Spiritual hypnosis and the battle against alcoholism
Dr Glenville Ashby, Contributor
When Adesh Samaroo's Rum Till I Die hit the airwaves in Trinidad and Tobago in 2008, to a frenzied, embracing response, it reinforced that a social malaise had seeped into the innards of a nation. Bravado and bragging rights over drinking may well indicate a culture teetering on dysfunctionalism. Not unexpectedly, the twin-island state is in lock step with other Caribbean islands.
According to the World Health Organisation's Global Status Report on Alcohol, Grenada, St Vincent and the Grenadines, St Lucia, and Dominica are on the infamous list of countries based on annual alcoholic consumption per capita. Notably, alcohol kills more than 2.5 million people annually.
While Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) has turned many a life around, it has had its fair share of critics.
Its mantra - once an alcoholic, always an alcoholic - and having to identify oneself as such before addressing others at meetings are viewed as disempowering and defeatist. Its religious leaning is quite clear. Its 12 step programme and the non-denominational 'Serenity' prayer is said at the end of meetings, with members, with bowed heads, holding hands in a chain-like setting. They recite: "God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; courage to change the things I can; and wisdom to know the difference. Living one day at a time; enjoying one moment at a time.
Accepting hardships as the pathway to peace; taking, as He did, this sinful world as it is, not as I would have it; trusting that He will make all things right if I surrender to His will;
That I may be reasonably happy in this life and supremely happy with Him. Forever in the next.
AA is shrouded in all the colour and tone of a prayer group. Yet, recidivism among members remains disturbingly high and has generated debate on the overall effectiveness of its approach. Over the years, alternative modalities have emerged, one of which is spiritual hypnosis.
I recently spoke to Michael Williams, a clinical hypnotherapist of Imagine Hypnotics in Raleigh, North Carolina. He has a decade of experience and is certified by the National Guild of Hypnotists, and the International Association of Counselors and Therapist, two of the nation's leading professional associations. He recalled a life in the corporate world, being successful, "but missing something".
He spoke of a spiritual epiphany that transformed his life and sealed his commitment to aid others through the use of spiritual hypnosis.
Abuse vs dependency
He conceded that addiction is a nagging and stubborn problem but was critical of the commonly held beliefs promoted by AA. He differentiated between alcohol abuse and alcohol dependency.
"Dependency," he said, "can begin with abuse and the repetitious use of any substance."
He noted that before employing the full gamut of spiritual hypnosis, he counsels clients.
"They must be aware that they are more than their name and their profession; that within them is a boundless resource from which they draw. It can empower them to surmount obstacles."
While behavioural modification and cognitive behaviour therapy are used to battle alcoholism, spiritual hypnosis attempts to effect change at the subconscious level, where our true potential is embedded.
Williams explained the mechanics of hypnosis, debunking the sensationalism surrounding the practice.
Under hypnosis, you cannot compel someone to perform an act against their will, as commonly thought.
It is not mind control, nor does it involve the reprogramming of the mind. Under hypnosis, the client is at a heightened state of awareness. It is an enlightening experience.
He stated that "hypnosis bypasses the conscious mind so that you are working at the very source of an unwanted behaviour and habit allowing you to experience the changes you are seeking".
Placing a client in a hypnotic state is essential to reach the curative properties of the subconscious.
"I use progressive relaxation induction," he explained.
This allows the client to naturally drift into a highly relaxed trance state. Progressive relaxation inductions typically utilise guided imagery along with what I refer to as calming suggestions to assist the client with releasing any tension, stress and anxiety they may be carrying into the session. The induction is accompanied by soft music playing quietly in the background. The cadence of the hypnotist's voice is also very important. A slow cadence works wonders since it allows the client time to adjust and relax deeper into the required hypnotic state.
It is at this state that the client experiences the pain and hurt of their past lives. The experience is palpable; the scenes are vivid and lessons are learned. Notably, not every client is highly suggestible and is easily induced. In such scenarios, Williams must bring all his experience to the table, but "will get the job done with patience".
Past life issues
The use of past life regression techniques has supported Williams' theory that many present problems are the result of past life issues that we bring into this incarnation (life).
He described the catharsis brought on by spiritual hypnosis.
"It helps remove a lot of the mental anguish, fear, resentment and insecurities."
He spoke of guiding clients into a "deeper level", where they meet their spirit guides who impart lessons that clients recall.
"They awaken with a sense of empowerment; renewed and addiction free."
Williams advanced that when our energy centres - of which there are seven - are imbalanced, we are prone to a number of ailments - physical and mental.
"I teach them how to focus on these centres, and through visualisation replace the impurities with positive energy. The results are remarkable.
"Many people who come to my office to curb their addiction admit that they are victims of stress. They use alcohol as a coping mechanism, but this kind of self-medication is destructive. Equally important is that they must want to recover, not for anyone, but themselves. This is really essential."