Phantom Limb Pain: Hypnosis helps decrease pain by helping the brain adjust to the new territory

The diagnosis of phantom limb pain did nothing to lessen the agonising shock-like sensations that Diane felt in the area where her leg used to be. Unable to sleep peacefully and on a cocktail of strong drugs she was exhausted when she first came to see me. As she related the horror of the accident and subsequent amputation, it was her extraordinary optimism and sense of humour that radiated through. Her determination to survive was evident from the beginning. After a motorbike accident in Bali, an island in Indonesia, no one would take her to hospital because of the belief that blood carries bad spirits. A hefty bribe ensured that she got there but there were only minutes to spare. Over the following two weeks gangrene set in and the limb was amputated. Five months on, the phantom limb pain was made barely tolerable by the drugs, though in Bali she had experienced profound relief through acupuncture. Back in the UK, her indomitable strength and open mind led her to explore more acupuncture and hypnosis. Phantom limb pain is common in amputees Diane’s symptoms were not unusual. Phantom limb pain is more commonly associated with lower limb loss through surgery or trauma, but has been reported after the loss of a breast, ear, testicle and even organs that have been surgically removed. Sensations are commonly described as shooting, cramping, burning or stabbing pains and these should be distinguished from stump pain that is local to the site of amputation. This is commonly caused by neuromas that grow in response to the nerve endings reaching out to try to find the other side of the cut. What causes phantom limb pain? No one could tell Diane what caused her phantom limb pain but there are several medical lines of thought Peripheral nerve dysfunction Spinal cord dysfunction The brain having to adjust its feedback system as its territory changes. It is the latter that seems to hold the key to understanding why hypnosis can help phantom limb pain sufferers. The area of the brain that is responsible for a limb may receive information from other areas after amputation. This is called cortical remapping. And it may go some way to explain why suffers feel increased phantom limb sensation from touching part of the face. For in the brain, the regions are very close. Maps of the body are in the brain Dr Ramachandran looked at a possible mapping of the body on the brain. His book Phantoms in the Brain describes how different areas of the body are governed by different parts of the brain. In this book, Ramachandran also describes a mirror box which reflects the remaining hand making the other hand appear still present. This reliably reduced phantom limb pain in hand amputees, indicating that the visual pathway was enough to convince the brain that its territory was undisturbed. Hypnosis to reshape the brain’s instinctive behaviour after loosing a limb If our brains are hard wired to expect a hand on
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5 Tips On How To Overcome Your Brains Resistance To New Habits

You may have heard that 92% of people who made a New Year Resolution will be wavering or have given up by now. Yes, just 8% will make that leap to change their habits and give birth to a new way of living. If you are one of the 92% who made an absolute decision to get up earlier to exercise or meditate but now find yourself horrified at the alarm going off, and snuggle back into your warm duvet. Don’t despair! Because so many people have the same experience and now science may be able to explain why change is hard to sustain.’ New research has shown no matter how much you want to change your habits; your brain may scupper your intentions of bettering yourself. Scientific research is showing the brain prioritizes short-term gain over long-term reward. This isn’t a new idea as in the late 1960s and early ’70s , Stanford psychologist Walter Mischel ran an experiment where he gave 4-year-olds the choice between one snack-treat right away or two in fifteen minutes. Years later, Mischel checked the adult participants in the so-called Marshmallow Test, to see how their lives had panned out. He found that those who had waited did better in life in all sorts of ways. Lasting relationships, better jobs and they scored higher on the ‘happiness’ scale. Similar experiments by psychologist George Ainslie, showed that pigeons discounted the offer of large portions of grain in favour of smaller amounts they could get immediately. It might not surprise you to know that humans behave the same  way. So when you turn off that alarm in favour of an extra half hour under the duvet rather than going for a run; your brain is favouring the immediate short-term reward rather than the long-term gain of a healthy fit energised self. Somehow, the link between the small action of going for a regular run becomes separated from the reason for doing it. However, Ainslie noticed a fascinating fact. Pigeons could change their mind and wait for a larger portion if food wasn’t on immediate offer, and both small and large amounts were 8 and 10 seconds into the future. Somehow when both rewards were in the future it was easy to wait for the delayed but larger reward. Somehow both animal and humans were wired to bypass long term gain if there was an immediate reward. However, when there was no immediate reward it was easier to choose the action that would bring longer term gain. As humans we can use our cognition to change this natural selection process when we clearly identify with all the life changing opportunities and happiness the change in behaviour now will bring in the future. So how do we use this natural ability? It is a beautiful and simple process. You have to project yourself to your preferred future and experience all the longed for changes as if they were happening now. In short this means that you use all your
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I Meditated For 30 Days And Saw A Profound Shift In My Life – Create A Wave Of Change In Your Life Starting Today.

During a day of working with clients, I observed the familiar sight of my clients breathing becoming deeper. Tension dissolving, smiles and the minimal facial expressions conveying the changes happening in their brains.   Over the next few days I received three emails detailing the profound life changes that those clients had experienced from hypnosis. Old, unhelpful ways of viewing the world – GONE. They wrote of feeling increased vitality, motivation and ‘a sense of ease in daily life.’   By the third email a thought suddenly occurred to me ‘I could do with some of that!’ I was ok but having had a bug my energy was down and I was finding my focus and creativity not as sharp.   I used to do meditation mosts days but had stopped a few months ago. So, I made a promise to myself – ‘I am going to invest some time in me and use my skills to be the best I can be!’ So I started doing 15 minutes meditation a day – sometimes listening to a guided visualisation and other times just doing my own structured meditation which naturally developed by about the 10th day.   After 48 days I feel amazing, my energy and motivation to start exercising again have rocketed. Going for a run early in the morning and yoga now come easy but the most miraculous part of this new practice is what I have manifested into my life. Can’t go into detail as it is private to me (for the moment) but it is nothing short of a miracle and is life changing.   So what else have I noticed? I have noticed how my intuition is so sharp, how creative ideas and solutions randomly occur and above all – an abiding sense of calm over some important decisions I have had to make.   Want some of this too? Are you prepared to make an investment?   An investment of 15 minutes time for you every day for 30 days. Sound easy? That’s what I thought! First few days were great then I found any excuse not to take that time – and you will too but I had made an absolute promise to myself and so couldn’t go back on my word, so I carried on and the more I did the more wonderful things unfolded.   My gift to you is to share the meditation I have created and use every day. Join our Facebook page to post your comments and see the daily posts I will make to encourage you. Start today and live a bigger life.     
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How To Use The Concept Of Time And Space To Shift A Client’s Viewpoint: Part 1

I often have past students call me to ask for tips when they find it tough going with a particular client. One of the most frequent questions I am asked is how to shift a client’s entrenched perspective of themselves or a situation? We have all been there! No matter how artfully you reframe, no matter what stunning metaphors you use they all bounce off like rain drops on an oily surface. Somehow your words don’t quite have the power to penetrate the rigid walls of belief that imprison the client’s mind. So you keep trying with all you know and they still don’t budge. They stick to their views that what they did was unforgivable, that they are not worthy of deep happiness, that they deserve the bullying and so on – and oh boy that can be a heart sinker for any therapist. What I have learnt is that in order to change the mind of someone in this fixed place you have to get them out of their mind. Now, I don’t mean bring in the gin and tonic but simply help shift their focus away from where they are right now. Because a negative trance state is centred in the now,  it’s a series of thoughts that prevents access to better feelings that are away from the feelings right there and then. When you want to change any thought you have to change the hardwiring that causes the familiar, unwanted pattern matches. The existing neural circuits have to be disconnected to reform new nerve cell connections. And one of the ways to shift your client’s negative beliefs is to access different times when they can associate with a beneficial resource or perspective. So I use the idea of accessing different points of a persons life to do this.Over the coming 2 week I am going to share with you a couple techniques I use to do this. Tip 1 – ask questions to help them TRAVEL A TIME LINE so they associate themselves in another time frame and dissociate with the present viewpoint. Here are 3 questions I use. You can ask them during a conversation or in hypnosis, either way remember to leave time for the person to reconnect with a different version of themselves:- 1. ‘Just imagine jumping to a you in 3 years time when this problem/belief/pattern that exists today has gone/changed for the better and feels hard to recall – feel what that you feels like inside, what does she look like – how is life without that old problem? What advice would that you give you now? Take some time now… 2. I sometimes use a greater degree of time, maybe decades and talk hypnotically about the ‘sands of time flowing past………taking you to a time many, many years from now……………….looking back on that younger you and sharing the wisdom of those years. How would she view the ……situation……..problem…………how does the wisdom of those years change what patterns in the mind now?’ 3. In hypnosis I talk about ‘nothing lasting forever and there is a
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Hypnosis Increases Fertility

Dawn sobbed as she told me she felt heartbroken since her second round of IVF had failed. Distraught and feeling cheated Dawn and her husband couldn’t understand the agonising journey to create the child they so longed for. Having met ten years ago in their late twenties Dawn and her partner John soon knew they had found ‘the one.’ They shared many dreams and one was a desire to have a family, so were soon planning a pregnancy but three miscarriages and unsuccessful assisted fertility interventions their joy and excitement turned to misery. Although Dawn had come to see me to help her over the trauma of the loss of her baby and  the raw emotions that brought, I knew once we had worked to help ease that pain and some time had passed I would be able to use hypnosis help her conceive naturally. Having seen many couples who have sought help with conception and keeping a baby to term I have witnessed the power of the mind to bring about changes in the body. The role of a persons mind in their physical well-being is now more widely accepted as science can now demonstrate the connections between your thoughts and your biology. This understanding has escalated the amount of people turning to talking therapies to help with fertility as more couples of all ages groups find difficulty with getting pregnant and sustaining a pregnancy. The rise of infertility Studies show that 1 in 6 couples now experience problems with conceiving or sustaining a pregnancy. This has caused the medical world to offer increasing amounts of intervention. However the procedures address purely the physical manifestation of problems and don’t take into account the mind/body relationship. Reasons for infertility Although some couples will have problems due to environmental toxicity, poor nutrition, past infections or structural problems. Studies show many reproductive difficulties are responsive to mind body therapies. Studies show success with talking therapies and hypnosis In a study in the USA, 16 women with functional hypothalamic amenorrhoea (absence of periods related to brain hormone production) received Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) treatment. Six of the 8 women in the CBT group resumed ovulation, while only 1 woman in the control group resumed ovulation Another study presented to the European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology conference in Berlin in July of 2004, demonstrated how hypnosis can improve fertility and effectively double the success of IVF treatments. The study of 185 woman found that 28% of the women who were hypnotised for the IVF treatment became pregnant, compared to 14% of the women in the control group.  In a study of 16 women reported in 2003 in the journal Fertility and Sterility, fertility specialist  Dr. Berga showed that ovulation was restored in 7 of 8 women who underwent cognitive behavioral therapy, compared with 2 of 8 who did not get this talking therapy. (2006 The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism.) Stress has been identified as a contributor to infertility. When couples or a woman comes to see me, it
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11 Tips for Happy Long Term Relationships

Following last week’s blog on the 2 keys to lasting relationships. Here are 11 tips that cultivate an environment of KINDNESS and ACKNOWLEDGEMENT between couples. The longevity elixir for relationships! Pepper your relationship with lots of ‘turn towards bids’. Gottman found that long staying couples had more turn towards bids. Here is an example – when their partner makes a comment about something that on the surface isn’t that significant – like ‘hey look at that colourful little bird on the feeder.’ It suggests that what has been experienced or observed is important to the individual, so its therefore important to get that statement acknowledged by their partner.This can be done via their partner looking up from their present activity and saying ‘ahh’ or any other small comment that just acknowledges and appreciates their words. Active constructive responses. One step better than this was discovered by researcher Shelley Gable and her colleagues. They observed that how partners respond to good news from their loved ones is an indicator of a relationship will last or not.For example if a husband came home and said he had been offered a promotion if his wife was busy reading she would disengage from the book and make a comment like ‘well done;’ but the engagement would carry on. The wife might continue the dialogue and ask what were the first steps he needed to take.Couples who did lots of active, constructive responding like this were shown to have better relationship quality and increased intimacy. Take regular time out to catch up on what is happening in each other’s lives. A busy daily routine  can sabotage engagement and closeness so plan in time together – coffee breaks, date nights, a walk, turning the TV off  – anything that just gives you opportunity to talk. Pay interest in what is happening in your partner’s life. John Gottman calls this a ‘love map’ and said expressed how important it was to get to know who your partner’s friends are and what is happening in their lives outside of your relationship and the time you spend with them. Another important reason for catch up time. Be generous about your partner’s intentions. Don’t sweat the small stuff – so if your partner is late home, don’t sit there seething and winding yourself up into a lather but generate lots of reasons why this might have happened. Couples who stay together show understanding rather than jumping to a negative conclusion and thinking badly of their partner. Let go of the need to be right. A need to have the upper hand all the time and the last word can force couples to have petty arguments so try and let this go to reduce any chances of conflict or pettiness. Not taking every action you don’t like personally. So if your partner forgets to bring home the milk you asked them to pick up – don’t think they have done it to make you cross or not listened to you. They simply could
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Science shows that 2 factors determine if your relationship will be short term or long term.

As my client Gail chatted about how her husband was constantly annoying her with his talk about his work, and how she had criticized him at every available opportunity.’ I couldn’t help but think of the recent article by John Gottman, an international expert on relationships. Along with his wife Julie who is also a psychologist they run The Gottman Institute, and have devoted their lives to uncover what creates or breaks marital stability. The 2 keys to long lasting relationships. Along with a team of researchers they have made a series of scientific findings that determines the likelihood of a couple staying together, or not. And guess what the two key players are? Kindness and generosity – attitudes that seem to be missing from the increasing number of couples getting divorced. Nearly half of marriages end in divorce. Every year in the USA about 2 million marriages take place and in the UK there are roughly 250,000 marriages. It is shocking news that between 40 – 50 percent of those marriages will end in divorce, an outcome that few contemplate when gazing into each other’s eyes and say ‘I do’ and ‘until death do us part.’ Since the 1970’s scientists and psychologists have been trying to find the keys to successful relationships. In 1982 Gottman set up ‘Love Lab’ within The University of Washington. They invited newly weds and watched to see if there were any trends in the way they interacted with each other. The science behind happy, long lasting marriages. During the observed conversations couples had electrodes on their body so that the researchers could gather physiological data. This data was stored and then after a gap of 6 years Gottman’s team contacted the couples to see if they were together or not. Couples who were still married were called ‘Masters’ and those who had separated were called ‘Disasters.’ Relaxed Master couples v stressed Disaster couples. When reviewing the physiological data, along with the marital outcomes, researchers discovered that the ‘Disasters’ showed signs of stress during the observed conversations. In a nutshell they felt under threat whilst they sat and chatted to their ‘nearest and dearest.’ So even when they looked fine outwardly, inside they were preparing to be attacked or attack. In contrast the ‘Masters’ who were still together after 6 years had showed little sign of physiological arousal. They were calmer and kinder to each other – even when having a disagreement. This group weren’t fitter or stronger but simply had created an environment based on trust and love, so at no time felt under threat from their spouse. This fascinated Gottman and in 1990 he invited 130 newly weds to spend time at a lab – again at The University of Washington. The lab had received a huge make over and was designed to look like a bed and breakfast retreat. The couples were encouraged to spend time doing what they would normally do when relaxing on holiday. So they were observed doing regular
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Use Hypnosis To Improve Sport Performance

Countless successful sports men and women have used hypnosis to improve their performance for many years. Hypnosis is sometimes called creative visualisation, and it’s simply the process of using your imagination to increase your skill set. The repeated act of mentally rehearsing movement, action and reaction, creates changes in your brain and body. New neural connections start to form in your brain and these connections strengthen the more you rehearse the images. When you vividly imagine performing a particular move like a back-hand in tennis, your muscles strengthen and grow as if you had actually taken part in a training session. This was proven when a scientist took two groups of people. The first actively played a specific piano piece and the second group visualised doing so. Guess what? Yes, the group who imagined playing showed almost as much muscle development as the group who had physically played the notes on the keyboard. Why does visualisation increase performance and physical ability? In short – because your brain doesn’t know the difference between the two. A study by Soviet Scientists showed the effects of mental training on performance. During the 70’s Olympic athletes were divided into 4 groups. Group 1 did 100% physical training Group 2 did 75% physical training and 25% mental training Group 3 did 50% physical training and 50 % mental training Group 4 did 25% physical training and 75% mental training And guess who showed the greatest increase in performance – group 4 who did the most mental training! And what was as fascinating was that group 1 who didn’t do any mental training showed the least increase in performance. Subsequent training regimes for Russian athletes bought huge rewards in the 1976 Olympics as the Russians won a total of 125 medals, 35 more than their nearest rivals the USA. Why is mental rehearsal so important? To answer this question we need to have a quick look at how your brain works. When you are improving or learning a new skill you need your analytical brain to learn practice and then reflect on how you can do it better. Your logical mind couldn’t hope to house all the complex alignment of muscular skeletal moves needed to play a game of tennis or follow a gymnastic routine. It is your subconscious mind that collates the millions of pieces of data needed to do a forehand stroke or twist and turn on the bars. So once a skill is repeatedly practiced the coordination of that skill passed to your subconscious mind. All good so far but problems can arise when your conscious mind tries to muscle in on the all knowing and seeing subconscious mind. Thoughts like ‘will I win?’ ‘he/she is better than me’ destroy the minds natural ability to relax and focus on the game. Thoughts impede the neural firing that stimulates the learnt muscle reactions. Getting into the “flow’ state is vital for best performance. Now you may think it mad but even a sprinter has to
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Use Hypnosis To Make Great Decisions

Have you ever thought about how many decisions you have to make in your life? Not one single day of your life will go by without requiring you to make a whole heap of decisions. From the time you get out of bed, to what you eat, who you talk to, how you react to situations and who you love. The decisions you make are pivotal to your experience of life.  Some people seem to make decisions really easily whilst others fret and procrastinate at even the smallest decision, like what shoes shall I wear today? Lets look at how you can use hypnosis to make the bigger decisions in life more easily, such as what career path shall I take? Or, should I stay with my partner? It’s these big choices that can make you bury your head in the sand and worry for days. So what makes it so difficult to make an important decision. Lets take a fictitious person called John who has been offered a job and he is just not sure whether to take the offer or not. Lets look at what could be happening in his mind. Decisions that impact others can be harder to make. Decisions that don’t have a huge impact on your own or another person’s life can be easier to make than one that affects yourself and/or others in a significant way. So John maybe struggling with making a decision about his new job offer as it affects his family too. Maybe taking the job would mean moving house and children moving school or be a perceived financial risk. Fear of failure. John might be worried that if he takes the job and it doesn’t work out, his friends will see him as a failure. Have you ever decided against something because deep down you are concerned that it wouldn’t work out? A well-known characteristic of a successful person is they are not scared of failing and see new challenges or risks as a learning opportunity. Fear of committing to the unknown. John might worry about not being able to control certain aspects of the job like other colleagues or his boss. He will spends hours using his imagination to go through all the negative scenarios that could possibly happen. Lack of self-belief. John might want the job but is scared to take it because he thinks he isn’t good enough. Even though he may have gone through a rigorous interview process and the company obviously really want him on board. He will be fixated on worrying that he isn’t good enough. There is a common thread in these scenarios that make it difficult to make a decision, and it is fear. Fear of upsetting or putting others at risk. Fear of failure and of the unknown. Fear of not being good enough or fear of not being able to learn or attract what you need to make your decision work. As fear blocks creative insight, intuition and logical processing, it’s no
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How Hypnosis Can Help Solve Problems?

From the old days of watch swinging to modern day hypnotherapy, going into hypnosis has proven effective in alleviating many problem states. People who have experienced hypnosis say they find a freedom from previously imprisoning thoughts and behaviour. Hypnotized people report that their compulsion to addictive substances looses its grip. Others find their freedom from negative patterns of emotions such as anger, jealousy and low mood. And the effectiveness of hypnosis doesn’t stop there as doctors have performed operations without anaesthetic whilst their patients have been in hypnosis. Throughout time hypnosis and how it facilitates change has been shrouded in mystery. That is until the last couple of decades when science has given us a bigger picture of what happens in the brain. To understand hypnosis you need to have a mini brain science lesson; and I promise it will be short! Your brain emits frequencies that have been picked up by Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging scans (MRI). BETA BRAINWAVES – 13 – 40Hz – You would be awake and doing normal activity. ALPHA BRAINWAVES 7 – 13 Hz – When you are relaxed, in light meditation or hypnosis. Alpha is associated with super learning and creativity. THETA BRAINWAVES 4 – 7 Hz – When extremely relaxed in deeper hypnosis and deeper meditation. The theta state produces profound relaxation; however, clients in hypnosis do not need to reach the theta state to make significant improvements in their lives. DELTA BRAINWAVES less than 4 Hz – You will be fast asleep or unconscious. GAMMA BRAINWAVES 40+ – A state of hyper alertness, sensory integration and perception described as a blissful state by people who regularly practice meditation. Another aspect to note here is the presence of Rapid Eye Movement (REM) observed in the Theta state and when dreaming. During hypnosis your brain will be largely in alpha and theta. If you were watching someone in hypnosis you would see their eyes moving very quickly underneath their closed eyelids. Whilst in alpha and theta you are in a more suggestible state, so this is why people can make changes when in hypnosis. But lets continue to build your knowledge, as there are other forces at play. We spend the most time in the theta state during the last trimester of gestation. During this time you are laying down new instinctive patterns that will help you bond with caregivers and negotiate your environment when born. During the first eight years of life you would have been largely in theta/alpha, enabling you to learn quickly and retain so much from those early years. You naturally lay down new instinctive patterns when in the theta state. And one important addition here is that you can also update existing habits and thoughts here too. So it makes sense doesn’t it to go to the theta alpha state when we are naturally geared to initiate and update from that state. Can you see now why logic and will power are often crushed by a strong habit? This
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