Category Archives: Hypnotherapy

Beyond The Shadows Of Fear

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder

My father was a combat veteran who suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder. He witnessed and participated in atrocities during the Korean War. He made life altering self-sacrifices and lived with horrors that were not entirely of his choosing. He was predisposed to violent and abusive episodes that he could not control, and inflicted a legacy of rage, vengeance and sorrow upon those who loved him the most. Overcoming the trauma of my relationship with him provided profound meaning and purpose to experiences which once seemed hopelessly tragic and senseless. The unique insights I gained into the primal nature of love and fear and how they function in the human psyche were life-changing. And it became my personal mission to help others solve their suffering by sharing what I have learned.

Childhood Trauma

As a boy I asked my father if he was ever under enemy fire. He replied that he once saw a torpedo pass the bow of a ship he was on in the south pacific. When I inquired about the blisters and open sores on his feet, which I later learned were from a severe fungal infection he contracted in the extreme cold of Korea, he said this was from his brother throwing firecrackers at him when they were kids. My dad would never talk about the Korean War and it was clear to me, even as a child, that a deep unrest resided within him about his experiences there.

When I was 7 years old, my family suddenly wasn’t Catholic anymore. I was abruptly placed in a public school and we began attending an Episcopal Church. A secret was passed from my older siblings that my dad had a wife and son in Korea, and that she left him because he beat her. My parents began having bitter fights. I witnessed my father lose his temper and become verbally abusive and physically violent with my mother. And it was only the beginning.

“Our family became familiar with an intimate and immutable fear that would continue to shape our lives for years to come.”

I was in the 7th grade when the last of his many merciless beatings of my mom occurred. I didn’t see that one but I witnessed most of them. Blood and bruises. Police. Hospitals. Neighbors. Embarrassment. Shame. Confusion. Something inside him would snap and he would explode. And afterward, he would act as if nothing had happened. That last assault landed my mother in the emergency room. She was finally ready to leave him and take us with her. I was brave and called my dad from a pay phone in the hospital lobby to tell him we wouldn’t be coming home that night—or ever. I was 12 years old. Like my sister and brothers, I too had been brutally beaten by my father. I still loved him though. We all did. But we were afraid of him.

The following days brought a divorce filing, the issuance of a judicial restraining order, and a sheriff’s escort to our home to retrieve necessities. My dad was in his study when we arrived. He was nonchalant but we soon realized he was not in total denial. The study and kitchen were intact, but the rest of the house was eerily empty; besides the furniture, the only personal belongings remaining were our clothes and shoes. There were no books, toys, trading cards, Tonka trucks or race cars, balls or mitts, hockey sticks or ice skates, albums or record players, stuffed animals, or musical instruments. My mother’s beloved piano was gone. In fact, all the tangible mementos of our life together had disappeared. When we discovered that he had burned most of those things in the incinerator in the basement, my older brother became so enraged he had to be physically restrained by the sheriffs—yet my dad remained passive. It was one of the most surreal events in my life and ushered me into a deep state of emotional shock.

Flashbacks

FlashbacksIn a poignant moment some years later, when life had moved on for all of us, my father finally revealed to me a little of what had happened to him in Korea. It was only the second time I ever saw him cry. But he still couldn’t really talk about it. There were only a few quotes like the one below, which he retched out like bile from the pit of his soul. He contracted a brain tumor and died shortly thereafter, and I was grateful for the estranged sort of peace I had made with him. I forgave him for all that had happened. But the impact of my father’s violence and abuse had not yet taken the measure of its toll on me. Shadows of that fear, in the shifting and malevolent form of rage, still existed deep in my heart. And year by year, as I emerged from the emotional shell that had protected me as a child, I would revisit my forgiveness of him in the specter of that ash-filled basement incinerator and its forsaken providence—his vengeful razing of the village of our family—again and again, whether I chose to or not.

“We didn’t know who we were fighting over there. The villagers would bring out food and fruit in baskets to the soldiers . . . and there would be live grenades hidden inside. My buddies were blown to bits right in front of me. It happened more than once. So we razed those villages. We killed everybody.”

The vestiges of my father’s violence overtook me in my forties. By then the conflicted emotions I suppressed as a boy had finally come to the surface, raw and often unchecked. It had become difficult to avoid angry and irrational responses in certain situations, especially those I perceived as threatening or inherently unfair. I lost my temper easily. I brooded and ranted and my moods were volatile. Indeed, the repressed rage had been tapped within me. And a disturbing pattern developed which left me in anguish each Christmas Day and on my birthday, when the intrusive recall of familial trauma and abuse was somehow triggered and I would grieve uncontrollably. I came to realize I was still afraid of my father, for he haunted my thoughts like a ghost on those days and I could not dismiss his threatening presence. I was also afraid of myself and what was happening to me.

Into The Light

The psychotherapists helped me understand my own post-traumatic stress disorder. Perhaps they helped me understand my father. But I did not change as a result of those traditional forms of therapy; in fact, I got worse. The flashbacks recurred with more intensity. The rage persisted and began to threaten the homeostasis of the life I had worked so hard to build for myself. My marriage suffered. And year by year, the dread of Christmas and my birthday gradually became intolerable. I found myself tormented by recurring thoughts of those incinerated childhood treasures and the memories attached to them—the beautiful yuletide festivities our family shared, the surprise birthday parties and celebrations, the special gifts and cherished times when we were together and all was put right in our troubled world—and I cursed my father for his desecration.

PTSDHypnotherapy was my salvation. I discovered the redemptive balance of honor, dignity and grace for my father’s life, and for my own. I stepped out of my tunnel of fear and the confluence of my life paths suddenly came together in a profound affirmation of my existence. After 25 years as a successful corporate restructuring professional, I left my career and went back to school. I graduated with honors from the world renowned Hypnosis Motivation Institute in Los Angeles as both a Clinical Hypnotherapist and Master of Therapeutic Imagery. In 2011, I founded Cathexis Therapeutic Imagery in Chatsworth, California.

At the heart of my approach is the use of trance state healing to help people understand how love and fear function as the primary motivational forces in our lives. My journey has afforded me a unique understanding of the landscape of suffering and shame, the fundamental nature of rage and the various ways it can be triggered, and the innate power of compassion and empathy to transform lives and connect us to the deeper significance and intention of our being.

I am a therapist. I am an intuitive agent for change. I am an inspirator.  And I am a survivor. I cannot call my traumas war stories—those belonged to my father. My suffering was not his suffering; my terror was not his terror; my sacrifices were not his sacrifices. I was blessed with a vision of making his tragic life stand for something noble, and that is how helping people conquer fear became my mission.

©2016 Shawn Quinlivan, C.Ht. & Cathexis Therapeutic Imagery. All Rights Reserved.


Cathexis Logo Pic MemeCathexis Therapeutic Imagery specializes in innovative approaches to workplace wellness, mindfulness training, and personal development. Via private coaching, presentations, workshops, training events, and our partnership in the unique online wellness community Your Wellness Room—used by Kaiser Permanente, EFactor and other notable companies—our nationally recognized programs and practices help people and organizations make positive changes. Please call for a free consultation at (818) 512-4371 or contact us via email.

The Healing Power Of The Mind: Research Debunks The Snake Oil Mythos

Science does not yet have a way of explaining how thoughts and beliefs materially affect our brain and body. This is in part because traditional neuroscience is based on a materialist view of reality. Yet this view—the assumption that the physical world exists beyond subjective perception—has not been proven by mathematics or empirical observation. In fact, reality is known only through sensory interaction, the way our mind relates to light, sound, smell, touch and taste. From a materialist viewpoint, however, these conscious functions are considered secondary to the physical processes of the universe.

This limiting perspective greatly plagues Western medicine. In his book Irreducible MindUniversity of Virginia neuroscientist Edward Kelly notes that most scientists avoid the problem of how our subjective mind, or consciousness, acts on the objective physical body. He goes so far as to suggest that we cannot answer this question within the materialistic framework of our current medical system.

Nonetheless, Western medicine and complimentary therapy practices that rely on the healing power of the mind share many common facets. This is particularly self-evident in the controlled testing of new medications, which involves the use of placebos. But what exactly is “the placebo effect?” And what is the relationship of the placebo effect to the healing power of the mind?

THE PLACEBO EFFECT

Even though medical science utilizes placebos in conducting research, it doesn’t understand the phenomenon. The placebo effect is commonly defined as the known tendency for people to improve when given a treatment they believe will be effective. In clinical trials, a certain number of subjects (the control group) think they’re receiving the medication being tested, but are instead given an inactive substance, or placebo. The medication being tested must perform significantly better than the placebo to pass the trial. Yet this common aspect of medical research brings to mind an important question:

“Is the positive response to a placebo an inauthentic form of healing?”

Research on the placebo effect indicates that for many people, simply believing that a therapeutic approach or medication has healing qualities begins creating physical improvements in their body. This implies that thoughts and beliefs are not merely making us feel better, they are altering brain chemistry and physiology.

Some significant studies involving the placebo effect have shown the following:

  • A study comparing the effect of a placebo versus the drug L-Dopa in patients with Parkinson’s disease demonstrated that even when taking a placebo, the patients’ nervous system function improved and reduced the effects of the disease (see Huffington Post Article ‘The Placebo Effect: Harnessing The Power Of The Mind’ here)
  • A review of randomized controlled trials in which patients were given either antidepressants or placebos demonstrated that approximately 75 percent of the effectiveness of antidepressants was due to the placebo effect (see peer reviewed National Institutes Of Health article here)
  • A University of Colorado study found that participants who believed that they had received pain medication produced specific and measurable physiological activity within the neural pathways of their brains similar to taking the medication itself (see peer reviewed National Institutes Of Health article here)

While the placebo effect clearly demonstrates the healing power of the mind, let’s examine the considerable body of research on trance states and complimentary therapies such as hypnosis and meditation, which directly reinforce the ability of thoughts and beliefs to alter brain chemistry and physiology.

TRANCE STATES

Placebo & Trance State Healing

Research demonstrates that a common physiology underlies trance states induced by a variety of different procedures.

A wide range of experimental laboratory research on shamanistic practices suggests an operative connection between trance states and healing. Trance states are dominated by slow wave patterns of discharge from parts of the brain including the limbic system, frontal cortex, and hippocampal area, which are optimal for energy, orienting, learning, memory, and attention. A review of eighty-seven parapsychological laboratory studies (see American Anthropological Association citation below) indicates that trance states such as meditation and hypnosis induced relaxation, and that sensory deprivation significantly improved extrasensory perception and psychokinetic performance. These studies also demonstrate that humans have the ability to affect and heal a variety of biological systems through psychokinesis.

Meditation disciplines value trance states as providing the basis for a more objective perception of reality. Yoga traditions indicate that healing and other psychic abilities are a by-product of spiritual development which involve direct and profound alterations of consciousness. A large body of research exists suggesting that trance state healing and well-being practices are psychobiologically based. The empirical evidence includes the universal nature of such practices, the psychobiological characteristics of trance states, and the functional relationships and association of trance with the abilities of healing and divination. (See ‘Shamans and Other Magico-Religious Healers: A Cross-Cultural Study of Their Origins,’ published on behalf of the American Anthropological Association [PDF], here).

HYPNOSIS & MEDITATION

Numerous scientific studies have been published confirming clinical hypnosis as a viable and effective intervention for alleviating chronic pain with cancer and a variety of other conditions (see Medical Hypnosis & Hypnotherapy, Mayo Clinic Reports here). These randomized and controlled studies, along with medical reports, reviews, and a sizable amount of literature in the fields of health and alternative medicine, indicate the complimentary benefits of hypnosis in facilitating healing by countering stress, enhancing immune system responses, and empowering patients to actively participate in their wellness process.

The Mayo Clinic has used hypnosis for pain control and other medical applications for over a century. And since 1995, the National Institutes of Health have recommended hypnotherapy as a treatment for chronic pain.

“Hypnosis is safer than virtually any medication any of us doctors use.”  

      ∼ David Spiegel, M.D., Stanford University, School of Medicine

As for meditation, over 1500 studies conducted by more than 250 independent research institutes show the practice to be clinically effective for the management of stress, anxiety and panic, chronic pain, depression, obsessive thinking, strong emotional reactivity, and a wide array of medical and mental health related conditions.

Meditation & The Placebo Effect

Scientific research on meditation has shown enduring changes in baseline brain function demonstrating brain plasticity and its effects on the immune system.

Medical outcomes of 15,000 patients from the Center for Mindfulness Stress Reduction at the University of Massachusetts’ Medical School shows a 35% reduction in the number of medical symptoms and a 40% reduction in psychological symptoms (see Meditation Science Weekly article here).

(The findings of these and other peer reviewed research studies are available in my article: A Review Of The Significant Research On Hypnosis, Meditation & Trance States.)

THE SNAKE OIL MYTHOS

The placebo effect is inherent to medical research and reflects the ability of our thoughts and beliefs to alter brain chemistry and physiology. Trance state healing modalities such as hypnosis and meditation are alternative therapies validated by an impressive and ever-growing body of scientific research. In light of the considerable evidence demonstrating the mind’s influence on the body, one must question how and why derogatory terms such as pseudoscience, woo woo, quackery, and snake oil, among others, have become associated with the healing power of the mind. Where does this skepticism come from? And in what ways does it reflect upon the limiting and materialistic framework of our current medical system?

Historically, much of the disparagement of alternative healing practices, along with the outright opposition to all forms of health care outside the conventional health industry, can be traced to the American Medical Association. The article “A Symbiotic Relationship, The AMA & The For-Profit Health Lobby” published by Think Progress, explores the disturbing evolution of the American Medical Association into a lobbying giant and member services entity—one tethered to the pharmaceutical companies and deeply entwined in the profit-based health industry. Indeed, in 2015 the AMA was the third largest lobbying spender in Washington.

To what lengths do such self-serving politics go? Is it possible that the snake oil mythos, at least in part, is rooted in a disinformation strategy built on fear, uncertainty, and doubt (“FUD”)—one that negatively influences perceptions of alternative and complimentary therapies—thus preserving the interests of the health care industry and upholding its profiteering agenda? Alas, could a systematic and well funded FUD campaign constitute part of the limiting and materialistic framework of our current medical system?

The considerable and credible peer reviewed and published evidence demonstrating the healing power of the mind cannot be ignored, dismissed, or characterized as fraudulent. And perhaps it is medical research protocol itself that bears the most persuasive witness. The placebo effect is part of the efficacy of both Western medicine and alternative therapies, and reflects the power of consciousness to influence the regenerative processes of the human organism. Trance states merely function to positively reinforce this innate mind/body connection, effectively altering brain chemistry and physiology.

©2016 Shawn Quinlivan, C.Ht. & Cathexis Therapeutic Imagery. All Rights Reserved.

Shawn picture-52

Shawn Quinlivan, C.Ht.

Cathexis Therapeutic Imagery specializes in innovative approaches to workplace wellness, mindfulness training, and personal development. Via private coaching, presentations, workshops, training events, and our partnership in the unique online wellness community Your Wellness Room—used by Kaiser Permanente, EFactor and other notable companies—our nationally recognized programs and practices help people and organizations make positive changes. Please call for a free consultation at (818) 512-4371 or contact us via email.

Fireworks & Flashbacks: The Triggers Of PTSD

PTSD Fireworks Flashbacks

Hypnotherapy resolves PTSD symptoms such as panic attacks & flasbacks

The Delayed Impact Of Trauma

In the aftermath of suffering a physical or psychological trauma, it is common for individuals to mentally and emotionally dissociate from the event or situation; this occurs as a natural defense mechanism of the human psyche. However, this dissociative state often becomes the catalyst for developing symptoms of post traumatic stress disorder, which is a serious condition that can afflict a person in a variety of ways. Hypnotherapy is an effective means of helping people resolve the delayed impact of these stressful events from their past.

PTSD can occur after traumatic events such as:

  • Sexual Or Physical Assault
  • The Sudden Loss Of A Loved One
  • Military Combat
  • Witnessing Violence Or Experiencing A Catastrophe
  • Physically Or Psychologically Abusive Relationships

Post traumatic stress typically starts within a few months of a trauma, but can sometimes arise years later, especially when stemming from childhood incidents, and can be fueled by stressful situations or anxiety. Symptoms of PTSD include intrusive recall such as flashbacks or upsetting dreams of the traumatic event, avoidance of talking about the event, avoiding activities that were once enjoyable, hopelessness, overwhelming guilt or shame, memory and concentration problems, difficulty maintaining intimate relationships, insomnia, irritability and misplaced anger, self-destructive habits, being easily startled or frightened, seeing or hearing things that aren’t there.

“I managed to think my way through it, for the most part. I put it all up on a shelf in my mind. But then things would happen to make me remember, you know, like backyard fireworks on the 4th of July, and it would all come rushing back.”  ˜MJ.S., Air Force Veteran

Triggers To Traumatic Memories

Triggers to the intrusive recall of traumatic memories are often sensory in nature. Sights, sounds, smells, tactile sensations related to the distressing event or time in life, as well as encountering certain people or situations, may cause a flood of recollections with negative thoughts and fearful feelings. There are often elements of stress and anxiety present on these occasions, which are variables that render the intrusive recall of traumatic memories, or flashbacks, unpredictable. And expectations of situations perceived to be potentially problematic or threatening sometimes create ‘anticipatory anxiety,’ which can also act as a trigger. Intrusive recall of traumatic memories is typically accompanied by physiological changes in the body such as rapid heart-beat, shallow breathing, sweating, and panic reactions, and can result in anguished emotional responses, delusional thoughts, and irrational behavior.

Intrusive recall events can be very disconcerting, especially for someone who does not realize they suffer from post traumatic stress, or for those unfamiliar with their own triggers. Unfortunately, PTSD is not always accurately diagnosed by the medical and psychological communities. Anyone who was abused physically, emotionally, sexually, or psychologically during their formative years, which includes bullying in its various forms, or who grew up in a household where there was domestic violence and/or verbal battering, may experience intrusive recall of traumatic memories or manifest other symptoms of PTSD.

Hypnotherapy And PTSD 

Hypnotherapy is an effective, widely recognized, and scientifically supported treatment alternative for those suffering from post traumatic stress disorder. Randomized, controlled clinical trials have shown that hypnosis significantly decreases PTSD symptoms and is more efficient than comparison treatments (see study from Effective Treatments For PTSD, Second Edition, By Edna Foa, Ph.D. here). There is also evidence that PTSD sufferers are highly suggestible to hypnosis (see abstract from Journal of Clinical Psychiatry here).

37256018_sHypnosis directly accesses the subconscious mind, where all of our experiences, good and bad, exist as picture stories that are recalled by both thought and sensory stimulation. Hypnotherapy utilizes the interactive techniques of therapeutic imagery, along with desensitization methods such as EMDR, to gently reframe unhealthy responses—both psychological and physiological—to memories of traumatic events, diffusing their emotional charge and negative impact.  Here are some of the ways hypnotherapy is effective in treating PTSD:

  1. Empowerment through immediate coping strategies;
  2. Identifying and neutralizing common PTSD triggers;
  3. Alleviating intrusive recall events;
  4. Mitigation of symptoms such as moodiness, irritability, and insomnia; and
  5. Increased ability to focus and concentrate.

While the efficacy of any therapeutic modality depends in part on the severity of the trauma and the commitment of a given participant, hypnotherapy has successfully transformed many PTSD victims into survivors.

©2014 By Shawn Quinlivan, C.Ht, & Cathexis Therapeutic Imagery

Stop Smoking Hypnosis: The Secrets To Success

Stop Smoking Hypnosis

Stop Smoking Hypnosis: Rising To The Challenge Of A Healthier You

The Proven Method

Research evidence shows that hypnosis is far superior to drugs and nicotine patches for helping you quit smoking (See Review Of Research Evidence On Stop Smoking Hypnosis here). The reason for this success is that hypnosis goes directly to the root of the problem, which is the fight between your conscious and subconscious mind—you are fully aware that smoking is unhealthy—yet your attachment on a deeper level prevents you from letting go of the habit. Hypnosis is the proven method of intervention and the most powerful ally you can possibly enlist to achieve your goal.

In this video, Shawn Quinlivan, C.Ht. discusses how hypnosis works with smoking cessation:

The Secrets To Stop Smoking Hypnosis

  1. Motivation and Confidence: Your strong desire to stop smoking will be reinforced. Hypnosis will alter your long standing relationship with tobacco. The urges and triggers related to smoking will change forever, and you will immediately embrace a new identity as a non-smoker. You will wonder if it can really be this easy and effortless.
  2. Overcoming False BeliefsYou will realize that smoking never calmed you down, comforted you, or enhanced your image in any way. The idea that you ever actually needed to smoke will suddenly seem ridiculous.
  3. Regaining Your SensesTastes and smells will quickly start improving. The odor of tobacco smoke, cigar and cigarette butts, and the strong residue they leave behind, will become increasingly unpleasant; yet this will strengthen your resolve. Your ability to sustain focus and concentration will increase as you lose preoccupation with taking smoking breaks.
  4. Self-Hypnosis: The Game ChangerYou will learn self-hypnosis, which fortifies the hypnotic suggestions that have made you a non-smoker and provides a true means of relaxation and relief from daily stress and over-stimulation. 

Your Return On Investment

Costs Of SmokingGiving up smoking will save you several thousand dollars each year in the purchase price of tobacco products alone, while your health insurance and other costs directly and indirectly related to smoking will be significantly reduced (see Investopedia.Com article here). You can use pre-tax income from health savings accounts or flex plans to pay for stop smoking hypnosis. As well, the fee for stop smoking hypnosis is an allowed personal income tax deduction, while the cost of non-prescription remedies such as nicotine patches, gums, and electronic cigarettes are not (see IRS Publication 502 here). 

The more important return on your investment, however, is your health. Within hours of stopping smoking your body starts to recover from the effects of nicotine and toxic additives. Your blood pressure, heart rate, and body temperature, all of which are elevated because of nicotine, return to healthier levels. Your lung capacity immediately increases and the bronchial tubes relax, making breathing easier. Poisonous carbon monoxide decreases in your blood, allowing it to carry more oxygen. You reduce your risk of cancer, heart disease, stroke, and lung diseases, and improve your life expectancy. 

You cannot be hypnotized into to wanting to stop smoking; however, once you have made the decision to quit, stop smoking hypnosis is the most successful and cost effective method to help you rise to the challenge of a healthier you.

©2013 Shawn Quinlivan, C.Ht. and Cathexis Therapeutic Imagery

 

 

Weight Loss Hypnosis: 5 Reasons It Works

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Hypnotherapy Helps You Integrate Diet, Nutrition & Exercise To Lose Weight

According to the National Center On Health Statistics, 30% of adults in the United States—more than 60 million people—are obese. As well, the number of overweight children and teens has tripled since 1980 (see ABC News Article here). Being overweight or obese increases the risk of many diseases and health conditions, such as type 2 diabetes and heart disease.

Losing Weight Safely & Successfully

Weight loss requires an integrative approach that includes diet, proper nutrition, and exercise.  In the long term, combining these basic elements or “lifestyle” choices have proven safe and successful in overcoming weight problems. Yet this approach can require a serious and sustained shift in focus, behavior, and attitude that many find overwhelming.

So exactly how can hypnosis help you overcome the physical, psychological, and emotional challenges necessary to lose weight? How can hypnotherapy alter your emotional relationship with food, and motivate you to embrace fitness and nutrition?

The 5 Ways Hypnosis Helps You Achieve Weight Loss

  1. Trusting Yourself: Crash diets and appetite suppressants undermine your self-confidence. You have what you need to succeed and hypnosis engages your innate trust and judgment. Finding and maintaining a healthy weight is a matter of balance—just like riding a bicycle, it is easy and effortless once you hit your stride.
  2. The Trance State: Sugary and fatty foods stimulate the pleasure centers of the brain in the same ways as mood altering drugs, producing a high or ‘trance state.’ Hypnosis is a positive way to alter consciousness and reinforce your commitment to a healthy lifestyle.
  3. Say Goodbye To Cravings: In the same way food and snack advertisements stimulate your appetite through the power of suggestion, hypnosis dispenses your cravings and replaces them with triggers urging healthy dietary choices.
  4. Connecting Mind, Body & Spirit: Hypnosis awakens the deeper self and shifts perspective on how the mind functions, both in the brain and the body. You consciously connect with your life energy in a way that promotes health, reinforces positive lifestyle decisions, and invites new attitudes about exercise and staying active.
  5. Self-Hypnosis: Experience Is Believing: You will learn to utilize the discipline of self-hypnosis.  Studies on psychotherapy patients have shown that those who practiced self-hypnosis lost twice as much weight as those who didn’t, and  kept the weight off after treatment (see Oprah.com article here). 

Your Weight Loss Transformation

Hypnosis facilitates physiological changes in brainwaves and neural pathways in the body, making you immediately receptive to positive suggestions and affirmations that have previously felt difficult or even impossible for you. Indeed, the idea of what it will take for you to lose weight transforms into a plan of action. And the experience is both pleasant and rewarding—the conviction to challenge unhealthy habits and behavior patterns by dieting, exercising and staying active, and practicing proper nutrition—suddenly becomes a compelling force in your life.

©2013 by Shawn Quinlivan, C.Ht. and Cathexis Therapeutic Imagery

Right & Left Brain Balance

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Brain lateralization refers to the functional specialization of the two cerebral hemispheres. The left hemisphere of most adults is more active than the right during language production, while the reverse pattern has been observed during tasks involving visuospatial abilities. These findings are among the most replicated in neuropsychological research studies.

Brain Lateralization

In psychology, the theory of right and left brain function is known as ‘brain lateralization.’ The concept evolved from the work of neuropsychologist Roger W. Sperry, who won the 1981 Nobel Peace Prize for research indicating that each side of the brain controls different types of thinking.

Continuing research on brainwave activity and cognition has contributed to our growing understanding of the phenomenon. Studies now suggest that language, originally thought to be a left hemisphere function, is a split brain operation; tone and voice patterns are recognized in the right brain, while word meaning and order are processed in the left brain. Infants demonstrate considerably more activity in the right hemisphere than in the left when they begin communicating orally, which is instinctively understood by parents who use melodic cues and voice inflections, or ‘baby talk,’ with their children. Research further indicates that deviance in the childhood development of this right and left brain linguistic hierarchy may relate to Autism Spectrum Disorders (see Scientific Learning article here).

Scientists have also found that the left hemisphere shows a preference for interacting more exclusively within itself, especially in the regions of the brain linked to language and fine motor control. Conversely, in the right hemisphere, brain regions linked to attention span, spatial processing, and visualization interacted in a more integrative fashion with both hemispheres (see National Academy of Sciences article here).

Suggestibility: Right & Left Brain Thinking

29675543_sIn this context, the term suggestibility is associated with induction of the hypnotic state. Suggestibility is the way we learn, perceive, and assign meaning to information, and is determined by gauging whether one prefers right or left brained thinking. Dr. John Kappas, PhD, founder of the Hypnosis Motivation Institute, revolutionized hypnosis by pioneering his theory of the three types of suggestibility:

  • Physical Suggestibility: Characterized by responsiveness to literal suggestions influencing physical responses over emotions. The physical suggestible learns literally and is considered to be right brain lateralized.
  • Emotional Suggestibility: Characterized by responsiveness to inferred suggestions that influence emotions over physical responses. The emotional suggestible learns by inference and is considered to be left brain lateralized.
  • Intellectual Suggestibility: A sub-category of emotional suggestibility characterized by fear of being controlled by the hypnotist, as well as by analysis, rejection, and rationalization of suggestions. Intellectual suggestible subjects are considered to be severely left brain lateralized (80% or higher) and must be maneuvered into hypnotizing themselves.

According to this theory, predisposition to right or left brain thinking occurs in the formative years of upbringing in response to fulfillment of fundamental needs, and is influenced by an individual’s relationship with their primary caregiver. Dr. Kappas developed a comprehensive system of questions, instructions, and observations for equivocating the approximate degree of physical or emotional suggestibility in subjects as part of the hypnotic induction process. When used properly, this approach induces hypnosis in virtually anyone.

Synchronization Of Hemispheres

The physiology of brain lateralization occurs through an intricate network of nerve fibers called the corpus callosum, which connects the brain cells in the right and left hemispheres and acts as a bridge of communication. A unique characteristic of this ‘neurological crossover’ is that the left hemisphere controls the right side of the body, and the right hemisphere controls the left side of the body. This also means that left body sensory data is processed in the right brain, and right body sensory data is processed in the left brain.

13322375_sAccordingly, during hypnosis a person’s suggestibility can be altered by use of right or left body ideomotor responses; common examples are fingers, hands, or arms raised in response to suggestive questions. The brain hemispheres are thus stimulated to share perception of a problem in a more balanced way, changing the mental processes and emotional reactions. For instance, a physical suggestible who is having difficulty getting over the passing of a loved one encounters the challenge from a right brained, emotive viewpoint. Ideomotor responses focused on the right side of the body lateralize their thinking process to the logical and analytical left brain. This hypnotic technique shifts the individual’s perspective from the literal pain of grieving to the inference of accepting the loss.

While ideomotor desensitization in hypnotherapy can alter suggestibility to particular problems, we revert to our familiar literal or inferred thinking in everyday life. On a long term basis, daily meditation and self-hypnosis, which engage integrative right hemisphere brainwave activity, have proven highly effective in achieving hemispheric synchronicity, particularly for individuals prone to left brain thinking and for right brain thinkers whose daily lives demand a left brained presence.

©2013 Shawn Quinlivan, C.Ht. & Cathexis Therapeutic Imagery

 

 

 

 

Dream Therapy

Dream Therapy

Dreams Are A Portal To The Mystical Realms Of The Subconscious

  • Have you ever consulted a dream dictionary to try and understand puzzling symbols that have appeared in your dreams?
  • Do you have nightmares or wake up with dream memories that stay with you through the day?
  • Have you ever had an out of body experience during a dream?
  • Are you familiar with lucid dreaming and have you experienced it?
  • Does the idea of dream analysis appeal to you as a way to find out more about yourself?

Dream Therapy

Dream therapy can help you realize and fulfill goals, improve your performance and problem solving ability (see NY Times article here), discover and understand your deeper self, and increase your focus and energy. Positive side effects often occur as a result of the process, including development of better sleeping habits, experiencing deep and restful sleep on a consistent basis, and gaining a new respect for the important role sleep and dreaming play in mental, physical, and emotional health. Exploring dream therapy has helped clients with insomnia move beyond the common fixation on falling asleep, and has also proven beneficial with weight loss and addiction clients who decide to improve dietary habits—mostly related to sugar intake—in order to sleep better, recall their nightly dreams, and begin to decipher them.

Many clues to the psychological reasoning of the mind can be uncovered in the symbols of dreams. Some dreams are tied to daily stresses, pressures, and challenges, while others are archetypal in nature and may represent fears, apprehensions, grief, or unresolved traumas from the past that are being triggered by current life events. Extensive scientific research has shown that everyone dreams for about 100 minutes each night (see the article Brain Basics: Understanding Sleep here), including several separate dreams during the normal rapid eye movement (REM) dream cycles. People who say they do not dream simply do not remember their dreams.  Nonetheless, almost everyone can be conditioned to sleep in a manner conducive to vivid dreaming and recall, and to record their dreams for interpretation and analysis.

Lucid Dreaming

Lucid DreamingA lucid dream is any dream in which you have conscious awareness. Lucid dreaming is characterized by elements of both waking and dreaming and has attracted the attention of scientists with an interest in further specifying the brain basis of consciousness (see Harvard Medical School article The Neurobiology of Consciousness: Lucid Dreaming Wakes Up here). Lucid dreams can happen when you have just begun to fall asleep, during deep sleep when physiological factors such as pain or illness are present, and in the early morning hours when you are about to awaken. Yet lucid dreams commonly occur at other times as well, such as in guided imagery, while under hypnosis and during meditation, or when taking a nap.

Another way lucid dreaming takes place is through dream therapy and the process of remembering your dreams.  As you train yourself to recall dreams and think about what they mean, you may begin visiting those recollections at times throughout the day and find yourself re-entering certain dreams in a detached sort of way, as if you are on a threshold between two points of consciousness. Studies and research conducted on lucid dreaming (see Wake Up World article here) show that like meditation and self-hypnosis, it is a manifestation of consciousness you can condition yourself to become more adept at, with the only limitations being your self-discipline and imagination.

Astral Projection

Implicit in the discussion of lucid dreaming is the out of body experience, also known as astral projection, which is consciousness outside of the physical body. There are many definitions and philosophical arguments about this controversial subject that has ancient roots in common world religions and is associated with near death experiences, sleeping and dreaming, illness, surgical procedures, psychoactive drugs, and hypnosis and meditation. While it defies the limits of conventional testing and thus invites skepticism, science nonetheless acknowledges the phenomena (see the article Understanding The Out-Of-Body Experience from a Neuroscientific Perspective here). Perception beyond the physical plane is supported by the quantum physics theory of a unified energy field of consciousness, otherwise known as the quantum hologram, as well as by holistic and spiritual healers, teachers, practitioners, and by many who have had out of body experiences. As it relates to sleep and dreaming, perhaps the most familiar out of body experience is the sensation of having to “get back to your body” and wake yourself from a dream.

The Secrets To Dream Interpretation

Archetypes

An archetype is like an old watercourse along which the water of life has flowed for centuries, digging a deep channel for itself. ~Carl Jung

Sigmund Freud and Carl Jung both used dream analysis with patients and wrote extensively on the subject. Freud, whose name is synonymous with the term psychoanalysis, proposed that dreams were primarily tied to the fulfillment of wishes. Considered a seminal figure in the history of psychology, Jung is widely believed to have advanced many of the ideas Freud introduced. Among Jung’s contributions were the concepts of genetic memory and the collective unconscious, which stemmed in part from the significance he placed on the familiar archetypes that appeared in the dreams of his patients; his belief was that dreams were deeply anchored in the psyche and expressed more than repressed wishes (see About.Com article on Freud and Jung here).

Dr. John Kappas, Ph.D., who founded the Hypnosis Motivation Institute (see HMI link here), was a modern day pioneer in dream analysis and developed a model of dream therapy currently used by many psychologists and hypnotherapists. This approach incorporates aspects of both Freud’s and Jung’s work, yet distinguishes itself in its separation of dream stages and individualized interpretations of the unique dreamscape of each client.

The Kapassinian model of dream therapy contemplates three distinct periods in which we dream each night. These can be described as follows:

  • The Wishful Thinking Stage: The initial dreaming period where the mind sorts and prioritizes the stimuli of the day based on emotional attachment.
  • The Precognitive Stage: The second dreaming period occurs during the middle of the night when the primal, instinctive part of the mind sorts both the familiar and unfamiliar aspects of current life challenges, which are filtered by the deeper attitudes and beliefs of our life script. In this stage, we try to predict outcomes as a means of survival.
  • The Venting Stage: The final period of dreaming is in the early morning hours when we release emotional charges attached to relationships, events, and transactions to which we are no longer invested. These dreams are the easiest to remember, the most hallucinogenic in nature, and can infuse unlikely mixes of people, places, and times with uninhibited and sometimes bizarre or objectionable circumstances.

In order for a proper analysis to take place, the dreams must be written down, no matter how disjointed or fragmented the memories of them may seem, with a notation of the time each dream occurred; it is best to do this immediately upon waking. After practicing this journaling exercise for awhile, the ability to remember your dreams will improve and you will only need to jot a few things down in order to accurately reconstruct them during therapy. Then you and your therapist work together to analyze your dreams based on what stages they occurred in, what symbols, emotions, and physiological factors were present, and how they may relate to the circumstances in your life.

Symbols Of The Dream World

Conveying more than obvious or immediate meanings and representing broader expressions, symbols elude absolute definition because they have different connotations to different cultures and peoples. As the mind contemplates a symbolic image, it is compelled to consider ideas beyond the immediate grasp of reason or conviction. Many symbols are collective in nature, having originated from religious beliefs and customs—believers contend they are divine revelations, while skeptics argue they have been invented. Examples of such symbolic images are the wheel and the cross, both of which are known around the world yet have different significance under various conditions and renderings.

A symbol may occur in a dream because an event has taken place in our life that we are subconsciously aware of but are not yet willing to acknowledge; hence, the awareness manifests symbolically in the dream state. Symbols may also recur in dreams, or the dreams themselves may recur, sometimes in slightly varying episodes. Recurring dreams and dream symbols that invoke a similar emotional response can be rooted in a past anguish or forgotten trauma, or represent an attempt by the dreamer to compensate for some perceived defect in character or attitude.

Dream SymbolsYet expressions of repressed emotions, memories, traumas, challenges of character, or events we are not ready to consciously acknowledge, are not the only basis for dream symbols. Indeed, certain elements of dreams can occur which are not necessarily particular to, nor derived from, the personality or individual experience of the dreamer. Freud first observed such elements and called them “archaic remnants.” Carl Jung referred to them as “primordial images” or “archetypes,” and described them as:

” . . . mental forms whose presence cannot be explained by anything in the individual’s own life and which seem to be aboriginal, innate, and inherited shapes of the human mind.”

Jung connected archetypes across cultural boundaries and conceptualized them as fundamental, instinctual forces that somehow exist beyond our comprehension. Perhaps this is why dreams have served as a portal to other realms for shaman, holy men, spirit walkers, prophets, and medicine men from indigenous cultures throughout time, reminding us of the importance of this mystical otherworld of consciousness.

©2013 Shawn Quinlivan, C.Ht. & Cathexis Therapeutic Imagery

 

 

 

 

 

Reality: The Quantum Hologram

The Mind Of God

In his book, A Brief History of Time, Stephen Hawking refers to the unified energy field as ‘The Mind of God’

There is growing acceptance in the Western scientific community of the ancient idea of a unified energy field that links all of creation in an ethereal bond, an innate consciousness. Many scientists and researchers refer to this phenomenon as Nature’s Mind, Unity Consciousness, or the Quantum Hologram (see Greg Braden article, Oneness & The Quantum Hologram, here).

The navigation of consciousness transcends the boundaries mapped by a pantheon of great human minds, reaching ever outward into this sensory holograph that is creation’s enduring mystery. The connection of all living things, the cosmic equation—the whole of life within every part, and every part within the whole—manifests in our perception of reality as multiple dimensions that elude absolute comprehension and definition. We can see, touch, hear, smell and taste the universe around us, yet these images are shifting perspectives of an even greater fabric and texture, an interwoven awareness we have merely glimpsed through the eyes of science, physics, eastern medicine, psychology, mysticism, and spirituality.

The ‘angle of light’ shed by our specific viewpoint and the various ‘interference patterns’ of our own attitudes and beliefs, serve as vectors of discernment that create the basis for this concept of reality as a holographic image (see M.S. Benford Journal of Theoretics study here). And the function of our mind, body and spirit, the magnetic and vibratory energy of the human aura interacting with the vast energy of the universe, is a critical variable in how the world ultimately presents itself to us, affecting how we perceive and experience our individual realities.

The power of individual perspective greatly influences the enigma of reality and its various dimensions and levels. 14749365_sOur attitudes and beliefs, our emotional intelligence, comprise the filters with which we process incoming information, while also sending coherent emotional impulses to the heart, the electro-magnetic dynamo of the human organism. The heart then transmits this energy, the magnetic force and vibration of our convictions about ourselves and the world—which can be photographed and measured as the seven levels of the human aura—out into the universe. In turn, the unified energy field (see John Hagelin, Ph.D. video on quantum physics and consciousness here), our connection on an atomic, molecular, and biological level to every other living thing, responds with a like reflection. This is how our consciousness, individually and collectively, fashions the Quantum Hologram, or what we perceive and experience as ‘reality.’

©2013 Shawn Quinlivan, C.Ht. & Cathexis Therapeutic Imagery

 

 

 

The Wonder Of Past Life Regression

Past Lives

Spirituality Is Often Realized As The Deeper Intention Of Past Life Regression

  • Are you preoccupied with a certain culture, geographical location, or historical period?
  • Are feelings of de-ja-vu something you have experienced profoundly or frequently?
  • Do you have recurring dreams of places, events, or people?
  • Have you ever had the powerful sense of being connected with a friend or family member that couldn’t be explained?
  • Do you experience phobias, fears, anxiety, or premonitions that cannot be traced to a particular source?

THE PAST LIFE REGRESSION EXPERIENCE

Past life regression is an interactive technique of hypnosis and therapeutic imagery to facilitate the mind’s discovery of images that may be related to memories of experiences from previous lives. Explored in books*, mainstream media, and experimental studies, the age-old practice has been scrutinized because the results are not necessarily testable by empirical means. Memories from certain past life regressions have been investigated and found to be basic knowledge of history, or from events such as novels or movies a subject may have read or seen. Nonetheless, the phenomenon has credibility due to its roots in ancient wisdom, and because sufficient numbers of people have reported memories to traceable events that could have been experienced in past lives, including some that are uncanny in accuracy. Among the most fascinating aspects are subjects who spontaneously shift into speaking languages that they have never actually learned, which is known as xenoglossia.

The mythical basis for past life regression is unburdening karma accumulated from previous lifetimes, thus the process resonates naturally for those who believe in reincarnation of the soul. At the same time, the biological theory of genetic memory, as postulated by Carl Jung in his psychological concept of ‘the collective unconscious‘ plays a relevant role, as individuals of various cultures and religious convictions benefit from past life regressions, which are also commonly experienced as memories from the lives of ancestors.

PAST LIFE REGRESSION THERAPY

Past LivesAs a therapeutic tool, past life regression connects the spiritual and psychological self, allowing for a profound shift of perspective in those seeking a deeper understanding of their life purpose and reason for existence. It has been demonstrated throughout history that many forms of pain, suffering and affliction—mental, emotional and physical—can be eased by an awakening of spirituality. And whether real or imagined, in the myriad and unique journeys that individuals manifest from the depths of the subconscious mind, it is most often this divine connection that emerges as the deeper intention of the past life regression experience.

©2013 Shawn Quinlivan C.Ht. & Cathexis Therapeutic Imagery


*There are several popular books responsible for a current resurgence of interest in past-life regression.  Two of these, “Through Time Into Healing” and “ Many Lives, Many Masters,” were written by Dr. Brian L. Weiss, M.D., a traditional psychotherapist whose interest in the subject was inspired by a patient who channeled remarkable revelations from a past life about Dr. Weiss’s family and his dead son.  The book “Reliving Past Lives, the Evidence Under Hypnosis,” written by Helen Wambach, Ph.D., uses statistical analysis to compare details recalled in past lives with various historical records of correlating time periods.  The compelling experiences documented in these books are fascinating and thought provoking.

The Law of Attraction

Law Of Attraction

The Secret Science Of Thoughts & Beliefs: How We Connect Our Divine Heart

Our reality is not subjective, but rather “collective.” The same can be said of consciousness. We are, in fact, subject to the thoughts, acts, desires, and ambitions of others, all of which are part of the enigmatic and ubiquitous energy of the universe and the powers of nature, whose mysteries and properties are perhaps not capable of entirely being understood. The modern interpretation of the Law of Attraction merely proposes that our thoughts, words, and attitudes, and of course, our actions, can affect, fashion, shape and influence the outcomes we desire, as opposed to “creating” them. Yet consider the effect of teaching every child in the world to meditate by the age of nine. Would that not likely precipitate world peace within a generation? So then collectively, at least, we can indeed create reality.

The Divine Heart

The Law of Attraction teaches us to set aside negative and prejudicial attitudes, to cast out doubts and fears, to let go of anger and resentment, to shun blame and victimization and embrace tolerance, forgiveness, and the decision of responsibility—to relinquish anything that weighs us down, instead visualizing on positives and focusing our thoughts, words, ideas, dreams and desires on that which serves our success and happiness—then committing a degree of faith in how the universe responds in delivering it to us. In so doing, we ‘get out of our own way’ and become increasingly connected with our personal power and by extension, the powerful electro-magnetic force or ‘energy’ of creation, the interwoven spirit and unity consciousness of all living things. Our hearts, which generate 60 times the electro-magnetic amplitude of brain waves (see Institute of HeartMath article here), become unencumbered, and are thus able to draw, to attract, not just the reality we desire, but that which was truly meant for us. We allow fulfillment of the purpose for which the mystical web of life brought us into being; hence, we attract a deeper discovery of ourselves in the process, as the wisdom of our experiences reveals a new and profound awareness.

Staying Connected 

If our actions and thought processes are not motivated by divinity, then we must ask ourselves what are they motivated by? If we are not conspiring to realize our higher purpose, then what are we conspiring to? If we are not committed to galvanizing our strength, power and vision to create a better reality for ourselves and each other, then what are we committed to?

44614345_sThe Law of Attraction is akin to the blessed metaphor and universal language of music, where countless sacred harmonies, ethereal and beautiful and inspiring beyond measure, are achieved simply by listening to and embellishing the melody. The world is ever filled with that which would distract us from our deeper calling, yet if we but discipline ourselves to connect our divine heart, to stay tuned-in to the secret science of our thoughts and beliefs, we may still discover the many inspirited voices and unsung choruses in this, our shared song of life.

©2012 Shawn Quinlivan, C.Ht.& Cathexis Therapeutic Imagery