Mind power can beat pain

HYPNOSIS has come a long way since the days of dangling pocket watches and people dancing round like chickens. It can also be a valuable medical tool. Health reporter SARAH GILLETT met an Ipswich man who believes mind power can conquer anything, and watched him in action.

HYPNOSIS has come a long way since the days of dangling pocket watches and people dancing round like chickens. It can also be a valuable medical tool. Health reporter SARAH GILLETT met an Ipswich man who believes mind power can conquer anything, and watched him in action.

PLAGUED by chronic pain in his legs, pensioner Ron Page was at his wits' end.

Respite from the agony came only when he was asleep and even then it was only ever a matter of hours before the constant ache became so bad that it woke him up again.

Heavy duty pain-killers prescribed to him by doctors failed to stop the involuntary twitching in his legs and courses of acupuncture proved futile. Believing that nothing could solve the problem it was in sheer desperation that he decided to give Ipswich-based hypnotherapist Jason Newland a try.

“A friend of mine saw his card in the post office and told me about it,” said Ron.

“I just thought I might as well give it a go as I've tried everything else - acupuncture, a chiropractor.

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“This is a last resort really!”

For six weeks Jason has been visiting Ron in his Norwich Road home, and he invited us along to watch a session.

Sitting in his wheelchair, Ron closed his eyes as Jason's soothing voice took hold.

Slowly and calmly Jason asked Ron to relax, to listen to all the noises around him and feel them fading in to the background.

Once Ron was completely still he asked him to feel the pain in his foot and to give it a colour and a shape.

“A blue square,” Ron murmured in a drowsy voice.

“Good,” said Jason. “Now change it in to another colour and shape.”

This routine was repeated several times before Jason eventually asked him to imagine that shape being frozen and turning in to a block of ice. In Ron's mind this 'ice' was then left to sit in a garden and melt away in the sunshine before Jason slowly brought him out of his trance-like state.

Although looking slightly bleary-eyed, Ron was immediately able to talk coherently about the experience.

“You don't feel that you're just gone,” he said. “I can hear him talking and I can hear noises in the room, but you just relax and focus on his voice and forget about everything else.”

Jason explained: “Some people would call it a trance, but it's really a state of absolute relaxation.

“All the background noises are still there. It's very much like when you are on a beach sunbathing and you're completely relaxed. You can still hear all the noises around you, but you might sort of jolt awake.

“I get people to visualise their pain in different ways, to see it as a colour or as a shape, and to then visualise that shape moving away from their body. That way they are using a different sensory organ and everything is not focused on the actual physical pain.”

In Ron's case, the problems with his right leg began years ago and, despite a major operation, have never really gone away.

He said: “Initially they thought it was to do with a trapped nerve but I've developed arthritis in my ankle now. I used to do a lot of sports years ago and I think that's taken its toll.

“The pain starts in my ankle and spreads across the top of my foot and up through my leg, and because I haven't been able to get about as much, both of my ankles get swollen.”

Ron, 74, can't walk far, but can get up to answer his door, and manage the stairs in his house.

He admits he was cynical about hypnotherapy but has been genuinely surprised by the quick results.

“The pain is not as bad as it was. I used to sit here and every now and again my leg would jump.

“The muscles go into spasms and I can't control it, which is really painful, but over the last few weeks that seems to have stopped. I can now sit here without it twitching all the time.

“I really notice the difference at night too. It used to start twitching as soon as I laid down when I went to bed but that's got much better. I can actually get a good night's sleep now and that hasn't happened for ages.

“I know it's not going to be 100 per cent perfect and that I'm never going to be able to get up and run again, but it helps relieve things.”

For Jason, 35, seeing the change in Ron has been hugely rewarding. The practising Buddhist, who works in insurance during the day, has chosen to offer his services free-of-charge.

“People always ask me why I'm doing it for free,” said Jason.

“They're very cynical about why I don't want to make any money out of it, but I'm a Buddhist and believe very strongly in giving something to someone without getting anything back from it.

“Seeing the reactions and the difference in people I treat is enough reward for me.”

Recognising the limits of his hypnotic ability is also important for Jason. “I believe I can help anyone, but what I have to stress to people is that I'm not a doctor, I can't get rid of the causes of pain altogether.

“I will only perform hypnotherapy on someone who has checked that their doctor is happy with it first.

“The first time I came round here his ankle was so swollen that all I did was some relaxation techniques.

“I didn't want to focus on his leg or the pain there until he had been to the doctor and checked that it would be okay for him to see me.”

Jason, of Hadleigh Road, has been practising hypnotherapy for many years and has qualified as a Master Practitioner in Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP) which brings together lots of different therapies, including hypnotherapy.

He said: “Everyone has feelings of confidence and relaxation in them somewhere and what I do is give them a short cut to tap into them. It's a bit like a computer - all those emotions are there on the hard drive but you need some way of accessing them quickly.”

In recent months he has started has decided offering hypnotherapy free of charge, and is building up a core of clients with wideranging problems.

He said: “One lady I have been seeing is preparing for a major operation and is absolutely petrified at the thought of it, so we have been working on relaxation techniques. Another man was going in to hospital for some invasive medical procedures and I actually worked with him in the hospital to help calm him down. I've also helped people prepare for driving tests and overcome a fear of flying.”

While Jason's hypnotherapy work is currently restricted to evenings and weekends his ultimate aim is to use his skills within hospitals.

He said: “The NHS is becoming much more open to alternative therapies and I really believe that I could help a lot of people.”

For more information see: www.freepainrelief.co.uk

N Has hypnotherapy worked for you? Write to Star Letters, The Evening Star, 30 lower brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or email eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk.

Hypnotherapy puts people in to a trance-like condition where their conscious mind is suppressed and the subconscious mind is revealed.

It aims to re-programme patterns of behaviour within the mind, enabling irrational fears, phobias, negative thoughts and suppressed emotions to be overcome.

The therapist suggests ideas, concepts and lifestyle adaptations to the patient, the seeds of which become firmly planted.

As the body is released from conscious control, breathing becomes slower and deeper, the pulse rate drops and the metabolic rate falls. Similar changes along nervous pathways and hormonal channels enable pain to feel less acute, and the awareness of unpleasant symptoms, such as nausea or indigestion, to be alleviated.

Hypnosis is thought to work by altering our state of consciousness so that the analytical left-hand side of the brain is turned off, while the non-analytical right-hand side is made more alert.

The conscious control of the mind is inhibited, and the subconscious mind awoken. For example, a patient who wants to overcome their fear of spiders may try everything they consciously can to do it, but will still fail as long as their subconscious mind retains this terror. Progress can only be made be reprogramming the subconscious so that deep-seated instincts and beliefs are abolished or altered.

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