Saturday, December 29, 2007

Surgery without chemical anesthesia? Watch!

The phenomenon of pain can be mysterious, confounding even the best medical experts at times. We tend to assume that pain happens in the body and that our minds have little to do with it. That can leave us feeling like victims when we have chronic pain that the pill or surgery doesn't cure.

How does our conceptualization of pain -- and our thinking about the mind/body relationship -- change when we understand that people can undergo what many of us would assume to be the most extreme type of pain -- physical, invasive surgery -- without anything but the power of our minds to eliminate the pain?

I encourage you to watch this video on Hypnosurgery, which was broadcast in April 2006 in the U.K. At minimum, you should find it thought-provoking and challenging to your understanding of pain. I hope you'll also find it inspiring. Even if you and I will not choose to have our surgery completely without anesthesia, we can learn a lot about who we are and the power contained within our minds by watching these types of examples from our own medical world of today.

On a personal note, I've had the privilege of learning from Dr. John Butler, one of the featured surgeon/hypnotherapists, who is also a good friend and colleague of Gil Boyne's. He was present at a workshop I took last year and led a session or two. I've also seen a video of Dr. Butler himself undergoing surgery without anesthesia. This is a man -- a lovely, warm, incredibly knowledgeable professional -- who walks his talk. :)

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Practical Parenting with Hypnosis

My boys are 8 and 10. Our family life -- with two parents who work -- can be stressful sometimes, just like most family's. As a mom, I have found the use of hypnosis -- for myself and for my children -- can be a very practical tool for keeping the peace in day-to-day living.

Take Thursday, for instance. I don't know about you, but there's always a lot to squeeze into our morning. Getting exhuberant kids dressed, fed, and well-listened to (we use our morning time to catch up as I sip my coffee and wake up) and then equipped with homework folders, permission slips, lunch money, band instruments...the list goes on... is always a bit of a feat.

One unexpected event or accident can throw off a morning and start a chain reaction of stress. I'm sure other parents can relate!

Last Thursday, with 10 minutes before kids were due to offer final kisses and hugs goodbye and march off to school, my youngest smashed his finger in the bathroom door. I was just getting out of the shower, and after hurrying to throw on some clothes, I met his sobbing self in the middle of the upstairs hallway. Paul's not one to cry easily, but the tears were streaming down his face, and I could see his finger really hurt.
"Sit down with me," I said.

Paul questioned me with his eyes, as I plopped down as if it were the most normal thing in the world to have a conversation on the hallway floor in the middle of traffic. As Paul sat down, I held his little finger.

"I can tell this finger hurts really bad. If the hurt had a color, what color would it be? Close your eyes and tell me."


"Ok, good. And if it made a sound, what sound would it make?"

"...'creeeeeeeeaaaaak' like a squeaky door."

"Good. Now what does it feel like? Give me some words ... is it stabbing and pinching?"

"Yes -- stabbing and BURNING."

After we identified the color, the sound, and the feeling, I asked Paul to find somewhere very very comfortable on his body, and he found his other hand. I asked him the same three questions, and he closed his eyes and came up with: a deep blue-jean blue, the sound of an owl, and a cool, gentle breeze.

Next, I gave him the suggestion to put all his attention on the blue, the whoo-whoo sound, and the cool breezy feeling and to allow those to grow and, expand bigger and bigger. Finally, I asked him to imagine the blue, whoo-whoo-ing and cool, cool feeling was actually replacing the white-pink, creaking, burning feeling. More and more the blue color took over and the white-pink became dimmer and dimmer, less and less. I suggested that any time he needed any more comfort in his finger, all he had to do was remember the blue, whoo-whoo-ing, cool breezy feeling.

All of this took less than three minutes to do. It was a very simple process of establishing rapport -- I acknowledged I completely understood his pain and I took it very seriously -- and helping him to change his focus.

By the end of 3 minutes, Paul looked up surprised at himself -- the pain was much, much less and the tears had stopped. He smiled and said he could go to school now.

Now, I know that in this context this exercize may sound like a simple game of pretend that will only work with children, but I guarantee you it is not! :) The mind-body connection is real, and teaching ourselves and our children what is possible in terms of living healthy, happy lives by controlling our thoughts, is one of the best gifts we can give.

If you are interested in my Practical Parenting with Hypnosis class, please contact me.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Wired for fear? Or Mind Over Matter?

Reuters announced the results of a new study today. In Fearful looks get brain's attention fast: study, we learn that researchers have discovered the brain is wired to process fear faster than happiness or any of the related emotions, like love.

The study, which appears in the journal Emotion, also
reveals how little interest the brain has in smiling faces.
[bold is mine]

I don't intend to argue with the scientific research here. If we are faced with a real, physical threat, this hard-wiring of our brains (researchers say it is brain's amygdala that takes in these messages from the visual cortex and serves as the "alarm center") is critical to our survival.

But what if we always find what we are looking for? A couple of common sayings come to mind..."You'll see it when you believe it" or "when all you have is a hammer, everything you see looks like a nail."

If I'm wired to look for the fearful threats, I will find them in abundance. I will also NOT notice all the happy things, the love, and the joy in my life.

Few of us live in an environment where we need to be able to spot trouble (like a hungry tiger) and flea for our lives at a moment's notice. Yet many of us live like we're under constant threat. We see the enemy/threat to our happiness our government, in our environment, in a people who believe a different way or worship a different way, in our jobs, in our co-workers, in our families, in our spouses, in our own bodies, in our minds.

Biological Inevitability? Or Mind Over Matter?

What is the source of our "wiring" and our predisposition to seeing threats? While we might say the brain, I would argue that the contents of our subconscious holds many beliefs that influence how -- and what -- we see.

Other interesting studies have shown that the brain works in the very same way whether it is seeing something for real -- like a flower, for instance -- or it is imagining a flower it has seen before. Yes, it works the very same way whether the vision is real or imagined.

We can raise our blood pressure by having a stressful thought. We can make our mouths water by imagining delicious foods. We can cause a sick feeling in our stomach by imagining ourselves in a threatening situation -- like public speaking, for instance. We know, then, that our thoughts have effects in our lives.

If I have a strong subconscious belief that the world is dangerous, I will tend to feed that fear by noticing all the things about life that prove this belief. My thoughts are like a lense through which I experience the world. Colored with my fear, my world will appear fearful. Taken to the extreme, we end up paranoid or we develop phobias.

Many of these subconscious beliefs are first formed when we are very small. We don't know we harbor these beliefs, because they exist out of the realm of our conscious awareness. Underneath the surface they may be, yet they must still be expressed somehow....through compulsive thoughts or behaviors, negative emotions, even sickness and disease.

The good news

The mind can be re-programmed to see love, joy, and happiness. If we want to experience more of these positive emotions and events -- and less fear, anger, frustration, envy, and lack -- then we should seek change from the inside out. We don't need to find a perfect world to live in; we need to release the fearful thoughts and replace them with loving ones.

We can start right now by taking time daily (or hourly!) to relax and then repeat these affirmations to ourselves:

"I love and accept myself"

"I forgive my past mistakes -- and the past mistakes of others. I know my "enemies" were just fearful, too. I choose to stop the chain of fear now by choosing forgiveness and love for myself and all others."

"From this this moment on, I send only Love."

"All is well."

Monday, September 03, 2007

What is reiki really, and why does it work?

I found myself giving a talk the other day on reiki. As a reiki practitioner/teacher, you'd think that would come easy to me. Well, I will make a true confession: after all these years, Reiki is still one of those things that is easier for me to give and experience than it is to explain.

I found myself gravitating to the question -- what is reiki???? -- probably because my own intellect has never been completely satisfied by any of the answers I've heard or read over the years. My students listened respectfully as I explained that Usui Reiki is a type of energy work in which the practitioner becomes a channel for Universal Ki life-force energy that has a wisdom to it of Its own. As a reiki practitioner, we don't have to guide it -- it does far better when we get out of the way. We don't have to build up our Ki to share with others, as in other types of energy work, because we aren't using our own energy. We're like an extension cord attached to a Universal Source of Wise Energy. There's never a shortage, and we can never be depleted through giving treatments.

What's more -- we don't learn how to channel reiki in the ordinary sense that learning is used. There is very little technique involved, and the process of "learning" reiki actually happens during an "attunement," or a process of shared intent between the teacher and the student during which a short prayer-like ritual occurs.

That's all true, but it may not help us understand -- How can this work? Where does reiki come from? And what is this wisdom that guides it?

I don't really know how to answer these questions definitively, however, reiki is still in my life because it has positive effects in my life. It is not a panacea for all things -- if it were, then reiki practitioners would rule the world! (joke) However, when I use it I feel a shift in energy -- I get sensations -- it almost always makes me feel better -- my young kids (and skeptic husband) ask for it when they have a physical illness or pain -- and when I work with others, they often feel the benefits, too.

Here are some other ways of thinking about reiki, and hypnosis, and all healing that I have come to:

  • As a reiki practitoner and a hypnotherapist (even as a mother, a wife, a worker, and a friend), if I let go and allow Spirit to guide me, there is the potential for great healing -- for my "client" and myself.
  • We are all part of a greater mind --but this mind is split. We have a part that is aware of our Source connection (Spirit) that is always on a path to healing. And we have a part that is unaware of our connection with Source and is fearful (ego). It is this second part that causes the "dis-ease" in our lives.
  • This Source-connected part of our mind may "communicate" with us through many different forms -- through a medical intervention, through hypnotherapy, through the forgiveness we receive from a friend, through some ordinary experience -- like the birth of a child -- that brings us extradorinary peace, or through some kind of "miracle." No matter what the form, healing is always a process at a deep level of the mind.
  • The mind runs the body, which itself is neutral.
  • Healing always comes with greater feelings of peace -- and it sometimes comes with physical effects that look like healing.
  • It is not important what form that healing seems to take. I do not think reiki or hypnotherapy are better than other modalities. I think I have been called to practice healing for myself and others in these ways, but they are not for everyone or for all situations.
  • It is very important not to judge the effects of healing through the physical form -- I do my part, and then I "Let go and let God."
  • I do not take credit for healing, and I do not charge for healing or energy. I charge for my time and hypnotherapeutic skill -- healing happens as a gift to both of us.
Ultimately, these principles -- which I reserve the right to continually evolve as I make my way through this life's "classroom"! -- have become more important to me than answering the eternal "Why?"

So why does Reiki work? I will leave it with this no-answer answer: Reiki works between two people sometimes, because it does (see above).....just like chemotherapy and aspirin, mother's kisses and laughter (see above again).

Sunday, August 05, 2007

Hospitals embracing reiki

Reiki has been a part of my life since 2000. Reiki is usually described as a Japanese relaxation technique that uses "laying on of hands." It's also known as a type of "energy work." Neither of these definitions may be too helpful for the novice. The truth is -- reiki is something you just have to experience. We don't know much about how/why it works. Fortunately, science and medicine are beginning to open to it as they learn more about the immune system and the energy fields in our bodies.

I like to remind skeptics that electricity was around long Ben Franklin "discovered it." Reiki -- which we feel is an intelligent life force -- has been used by humans for probably thousands of years before its latest "discovery" by Dr. Usui.

While we may not understand intellectually, the increased well-being and relaxation that reiki often induces is enough for a growing number of people, including some physicians and hospitals, like Hartford Hospital in Connecticut. You can read about their Award-Winning Reiki program:

If you are near Grays Harbor and interested in a reiki treatment -- or if you'd like to be trained in reiki yourself -- please contact me:

Sunday, March 18, 2007

New Study - Danger of Routine Birth Interventions

Today in the U.S., most states hover close to a 30% average c-section rate. (See stats at ICAN - International Cesarean Awareness Network, Inc.) It's astounding to me -- this means 1 in 3 babies is born cesarean!

Now there is a new two-year study being published in The Journal of Perinatal Education that has found there are health risks to the baby and mother from unnecessary medical interventions, like inductions.

If you are pregnant, I urge you to read Maternity Care Analysis Finds Danger of Routine Birth Interventions. Knowledge is really is power. While special circumstances can happen that require intervention, moms and their babies are BUILT to give birth. If you are low-risk, ask questions, lots of them, until you feel satisfied that there is a true medical emergency that requires an intervention. I think what many people do not anticipate is the snowball effect -- one intervention causes other issues that leads to another intervention and so forth.

I hope there will be a reverse of the pendulum swing in this country back towards natural birth. But I also doubt it will happen from within the medical institution itself.

Moms and dads, the revolution starts with you! Take charge of your birth plan and your medical experiences. If you are with a practitioner who has the attitude "it's MY way, or the highway", then remember--they are your paid consultant, and YOU are the customer. (Yes, I know it can seem hard to do this, but medicine in this country is a business, afterall.) Try to establish respectful, open communication, but if it fails, then take your business (and your baby) elsewhere. Yours and your baby's wellness may depend on it.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Are you facing surgery? Or recovering? Hypnosis may help

More hospitals are opening up to hypnotherapy and hypnosis for pain management, pre-op care, and other uses. This is a heartening article about a hospital in New Jersey that offers hypnosis as an alternative to anesthesia: New-age prescriptions: Yoga, hypnosis, acupuncture, more While hypnosis sounds "space age," it's really an ancient art. And slowly but surely, despite the drug-fixated times we live in, some hospitals are beginning to embrace what it has to offer for the good of their patients.

Many people have used hypnosis very successfully for pain management. I had my own experience a few months ago in which hypnosis was actually the only thing that could bring me relief.

A surface filling in one of my teeth had fallen out -- it was small, and I ignored it, thinking it could wait until....well, whenever! (yes, I know what you are thinking, and you are right -- I could use hypnosis on myself for procrastination...I'll do that as soon as I get around to it. (haha.))

Of course, when the nerve was finally irritated enough, the pain started -- and, of course, it was around 1:00 a.m. on a Friday would be a long night and two days before the dentist would be available. The nerve pain was the most intense I've ever had.

Ibuprofen did not make a dent in the pain. I had a small bottle of Vicodin that I'd never used after I'd had a wisdom tooth pulled, so I rummaged around in the bathroom until I finally found it. I was sure it would be strong enough to bring me relief. Well, instead of relief, it made me feel ill. My tooth was just as painful -- even more painful -- and now I had the sweats and felt like I might pass out from nausea.

Finally, in my suffering, it dawned on me that I'm a hypnotherapist and should be able to help myself -- Why is it that we sometimes forget what we know when we most need it? :)

About pain management with hypnosis: There is a funny thing about the mind that most of us do not know -- our mind can only focus on one thought at a time. Sometimes it may seem as though we are thinking of many things simultaneously, but in reality, our thoughts bounce from thought to thought to thought at lightening speed. The technique I used was to go into light hypnosis, and focus very intently on the comfort in my hand. (You could use any body part... even the tip of your nose, if that is the only place that is comfortable in the moment.)

Focusing very intently on the comfort, you can begin to feel the comfort radiating... that comfort eventually can move anywhere you want it to move. And, yes, I moved this comfort to my tooth. I next focused on the comfort of my other teeth...they eventually felt like they could "radiate" comfort to my one tooth in need of comfort. I even surprised myself with how well it worked, and I should know better. Hypnosis never ceases to amaze me, which is part of why this work brings me joy.

I blocked my pain, got a good night's sleep, then managed my pain for 2 days this way until I could get into see my lovely dentist, Dr. Wandell in Hoquiam. (Thank you, Dr. Wandell and staff!)


Please consider using hypnosis if you are dealing with chronic pain, and also if you are about to undergo surgery or medical treatment. Many people have found it helps them go through the process more smoothly, more relaxed, and with fewer complications. After a procedure, hypnosis can help with pain management and healing -- you can mobilize your bodies own natural healing forces to speed up your recovery.

If you are facing a medical procedure or treatment, or if you are in recovery, I can work with you as a hypnotherapist with your doctor's permission. (I have a simple referral form that almost any medical doctor will feel comfortable signing.)

If you'd prefer, you can try a recorded hypnosis session -- Hypnosis Downloads has a wide variety. (I'm in no way affiliated with these people and make nothing if you buy from them!)

Til next time, you have my blessings....

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

"Have a Baby With No Pain" article on

Here's another recent article from in Western Wisconsin: Have a baby with no pain

From the article: "There are birthing classes at the hospital and they teach you a great deal, but what I found I didn't really have any classes to talk about what you could to participate and really help birthing take place," says Gehrke.

That's very true about most hospital birthing classes. I encourage couples to attend hospital childbirth classes if they are interested, because they are often full of good information about the birthing center, the process, and the new baby and her care.

They normally don't teach women techniques that will help her have a safe, calm natural childbirth, however. The other thing to watch for is how much negative programming they may contain -- do they focus on the negative? on what could go wrong? on pain? I advise couples to be consciously aware of those things, so they do not inadvertently sink in and become part of their "programming".

What you think about really does matter. Our expectations -- even the ones that are subliminal -- have an influence over what we experience. If you don't believe me, just ask any successful Ad Agency. :)

Monday, February 05, 2007

Article: Hospital in Massachusettes embraces HypnoBirthing

I found this article about Tobey hospital in Massachusetts that emphasizes natural childbirth. The mom that leads the article used HypnoBirthing for both her babies -- "When it's all over, you feel empowered — you were able to do that," is her quote.

"Empowered" is exactly how I felt after giving birth to my two babies. The feeling of elation -- enhanced by my body's natural endorphins that were still coursing through me -- made me feel like I could do anything. I remember telling my husband -- "some men may be able to climb Mt Everest, but women GIVE BIRTH!" I felt strong and grounded; I was on cloud nine for days.

Ten years later, the fact that there are more hospitals embracing natural childbirth today is great -- but we have a long way to go before it's common.

Moms and couples, remember you do have a choice. Birth does not need to be a medical emergency, and yet we are conditioned (by our doctors, our television, and our well-meaning friends/family) to believe it is.

Please don't get me wrong -- I'm a big supporter of medicine when used appropriately, and I don't believe a woman "fails" somehow if her birth is not completely natural. What I don't agree with is the prevalent attitude among many hospitals and practitioners that birth should be treated from the get-go as a medical emergency. Women should be supported in their decision to have a natural birth (not bullied out of it). Doctors, bless them, should be on-hand in case special circumstances arise that require his/her skills. But, otherwise, let's remember this: a woman and a baby have been engineered by nature over millions to do just this thing!

On another note: what positive effect on the overall state of our over-taxed healthcare system could eliminating all but essential c-sections have? Food for thought.

Sunday, February 04, 2007 beginning to acknowledge the benefits

QUOTE: "Hypnosis is popping up as a health tool in places where it was once shunned. Hypnosis is popping up as a health tool in places where it was once shunned."

This is a positive article about the fact that western medicine is beginning to acknowledge and utilize the benefits of Hypnotherapy in some situations. Published by Freedom Press, Feb 1 2007 - Hypnosis increasingly is used as serious therapy to help patients control anxiety and alleviate symptoms Smoking, pain management, phobias, and childbirth are all mentioned.

Saturday, February 03, 2007

You CAN have a calm, more comfortable NATURAL birth

If you are interested in having a natural childbirth, you owe it to yourself to consider HypnoBirthing®. HypnoBirthing is a combination of education about the birth process -- learn how women and babies are "genetically engineered" for the birth process! -- and many self-hypnosis techniques that enable a safer, calmer, much more comfortable birth.

I know -- I had two HypnoBirthing babies in 1995 and 1999. I was so amazed at the power of our unconscious minds, I became a hypnotherapist and a HypnoBirthing practitioner!

Please read my website at I've included a lot more information about hypnosis, my own birth experience, the HypnoBirthing Method, as well as reading and listening ideas for those people who like to know more.

I teach out of my home in Hoquiam, Washington (Grays Harbor area). HypnoBirthing is taught in 5 classes (one per week) which are 2-1/2 hours each. The cost is $200 per couple, and it includes a CD and a book. If you are interested in joining, please contact me at or call me at 360-533-8676.