With the festive season being advertised already (!) I recall that last year I certainly ate too much. When speaking with a friend, he told me that they were not able to partake in so much chocolate related gluttony as his father had recently had a heart attack and so they were supporting him by eating healthily throughout the extended weekend of the festive period.
Last year my business partner Keith had a heart attack and we were incredibly worried. He has since been working hard on his physical activity and has regular visits to the hospital for his check ups and monitoring.
At that time I began researching the extent to which hypnosis can help reduce high blood pressure and a number of various other applications of hypnosis to help heart related issues. Here, I offer up a simple technique and strategy to help with this, as a result of my own findings.
There are a number of very impressive studies that show hypnosis as a great tool for treating hypertension and helping to lower blood pressure.
Back in 1977 Friedman and Taub conducted a study entitled The use of hypnosis and biofeedback procedures for essential hypertension and was published in the International Journal of Clinical and Experimental Hypnosis, 25: 335-347 and biofeedback, hypnosis and control groups were measured for effectiveness in lowering DBP (diastolic blood pressure). Biofeedback and hypnosis only showed significant reduction in DBP, with hypnosis having the best results.
When you examine the literature, hypnosis is seen to be a technique that fairly consistently can be used to lower blood pressure of people with hypertension.
Other interesting studies to take a look at for those interested, is that of Borckhardt (2002) entitled A case study examining the efficacy of a multi-modal psychotherapeutic intervention for hypertension again featured in the International Journal of Clinical and Experimental Hypnosis 50: 114-148. Also, a study by Sletvold, Jensen and Gotestam (1990) entitled The effect of specific hypnotic suggestions on blood pressure in normotensive subjects published in the Pavlovian Journal of Biological Science, 25: 20-24.
There are a number of other impressive studies too, but as I seem to write often, there are still not enough! Those of us in the hypnotherapy field would love to see more studies and research to support this kind of application of hypnosis for helping to lower blood pressure.
With this in mind, this technique is one using mental imagery and hypnosis to reduce high blood pressure.
Step One: Induce hypnosis. Then take a nice deep breath and as you exhale, allow your eyes to comfortably close.
Hold your dominant arm straight out in front of you, palm facing down and tune into the feelings within it.
Imagine as vividly as you can, that there is a large book (e.g. dictionary, encyclopaedia) resting on the back of your arm/hand, and every relaxed breath you exhale, imagine another one being placed on top of it making it feel as if it is getting heavier and heavier. Really engage your imagination and convince yourself that your arm feels heavier and heavier.
Affirm this by saying to yourself those words “heavier and heavier” repeatedly as you continue to let your imagination make the arm feel heavy. As it feels as if it is getting heavier and heavier, also imagine the arm starts to very slowly, but surely move downwards to your lap.
Tell yourself this with volition, do not allow other thoughts in to distract, repeat that sentiment, relax with the sentiment (too much effort or stress can impede the progress you make) and repeatedly tell yourself you go into hypnosis as you focus on the arm moving downwards and the body relaxing everywhere else.
When your hand reaches your lap, it rests, it relaxes and flops into a comfortable position. Now you have induced hypnosis (with absorption and focus), move on to step two.
I would add here though, if you know a progressive relaxation process to induce self-hypnosis, that would be a marvellous thing to do bearing in mind we are using hypnosis to relax and lower blood pressure.
Step Two: Start to engage your imagination and find yourself in a favourite place in nature. It can be somewhere you are creating right now in your mind, or somewhere you have been before, or any other favourite place outside.
Notice the sights, colours and shades of light that you can see all around you. Hear the sounds of life, notice the distance of sounds, even the sound of the breeze if there is one. Feel how safe and comfortable it is in this place, feel the temperature, the air and smell the aromas of that fresh air as it moves into your lungs through your nose.
Engage all your senses and tune into this place.
As you relax here, start to imagine that your body is relaxing as you enjoy the peacefulness and serenity all around you. Notice your muscles softening, notice that you are becoming more still as you tune in to the surroundings.
Tell yourself that you are drifting deeper into hypnosis, deeper into your mind as you continue to imagine being in this place as vividly as you can.
Once you have noticed that you are still, relaxed and tuned into this place in nature, then move on to the next step.
Step Three: Start to notice the plants in more detail around you. Start to notice the flowers and the shrubs – you decide to water them to help them enjoy being healthy in this place in nature.
Imagine somewhere nearby is a hosepipe of your mind, that starts at a nearby lake, and serves as part of the irrigation system for this beautiful place in nature in your mind. You pick it up and with your thoughts of watering and spraying the plants around you, the water begins to emerge from the hosepipe.
It begins to come out of the hosepipe faster and stronger and becomes tough to handle and keep a hold of, in fact, it wriggles out of your grip and sprays harder and faster and its bolts of fast water knock some of the shrubs over as it sprays.
Watch it firing water uncontrollably all over the area for a few moments, tell yourself you are going deeper inside of your mind as it happens and then move on to the next step.
Step Four: You calmly, positively and easily take a comfortable hold of the hosepipe and you instinctively start to breathe gently, deeply and purposefully.
As you do so, the water stream starts to react and respond to your thoughts, your intention and your level of control. The water stream starts to respond to the rate of your breathing and your thoughts of calmness and the flow of water becomes manageable, and easy and gentle…
Just watch as the stream of water flows gently and easily… And you go deeper inside your mind and you relax more as you watch it. Take some time to do this step and then start to water all the plants and flowers around you, nurturing them, watering them and get a sense of the landscape really benefiting from this sense of comfort, easiness and the gentle flow of the water coming out of the hosepipe. Flowing freely and with just the right pressure that is steady, even and has a really healthy rhythm to it.
The surroundings start to react and respond and the entire place starts to feel relaxed, calm and gentle again… The sounds, sights and feelings all tell you that everything is relaxed, calm and flowing with healthiness and vitality.
When you have enjoyed this for a while, move on to the next step.
Step Five: Now set the hosepipe at this healthy level of flow, to keep the area healthy and well and you sit back and just watch it happening around you.
As you do so, you breathe naturally and enjoy the fresh air. With each breath that you breathe you start to notice your own body beginning to synchronise with your surroundings… You can sense the flow of blood around your body adjusting itself to the correct and healthiest levels… Take some time and imagine that happening within you as you enjoy breathing the clean fresh healthy air…
Notice the easy, gentle rhythm of life flowing through you, imagine all the systems of your body joining in with the nature around you, setting itself to that way that is optimal for you… As you enjoy the scenery, breathing gently, letting the flow happen in a controllable and easily way before you.
Enjoy this for as long as you like, getting your body in sync with nature, knowing its healthiest levels and then move on to the final step.
Step Six: Tell yourself that this sessions works better each time you practice it, and commit to practicing it regularly. As you imagine the comfortable, soothing flow of life within yourself, bring all that balance and easiness with you as you wiggle your toes and fingers, take a couple of deeper, energising breaths, and then open your eyes.
Do practice this process, the more you practice it, the more beneficial the results will be for you as you lower your blood pressure using hypnosis.
Adam Eason, author of “The Science of Self-Hypnosis: The Evidence-Based Way to Hypnotise Yourself.”