by, Anne Milligan, LCSW

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Addictions, Spirituality, and Hypnotherapy: We are All Addicted to Something
I often find myself chuckling inwardly when I hear people criticizing HYPNOTHERAPY as a way of "tricking" people. I know WHY people have that impression, but I also know they often don’t realize that we are being hypnotized by various things all the time. Even a daydream is a light hypnotic trance. Driving on a long trip and staring at the yellow line on the road puts many of us in a light hypnotic trance. We are still paying attention, but with a different state of mind.

Years of research in the area of addiction has yielded some interesting information on what is actually happening in the mind and body of an addict (i.e., someone who has been "hypnotized" to need a drug or other substance or person, etc.). We often think of addictions with regard to "hard core" problems such as alcohol and other addictive substances. But habits (attachments and dependency) are formed in the physiological structure (mind-body) of everyone. And the longer these habits have been in place, the harder it is to break them. We human beings are definitely habit-forming creatures and many of our difficulties in life result when we are met with hindrances to our attachments. The following are some examples of fairly typical "addictions" that people experience, besides drugs and alcohol:

• Addiction to a relationship:
Addiction to a relationship often shows up as an almost complete loss of one's own sense of self in the context of a relationship, and a dis-connect in one's relationship with God. The other person literally, then, becomes the addicted person’s idol or "god." I know that is tough for many people to grasp, since the attachment seems so much like "love". The nature of the dependency does not often reveal itself until there is some kind of perceived threat to the security of the relationship. I cannot begin to say how many clients I have encountered in therapy who are in the midst of withdrawals from an addiction to another person. Their behavior and the depth of their pain present exactly the same as that of a person who is physically withdrawing from drugs or alcohol. Their healing comes first and foremost in recognizing the nature of the dependency, the loss of a sense of a separate personal self, and a gradual "prodigal son or daughter" return to a primary spiritual connection, and to one’s own self.

• Addiction to a particularly limited way of thinking: Core beliefs
Much of who we are today was learned from our parents or primary caregivers. There simply is no other way around that. All of those suggestions, the clear and hidden family rules, the general mood around the household, the kinds of attention we got based on certain behaviors - all of those memories are stored in the cellular structure of our mind and body. Therefore, many of our patterned ways of thinking about ourselves and the world in which we live are deeply imprinted, like data on a computer. I am convinced, and research studies strongly suggest, that chronic depression is often the result of habitually negative patterns of thinking. Clinical Depression has been called a "contagious social disease" and I fully believe it. It is literally passed around within families. As strange as it may seem, some of us would rather cling to our familiar melancholy than take the bold and courageous steps to make radical internal changes.

• Addiction to television:
Most people do not want to acknowledge how addicted they are to television shows and would not have the slightest idea what to do with their time, without television. The fact is that the staring and passive quality of "watching" television is quite hypnotic. Studies have shown that television watchers often underestimate the amount of food they’re eating while watching television. I am convinced that excessive television watching is a key contributor to obesity. Television commercials are actually created with the advice of psychologists who teach them how to subliminally suggest hunger for certain foods, at certain times, and with a visual cue such as the "golden arches" or the smell of the food when they deliberately send it out to the surrounding areas of the store. Even the weather reports these days are being used to manipulate emotions of fear, in order to coax people back to watch the "latest forecast".

It helps to keep in mind that, by their very nature, addictive habits are binding and limiting and the role of genuine, professional hypnotherapy (which is not a trick or a game) is to unbind and to free us from limitations so as to continue to grow and learn and be happier and healthier every day of our lives. I don’t see how anyone could object to that!!

May all beings be well.
May all beings be happy.

Anne Milligan, LCSW February 13, 2014


Rather than focusing on the negative aspects of an unhealthy addiction/attachment, it is most effective to focus on what could be done to form a healthier one, esssentially canceling out the old habit in favor of the new one! Some of these more positive thought habits to focus on (they're medically proven natural antidepressants by the way), might include the imagery of healing light, thoughts of forgiveness, gratitude, unconditional love, beauty, and inner peace.

Also, modern research on the connection between the mind and body helps us realize one essential factor in breaking deeply entrenched bad habits, and that is learning to get our stress under control. Sounds simple doesn't it? Most addictions are supported and strengthened by the way the mind-body processes and learns to deal with stress. Did you know that one negative thought of anger, resentment, hatred, etc., send a stress hormone called cortisol shooting into your bloodstream which only serves to poison your body and make you even more stressed? Anne Milligan created a powerful set of meditations and compiled them on a CD entitled "Into the Light: Mindfulness Meditations for Relaxation, Healing, and Staying Well" that offer a series of steps in deepening your ability to relax, change your thought habits from negative to positive, and gradually heal your mind and body. As has been stated elsewhere on this website, the results in over a year of receiving feedback from participants, show that the meditations really work, if you are willing to put in the time. See below to order the CD. For more detailed information, CLICK HERE

Mindfulness Meditation for Relaxation, Healing, & Staying Well

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