04 March 2010

Going under

Health24 visited a new stress-management centre and put hypnosis to the test.


There was nothing serene and tranquil about me when I arrived at the Skylight Sanctuary, the new stress-management centre in Wynberg, Cape Town.

I’d had a mad day in the scorching heat, trying to meet deadlines, rushing around doing errands and standing in a queue at the police station (someone had just crashed into my brand-new car). And this after I was up all night, attending to my sick child.

Needless to say, I wasn’t in the right mood or frame of mind to enter a sanctuary, even though I was the perfect candidate.

When I arrived, Heidi, hypnotherapist and life coach, took me to her room and listened patiently and empathically to my boring account of the morning’s events.

I have always been a bit skeptical about hypnosis, associating it with Max Collie and Andre the Hilarious Hypnotist – but it turned out that hypnosis with Heidi was completely different.

She started taking me through a relaxation process, using suggestion and imagery, slowly deepening my relaxation state. My breathing and bodily responses indicated how close I was to the hypnotic state during which the mind is susceptible to suggestion. Contrary to the common misconception about hypnosis, I was aware of what was happening at all times and in control in the sense that she could at no point get me to do things that I wasn’t okay with.

I asked Heidi beforehand if she could help me to de-stress and to sleep better. After making a few suggestions on this topic while I was in hypnosis, she slowly “brought me out”. I woke up alert but completely relaxed.

Heidi explained to me the benefits of hypnotherapy and how it works - it had always been a bit of mystery to me. Here are some of her answers:

What is hypnosis?

Hypnosis is created by an overload of message units, disorganising our inhibitory process (our critical mind), triggering our fight/flight mechanism and ultimately creating a hyper-suggestible state, providing access to the subconscious mind.

What are message units?

All of the input sent to the brain by the environment, the physical body and the conscious and subconscious minds. When too many message units are received (as in a life-threatening emergency), the result is a state of overload, disorganising the critical mind.

Theory of mind

When the infant is first brought into the world, he/she does not have logic, reason, or the inhibitory process. To make his/her needs known, the child uses more primitive mechanisms. The child has a more primitive mind. Included in the primitive mind are the fight/flight mechanisms. As the child grows, he/she develops the inhibitory processes.

How does the baby learn? There are only two fears that a baby is born with, the fear of falling and the fear of loud noise. Everything else is learned by association and identification.

From age zero to approximately age eight, the child develops a library of these associations and identifications. He/she learns that some of these are good (positive) and some of these are bad (negative). These positive and negative associations form what is referred to as our “life script". This life script is developed from what we know. The child does not yet know good from bad or right from wrong. He/she is only aware of the associations and identifications.

Between the ages of approximately eight and 12, we start to develop logic and reason. We are capable of making decisions and developing will power. This becomes our conscious mind, which represents 12% of our total mind power. The subconscious mind is made up of the remaining 88% of our total mind power.

Sleep and hypnosis

Sleep is a state during which you are not aware of what is going on. Hypnosis is a state during which you are consciously aware of what is happening around you. Another important difference is that during the sleep state we do not learn. Probably the most influential source of message units is the subconscious mind. When we have received an overload of message units, the critical mind is unable to process all of them, which brings on the state of hypnosis. When we become overloaded, the subconscious mind takes over.

What is hypnosis used for?

Hypnosis supports clients with issues around:

  • fears and phobias
  • deeply ingrained beliefs
  • breaking habits - weight loss, stop smoking
  • emotional issues
  • insomnia

What courses does Skylight offer?

  • Relationship workshops
  • Weight loss by hypnosis
  • Stop Smoking using hypnosis
  • Hypno-birthing

What is Skylight Sanctuary?

Skylight Sanctuary offers individual one-on-one therapy and group workshops that support you in achieving the change you want to see and experience in your life.

People come to Skylight to find relief and meaning, looking for ways to help save their relationships, improve their health and maintain their sanity.

Contact details

Heidi McCormack
Hypnotherapist & Life Coach                                                                       

Skylight Sanctuary                                                                                                                                                                                          
              (021) 797 0003       

(Ilse Pauw, January 2010)


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