August 30, 2010

How to Prepare for Past Life Regression Therapy

There are many working theories of what might be happening when people experience a past life. The theories include the anti-past life theory: cryptoamnesia, the concept that the subconscious has recorded historical information though books read, conversations overheard, lectures attended, and any other present life exposure to facts. These facts emerge in hypnosis as historically accurate stories and characters in specific time periods. The person having the hypnotic experience misinterprets the facts that emerge out of the unconscious as being her own past lives. Past life skeptics love this theory to explain away past lives. Then, there is the theory that our imagination creates the past lives the same way that our imagination creates our dreams.

If past life experiences are purely products of our imagination, then we can work with past lives the way we work with dreams by understanding that the psyche creates “lives” that in some way reflect our present life psychology and unconscious process similar to our dreams. By doing dream work with past life experiences, we can glean important patterns, insights and understanding of our present life. Another theory of past lives is that they are metaphors for our present life experiences. By overlaying the “past life” metaphor onto our present life experiences, we can see more objectively our blind spots and patterns and potentially reframe and transform our blocks and limitations.

Working with the theory of archetypes is also a helpful psychological approach to past lives. The archetypes that we embody in our past life experiences help us to work with our core issues and the life roles we presently live. For instance, if we have been driven to fight for the underdog or to be the constant zealous worker for the under privileged and disenfranchised in our present life, we may have past life experiences of being a benevolent leader or a revolutionary.

Overlaying the archetype onto our past life may reveal many of our present life attributes and foibles. As a western Newtonian “show me” culture, the genetic theory of past lives is quite popular. Some regression therapists theorize that when we have a past life memory we are tapping into our DNA and the genetic memory of our ancestor’s life times. By far, however, the most popular and widely accepted theory of past lives is the notion of reincarnation. All major world religions, including early Christianity, [1] believe in the soul being reborn into multiple life times for the purpose of working through lessons and growing in consciousness until there is an experience of enlightenment, or a complete remembering that we are divine in nature and an individual expression of God, the creator, the Tao or whatever is the ultimate source.

Along with the theory of reincarnation is the idea of transmigration: that we can reincarnate as an animal as well as human. And finally, within the realm of quantum theory, some believe that we are one and part of a unified field. Since there is no time or space in the quantum reality, all past lives are happening simultaneously as parallel lives. With all of these theories as explanations of past life memories, it is obvious that one does not have to believe in reincarnation, or even in past lives, to engage in past life therapy and benefit from the work in THIS life time.

Past life and inter life regression has proved effective for many kinds of issues that people work on in therapy: phobias, feeling stuck in patterns, relationship issues, questions of life purpose, grief and loss, death and dying , physical problems, illness and spiritual questions and concerns. If you are interested in experiencing a past-life and inter-life regression, you may choose to use a self-guided process available on CDs or MP3 files, or you can seek out the skill and guidance of a well-trained regression therapist.

The International Board for Regression Therapy ( board certifies regression therapists based on their training, experience, and also the submittal of two recorded regression therapy sessions for review. The people listed on the web site are good choices as regression therapists because these therapists have gone through extensive review of actual client sessions and have agreed to follow a high code of ethics as Board Certified as Regression Therapists. A well trained regression therapist uses non-directive language and asks open-ended questions to assure that the client is generating her own past life content and that it is not influenced by the therapist using directive language or embedded suggestions.

Here are some basic pointers to help you have success early in the process of doing regression therapy:

Do not lie down, but sit up while doing the regression. You will stay more alert and be able to interact in the process if you don’t go to sleep or too deeply into the hypnotic state. Past- and inter- lives are usually accessed right under the surface of your waking consciousness in an active and engaging state of trance. If more that one event or aspect of your past or inter life comes to awareness simultaneously, simply choose one to focus on. You can always explore any aspects of the past life or inter life at a later time.

It is a common mistake for people to anticipate that they have to SEE in hypnosis. Many people do not see anything in a regression. They, instead, know it, or think it, or feel or hear the details of the past life. All of your five inner senses and your intuitive knowing are channels through which past lives are experienced. Go with your natural ways of experiencing. Trust the process and what comes, even if you feel you are making it up. The content is still coming from within you…. even if it IS your imagination. Your imagination is still a reflection of who you are, and is relevant to your metaphors, archetypes, and unconscious experience of Self. Give yourself permission to go with whatever is coming to you, even if it doesn’t make any sense.

Let go of trying to control or figure it out and let the process evolve. If you ever feel stuck and nothing is happening for you, just make up something…you will soon experience that the process becomes more spontaneous and it takes on life of its own.

The past life and inter life regression process, as any interactive hypnotherapy process, may bring up real and sometimes intense emotions and body sensations for healing and release. While you can bring yourself out of the process anytime you wish, it is usually most healing to go through the experience so an energy release can take place. Try to stay with your experiences and move through them.

Remember, that whatever may have happened in the past, you have survived it and that, if past lives are real, there is no death of consciousness….there is just a changing of form. Also, you can always use a self-guided experience of dissociating from event, by becoming an observer rather than a participant of the events. Simply imagine walking out of the body and floating above the scene to watch the events, in a detached way, as if watching a movie. You may walk back into the scene at any point in the process, if you wish.

As with any self-guided hypnotic process, caution is warranted with past-life and inter-life therapy. It is not recommended that people with mental disorders that are in an unstable mental and emotional state engage in self-guided processes. Rather, they should seek the skill, containment, and support of a trained regression therapist who will guide the client’s process in an individual way addressing each client’s unique needs. Only use a self guided CD if you are mentally and emotionally stable and functioning in your daily life. Otherwise, seek professional support before doing regression work.

July 13, 2010

Hypnosis for Interactive and Lucid Dreaming

In our waking life, we normally experience several levels of awareness. We can be fully self-aware and conscious, partially self-aware, or unconscious. Just as in waking life, there may be different levels of awareness in dreaming. The goal of lucid dreaming is to develop the ability to become conscious enough in a dream to be aware that you are dreaming and to interact with your dreams to affect desired outcomes. Having the ability to lucid dream creates positive effects in your waking life of feeling more empowered and self-confident to interact with the content and process of living in your daily life. Here are some of the tools for lucid dreaming and a self hypnosis process you can use to program yourself to have and activate lucid dreaming skills. You will combine these new skills with the basic skills of doing dream work. My previous articles on dreams, “Dream Work and Hypnosis” and “Self Hypnosis for Dream Incubation”, will give you basic guidelines for remembering and journaling your dreams.

Lucid Dreaming Skills

The first skill of lucid dreaming is mindfulness. It begins by asking yourself when in a dream, “ am I dreaming?” Here are some specific things you can do after asking the question, ”am I dreaming?”

Look at a watch, and look again. In dreamtime the numbers or face of the watch may be have strange numbers, images or be distorted. Or, look at your hands. In a dream they may not be recognizable as your own. Or, look in a pool of water, a window or mirror to see your reflection. In a dream the reflection is often distorted, blurred or unrecognizable. Or reading something in a dream may have content or writing that changes while you read.

You can pre-arrange and hypnotically practice using a symbol in your dream as a signal that you are dreaming. One dreamer, Susan, uses her power animal, a butterfly, as a cue to realize that she is dreaming. An experienced lucid dreamer, Jay, uses the sound of his favorite instrument, a flute, as a clue to become aware that he is in a dream. Choose a signal or cue for yourself and practice responding to it in your self hypnosis for lucid dreaming.

If an anomaly occurs in your dream, you can use it as a signal that you are dreaming. For instance, experiencing that your body is flying; grooming a bear; exploring Saturn in a convertible; or playfully swimming in a pool with sharks; would be good indicators that you are having a dream.

The second skill of lucid dreaming is being able to recognize dream signals that let you know that you are dreaming. One way to recognize your dream signals is to look carefully at your past dreams for themes or patterns, things that commonly re-occur in your dreams. For instance, do you have dream themes of doing activities like talking on the phone to someone who has passed, or cleaning house, or planning a class you will teach, or playing catch at a particular beach? Recognizing your dream signals will help you remember your dreams and can be a cue to ask yourself ‘am I dreaming? Practice asking yourself this question during the day to become more lucid in your wakeful state and you will condition yourself to ask the same question and become lucid in your dreams. By comparing your wakeful perceptions to those in dreams, you will begin to notice distinctions, intrinsic to wakeful versus dream reality.

Sometimes dreamers awaken from a lucid dream prematurely. Stephen LaBerge, a well known lucid dreamer researcher, proposes two ways to prolong a lucid dream: The first is to rub your hands in the dream to activate the brain in producing the sensation of rubbing hands rather than the sensation of lying in bed coming into awareness. The second is to spin your dream body to engage the brain in activating rapid eye movement which can extend a phase of rapid eye movement sleep, the state of sleep consciousness most directly related to lucid dreaming. In hypnosis you can skill rehearse successfully using all of these lucid dreaming tools so that when you are in the dream state they will be more readily available in dream consciousness and you will be more able to access the skills.

About Self Hypnosis for Lucid Dreaming

Using self hypnosis will help you amplify your intention and cultivate your skills for lucid dreaming. In a hypnotic state, you can program mindfulness and rehearse the lucid dreaming skills you want to use to become interactive in your dreams. Using self hypnosis before you go to sleep, you can program your subconscious with suggestions, and hypnotically practice asking, “Am I dreaming?” You can program yourself with the suggestion, “the next time I dream ______________ ( fill in the content of your common dream theme) I will become aware that I am dreaming.” You can also have a hypnotic dream in which you practice all the skills of lucid dreaming and you experience what it will be like to have mindfulness and be interactive in your dreams.

Before doing the self hypnosis process, take some time to write down some suggestions for lucid dreaming that you will give yourself. Write the suggestions using the pronoun “I” and in present tense. Keep the language in your suggestions positive and simple. Here is a basic induction and outline for self hypnosis. Read the script over several times to become familiar with the sequence of the process or record it with your own voice to listen to while in bed. When doing the self hypnosis, go slowly through the process to allow time for your inner responses.

Self Hypnosis for Lucid Dreaming

Be persistent and patient in using this self hypnosis and you will cultivate the skills, benefits, and joys of lucid and interactive dreaming into your dreamtime.

Lie in bed after preparing for sleep. If you are comfortable to do so, lying on your back is ideal because your body is open and receptive.

Close your eyes.

Take a few deep, clearing breaths.

Imagine that you are walking down a path in nature. Each step will support your relaxing and letting go.

Take in the details of your surroundings. See, hear and feel as you move down the path. Have fun exploring with all of your senses.

As you continue to walk on the path, notice a growing sense of relaxation and comfort.

At some point you discover a bench where you can sit and rest. You close your eyes while you rest and as you relax even more, you begin to have a dream. Let the dream unfold.

You ask yourself, “am I dreaming?”

You look down at your hands or you use any of the other actions to check if you are dreaming.

The signs that you are dreaming are clear and you become interactive in your dream.

Once you are aware that you are lucid dreaming, you rub your hands together or begin spinning, knowing that these dream activities will support you staying in the dream state so you may continue to lucid dream.

You give yourself all of the positive suggestion you want to support this hypnotic experience in transferring into your dreamtime. The more you use self hypnosis for lucid dreaming, the easier it is to activate the skills while dreaming.

Now, you naturally move from this hypnotic dream into sleep and lucid dreaming.

When you awaken in the morning, to reinforce your commitment and intentions to lucid dream, you journal your dreams.

July 3, 2010

Healing Your Inner Child

In order to thrive and grow into our potentials, we all have basic needs that must be met consistently. The most basic needs are for food, safety and shelter. Other important needs are for loving attention, a sense of belonging, stimulation through learning and play, structure and boundaries, age appropriate responsibilities, respect, freedom to express oneself, to be heard, and creative outlets. As children if we do not have these needs met, or they are met erratically or inconsistently, we develop defenses and strategies to compensate. These strategies may help us cope and survive when we are young, but as we get older, these defenses, behaviors, perceptions and ways of being with ourselves and our world often become liabilities. Many common issues that clients want to work on in hypnotherapy are linked to these childhood patterns that limit.

Karen’s parents divorced when she was eight years old. After her father moved out, her mother had care of three kids and took on a full time job to make ends meet. Karen lost the full time attention of her mother and her father at the same time. As the oldest child, Karen took on the responsibility of caretaking of her brother and baby sister and doing many chores around the house when her mom was at work. Even though there was the support of baby sitters and neighbors who provided after school child care, Karen became the second parent to her siblings. Her time to be a child was over.

Karen was commended by all for being so grown up and responsible. She was such a good girl for helping her mom and for taking care of her brother and sister. And she was so dependable that by the time she was thirteen, her mother allowed Karen to be the after school babysitter, prepare dinner and do the chores without much supervision.

The family maintained some stability. The basic needs were met. But Karen had many childhood needs that seemed to disappear when her father left: the need for age appropriate responsibilities and the freedom to be a kid.

At 32, Karen comes for hypnotherapy wanting to work on her symptoms of co-dependence that are the result of her childhood family dynamics. Her symptoms are burnout, compulsive dependability, an excessive need to take care of others, anger, stress, and many unsatisfying relationships where she gives and gives and still doesn’t have her needs met. She yearns for change. In Karen’s hypnotherapy inner child work is the focus.

It is imperative that the client has access to a positive inner resource that can function as a inner parent before the client engages in inner child work because in a regressed state the client’s inner child needs to have an appropriate and loving re-parenting experience that will restructure the past events and create new inner child responses. There are several ways to gather resources. A client can meet her higher Self in hypnosis and cultivate a relationship with this inner wisdom as a re-parenting resource, or the client may do some inner family work where the client’s actual parents are transformed into more self-actualized, consistent, appropriate and resourceful “inner parents” who can support the inner child. Another option, especially for a client who has had severe childhood trauma and neglect, is to access a positive archetype of a parent. With the inner parent in place and available in these hypnotic restructuring processes the inner child finally has her needs met intrapsychically; it is as if the inner child is freed from the frozen patterns and childhood perceptions so that she can finally begin to feel whole and free again.

The state of consciousness accessed in hypnosis is elastic: there is no limitation to linear lime or space. The hypnotic re-patterning can lighten or undo the energetic patterns of childhood that are creating the present life difficulties and the hypnotic re-parenting and corrective emotional experiences can create new inner patterns and responses that are accessed in present time. And because hypnotic consciousness is holographic, with ongoing work, the new patterns and experiences eventually generalize and replace the old perceptions, patterns, and behaviors. Inner child work creates lasting change.

In Karen’s inner child work she accesses her higher Self as a resource for an available, wise and responsive inner parent. She dialogues with the higher Self to build trust and a loving inner relationship prior to doing any childhood regression work. She has homework between sessions to make on-going contact with her higher Self as a way to continue to build trust and familiarity with her inner wisdom. When she feels comfortable knowing that her higher Self will be with her, responsive, and consistently available, we begin the childhood regression work to support the transformation and healing of her inner child.

Commonly the hypnotic regression back to childhood events is facilitated through a technique called the Affect Somatic Linguistic Bridge. In this technique the client chooses a specific troubling issue that is current in her life and goes into the issue through body sensations, emotions and words that represent the experience. By suggesting that these current life effects are amplified, they become the bridge back in time to the childhood events.

When using this technique, Karen feels an emptiness in her stomach and a heaviness in her shoulders. She expresses that the emotions are abandonment and feeling responsible for her siblings. Her words are, “It is up to me. I have to do it myself.” She feels this huge burden and her tears begin to flow.

Karen regresses to eight years of age. She is alone in the house with her siblings after school when her newly divorced mom is at work. She is cooking popcorn for an after school snack. Smoke fills the hallway and the fire alarm goes off. She pulls the pan off the stove, grabs her baby sister and screams for her brother to get out of the house. After the smoke clears, Karen discovers that the house is safe. She scours the burnt pan and airs out the house. She doesn’t tell her mother about the incident because she wants her mom to think she is responsible and a big girl. Every time her mom comes home she tells Karen what a big girl she is, how responsible she is, and how she can trust her to help with the house and the kids. This special attention from her mom feels wonderful. Karen thinks that telling her mom about the smoke and burned popcorn may not only make her mom mad, but it may also stop her mom from giving her attention and praise that fills up the empty place inside. Karen covers up her fear and the feelings of pressure to do things responsibly and correctly so she can continue to get approval from her mom. Getting approval for what she does is the main way Karen feels love from her mother. Karen’s developing co-dependent patterns are reinforced each time she denies her feelings or her needs and takes care of the house or her siblings for her mother’s approval. Because Karen’s needs aren’t met freely and directly for her efforts, she begins to resent her siblings.

In the hypnotic re-parenting of the eight year old, Karen’s higher Self takes charge of the popcorn incident and gets the three kids to safety and then, as the adult, she accesses the problem and deals with it. Her higher Self talks to Karen and tells her that she is lovable for simply being who she is, not for what she does. Her higher Self attends to Karen’s needs to be a child and have free time and play time. Time to be a kid. The higher Self spends time with Karen nurturing her, and being present with her. Karen begins to relax and let go of the compulsion to have to do to be worthy and lovable.

After several inner child sessions Karen notices that she is beginning to set boundaries for herself and nurture herself more. She begins to practice meeting her own needs first. And when she gives to others, she begins to give from a place of fullness rather than from a place of needing approval or acknowledgement from others. She feels more relaxed and more energy and joy. Her transformation continues as she learns how to attend to, love and support her inner child.

By accessing holographic consciousness in hypnosis and working with the inner child, we can heal places where our psychological development was arrested because of unmet needs. By accessing the beyond time and space elasticity of hypnotic consciousness, and engaging in inner child work, it is not too late to have a happy childhood.

Note: The client Karen is fictional, but an accurate representation of what a typical co-dependent client would go through in hypnotherapy focusing on inner child work.

Holly Holmes-Meredith, Doctor of Ministry, Licensed Marriage Family Therapist, Board Certified Clinical Hypnotherapist, Clinical Director, HCH Institute

June 16, 2010

Self-Hypnosis to Incubate a Healing or Teaching Dream

The following hypnosis technique is a process to use before bed to incubate or manifest a dream to help you with an issue that is alive in your daily life. This process is for people who regularly remember their dreams and have at least some basic dream work skills. I recommended working with basic dream work tools listed in my previous article “Dream Work and Hypnosis” to get comfortable with the basics of dream work before using this advanced dream work technique. In using this dream incubation hypnosis, you will need to keep your dream journal by your bedside, as you will be writing down your dreams upon awakening. With practice, this advanced dream work techniques will enhance your self-awareness and support your ability to be more self- actualized in your daily life.

In hypnosis you will meet with your dream weaver and ask for help in manifesting a dream that will bring you teaching or healing in response to your specific concern. To be your own hypnotist or guide, record the following hypnosis script in your own voice. When you read and record this script, make sure that you speak slowly and leave time between each suggestion so you have time to access you inner experience and perceptions. Read the words with a soothing voice, the way you would read to a sleepy child. Listen to your recorded hypnosis process nightly before you go to sleep and you will soften the boundaries between your waking and dreaming consciousness so you will receive information to help you live the dream of your WAKING life with more magic, empowerment and self- awareness.

Introduction to Hypnosis to Incubate a Dream

Use this hypnosis process once you are regularly remembering your dreams. The purpose of this hypnosis to incubate a dream is to ask your dream weaver to bring you a dream to help you with a question, decision, relationship, concern or issue in your life to which you want to bring understanding, insight and healing. For instance, you might ask for a dream to help you understand and get direction around a life transition, relationship challenge, or you might ask for dreamweaver’s advice on dealing with a health issue. Perhaps you can ask for a dream that will give you inspiration and insight into moving forward with an art project or feeling blocked in some area of your life. Or possibly, you ask for a dream to activate your spiritual growth and awareness. Before you proceed with this hypnosis have a clear focus and request in mind. Write down your focus and request for the dream in your dream journal. Also write down any thoughts you may have about why manifesting this dream will be important and meaningful to you in your life. If you do not receive a dream the first night after doing this hypnosis, then do this process for at least two more nights. The dream may take some time to be incubated before it comes to you.

The hypnosis process that follows programs the subconscious to work with your dreamweaever, or transcendent Self to bring you insights and transformation. Dream manifesting will not necessarily result in a direct answer to a question since dreams are symbolic and are loaded with many possibilities.

After you ask for a gift in a dream and then you have the joy of working with the dream to discover the many possibilities and gifts the dream presents. (My next article will have a process for working with your dream in hypnosis.)

And then, after receiving the wisdom of the dream, you have to opportunity to choose whether to follow any guidance or insight by taking action and living out the healing and teaching of the dream. Do not be over simplistic, or too literal and throw caution out the dream door by saying, “ this dream told me what to do”. Use Dream work as one touchstone in your decision and choice making process.

Self-Hypnosis Script to Incubate a Healing or Teaching Dream

This self-hypnosis is to be used when in bed and you are ready to sleep. If possible, set up your tape, MP3 or CD player to turn off after playing this track so you can move right into sleep.

While lying in bed and ready for sleep, close you eyes. Notice your body. Where in your body are you the most comfortable and relaxed? As you breathe into those comfortable and relaxed areas, imagine the comfort growing and spreading to other areas in your body that want to relax and let go. Imagine the comfort is growing with each in breath and any discomfort and tension moves out the bottoms of your feet as you exhale. Continue to breathe in relaxation and breathe out the rest as you become more and more still. You become more and more relaxed. The space of comfort and relaxation continues to grow and expand throughout your body. You look forward to sleep and to the guidance, inspiration and healing of the dream that awaits you.

While your body continues to soften and relax, your mind becomes more still and focused. You carry your dream journal with you as you imagine walking on a gentle sloping path down a hillside. The path winds easily through a forest. With each step along the path you take in the beautiful surroundings and move deeper and deeper with in. Your senses come alive as you walk. Look at the colors and textures of nature. Feel the stability of the earth beneath your feet. Hear the sounds of the forest around you. As the light of the late afternoon sun glows through the trees and ferns, you enjoy many shades of fresh green and rich-colored earth tones. Breath in the moist fresh air… and as the sun sets, you feel the cooling temperature on your face and arms. You barely hear your footsteps as you walk on the moss-covered path. After walking for some time, you see a small structure through the trees. You are intrigued to discover a dwelling so deep in the forest. As you approach the structure, you have discovered what feels like a very special and sacred place.The structure is a small temple. As you enter the walkway to the door, there is a carved wooden sign that reads: Welcome to Dreamtime. Your dreamer weaver awaits your arrival. As you enter, you will be between the worlds of wakefulness and sleep and you are able to communicate with the part of you that orchestrates your dreams.

Tingling with excitement and anticipation, you approach the tall, wooden door. You release the latch, open the door, and step inside. What a wondrous place. Hundreds of twinkling candle flames illuminate the room. In the center of the room is a smiling presence that emanates love and good will. You approach the figure and discover someone who seems very familiar to you. You meet the part of you that creates your dreams, your dream weaver. In this meeting your dream weaver and conscious self learn to communicate, to build trust and an on-going relationship to enhance your dream life and your ability to incubate and remember your dreams. Your dream weaver welcomes you and invites you to look around the room. Your eyes have grown accustom to the candlelight and you are able to see many doorways along the walls. Your dream weaver communicates that each doorway leads to a specific kind of dream. Each door has a symbol, word or picture that represents the kind of dreams to which the door leads. For example, one door leads to dreams that are connected to your growing up and childhood events that want healing and resolve, while another doorway leads to dreams about past lives. The next doorway leads to dreams that connect you to people and animals who have died and wish to communicate with you, and another door leads to problem-solving and life direction dreams.

There are many, many kinds of dreams that you will explore in your dreamtime and many wonderful teachings, discoveries and healings await you through these doors to your dreams. After showing you the doors, your dream weaver takes you lovingly by the hand and guides you to a luxuriously appointed bed. You lie down on a thick comfortable, mattress. Tell the dream weaver about the need behind your current request. Ask for help in manifesting a healing or teaching dream that will inform, teach, inspire, and bring healing to this concern or situation. Show the dream weaver your dream journal and read your intention and request. How does the dream weaver respond? Listen with your ears, eyes, body and heart. Does the dream weaver have any advice or requests for you? Assure the dream weaver that you will work with any dream that comes, working towards more self-awareness and understanding. Take time now for any further dialogue and exchange. You receive what comes in whatever way it comes.

When you are complete with your communications, it is dreamtime. You ask for support from the dreamer in remembering your dreams so that that the dreams may communicate their messages to your conscious self. In this relaxed state, you have more direct access to a focused awareness and you are open to receive these helpful and empowering suggestions:

Your dream weaver stands by your bed while you sleep, supporting you and guiding through the appropriate door and into the dream while you sleep. As soon as you awaken, lie quietly for awhile and tune into your feelings, images and any words or impressions that are still with you from dreamtime. Then, reach for your dream journal to record any impressions or details of whatever dreams that you have brought back with you to conscious awareness. Record any emotions, body sensations, words or phrases, and impressions that come out of sleep with you and any details, stories, characters, events or environments you remember. You journal anything, even if it is only a vague memory or impression. You journal with words and drawings. Your regular dream journaling communicates to your unconscious and that you are earnest about wanting to remember and work with your dreams and your commitment to dream journaling opens the door to remembering your dream. You imagine awakening and reaching for your dream journal. See and feel that you are writing on the paper, recording and honoring each detail or dream fragment that comes. You appreciate your dreamweaver’s help as you remember and work with the wisdom of your dream. You are guided to get into a beautifully appointed bed. Lying on the think comfortable mattress and knowing that the preparations for a healing dream are in place, you easily and effortlessly move into sleep. And while you sleep, your dream weaver waits for the appropriate time in your dreamtime to take you to the door of the dream woven to meet your request. In the right moment in dreamtime, you walk through the open door and meet the characters, setting, symbols, messages and feelings that are the guidance of your dream. Sleep, knowing that the unfolding of your dream is guided by the support of your dream weaver, your wise, transcendent Self. You look forward to journaling and then dream working to discover the dream’s gifts and wisdom. You are grateful for dreaming as a tool for living more fully awakened as your whole Self. You sleep well.

May 12, 2010

Who am I, What am I Doing Here, Why Me?-Present Life and PAst life Regression Therapy

Both present life regression and past life regression therapy are common hypnotic approaches to helping clients transform present life issues and difficulties. How and why does regression therapy work, and what are the differences in the effects of both kinds of regression therapies?

If a client requests present life regression therapy or inner child work, the interview focuses on what she wants and expects from present-life regression therapy. A detailed discussion emerges which outlines the therapist and client’s responsibilities in doing present-life regressions. I explain that we can focus on current presenting issues with pragmatic goals as the outcome and that the present-life regression work becomes a means to an end, not an end in itself. Because of the legal limits of the use of hypnosis in California, I make sure my client has informed consent and understands that any information she accesses in a hypnotic state is not admissible in a court of law nor can it be used in a deposition for testimony. I make sure my client has her own healing and wholeness as the focus of the work and that she understands that uncovering memories does not necessarily prove that what was remembered is factual. The client is informed that the inner child work is a process to which one must commit in her own time and way, and that the present-life regression work, itself, is just one important step of the healing process.

I tell the client that it is my responsibility as the guide to ask open-ended questions and to allow the content of the experience to arise solely from herself. I explain that I will be a “tour guide”, but that she is the “driver” of the experience. I empower the client to verbalize any needs that arise during the regression and to feel free to comment on any questions or concerns she may have while experiencing the hypnotic state so that I can assist her process. I inform her that accessing in hypnosis is a skill and by being communicative of what is and is not happening, I can help her learn how to access more easily while in the hypnotic state. I encourage the client to tell me if “nothing” is happening and assure her that “nothing” is “something” and is perfectly all right.

I use impeccable language patterns which are non-directive and client empowering and, after the client has experienced the present life source of the difficulty, I ask the client to reframe or rescript the childhood experience. I also know as a long-time recovering codependent people helper, that I need to stay out of the client’s process and content so that I am not acting out my own “needs to be needed”. Most importantly, the client needs to experience her own inner resources for healing so that she learns that she is not dependent on a outside resource or “authority” for answers and healing. Also, to facilitate the integrity of the session, the hypnotherapist needs to avoid asking directive questions, telling the client what to do and to be careful that suggestions are not embedded in the language patterns. The client’s higher Self as an inner parent (see my previous article on Creating the Inner Family) is always used as the resource and as the director of the reframing or rescripting because the higher Self can and will create an appropriate corrective and healing experience for the incident or memory. There is no one else who could possibly know the child’s needs or support those needs better than the client herself. To support the client’s higher Self in doing the work, I generally ask: “What does the child need?” The client’s self-directed inner response is typically spontaneous and wise.

In hypnotherapy, inner child work or present-life regression therapy has several purposes. The first is to free the subconscious from having to hold the lid of repression in place. This uncovering, in itself, can bring relief and free up psychic energy. Secondly, through present-life regression therapy a client can get new insight as to why and how she has developed the adult personality style and current defenses. The client can have a very conscious and direct experience of the long-term effects of unmet needs. Thirdly, in a present-life regression a client’s childhood experience witnessed from the client’s adult consciousness helps a client realize how, as the child, she may have misinterpreted actual events and made decisions which are not based on whole truths. (This is how I explain to clients that present-life memories can be “real” even if they are not based on facts.) In all these situations, the child’s needs which were never met at the time of the memory can finally be met through either reframing or rescripting of the incident. This creates a corrective emotional experience which allows the ego to heal and to move out of a negative experience which in some ways has the client “frozen” back in time and currently responding based on old perceptions or childhood “realities”. The details of the work, however, must come from the client, NOT, from the therapist.

Past-Life work, from my perspective, has very different purposes and effects. Where present-life regression supports psychological healing, ego development and the ongoing sense of an emerging self, past-life regression therapy supports soul healing and the knowing of Self.

Past-life therapy opens the client to the transpersonal realms of experience… to a level of understanding that goes beyond the ego and personal self. It is my experience both as a client and a guide of past life therapy, that it is common for a past-life experience to propel the client into a greater understanding of the “why me?’ and the cosmic purpose or soul lesson behind an experience. Once the lesson is gleaned, there is an acceptance of the past-life event as a teacher of the soul lesson. The work in the inter life through which the client can know soul purpose really supports this spiritual and transpersonal level of understanding.

Past-life therapy has the purpose and effect of disengaging the client’s unconscious identification with a past-life event by helping the client know from her own experience that there is continuity of consciousness through which much can be known, healed, and integrated from all of one’s lives. From the transpersonal perspective, the client has a direct experience in dis-identifying from the roles she has played and knowing that she is, in reality, none of the people of past-lives; nor is she, in reality, the person of he present-life. She is a soul which takes on different roles in each life to learn soul lessons; all of which are in support of the soul remembering who it is: a spiritual being having a human experience.

Healing the past-life is, in part, realizing that we have the life experience to learn lessons which support us in remembering who we are. The healing is from the meta-consciousness or knowing that we, as souls, transcend identification with the suffering and the ecstasy of all human experience. Going through many experiences allows us to dis-identify from the drama and attachment to all of life’s ups and downs.

Through engaging in past life regression therapy clients experience that there are soul agreements with other souls which we choose in the inter life before incarnating. We engage with each other to play out specific roles in each lifetime so that we can interface with experiences which provide the opportunities to learn the life lessons.

In a past-life session, the client is supported in coming to her personal knowing of her soul’s journey for the purpose of remembering who and what she is in the larger spiritual reality. It is this new spiritual awareness that will support the client in her present life to live more fully in the moment with loving acceptance of the way it is and with the awareness that the way it is, is perfect. She will also see that her current life situations are also a part of the divine plan. Through the karmic difficulties and the joys of the past, we are brought back home to ourselves. Part of a past-life healing is a higher understanding of one’s experience and lessons which leads to forgiveness of self and others. Forgiveness clears the way to the experience of love.

A holistic approach to helping a client with present life issues would be to facilitate both present and past life therapy. Here is an example of a client who presents an issue of abandonment as her focus. As a child, Janet’s parents divorced and as an adult she’s had two marriages that ended with both of her husbands leaving her for other women. She is tired of the fear that she lives with from the abandonment and she wants to heal the recurring patterns and her on-going emotional pain.

In her present life regression work going back to the abandonment she felt during her parent’s divorce, she experiences that she blamed herself for the divorce and she still held the belief that she wasn’t lovable and deserving of someone staying intimately connected to her. From her adult perspective, Janet realized that her child perceptions were still currently affecting her self worth and beliefs. Through a series of sessions of inner parenting, reframing, and creating corrective emotional experiences for her inner child, she was able to change her beliefs and begin to love and accept herself.

In Janet’s past life work she accessed several related past lives in which she was abandoned as a child by her mother who died, she was abandoned by a fellow soldier on the battlefield and left to die, and she was abandoned and betrayed by a political leader in Russia after “sacrificing” herself and her family to move up in the military ranks to have more money and power. Janet also regressed to past lives when she was the abandoner from which she felt heavy guilt and remorse. Through the past life regressions Janet was able to understand her current life patterns and see that the unresolved guilt of abandoning others was the cause of attracting the abandonment experiences of her current life. Working holistically, with both present and past life regressions, Janet was able to come to an understanding of why she had the abandonment patterns and the karma of how her past actions are related to the current effects in her present life. Janet also came to understand from the regressions that she had been abandoning herself by withholding self-care and self-love. She is now at peace, feeling more self-acceptance, and self-love. Janet is in a new relationship in which she enjoys expressing her new sense of wholeness rather than the old unconscious guilt and a lack of self-love.

Regression therapy is a profound way to come to healing in both present and past lives. Present life regression supports the ego or personal “I” in feeling more empowered and whole and past life regression therapy assists the client in accessing the meta-consciousness and remembering the higher Self’s knowing of the perfection of the life journeys, the workings of cause and effect, and the awakening to remembering and knowing, who we are, what we are doing here in this lifetime and understanding why we have the experiences we have attracted to ourselves this life time.

April 30, 2010

Dream Work and Hypnotherapy

You will spend one third of your life asleep and much of your time asleep will be spent dreaming. Do you yearn to have more access to remembering and understanding your dreams? Do you want tools to enhance your ability to work with your dreams to understand their meanings and messages? Working with your dreams can be fascinating, healing and enlightening and having the tool of self-hypnosis or hypnotherapy can open the door for remembering and working with your dreams. Once you are remembering your dreams you will discover that there are a variety of types of dreams and each dream has several levels of meaning.

Types of Dreams
Some dreams are related to your daily life. A dream can relate to events or situations that are a part of your normal activities. These dreams often have familiar people, environments and memories from your past or present life circumstances. These dreams may support dealing with the anxieties of your life or help with problem solving about things you are consciously or unconsciously worrying about in your waking life. Dreaming about past events will likely be connected to things that are needing attention and healing from that period of your life. In these daily life types of dreams, we are trying to process or organize what happened or will happen and they often give us creative approaches or solutions to problems.

Recurring dreams are the psyche’s way to really get our attention. In my dream work experience, a recurring dream will usually stop once the dreamer has taken the time to work with the dream and get the messages the dream offers. Also, in this category of dreams is what is called a serial dream. These are dreams that have the same theme, characters or feelings that have continuity and seem to evolve from dream to dream. These dreams are like sequential chapters in a book. Serial dreams will often be bookmarks for the dreamer to understand her own growth and evolutional process.

Nightmares are potent dreams that also have the effect of getting the dreamer’s attention. Most dreamers who have nightmares usually awaken from the dream so they are sure to remember the dream. When the dreamer works with the nightmare and understands the important messages the dream offers, the fear generated from the nightmare can be transformed into wisdom and healing. What appears to be the “boogeyman” in the dream can be a dream helper who “wakes up” the dreamer to something that is important and needs attention.

Some dreams are spiritual or other dimensional. Dreamers have this type of dream when they have a premonition, share a visitation with a person who has just died that the dreamer didn’t consciously know is dead, or have dreams that bring guides or spiritual messages to consciousness. Also, in this category of dreams are dreams that may be past life memories. These dreams often leave the dreamer with a feeling of really having “been there”; a feeling that the dream is more real than life.

Another type of dream is a lucid dream. In lucid dreams the dreamer is aware that she is dreaming and is able to direct the dream consciously for a positive outcome and dream experience. Lucid dreams are empowering and teach people how to bring the sense of empowerment into their daily lives.

Basic Dream Work Guidelines:

· All dreams are for teaching you something that you don’t already know.

· All dreams may have many levels of meaning for the dreamer.

· All aspects of the dream are parts of the dreamer as well as representing aspects of daily life in the past, present or future, Aspect of dreams can also be in the form of metaphors and archetypes.

· The dreamer is the only person who can know for sure what the message and healing of the dream is. When someone offers an interpretation of a dream for someone else’s dream, she needs to own that she is interpreting the dream as if it were her own.

· Using dream dictionaries or symbol books for understanding dreams may be helpful, but the dreamer’s symbols are related more to her own psyche’s template than just to archetypal interpretations. Symbols in the dream may have common meanings but those meanings may not fit the dreamer’s experience of the symbols in the dream. And because symbols have different meanings in different cultures, the standard cultural meaning may not fit for every dream.

· Dreams speak in the language of metaphors, symbols and archetypes.

· Dream work engages the dreamer in coming to her own “felt sense” or understanding of the dream through an “Ahaha” experience of “getting it” for herself. The dreamer knows when she has the teaching and healing of her dream because she feels it and knows it through her body.

Using Hypnosis to Remember your Dreams
The first challenge for working with your dreams is remembering them. Commonly, my students and clients tell me that they would love to work with their dreams but that they rarely remember them. Here is a simple proven exercise you can do before bed to activate your dreamer and to bring your dreams to consciousness when you awaken.

Place a voice recorder or a pen and pad of paper by your bedside. While in bed and before going to sleep, close your eyes and take a few deep breaths. As you exhale, let go of the busyness of your day and allow yourself to become still and relaxed. Mentally invoke the part of you that creates and remembers your dreams to be present. Tell this part that you want to speak with it, to connect with it and honor it. Ask it for dreams to teach you and heal you and your life. Tell it that you will make an effort, pay attention, and record or write down whatever you experience upon awakening, whether it is in the middle of your sleep cycle or when you awaken in the morning.

Engage in this exercise each night and when you awaken, lie in bed for a few minutes and notice what you sense in your body, feel any emotions and notice any images or thoughts or words that come to you. Record them or write them down. The initial impressions upon awakening are most likely echoes of dreams and by focusing on them and staying with them, often a dream image or a snippet of a dream will come through. Thank your dreamer for whatever comes. By engaging in this practice you will strengthen your “dream muscles” and open the door to remembering your dreams.

To engage in dream work you do not need to remember a full dream. You can work with one image or even a thought or feeling that you have upon awakening. To enhance accessing and working with the dream image you can use self-hypnosis or have a hypnotherapist facilitate your dream work process.

Dream Work Techniques with Hypnosis
There are many hypnosis techniques that enhance dream work. For instance, the dreamer can re-enter the dream in a hypnotic state to explore or revisit the dream. Through re-connecting with the dream through hypnotic consciousness, the content or the details of the dream can be revivified or clarified for the dream work. To re-enter the dream the dreamer either uses self-hypnosis or the support of a hypnotherapist to focus on whatever initial dream elements you have to work with and then step into the dream and embody the consciousness or character who experiences the dream. Through hypnotic dream re-entry you can explore the setting, “talk” with the characters, feel the feelings and sensations, move forwards or backwards in the dream, or “commune” with the symbols to discover their meanings. In dream re-entry it is important to allow what comes in the process, even if you feel that you are making it up; because, in hypnosis, you are working with the same part of the psyche that made up the dream in the first place.

Also, in hypnosis the dreamer can experience symbol amplification by choosing one or more symbols in the dream to understand. The dream worker can, in hypnosis, become the symbol or talk with it or “try on” the traditional meaning or cross cultural meanings of the symbol to discover which meaning fits for the dream. In hypnosis the dreamer can ask the symbol, “What message do you have for me?”, or “Why are you in my dream?”.

If the dreamer wants to know the ending of a dream that was interrupted because the dreamer was awakened before the dream came to a conclusion, the dreamer can re-enter the dream to hypnotically “dream” the ending.

Another wonderful use of hypnosis in dream work is to incubate a dream. By using self-hypnosis before sleep, the dreamer sets an intention to have a dream that will teach about or heal a specific issue in the dreamer’s life. The dreamer can choose a focus on what ever she feels she needs to be more self-aware or empowered in her life.

Your dreams are truly a doorway to more self-awareness, to problem solving, to accessing the archetypal and spiritual realms and to healing and learning. Since the state of hypnosis is a link between the waking and sleeping states of consciousness, using hypnosis for dream work can greatly enhance remembering dreams and engaging in the process of uncovering their wisdom. Dream work will inform, inspire and enhance your connection to Self.

March 16, 2010

Transpersonal Hypnotherapy

The practice of Hypnotherapy is interactive and directly engages the client’s unconscious resources through verbal and non-verbal communication while the client is in the hypnotic state. Therapy done in this expanded state is greatly enhanced and supported because the client is able to access information, healing, creativity, memories and insight that is not normally available when in the waking conscious state.

By engaging a transpersonal or spiritual form of hypnotherapy, the client’s personal transformation can be supported even further. Invoking client’s higher Self (or higher power, or the Christ with in, or Buddha wisdom, or the Divine Self, called by many names) aligns clients in accessing profound states of consciousness similar to those experienced in deep meditation or in profound states of presence: states when the egoic or self- involved consciousness is transcended or simply out of the way. Healing and profound change can take place, often fairly effortlessly, through these transpersonal states of consciousness. Clients report that these expanded states of consciousness change them in lasting positive ways. Clients realize that, for instance, they have sadness, but are not the sadness. They can potentially experience themselves as spiritual in essence: as a spiritual being having a human experience.

In traditional talk therapy, the client works from the conscious egoic level most of the time, and in many ways she keeps reinforcing the stories, identifications and negative patterns around her difficulties by focusing on them and taking about them over and over again on a conscious level. In talking about the problems and feelings there is the hope that the client will have a spontaneous breakthrough of insight and change. In contrast, by dialoguing with the higher Self directly in a trance state, the hypnotherapist and client can elicit direction from the higher Self as to what focus and issues need to be addressed and guidance as to techniques and approaches to take. For instance, if a client comes into hypnotherapy wanting to release a symptom of claustrophobia, the therapist and client can, in trance, ask the higher Self what would be most effective focus and hypnotic approach in the session: inner child/inner family work, skill rehearsal, a childhood or past life regression, or processed that release anxiety. The session, therefore, is directly guided by the part of the client that already knows the cause of the fear and what the client needs to release it. The client’s wisest part is directing the therapy and helping both the client and hypnotherapist to give structure to the session and to support the step by step unfolding of the hypnosis process. The hypnotherapist helps the client to access her higher Self and supports her in cultivating ways to communicate and form an inner relationship with the higher Self so that it becomes a trusted and readily available resource not only in a hypnotic state, but in also daily life.

How will the client know when she has accessed this higher Self? The higher Self is loving, supportive, non-judgmental, offers gentle nudging, has the perspective of the big picture, is compassionate, and is focused on the good of all concerned. The higher Self may come in a visual form as an archetype, deity, symbol, or a representation as a self-actualized self. It could be perceived as an inner voice or telepathic communication. It could communicate through a knowing or body sensation. Every client has a unique experience of it. The higher Self is a direct link to an intuitive experience of the highest good and connection to the divine.

Working with a transpersonal form of hypnotherapy is often a mystical and spiritual practice for the client. She can learn to access and utilize expanded states of consciousness directly, at will, and for a variety of personal goals and purposes. The process of being in an expanded state is just as healing and significant in supporting change as is directing the state of consciousness towards a therapeutic personal goal or outcome. For the client in the hypnotic state, accessing awareness of the higher Self becomes a profound teacher of how our consciousness works to create our realities. These hypnotic states become vehicles through which we can re-create our realities. The practice of this form of hypnotherapy is a form of spiritual practice that puts us directly in touch with our spiritual nature and how our consciousness creates the forms and structures of our lives.

In hypnotically accessed transcendent states, you begin to have a new sense of self and a new way of relating to the challenges in your life. Through higher Self awareness and presence, you become dis-identified from your stories, negative patterns, and symptoms.

If you are interested in engaging in this transpersonal and spiritually focused form of hypnotherapy, interview a potential hypnotherapist to discover if the hypnotherapist invokes and works directly with the client’s higher Self as a co-therapist, resource, and inner guide for the client in the session. If so, you can be assured that the content of the focus of the hypnotherapy session will have absolute integrity and authenticity that comes from this wise and loving aspect of Self.

Holly Holmes-Meredith, D. Min, MFT, CCHT