In the last few years mind-body healing has rapidly become an accepted practice for the treatment of a variety of physical and psychosomatic illnesses. Mind-body healing is commonly used as an adjunct in the treatment of patients with cancer and AIDS. In these conditions it has been found to prolong and improve the quality of life. In a number of cases of cancer that have been declared incurable mind-body healing has lead to a regression of the cancer. Mind-body healing is also being used in the treatment of a variety of conditions such as allergies, asthma, skin disorders, chronic pain, rheumatoid arthritis and ulcerative colitis. Today many of the leading medical centers in the world such as Harvard Medical school have a mind-body healing programme.
It has been proved beyond any doubt that it is possible to bring about a physical regression of the atherosclerotic patches inside the arteries using a programme of lifestyle.
Mind-body program have not become more popular with most doctors because they are time-consuming, and require a high degree of psychological skills. Insurance policies will pay for cardiac surgery but will not pay for a mind-body programme even though it can save the insurance company money by preventing expensive cardiac surgery.
Another challenge that the mind-body programmes face is that they require a commitment on the part of the patients to change lifestyle and behavior. Many patients find it difficult to accept the need to change their behavior or even to accept that psychological factors are responsible for their illness.
The main advantage of a mind-body programme is that it can prevent surgery and premature death. Even thought the mortality rate for cardiac surgery or angioplasty on the average is less than one per cent, there are sub-groups of patients where the risk death due to the operation may be 5% to 10% or even higher.
Then there is the pain and high rate of post-operative complications. Some patients find that the cognitive functioning of their brain has been affected after surgery. Many develop depression after the coronary bypass surgery and this can be very troublesome.
The long term survival rates of patients who have undergone surgery are not spectacularly higher than those receiving medication. Within five years more than half the arteries operated upon will again close down, and the patient will need to be reoperated. Even after an angioplasty there is a 30% change that within a few months the artery blocks up again. Over the following years many of the arteries could also clog up anew. Anatomical damage is likely to promote re-occlusion
Another advantage of the mind-body programme is that it leads to the reduction in the amount of medication that the patient needs to take. A significant percentage of patients experience unpleasant side-effects of the medication they use that are dose related. Some of the drugs used by cardiac patients have been introduced recently and no one knows what new long term toxic effects will be discovered.
A trap that you need to be careful of is the use of the mind-body programme as an excuse to avoid surgery. Some people decide to follow a programme of mind-body healing and drop out after a short time. Thus, if you do decide to follow a programme of lifestyle changes do it under the close supervision of your doctor. He will be able to guide you to go in for surgery if you are not able to follow the programme.
USING HYPNOSIS FOR SELF-HEALING
Trance states have been used from times immemorial to heal psychological and physical problems. The intentional use of these trance states is called hypnosis and is recognised as a therapeutic procedure by the American Psychiatric Society and the British Medical Association. Hypnosis is used in the treatment of a variety of physical and psychosomatic disorders such as asthma, hypertension, ulcers and rheumatoid arthritis, ulcerative colitis and dermatological disorders.
Other psycho-physiological techniques such as autogenic training, imagery therapy or meditation are also useful to heal physical problems. Hypnosis is a much more direct technique that goes straight to the root of the problem and resolves it much faster than the most of the other techniques. Other psycho-physiological techniques such as meditations also rely on altered states of consciousness but in a much more diffuse way.
CONTINUING YOUR PROGRAMME
Once you have stared you will probably find it easy to continue the programme. It is normal to slip or lapse occasionally and that does not mean that it is the end of the programme, it is just a signal to get back into the programme.
Maintain a record of what you have done each day in your diary. You should spend half an hour a day on meditation and about as much time everyday doing self-hypnosis. You should spend a few minutes at night writing your diary and hostility log and reviewing it. Continue working on modifying your behavior.
Within a few weeks you will find yourself feeling much better and enjoying life very much more. It is at this point that you will need to renew your commitment to the programme, as people often stop practising once they start feeling a little better.
COMING OUT OF THE TRANCE
When you start going into the trance, give yourself the suggestion as to when you will come out of the trance. For example you could tell yourself, I will come out of the trance automatically in twenty minutes. Generally you will find that you come out of the trance in exactly that much time. If not, your trance state will lighten and all you need do is to give yourself the suggestion that you will come out of the trance at the count of five.
A few people may find that they need to use an alarm clock initially. Most people learn how to come out of the trance at the right time without any difficulty. Set the clock for a little later than you plan to come out of the trance so that you can come out of it naturally. Try to use a clock with a soft sound or muffle it by covering it with a pillow so that you only hear a gentle sound. A strident alarm will yank you out of the trance and can be quite jarring.
PREPARING TO GO INTO A TRACE
It is a goods idea to prepare yourself before you go into a trance state. First make sure that no one will disturb you during this period. Put the phone off the hook and tell other that you should not be disturbed unless there is something that simply cannot wait. Go to the bathroom before you start.
It is preferable to use a different posture when you are doing self-hypnosis than that you use when you practise meditation. Since meditation is best done in the sitting posture it is better that you do self-hypnosis in a reclining posture.
It is crucial that you learn how to enter the trance state in a relaxed and easy manner. There is not need to force yourself to do anything; the skill is to gradually relinquish control so that your unconscious mind comes to the fore. Trying too hard can interfere. It is better to let things happen by themselves.
DEEPENING THE TRACE
Going into a deep trance can help accelerate your progress and make the process more useful. The easiest technique to deepen the trance is to imagine you are walking down a long staircase, see and feel yourself going down. Another technique is to watch yourself going down an elevator as you watch the indicator. As you imagine these things you will find you will yourself going deeper into the trance.
ENTERING THE TRACE STATE
One of the most useful ways that I have found of entering into a trance is to look at some spot in a relaxed and easy manner. As you do this, pay attention to any areas of comfort within your body. When your unconscious mind is ready to go into a trance you will become aware of an increasing sense of comfort and relaxation. You may find your eyelids close by themselves or that you feel like closing them, at which point you can allow them to do so. Notice how the sense of comfort increase with each breath, as you go deeper.
Another technique is to close your eyes and start counting backward from 100 to 1. As you count each number imagine that you are also watching the number on a television screen. As you count backward you will find yourself going deeper into the trance and feeling more relaxed.
You can use the self-hypnotic state to analyse the meaning of your dreams. You may feel that your dreams are meaningless or difficult to understand. In the self-hypnotic state you can ask your unconscious mind to help you understand a dream. Ask it to allow you to have a series of dreams with a different cast of characters either in the trance or in your sleep at night so that the meaning of the dream becomes clearer with each dream. You can also programme your unconscious mind to have healing dreams at night. In your dreams, deep inner healing can take place, particularly of childhood traumas.
First go into a light trance using any induction technique. Once you feel relaxed imagine yourself walking up a mountain to a cave where you meet a wise old healer. See yourself entering the cave and talking to the healer. Tell him or her about your problems and discuss anything you need advice about. It may take sometime for you to be able to get clear replies from your inner advice.
There is nothing supernatural about this procedure. All it does is tap into the natural wisdom within the archetypes of your unconscious mind. This process provides you with a method of accessing the inner wisdom of your own mind. I recommend this process to my patients to help them to work on their goals and on the changes they need to make in their lives.
Monica, an advertising executive, used this technique at a stress management workshop where she had learned this technique. A heavy smoker, Monica was trapped in a job she found stifling. Her inner advice suggested that she quit smoking and find more fulfilling work. During the process her inner advice, the wise one in the cave, advised her to leave her job as soon as possible and pursue her dream of making films. Strangely she was also advised to go out with a friends brother whom she had hardly ever looked at. Monica resigned from her job a few weeks later and got a job at a much lower salary with a film-maker. She was sceptical about the advice about her friends brother but decided to drop in to see her friend more often. She later told me that a romance had bloomed between her and the brother.
DEVELOPING THE SIGNALLING SYSTEM
One can communicate directly with the unconscious mind while in the walking state through ideomotor signals, once one has learned how to set up the signalling system. Initially it may be easier to set up the signalling system. Initially it may be easier to set up an ideosensory signalling system in which you ask the unconscious mind to give you a signal such as a sensation that signifies Yes. Wait for some time until you get the signal. Then ask it to give you another signal for No and a third signal for I do not know. In the ideosensor technique you may experience sensations such as warmth, coolness, tingling etc. Which are to be co-related to the different signals. It is important that you ask your unconscious mind to repeat the signals a number of times so that you sure they are really unconscious signals.
You can adopt a similar strategy with the ideomotor signals, Ask your unconscious mind to give you a yes signal and then wait for a finger movement. Similarly you can set up a No signal and I do not know signal. With some people it takes a certain amount of hypnotic practice before they are able to do this so do not give up if you do not get a signal the first time, if you have any difficulty it may be helpful to consult a medical hypnotherapist to help you set up a signalling system which you can then use by yourself.