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40 Fun Facts About Sleep You Probably Didn’t Know… (Or Were Too Tired to Think About)

National Sleep Research Project

-The record for the longest period without sleep is 18 days, 21 hours, 40 minutes during a rocking chair marathon. The record holder reported hallucinations, paranoia, blurred vision, slurred speech and memory and concentration lapses.

– It’s impossible to tell if someone is really awake without close medical supervision. People can take cat naps with their eyes open without even being aware of it.

– Anything less than five minutes to fall asleep at night means you’re sleep deprived. The ideal is between 10 and 15 minutes, meaning you’re still tired enough to sleep deeply, but not so exhausted you feel sleepy by day.

– A new baby typically results in 400-750 hours lost sleep for parents in the first year

– One of the best predictors of insomnia later in life is the development of bad habits from having sleep disturbed by young children.

– The continuous brain recordings that led to the discovery of REM (rapid eye-movement) sleep were not done until 1953, partly because the scientists involved were concerned about wasting paper.

– REM sleep occurs in bursts totaling about 2 hours a night, usually beginning about 90 minutes after falling asleep.

– Dreams, once thought to occur only during REM sleep, also occur (but to a lesser extent) in non-REM sleep phases. It’s possible there may not be a single moment of our sleep when we are actually dreamless.

– REM dreams are characterized by bizarre plots, but non-REM dreams are repetitive and thought-like, with little imagery – obsessively returning to a suspicion you left your mobile phone somewhere, for example.

– Certain types of eye movements during REM sleep correspond to specific movements in dreams, suggesting at least part of the dreaming process is analogous to watching a film

– No-one knows for sure if other species dream but some do have sleep cycles similar to humans.

– Elephants sleep standing up during non-REM sleep, but lie down for REM sleep.

Some scientists believe we dream to fix experiences in long-term memory, that is, we dream about things worth remembering. Others reckon we dream about things worth forgetting – to eliminate overlapping memories that would otherwise clog up our brains.

– Dreams may not serve any purpose at all but be merely a meaningless byproduct of two evolutionary adaptations – sleep and consciousness.

– REM sleep may help developing brains mature. Premature babies have 75 per cent REM sleep, 10 per cent more than full-term bubs. Similarly, a newborn kitten, puppy, rat, or hamsters experiences only REM sleep, while a newborn guinea pig (which is much more developed at birth) has almost no REM sleep at all.

– Scientists have not been able to explain a 1998 study showing a bright light shone on the backs of human knees can reset the brain’s sleep-wake clock.

– British Ministry of Defense researchers have been able to reset soldiers’ body clocks so they can go without sleep for up to 36 hrs. Tiny optical fibers embedded in special spectacles project a ring of bright white light (with a spectrum identical to a sunrise) around the edge of soldiers’ retinas, fooling them into thinking they have just woken up. The system was first used on US pilots during the bombing of Kosovo.

– Seventeen hours of sustained wakefulness leads to a decrease in performance equivalent to a blood alcohol-level of 0.05%.

– The 1989 Exxon Valdez oil spill off Alaska, the Challenger space shuttle disaster and the Chernobyl nuclear accident have all been attributed to human errors in which sleep-deprivation played a role.

– The NRMA estimates fatigue is involved in one in 6 fatal road accidents.

– Exposure to noise at night can suppress immune function even if the sleeper doesn’t wake. Unfamiliar noise, and noise during the first and last two hours of sleep, has the greatest disruptive effect on the sleep cycle.

– The “natural alarm clock” which enables some people to wake up more or less when they want to is caused by a burst of the stress hormone adrenocorticotropin. Researchers say this reflects an unconscious anticipation of the stress of waking up.

– Some sleeping tablets, such as barbiturates suppress REM sleep, which can be harmful over a long period.

– In insomnia following bereavement, sleeping pills can disrupt grieving.

– Tiny luminous rays from a digital alarm clock can be enough to disrupt the sleep cycle even if you do not fully wake. The light turns off a “neural switch” in the brain, causing levels of a key sleep chemical to decline within minutes.

– To drop off we must cool off; body temperature and the brain’s sleep-wake cycle are closely linked. That’s why hot summer nights can cause a restless sleep. The blood flow mechanism that transfers core body heat to the skin works best between 18 and 30 degrees. But later in life, the comfort zone shrinks to between 23 and 25 degrees – one reason why older people have more sleep disorders.

– A night on the grog will help you get to sleep but it will be a light slumber and you won’t dream much.

– After five nights of partial sleep deprivation, three drinks will have the same effect on your body as six would when you’ve slept enough.

– Humans sleep on average around three hours less than other primates like chimps, rhesus monkeys, squirrel monkeys and baboons, all of whom sleep for 10 hours.

– Ducks at risk of attack by predators are able to balance the need for sleep and survival, keeping one half of the brain awake while the other slips into sleep mode.

– Ten per cent of snorers have sleep apnea, a disorder which causes sufferers to stop breathing up to 300 times a night and significantly increases the risk of suffering a heart attack or stroke.

– Snoring occurs only in non-REM sleep

– Teenagers need as much sleep as small children (about 10 hrs) while those over 65 need the least of all (about six hours). For the average adult aged 25-55, eight hours is considered optimal

– Some studies suggest women need up to an hour’s extra sleep a night compared to men, and not getting it may be one reason women are much more susceptible to depression than men.

– Feeling tired can feel normal after a short time. Those deliberately deprived of sleep for research initially noticed greatly the effects on their alertness, mood and physical performance, but the awareness dropped off after the first few days.

– Diaries from the pre-electric-light-globe Victorian era show adults slept nine to 10 hours a night with periods of rest changing with the seasons in line with sunrise and sunsets.

– Most of what we know about sleep we’ve learned in the past 25 years.

– As a group, 18 to 24 year-olds deprived of sleep suffer more from impaired performance than older adults.

– Experts say one of the most alluring sleep distractions is the 24-hour accessibility of the internet.

– The extra-hour of sleep received when clocks are put back at the start of daylight in Canada has been found to coincide with a fall in the number of road accidents.

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Take Some Time and Sleep On It

The Precious Unconscious

In the last article, we learned about brainwaves and brainwave states, as related to the hypnotherapy process. We talked about the conscious and subconscious mind in detail. But what about the unconscious mind, or the state of sleep?

Paying the Price of Keeping Up With the Jones’

In today’s society, we are go go go. Sleep is something that tends to fall by the wayside in order to get everything done that we want to do in a day. But what most people don’t know is just how vital sleep is for our health, performance, and ultimately our survival. In June, 60 Minutes did a show on sleep, its importance, the repercussions of not getting enough, and the brain’s responses to lack of sleep.

Just as Important as Food

During one study, lab rats were deprived of sleep for 5 days. What happened? They died. This means that sleep is just as important to our survival as food! However, people don’t want to believe that they need to sleep because it puts a damper on how much they can get done. So what do they do? They “compromise” by getting a couple of hours a sleep a day.

Why Shut the Body Down?

What most people don’t know are the proven decompensations when a body does not get 7.5-8 hours of sleep a night. That’s right, 7.5-8 hours! If you don’t get that amount, you are considered sleep-deprived. And the consequences of sleep-deprivation take effect immediately–after only one night! These consequences include slowed reaction time, impaired judgment, poor concentration and decision-making, and difficulties learning and remembering. Now, because we are exposed to external “compensations,” such as daylight and caffeine, we do have the ability to delay some of those negative consequences for a day or two. But certainly not indefinitely.

I’m Fine!

“So what?” you’re thinking. “I may be considered sleep-deprived, but I am functioning just fine!” Well, believe it or not, you’re not. Scientists have found that this type of response is quite common among sleep-deprived individuals; they have no sense of their limitations; they believe they are used to and have adapted to lack of sleep. This simply is not true, and the fallout of limited sleep is dramatic.

Hmmm…Fat, Sick and Unstable

Studies show that when a person gets less than 7.5-8 hours a night, they not only could wind up fat and sick, but also mentally ill. With lack of adequate sleep, what occurs is a hyperactive brain response: The amygdala, the emotional brain center, reacts more strongly than it would otherwise, and it seems there is a disconnect between the amygdala and the frontal lobe of the brain. The combination of these two brain dysfunctions results in mood swings, and major disturbances in rational thought and decision-making. In other words, the brain of a sleep-deprived individual looks remarkably similar to that of a person suffering from a psychiatric disorder.

Don’t Forget Sex

If that didn’t get your attention, maybe this one will: sleep-deprivation may very well dramatically affect sexual drive. In a study done on fruit flies (hard to really make a connection between flies and humans, but bear with me), it was proven that when a well-rested male fruit fly is put in a Petri-dish with a female, he almost immediately begins to orient towards her and then perform a mating ritual which leads to copulation. This happens time and time again. But, when they deprived the male fruit fly of sleep, and then put him together in a container with a female, he does not orient towards her and appears disinterested in her and/or mating! Decide for yourself if you want to draw a correlation or not, but seems pretty plausible to me!

Quality of Sleep is Important Too

Finally, scientists studied quality of sleep as well. They deprived subjects of reaching deep sleep by monitoring their brain waves and arousing them just slightly with sounds just as they were entering into a Delta brainwave state. By keeping them at Theta and above, the scientists discovered that the subjects began to eat more and enter into a pre-diabetic state. Leptin, a hormone in the brain responsible for signaling fullness, seems to go off-line. As a result, subjects began to eat enormous amounts of food and gained weight. With regard to the pre-diabetic state, scientists found that by eliminating Delta waves, subjects were then unable to properly metabolize sugar. Basically, by not getting quality sleep, we are subject to health problems commonly related to old age.

It’s Nap Time!

What if you just can’t, for whatever reason, get 7.5-8 hours a sleep a night? Here’s the good news: You can take naps and make up the missed time!!! Isn’t that great? So, if you only are able to get 6 hours a night, all you have to do is take a 1.5-2 hour nap and you’re good to go!

Summing It Up

In this article, we talked about the importance of sleep as a component of health. When a person is sleep-deprived, many everyday functions become severely impaired. Some of the subjective ramifications can be excess weight, illness, and unstable mood. A person needs to get 7.5-8 hours a sleep a night to optimally function. If unable to get that amount, naps can save the day and catch us up.

The Bottom Line

The implication that this has for hypnotherapy is that many of the symptoms that clients come in with may be alleviated, or at the very least aided, by a good night’s sleep or a decent night’s sleep accompanied by an afternoon nap. What this all means is that it may be time to rethink what is essential for good health–not just diet and exercise, but diet, exercise, and SLEEP.

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What is NLP?

Neuro Linguistic Programming, or NLP, is the name given to a modern (developed from 1970s onwards) range of psychological techniques that enable you to achieve your personal development goals. They can be applied to all aspects of life, such as business, sports, sales, marketing, health etc, and apply equally well to therapeutic change.

These techniques are derived from the study of individuals who are achieving excellent outcomes and then modeling what they do, particularly in terms of their thinking (Neuro) and language (Linguistic). By modeling these excellent strategies, you are resetting your own neural pathways (Programming or learning) to automatically behave in new ways to achieve your own excellent outcomes. It is an effective, proven vehicle for accelerated human change, radically altering the “old way” of lengthy psychotherapy.

Hypnotherapy uses NLP techniques to re-program old, habitual, limiting scripts imbedded in the subconscious and replace them with updated, healthier, less limiting ones.

A good way to think about it is like a groove in an old record: When you play it over and over again, the groove gets well-worn and therefore habitual. NLP techniques don’t get rid of the old groove, but instead create a new one that can overshadow or replace the old. Thus the person then has a choice as to which path of behavior s/he wants to go down, which empowers the client.

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PLR Article: Get a New Groove and Change Old Habits

Get a New Groove and Change Old Habits

Amy’s Story

Amy, an attractive and intelligent 32-year-old, had been in traditional talk therapy and had worked on many issues that had interfered in her life and in her relationships. She had a successful career, she was financially secure, she had lots of friends, and overall, she was very satisfied with her life. The one thing that puzzled Amy was why she couldn’t find a romantic partner.

Amy talked with one of her friends and told her how she was feeling very frustrated: not only did she not understand why she couldn’t meet a romantic partner, but she was also experiencing frustration and dissatisfaction in her friendships. She would leave phone messages for her friends and wouldn’t get a call back right away. Amy told her friend that she thought this was really disrespectful. “They could at least call me back and let me know that they are busy.”

Amy admitted that she felt really isolated and lonely, “like a loser,” and wondered whether there might be something wrong with her.

Mirror Mirror on the Wall

Amy began to put two and two together. She had heard many times in many different ways from friends as well as lovers that they often felt suffocated by her, and some had even referred to her as somewhat “stalker-ish.” Amy was offended by this feedback yet was ready to begin to take a look at what others were reflecting.

Ignorance is Bliss, Isn’t It?

She had talked about it all in her talk therapy sessions and she became more aware of this pattern when it was happening. But her behavior didn’t change. She began to feel increasingly frustrated because she thought that with awareness would come change. Feeling somewhat defeated, she figured that she might as well just stay ignorant rather than being painfully aware without anything changing.

But, Isn’t Awareness the First Step to Change?

Yes, but often times, as in Amy’s case, awareness just isn’t enough. Sometimes even going beyond awareness of a pattern or behavior to understanding it still isn’t enough to promote change.

And this is where the limitations of talk therapy become apparent.

Why Are Certain Things Harder to Change Than Others?

The answer to this question relates to the subconscious mind, which is exactly what is accessed in hypnotherapy.

Let’s Look Inside the Subconscious to the Nervous System

Our autonomic system, responsible for telling our hearts to beat and our lungs to breathe, is located in the subconscious. It is because of this system that we don’t have to think (conscious mind), “Oops! Gotta take a breath now!” or “Time for another heart beat!” Fortunately, this is all taken care of by our subconscious-automatically. Everything that is done for our benefit, originates in our subconscious. And, our subconscious always has our best interest as its main concern.

It’s Habitual

Habits, by definition, are those repetitive behaviors that we do “without thinking,” and therefore, they are held in the subconscious. This is exactly why Amy couldn’t significantly change her behavior/habits with talk therapy: she was thinking and gaining awareness about her behaviors, both functions of the conscious mind.

So, How Do We Make Significant Change in Our Habits and/or Patterns?

Most habits are deeply embedded in the subconscious. Often the causes of those habits are rooted in childhood, when the conscious mind has not yet fully developed. What happens is that, at an early age, a groove or pathway is created in the subconscious mind, through which information then travels. The more that information travels down the groove, the more worn and “habitual” it gets. This groove is called a neural pathway.

Hypnotherapy, a technique that bypasses the conscious, thinking mind and accesses the subconscious emotional, creative mind allows the client to access these pathways and uncover the causes that drive the behavior of the habits.

How Does Hypnotherapy Change a Pathway That’s Been There Since Childhood?

In hypnotherapy, the conscious mind takes a break while the client and hypnotherapist work with and in the subconscious mind. However, what should be noted, and is of great importance, the conscious mind is still very much present during the session. It is like a silent witness to the subconscious process at hand.

Once a habit/pattern is identified and worked with, the hypnotherapist can then use techniques derived from NLP. Since the subconscious is susceptible to suggestions, (and recall from above that the subconscious only will accept suggestions that are in the best interest and health of the individual), the therapist can make healthy, age-appropriate suggestions to the client. This, in turn, creates a new neural pathway, which creates new behaviors and patterns. What results is that the old, dated neural pathway is usurped by a new, more positive one.

Now, in a Past Life Soul Regression (PLSR) session, it has been found that the hypnotherapist does not necessarily need to make any suggestions; just accessing and becoming aware of a habit/pattern stuck in the past in the sub- or super-conscious and making it conscious creates a new neural pathway, which promotes healing.

Getting Back to Amy

So, Amy came in for a hypnotherapy session, wanting to work on what others termed, “suffocating” and a bit obsessive behaviors. She identified a current situation where she felt that this might be occurring.

While still operating from her conscious mind, she spoke about a male friend of hers, John, with whom she had been intimate one night. She explained how she enjoyed his company, how they always have fun together when they go out, and how she had wanted to make sure that all was still “cool” after their “escapade.” She said that she had given him a call two days afterwards, saying “hi” and asking him to call her back when he had a minute. “That,” she said, “was three weeks ago!”

She then admitted that she had called him about a week after she had left that message, to see whether he wanted to hang out. She added, “He hasn’t emailed or called or anything since we hooked up! That’s just rude!”

Amy said that she was angry because she felt like he thought she wanted something more than a friendship, when she really didn’t. “It’s not fair. He’s making an assumption that isn’t true. I don’t feel like he understands or sees me for who I really am or what I really want. I just want to have a conversation with him!”

As Amy spoke about this, I noticed how she raised her tone of voice, her breathing quickened and she seemed almost desperate. I pointed these things out and she said, “Yeah. It’s so weird but on some level, convincing him that I’m not how or who he thinks I am feels almost like life-or-death.”

We began the session and once in a relaxed state, Amy not only was aware of the anger she felt around this situation, but also got in touch with the anxiety around convincing him that his perception of her was wrong. I had her express both of those emotions and then asked her to go back to the source of feeling angry and anxious about being misperceived.

After a moment, Amy said that she saw herself dressed in a black dress with white trim; she was running through a forest. “I’m in Salem.”

It was evident to me at this point that she had spontaneously accessed a past life.

She said that she was running away from the men with weapons. She was feeling panicked. “They are coming after me because they think I’m a witch. But I’m not! They don’t understand me and won’t believe a word I say! Their minds are made up. They’re going to kill me!”

Then she said that the men had caught her and brought her to the town square: “I’m tied up on this pedestal and all the townspeople are in a circle around me.” She said that the townspeople were yelling at her, calling her all sorts of names, and were throwing stones at her. “They are going to hang me.”

I asked her how she was feeling and she said, “I realize how I have spent my life, this life in Salem, always feeling anxious and angry; always trying so hard to convince others that they had it all wrong-that who they were seeing me as was not who I really was. Now at this point, here in the town square, I know that there is absolutely nothing more I can do. I feel a sense of surrender. My struggle is over.”

Amy painlessly experienced her death in the life she had accessed and then was in a soul state. There, she had a new-found perspective: “I cannot convince others of anything they are not ready to hear. I just need to be who I am and if they see me and understand me, then great. If not, it is not up to me to take their blinders off. I just have to live my life and stop wasting my energy on others who just don’t get me.” She then added, “Now I totally get why it felt like life-or-death to convince John that he had me all wrong!”

This is where Amy re-created her neural pathway!

A couple weeks after this session, Amy reported feeling remarkably different in her relationships with both the men and the women in her life. “I no longer feel any of the anxiety that was behind my incessant phone calls. And I no longer waste my time with people who I just don’t connect with. I feel so free. It’s great!”

In Summary

We have discussed how habits and/or patterns can be identified and talked about in traditional talk therapy, but because they are housed in the subconscious, are resistant to change. Neural pathways were explained as a component of the subconscious and how they are accessed in hypnotherapy using concepts derived from NLP. We then saw how Amy worked with her issue of anger and anxiety by accessing the source of her pattern in a past life. We thus gained knowledge of how the subconscious by way of hypnotherapy can be your greatest ally in your quest for success and self-improvement.

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I’m Shocked!

Shaken AND Stirred

Have you ever noticed that certain events seem to make you overreact? That you snap at seemingly simple annoyances? That particular circumstances or occurrences that seem insignificant to others cause you to go from 0-60 in .2 seconds?

If you can relate to any of these questions, or know someone who can, this article can clarify what is happening and how hypnotherapy can help.

Let’s Look to the Animals

Think of an antelope in the wild. It is grazing with the others in the field on a nice, sunny day without a care in the world. Unbeknownst to it and the rest of the herd, there is a lion lurking in the brush, waiting to pounce. The lion fixes on its prey and makes his move. Almost simultaneously, the herd senses the danger and begins to disperse in all directions, sprinting for their lives.


The sprinting is a natural, survival response that is called neuroception. This response is not housed in the conscious mind, but rather is totally energetic, allowing the animal to sense when acute attention is needed and (re)act accordingly. What allows for a reaction to occur is a surge of stress hormones; this reaction is commonly referred to as “fight-or-flight.”

So, the antelope senses extreme danger and the stress hormones dump a cocktail into the system, making the organs below the waist stop functioning so that all the energy can go to the heart, lungs, and extremities. This hormonal dump is called the Sympathetic Nervous System Response. At this point, the animal can stay and fight with this energy to try to save itself, or it can use the energy in flight and run as fast as it can until it is out of danger.

Shake It Off

Once the animal is safe and out of harms’ way, it needs another mechanism to stop the fight-or-flight surge in order to calm the system down and return to normal. This stream of calming hormones is called the Parasympathetic Nervous System Response. Often times, when this cocktail is coursing through the body, you will see an animal shake its body from head to toe. This shaking is a very healthy response to “shake off” trauma so as to return to normal functioning.

Now what happens if the antelope has gotten the sympathetic nervous system cocktail, is running as fast as it can, and realizes that despite its best efforts, it’s losing the foot race? If you have watched any National Geographic films, you may know that the animal suddenly stops dead in its tracks and falls down, as though it has suffered a massive heart attack. Did it die right there on the spot?


No. This, again, is an energetic, survival response to danger which is caused by a huge surge of the calming, Parasympathetic Hormones. It causes the animal’s vital functions to slow WAY down, to the point where its heart is barely beating and its breathing is practically unperceivable; it is known as the “freeze” response. This survival mechanism serves to convince the predator that its prey is already dead, and thus undesirable.

Again, when the preyed animal is out of danger, the hormonal system corrects the imbalance by dumping more of the stimulating, sympathetic hormones back into the body until normal functioning resumes.

How Does This Apply to Humans?

In humans, this same system is in place and allows us to escape real or perceived danger without thought. However, we have a tragic flaw: our brains.

Who’d Have Thought?

Our well-developed brain actually becomes our biggest obstacle when it comes to traumatic events: instead of shaking off the trauma, we try to reason it out or suppress it. Think about it: Have you ever seen a person experience something traumatic and then shake his/her body? We would most likely be deemed silly and strange. Thus, trauma often remains lodged in our bodies, causing physical, emotional and psychological difficulties.

Our Struggles

Because of our brains, two common dysfunctions occur: Sympathetic or Parasympathetic Dissociation and/or Sympathetic or Parasympathetic Shock.

Sympathetic Dissociation is where a person has so much of the fight-or-flight hormone coursing through her/his body from trauma(s) that s/he dissociates, or leaves her/his body, through constant activity. Examples of individuals with this type of coping mechanism are those who talk all the time and/or are rage-a-holics.

Parasympathetic Dissociation occurs when a person’s body is flooded with the freeze hormone, which allows them to shut down and “check out” through inactivity. These are people who look like they may be daydreaming all the time or those who have a vacant, vapid appearance to their eyes.

These two types of dissociation are what is commonly referred to as PTSD.

Sympathetic Shock occurs when the sympathetic stress hormone is being pumped through the body at a consistent, uninterrupted rate. The heart and lungs operate at increased levels which cannot be maintained. This constant surge of activity-type hormones may be behind the diagnosis of ADD/ADHD. Ultimately, if the calming mechanism does not begin, death results.

Parasympathetic Shock is just the opposite. It is where an individual has a constant surge of the calming hormone, which results in paralyzation, indecision, procrastination and the attitude of, “I give up.” This type of shock may be what underlies depression.

How Do We Get Back to Being Animals?

So, remember when the antelope had escaped the danger and shook its entire body in order to return to a state of normalcy?

This is exactly what hypnotherapy does for individuals.

How Does Hypnotherapy Return the Body to Homeostasis?

Hypnotherapy accesses the brainwave state in which the trauma(s) occurred correcting the experience where it originally got lodged. You see, what happens in humans is that a trauma occurs and the hormones surge because the brain knows the person is in danger. Again, because of the sophistication of our brains, it puts the trauma in a place where the conscious mind cannot access it, all in the name of keeping us functioning in our day-to-day lives.

But the trauma is very much still there, it’s just not consciously available!

And despite our brains’ best efforts, what results is a hyper-vigilant state of being which actually prevents us from being present in our daily lives and inhibits our optimal functioning!

Let’s take an example:

Abby is a 25-year-old professional with a very good head on her shoulders. She has a good family, is educated, independent, and enjoys life to the fullest. She drinks a lot on the weekends, but doesn’t seem to think it’s a problem because she is able to “rally” the next day, get up early, work if need be, or play on all the sports teams to which she belongs. She is very sexually active, and she is proud of her sex life. She is very gregarious and physically attractive, and men find her very charismatic and fun.

Abby came to counseling because her mom told her that she would help her pay for it. But Abby, herself, was curious about hypnotherapy and open to trying it. She said that her mom was concerned about how Abby “never stops” with regard to everything in her life. When asked about this, Abby said that she just doesn’t like to sit down or not do anything: “I get bored.” Abby talked about the men in her life and said that she dates a guy for a while until he begins to “get all clingy and I feel suffocated;” she then starts to cheat on him and then dumps both of the guys to “clean the slate” and find someone else.

After the initial interview, we began the first hypnotherapy session. Abby went into a deeply relaxed state, and I asked her to recall the last time she had sat down and felt bored, as she had previously described. Abby went to a recent time where it was raining outside, she had sprained her ankle while running the day before, and none of her friends were available to hang out. She said that she remembered sitting on her couch and feeling like she was going to go crazy, “I feel like I’m crawling out of my skin.”

While in hypnotic state, Abby was able to identify other emotions that accompanied her boredom. These included fear and anxiety. Abby then went back to a time, a time where she was unsure as to where she was; all she knew was that it was dark.

I asked her some questions to help her get her bearings and she realized that she was actually inside her mother’s womb. She said that she was aware of the fact that it was just before her birth and that there was something wrong: “It’s time for me to come out, but I can’t. I think I’m facing the wrong way.”

Then Abby seemed as though she was panicking. She said that her heart was beating really fast and she began to take short, quick breaths: “It’s hard for me to breathe,” and in session, I noticed that her neck was bright red. I reassured Abby that she was not re-experiencing her birth, but revisiting it. I let her know that she was not in any danger.

Abby then said that she knew why she couldn’t breathe: “The cord is wrapped around my neck and the doctors are worried that I might not make it. I guess that’s when they did the C-section and got me out.”

When asked how she was feeling, Abby said that she had never felt this scared before in her life. “My heart feels like it’s going to burst out of my chest; it’s beating so fast.”

This is where Abby’s Sympathetic Shock came into play. She and her

system were so overwhelmed by trauma that in order to survive, her body kept feeding her copious amounts of the sympathetic hormones.

I had her express her fear, that fear that she had never been able to express as a baby. I asked her to conjure up her adult-self to help comfort the little baby Abby and to help her feel safe. Once she did so, baby Abby began to cry, and then scream: “I’m so scared! I’m not sure that they’re going to get me out!” She then curled up in the fetal position and rocked herself until almost asleep.

At this point, I asked Abby what conclusions she had come to about herself during this experience. Abby said, “I guess that I was all alone in this world and that I couldn’t trust anyone.” She realized then how she had been living her life since her birth believing those conclusions.

During the healing part of her session, I asked Abby what new conclusions she wanted to make. She decided that she wanted to conclude that she was safe, that she was loved, and that she could trust others. She knew that her behaviors would change with these new conclusions, that she would begin to allow for more intimacy in relationships and that she might be able to tolerate “empty” time without the need for constant stimulation.

Abby came in for a couple more sessions, with the intention of delving deeper into her relationship patterns and her hyper-activity. She reported feeling much calmer in general, more able to relax, and she said that she was even sleeping better.

Finally, Abby’s system realized that she was no longer in danger and thus stopped the constant influx of the sympathetic hormones that had been there since birth. This was the first time in Abby’s life that her body was functioning in a balanced and healthy way.

To Summarize

In this article, we learned how animals innately and energetically react to dangerous, traumatic events and how they shake their bodies to return them to normal functioning when no longer in danger. Humans, on the other hand, have a well-developed brain that inhibits us from shaking; instead we either externalize or internalize the trauma in the form of shock. We saw an example of how hypnotherapy helps access where the original trauma is held, form a corrective experience, allow the body to return to homeostasis, and permit the person to be more engaged in his/her life.

If you or someone you know thinks you may be living in a state of shock or perpetual trauma and would like help in “shaking it off”, consider hypnotherapy as the way to do so.

Take care and be well,

Julie Rappaport, MA, LPC

If you have any questions or would like a free, 15-minute consultation to evaluate your specific situation, please call me at 303-396-8084.

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The Victim Triangle of Co-Dependent Families and Addictions

Notice that You Always Take the Same Role in Your Family’s Drama?

Shelly, a divorced mother of 4 young boys, says that her ex-husband is such a jerk. She says that because of him, her two older boys need to go to therapy; she angrily states that he controlled her throughout their marriage; she hates that she has no money to pay for nice things that she wants and thinks he should pay her more spousal support; and she says that it is because of him that her life is now so awful.

Shelly is the way she is because of the dynamics she grew up with in her own family-of-origin. She unconsciously learned that when she played the role of the “victim,” she got attention during times when she was feeling neglected, and felt a (albeit false) sense of power during times when she was feeling powerless.

Shelly’s role is a very common occurrence in many families today and is part of a phenomenon often described as: The Victim Triangle of Co-Dependent Families and Addictions.

What are the Characteristics of the Victim Triangle?

The Victim Triangle has been around for a long time, first introduced by family systems’ therapists. It is the basis for dysfunctional codependent relationships/families and is almost always present in families with addictions. The common characteristics of these families are: an addiction to drama and chaos, a fear of intimacy, unpredictability, many unspoken rules, a distrust in people outside the family system, a high degree of conflict without any resolution, and a family steeped in shame.

What are the Roles of the Triangle?

As it implies, the triangle has three roles: the victim, the rescuer, and the persecutor. The glue that binds these roles together is lack of personal power and unclear personal boundaries; people don’t know who they are or where they end and another person begins. These boundaries become diffuse and undefined because the family members continuously jump from one role to another to another.

  • The victim is a person who feels helpless, blames others, and feels sorry for himself: “If it weren’t for my boss, I’d be __________________(rich, happy, successful).” By blaming others, the victim surrenders his power which is what keeps him feeling helpless and powerless.
  • The rescuer is a person who takes care of everyone else. Often times, this is a child of an addictive family who feels it is her responsibility to solve the family’s problems and take care of the addict. Within the role of rescuer is the victim consciousness.

The victim and rescuer are, naturally attracted to one another and thereby perpetuate the codependent relationship with one another. The rescuer is constantly trying to “fix” the victim, which results in the victim feeling even more helpless and eventually even resentful. In turn, this resentment brings about a role reversal, wherein the victim becomes the persecutor.

  • The persecutor persecutes the rescuer, and then the rescuer becomes the victim. Persecutors can be physically, emotionally or sexually abusive; they may persecute by withdrawing love, sex, or money. They usually are very passive-aggressive and use guilt as a way to control and manipulate others. Interestingly enough, then the persecutor feels pity for the victim and moves to the rescuer position. The victim resents feeling helpless and having to be rescued and begins to persecute the rescuer. The triangle takes on a life of its own and off they go.

Why Do the Roles Switch So Often?

As you can see, this triangle is quite stable and roles are constantly changing. In family systems theory, three is the most stable arrangement. Think about it: two points connected by a line versus three points connected to make a triangle. The triangle wins out every time!

In the dysfunctional family, the sides of the triangle are made up of poorly defined personal boundaries. Dad asks his daughter, Suzie, a question and Mom answers for Suzie. Mom is upset that Suzie had a snack before dinner and Dad disciplines Suzie. Dad comes home drunk, Mom goes to the bedroom, and Suzie makes Dad a cup of coffee and sits up with him.

Why Don’t People Just Step Out of the Triangle?

That’s almost like asking why people don’t just step off a moving roller coaster! Remember how stable it is? If one person tries not to take a role, the other two will either overtly or covertly pull the person back in. In this way, the Victim Triangle is an addiction of sorts: Victims will attract rescuers and persecutors. Rescuers attract victims and persecutors and in turn, persecutors draw victims and rescuers. Once this pattern has been established in your family-of-origin, it’s an imprint you carry with you wherever you go. For instance, if you were a rescuer while growing up, as an adult, you will attract mates, friends, and/or neighbors who are ideally suited to playing the “triangle game” with you.

Are You Ready for This One?

Here’s the kicker to it all: we can move in, out and around all the roles of the triangle ourselves, not needing other players! We do this all the time without even realizing it!

For example, let’s say you feel out of control with regard to food, like a helpless victim. In order to rescue your victim-self, you decide to go on a diet. Then you go to a party and have a piece of cake, wherein you become angry, start persecuting yourself by putting yourself down and making derogatory and harsh self-statements. You then, again, begin to feel guilty, out-of-control, and helpless and…here you are, right back where you started: a victim.

Let’s Take a Real Life Example

Bob was born with severe asthma, the victim. He is young, helpless, has physical problems. His mother, Sharon, feels sorry for him and begins to rescue him (This, by the way, is exactly how pity and love get confused). Sharon is very overprotective of Bob, not allowing him to play with the other boys and not allowing him to take risks. This further imbeds Bob’s feelings of helplessness and powerlessness, and invites others to persecute him. Bob’s father, Dan, wants Bob to stop being a “sissy” and decides to “play rough” with him to toughen him up. The more Dan does this, the more Sharon rescues, and the more Bob feels like the victim.

Calgon, Take Me Away!

Often times, people come into therapy unaware that they have been playing this game their whole lives! They seek relief from eating or addiction issues, while lurking underneath is this codependent cycle.

Since hypnotherapy treats the symptoms as well as the underlying causes of the symptoms, it is highly effective at dissolving this habitual life pattern in order to replace it with healthy, functional intra- and inter-personal relationships.

Really?? How??

From the example above, Sharon, the mom, was the one sought treatment. She came to therapy because of what she termed her, “emotional eating.” Sharon said that she had tried everything under the sun to try to curb her eating, and nothing had worked.

Sharon agreed to try hypnotherapy. Once relaxed, she determined that she feels some guilt, shame and fear right before she is about to emotionally eat. She then went back to a time when she was 6 and remembered watching her younger brother getting beaten by her step-father while her mother was at work. Her brother was only 3 1/2-years-old and had accidentally wet his bed. Sharon was eating breakfast when she witnessed this incident and reported how she felt so helpless and scared. She said that all she could do was to try to “act normal,” keep her eyes to herself, and continue to just eat her cereal. She reported feeling robotic and “numbed out,” as she was eating. Then she said, “It was better than feeling all that guilt for not doing anything!” I helped Sharon connect how she had felt helpless sitting at the breakfast table, like a victim, and in order to take some control and avoid feeling that, she ate. Sharon then said, “I should have done something to save my brother.”

This was a way that Sharon continued the cycle of victimization on herself-by beating herself up-becoming her own persecutor.

After this session, Sharon began to draw some parallels between her childhood, her eating, and her current family situation. Sharon said, “Wow. I realize how now my son, Bob, is like my brother and how my husband is like my step-dad. And I’m still me.”

We had a couple more hypnotherapy sessions where Sharon visited other times in her childhood that made the pattern very clear to her and how she had played (and continues to play) the rescuer in the family: “So, what I’m realizing is that I either step in with my son and protect him and make him the victim, or I do nothing, feel guilty and ashamed and then eat.” Sharon connected with these younger parts of herself from her childhood and comfort them, telling them that it wasn’t their fault for not doing anything-that they were just children, themselves.

Once she did so, Sharon began to report big changes in her life. She noticed an increase in energy and more creativity. She said that Dan had begun to be interested in therapy to work on his own childhood, having seen the huge shifts in his wife. Sharon was allowing Bob to take more risks and play with the neighborhood kids, and Bob had actually made a new friend and had asked whether he could learn how to play the drums! Sharon wasn’t so sure she wanted to support the drum-playing (because she valued her sleep), but she was so pleased to see Bob’s initiative that she was willing to consider it!

Coming Full Circle by Way of Triangle

In this article we talked about the Victim Triangle of Co-dependency and Addictions: what it is and its roles, why it’s so common, and how to break out of it.

So if you can relate with Sharon story, (or even with Shelly’s whom we met at the beginning of this article), and you’ve tried other therapies without any luck, hypnotherapy may just be your answer! It just takes one person in the triangle to make a shift and the whole triangle changes!

Call me at 303-396-8084 for a free, 15-minute consult to make sure that hypnotherapy is the right fit for you!

If this article has been helpful, try subscribing to my free newsletter to get more valuable information about how hypnotherapy can help you in your life!

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How to Get Better, Faster

How to Get Better, Faster

Desperately Seeking Some Relief

Erica felt desperate. She had been struggling with bulimia for 15 years and reported feeling totally out of control. She was bingeing and purging at least five times a day. She had been in “traditional therapy” off and on over the past 10 years but still felt that her disorder was in charge of her, rather than the other way around.

Many issues such as eating disorders are treated with talk therapy and take a long time to heal. After only three hypnotherapy sessions, Erica had completely stopped bingeing and throwing up. She said, “For the first time in my adult life, I feel like I am in control of my eating.”

Try Hypnotherapy

Hypnotherapy is now recognized as one of the most powerful and effective brief psychotherapies; the reason being that it not only treats the symptom but also the cause. Most brief therapies are based on the precept of only treating the symptom, itself, and are not interested in the cause or causes of that symptom. So after six sessions, the symptom may be gone, but the cause still remains. As a result, clients are often dismayed to find that a short time later, another symptom arises.

Tired of chasing the problem?

Hypnotherapy uses a combination of techniques to treat clients say, for example, with anxiety or phobias, in only one or two sessions. Hypnosis is used to get to the source of the anxiety, which in turn, allows for the anxiety reaction to be quickly and effectively extinguished or eliminated.

What makes hypnotherapy so efficient?

Hypnotherapy is so much faster and more effective because it accesses the mental state in which the “trauma” was first experienced-the unconscious part of the mind. Just talking about the anxiety in a conscious mind state usually does not have any long-lasting effects.

How does hypnotherapy work so much faster?

Hypnotherapy bypasses the common fears, rationalizations, denial systems, and other defenses that the conscious mind concocts to resist the therapist, thereby allowing for the most effective use of therapeutic time. With the world speeding up as it is, there seems to be less and less time to take care of ourselves and just talk about our problems. We want change and we want it NOW. Hypnotherapy makes the most direct use of our limited time.

Remember how long things took before the advent of computers?

Well, hypnotherapy is the high-tech psychological operating system and your mind is much like a computer. There are memory chips in the mind that are accessed through hypnotic regression. By uncovering the hidden memories and “re-programming” them into more positive experiences, hypnotherapy clients can permanently change old behavior patterns and create new, healthy responses.

Is there danger in somebody working with my unconscious?

This concern is very understandable and speaks to what most people have seen on a hypnosis stage show. However, hypnotherapy is not a stage show, it is sacred. It is therapy. Hypnotherapy uses the part of the mind that great giants of psychology, like Freud and Jung, talked about. These pioneers discussed the profound importance the unconscious mind has in treating mental and emotional dis-eases. Hypnotherapy accesses the vastness of information, insight and creativity stored in the unconscious mind of each of us. No danger can come from accessing this part of the mind when the premise is for healing and well-being.

Yes, but does it stick?
And, we all know how difficult it is to change unhealthy, unwanted patterns–no matter what we do in our conscious mind. That is because they are held in the unconscious mind. It’s like trying to get milk out of a bull. SO, by accessing the unconscious mind and affecting change where the patters are held, we not only promote change, but lasting change.

So, where’s the proof it works faster?


Nikki brought her 10-year-old son, Tim, into my office feeling frustrated. She said that Tim was constantly asking her for something to eat-often right after he had just finished a meal. Nikki expressed how she didn’t understand why Tim was hungry all the time and wondered whether I could help.

After an explanation of hypnotherapy to both Nikki and Tim, I asked Tim’s mom to leave the room and began to induce Tim into a deep, relaxed state. I tell him that we are going to focus on the feeling he gets in his tummy that he thinks is hunger and that we’re going to try to find out what else that feeling might be. Once in a relaxed state, Tim gets in touch with what he calls an “empty feeling” in his stomach. When asked what other feelings might be there besides hunger, he names anger and some sadness. Tim begins to talk about how his mom pays more attention to his younger brother, James and how it’s not fair. Tim expresses his anger and then begins to feel his sadness. He says that he misses his mommy and wishes she would hug him more and tell him that she loves him. Tim then begins to get in touch with his resentment towards his brother.

After expressing his emotions, Tim astutely says, “I just thought I was hungry when really I was sad and mad.” I am impressed with how quickly Tim was able to make this connection. Tim now said that when he feels that empty feeling in his tummy, instead of asking for food from his mom, he will now ask for a hug.

Further therapy was needed to work on the bond between mother and son, but from that session on, Tim no longer confused the feeling emptiness in his stomach with hunger.


Teresa came to my office stating that she wanted to work on, what she termed, her “blah for life.” Teresa explained that she had had a tough childhood in that she grew up with an alcoholic dad and an absent mother. She was the oldest of 4 and often had to take care of her younger siblings because her parents were never really there. Teresa said that she does okay–she has a decent job, a nice husband and two beautiful children, but that she just never feels a zest for life. She mentioned how her husband always is telling her to cheer up, to smile once and a while, and to try to have fun. He wondered whether she needed to be on anti-depressants. Teresa stated, “I don’t feel like I can cheer up or smile or simply have fun. I don’t know why, I just can’t. And, I don’t want to take any drugs!”

After I led Teresa into a deeply relaxed state, I asked her to access a specific, most recent time she felt that “blah for life.” She recalled a time last month where she was watching one of her kids play soccer and felt absolutely no excitement. She talked with her “blah feeling” and let it know how she resented it because it kept her from enjoying the little things in life that are so precious.

I then asked her to go back to the source of this “blah feeling.” Teresa got in touch with her 5-year-old self. She described a scene where she was in the living room of the house she grew up in, playing, laughing and running around with her younger siblings. Her dad was drunk and stumbled into the room yelling and slurring. Teresa said that she was feeling scared that her dad would hurt her and her siblings. She gathered up her siblings and they all went and hid underneath the stairwell. I instructed Teresa to talk to her dad and tell him how she was feeling. After she did so, Teresa realized that that at 5, she had concluded that it was “bad” to be a kid, to laugh and play and be free. She decided to leave that 5-year-old under the staircase and become the responsible, controlled eldest.

Teresa wanted to change her conclusion that she had made so many years back. She concluded that it was wonderful and more than okay to be a kid, to giggle and run around and be spontaneous. She decided that she not only wanted this 5-year-old back in her life, but also that she needed her. The adult Teresa rescued the little 5-year-old Teresa from under the stairwell and incorporated her into her heart and into her “self.”

After this session, Teresa cried each and every time she talked about “her little girl.” She expressed how amazing she feels to have her back and how she has begun to enjoy life so much more. Teresa said that she finally feels whole and that her husband can’t believe the amazing zest for life that she now has!

Briefly Summarizing

In this article we discussed what hypnotherapy is, and how it accesses the source of problems and patterns by bypassing the common defenses held in the conscious mind. In doing so, this therapy process creates quick, effective, and lasting change without endangering the client. We then gave case examples of two clients who showed the power and efficiency of this work.

If you are looking for a therapeutic modality that can save you time and money, that can give you relief without the use of prescription drugs, hypnotherapy may be your answer! If you’re ready to try it out, call me for a free, 15-minute consult to make sure hypnotherapy is right for you.

If this article has been helpful, please subscribe to my free newsletter to get more valuable information about how hypnotherapy can help you in your life.

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What is Transpersonal Psychotherapy?

What is Transpersonal Psychotherapy?

The succinct, nuts-and-bolts explanation of Transpersonal Psychotherapy is that it is counseling that includes traditional, egoic experiences of healing emotions, memories and cognitions, and also transcends beyond the ego experiences to include Self or Soul experiences of healing by including the collective unconscious, suble energy and the Spirit World. It is therapy that draws upon all areas of psychology, including Transpersonal Psychology.

What is Transpersonal Psychology?

Transpersonal psychology stands at the interface of psychology and spirituality. It is the field of psychology which integrates psychological concepts, theories, and methods with the subject matter and practices of the spiritual disciplines. Its interests include spiritual experiences, mystical states of consciousness, mindfulness and meditative practices, shamanic states, ritual, the overlap of spiritual experiences with disturbed states such as psychosis and depression, and the transpersonal dimensions of interpersonal relationships, service, and encounters with the natural world.

The core concept in Transpersonal Psychology is nonduality , the recognition that each part (e.g., each person) is fundamentally and ultimately a part of the whole (the cosmos). As obvious as this might sound, it has radical implications for psychological systems founded on the premises of mechanism, atomism, reductionism, and separateness. From this insight come two other central insights: the intrinsic health and basic goodness of the whole and each of its parts, and the validity of self-transcendence from the conditional and conditioned personality to a sense of identity which is deeper, broader, and more unified with the whole (Lajoie and Shapiro, 1992; Scotton, Chinen, and Battista, 1996; Walsh and Vaughan, 1993a).

The root of the term, transpersonal or “beyond the personal,” reflects this impulse toward that which is more universal than individual or personal identity. Since the root of the word, personal, comes from persona or the masks worn by Greek actors to portray characters, transpersonal means literally “beyond the mask.” These masks both hid the actor and revealed the actor’s role. Following this metaphor, transpersonal psychology seeks to disclose and develop the source and deeper nature of our identities, roles, and self-images.

However, it is important that a focus on nonduality, self-transcendence, and intrinsic health not negate the importance of individuality or personalness. Transpersonal psychology’s orientation is inclusive, valuing and integrating the following: psychological development as well as the spiritual; the personal and the transpersonal; exceptional mental health, ordinary experience, and states of suffering; ordinary and extraordinary states of consciousness; modern Western perspectives, Eastern wisdom, (some) postmodern insights, and worldviews of indigenous traditions; and analytical intellect and contemplative ways of knowing.

Transpersonal psychology is not a religion; it does not present a belief system or provide an institutional structure. Rather, it is a field of inquiry which includes theory, research, and practice, offering insights based on research and experience and practices for evaluating and confirming or disconfirming its findings. It is scientific in the broader sense of the phenomenological or “human” sciences (Braud and Anderson, 1998; Davis, 1996; Giorgi, 1970). Overlaps between psychology and spirituality have been present in both psychology (e.g., William James, Jung, Maslow) and in the spiritual traditions (which have their own rich views of development, cognition, social interactions, emotional and behavioral suffering, and methods of healing).

A core practice for transpersonal psychology includes meditation, mindfulness, contemplation, and phenomenological inquiry. Comparing the role of meditation in transpersonal psychology to the role of dreams in psychoanalysis, Walsh and Vaughan (1993a) referred to meditation as “the royal road to the transpersonal.” In this broad category, I would include other awareness practices such as Gendlin’s (1982) Focusing technique drawn from phenomenological philosophy and psychotherapy. While meditation and related practices can be used for self-regulation, relaxation, and pain control or for self-exploration and self-therapy, they have traditionally been used for self-liberation (Shapiro, 1994). Despite their many surface forms, most styles of meditation can be a means of disidentifying from our “masks” or egos and realizing our fundamental nonduality (Goleman and Ram Dass, 1996).

Other practices that are associated with transpersonal psychology include shamanism, lucid dreaming, and psychedelic drugs (Walsh and Vaughan, 1993a). I would add ritual as another important, though less recognized, transpersonal practice. For people in many cultures, ritual is the central means of discovering connections with each other, with communities, with the Earth, and with the cosmos (e.g., Somé, 1998).

Transpersonal psychology has benefits for both psychology and the spiritual disciplines. Psychology can expand toward a fuller and richer accounting of the full range of human experience and potential and incorporate practices that speak more directly to the depth of our nature. The spiritual disciplines can incorporate insights and skills about human development, healing, and growth to deal more skillfully with the psychological issues that arise with spiritual development. It can use these issues as gateways, rather than obstacles, to self-realization.

John Davis

Published in
Guidance and Counselling, (2000, Spring). 15 (3), 3-8.

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What is Between-Lives Soul Regression (BLSR)?

Between Lives Soul Regression (BLSR), is a type of specialized hypnotherapy which includes and subsumes Past Life Regression (PLR). It was developed and thoroughly researched by Dr. Michael Newton, author of the books Journey of Souls and Destiny of Souls.

Once clients are guided through a past life, they exit the body and move beyond all physical limitations into spiritual realms of existence. In these realms, clients meet groups of souls that make up their “soul group;” they meet Spirit Guides; and they meet their Council of Elders: a group of wise, evolved souls who oversee their individual soul-progress and aid in choosing their incarnations.

Many clients request a BLSR session to learn about their current life’s purpose. In an BLSR, clients gain insight into their own soul nature, why they choose certain bodies and issues, and how they fit in their current incarnation on Earth. When clients access the spiritual realm, their true “home,” they report feeling peaceful, joyous, positive, loved and loving, compassionate, and aware of the perfection in all things.

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What is Past Life Soul Regression (PLSR)?

Past Life Soul Regression (PLSR) is a specialized type of hypnotherapy specifically targeted to access past lives. It allows unconscious material from past life traumas or other charged emotional events to be brought into the consciousness of today. PLSR can resolve past-life scripts and/or contracts (karma) that may be negatively affecting a person’s present-day health, behaviors, patterns, and/or overall quality of life. By navigating through the origins of target issues, clients release stuck energies that have plagued them their entire lives. PLSR is capable of resolving physical complaints, such as migraines, allergies, unexplained pains, emotional dis-eases, such as panic attacks and phobias, and interpersonal difficulties, such as relationships and reactionary-type behaviors.

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