We often forget that we’re in charge of our own thoughts—even the habitual patterns that drive us nuts and drag us down are ultimately of our own doing. Hypnosis can help us take back control of our thoughts, break harmful habits and smash though entrenched patterns. “We spend a lot of time telling ourselves what we can’t or shouldn’t do, and in doing that we create negative scenarios and roadblock within our thoughts,” hypnosis practitioner Claire Aristides explains.
You might have heard Claire’s name before when linked with all things diamonds and jewels thanks to her namesake brand Aristides Fine Jewels. But beyond just a jewellery designer, Claire is also a qualified hypnotherapist with a background in psychology. A true multi-hyphenate that embodies the spirit of a MUMOKI Mother.
Claire’s work focuses in on helping her clients to identify the thoughts that trip them up (anything from specific fears to chronic stress), realising the person they could be if those thoughts/blocks were removed, and then actually knocking down those negative thoughts and images to become that best version of themselves.
Claire’s hypnosis journey started 20 years ago when her dad was first diagnosed with advanced lung cancer. She then revisited the practice over the years including using it to help her through overcoming her own personal fertility challenges, as well as working with self hypnosis for business goals, and hypnosis for her daughter’s heart surgeries.
I have personally experienced a hypnotherapy session with Claire and started off not so much a skeptic, but more just unaware of what the whole experience would feel like. But to say it felt transformative would be an understatement. Imagine the best kind of rest you’ve ever had and the deepest level of relaxation you can achieve. It’s no surprise the technique is used by business leaders and professional athletes the world over.
A Q&A with Claire Aristides
1. What is hypnotherapy?
Hypnotherapy is a powerful therapy tool that can prepare your mind for new possibilities, for change and to facilitate new ways for your body and mind to behave. It is similar to meditation but much more goal orientated.
As a trained hypnotherapist we use hypnosis to achieve a state of mental, physical and emotional relaxation. When in hypnosis, the conscious mind (the busy, analytical part of your mind) is quietened, and we can tap into the incredible power within the unconscious mind and make positive changes to thought patterns and habits that are having a negative impact on your life.
2. What are some common misconceptions around hypnotherapy?
Don’t worry. You are not going to start barking like a dog or flapping your arms like a chicken! Unfortunately stage performance hypnosis and movies have given hypnosis a bit of a bad wrap.
Hypnosis is perfectly safe. It is not mind-control, or brain-washing, and you don’t go into any weird state of mind. You are still 100% in touch with your moral code and usual standards of behaviour.
3. How does it actually work?
In a normal session we ask a series of questions and work towards identifying what your goal is. For example, you might want to drop down a dress size to a 12, be calmer when public speaking, handle daily stress or fertility issues.
Focussing on just one goal we then go into a hypnotic state with deep relaxation so your conscious (busy mind) is completely quietened and make verbal suggestions to communicate with the unconscious mind.
4. What effect does hypnosis have on the brain? Why does it work?
We have two parts to our brain – the conscious part and what is called the “unconscious” (also called “subconscious”) and these two parts have very different roles. Through hypnotherapy we bypass the ‘conscious’ mind and shift the unconscious mind so that it takes on new, improved behaviours and changes for the better.
There are plenty of studies around the effectiveness of hypnosis, however in 2006, a team from Soroka University in Israel followed women who were specifically undergoing IVF and it showed that hypnosis actually doubled the IVF treatment success rate. The researchers attributed the success of hypnotherapy to relaxation, which may have reduced uterine contractions.
5. What issues or conditions is hypnotherapy most effective at treating? How can it be used?
Hypnotherapy is incredibly powerful. However, you must want the goal or change to happen – if you come in because your family wants you to give up smoking but you still want to smoke, it’s unlikely you will have a successful outcome.
Stress and anxiety, sleeping, fertility are all common issues which we work with regularly. Even goals like sleeping better, achieving key business milestones, or improved performance in the sport are all possible.
6. Talk a bit more about using hypnotherapy for fertility and birth.
Personally for me, this has been the most profound area to work in and something that I believe in passionately. A few years ago I had been doing IVF with not much success. I was so stressed and a complete wreck.
The mind can have a very powerful influence on the conception journey. Negative thoughts, emotions and behaviours can all lead to increased anxiety which can get in the way of your goal of conceiving. And the hardest thing to hear when you are trying to get pregnant is, ‘you must remain positive, stay calm, and relax’.
In desperation, I turned to hypnosis, which I should of done much sooner. At the time my judgement was so clouded by despair and anxiety I couldn’t think clearly. I feared that by undergoing hypnosis it was almost like I was admitting defeat as a woman somehow. I truly believe that IVF and the supportive treatments available are not admitting defeat at all. They are here to help us reach our dream.
I started seeing a hypnotherapist again and we began the journey together. The first thing we tackled was my stress. A stressed out body is not a fertile ground for an egg to grow and be nurtured. We focused on growth, life and light at a deeply unconscious level. Sometimes the sessions seemed so subtle, but I always left feeling light and calm and with a sense of hope that things were moving in the right direction.
What I didn’t understand at the time was that all the changes were beginning to happen first at the unconscious level of my mind. My mind was busy working on preparing my body for fertility and growth.
We worked on every stage of the journey. First learning to handle my stress levels, then preparing that healthy egg we needed, and finally we worked on the implantation stage so that when this healthy embryo was implanted she would stay put and be nice and cosy for 9 months.
Hypnosis is not a substitute to IVF, it should be viewed as something to do in conjunction with medical therapies and/or other suitable alternative therapies.
7. What’s a typical hypnosis session like?
If the sessions are face to face we sit in a comfy relaxed room and you are in one chair and I’m in the other. If we can’t do face to face, we can also do skype sessions in the comfort of your own home.
The idea is you should completely relax, close your eyes and your hypnotherapist will take you to a new, special place in your mind.
8. How many sessions would you recommend?
Hypnosis and self hypnosis is a cumulative process, the more you do it and visualise new improved behaviours the better the results and changes you will experience. While significant benefits can be achieved in a single hypnotherapy session the best results are obtained with three to four sessions.
9. What are some practical tools from hypnotherapy that mums can incorporate into their every day lives?
We can go into a hypnotic state ourselves often without even realising. For example, when you “zone” out watching tv or looking out the window.
We can all do self-hypnosis – start by taking 5 minutes out of your day, sit in a comfy relaxed chair with no distractions from kids, partners, iPhone or tv, and breathe deeply in and deeply out…. becoming aware of every part of your body completely relaxing.
Next, take a positive thought such as “ I will be calm and present today”. Visualise that thought as a floating ball of light in front of you. See the ball of light and imagine it floating all around you and this light is gently touching you… from your head down through your torso …all the way down to your feet. Keep breathing calming and softly as you completely rest your mind and absorb this beautiful calming light.