“He has this incredibly soothing voice and was wonderfully reassuring. Afterwards I felt completely relaxed and calm, and had a wonderful sense of well-being…”
A Weight Off My Mind
Another way to work with eating habits is with hypnotherapy, although many people have a false perception of what this involves. TV entertainers often give the impression they can put you under a spell and make you lose control of normal behaviour. Darren Marks lecturer at The Institute of Clinical Hypnosis, believes this is misleading. ” Hypnosis is an altered state of consciousness, and most of us experience this on a daily basis,” he says. A poignant piece of music, an absorbing novel, a challenging piece of work ” can transport you until you become so absorbed in what you are doing, you become oblivious to everything around you.”
” In a therapeutic setting, this hypnotic state is often induced by guided relaxation,” says Darren. “And when you are in this state, the critical faculty of the conscious mind relaxes, so suggestions are absorbed more easily.” The aim is to imagine yourself doing things differently, eating more healthily, for example, so that when you are in that situation in “real life”, your subconscious mind has adapted to a new way of responding. Also when you are calm and relaxed you feel more confident, and this in itself can have an impact on your relationship to food.
But not everyone on a diet is overweight. With constant media images of waif-like models and airbrushed photographs, there is more and more pressure to aspire to unrealistic body images. ” A lot of people come to me who don’t need to lose weight,” says Darren. It’s just they don’t feel good about themselves, so often it’s more important to work on peoples confidence.”
Darren sees clients for an average of four or five sessions. But the work doesn’t stop there. “Self-hypnosis is the most valuable tool I can give anyone,” he says. He doesn’t measure success by pounds lost, rather than the change in peoples lives. ” My work is about empowerment, and success is people feeling better in themselves
Last January 37 year old Jade Thomson weighed 20 stone. A previous eating disorder meant she had experimented with diets for many years, but when her GP diagnosed raised blood pressure and high cholesterol, jade felt it was essential to lose weight. By October she had lost four stones, but her motivation was dwindling, so she turned to hypnotherapy to boost her resolve.
“It isn’t dramatic like people imagine,” says jade. ” Darren encouraged me to talk in great detail about why I was finding it hard to stay motivated and why I was sabotaging my diet. I felt he was trying to understand how my mind worked and to get an insight into the cause of the problem. After a while, he told me to take a deep breath and as I exhaled, to close my eyes. Then he took me through a relaxation technique, getting me to relax each part of my body in turn. He made specific suggestions about my diet and told me to imagine myself in a beautiful room with a mirrored wall and to see myself at my ideal weight.
” I’m sure it was tailored to me specifically and I felt he understood my problems and where I was.
He has this incredibly soothing voice and was wonderfully reassuring. Afterwards I felt completely relaxed and calm, and had a wonderful sense of well-being.
I didn’t want to wake up! But Darren was very sensitive; he encouraged me to take my time and offered me a glass of water. He was acknowledging that I’d been somewhere special.”
Although its still early days, Jade is noticing the effects of her treatment and is following Darren’s advice. She is eating smaller portions and even leaving food on her plate, which, she says, “Is unheard of for me!” Her weight had been stable for some weeks, but now it has started to go down, and she is more enthusiastic about her diet again.