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Basics, Book Reviews

Mental Wellness: From Theory to Practice

Dr. John Kappas, innovative genius and founder of America’s first accredited college of Hypnotherapy was an avowed behavioralist. Having surveyed the practice of psychiatry, he concluded that lay therapists, dedicated to the relief of client symptoms, were far more effective than the psychologists who tried to force their patients into theoretical boxes.

But of course, behavior is a function of the client’s mind. In applying desensitization to relieve a phobia, the lay hypnotherapist is facilitating the growth and removal of neural connections and the supporting infrastructure. All of these are psychological effects. Of course, hypnotherapy can’t guarantee results – we don’t analyze diet, provide supplements, or prescribe drugs. But for behavior to change, so must the brain.

As revealed in training videos, Kappas alluded to this in his teaching. Brain laterality, mind-body connection, introversion and extroversion – all these terms were used to motivate therapeutic strategy. Unfortunately, over the years this teaching has become diluted, to the point that resorting to psychological justification may be met with “we’re not psychologists.” Instead, students are taught “if the client has a phobia, use systematic desensitization.”

In the interim, psychologists have begun to develop therapeutic strategies utilizing mindfulness disciplines from Eastern religions. But where Kappas worked backwards from symptom to psychological cause to practice, honoring the full complexity of the client’s experience, conversely mindfulness was never fully integrated into a therapeutic framework that covered the full gamut of mental distress.

This need is addressed in Dr. Dan Siegel’s “Mindsight.”

I’ll start by celebrating Siegel’s integrity and the breadth of the insights it inspired during his career. Observing that we can’t discuss mental wellness if we can’t define the mind, he proposes:

The mind is a structure that mediates the flows of information and energy.

A healthy mind, then, effectively integrates those flows from sources to destinations. Siegel then identifies eight dimensions of integration, reflecting both the nature of this reality and the happenstance of the brain’s architecture. In order based upon a hierarchy of dependency, these are:

  • Consciousness – the ability to focus attention. This is the foundation offered by mindfulness practice.
  • Horizontal – reconciling sensation (right brain) and expectation (left brain).
  • Vertical – harmonizing our physical activity with our goals.
  • Memory – making explicit all the events – some obscured in the fog of crisis – that influence our behavior.
  • Narrative – moderating dispositions ingrained by our parents.
  • State – understanding and honoring our physiological and emotional needs.
  • Relationships – leveraging “mirror neuron resonance” to intuitively adapt to the expectations and needs of our co-participants.
  • Temporal – dealing with uncertainty, most particularly death.

Drawing upon psychology (the science of brain development and function), Siegel relates each of these dimensions to specific behavioral challenges.  Along the way, therapeutic metaphors are offered suitable for those under treatment.

With this foundation established, Siegel turns in the second half of the book to therapeutic practice. Each chapter demonstrates how disintegration in each dimension leads to distorted behavior and documents the use of mindfulness – focused by metaphors – to achieve integration and wellness.

In Kappasinian behavioralism, each of the dimensions of integration has related therapeutic practices.

  • Consciousness – progressive relaxation, imagery.
  • Horizontal – coordinating imagery with cataleptic rigidity in different sides of the body.
  • Vertical – desensitization and rehearsal.
  • Memory – body syndromes and habit development.
  • Narrative – Kappasinian suggestibility and dream therapy.
  • State – rehearsal, anchors, and guided imagery.
  • Relationships – Kappasinian sexuality.
  • Temporal – life script and Mental Bank.

In comparing the two, it might be obvious that where Siegel uses a mindfulness as a Swiss army knife, Kappasinian hypnotherapy offers laser-focused tools for specific needs. That allows the competent behavioralist to guide a client directly into a resolution, where Siegel’s mindfulness expects a resolution to arise organically through self-discovery.

More subtly, mindfulness-based therapy does not facilitate a focused conversation across layers of the mind. It all starts at the level of consciousness, and percolates down through the levels of subconscious awareness. This slows the process down. In some cases that is necessary: when behavior is a defense against trauma, the behavioralist will slow the progress of therapy to build resilience. But in general, we want to be able to navigate across hypnoidal, cataleptic, and the levels of somnambulism to allow the rational mind to influence the behaviors that cause tension in our waking lives. Those can be as deep as the way that we digest food, accessible only to the most advanced mindfulness practitioner.

In favor of mindfulness, the client does attain skills that reveal interior conflict before it disrupts our lives. That monitoring does take time from our daily lives. Kappasinian dream analysis encourages those same insights to arise when waking in the morning, but it’s up to the subconscious to decide what is important.

The origination of Kappasinian suggestibility is also out-of-date considering the psychological studies on childhood attachment.

In the end, however, I expect that mindfulness therapies are going to have a long road to full elaboration. Siegel hews to scientific materialism, where Kappas recognized spirituality. The brain is not the only mechanism for integrating the flow of information and energy. Siegel hints at spiritual integration in his case histories but explains it as mirror neuron resonance. This is disappointing – not least because some studies claim to have debunked the mirror neuron theory.

What is essential to the behavioralist, however, is the model of integration and the corresponding behavioral presentations. In his introduction to Kappasinian therapy, John Melton emphasized how Dr. Kappas built a therapy session, piece-by-piece, to a resolution of the highest layer of disintegration. Seigel’s dimensions of integration gives the behavioralist a subterranean road map that mitigates against therapeutic “whack-a-mole.” It should be integrated into training programs at all accredited colleges of hypnotherapy.

Mind Management

Power from Within

Lee was chief executive of a Fortune 500 company. Used to working in a hive of thousands dedicated to translating his intentions into reality, upon retirement he wandered aimlessly in his mansion before deciding to run for national office.

Some might read the story and shrug “Why not?” Others watching the unfolding campaign wondered “What was he thinking?”

Life begins without power, a state survived only through the dedication of our parents. Thrust into adult independence we turn to our peers for support. This is the first step up the ladder of power – forming alliances.

Given talent, alertness and ambition, those associations are rapidly sorted by value. Focusing on becoming that indispensable link between our partners – either by talent or by guile – we attain the step of accomplishment. Our peers pursue us, offering professional, social and romantic rewards. We stride across the landscape of our chosen realm.

But that status is fragile. Our peers hunger for their own turn in the limelight. By our very visibility, we betray the secrets of our success, empowering them to push us aside. Sometimes that occurs by convention – Lee reached his company’s retirement age. Sometimes it happens through guile, such as with the infamous “Red Map” redistricting that cost so many Democrats their political careers. But it is almost always an ugly process. Status is the prop for our ego. Losing it is a type of psychological death.

Fighting that outcome is destructive and ultimately futile. More productively, we might charge forward. “My circle of associations is far larger than when I started – just think what greater things I can accomplish!” But why should they support us? They are fighting their own battles for status, or seeking to expand their own empires.

So we fall – and the greater the heights of our success, the more uncomfortable the landing. Sooner or later everyone is affected – whether a mother standing amid an empty nest or a rancher hanging up his spurs.

From that difficulty – whether metaphorically a dark box or a muddy, smoking-filled crater – power arises from within. To learn more, reach out and let’s open your mind to renewed purpose!

Mind Management

Quantum Time? Reversal!

In “The Cure Within,” Anne Harrington explored the narratives that have empowered the common wo/man to access the power of thought to heal the body. Universally, those narratives originated as rebellions against religious and medical conventions, and propagation was in the hands of a few charismatic individuals. Over time their published writings have given the narratives lives of their own.

Harrington traces the history of six narratives:

  • The Power of Suggestion – seek an authority who knows how to speak to the inner mind.
  • The Body Speaks – illness is often rooted in emotional trauma and can be cured when the trauma is released.
  • The Power of Positive Thinking – illness reflects spiritual adversity that clarifies the soul. Healing comes when the positive lessons are received.
  • Stress Kills – Western civilization prevents resolution of psychological conflict, and disease arises and persists until conflict is resolved.
  • Love Heals All Ills – self-love is the antidote to psychological conflict.
  • Eastern Ways – Asian cultures retain harmony that has been lost in the competitive Western world.

In summarizing her study, Harrington observes that the coexistence of these narratives proves that we still lack a fundamental understanding of the mind-body connection. This is despite the efforts of researchers who have studied the effects of meditation and positive thinking on our biochemistry. Demonstrably things change, but the effects vary with culture and affliction. Lacking a definitive mechanism, those seeking to share the benefits of healing visualizations are left only with stories to tell.

Harrington, however, omits one class of narratives that carries the cachet of scientific respectability: quantum spirituality. Proponents of this view draw upon the early philosophy of quantum physics, characterized by theorists seeking to justify their mathematical methods. The concepts include “wave-particle duality,” “wave-function collapse,” “resonance,” “tunneling,” and “time-reversal.” These concepts suggest the possibility that physical bodies may have non-local interactions across both space and time.

In “What the Bleep Do We Know?” a community of quantum physicists, philosophers and Eastern spiritual teachers elaborated on these metaphors, claiming that they explain mind-body connection and other types of spiritual experience. The problem is that when a competent physicist does the calculations, the strength of the quantum effects is miniscule. For this reason when Deepak Chopra goes to speak at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, the physicists shrug their shoulders and roll their eyes. Quantum mechanics does not account for spirituality. Like Harrington’s narratives, its spiritual appropriators simply encourage the public to explore spiritual experience.

Against this institutional inertia (in both communities), I have proposed a framework that has spirit as a natural consequence. The basic principles are simple:

  • Just as the atom is composed of smaller pieces, there is another layer of discrete structure in the particles (“fermions”) that physicists currently consider to be fundamental.
  • By construction, the hidden structure admits that charge may be decoupled from the fabric of space, becoming weightless. It is this weightless charge that composes spiritual structures.
  • The essence of “life” is for a spirit to enter a physical body with the goal of reorganizing and strengthening its structure. As that evolves, spirit disturbs the fabric of space, storing energy that can be drawn upon to accomplish “miracles.”
  • Interaction between our bodies tangles our spiritual structures. (This is why sex is called “intercourse.”)

Not only does the framework explain spirituality, it admits answers to a broad set of problems in fundamental physics (spanning both astrophysics and particle physics).

As regards Harrington’s narratives, the framework also suggests investigations that might help to resolve the methodological difficulties in the experiments that probe the mind-body connection. Simply: I would suggest that healing occurs most powerfully, as Jesus exemplified, when our virtue is witnessed by someone that loves us.

As known by every spiritually sophisticated mother.

Specializations

Lives in Both Directions

In her past-life regression (PLR) course, Michele Guzy invited Natalie Gianelli to channel the wisdom of Dr. Peebles, a historical figure who died in 1922. In the AHA pay-per-view course, the discussion of our era was fascinating: one participant asked about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and Peebles clarified that humanity is learning that fear is ineffectual. The Middle East was a cauldron that attracted global attention, helping to focus that realization. I was intrigued by the degree to which this matched my own spiritual engagement.

Then Michele asked about past-life regression and its validity. Here again Dr. Peebles replied with insights that match my own experience. Spirit sees our lives as holes in Swiss cheese – not sequential but linked by proximity to the spiritual effort that manifests most powerfully in them. He predicted that in six years, hypnotherapists would begin guiding people into lives in both directions.

Given the correspondences noted above, my response was to consider this claim seriously. Two points seem important. First – if life progression is possible, why don’t we do it already? And secondly – what is it about the standard regression procedures that biases it toward the past?

In the first case, we do have procedures for progression. Cheryl O’Neil’s Metaphysical Imagery program includes a progression journey that took me 1000 years into the future. Such procedures are not satisfying in the context of Peebles’ teaching, however, for Peebles was suggesting that the therapeutic procedure must allow the subconscious to identify any and all lives relevant to the presenting issue.

And here the standard regression procedure is biased. The formulations walk the client back through this life and into their mother’s womb, back to the “Universal White Light” that harbors our soul between lives. While in principle our future death also leads into that white light, the regression back to the womb matches our evolutionary perspective. In the material realm, problems manifest in the past and inspire solutions in the future. And our religious teachings also tend to that perspective: in the traditions of Abraham, original sin lies in the past, redemption in the future. In the Vedic traditions (including Buddhism), karma comes forward from the past, and enlightenment lies in the future.

Conversely, near-death experiences (NDEs) hold tantalizing hints that evolution unfolds through more complex temporal pathways. Common in NDEs is a realm of pure light, populated by those that cherish us and governed by our religious avatar. The future seems to reach back into the past, and we don’t need to die to witness its virtues. We just need to enter a profound hypnotic state – that being, of course, the most immediate consequence of a severe trauma (“The Worst is Over”, Acosta and Prager).

This brings me to my own process, formulated as an intern at the Hypnosis Motivation Institute upon receiving a pro bono submission requesting past-life regression. I hadn’t taken Guzy’s certification course, and so had only my dim memories of the first-semester PLR lecture to draw upon. Driving home I idly constructed the outline below. The pro bono client didn’t respond to my phone calls, but by serendipity one of my clients asked for PLR in his next session. I thought “What the heck?” and took him through two lives in the one-hour session using the protocol below.

My client was mature and seeking to understand wanderlust, rather than to resolve a phobia or body syndrome. The lives were peaceful and productive. That will not always be so, and by those doing this work routinely, the protocol below must be enhanced with anchors to facilitate return to the hypnotist’s context should overwhelming trauma be encountered.

The Protocol

In the cognitive portion of the session, probe the motivations for PLR. An avatar is selected to represent the virtues sought. The induction is followed by a brief imagery journey:

Walking on the shady side of a hill along a meadow just out of sight. Voices of friends and family drift in and out of hearing but being firmly on the path “from where you were to where you are going,” the journey continues onwards and upwards. As the way rises, a cloud settles from above, the mist enveloping comfortably while growing gently luminous. All sense of time and place fades.

Finally, the path rises through the mist and opens onto a dimly lit hilltop. All along the hilltop are mementos of this life: cherished possessions and experiences, as though walking through a kaleidoscope. Stepping finally onto clear ground, visible above the mist in all directions are other hilltops, with possessions and experiences representing other lives.

In viewing those hilltops, a spark leaps to alertness in the heart and mind – a spark that seems somehow to be present on those other hilltops.

Then the avatar strides out of the mist from the other side of the hill. Walking forward in greeting, all the virtues of the avatar settle around the client. The avatar posts itself alongside, as though a guardian.

And something seems to call – something familiar. Familiar not to flesh but to the eternal spark. Something calls from out of the mist and while the flesh cannot touch it the spark within yearns to grasp it. It is something that a child would cherish. The yearning grows stronger and stronger until it is overwhelming, and then, knowing that the material self is safely guarded, the spirit slips free and reaches down and is pulled, pulled, pulled through the mist.

And then you are there, holding it. You open your eyes and look at your feet. What do you see? And what are you holding?

Basics, Specializations

Hidden Messages

When we write a letter, we are conscious of sharing our thoughts with our reader. When handwriting, though, we also express deep subconscious attitudes.

Sit down with a piece of paper in front of you. Before you write, you pick a tool, and even that choice reveals something. How nuanced are your views? Do they change depending upon the audience? How important are your emotions to full understanding? Pencil, ball-point, roller-ball and felt-tip all address those expressive needs in differing degrees.

Then starting in the space of imagination, you put pen to paper near the top and at the left – the edge closest to you. As you compose the first line, the pen moves away from you – extending thoughts to your reader even as time advances into the future. Line-by-line, the pen moves away from your head, down toward your body.

The spacing on the page represents the directness and solidity of your engagement: letters as regards your thinking, words as regards your relationships, lines as regards your community, margins as regards your life.

As with the page in the large, so with each letter in detail. Verticals join the various realms of being (thought, society and body). As they flow up and down, loops suggest the degree to which others are brought into those interactions (wider means greater openness). Ovals in the middle range reflect social interaction, and openings and little loops reveal the patterns of our communication. Are we more open one side or the other? Do we tend to filter? Bowls reveal openness to new ideas, and from what source (self or other). Leading strokes suggest the concreteness of the commitments that motivate communication, and trailing strokes the principal context for their expression.

Given the wealth of detail on the page, even from a few lines a skilled handwriting analyst can determine a great deal about the writer’s personality. What is shocking to realize is how much processing the subconscious is doing as you make each mark on the page, injecting deep concerns regarding acceptance, competence, and stability.

Are you feeling a sea change in your personality? Are you beset by mixed messages in your relationships? Do you want to communicate more effectively to a specific party? Do you want to understand their priorities?

Are you ready to address the gap between your conscious goals and subconscious motivations?

If the answer to any of these questions is “yes,” contact me for a detailed handwriting analysis.