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Natural Awakenings Greater Boston - Rhode Island

Hypnosis Meets Minimalism: Simple Healing in a Complex World

Oct 31, 2023 09:31AM ● By Michelle Douglas
Hypnosis can be described as a trance-like state in which an individual becomes more receptive to specific suggestions that can influence behaviors, perceptions, sensations, emotions, thoughts or memories. This heightened receptivity occurs because the conscious part of the brain is relaxed, allowing for less over-analysis. Hypnotherapy, the application of hypnosis for therapy, can be used for pain management, smoking cessation, weight loss, and managing anxiety and stress, among other purposes.

Many recognize hypnosis from stage performances where hypnotists prompt individuals to entertain audiences with their actions. However, hypnosis has its roots in clinical practice as the oldest Western conception of psychotherapy and serves today as an effective, problem-focused treatment.

Testimony to how our understanding of the mind continues to evolve, research by bioengineering professor Rodrigo Quiroga published in Nature Reviews Neuroscience revealed “concept cells” in the brain. These cells respond exclusively to specific individuals or things, indicating that such information is pre-recorded within them. These neurons can be regarded as the gatekeepers of triggers, and with techniques like hypnosis, there’s potential to reprogram such neurons.

A study from the Soroka Medical Center, in Beer-Sheva, Israel, suggests that using hypnosis during IVF’s embryo transfer may improve pregnancy outcomes by reducing patient stress, which can arise from procedure-related fears. Such stress might lead to physical changes, like high blood pressure and increased uterine contractions, which could negatively impact IVF results.

Hypnosis can be particularly effective for issues related to the body-mind connection. As traumatic experiences are imprinted at a cellular level, the method can alter these perceptions, which in turn changes our reactions. By influencing both the brain and body, it fosters beneficial changes in the individual. Much of our stress arises from our perceptions, leading to reflexive reactions that can be challenging to manage and modify.

Dr. David Spiegel from Standford University explains that during hypnosis, we are “experiencing, not evaluating.” This state is optimal for learning new things or reshaping old beliefs. His laboratory is at the forefront of capturing images of the brain during hypnosis. In neurobiology, there’s a saying: “Neurons that fire together wire together.” This highlights the importance of confronting and processing traumas to change the associated emotions positively. By avoiding our fears, we anchor them with negative associations. Facing these issues and reshaping our cellular understanding can effect positive changes.

While there’s no simple solution, hypnosis offers a powerful tool to navigate our challenges more easily than we might imagine. Every night, before going to sleep, reflect on the day’s challenges and let go of any lingering negative feelings.

The placebo effect thrives on belief; the mind convinces the body that a fake treatment is real, prompting genuine physical responses. Similarly, hypnosis harnesses this belief system. In a trance, the conscious mind steps back, allowing suggestions to deeply embed in the subconscious. This mental “programming” can spark real, tangible changes in the body, much like a placebo. When combined, the power of hypnosis and the placebo effect can offer exceptional mind-body healing potential.

It’s crucial to choose a hypnotherapist that specializes in the individual’s specific needs. Hypnosis can be a side-effect-free solution that aligns with the values of minimalism and eco-conscious living, prompting us to reassess our habits and beliefs at a profound, cellular level.

Michelle Douglas is a certified Consulting Hypnotherapist, Licensed Massage Therapist, Aesthetician and the founder of Karuna Integrated Wellness & Spa, at 351B Centre St., Jamaica Plain, Massachusetts. For more information or to make an appointment, call 617-398-7101 or visit