Smoking cessation and weight loss are the two most common goals of people seeking hypnotherapy. Fortunately, hypnotherapy is an excellent method for reaching either goal. When hypnotherapy is combined with mindfulness training, you have an even more powerful tool for permanent habit change, leading to lasting freedom from cigarettes and overeating.
First: realize that smoking and overeating/eating junk foods are habits. Habits are ingrained behaviors that take on a life of their own and begin to happen automatically, without our conscious awareness. I had a nurse friend who confided in me that she bought a bag of Hershey’s chocolate kisses on her way home from work (a 30 minute commute). By the time she arrived home, she discovered she had eaten every piece of candy, and didn’t even remember doing it.
Many times overeating and smoking are paired with other behaviors (watching TV, driving, socializing, drinking, worrying, etc.), which allow these habits to go unnoticed, below the surface of our awareness.
A first step in habit change is awareness. Congratulations to all of us who realize our lives could be improved by changing unhealthy habits. The next step is learning how to be deeply relaxed and aware at the same time. When we allow our thoughts to quiet down and we focus on the present moment, we then begin to develop an awareness that we can choose something “different” from the old habit groove, which leads us down a path we don’t want to go. What do you choose in your life right now? What is the “ripple effect” of that choice for yourself and those around you?
Here is a simple exercise in mindful eating. It’s easy to do here in north central Washington State, a land where acres and acres of incredible apples are grown. This exercise makes a great dessert in the evening.
2. Now you have 16 apple pieces.
3. Eat each apple piece by thoroughly chewing 1/2 of each piece at a time, and swallowing before taking another bite.
4. Eat your apple pieces sitting at your dining table – focus on every sensory experience: how the pieces taste, smell, sound, look, feel.
5. By the time you finish, you will have a new appreciation for apples and you will be amazed at how satisfied you feel – try it!