment.
Images did indeed flow into my mind, like stepping stones leading me some place else—water sparkling in the late afternoon sun; rocks lying in my path; tall loblolly pines, whose bark I could see in detail in my mind and whose scratchy surface I could feel. Then there were the people I encountered—most of whom have passed from this life: my father, an old boyfriend, my daughter.
These images and these loved ones combined to offer insight into the problems I was facing. With prompts from Lynelle, I searched and found answers to questions. My subconscious mind led me down a path, and in the process thoughts occurred to me, like little bursts of light, that opened up the doors and allowed me to enter a new place of understanding.
Near the end of my third session, as I continued down the path through the leafy woods, the image of a fork in the road appeared—an iconic symbol that reduces who and what we are to a very basic level. Life is about choices, isn’t it? And one of the lessons I learned from my hypnotherapy experience is that these choices are mine to make and no one else’s. It was a small but important lesson that left me feeling empowered and electrified.
Undergoing hypnotherapy was a positive experience. I’d had no idea what to expect and wondered whether I would feel odd or different. I didn’t. I felt alive and in control of the moment. After it was all done, a sense of calm seemed to remain, a sense that being tuned into my inner voice is essential to my own journey through life. Hypnotherapy is helping me face certain issues in my life with the knowledge that the path I am on will lead me where I need to go. I just need to pay attention along the way.
For more information, call Lynelle Brantner at 757-237-1737.