Hypnotherapy Made Me Feel — and Look — Better Than I Had In Years

Just one session completely rewired my deep-rooted insecurities.

Hypnosis Made Me Feel — and Look — Better Than I Had In Years

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"Deep sleep," said my hypnotherapist in a quick voice and snap of her fingers. Swiftly, I fell back onto the couch and into a hypnotic state.

This was my first time getting hypnotized. I'd been in different types of therapy for over 15 years to treat my acute anxiety and depression, and while I've always been open-minded to alternative treatments, I had never had the opportunity to do this one. Up until this moment, the only exposure I’d had to hypnosis had been in a theatrical context where people unwillingly dance like chickens or bark at their friends.

So, when the Ritz-Carlton New York, Central Park reached out to share the hotel’s new hypnotherapy wellness experience, I jumped at the opportunity to try it. I was experiencing heightened stress as I was contemplating major life changes. Doubt and insecurity whirlpooled through my body 24/7, and no amount of meditation apps or deep breathing had helped change that.

Two weeks after emailing with the Ritz, I found myself in the Central Park-facing suite, sitting on a cream-colored couch, hoping for a solution to the darkness eating me inside but skeptical that hypnotherapy would do anything. After all, I had been in all sorts of therapies for so long — how much could a 90-minute session actually do?

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Courtesy of Ritz-Carlton

A day prior to the session, I had hopped on a 10-minute call with Ginger Gibson, a New Jersey-based holistic health practitioner and Hypnosis Motivation Institute-certified hypnotherapist. During the call, we went over what I had been feeling and what I hoped to get from our session.

“I want to find purpose and get in tune with who I am and what I want to do,” I shared half-heartedly, as if such a desire was ridiculous. I had been toying with a few ideas on how to change my life and finding it difficult to sync what I wanted with how I was feeling. “I’m nervous and scared; I want to feel confident in my decisions, peace, relaxation — I want to be happy.”  

Gibson took notes and walked me through what we’d do and what hypnotherapy was. For starters, I’d be awake the whole time and experiencing a trance-like feeling similar to that in-between stage when you’re still kind of sleeping and on your way to feeling awake. There would not be a single moment where I would feel like I didn’t have control over my mind.

The conscious mind is categorized into five brain waves: beta, alpha, theta, delta, and gamma. Hypnosis happens on the theta wave where you’re in a deeply relaxed state. Here, hypnosis opens your mind to be more open to suggestions that help with change. In beta (which is the wavelength we’re on when we’re awake and conscious), it’s easy to fall into patterns based on past experiences

On a primitive level, Gibson explains that our instinct is to survive. For those looking to make changes in their lives, convincing the conscious mind to go through with change can be very challenging as your instinct reminds you that no matter how positive you logically know this change will be, you’ve been able to survive your present. Your subconscious tells your conscious not to change, or creates intense hesitation, because you don’t know if you can survive a new situation, whereas you already know you can survive what you’re currently living. As someone looking to make a change, Gibson and I were going to work on making my subconscious less hesitant about it.

A full-body massage was part of the Ritz-Carlton’s hypnotherapy wellness experience, so before I met with Gibson I was able to physically unwind thanks to a 90-minute massage. With a few knots in my upper and lower back, my body was a lot less tense. I began to breathe.

I’d spent half my life in fight or flight mode. I was fighting and trying so hard in every aspect of my life, only for those efforts to go unappreciated or ignored — it was never enough. I felt depleted of motivation and was riddled with nerves. The level of burnout I felt every day weighed down my chest as if someone were stepping on it, slowly digging their heels into the cavity between my ribs. I was physically sick the day of the hypnosis, which Gibson said didn’t surprise her due to all the weight I was carrying. This treatment couldn’t have come at a better moment.

She explained that hypnotherapy is a combination of cognitive talk therapy and hypnosis. So, for the first 45 minutes of our session, we talked about my behavioral patterns and what I wanted to get out of the session. I repeated a lot of what we had said during our 10-minute phone call, and she took notes along the way. (She later explained that this was to use my own words when doing the hypnotherapy so my subconscious would better accept them.) Then, we went on to the hypnosis portion of the session.

She started by asking me a series of 36 questions to test my suggestibility — how inclined I am to accept and act on suggestions. “Do you prefer reading fiction rather than non-fiction?” “Have you ever walked in your sleep during your adult life?” “Do you feel comfortable holding hands or hugging someone that you're in a relationship with while in front of other people?” To each question I either nodded or shook my head.


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I was sitting on the couch of the hotel suite and Gibson instructed me to prop my left arm up on the arm rest with my two feet placed flat on the floor, my back relaxed and my eyes closed. Slowly, she started telling me how light my fingers and wrists were becoming. “The hand will lift and continue to rise up higher, just as light as a feather drifting and floating up with every breath that you take,” she continued. At some point during the dialogue, I did indeed feel how my left wrist propped up, and little by little my arm began to lift as she guided my movements. “And deep sleep,” she said the moment my fingers touched my cheek. The hypnosis was underway.

The first few minutes involved a lot of visualizations. My negative feelings became birds I freed. I saw light and warmth move through all the veins in my body. Then, I saw myself fall back into a white, billowy cloud. That’s when I had a coughing fit.

“Oh shit,” I thought. “I’ve ruined it.”

Gibson encouraged me to take a moment to catch my breath and drink some water. I was so sure I had just ruined something good — after all, we had just spent so much time getting me to this calm, peaceful state. After feeling as if I had coughed up a lung, I was skeptical I’d be able to get pack to that point. Once I felt better, I closed my eyes and counted back from the number five.

“Deep sleep,” she said with a snap of her fingers.

And that’s when I truly felt the power of hypnosis for the first time. I still felt in control of my mind, but automatically I fell back into the couch and into the hypnotic state. “Holy shit,” I thought. “This is legit.”

We went back to visualizations for a bit before she told me she was about to begin speaking to my subconscious. This is where the hypnotherapy was really going to happen. This is what I was here for.

Using words I had spoken during the talk therapy part of our session, she began to encourage my subconscious to make the changes I was feeling uneasy about making. “You are progressing and moving towards what you're really here to do, what you really want, and who you really are,” she said. Every word resonated with what I was grappling with, every sentence spoken so mindfully. I never wanted it to stop.

Of course, it had to. Our 90-minute session wrapped up and Gibson quietly exited the room. I was encouraged to take my time and slowly ease back into the day, maybe even nap. For the remainder of the day, I felt light, calm, and rested — as if I had slept well every night for the last decade. I can’t remember ever feeling so at peace.

That in of itself would be worth the experience, but the benefits of hypnotherapy only continued to show up as time went by. When I began to think about the changes I wanted to make, instead of feeling nervous and sad that I was about to end a chapter, I felt grateful for the past and confident moving into the future. Things that reminded me of what I was leaving behind no longer triggered a negative response. When I thought about the next chapter of my life, I knew in my gut that I’d succeed — there wasn’t even an ounce of the imposter syndrome I’d spent most of my life battling.

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I saw some physical changes, too. For starters, the cough that’d been bothering me for over a month vanished completely within a few days. Then, the breakouts that had riddled my face on-and-off completely disappeared. (Who needs prescription acne medication when you can get hypnotherapy instead?) To that last bit, Manju Dawkins, MD, a board-certified dermatologist and selfmade advisor, explains that chronic stress and anxiety cause both your cortisol and catecholamines levels to rise, which in turn causes increased sebum production and inflammation. “Chronic stress disrupts the functioning of your skin,” she explains. “When anxiety is controlled, the skin can best perform its job to hold moisture in and protect you from harmful germs.”

It's been two months since my hypnotherapy session and I’m still reaping the benefits of it. As a result of the confidence it instilled, I’ve gone through major life changes without doubting myself once. I have a much clearer vision of what my purpose is which has made me a much happier person. People I’m close to have commented on how much calmer I look and sound, and I completely agree with their observations. I feel exponentially better.

In one session, hypnotherapy was able to achieve what I hadn’t been able to in years of therapy. That’s not a coincidence, Gibson shared a prominent study that compared cognitive behavioral therapy, psychotherapy, and hypnotherapy. It found that approximately 600 hours of traditional psychotherapy resulted in approximately 38% improvement rate per presenting issue, behavioral therapy expected to have a 72% improvement rate after 22 sessions, and hypnotherapy expected to have a 93% recovery rate after six sessions.

 Consider me a firm believer.

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