My Experience With Hypnotherapy—What Do You Really Want?
by Ryan Hook | October 27, 2020, updated about 1 year ago
I’ve always been the “out there” one amongst my friends. They’d ride bikes, and I’d stay in to listen to Led Zeppelin and The Doors on my record player, and that was 100 percent okay with me.
Until, one day, my friends were getting degrees in business, buying houses, and starting families. I had travelled for a few years, but what was I doing with myself, really? Was it time to enter the world of a serious career? After some thought I decided my path was writing. Despite wanting to be rockstar, I decided that writing was more achievable. I would be a ‘real’ writer, but try as I might, that wasn’t happening, and anytime it seemed like I might be getting there I felt like a sell-out. I want success, but I wanted to preserve my weirdness. Writing felt mundane. Why should I work on being a writer? Is that what I really wanted? What did I want?
After an interview with one of Canada’s leading hypnotherapists Jackie Irene Maclean, I realized my story wasn’t uncommon. She’d felt uncertain, much like how I was feeling. When she came to hypnotherapy, she was dealing with two past divorces, and had a lot of questions about who she was floating around.
This is a common issue for Maclean’s clients, particularly the ones suffering with addiction. Maclean noted that, “People’s addictions with either tobacco or cocaine often come from deep within. We need to work towards going inward to change the outside.”
During the interview Maclean invited me for a hypnotherapy session, and I said yes.
Hypnosis is a trance-like state in which you have heightened focus and concentration. Hypnosis is done with the help of a therapist using verbal repetition, mental images, and concentrated breath. It is utilized in tandem with other therapies.
Maclean’s explanation appealed to my esoteric side; she said—
“Hypnotherapy is essentially a tool to access the subconscious mind to enact change.”
Maclean likens the human mind to a computer saying that “[...] you have to go into your hard drive, open and edit it.” She explained that the only time we can go into the mind like this is when we’re relaxed.
Maclean uses hypnotherapy to tap into the unresolved memories of her clients in order to resolve them.
“You access those memories, and that’s when you make the changes."
People often see Maclean hoping to quit smoking or using narcotics. I don’t smoke, and coffee is enough of a high for me, but I have other vices. Since quarantine, I’d been spending hours upon hours on social media. Facebook was making me sad and anxious. My goal for the hypnotherapy session was to curb my social media use—nay, addiction.
Being in my room was another variable that I was uncertain about. My bedroom is a place where there are no consequences for being my authentic self which is good. I’d had both big feelings while in my room, and banal ones, and now I’d converted it into an ashram—would the feelings I’d felt in this room in the past interfere with the session?
It turned out that the space and mode worked really well for me. I felt comfortable in my room, and I wasn’t worried about anyone judging me. The session took me so deep within myself that the surroundings weren’t really an issue.
When I logged on there were about 20-30 people in the Zoom room, and I barely noticed them. As Maclean started speaking, her voice and use of long drawn out words drew me into a comfortable place, anchored in my body. She told us to relax, breathe deeply, and concentrate on an image or scene.
My goal was to curb my social media use, so I tried seeing myself sitting at my computer, scrolling. The first fifteen minutes was hard—my mind was not focused. I kept thinking that I needed to focus on the unwanted behaviours I exhibit when I’m endlessly scrolling on Facebook, or when I feel the need to check my Instagram during dinner with family. Instead, my mind fixated on dreams; not fluffy unicorns dancing with dragon dreams, but the dreams I have for my life. The ones that the little kid pretending to be Jim Morrison had.
When I focused on Maclean’s words, I found that I was constructing a scene that is nearly always there, but had never been clear—
I’m in a red bricked loft in a busy city, it’s morning and I have a full length window looking out onto the traffic below. In the corner is a ten foot tall canvas with beautiful colours painted all over it, the image is unclear. Beside the canvas is a desk covered with papers from something I’m assuming I’ve been writing. The smell of coffee permeates the air, and it’s raining. I see myself inspired and ready to take on the day.
After fifteen more minutes, Maclean led us back into our material bodies. She took a deep breath with us and looked out into each one of the Zoom rooms. I looked too. A few people were crying, a few were laughing, and others looked grateful. Maclean asked how everyone was doing, and the collective smiled. Not much else happened, the session was over, so I logged out.
I’ve been going back to that scene a lot since my hypnotherapy session. It’s a scene that gets more clear each time I close my eyes, and I’m hopeful that one day I’ll open them and it will be a reality. I found my experience to be transformative, but not in the way I had expected. I thought I’d manifest the cure to social media addiction, but what I ended up doing was showing myself the reward for focus and determination. It was anchoring, and clarifying. So, maybe it’s not such a bad thing that my dreams have changed somewhat since childhood.
A few days after, Maclean called me and I shared my experience with her, she responded by saying, “I’m so happy to hear that, Ryan, good for you. Release equals relief,” to which, I completely agree.
Ryan Hook is a writer, photographer, musician, and spoken word poet. Born in St.Albert and living in Edmonton, Alberta, his mission is to bring Sound and Story. He has worked as a music journalist for Vue Weekly, BeatRoute, and Exclaim! as well as been a published short story writer. When he's not writing he is an accomplished songwriter and recording artist for his band, Baby Boy and the Earthly Delights. Whether it's writing, music, or travelling, he bides by the philosophy that life is a playground and nothing is off limits.