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My research into neural re-training convinced me that beliefs I was holding onto regarding my ability to heal, past negative food outcomes and exposure to stress were torpedoing my progress. Finding no practical approach to the problem, I tried cognitive hypnotherapy. It’s essentially a way of hacking into your belief system and re-wiring the brain for health. This four week course, created by my friend and cognitive hypnotherapist Hazel Gale, features the same techniques we’ve employed to further my recovery.
Science backs hypnotherapy’s effect on histamine (read all about it in this post) but we’re not claiming this course will heal any condition. I do believe, and have experienced first hand, that these techniques will help open us up to the possibility of healing.
In 4 weeks you’ll learn how to:
Master your stress response*
Re-wire your brain for health and happiness
Let go of negative dietary beliefs
Accept healing is truly possible
Tired of trying to figure out what to eat everyday? Take the hassle out of meal planning here.
This course comprises:
Personalised attention from Hazel and myself in a private Facebook Group
Purchase this course today and you’ll receive an email directing you to the first week’s course materials and an invitation to join the Facebook group. Every seven days you’ll get a new email with that week’s link.
Ready to open up a whole new healing mindset?
Here’s an interview with Hazel on how cognitive hypnotherapy works.
*Stress is a known mast cell and histamine trigger.
Yasmina: I’m here today with Hazel Gale, cognitive hypnotherapist, my cognitive hypnotherapist. It’s a really interesting field, which has only appeared, to my knowledge, in the last couple of years, and I can say that I have been using it with great success for about 6 months now, I think it was. How long has it been, Hazel, since I’ve started working with you?
Hazel: Yes, not that long. Maybe a little longer, but yeah, not far off that.
Yasmina: Okay, well, whatever it is it’s been working really well. I’m really excited to be interviewing you here today for my readers, and also to talk about this great course that you have I have come up with together. Well, you, really, with a little bit of help from me. I think it’s going to do a lot of good for a lot of people. Can you please, Hazel, explain a little bit about what cognitive hypnotherapy is and how you tend to apply it and in what situations you apply it.
Hazel: Sure. Okay, so, basically cognitive hypnotherapy is an amalgamation of other styles. It’s a little like cherry picking from many different therapy styles and finding the ones which seem to be most appropriate for the individual client in the particular moment that you’re talking to them. So we’re completely against anything that happens with a protocol or set procedure, or anything which labels people with a particular problem and says, “Because you have anxiety or depression or whatever it is, you will be treated in this way.” So it becomes a really fluid way of working. The main areas that we work within are – there is influence from traditional hypnotherapy, of course – but actually it’s quite different from traditional hypnotherapy. We’re grounded in a lot more technical and rational sort of stuff which comes from NLP, positive psychology and there are elements of psychotherapy in there, and Gestalt therapy, all of which comes together in this package, which means that you can move between the styles in any given session.
The things that people see a cognitive hypnotherapist are really quite diverse. You could be seeing somebody for really emotional stuff like anxiety or confidence issues, or you could be seeing people for quite physiological presenting issues, which you recognize have an emotional connection, which I believe we’ll be talking a little bit about later on. It’s very diverse, the amount of things that you will see in a regular week of practice. Personally I specialize in working with people who have confidence and self-esteem issues, and particularly those who are struggling with performance stuff and chronic fatigue, because I have both suffered from chronic fatigue badly in the past and have overcome it with cognitive hypnotherapy, and I did that through being a full time athlete, so I’m well aware of the pressures that one can put themselves under by being in a performance job.
Yasmina: What I found interesting about our sessions together and continue to find interesting about our sessions together is I have tried hypnosis in the past. I tried a session once with somebody and I’ve been doing self hypnosis on and off for many years, which I thought would be really great, because the book that I used helped you come up with your own script, you being the best person to really get into your brain and fish it all out. What I loved about working with you was I felt that the process of getting at the root of what was going on was much easier, because you really got in there and you asked the really important questions that made me think really hard about the genesis of the issue that I am dealing with. We spend a really long time talking about it before we actually get to the hypnosis part.
Hazel: Yeah, I think that’s one of the main differences between cognitive hypnotherapy and the more traditional stuff. Which is not to put down any of the traditional hypnotherapy at all, because it absolutely can be brilliant for people. It’s just not the way we tend to work. In cognitive hypnotherapy, rather than thinking of the trance state, or hypnosis, as this spacial state which one gets put in by a therapist in order to fix their problem. Instead we look at trance state as something that we get in an out of every day, and that being positive and negative versions of it. A positive trance state, for example, would be being completely in love with somebody and absolutely absorbed in what they’re saying, or watching a great film, or being in flow state in sport.
The negative trance state would be being hijacked by a negative emotion like anxiety. If you imagine a spider phobia, then the fear that comes on upon seeing a spider is a negative trance state. In many ways it’s the way that I see my job, rather than being to hypnotize people in order to fix them, it’s actually about looking into the thought processes behind the negative trance states in order to disrupt those processes, which is more about de-hypnotizing them out of the problem state than putting them into some special state which fixes it. And so you need to know exactly what the brain is doing in those moments, when it sees a spider and produces the anxiety. A lot of the time that will be to do with memories and things that have been experienced in the past, logged as dangerous and therefor anything that looks remotely similar to them in the present moment triggers an emotion, so that anything with a phobic pattern will work like that.
There’s many other ways to work out what equations, basically, the brain is running and how to interrupt them so that you get these little pockets of awareness where you would usually just be going off on a negative spiral. Those pockets will act as windows of opportunity if you like, and are essential, because they don’t just mean that people can get better, they mean that people can get better in a way that feels that they’re in control of their own progress, which is enormously empowering, and also means that when they learn these processes they can apply in them to other areas in their life on their own, without having to go and see a hypnotherapist for another session for each time something goes wrong.
Yasmina: Absolutely. I mean, something I found very interesting over the last couple of years is the greatest strides I’ve made in healing is by understanding the negative feedback loop that exists in my brain. I honestly believe that many of us were sick at some point, or continue to be sick in some way, but that our brain has sensitized us to becoming fearful of food, in this example, or certain triggers, because in the past when we were very sick we had a very, very bad reaction, but that is not necessarily the reality of today, and it’s not necessarily the fact that we need to have this incredible response.
It’s partially, at least for some of us, dealing with mast cell and histamine issues. It’s the immune system misidentifying or exaggerating a response to otherwise harmless foods and situations. This is where a lot of the new brain retraining programs have come into play, the Gupta Programme, the DNRS, which I found very interesting but wholly impractical to put into practice on a daily basis. That’s why I love the work that we have done together. After that one hour that we spent together, it’s 15 minutes a day to rewire the brain for that new, I hesitate to use the word because it sounds really new agy, but paradigm. Just really quickly, I just want to tell people a little bit about some of the research that we’ve found.
Sadness can intensify your histamine reactions, and that was discovered through hypnotizing people to be sad or be happy or be mad. Hypnosis can decrease the size of skin histamines reactions, so the wheel or the hive. Hypnotherapy for migraine lowers tryptase and histamine levels, tryptase being one of the mast cell mediators released along with histamine with mast cells. It’s involved along with allergies and also anaphylactic shock. Hypnosis and visualization can prevent mast cell de-granulation, thereby preventing the mast cells from dumping histamine and other inflammatory molecules into the body. These studies are linked to in my blog post, so you can check that out for yourself.
Hazel, how does the process work for somebody like me. Can you explain a little bit about how you address what’s going on with people who are dealing with mast cell issues and histamine. We do understand you are not a doctor and I always say, “I’m not a doctor.” We’re not treating an actual condition. What we’re doing is we’re trying to reframe the way that the brain approaches a situation.
Hazel: Absolutely. It should never be viewed as a cure. That’s not to say that you can’t have dramatic effects from it, but it’s not about physically curing the problem as such, although the results can be so diverse that you don’t know whether people could go completely into a place where the problem isn’t actually a physiological issue anymore. Nobody really knows exactly how that comes about through the psychological means of treating it. It’s possible.
Yasmina: Hazel, for my listeners, it would be great if you could outline what happens in a typical session. I’ve booked an appointment with you, if I’m in London I can come to your office and have the session with you in person. Otherwise we do it by Skype. So what can we expect in a session.
Hazel: The first thing that we need to do would be to talk about the problem and to work out what it is that your brain is connection to the issue. One of the things we really want to look out for are strong emotional feelings, especially ones with that are quite self referencing. Negative personal beliefs like, “I’m not good enough”, “I’m not lovable”. These sound dramatic, but the thing is that when somebody is suffering with debilitating physiological condition, it could be that one of those types of negative beliefs feed off it. So just part of the unconscious mind believing that has stimulated these ailments in the first place.
It could just be that when they have an illness those emotions are chucked up and made more painful by the symptoms themselves, so that when they’re having a bout of illness it causes them to feel particularly negative about themselves. It’s those negative feelings that we’ll trace. If there is something in their past which is causing them to be particularly sensitized to that issue then that might be addressed. Or there may be any number of other processes that we might use to help them get in touch with and understand the root of those emotions and how their brain organizes them, and then to find ways to divert them and create these windows of opportunity where they can have a different choice. To develop a more conscious understanding of their behavior at that point, which could change the way the body manifests the problem.
Yasmina: One particular session really sticks out in my mind, and that’s when I asked you for some help with my sleep. Now, my insomnia has improved tremendously over the years, but histamine does keep you awake. It messes with the circadian rhythm and it can make you feel quite tense and anxious at bedtime when the inflammation of all that you’ve eaten throughout the day catches up with you. You took me through this process whereby we discovered that I had some serious childhood fears that were working with the histamine and creating this negative feedback loop where I was actually scared to go to sleep.
Once we identified that problem you gave me a method on this 15 minute hypnotherapy audio that you gave me, to deal with that fear and to slowly desensitize myself to that fear and just let it go. It was tremendously successful. I used it for a couple of weeks and I just started falling asleep without even trying. It was just absolutely insane because I’ve never been able to do that. Now I haven’t used the audio for, I don’t know, maybe a month or two, and I started having some problems sleeping again because I’ve been hyper dosing with vitamin B12, which is problematic for a lot of us, because my body needed it. I started having problems sleeping again and so I did the audio, and, bang, within two nights I was sleeping normally again. It was great.
Hazel: That’s fantastic. The thing about the audios, what they do, if you have a session what they do is condense hours worth of conversations and associations made into 15 minutes. Even the ones that we’re going to be putting out in this process, what they do is they cause you, in a relaxed state, to make new associations with things that were once tricky. With the sleep type of issue, what we have done is we’ve created and imagery, with you you have imagery but it wouldn’t necessarily be the visual imagery with everybody. It might be a certain sound, it might be a certain feeling, but connecting positive associations to the old negative triggers like sleep or like a type of food which causes people a certain amount of fear. All sort of other areas could be dealt with in this way. It’s just repeating. That positive association teaches your brain to think about it in a different way.
Yasmina: Absolutely. Just another quick example, when I failed my driving test the first time and I called you in a panic the next morning and I said, “I think I’m going to fail again and it’s a problem because I really need to pass this thing.” We did this great session where you had me visualize doing my yoga, which is where I feel completely in control and just very at peace with myself in a handstand or a headstand or whatever, and that positive association, I still think of it now. You’ve given me something great to work with, which is when I’m facing a situation that I think is just overwhelming, I just visualize myself in a headstand or doing an impossible back bend or balancing on one hand, and I think, yeah, I can deal with this.
Hazel: Excellent. Yeah, you have this go-to symbolism for your own personal resources. The fact that we all have everything within us that we need to overcome our problem. This is particularly pertinent with things like histamine issue, because they are the body producing a reaction that is not necessarily needing to make. It’s all coming from inside. The body does know how to do what it needs to do, it just that it’s not necessarily doing it right at the time. If we’re working on the principle that we already have everything within us that we need to overcome the problem, and then it’s just about unlocking those things and organizing it in your mind in a way that means you can access it and use it, either consciously or just unconsciously and you can start to feel better without really necessarily knowing why.
Yasmina: Absolutely. Why don’t you tell us a little bit about this course that you and I, but mostly you, have put together, because I really wanted to shout with happiness at the amazing progress that I have made since I’ve been working with you. I spoke with you and you very kindly offered a way so that could make it more cost effective for people. Tell us a little about the course and how it was put together and what people can expect on it.
Hazel: What we wanted to do was really break it down in to easy stages. We’ve gone with a four week course. With each week there are easy assignments and a recording to listen to. The first thing that you are doing week one is just about relaxation, but learning how to relax. I’m not just talking about imagining sitting on a beach and breathing. It’s about really getting in touch with that your body feels like when it relaxes and then anchoring it. Anchoring is an NLP term, which basically means positive associations. You can create some kind of anchor, usually connected to a physical movement, like pinching your thumb and forefinger together would be an easy one.
In the recording you’re guided into a relaxed state and then you create this physical anchor. The more times you repeat that the stronger the association becomes. It gets to the point where you can really depend on using, just in the same way you could use the image of yourself in the headstand, to access the state of calm control. This will allow you to create either a visual or a trigger word or physical movement that can bring you quickly back into a relaxed state, which is essential for any kind of healing work because your body must be in a place of psychological rest before this healing functions of the body can actually work, can actually do their job. So that’s week one.
Week two we move into more specific healing suggestion work. There’s a new recording for week two, which is about coming up with metaphorical imagery, your own personal metaphoric imagery. Nothing is imposed on anybody, which you develop in order to tackle your issues. If you had one particular symptom the first time you do this course you might focus on that. You might come back to the recording which, of course, you can keep, six months later when you have a different symptom and then apply it to that and come up with different imagery.
The third week stays with the guided imagery but it works specifically on the histamine stuff. We’ve got suggestions which have been designed to boost levels of DAO and HNMT, which help you break down the histamine in the system in a way which is really targeted for these problems. Again, you’ll be coming up with imagery. All of this imagery will be stuff that you can use throughout the say just to bring to mind in a matter of seconds the work that you’ve been doing the previous night by listening to the recordings so it becomes a part of your day, it becomes a part of your life.
Yasmina: I have a question about the DAO, HNNT thing. I mean, we’re not actually saying that we’re boosting the levels. My understanding is we’re offering the brain a way to resolve what’s going on with us in a way that’s logical, but it’s not necessarily that we’re telling the body to produce more. Could you elaborate a little bit on that? Am I right?
Hazel: Yeah. I mean, again, it’s all done through suggestions and symbolism, so it’ll be different for every person. But it’s about coming up with images that encourage your body, usually in quite a metaphorical way, to heal itself. Now, we can do this under the assumption that your body knows what needs to happen more than we do. It’s not that we’re giving you a drug for boosting a particular hormone. It’s not as obvious, it’s not as basic. It’s much more complex. It’s trusting the unconscious mind would hopefully do that for you.
Yasmina: There’s a great book if people want to read a little bit more about this. Dr. Lissa Rankin, that’s Lissa with two s’s, Mind Over Medicine, and also Dr. David Hamilton, How Your Mind Can Heal Your Body, and Bruce Lipton’s, was it Bruce Lipton? The Biology of Belief. I’ll have to check on that, but I’m pretty sure that’s the title. Okay, and so week four?
Hazel: Week four joins everything together where week four, there’s really no specific recording for week four. The idea is that you go back and you use all three of the recordings from before, because obviously you’re going to be going through this process through the entire, so you don’t want to let go of them even though you have their important points. You pick one according to how you feel each day and you use this program to create some positive habits and explore the things that you can do personally to improve your condition. It might be that there are practical measures that you can take. It might be that using some of the cognitive processes to overcome the negative emotions is going to be one of the most effective things for you. What I really want people to have a sense of agency in all of this, because that’s the most empowering way to be able to get better. It’s not about lying back and hoping everything gets fixed. It’s about being at the heart of it yourself.
One of the things I encourage people to do in week four, and actually I would encourage them to do it for a few weeks after, is a technique called Three Gifts, which was originally designed as a part of the positive psychology approach. What this asks you to do is every day, at a certain point in the evening, you look back on your day and you write down three positive things that happened to you in that day. It’s enormously powerful. Actually, it’s been shown to be more powerful than antidepressants over a twenty-one day period for people with quite severe depression. What it does is it causes the brain to anticipate this task of writing down three things at the end of the day, especially if that’s relatively difficult for people, of course with depression it would be. Then it goes about looking for things to be able to put in this category of “positive” through the day. Of course what they end up doing is creating more positive things, find more positive things, so that after just a few days of doing this your mind is trained to see the brighter side of things. It sounds extremely simple, but it’s enormously effective for changing your perspective on life.
Yasmina: It absolutely is, yeah. Hazel, I wanted to get your personal story, because it’s interesting, and I had told you this before, I had actually tried to book in with another hypnotherapist who I had seen mentioned in a newspaper article by chance on day when I was sitting on the tube, and I called his office and he was booked out while I was in London, but his secretary said that you are the person that this very well know hypnotherapist, you are the person who gives him his hypnotherapy and that I should definitely go see you. I checked out your website and your story really hit home for me because I saw that you had been through something really similar and I knew immediately that you would understand what I was going through. Please tell everybody a little bit about how you came to this and what your experience was.
Hazel: For the last 10 years I was competing as a, first off, a kick boxer and then a boxer, which is obviously a very demanding sport. It’s got a fear factor that not necessarily every other sport will have. On top of that it’s something where your diet is enormously important because you have to make weight for competitions. It’s really, really stressful in many, many ways. I was over training. I pushed myself into a state of chronic fatigue by just over doing it and ignoring the signals from my body in the way that I’m sure that many people that are listening to this are going to sympathize with. It got to the point where I was really struggling with my training. Actually, instead of thinking, “Well, now I have to stop,” that was when I pushed myself even harder. Feel like I was lagging on my training so I should go for runs in the middle of the night. I just wore myself down into a complete state, really.
Then I went to see all these medical doctors who weren’t able to help much. I exhausted Western medicinal options. Went to see a lot of different Eastern medicine practitioners. I made big changes to my nutritional program. All those things helped a little bit, but nothing really, really managed to shift it, and I was getting quite desperate. In the end the person who managed to make the big change for me was when I went to see Trevor Silvester, who’s the person who taught me aCognitive Hypnotherapy. We did a timeline regression process looking into the emotions that were attached to my illness. My illness made me feel disconnected, it made me feel like I couldn’t be the best of myself which made me feel like I wasn’t a good enough person for other people. I felt like I needed to get approval from other people by means of getting big titles and things like that. This was the way that I made myself feel attractive and worthwhile as a human being. So this illness was making that feel like it was taken away from me, which was the root to all of it.
When we did – for me it was a reframe – it all went back to a really young sports day and my little brain made some silly conclusions about needing to win in order to be lovable with my dad, who was often away in those days. He happened to be at this one. It all came down to this really simple 5 minute interaction between my father and I when I was younger, and re-framing that, again I can’t say concretely with proof that this was the thing that made me better, but I know in my heart that it was. This was the point around doing this time that everything started to shift. Yeah, re-framing that, and then working with my recordings and opening my mind up to the connection between my body and my emotions solved everything. When it was that effected, I absolutely had to study in it, because I needed to get this out to other people, particularly sports people at that time.
Yasmina: Wow. That’s wonderful. I’m so glad you decided to pursue this, because your helping me and a bunch of other people. I know a lot of people that I have talked to about you have scheduled sessions with you and, of course, you are available for private sessions at hazelgale.co.uk. That’s . co . uk. The link will be in the post accompanying this audio.
The course is going to be structured in a way that I will be there answer questions on the weekly offerings, so there will be interaction on the site itself and also the supplemental Facebook group with Hazel and I answering questions. It is going to be hands on. It’s not like we are signing you up to a course and that’s it. You are going to have the opportunity to talk to us, to talk to other people on the course, if you wish, or you can sign up anonymously so you don’t have to share your name with anybody.
Thanks so much for joining us here today, Hazel. That’s hazelgale, G-A-L-E, hazelgale.co.uk.
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