The Benefits of Hypnosis: An Option for Coping with Anxiety other Mental Health Struggles with Doug Sands - E031
In this episode, I talk with Doug Sands about the benefits of hypnosis. Doug is a hypnotist, Buddhist meditator, and mental health warrior who helps people worldwide manage their symptoms using hypnosis and meditation.
We talk about the benefits of hypnosis and how Doug uses it to help him through his mental health journey.
Doug shares what hypnosis is, how it relates to meditation, and how you can get started. He also shares some of the techniques he uses with his clients to manage their anxiety and how the spiritual life has impacted his road to recovery and mental health management. The best part is that techniques you can do them anywhere, and you can start practicing today!
So if you're interested in learning more about how hypnosis can help you manage your anxiety and depression, go ahead and listen to this episode and then message me with your biggest takeaway.
TODAY'S GUEST: DOUG SANDS
> Doug shares his story, what're the reasons he decided to become a mental health educator, and how it looked like when he lost his mother because of depression (01:30)
> Why and how growing up in a Christian family has impacted who Doug has become now (08:50)
> How discovering meditation and Buddhism has helped him start the healing of his mental illness (13:19)
> How he got started with Hypnosis and how he's helping people manage their mental health struggles (26:25)
> What're some of the techniques and tools Doug uses with his clients that will help you manage your anxiety (33:05)
E031: Hypnosis: An Option for Coping with Anxiety other Mental Health Struggles with Doug Sands
Have you ever tried hypnosis for your mental health struggles?
Amy: [00:00:37] Welcome back to What We’re Not Talking About. On this episode, I have with me, Doug Sans, a Buddhist mediator, hypnotist, and a mental health warrior who helps clients worldwide manage their symptoms. And today we're going to be talking about his struggles with his own mental health, what tools he uses for managing anxiety specifically, and how his spiritual life has impacted his road to recovery and mental health management. So, without further ado, welcome to the show, Doug.
Doug: [00:01:07] Absolutely. Thank you for having me, Amy.
Amy: [00:01:09] You are most welcome. I can just tell that this episode is going to be packed with amazing and actionable content for the listeners.
Now, Doug, I'd love for you to talk a little bit about your background and what drove you to step into this role as educator in the mental health space.
Doug: [00:01:] Absolutely mental health has always been a very big part of my life. I didn't know it for most of my life, but my mother actually had mental health issues. She unfortunately took her own life because of depression.
I grew up in rural Wisconsin, and my family never talked about our feelings or issues like that. I actually didn't even know it was a suicide until I was in the seventh grade. That really kick-started my journey into looking into mental health and trying to understand it because when I developed my own depressive episodes in my senior year of high school.
It had been in the background for so long that I had no words to express what I was feeling.
And it was like I was playing catch up to try to understand what was going on with my brain. I went through a therapy, I went through medication.It wasn't really until... I mean, those things definitely work. They helped save my life. I'm absolutely thankful for them. But it wasn't really until I had a pretty drastic near death experience that I came to meditation and Buddhism.
And those were the first times that I really realized that I have control over my own emotions. Not like 100%, but I can influence them. That was such a radical concept for me, that it blew my mind. And through meditating and through learning more about spirituality and religion, I came to have hypnosis. Hypnosis is one of those things that is still kind of in the dark ages, at least in the common eyes. Because we all think it's manipulation or mind control, but that couldn't be further from the truth.
What I've discovered is that hypnosis is mostly just meditation with a goal. It's the same kind of concept you're going deep within yourself. And though the brainwave patterns are a little bit different, they are very similar. So yeah, I think that's my story.
Amy: [00:03:19] Yeah, that's very, it's very interesting.
Well, first of all, thank you for sharing with us that your mother took her life. How old were you when that happened?
Doug: [00:03:28] I was actually seven months old. And that was quite a... well, in the future, not in the future. Throughout my journey, it was a struggle because I had to... I couldn't tell if that was postpartum depression or not. And so that was an issue for me blaming myself. I had to come to terms with that, that that was an action that she took. And as young as I was, there was nothing I could have done about it, hypnosis or not.
Amy: [00:03:54] Yeah, absolutely. I'm actually reading a book related to female hormones and I found out something very astonishing. I think they said 45% of women go through postpartum depression. And I was shocked by that statistic. At least this is like North American statistics. So, it's shocking.
And I'm so sorry that you had to deal with that. That would have been quite a struggle having to... Well, first of all, not knowing that she took her own life. What had your family told you up until you were seven?
Doug: [00:04:32] They had told me that she had died of an illness that couldn't be cured. Which when you're just starting out with your own depressive episode having heard that all your life, it’s pretty disheartening to think that mental illness is something that you can't fix or can't even treat.
So, I was starting off, I felt like a leg behind.
But I actually learned about this while I was at summer camp.
My aunt was working at that summer camp. She was telling the story of my mother's death kind of as her coming of faith story, but I didn't even know at that point.
I was sitting there in the audience as she's telling this story that is basically my life and everything that led up to that point. And I remember walking back to my cabin at that point. The only person who really knew that something was wrong was this kid named Gus. And you know, we're like seventh grade boys. We don't have the skills to have that conversation.
I just remember Gus offered me like half a pack of Starburst. And that was the kindest thing that happened out of that entire night. It was just such a shock to think that she had taken her own life and that she had chosen to leave us.
That's how I saw it at first. And eventually I came around to realizing that it was something that she was struggling with and it wasn't just that she was leaving us.
Amy: [00:05:58] Absolutely. And that would be quite difficult, especially without hypnosis, as you mentioned, where you are just coming into dealing with your depressive episodes. As you said, you've been told it's incurable, nothing could have, let's say, saved her. I know that's not necessarily the right terminology.
But how was it processing that at a young age, while simultaneously dealing with your own depression?
Doug: [00:06:25] People like to say that I seem very old for my age, very mature. I've realized that it's because we grow through the damage, not the years. I think that having to deal with my own questions about my mother and my own mental health, I grew up very quickly. And even more so when I found hypnosis.
In a way that has helped me. It has given me a little maturity that I can pursue new things, like building a business and all these adventurous things that I'd like to do. It allows me to have that steady foundation. But at the time it was definitely pretty harrowing. Because it was as if the entire world that I knew had been turned upside down.
It was as if everything I knew about my family had been, if not a lie, than a deliberate coverup. And I really had to deal with... I had to deal with some anger issues about being lied to essentially about that such an important part of my life at that point.
Amy: [00:07:28] Absolutely. I think it's really interesting. You talk about anger too, because that's one thing that I find in a lot of conversations around mental health.
I find the anger aspect isn't really as highlighted as the more traditional types of emotions that accompany depression or anxiety.
And for me, I have only just begun sharing the element of my own anger when it comes to my mental health. Because I have a lot of it. I have a lot of it!
It's something that has been for me quite hard to process as well. Because I'm not supposed to be angry about this, you know? I know intellectually that this is life, and yes, maybe I have been dealt a harder hand than some. But also a less harder hand than others, but still there's so much anger wrapped up in that. I wonder if that’s something hypnosis can help.
And so you were in high school when this began. Now I ask, you said you grew up in rural Wisconsin. Is that area very into Christianity and religion?
Doug: [00:08:37] Yes. A hundred percent of my family was Christian.
Amy: [00:08:40] Okay. I asked you that you also mentioned like the summer camp and coming of this coming of age and figuring all that stuff out. So how did that impact who you are today?
Doug: [00:08:52] Oh, that's such a great question. Well, to start with the camp that I mentioned was a Christian camp. It was a Bible camp. I loved that camp so much that even after I went through my depressive episode and I started questioning my faith.
I went and I worked there for two, almost three years because I just loved the impact that it had on my life.
Even teaching this faith that I wasn't quite sure I believed in anymore.
That was such an interesting experience. I was dissociating myself from literally what I was teaching these children every single day. On the other side of that in my own family dynamics, my mother's side of the family was Catholic. And in the Catholic faith, suicide is heavily frowned upon. Some people will not even allow someone who dies a suicide to be buried in the church, in the church graveyard.
But it impacted me because they never talked about it either, even though they were the open side of the family. They were essentially the ones that would actually talk about that, they wouldn't talk about it because it was seen as shameful.
And it was only after I was able to have that conversation with them that they really opened up. It’s a very interesting thing to be a 17-year-old, going through a depressive episode, being the mature one, to step up and have that conversation and initiate it. But faith has really shaped my family's understanding of it.
I remember one time someone said they were praying for me. And I said, “Prayer is not what I need. I need medication.” At that time I had not been on it yet. I hadn’t had anything, especially hypnosis.
And they really thought that if they just ignored it or if they prayed about it or if they let me talk to a pastor or something in that I would be all right.
Amy: [00:10:43] So is that kind of the mentality that they had? And was that imposed upon you as- Yeah. If you can remember, how did that make you feel, knowing that there were your family members and respected community members telling you one thing? Then that result not being what you were experiencing?
Doug: [00:11:10] I think that's really what started my break with that faith is that I was getting this message that mental illness was something that Christians didn't deal with. It was something that they didn't have to face. Plus, that suicide itself was such a taboo topic that you couldn't even be put in the ground, you couldn't even be associated with the church anymore.
I was very much at odds because, at that point, I still did love that faith, especially because of the summer camp. I had to choose between these two things that were really defining my life. And I felt that if I chose... Eventually it came down that it wasn't a choice at all, because I felt if I chose religion that I would be essentially turning my back on this mental illness and mental illness is something that you can't really turn your back on.
It affects you, whether you like it or not. So, I really transitioned away from faith. That was when I started becoming my own person and cutting those ties from being a child into being an adult. And it’s brought me here into practicing hypnosis.
I'm not sure that I would want to go through it again, but I'm glad it shaped me in the way it did.
Amy: [00:12:18] Yeah, I think that's important that you said that. Because I think a lot of people are when it comes to mental health and mental health illness in the past... I’ve said this where I'm like, “Okay. Yeah. I know that I had a hard life, but it's got me to where I have been.”
But that doesn't mean I want to go through it again. That just means I've made peace with it. It doesn't mean that I'm like, “Yeah, everybody gets to do this. It'll be fine.” And there’s things I haven’t tried, like hypnosis, if I didn’t feel like that was working.
Doug: [00:12:43] Yes.
Amy: [00:12:44] It's really wonderful how people who have experienced these quite traumatic childhoods as well as adulthoods have been able to create a narrative around it in order to be okay with it. And I think that's one of the main things that we really need to encourage around the world when it comes to mental health.
Doug: [00:13:08] Yes. Absolutely.
Amy: [00:13:09] So, when it comes to your own transition from like childhood and under the Christian faith into becoming this amazing hypnotist and mental health warrior, was there a moment where you turned to atheism?
Or was it always like, “I believe in the faith, but I don't believe in the faith that I've been raised in. Let me find something else.”?
Doug: [00:13:36] Oh, there was this kind of this gap between when I left high school and when I found Buddhism, this new religion that has really defined my life up to this point. It was this weird gap that I kind of believed in it and kind of didn't. I'm not sure there was any moment I deliberately accepted atheism. Because I mentioned that near death experience on a hike.
On that hike, I was praying, I was remembering these old stories. And I think that was more desperation than me actually believing it, but there wasn't really a point that I deliberately shucked off that faith, I mean, until I discovered Buddhism. It was more that it cracked open my ideas of what was possible and that doubts leaked in. And I guess I was really searching for proof or belief one way or the other in that section of my life, before I found Buddhism and hypnosis.
Amy: [00:14:32] So, how old were you when the near-
Because I know we just quickly breezed over it. Because you and I spoke about it off recording. So, why don't we talk a little bit about it?
How old are you? What happened? Where were you? All that fun stuff.
Doug: [00:14:49] This was just before I found hypnosis. I was 21 years old, I had just dropped out of college, I had been going to University of Iowa, and I falling back into a depressive state, even though I'd kind of come out of it for a year or so. Because I was paying thousands of dollars. I didn't know what I wanted to do and I felt like I was just spinning my wheels.
So, I dropped out of college and I went halfway across the country to Maine, to work at a summer camp job. Growing up in Wisconsin on a farm of all places, that was a pretty radical idea. We had never really taken vacations. The furthest I'd ever traveled with my family was like five hours away by car.
So for that expedition I drove through Canada and worked at the summer camp in Maine. At the end of the summer, I wasn't ready to go back yet. So, I found this job in New Hampshire, working in the mountains at this hiker hostel. So, I worked there.
The wintertime in New Hampshire in the white mountains is pretty brutal.
It's cold. It’s dark. And that caused my first experience of realizing that seasonal affective disorder really does hit me hard. I decided to move back to Wisconsin, and to my future in hypnosis, in January because I was having such a hard time in New Hampshire.
Literally days before I moved back to Wisconsin, there was this hike that I really wanted to go on. It's very famous out there. Anyone living in the Northeast might recognize it. It was called the Lafayette Ridge Hike. On a beautiful day, it's absolutely stunning because you can walk along this Ridge line for two to three miles and have 360 degree views in every direction. But being stubborn as I am, I went on my last day off and it was in the middle of a blizzard.
That alone should have said that I should turn around and not do this today. But I decided to go through with it. I was alone, and I got to the top of this ridge. I could not see more than 25 feet in front of me in any direction. And I met a few other hikers and they would literally appear out of the fog as if they were ghosts. I'd stop after they passed and watch them.
Within like 10 paces, it was as if they never existed. That's how thick this blizzard was. And I ended up missing my turn off the trail head, the connecting trail to go back to my car.
And I followed the trail to what I thought was the downward trail, but it actually was just this rock slide.
I followed that down and then I basically slipped-slid down this sheer face. I ended up lost, realizing that I was lost and there was no way to get back up to the Ridge. So I had to bushwhack my way down this valley and the trees up on top of that mountain had basically grown together their entire life.
And so imagining, pushing through walls of interconnected tree limbs for hours trying to get down. I followed this river, essentially, that was frozen over. As the hours were passing and it was starting to get dark. I was starting to realize I was in some serious, deep trouble. I wonder if hypnosis would have helped then.
And then at every turn of the river, I'd be like, “I'm going to see the highway. I'm going to get back to my car soon.” And it would happen, but I’d look and there would just be more wilderness. And that really kind of broke my spirit because darkness fell and I was hiking, still hiking, exhausted, wet.
Because the snow was falling and I was hot and it was melting my coat. I remember I came onto this really hard section where I was trying to climb up the sheer little Hill to get over to the otherside to follow this river again. And I just couldn't get up. I tried two or three times and I kept slipping on the ice.
Finally, I stuck my head against the snow and I just screamed.
It was the most primal thing that I've ever done. And it really just kind of shook me to the core. I started praying, I started doing anything I could do.
Then I sat back and it was just as if this flood of peace hit me because I realized I only had two options. I could either stay there and freeze to death. Or I could keep going and see how far I actually make it. I chose the second option.
I'm shuffling along, basically dissociated from myself, kind of brain dead. And I remember finally getting to this paved little trail and I thought, “Oh, this is so nice. Finally, something where I'm not hiking up sheer hills.” It took me a couple of minutes to realize, “Wait a minute, I'm on a trail.” And I remember as exhausted as I was, I started sprinting.
I got to the little hill overlook and I remember being so thankful to see the lights of a big rig going past on a highway. I still had a couple miles to shuffle back to my car. But I got back to my car, drove back to the hiker lodge, and got a chewing out. Because one of my friends is on the search and rescue team, and he said that he was within 15 minutes of calling it on me. But I got back in time.
I thought everything was okay.
I thought this was just a bad experience. I'd go down as one of those things we talk about and laugh about in the future. But for days and weeks afterwards, I was shaking and I couldn't figure out why. And I never really dealt with anxiety so much. My mental illness up to that point was really focused on depression, but that was the first time anxiety hit me, and it hit me hard.
Because when I moved back to Wisconsin, I fell back into this depressive episode with anxiety on top of it. And being that desperate, I was really looking for anything that would help me. A friend of mine out in New Hampshire had mentioned meditation, had mentioned Buddhism. I remember finding this book by Noah Rasheta, “A Beginner's Guide to Buddhism,” or something like that, and just devouring it on my kitchen floor.
And I couldn't get enough of it. I started listening to every single podcast I could hear on it. It was as if I had been offered this lifeline, this rope that I could climb out of this mental illness, and I was very thankful for it. That started my journey into Buddhism and to hypnosis.
Amy: [00:21:08] Yeah. Wow. I'm on the other end of this conversation and my stomach is getting upset because this just sounds horrible to me. It sounds absolutely. Just a quick question, have you been hiking since?
Doug: [00:21:21] Yes, I have been hiking since.
Hiking is a very important part of my life.
And I think that experience taught me so much. But one of the things that taught me about outdoor adventures is that as capable as I think I am, no matter if I've been doing this for a month or like my entire life, the mountain still will always win, if I don't treat it with respect.
Because there are people every single year who die in New Hampshire because they take risks that don't pay off and they get caught in blizzards. They get caught in brutal conditions and they freeze to death. And I remember thinking on that hike... It was literally January 3rd, and I thought, “I'm going to be the first death statistic of this year.”
I had no idea whether they would find my body. That was part of the reason that drove me on. But hiking is definitely still a big part of my life to answer that question.
Amy: [00:22:2517] Yeah, because I'm a hiker too. So, I'm listening to you and I'm like, “Oh my gosh, oh my gosh, oh my gosh.”
I can't go hiking alone cause I just am so terrified of something like that happening.
So, first of all, I'm so happy that you decided to climb and not sit there and freeze.
Because I know a few people that have been in similar situations that said that had they not been with someone else, they would have sat down because they had lost all the will. And that was some of those people were not people that had previous mental health illnesses. So, it wasn't like they were predicated to have suicidal ideation or anything like that. It was just simply, “This is something we've gotten to a point where we don't know if we can make it.”
Wow. Now, that is quite the dark night of the soul, as I would call that.
Doug: [00:23:15] Indeed.
Amy: [00:23:16] Would you say that was kind of the moment where you were like, “Something's got to change. This is it.”?
Doug: [00:23:23] Absolutely. I had actually stopped taking my medication, my depression medication, a couple of months before. Because I realized that, or I shouldn't say I realized. I felt that I could do this on my own. And I was just discovering things like yoga and meditation, doing them occasionally, and realizing, you know, there's a little bit here. This was before I discovered hypnosis.
But I really wanted to be able to control my own emotions.
I wanted to be able to do that in a way that felt good for me. So, that led to this search of what can I actually do to control my own emotions? And my life has never been the same since. Because that has been such a pivotal focal point.
I think that was the moment I really realized that no one was going to live this life for me. I had to do it myself. And looking back before that, I had been kind of taking life as it was. You know, I was a victim. I was this person that depression had been given to. After that, it was really something that I took ownership of.
I took ownership of my own life, of my own mental illness, and I started realizing that I needed to make the changes. It was right before I found hypnosis.
Amy: [00:24:37] Absolutely. Especially as a teenager or a child.
I was a child when my mental illnesses set in. So, when it happens at such a young age, your brain isn't fully developed and you don't necessarily truly understand what's going on internally. Let alone in the world. Victim mentality is something that is just omnipresent in individuals like that.
And for me, it's the same thing.
I had this moment where I just had just let life happen.
And I was in this, I won't get into it, but I had this moment where I was like, “This was a series of choices that I made. And if this was a series of choices I made to get me here, maybe I can make a series of choices to get me to where I want to be.”
It sounds so easy, it sounds so beautiful. But there was 11 years of mess afterwards. It wasn't just like a moment where I was like, now I'm good. I wish I could have tried hypnosis in the past.
But that deep dark night of the soul is something that so many people experience. I think for a lot of people that have been there, processed it, and move forward from it haven’t necessarily forgotten it.
But they move forward with it as almost like a badge of, not honor, but of experience that then turned to helping others overcome that as well. And I think it's quite beautiful that for people like yourself, you know what that looks like, you know that experience and it was terrifying and it was scary. And you felt alone. I mean, maybe in your specific instance, you were very much alone.
So, I'm still processing. I feel like I have residual anxiety from your story.
But when it comes to how you move forward from there and after you got into Buddhism, at what point did you turn to hypnosis?
Doug: [00:26:35] I had been back in Wisconsin for about six months and I'd been doing meditation and studying Buddhism for about five. And I discovered this podcast that the host was talking about the link between meditation and Buddhism and meditation-hypnosis. And hypnosis was so far off my radar, I had never even considered it.
It was like I was blindsided by it. But I knew like within that half hour conversation, just listening to it, that this was something that was fascinating. Because, at that time, I still believed that hypnosis was this, you know, “wave of magic wand thing, and everything is healed,” which I now know is not right, not quite the case.
But I realized that hypnosis had something behind it, if it was still around. And it had so many connections to meditation. So, I essentially just devoured podcasts on hypnosis. I was actually, when I moved back to Wisconsin, I was driving a propane truck of all the things to be doing in my life. But I would be driving this and I'd listened to this podcast on hypnosis back to back to back.
So, I was literally like just absorbing this at a rapid pace, like three to four hours of learning, just listening to the radio on the podcasts on hypnosis.
And then I went to a hypnosis conference, and that was a really big turning point for me because I'd never actually met a hypnotist in person.
So flying out to Vegas where, you know, of course it's gotta be in Vegas, but we flew out to Vegas. And I remember the night before I was sitting there thinking, “What have I done? Like looking back at my life over the past six months, what am I doing? Why am I here?”
The very next day when I showed up to this hypnosis conference and I met these people who were so passionate about helping people change in ways that aren't the established modalities like medication and therapy. I just realized that these were my people. I fell in love with it within half an hour.
It was a very odd course to get there and I'm thankful that it happened. Because I'm not sure, had I been in any other situation, that I would have found it. Had I followed that traditional course and graduated college and not had those struggles with mental health, I don't think I would have taken hypnosis seriously enough to look into it.
Amy: [00:29:57] Yeah. I don't have much experience with hypnosis. I actually know very little about it and this is really wonderful to be able to talk to you about it and learn a bit more about it.
Your simple explanation at the beginning of this conversation where you were like, “It's just almost like an added level of meditation,” I had never really conceptualized it like that. And I think that's a really interesting way of looking at it because that is really what it is.
Now, for the aspect of what you do when it comes to hypnosis, how do you help your clients and your people process their mental health issues and illnesses through hypnosis?
Doug: [00:29:43] First, I want to start with the concept of threshold, which is that idea of being ready to change. Threshold is when you can accurately or congruently say three things about yourself. One, change needs to happen and it needs to be me that makes the change. Two, I should say, it needs to be me that makes the change. And three, it needs to happen right now.
And when someone has all three of those parts ready, change is very easy to happen. It's very easy to make when you have those tools. Really, so much of my work is getting people to that point. They'll come in, they'll realize they need to change, and it has to be them that does it right now. But there's some piece of it that's missing.
So, getting people to that point that they change and they're open to change is the first hurdle. Then the hypnosis itself is fairly easy. Just like meditation, you go into this trance state and you relax into it. The hypnotist sends you deeper. A lot of people don't understand that hypnosis is not something that I am like casting a spell on people.
It's literally me offering language patterns that the person then follows to go deeper into trance.
A person in hypnosis is actually creating their own trance. It's not the hypnotist who's creating it. And that's such an important distinction for people to realize, because your own mind is capable of so many different things.
Just having those language patterns, having that guidance can help you make those changes at a psychological level. But, to help people with some mental illnesses with hypnosis, I start off by first, acknowledging that this has been something that has helped you, because that helps me get their unconscious mind in the right frame of mind. I guess you could say it helps their unconscious mind see that they weren't the enemy anymore.
I think so often in our mental health struggles, we feel it's as if we're against our own brain. And by thanking that unconscious for what it's done to keep that person alive up to that point. It really sets the tone and makes the rest of the session much easier because then we work on past habits and past experiences.
A lot of times we work on trauma, and trauma is not something that you can easily resolve in one session. It's something that I recommend people come back for in different sessions. And dealing with trauma, we always set this resourceful state, this anchor state, that they can come back to if they start having an bad reaction, or if they start experiencing it too heavily.
Then we install new states essentially after we cleared out all the junk.
It's just about giving them new resources, new ways to calm themselves, new ways to appreciate the life around them that they're living, and then we bring them back and that's it.
Amy: [00:32:35] Wow. That's amazing. Hypnosis sounds really fascinating to me. I'm always into exploring different levels of consciousness, as well as different modalities of treatment for issues. I would say mental health issues, but I believe it's just all health, right? And I'm sure most people in this space do recognize that.
When it comes to anxiety, especially because we have 2020, which has been, excuse my French, a bit of a shit show, what are some tips that you use for your clients, and also that you could suggest on this podcast that would really help mitigate some of the symptoms?
Doug: [00:33:24] Yeah, absolutely. I actually give out seven of these tools that have gained from a bunch of different areas. From acupressure, from NLP, from hypnosis. I actually offer that as a freebie on my website if people are interested. But if you'd like, I could go through a few of those techniques just on this podcast.
Amy: [00:33:41] Yeah, let's talk a little bit about it. Maybe let's do three. Then we'll also make sure that the link to your freebie is available in the show notes, which is in the description of this podcast for everyone that wants to take advantage of that. Because I think that would be incredibly helpful for our listeners.
Doug: [00:34:00] Absolutely. Yeah.
I've got just the three perfect for this.
And so these techniques are tools that I give my clients after the session to help them if, you know, anxiety comes up in between hypnosis sessions. It’s things that they can do literally anywhere. And the first one comes from yoga and meditation and it's 7/11 breathing.
People know this by a lot of different names, whether it's four, seven, eight, or elongated breathing. It's definitely the simplest one that I teach. Because all you do, you breathe in for a count of seven and then you breathe out for a count of 11. The simple act of breathing out for a few counts more than you breathe in, activates something called the vagus nerve, which is a nerve that runs from your brain to your heart and your chest area. And it controls the parasympathetic control of your heart and your lungs.
But you can basically reverse that connection and use it for your favor by breathing deeper. By exhaling longer than you inhale, you actually send a signal back up the channel to your brain to be calm and to feel that way.
And the second way, and the second tool, I should say, that I always give is one called peripheral vision. This one also works on the vagus nerve, but it comes from hypnotist out of New York City, Melissa Tiers. All you do is you find a point that you can focus on with your eyes.
It helps if that point is above eye level, because when you're focusing on something above eye level, your brain automatically shifts into alpha brainwaves, which is light trance.
And as you focus on that point, just allow your vision to expand out in all directions and without moving your eyes, see how much you can notice on the periphery. See how much you can see, whether it's distinct, whether it's fuzzy. See if you can see an edge to your vision. Does it end abruptly or does it kind of fade out? Do this for about a minute and then check in with your level of anxiety or whatever you're feeling at that time and see if it's changed.
That one works because it kind of tricks the brain into doing this deep breathing thing. It automatically allows the brain to switch into that deep breathing meditative mode. Along with 7/11 breathing, I've done these hypnosis-like techniques literally everywhere.
I remember I used to work in this fast paced kitchen. And in between making salads, I would sit there staring at this point off at the wall for a minute or two, just to manage what I was feeling at that time.
The third one is a little more involved, but it's probably one of my favorites it's called bilateral stimulation. And this also comes from Melissa Tiers.
Basically you take an object, like a ball, an apple, a wallet, and you start passing it from one hand to the other in front of you. It's important that you cross the midline, the central line of your body. As you do that, you simply allow it to happen and toss it back and forth.
What this does is activates both hemispheres of your brain.
By activating both hemispheres of your brain in a simple task, your brain starts focusing on that. If you want, you can pile on 7/11 breathing with that. But just that simple act of passing it back and forth, crossing over the midline, that allows your brain to just take a moment to recalibrate essentially.
Amy: [00:37:36] Those are great exercises for anytime, not just after hypnosis. I've heard of this 7/11 one, but the other two I've never heard about. It's interesting because the second one you mentioned is something I do when I'm overstimulated when I'm talking.
So, I have ADHD as a symptom of my mental illnesses. Sometimes making eye contact with someone is really hard if I'm trying to get like a really deep thought out. So, I stare at the ceiling. And that makes perfect sense because of the alpha waves that allows me to come back down. Oh, this is so insightful for me anyways. Hopefully you listeners too. But wow, those are great. Which one out of those three do you find for yourself is the most effective?
Doug: [00:38:20] Oh, the one most effective? Probably bilateral stimulation, passing the object back and forth. But the one that I go to most often is definitely peripheral vision, because you can do it anywhere. Tossing an object back and forth, you could do it in a hallway or in the bathroom, but you need to be able to toss that object back and forth. And peripheral vision is definitely my go-to because it's so flexible. It's with you all the time.
Amy: [00:38:48] Absolutely.
I think that's one of the great things with these exercises is that it doesn't require a lot of props or preparation.
It's something that you can just do almost in a moment. Assuming you're not driving or operating heavy machinery, things like that.
Well, thank you so much, Doug, for sharing your story with us and your tips on how to manage anxiety through these really amazing exercises.
As I previously said, we'll make sure that your freebie link is in the show notes of this podcast. So, you're able to grab that and hopefully find some effectiveness in these exercises as well.
Thank you so much. It's been a pleasure. I love talking about this stuff and thank you so much for candidly speaking about your experience with your mother, as well as your childhood, and your awesome, beautiful business that you have created to help so many other mental health warriors overcome their symptoms.
Doug: [00:39:59] Absolutely. Well, thank you so much, Amy. I appreciate it.
Amy: [00:40:03] As I like to end this hypnosis podcast with your words instead of mine, I would love it if you would share some last words of advice, when it comes to literally anything. It could be about managing anxiety. It could be about overcoming the rest of this year, whatever it feels like in your heart that you want to share.
Doug: [00:40:23] Yeah, absolutely. There was one resource I didn't mention.
I forgot to mention if people are interested in kind of test driving hypnosis, I do free hypnosis Fridays on Instagram.
My handle is @makingyourmeeting and it's just 10 to 15 minutes doing these sessions and getting that test drive of hypnosis.
But what I really want to leave people with is that there is hope. When you're in that struggle, that is such a cliche statement that you really don't want to hear. And I didn't believe it when I was in that really, really dark place. I didn't believe that things would get better.
I didn't believe that life was worth living at times. And looking at the life that I have now, I'm so very thankful that I held on and that I did the work that I needed to do. I encouraged them to find what works for them because the medication and therapy, they save lives, but they're not the only things out there.
There's acupuncture, there's hypnosis, there's an LP, there's meditation, there's spirituality. There's so many different things that can really personalize a mental health recovery for everyone. That's what I'd like to leave them with.