Struggling to find a sense of inner peace and quiet purpose? Try hypnotherapy, it might just be the thing to change your life
words Daisy Jones
This article is part of THE WOONIVERSE ACCORDING TO... Jamie Flatters.
At some point, you’ve probably been told – either by a glossy skincare advert, yoga teacher or well-meaning family member post-breakup – to “love yourself”. But, as many of us know, it’s not always that simple. If it were, I’m sure we’d all choose to wake up one morning with our self esteem issues dissolved and our deep-rooted insecurities magically cancelled out. Wouldn't that be a dream?
People find a number of ways to discover and nurture a relationship with themselves and plenty swear by the power of hypnosis as a tool for achieving self-actualisation and self-love. Ever since hypnosis has been used in a therapeutic capacity (AKA “hypnotherapy”) – from around the late 18th century, back when it was called “mesmerism’ – it’s been a way to improve coping mechanisms and unhelpful inner beliefs. These days, of course, people use hypnosis for everything from sleep issues to a fear of public speaking and, yes, to improve self love and self esteem. But what exactly might that look like? And how can it be helpful?
To answer the first question, actor Jamie Flatters, the breakout star from Avatar: the Way Of Water, has made a hypnotherapy video as part of THE WOONIVERSE ACCORDING TO... for woo. Hypno is a 30 minute film, which you can watch below. It was written and informed by hypnotherapist Michele Occelli and aims to introduce new audiences to the practice. The film, which includes Jamie floating around CGI scenes of space, nature and colourful landscapes, offers the audience visual and aural hypnosis. It is designed to make you physically feel Jamie’s words, with breathing exercises welcoming us into a trance-like state. At one point, he says, in calming tones, “And you can say to the planet: I am here. Thank you for holding me. You are my home. You support me. And I welcome your support.” It’s the perfect video to stick on right before bed, although be warned that it might send you into a deep and impenetrable slumber.
The video might appear like a gorgeous psychedelic trip, but the benefits of hypnosis on self love and self-esteem are more than just lip service. “Hypnosis works on the majority of people,” says Occelli, who spent some time working on a script that would translate to video format (he usually works with patients in real life). “It allows us to access resources that might have dwindled through trauma or negative experiences. But those resources are available to everyone. We are born and equipped with them. Hypnosis allows us to enter into communication with those resources, without the limitations that can come from the ‘conscious mind’.”
Occelli hopes viewers will leave the video having absorbed the full spectrum of its benefits, even if that just means taking a quiet moment for themselves for half an hour. “People will feel a lot more relaxed after watching, on a physical and mental level,” he says. “They will feel a greater sense of spaciousness in their mind, which is not an easy thing – our minds are often churning. It’s a way of affording ourselves a mini holiday from the inner monologue of the mind. Additionally, it should provide a way for people to feel revitalised afterwards and possibly energised and in a greater state of connection and flow with their daily lives and reality.”
Suzy McCrea is a registered clinical hypnotherapist based in London. She often treats patients for confidence issues and rewiring negative belief systems and, like Occelli, believes it to be a great way to nurture self confidence.
“Hypnotherapy is relaxing, but it’s actually a very focussed state of attention,” she explains. “What we’re able to do is to access the unconscious mind, so the person is able to make positive changes, especially with regards to inner beliefs. When we go through life, we pick up certain beliefs – perhaps that we’re not good enough – and then, with hypnotherapy, you can change that on an unconscious level.”
Hypnotherapy can be particularly beneficial to those with anxiety, McCrea says, because so much of it is focussed on breathwork and directing the patient to focus on their body. In that way, it’s not dissimilar to other techniques like mindfulness, meditation and even CBT. “For anxiety, hypnotherapy is amazing because the nature of hypnosis is very relaxing, and we focus on breathing, and it’s all about the mind-body connection. So before we’re even working on the causes of the anxiety, the anxiety is going down,” she says.
McCrea points out that there’s often an old fashioned view of hypnotherapy – putting people into trances with a pendulum so that they stop smoking, for instance. But it’s not always like that. McCrea regularly uses what she calls “regression techniques”, which can be useful for anybody still holding onto unhelpful beliefs about themselves that they’ve picked up from childhood. Because, really, that’s where low self-esteem comes from: ideas about ourselves that aren’t based in reality, however much our minds convince us otherwise.
“Somebody may have an inner belief that they’re rubbish at public speaking, which might stem from somewhere. Perhaps they gave a speech in assembly and they were laughed at,” McCrea says. “So I let the adult, who is sitting in front of me, go back and comfort the ‘child’ part of them, which can be really healing, and separate the inner child from the adult that knows they’re now safe. Also, most of us have had times in our lives in which we’ve felt confident, even if it’s fleeting, and within hypnosis you can often access these memories and reconnect with those feelings.”
And how many sessions might it take for a person to see results? Obviously, it totally depends. A ‘simple’ fear of flying might be softened by one or two sessions, whereas deep-rooted low esteem and anxiety could be “12 sessions or some people come weekly,” says McCrea. “It’s based on the depth of the issue.” And, as with anything, the more open you are to the experience, the better. “The person is in complete control. If the person doesn’t want to visualise with me, or follow what I’m saying, then they don’t have to. It’s not magic and it’s not mind control and it’s not me doing it to them, it’s me guiding them. It’s collaborative.” So maybe hypnosis is exactly what you’ve been looking for all this time in order to achieve that elusive sense of self acceptance. And where else better to start than by putting on your cosiest gear, laying across a bed, turning the laptop speakers up and allowing the warm tones of Jamie Flatters to soothe your mind completely.
Welcome to THE WOONIVERSE ACCORDING TO… Jamie Flatters. In this liminal space, we provide an individual a chance to reflect through creativity how to harness their own power to make a positive change in the real world around them. This time around sees Jamie and some of our writers reflect on the idea of self-love and what it means to them. There's even a relaxing hypnotherapy session if you're struggling yourself.
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