In the northern hemisphere, we’re getting into the season of school beginnings. New classes, subjects, teachers, stationery supplies… however, with all these new arrangements, there’s one thing that stays ‘constant’ – our minds.
I’m the first person to share how amazing, flexible and absorbent the mind can be – seeing transformation on a daily basis – yet minds don’t change simply because we’ve moved from one form or grade to another, and holdovers or challenges or issues from past learning can get in the way of any new or planned success for the upcoming school year.
This is not just something we have to face while attending school – we can experience new jobs, new relationships, new hobbies or skills, and still have the same ‘problems’ follow us or tax us progressing forward. I’ve found that working with the subconscious mind, that deeper part of mind where habits, perceptions, patterns and beliefs are stored, allows us to re-jig our internal filing system, or learning system, to help us open up and absorb the new lessons at hand.
While I may be writing about the advantages hypnosis has on helping students during their school year, these benefits can be tweaked to apply to adult, day-to-day, efforts. If you need help in doing so, please get in touch. I’ve written some quick tips for different ‘school’ issues that work with the subconscious mind that you can put to use right away.
Calm during the school storm
I’d say that school is the ‘perfect storm’ of many personalities, pressures, expectations and dynamics that can cause a great deal of stress – for students and the people who love them.
Thinking back to school days (at all levels), there were teachers, classrooms, classmates, and subjects that were challenging for me. While a certain level of pushing past my comfort zone gave me exposure and access to new talents and strengths, there came a point beyond which the environmental forces I was interacting with became overwhelming. And in that ‘overwhelm’, when my senses and rationalizing ability was second-rate, sensible analysis and logical explanations don’t work – I was floating around in my feeling, irrational subconscious, rather than my practical, no-nonsense conscious mind.
And that’s the time when well-meaning others would try to speak directly with the conscious mind by sharing ‘the facts’, but they completely missed the mark by not communicating with where I was in my innermost, emotional subconscious, so their efforts failed. Which I’m sure made it even more frustrating to those who were trying to help in the first place.
While hypnosis-given suggestions during emotional episodes can be extremely powerful, telling someone to “Be Calm!” is often seen as a threat or create even more stress to the overwhelmed or sensitive individual. Because the command is so distant from the current emotional reading, it seems almost impossible (and is chalked up as another indicator for failure or feeling out of control). Over time, heightened emotional states become the norm and access to ‘calm’ gets further and further away. How to get it back?
Simple and repeated exercises of retrieving calm and positive experiences from the past can help. This is easy in hypnosis, but can also be done ‘at home’, away from the immediate or forthcoming stressor, like at bedtime if bed is a safe and comfortable place. Gaining awareness of the here and now – like noticing breathing, or feeling feet grounded below, can take us from worry about the future or regretting the past, because we’re busy focusing on what’s going on right now. Also linking to past experiences of success and feeling good with the powerful imagination can be fruitful reinforcement of emotional proficiency.
This is great for parents to practice as well, because then we can avoid the emotional “it’s always like this (and will always be)” trap, to be present and instead ask “what’s going on right now that’s causing this stress?” Hypnosis can easily deal with the backlog of emotional experiences, so your job of holding the space and creating a new normal of calm will go a long way in resetting emotional standards.
I’m not good at…
I’m not saying that each of us has to be perfect or brilliant in every subject, however, I often hear more about weaknesses from parents and students then I do of their strengths. Sure, I’m the person many come to when there’s an understanding ‘blip’, but I’m actually talking about my experiences while being out in the everyday world.
What does that mean? If I got a ‘dollar’ for every time I heard someone call him- or herself too stupid, or not good at something, I’d be a very rich woman right now! Many times it happens when people are faced with a new learning curve and don’t feel they have the tools to work through it. Most of the time it’s lack of experience rather than lack of innate intelligence, but we tend to get a bit confused when we’re behind the eight-ball and question ourselves (even though we’ve been through the same thing over and over, from learning to walk to becoming an expert in our field – step by learning step). Many times I find myself saying, “you aren’t lacking in smarts, it’s just that you haven’t done it before, so you’re going to have to learn as you’re experiencing it. What a fun ride.”
Maybe it’s the fear of immodesty to talk about victories rather than our defeats, but repetition of ‘truths’ of ourselves compound whatever they may be. If we repeat “I’ve got a bad memory” over and over, it’s going to register in the subconscious. Rephrased as “I’ve got a good memory but that thought seems to have drifted away for a second. It’ll be back.” tells a more realistic tale, and gives a great suggestion for the subconscious to easily bring the thought to mind in a short while rather than never.
For parents (and self-stewards of our adult-selves) sometimes the easiest way to discover ways to get better in areas where we, or our favourite student, is challenged, is to look for the good elsewhere. A child who can’t focus on a textbook for more than a few minutes, but can play a video game for hours, has the ability to focus, no doubt at all, yet needs that asset highlighted and redirected to link with other activities. Remember, even if the child isn’t focused on what WE think they should be focusing on, they aren’t ‘distracted’ but ‘differently focused’. And that’s one of the skills they need, to stick to a task or complete a project (just like video games).
Reminding the subconscious mind of links before bedtime is an easy ‘hypnotic’ way to shift gifts and successes from one area to another. For example, “imagine how involved you are solving problems while you’re playing your video game, and how time passes without you even knowing it… you’re so good at that… now imagine that same feeling with your math, solving problems just like you do in your game, focusing and moving forward in spite of obstacles…”
Testing, testing, 1, 2, 3…
The challenging loop of worrying about tests and exams, is that our mind, in a stress-aroused state, can’t absorb information as it can when it feels at ease, so there’s even more to worry about…
Testing is hard for a lot of people – it may be the amount of weight given to this ‘performance’ rather than an overall learning curve or longer-term understanding of a subject matter; it could be the format of test or testing space; it could be a number of different reasons that cause us to ‘fight, flight or freeze’ during an exam.
In that mental tightening (just as a muscle tightens when it’s under pressure) recall is diminished. No, it’s not memory – we have a huge supply of memory in our powerful subconscious – but rather it is recall (or lack thereof) that makes answering questions on tests problematic. Imagine a filing drawer with all the information needed for a particular task – stress and worry either messes up the order of files or accidentally locks the drawer shut – so a tester can’t access something that he or she already has learned.
A friend was brought into the principal’s office because his daughter must have ‘cheated’ on a test. They later discovered that she taught herself hypnosis after having experienced it with a hypnotherapist for another matter, but had remembered the relaxation and good feelings she got from it. This helped her stay calm, and to focus and keep track of time in an easy way so she finished all the questions she knew and got top marks because of it. The authorities were surprised and her parents were so proud!
Hypnosis can help reduce the worry and concern of tests and exams, help focus and prioritize studying, assignments and goals, and clear historic ‘failings’ so a new and improved version of the (same) student can emerge. Which turns test ‘anxiety’ into an excitement to reveal all the good stuff a student has learned by sharing it during a test or exam.
The “peripherals” of life (20 winks and 3 squares)
Sometimes we forget that our body is a very important part of our ability to not only attend school (or replace school with whatever ‘big’ thing is in your life now), but do well at it. And the support that we give or don’t give for our physical self – proper movement, nutrition and sleep – can stymie our capacity to mentally and emotionally bolster ourselves. Potential for a vicious cycle? Certainly.
When we pre-worry or wind ourselves up about performance or deadlines, we can sideline aspects of self-care that are critical to our continued functioning. We worry instead of sleep well, then we feel groggy and less alert during the day and don’t feel like moving our bodies or turn to comfort foods that may not be nutritionally excellent. Then our bodies reject the lack of fitness or complain about a need for healthier foods and our sleep is subsequently disrupted.
And so we get into a habit of these neglectful patterns which sometimes takes over where school or external forces began and we spin an internal web of sub-health and forget our potential power of mind and body.
Hypnosis is known of eliminating or changing poor habits for more robust or supportive ones – because when the subconscious mind is dealt with directly, there isn’t the need for short-term willpower which often seems to come up too short for our own good.
Sleep is an issue I help clients with a lot. We can help younger ones to imagine or pretend to be slow or sleepy animals, which can be both fun and effective in reducing stimulation and speed at bedtime.
Other than instilling good sleep hygiene, you can also support your student in starting to care for him/herself by teaching some suggestions that can help to get the restorative rest needed. Some might be:
- (Every night) it’s getting easier to sleep well and wake rested
- My subconscious mind will take care of any worries and give me answers in the morning – my job is to sleep
- I’m supporting my body and mind by sleeping and they respond well by (finish with benefits here)
- The sooner I get to sleep, the sooner I’ll have a great day tomorrow
- Sleep becomes easier, better and more restful with good practice – I can do this
- My body is the one that runs sleep and it needs it now, so I’ll just let it do its job by relaxing in bed
Repeated as a student drifts off to sleep increased the opportunity for restoration and reconstruction of a more virtuous cycle. Yes, these suggestions work for adults too!
School and so much more…
There are so many other ways hypnosis can help with students:
- Time management
- Clear communication of needs and wants
- Language, sports or other extra-curricular mastery
- Emotional and relationship management (bullying issues, fears, frustration)
- Weight and health support
- Procrastination and perfectionism
- Fear of public speaking or performance
- Family: with learning challenges, support within the household, or introvert/extravert understanding
- Enhanced creativity and problem-solving
- Focus and determination
- Joy and self-compassion
You might have noticed that many of the challenges that students face are similar to those adults do – hypnosis can support the ‘kid’ in all of us, no matter the age or situation. Let us know if we can help you or those you care about on the learning journey of life.