Hypnotherapy: a Child’s Head Revisited
A hypnotherapist describes a case where, by resolving a childhood trauma with hypnotherapy, a client learns to live in the present
GUEST COLUMN: SURJA JESSUP — As a hypnotherapist, body-worker and holistic practitioner, I am frequently challenged in sessions with clients by resistance to change due to experiences in their past.
Thanks to a life-changing trip to India nearly two decades ago, my personal style of hypnotherapy has merged with a practice of spiritual inquiry — the investigation of what is really true, here and now.That part of my process began in 1991, after I met a spiritual teacher called “Papa-ji” in Lucknow, India. He asked me to look and see, “Who am I?” He extended the question, while looking at me with a deep, penetrating gaze that cut through everything, saying: “Do not touch the past when you answer this question. Do not step out of this moment. Then he asked, “Who are you?’”
This question stopped my mind in that instant, and it has been informing my life ever since. I began to see that all referencing of the past, based on limitation and fear, is not the real truth of our being.
For example, I recently worked with a client whom I will call Judith. Judith wanted, above all else, to have a happy relationship, to get married, and have children. She was 39, and had a satisfying career as a nurse practitioner, but was still searching for the “right” person to marry. While her conscious mind insisted that this was what she really wanted, upon deeper investigation in hypnosis, it became clear that her subconscious mind had a different idea about marriage and family based on the past.
She had grown up in a family where the parents fought frequently. The mother believed the father was being unfaithful, and they had arguments about this late at night. Judith, as a child, would be awakened by these arguments. The mother would call for Judith to help her, and at the young age of five, she would run to rescue Mom and get between her parents so that the father would not hurt the mother. Needless to say, her subconscious mind was storing many negative feelings and perceptions from this repeated scenario.
The hypnosis revealed that Judith’s subconscious felt that marriage was dangerous, and her subconscious also held that men were not faithful. This belief was charged with fear, so although her conscious mind wanted a relationship, the subconscious was highly conditioned to resist the apparent intention of her thinking mind.
In the story of Judith, that child who was traumatized in memory, was ultimately made to feel safe. As Judith’s adult-self learned to love the inner child in the hypnotherapy sessions, the frozen trauma began to dissolve. The mistrust of the child gave way to feelings of openness and trust. This caused deepening relaxation, and allowed Judith to activate her adult voice. This grown-up Judith has begun to see what empowering action she can take to create the family she wants. She has done a lot of work releasing the old “stories” from the past, along with forgiving her parents for their actions.
Judith is presently taking steps to explore adoption or becoming a foster parent. Most importantly she has learned to trust herself, and open her heart to life. She is deeply spiritual and has a connection with what she calls her Divine Self.
She first heard the voice of the Divine Self in hypnosis, on a journey to meet a wise guide, but now she tells me that she can access this voice through her heart on her own, rather than believing the fear based judgments of the mind.
Everyone has access to this deeper truth and trust, underneath conditioning. Using hypnotherapy to come into the presence of our own true being is, truly, not about adding anything to who we are, but it is about de-hypnotizing the mind of false beliefs that keep us in the illusion of darkness and fear, which is always connected with the past.
Judith is beginning to live from her present-day adult awareness, and I am witnessing the expansion of her life as she begins to explore new and exciting possibilities for relationship and family. She is safer and freer in this world, not because she is creating affirmations about self worth, but because she has recognized her own worthiness, prior to conditioning, a worthiness that is here and available for everyone, in this moment now. Hypnotherapy offers the possibility of rediscovering our original nature and, with work, living from that place of peace.
Surja Jessup, M.S., C.H.T., is a holistic practitioner who uses hypnotherapy, counseling, body-work, and spiritual inquiry in her private practice in Berkeley Ca. She has written articles about hypnotherapy for several magazines, and she is currently writing a book on hypnotherapy and presence. In addition she has studied with an Advaita teacher named Neelam, and became a “Power of Now” facilitator through retreats with Eckhart Tolle. Visit her site.