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Demystifying the Mind/Body Connection
by Martin Matthews

Many people ask me how hypnosis relates to health and healing. They’ve heard about hypnosis for weight loss, smoking cessation, to help stay on an exercise regime, to assist in boosting white blood cell count to combat disease, or many other applications. The notion of “mind/body” is touted all over, but what does it really mean to your health? Here are some of my thoughts…

For one, I think it’s important to understand that we all experience some form of hypnosis (trance like states) everyday. We may not be aware of this because of how we identify with hypnosis. We typically limit our comprehension to “mystical” or “spooky” definitions. Perhaps we’ve seen a movie where a hypnotist swung a gold pocket watch as their patient was “mesmerized” into doing all sorts of things the hypnotist told them. This is not a true representation of hypnosis.

When you’re “zoned” out while at the checkout stand, while driving your car, or staring out the window, you are in a light trance. Part of your “critical faculty,” that part of you that is making constant judgments about your “worthiness” in the world, the “likelihood” of this or that occurring, is shut off, or relaxed (our critical faculty directly affects what choices we make, what we allow ourselves to see, to know). When you’re relaxed this way your subconscious (where your “programming” is) is more active, it’s like a sponge. So, when you’re zoned out there at the checkout stand…you mind is absorbing messages; about the headlines in The Inquirer, about needing a package of gum or mints, batteries, or whatever other “place of purchase” items have been honed to catch your relaxed (yet more focused) attention. That very relaxed state you experience just before falling asleep, and just after waking up, is also the same state you experience under hypnosis. This is why your best ideas may come to you at those times, when your subconscious thoughts come to the surface. Yes, there’s something to notion of “sleep on it.”

When we better understand applied hypnosis, or hypnotherapy, we learn that it can be an intentional process of communicating with our subconscious programming – that part inside of us that comprises our core beliefs, values, and feelings, and hence directs all of our behavior. (See Hypnosis FAQ). If there’s something not working in our behavior, in order to change it (in a sustainable way), we must ultimately change/affect some component of our inner programming. When we hear the suggestions provided by the Hypnotherapist when we are in a relaxed state, our subconscious mind absorbs and assimilates them into our programming. These suggestions naturally integrate and become part of our behavioral make up – thus affecting what shows up for us in the world.

When you feel the onset of a cold, a slight sniffle here or there, a sneeze, and you say something like “I’m getting a cold,” you are, in a way, hypnotizing yourself. A sniffle alone does not mean you’re absolutely getting a cold, however, saying those words to yourself, trigger a set of beliefs you hold about the connection between a sniffle and a full blown cold (and the annoyance of a few days of aches and “down time”). Initiating this pattern of expectation, in your mind, triggers a behavioral response in your body. Your body follows where your mind goes. (If you don’t get this… then simply close your eyes for a few moments and imagine a peaceful meadow….and notice how your body responds – or, imagine a great loving encounter…and notice how your body responds).

Since we know that tremendous variance exists between triggers and responses, that is, some people have a sniffle and never get a cold, others get a sniffle and manifest a cold almost immediately, what’s going on in the control room of our mind is very powerful in determining what actually shows up in our body. Our thought patterns trigger a physiological pattern that our body has played out before. “Going there” in our mind can send the body places it might not have gone if it were left in a more neutral place. These processes, this hypnosis, is going on for each and every one of us at all times – we just rarely “catch” it, nor realize the impact of it.

We tend not to connect a pessimistic style with the tendency to get colds every couple of months. No one wants to believe that they can “think” there way into a disease, but we’re learning more and more about this connection. (See stress article).

We know that our thoughts directly affect our internal biochemical responses. Think of piece of delicious chocolate cake, and your salivary glands respond in anticipation – even if there is no chocolate cake anywhere nearby. Do you think that if while eating a treat for yourself, say, a muffin, you’re focusing on “blowing your diet” or how it’s “going straight to your hips,” that your body will process the food differently (under this stress) than if your thinking “this little treat will pass right through me, I’m a healthy person?” You see, the energy you send your body is different – what happens inside is different. I needn’t get into the scientific “evidence” behind this because, as I imagine, everyone can “get” this notion around the different energy created by our thoughts. We’ve all felt it.

So, when engaging in any health regimen it is helpful that, in addition to doing different things to our body to help affect its performance, that we utilize our mind as well.

Our bodies are intelligent. Deep inside, we all really know what we need to do in order to be healthy, in order to heal ourselves. The challenge is, getting past the years of “programming” we’ve experienced through indoctrination of the systems around us, “lessons” we’ve embedded from our parents, teachers, institutions, and our own life experiences. Further, we must get past the fear that holds that programming in place…fears of NOT following the programming, that if we don’t we’ll lose out in some way, we won’t be loved, or we’ll be abandoned by others, by the “system.” (try telling your conservative Aunt Helen that you’re doing alternative therapies to CURE your allergies, rather that signing on to a lifelong drug regimen.

If you need to lose weight, or better yet, gain some added health in your life, deep inside, you KNOW what you need to do – in a nutshell, eat right and exercise – but you may have blocks that inhibit your inner self from really “hearing” that message and acting upon it. Hypnosis allows you to go inside and, essentially, communicate with yourself. Imagine if you could bypass that critical thinking of yours and just tell yourself the honest truth – and actually have yourself listen for a change.

“Margaret, you know that deep inside you is the programming of perfect health...that beneath all else, lays the heart of a caring and loving soul, someone who truly loves the body they are in and grateful for the joy of life. Just feel how wonderful it is to connect to this truth…and you know that eating a healthy diet of xxxxxx, and exercising your body regularly serve your health and happiness in countless ways…and in your truth as a happy and healthy person, every time you walk past a donut shop, you will smile and remember inside how healthy you are, by the choices you make everyday to live the life you choose…”

Imagine thoughts like this getting through to your internal programming when aiming to impact your physical health. Ask yourself the question, “In order to achieve this health goal, what do I really need to believe inside?” Just asking yourself this question right now is helpful, even if you do nothing else. The question engages your mind in solving problems the body is experiencing. Your mind may answer something like “I need to believe that it is possible for me to lose 60 pounds healthfully without starving myself,” or “I need to believe I can clear up my digestion by detoxing and eating right,” or “I need to believe that I can conquer this challenge.” Further, imagine if, on its own (while you’re sleeping), your mind is focusing on your cells healing, oxygen flowing in your body, pain being relieved, etc. Imagine if your latent thoughts (the ones you’ve having when you don’t realize you’re having them) were in alignment with your health and healing objectives. Hypnotherapy can help you engage this mind/body connection.

There are times when it may seem that the body can be healed without the influence of the mind. In fact, the external systems of the world have done quite well at affecting our internal chemistry such that we’ve learned to depend on their reliability. Have a headache, take an aspirin. Have an allergy, take a drug. Have a hyper kid, give them Ritalin. Feeling down, take prozac. Further, people heal from ailments all the time, recover from surgery all the time, fight off disease all the time, without putting extra concerted effort of engaging their mind to assist in the process.

But, the more we learn and understand the true nature and inherent power of the mind/body connection, the more we realize that to NOT engage this connection intentionally is to just leave circumstances to chance – that things will just happen, and that the drugs, doctors, and external systems upon which we rely, will in fact serve us with all their might and, hopefully, with the greatest loving intentions. The more we leave things to this chance, the more we externalize responsibility for our own health and well being, the greater disservice (I feel) we do for ourselves.

An example: You spray Raid all over to get rid of the ants that have infiltrated your kitchen, but doing nothing about your habit of leaving food crumbs all over the place and not cleaning up after yourself. You could just rely the Raid to handle all your problems (and it may be necessary at first depending on the severity of your situation), but the power to truly heal the situation lays within yourself, within your own thoughts and behaviors (to keep the kitchen clean for good!).

So yes, the mind and body are inexorably linked. They are linked whether or not you acknowledge it or do anything to stimulate the connection. Knowing this allows us to remove chance and engage our intention, to stack the deck of universal forces in our favor. This is not something mysterious or “out there,” it is something that is happening that we can either choose to be “at choice” or “in effect” of majorly impactful forces that affect the quality of our lives.

The whole “mind/body” relationship is larger and more meaningful than we currently realize, and we will see, I feel, that the learnings about it will more rapidly move from the realm of “new agy thinking” to mainstream human comprehension and application of the universal forces of life. Energy affect all things, and the energy created by our minds is perhaps the most impactful force upon what goes on in our bodies. So, the next time you aim to affect the energy flowing in your body, you can think further about how to get your mind on board with the process. You can understand how hypnosis impacts the thoughts of your mind, and you can be at choice over them – you can intervene in your subconscious processes to align your mind and body so that all systems are working toward your objectives. You may intervene on your own or you may seek a Hypnotherapist to assist you in “training” your subconscious thoughts. It’s important to understand that all hypnosis is self hypnosis, we facilitate these trance states ourselves, or have a Hypnotherapist (or meditative CD, etc.) guide us there.

Remember, where your mind goes, your body will follow. This is an essence of understanding the mind/body connection and how hypnosis can help facilitate health and healing in many aspects of our lives.

In my next article, I will take this learning to an even deeper level, delving into the bottom layer of human exisitance, our DNA. I’ll look at the energetic make up of DNA, what we’re learning about the expanded capabilities of additional strands of DNA previously unknown to us, and the implications upon multiple modalities of health and healing for the human body, soul, and spirit.





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