Saturday, July 3, 2010

Process Oriented Hypnosis 4: The Role of a Guide

I am writing a script, after this essay, to help people who are feeling an intense afflicted emotion so that they can get some immediate relief, right here and right now. An afflicted emotion is any emotion that has the mark of sorrow, has some element of pain within itself. There are three basic afflicted emotions. They are anger, fear, and sadness. Like the pain of an actual physical wound, the pain does serve a biological and social function. There is some message worth listening to within these emotions. Pain itself is a communication from the body to consciousness. It is some signal that, like a barometer, gives us feedback about where we are in our lives. These signals are reliable, but not always perfect. Our intellectual brain can interpret events incorrectly and put us into unnecessary emotional distress. But even when this is the case, the emotional signal can inspire us to do a mental correction and bring us back into peace.

Although I feel that there is a lot that we can do on our own to heal our own emotional life, I do recommend that people try out going to a good process oriented hypnotherapist and exploring what is possible with the guidance of a skilled practitioner. Not all psychotherapists and hypnotherapists know how to support every person through every emotional crisis or to easily, rapidly, and peacefully help people integrate their unresolved emotions. If it were so that every psychotherapist or hypnotherapist was this good, then the world as we know it would be rapidly evolving, changing, healing itself, and effectively working through all the political, emotional, and social challenges that are present in this world. It seems that there are a lot of moderately skillful therapists out there that can be of help. I do recommend a little shopping around. Just because a therapist has worked for a friend does not mean that they will work for you. There is some of rapport that is necessary for the work to be effective. When you call on the phone and interview a possible therapist, even if the interaction is a short one and seems a little formal, you can sometimes get a feeling for what the rapport will be. This can give an indicator of how well the sessions will go. If the rapport is not quite there, it might need to be created. It is an essential element to the process.

Theoretically, most of the time, it is possible to self process an emotion. One of the goals of process oriented hypnotherapy is to empower people to be able to process their own emotions to completion. It is meant to be a natural process, just as natural as the healing of a physical wound. And like physical wounds, most of the time we do not need to do anything special, the healing will take place as we attend to other things. Other times, when the wound is serious enough and big enough, it is wise to get special help from a doctor. If a bone is broken, we might need our bone set. Other things can be done to ourselves by ourselves with some bandages, potions, and taking time to rest.

When it comes to emotions, because they are already profoundly more social than a physical wound, sometimes getting help is necessary, to reconnect back to society as a whole through one representative of society. Human beings are very social beings. The birth process, the child raising process, and the education into an adult economic profession are all profoundly social processes and profoundly necessary. Even in Buddhism, where monks and nuns can often live the life of a very isolated hermit, some social initiation is required to set in motion a long and deep period of solitary retreat. When Milarepa is about to go into deep solitude, he only gets the blessings of Marpa after he proves that he can sustain the meditation process alone without getting stuck anywhere. Marpa double checks his process until it is clear that Milarepa can go solo and get the necessary results.

The reason why some kind of process guide is usually necessary is because it is sometimes hard to be impartial about our own thoughts. We are so used to how they are affecting us that they seem to be in the background and seem to create the feeling we associate with being normal. We do not really question our thoughts to see if they are truly serving us. When there is chronic anger, fear, and/or sadness, then life is giving feedback that our thoughts are not in alignment with our highest good and need to be adjusted. Emotions are the effects of our thoughts and our sensory information. We do not really choose to be angry, afraid, or sad, just as we do not really choose to get wounded. We might do some unwise choices that led to these emotions or led to us getting wounded. We might need to review and digest the information so that our totality can know that our intellectual brain is not going to make the same unwise choice again in the same kind of situation.

Part of what a process oriented hypnotherapist does with a client is to sense what has actually disrupted the fluidic trance. Every mental and emotional condition is really a certain kind of trance. These trances are either rigid and trying to maintain themselves or they are fluid and naturally flow into new states which in turn keep flowing into other new states. The key is to keep the process moving towards natural resolution. When we get up from a warm feeling of having had a lot of good dreams, we were doing good process. Our minds were simply flowing from one feeling to another, one thought to another, one insight to another, until it arrived at completion or integration. This completion is not the end of our life or the end of all our processing. It is like a rest place between two processes. It is like camping out between hikes on a long journey or reaching a plateau where one can rest for a while. Life itself is a vast number of interlocking processes that go on indefinitely and which constantly change with new needs and new challenges appearing on the event horizon called the present moment.

When a client comes in with a chronic afflicted emotion, then he or she is stuck in his or her process. This person is unwittingly doing something to block the process from completion. Although it is possible for this person to be aware of what this is on his or her own, the continued fact that he or she is stuck proves that he or she has not found what this is. Sometimes this is due to having a "victim orientation" where the person does not believe that he or she can do anything about a situation that is painful and is just remaining in the painful situation. The person is not really looking for the factors that he or she can control and can do to remedy the situation, but is instead looking at external factors that are causing pain that he or she cannot control. Paradoxically, behind the victim orientation is a kind of control drama. Many relationships are enmeshments of control dramas. This is different than taking a certain kind of emotional responsibility, setting clear boundaries, staying emotionally connected, and becoming emotionally grounded. Ideally, this is learned in childhood, but very few parents know how to teach this well to their children. In terms of what is taught in regular schools, there are seemingly practical courses like math, history, and biology, but very often not a single class on how to feel emotions and what to do with them. Instead, there are mixed messages that create impossibilities for children and teenagers, like "your hormones are out of control" and "do not act on your sexual desires or you will be punished severely".

There has been a fear that hypnotherapists may be like a Svengali or a Rasputin and use their hypnotic power to subjugate their clients and make them do their bidding. The stereotype is that they have intense eyes and send out a kind of telepathic control through their stare. While perhaps there is some psychic power like this, this is not what process oriented hypnotherapy is about. But curiously, people are already in some sense hypnotized by their parents, by their schools, and by their peers. People are unwittingly hypnotizing their friends and family to treat them a certain way. People are both the hypnotists and the subjects of hypnosis. There is a field of messages constantly being relayed, repeated, and reinforced which is producing the normal social trance that everyone is living within. If you listen to the social talk of any society and look for what is simply repeated and believed by everyone, you can feel this general trance. There are some power oriented beings who will try to inject their own suggestions into this field, but sometimes these suggestions "stick" and some times they do not.

It is easier for the messages of a hypnotherapist to "stick" because he or she is for the client and serves the client. When a suggestion sticks it is because it is congruent with what is needed by the natural trance of the client to help shift him or her back into fluidic trance. The process oriented hypnotherapist feels into what this message is by listening and then sharing, looking for biofeedback from the client about how the message is being received, and then crafting new messages to dialogue with what is arising, changing, completing, and dissolving within the awareness field of the client.

One of the things that I notice is what kind of pacing a person has with their own thoughts. Very often a person is thinking too fast to really feel the emotional tone of each thought. To a hypnotherapist of either kind, suggestive or process oriented, every single thought is significant and affects the whole tapestry of thought, yet people are thinking so fast, generating so many messages to themselves, that they can barely feel what they are doing to themselves, let alone adjust it to be more wholesome. They are thinking too fast so that they can be in emotional avoidance. They are already running an emotional disconnect. Paradoxically, this emotional avoidance leads to emotional overwhelm. If the totality needs to send an emotional signal to consciousness, it must get loud enough to overwhelm the avoidance in order to be heard. This, in turn, proves to the emotional avoider that emotions are intense, irrational, and painful, and therefore should be avoided even better. Very often a client will come in so that the hypnotherapist can help them get rid of the emotions that have broken through their avoidance. In other words, they want the hypnotherapist to collude with them in reinforcing their defenses to feeling.

But the vantage point of the hypnotherapist is to tune into the conscious mind and subconscious mind of the client, and to notice how they are interacting with each other. The emotional signal also came from part of the client and it is being repressed by the more conscious part. The main goal of the process orientation is to have the conscious and subconscious parts form a peaceful and synergistic whole which has greater resources to solve the life challenges that each of part has separately.

For Freud, who started psychotherapy, the subconscious had two basic components, the superego and the id. The superego was all the moralistic messages we internalized and become the voice of conscience for us, lead us to feel righteous sometimes, guilty other times, ashamed other times, or at peace other times. The id was a repository of all kinds of primitive instincts, a kind of left over from our animal evolution. Freud did not trust either aspect of the subconscious mind and felt it was important to have "ego strength" to keep these two aspects from totally running us.

There is another way of looking at this. What is called the "id" may be the older and wiser part of ourselves. When we are thirsty, it is signaling for us to drink water. When we are hungry, it is signaling for us to eat. When it is feeling angry, then it senses some threat that we might need to attend to. When it is feeling fear, then it senses something worth avoiding. The problem we have as human beings is that we have three brains, intellectual, emotional, and instinctive, and we do not know how to coordinate them well. The intellectual brain, in particular, is relatively new in terms of our evolution, and has not yet integrated itself with the two older brains. Part of our cortical evolution is to integrate all the messages of all our brains into a new synthesis that has not yet appeared in most humans. In other words, our evolution is incomplete. Fortunately, there is an "evolutionary impulse" which is guiding us forward to this completion. Karl Jung discovered this creative aspect of the subconscious mind. It is different from the superego messages and the id messages. It is the key element that the process oriented hypnotherapist wants to have activated, awakened, and active in the client. Then it is a matter of supporting what this part wants to do. It will integrate everything into a unified whole. If a stable connection with this evolutionary energy is made, then a person can be empowered to continue the process on his or her own, all the way to the very end.

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