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Keep It Off reveals a step-by-step process for resolving the underlying issues that cause overeating and unwanted habits. Dr. Brian Alman has helped thousands of people find their inner guru and tap the well of resilience that lies within us all. Combining years of clinical research, real-life stories, and ancient mind/body truths, Dr. Alman's acclaimed, proven system is founded on four essential master keys: entering a zone of calm awareness, accepting the self unconditionally, allowing stuffed feelings to be ...
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Keep It Off reveals a step-by-step process for resolving the underlying issues that cause overeating and unwanted habits. Dr. Brian Alman has helped thousands of people find their inner guru and tap the well of resilience that lies within us all. Combining years of clinical research, real-life stories, and ancient mind/body truths, Dr. Alman's acclaimed, proven system is founded on four essential master keys: entering a zone of calm awareness, accepting the self unconditionally, allowing stuffed feelings to be expressed safely and comfortably, and resolving unwanted habits for lasting results.
Hospitals, clinics, and spas all over the world are enjoying success with the Keep It Off system. With Keep It Off, readers can become the healthy and happy person they've always wanted to be.
Welcome to the start of a journey to permanent weight loss using the power of self-hypnosis.
If you're investigating self-hypnosis for the first time, you should know that you're about to learn how to make dramatic and positive changes in your life. In the matter of a few weeks working with self-hypnosis, you're going to discover how to take care of yourself, how to break old habits and learn new ones, and how to feel the joy again of being you.
And in the process of becoming healthier and happier, you're going to learn the secret-missing in all diet programs-of how to lose weight and keep it off for good.
This might sound like a miracle, and yet self-hypnosis is not magical, is not mysterious, is in no way occult. It's actually a common skill that anyone can master quite easily. It's no more difficult than riding a bicycle, something almost all of us learned to do as children. We might have been a bit unsteady and uncertain at first, but with a little instruction, practice, and trust we learned to ride our bike surely and swiftly-and soon enjoyed a new-found freedom of going where we wanted.
But let's not get going too fast. If you've struggled with your weight for a long time, or if you're anxious about making changes in your life, you might be tempted tojump right into the weight-loss program in Part II. I advise you to be patient. First let yourself understand and learn the practice of self-hypnosis, at least until you feel comfortable entering and maintaining a self-hypnotic trance. It's while in trance that the drawbridge is down for suggestions to your unconscious mind. That's when to get started on your weight-loss goals.
This chapter will try to explain many of the issues that most people wonder about when first setting out to learn about self-hypnosis. It will help you understand just what self-hypnosis is, how it works, and why it's so effective.
Before we get into the practical matters of self-hypnosis-the how, when, and where-let's try to get clear just what we're talking about. Unfortunately, self-hypnosis is hard to define because it is not a thing but a process, and so we can't say what it is, exactly, but only what it feels like, what its effects are, and how you do it.
First, consider what self-hypnosis feels like. Have you ever had a vivid daydream? Or, have you ever been so completely absorbed in an activity-like listening to music, watching a movie, or reading a good book-that you've lost track of time, or stopped noticing what's going on around you? If you answered "yes" to either question, then you've been in a state of mind much like a self-hypnotic trance.
But with one big difference: Self-hypnosis is not wandering or aimless like a daydream; nor is it created and directed by someone else, such as an author, composer, or filmmaker. Self-hypnosis is a focused, channeled trance in which you guide yourself to a desired result or goal, such as stress management, pain relief-or weight loss.
Self-hypnosis feels something like meditation, calming and centering, and in fact the two have much in common. Both begin with breath work and mental imagery to relax and focus your attention; both seek to quiet the mind and have you look within as a detached observer. But if their paths are similar, their directions are very different. In meditation, the goal is simply heightened awareness or enlightenment; in self-hypnosis, you decide on the goal, which can be anything from awareness to stress management, to mind-body healing, to sports performance, the list goes on and on. When you're meditating you might look as if you're in self-hypnosis, but within a self-hypnotic trance you're actively goal-directed.
Because people in a trance often have their eyes closed, many assume self-hypnosis must feel like being asleep. In fact, as you might know, the Greek word "hypno" actually means "sleep." But self-hypnosis is nothing like sleep. Quite the opposite. The brain-wave patterns of people in a self-hypnotic trance show an alert wakefulness, and self-hypnosis patients often report the feeling of an active learning experience, or of a relaxing mind-body interaction in which they feel freed and empowered.
Secondly, what are the effects of self-hypnosis? The effects are wide-spread and will actually vary with different people's perspectives and objectives. It's rather like the story of the seven blind men trying to describe an elephant: Our descriptions will differ depending on what part of the beast we've gotten hold of. Still, in general, there are remarkable mind-body effects possible with self-hypnosis. By practicing self-hypnosis you can gain access to areas of yourself that are normally out of the reach of your conscious mind.
If you doubt this, sit down and passively but purposely try to slow your heart rate by ten percent, or try to raise the temperature of your hand by a degree or two. These are only minor examples of internal changes you can easily accomplish with no training at all in self-hypnosis. Once you've read this book and mastered self-hypnosis, you'll be able to make much more significant changes in chemical, physical, psychological, and emotional parts of yourself.
In the area of pain relief, for instance, major surgeries have been performed with self-hypnosis as the only anesthesia.
Take the documented case (1980) of Victor Rausch. A dental surgeon, Dr. Rausch had used self-hypnosis in his practice for years and was highly experienced and confident with trance induction. When he had to undergo gall bladder surgery, he chose to use self-hypnosis instead of any chemical anesthesia. The surgery was performed without complications and without pain.
Another dramatic physical and emotional change made possible with self-hypnosis is losing weight and keeping it off.
Julie, a thirty-five-year-old waitress, had been struggling with her weight for nearly a decade, ever since her first pregnancy. She seemed to have been on a continual diet, with no lasting results. She didn't like the way she looked. Her physician had urged her to lose weight for the sake of her health. The final straw was when she overheard two customers at work commenting about her size. At that point she began instruction in self-hypnosis, with the goal of eating less and exercising more. Julie lost sixty-five pounds in nine months. More important, two years later the extra weight was still off. She was exercising regularly and she loved the way she looked and felt. You can read about Julie's whole story in Chapter 13.
Still other effects of self-hypnosis are control over fears, relief of stress, freedom from unwanted habits, resistance to disease and aging, and increased performance at work and in sports. As you can see, the life-enhancing effects of self-hypnosis are limited only by your desire to change.
And lastly, how do you do self-hypnosis? For this, you'll need to keep on reading.
So far, then, here's a definition self-hypnosis that seems to explain the feeling and the effects of the phenomenon:
Self-hypnosis is a relaxed and focused state of mind in which positive suggestions are received and acted on much more powerfully than in normal experience.
How Does Self-Hypnosis Work?
Although no one has figured out exactly what goes on in self-hypnosis, or why it's so effective, the most satisfying theory is as follows.
While in this absorbed state of mind, two special things happen: You focus your attention much more clearly than when awake or asleep; and you also relax the critical, questioning mind that usually guides you in life. During this time of heightened awareness and acceptance, suggestions appear to go directly into the unconscious mind, where they find fertile soil for stimulating the growth of new ideas and perspectives. Thus the secret of self-hypnosis is that it takes you deep inside, and when you nurture the seed of well-being within you, letting it take root in your unconscious, it can grow and blossom in your conscious mind.
But what do we mean by the conscious and the unconscious mind? You might think of the conscious mind as the everyday, sensible, rules and regulations part of yourself-the part that wants you to keep on doing what's familiar, or what seems to have been working for you. The conscious mind is valuable, no question; it has helped you survive by making sure you learn from past experience. But it's not nearly as important as it thinks. Its center is the ego, and it's filled with exaggerated notions of self-importance.
On the other hand, you can think of your unconscious mind as the emotional, intuitive, and loving part of yourself. This is the part that wants you to see life as an adventure, to be open to new experiences, and to move toward a more creative existence. Its center might be called the "inner voice," and it is bubbling and brimming with positive human potentials.
There's no getting around it. If you want to go beyond your conditioning, programming, and upbringing-the habits and attitudes you've acquired in the course of your life-you must tap into your unconscious mind. Conscious resolutions, reminders, and self-criticism won't get you very far. The truth is, the conscious mind is only about 10 percent of your mental capacities, although the ego believes it's far more than that, more like 90 percent. In fact, it's just the opposite. The unconscious is a reservoir of 90 percent of your inner resources, and you'll find your greatest possibilities for growth and change in this vastly underutilized unconscious part of yourself.
Dr. Erickson was crystal clear on this point. He regarded the conscious mind as severely limited in its role in our health and well-being. He said the unconscious mind must be allowed through self-hypnosis to do the creative work, then the conscious mind could receive the new ideas and perspectives, and fit and focus them in our daily lives. A favorite metaphor of his was that the unconscious is the manufacturer, the conscious is the consumer, and self-hypnosis is the bridge between them.
Who Has Control in Self-Hypnosis?
A question often asked in regard to hypnosis is: Who's in control, you or the hypnotist? And the unasked question is: Can you be made to do something against your will? Of course, in self-hypnosis you are in control of your own trance, and so such considerations are not even an issue. You will always be giving yourself positive, constructive suggestions.
And yet there remains for many people an uneasiness about giving up their conscious control, a fear of being taken over by someone else's will, which, sadly, has been fostered by stage hypnotism, novels, movies, and TV. This is called the "Svengali Effect," after the early film, Svengali (1931), in which a bearded madman (played by John Barrymore) hypnotized young women to do his bidding and commit crimes for him. But even very recent films and television shows depict hypnosis as the tool of evil geniuses. And certainly stage shows featuring hypnotism strike fear in people's hearts that they can be made to act foolishly or do something they wouldn't do otherwise-maybe quack like a duck, croon like a lounge singer, or laugh uncontrollably.
However, when you watch stage hypnotists, you should realize that they're showmen using tricks to entertain an audience and to deceive people into believing that the hypnotist is all-powerful. First, by asking for volunteers the hypnotist gives the participants tacit permission to leave their inhibitions offstage. Then the group is assured that they're not responsible for their actions-after all, they've been hypnotized. The hypnotist also promises love and approval (in the form of applause and laughter) from the audience if the participants do the outrageous. And last they put subtle but powerful pressure on each volunteer not to "spoil the show." With all of these positive and negative reinforcements, it doesn't really matter whether the participants are hypnotized or not. They're fully primed to do foolish and fantastic things. Let the show begin.
Fiction aside, the truth is that there is no relinquishing of volition with hypnosis, no being controlled against your will. While I recommend that you never allow an unqualified person to use hypnosis with you, research has shown that people will follow only those hypnotic suggestions that are in their fundamental interests. In fact, many studies show that subjects under deep hypnosis will ignore a command to act against their own best interests-and will come out of trance if pressed to comply. A hypnotherapist might help to guide or develop your trance, but you are always in control.
It's also important to realize that self-hypnosis actually allows you more self-control rather than less. In practicing my own self-hypnosis, and in more than twenty-five years of teaching thousands of individuals, I've discovered that when you learn to let go of some of your conscious control, you gain a powerful sense of freedom in your life. It's your unconscious mind, don't forget, and when you've empowered it through self-hypnosis, you can count on it to protect you and care for you when you're awake or asleep, dreaming or meditating, relaxing or in hypnotic trance.
Who Can Benefit from Self-Hypnosis?
In the past, doctors who used hypnosis in their practice would routinely give their patients one of several susceptibility tests to determine their chances of success or failure. Some patients scored high and were approved for treatment; others scored low, were deemed unhypnotizable, and were offered other options.
More recently, however, studies have shown that even those who score low on these tests are indeed hypnotizable. The problem is that there are a great many variations in trance induction techniques, and so a poor score on one test means only that the person is not responsive to the particular method used in that test.
Now, when Dr. Erickson developed his technique of self-hypnosis, he found a method that was successful with nearly everyone, even with referral patients who had tested as "unsusceptible" to hypnosis, and who had been given up as hopeless. Many scientists and researchers in the area of hypnosis have now come to agree with Erickson that, given the right approach, practically everyone is able to enjoy the benefits of hypnosis. It's only a matter of finding the right technique for the individual.
Dr. Erickson, as a therapist and teacher, pioneered the use of individualized hypnosis techniques to fit the unique experiences and needs of each patient. He developed an indirect, permissive, and flexible language for hypnotic suggestion, using phrases such as "You may feel ...," or "Perhaps you will notice ...,
Excerpted from Keep It Off by Brian Alman Copyright © 2004 by Brian Alman. Excerpted by permission.
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