When I've thought of hypnosis, I've always pictured entertainers who would bring 40 people onto a stage and, after a few rounds of figuring out who they could put in a trance, would end up making a half-dozen cluck like chickens, suck their thumbs and cry for their moms.
It was only recently that I started thinking of hypnotism as a type of therapy.
At a Working Women of Tampa Bay event, I met hypnotherapist Debbie Lane and received her Quiet Moment CD, then promptly threw it into my junk drawer when I got home. I just didn't think it was for me. Then one day when I was in a bad mood, I listened to it and liked how calm it made me feel. I wondered if Lane could put me in a trance and help me kick some of my bad feelings and take away my stress.
I called Lane to find out if I, a stubborn-minded person, could be hypnotized. My appointment was set for a Friday morning, and as soon as I walked in the room I felt more calm. There was soft background music and a water fountain that almost made me think I had stepped into a massage-therapy office by mistake. I plopped into a big, fluffy chair and grabbed two pillows to make myself comfortable.
At first, Lane and I talked about what I was hoping to get out of our session. I explained I wanted positive thinking and for my stress to melt away. Her voice, the dim lighting in the room and the comfortable chair were making me feel like she could suggest anything and I would somehow do it.
"Take a deep breath," she said. "Tell me where you feel the stress."
I told her I felt it in my shoulders and stomach, and then she directed me through a series of breathing and imagination exercises to make the fear and stress go away. Then she started asking me questions and gently suggesting ways of promoting positive thinking in my career and in my life.
As she spoke, I could feel my mind wandering into a strange place between being out and being awake. The sensation can only be described as "trippy." The images in my mind floated and bounced like the colors of a lava lamp. I was seeing myself with my dreams coming true.
One of the wildest parts was when Lane asked me about obstacles in my life, and I described to her a black block that would not let me move forward. She suggested I turn that block into a door that I could walk through and, as she spoke softly, I watched in my mind as the block turned into a white goo. I floated through it, and it just disappeared.
Towards the end of the session she counted to five to pull me out of my trance. As soon as she said five, I opened my eyes and began to stretch. I couldn't help but giggle because of how I was feeling. I was pumped and ready to do anything I set my mind to.
Only time will tell if her suggestions make a significant impact on my life. But for right now. I feel extremely empowered and full of positive thoughts.
— My First Time is a column about Ashley Grant trying new things in Tampa Bay. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.