(This blog was originally posted on October 11, 2016)
|Photo by Rick Huston|
When I count a client up and out of hypnosis at the end of the hypnotherapy session, I always drop in a suggestion that the individual begins to become more aware of his or her physical body. I add that the person is also becoming more aware of where the body is in relation to relaxing in the recliner in my office. I do this to re-stimulate the person’s proprioception: i.e., awareness of the different areas of the physical body and strength in relation to movement and position in the environment in the alert and aware state.
Proprioception is something most of us take for granted on a day-to-day basis. Remember, the conscious mind can only process a small amount of information at any one time. The ability to discern important (urgent) information is necessary for our survival, which is why so much of what the subconscious mind perceives and processes “rarely” makes it to conscious awareness. Can you imagine what your day would be like if you constantly felt the scratching sensation caused by the label stitched inside the collar of your shirt or blouse? How long would it take for you to become overwhelmed by the persistent sensation of each muscle in your legs constrict and relax while you walked across the room?
Consequently, we don’t think about how our muscles, tendons, joints and bones work let alone what they are supposed to do when we first roll out of bed or run to catch a bus or train. We just do the activity and expect that everything in the body is working/doing what it is supposed to. When we feel threatened by something in the environment or even the environment, itself, we become very aware of every muscle in the body. As the subconscious mind goes into the fight/flight data processing, the conscious mind wonders: How fast can I get out of here if I need to escape?
Another time we become much more aware and attuned to what is going on is when things don’t work like they should, such as after an injury or during an illness. For example, people who experience chronic pain are often hyper-alert to every sensation in the body as they try to find some position that provides some relief, if only for a little while.
Athletes, including dancers, naturally tend have very good proprioception. Or, I should clarify that this “natural” ability is a learned, oft-rehearsed behavior that has become a subconscious mental script. These individuals must have this to successfully execute their special skill in the sport to achieve the winning goal or point or, ensure that their movements seem effortless as their and their dance partner’s bodies flow with choreography. No matter what is going on, these individuals remain consciously and subconsciously aware of/attuned to the placement of the body and what it is and should be doing at all times.
When my yoga teacher started to explained proprioception to the class today, instructing us to pay greater attention to specific areas of our bodies, she reminded me how similar this physical work is to what I help clients do in hypnotherapy. She wanted us (the students) to increase our awareness of how these separate parts worked together (or not) by noticing if there was any resistance in certain areas and then ease that tension by breathing into it. She also suggested that it was okay to allow ourselves to release or let go of anything we felt was holding us back or what we no longer wanted or needed to hold onto in our lives. This exercise reminded me so much of what I do with my hypnotherapy clients: i.e., inviting the breath into the body to release tightness and tension while increasing their relaxation, calm and comfort. Like yoga, hypnotherapy is an opportunity to increase self-awareness and make desired behavior changes starting with something as simple breathing in and breathing out. Directing awareness to what we are able to do to increase comfort within and control of the entire body or just specific areas is a great way to build self-confidence and belief in our ability to handle other areas of our lives.
Sara R. Fogan, C.Ht. is a certified hypnotherapist based in Southern California. She graduated with honors from the Hypnosis Motivation Institute in 2005. For more information about Calminsense Hypnotherapy® and to set up an appointment, please visit http://www.calminsensehypnotherapy.com/.