Healing Without Words: Exploring the Power of Energy and Images

Have you ever had one of those epiphany moments?

You know, those moments when it seems as though there’s been some sort of divine intervention, a spectacular coincidence, a chain of incredible events evolving from a chance encounter or perhaps an illuminating life changing moment of revelation?

I have experienced one of these moments; a deeply powerful realisation that something (I didn’t know what) transcended everything I knew and that I’d ever known in my conscious awareness. It really did change my life.

I was seventeen and had been battling anorexia for three years; anorexia was a reaction to some difficult experiences in my early teens. Words cannot describe the depth of despair that this disorder wreaked in my head. It’s a disorder that torments the mind of the sufferer and the thought of ending that wretched, miserable existence often seemed like a very tempting option.

But, on a normal Saturday evening back in May 1994, everything changed . . . for the better!

Until this point, no doctor, no psychiatrist, no counsellor or no therapeutic intervention had managed to help. I can’t explain adequately enough how pointless it seemed to spew out the same meaningless drivel to someone who simply could not connect with my inner anguish.

I was given tablets to stimulate my appetite. Really??? Why that was considered appropriate for someone who feared everything to do with eating, I do not know! I have no recollection of what was said in therapy sessions and the only thing I can say with any degree of certainty was that nothing improved. Absolutely nothing!!!

However, on this particular Saturday night back in 1994, some music, written by a composer who had departed this earth over two hundred years previously, weaved its magic in my troubled mind.

The conductor walked out to take his bow to rapturous applause, silence . . . and the music began.

Mozart’s Le Nozze di Figaro was unleashed.

Now, without going into why I love this music so much, I’ll just say that Act I unfolded, the story took shape (I was an opera noob  – noob is a term my young son uses which I think means a complete beginner), I enjoyed the comical elements and, of course, the music which brilliantly characterised and mimicked the emotions of this farcical day.

Act II, however, was a completely different kettle of fish. Countess Almaviva mourns the lost love of her husband who has been wooing her maid. “Give me back my love or I’d rather die” she laments although quite quickly, her forlorn character morphs into one of courage, feistiness and dignity.

During this forty minute act it was as though I was looking into a mirror of emotions, the music reflecting back to me the sadness that was etched so deeply in my core. This depth of understanding that was now echoing through my crippled mind still astounds me to this day. How did the music know how I was feeling?

It has been my quest to try and understand this, dare I say it, miraculous experience ever since.

Twenty-seven years later . . . and I may have found the answer . . .

I do believe that, as we progress through life, we are unconsciously drawn towards the things that give us meaning and this was certainly the case with my recent undertaking of a Diploma in Integrated Energy Techniques.

And it was precisely because of the connection with something beyond physical reality as we know it that I recognised the similarities between the core essence of this therapy and my rather unconventional, other-worldly healing experience back in 1994.

So what is Integrated Energy Technique (IET) and how does it work?

I could begin to explain the concept of IET but I think I’d convey its power much more effectively if I wrote about why I believe it is such a freeing and insightful form of therapy, how it helps to gain a much wider perspective and how it promotes a deep sense of healing.

IET goes way beyond words. It works on an entirely different level, one of its core beliefs being that everything is energy. Ultimately, we are feeling and visual beings. We feel something before we think it. Emotions are quite literally, energy in motion. Pictures evoke feelings. They have the ability to convey abstract and complex concepts. So to move away from words and allow the energy of our unconscious minds to explore, without limitation, beyond time and space is immensely powerful and the results are quite astounding.

Another premise of IET is that there is a part of us that knows more than we know; that the unconscious mind has the ability to connect with a greater wisdom beyond our conscious awareness. Now, this could indeed be metaphorical in nature . . . or not! In reality, it doesn’t really matter. The intention behind this therapy is to allow the unconscious mind the freedom to go wherever it needs to go to shed light, meaning or wisdom on to a situation. The boundaries and limitations of words, beliefs, preconceived idea and assumptions become redundant. We can think of it as a transderivational search; not just looking back through our memory store to find references to current issues but to search metaphorically through time and space.

So what might come up?

You’d be surprised!

In my first practical experience of IET, I was lucky enough to be a guinea pig for Sue Beer, the tutor extraordinaire who, along with Emma Roberts, is the brains behind IET. Both Sue and Emma are very experienced and knowledgeable therapists and tutors who run the EFT Centre in London.

I chose to work with a feeling that rears its ugly head from time to time, rather like a little internal battle of thoughts and beliefs.

Having established where this inner battle manifests in my body (working with the feeling), I was set free (metaphorically speaking) to explore wherever my mind took me to find some relevance to this feeling.

I’m quite a straight forward subject so I easily whooshed off, breaking down the barriers of time and space, until I came upon an image of a medieval scene in which a bloody battle was taking place. Knights on horseback rode gallantly towards the enemy, swords crashed, shields were raised, and legs, arms and horses merged to look like a heaving plate of violent spaghetti. There was, however, a very clear message attached to this scene. This bloody battle had no triggering event or justifiable reason. It was nonsensical and not dissimilar from a scene one might read about in the mad world of Alice in Wonderland.

And guess what? Perhaps this is what’s happening with my inner battle.

When that realisation hit home, I understood that I no longer needed to take any notice of my internal clash of thoughts and beliefs. I could see them in a whole new light and felt remarkable unaffected by them. Do I need to know why they started in the first place? Not really. I’ve put them in their place now with the knowledge that they’re not relevant any more.

So, you see, my mind worked metaphorically. It knew something more than what I consciously know and it fed back to me exactly what I needed in order to move away from that internal battle. I didn’t need words; I didn’t need to understand why or how this battle came to be.

And perhaps, that is what happened back in 1994 when I experienced a profound sense of healing through the sound energy of Mozart’s music. Whatever happened in my mind, what I heard changed, beyond doubt, my life perspective. Was it simply metaphorical or was it a divine intervention? Who knows . . .

I hope that, in this blog, I’ve introduced you to a form of therapy that goes beyond the traditional methods; a form of therapy that combines, so beautifully, the more spiritual practices, particularly those of Eastern Philosophies, with the ever expanding research of therapeutics and neuroscience.

Anna Ritchie is a GHR-Reg Clinical Hypnotherapist and creator of Cracking the Snacking Code, a powerful hypnosis recording to help you eat more mindfully and embrace a healthier relationship with food. Click HERE for more info.

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The Entangled Emotions of Emotional Eating: Heal Your Way to a Healthy Relationship With Food

“Look Anna! Can’t you see how delicious this meal looks?”

“Yes I can!” I mutter exasperatedly under my breath.

This is just one example of the many unhelpful albeit well-intentioned comments I received when I suffered from anorexia in my teens.

If any of you out there have been unfortunate enough to battle this disorder then you’ll know and understand that this comment completely misses the point.

Thankfully, it is now more widely acknowledged that the causes behind an anorexic mind-set rarely have anything to do with food; food is the conduit between the emotional state and the external environment.

But is this only relevant to severe eating disorders such as anorexia?

Absolutely not!

The sheer size of the weight-loss industry demonstrates the immense desire so many of us have to achieve our “ideal” weight, to lose just a few kilos or to drop a dress size.

For many people, weight gain due to, but not limited to, illness, medication, injury or having had children is beyond their control. But for many of us, our drive to lose weight is perhaps borne out of the realisation that our weight gain has imperceptibly taken hold in one way or another. Now, maybe weight gain has happened as a consequence of life and a few adjustments here and there are all that it takes to get back on track. Or, perhaps weight gain is a result of using food as a coping mechanism, an emotional crutch that has helped us through life’s trickier moments. Certainly, an emotional reliance on food is the most common weight-related issue that is presented to me in my hypnotherapy practice.

This brings me to the crux of my thoughts around food, namely, the relationship we have with food and how we often use food to fulfil an emotional need or desire.

Recently, I saw an article that included a visual representation of grief. It was an entangled ball of wool interwoven with a myriad of painful emotions.

I realised that the array of emotions relating to food could be successfully depicted in a similar way.

In the above diagram that I’ve cobbled together, I’ve chosen some of the most common emotions that we attach to food.

Comfort is up there at the top when it comes to eating in excess or falling off the dieting wagon. In many ways, it is an umbrella term for some of the other feelings in the above illustration and more. When we’re looking to numb our feelings we might seek comfort in food. When we’re bored, we might brighten our mood by eating something we enjoy.

Interestingly, recent research has discovered that many of the foods we turn to for emotional comfort contain substantial amounts of fatty acids. It is thought that these fatty acids have a direct effect on the parts of the brain that intensify or suppress emotion and indeed, the researchers found that the people who received fatty acids through a feeding tube reported reduced feelings of sadness. We don’t even need to taste the food in order to experience its effect! No wonder we turn to comfort food when we are desperate to feel better or desperate to lessen the impact of intense and difficult emotions.

If one of the main drivers for overeating is comfort, then could the mind-set of someone who chooses to limit their food intake be driven by the need to deprive feelings of comfort? Although I have personal experience of both undereating and overeating and am aware of the emotional differences, it only takes a quick search online to bring up the overriding traits that contribute to the excessive dieting mind-set which includes self-loathing, self-punishment and wanting to disappear.

I know from my experience of being trapped in this mind-set that these feelings are quite opposed to seeking comfort in the traditional sense of the word. I remember having overwhelming feelings of self-hatred as I took it upon myself to inflict punishment on me for being me (purging is occasional in anorexia but more central to bulimia). Nothing is ever as straight forward as it seems when it comes to food, however. We only have to look at one of the core beliefs of NLP (Neuro Linguistic Programming) to appreciate that all our actions, even perceived negative ones, have a positive intention. I clearly recollect thinking how much better I felt when I’d punished myself by not eating or purging. A kind of inverted-comfort perhaps . . .

Control (or a lack of control) often features in our emotional eating habits. For some of us, the desire and emotional need for comfort food obliterates our ability to control our eating habits. Conversely, limiting food gives people the stringent control they are looking for. When we fall off the dieting wagon, we can experience feelings of failure therefore increasing the desire for comfort or punishment (self-punishment drives both overeating and purging) or, if we manage to control our eating, we can feel a real sense of achievement, strength and success which gives us the impetus to carry on. It’s easy to see how we end up on a slippery slope to eating too much or too little and it’s all emotionally driven.

Some, if not all of the “benefits” listed on the ball of wool illustration will span the entire spectrum of emotional eating and will play out in their own unique way. What is evident, however, is the huge emotional undercurrent that drives our eating habits and responses to food.

Also, we must not forget the Law of Reverse Effect.

If we tell a small child not to do something, what do they do?

That’s right! They do it!

It’s completely normal and it’s how we’re biologically wired.

So, what happens when we deny ourselves certain foods?

I don’t need to tell you the answer.

What can we do about our emotional eating?

In very simple terms, our emotional minds are incredibly powerful and they are fundamental to our survival and keeping us safe. For example, if, as children, we turned to something, such as eating chocolate, when experiencing difficult times, the emotional mind remembers that eating chocolate helped to make those moments more bearable so it prompts us to do it again. And it doesn’t just give us a quick nudge. Eventually, the feelings can be as overwhelming as a child screaming for something it wants. Not an easy thing to ignore!

This is a big hurdle to get over. Of course it can be done but not with traditional diets unless you have unshakeable willpower. Yes, traditional diets can help you to lose weight in the first instance but they don’t sort out your mind. How many times do you hear people say that they’ve previously lost weight but put it all back on again? Eventually the biggie emotions will win through.

If you are a comfort eater, I urge you to look at what your mind is trying to tell you. What is the message behind your emotional eating? What needs healing? What’s troubling you in those moments of temptation around food? In emotional terms, what does eating or not eating do for you?

If you heal your mind and learn to re-parent yourself with healthier and more nurturing responses to difficult emotions, you will begin to embrace a healthier relationship with food.

Anna Ritchie is a GHR-Reg Clinical Hypnotherapist and creator of Cracking the Snacking Code, a powerful hypnosis recording to help you eat more mindfully and embrace a healthier relationship with food. Click HERE for more info.

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Beyond Time and Space: The Ultimate Way to Gain Perspective

Beyond time and space.

Close your eyes (when you’ve read this sentence), breathe deeply and fully, breathing in through your nose and out through your mouth, and just imagine, in a way that feels right for you, the words “beyond time and space.”

Beyond time and space.

Beyond time and space.

How do you feel having imagined this?

Did any thoughts, feelings or sensations come up for you?

Perhaps you felt nothing which is also fine – there are no rights or wrongs with this sort of stuff.

Take a moment to connect with that experience and just let it be and accept it without judgement.

Just bringing a bit of mindfulness practice into this . . .

So . . . why am I talking about being beyond time and space?

Apart from currently having the time and space to sit down and write, I recently visited the beyondness beyond time and space.


For a change, I attended a hypnotherapy appointment as the client and not the practitioner. I was hoping that I’d leave my hypnotherapist head somewhere else and enjoy the experience for what it was and, thankfully, I did.

The session was wonderfully relaxing, despite me having taken some of my mind gremlins to sort out and, as is typical during hypnosis, my focus was drawn to particular words and phrases, words and phrases that my unconscious mind clearly felt were necessary for me to look at in some way.

I’m sure that by now, you can guess the phrase I latched on to. Yes, you’re right! It was, wait for it . . . “beyond time and space.”

Oh my goodness! From the mad rush of everyday life which includes dashing to prepare packed lunches, getting my son to school on time having done all my social media posts for the day, rushing to my first appointment, wondering if I’ll have time for a lunchbreak, dashing back for the school run, homework, dinner, study, more work and evening clients . . . I could go on (as most of you can relate to) . . . beyond time and space seemed so inviting.

In my mind in this beyondness beyond time and space, I felt as though I was in an expansive greatness in which there was no gravity, there were no clocks ticking, just calm acceptance that I was a part of something incredible that was beyond my comprehension.

Yes, I know, it all sounds so new age and woo-woo. I get that. But actually, it doesn’t matter. There are many roads to Rome. The destination was reached. I was calm. I’d left the breakneck, time-restricted, mad-rush of everyday life and I began to see that I’d let myself push too far beyond my limits. It was time to take greater care of myself. Re-establish the balance in my life.

What if time didn’t matter?

What if space or distance weren’t obstacles?

I began to question why there is such little emphasis on more reflective practices and why life is so driven. Of course, I know the answer is that we need to stay afloat. We need food, water and security. I know we’re living out the modern version of our hunter gatherer instincts, driven by our biological desire to survive. Ironically, however, by living in the fast lane, pushing and pushing ourselves to achieve more and more, I wonder if we’re actually putting our foot on the gas and accelerating towards our demise. Is that too dramatic? It could be but then again, how many of you reading this have reached a point where enough is enough in one or more aspects of your life? How many of you have experienced what we collectively refer to as burnout?

I have.

I’ve dived spectacularly towards rock bottom.

I’ve since picked myself up and made some big life changes but I still need to keep myself in check. It’s so easy to get swept away along life’s busy and stressful treadmill.

This recent hypnotherapy session was a wake-up call to rebalance the scales again. In reality, I’m still musing about what beyond time and space actually means. That our perceptions are locked into the dual paradigm of time and space is entirely normal. These are the things that keep us grounded in this physical world. To transcend them, albeit in our minds, however, allows for a deeper awareness that there is possibility beyond the busyness of life.

Anna Ritchie is a GHR-Reg Clinical Hypnotherapist. Visit www.annaritchie.com for more info.

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Musings of a Middle-aged Therapist

Having escaped the higgledy-piggledy life of a musician and embraced the more reflective life of a therapist, I’ve had the time and space to muse on the things happening around me.

Today, my musings have drawn out my fuddy-duddy side, or at least that’s how I’m interpreting it in a slightly amused way.

I’ve been doing the school run with my young son for the past year and increasingly, I’ve found myself having an inner debate about the length of school skirts. I have to confess that I’m quite shocked at how little of the school skirt is left. Now, before I continue, I want to state that how people choose to dress doesn’t concern me at all; I’m a staunch advocate of freedom of expression and freedom of speech. I think that my thoughts are driven more by a tendency to ask WHY! WHY do young girls feel the need to shorten their skirts until they’re barely there and, are they not bothered that it’s freezing at the moment?

This particular inner debate was reignited this morning as I was walking back home after the school drop-off. In front of me, in the local park, were two secondary school age girls both wearing skirts that were so short, I found myself wondering if hot pants might perhaps have been a more suitable alternative? As it’s not an uncommon sight in my local area, I had to conclude that it’s a desired way to dress.

So, why am I writing about this? I keep asking myself this question.

The answer, I’ve decided, is that it’s the WHY that bothers me.

I’ve arrived at the conclusion that there are two possible explanations (or perhaps a combination of both) for the barely visible school skirt. Either girls are becoming increasingly more confident in themselves and displaying, in part through the way they dress, a self-assured, innate feeling of inner strength or, there is an underlying, unspoken societal belief that self-respect and self-worth are bound up with a sexualised image.

If the former was true then I’d be delighted. I cannot shake from my mind, however, that the latter has far more influence and gravity.

Of course, it’s human nature to want to be liked and socially accepted but I would argue that seeking the approval of our peers rarely takes on more importance than in those formative teenage years. These are years full of exploration and experimentation which I believe are essential for helping children transition into healthy, well-balanced adults. As an adult society, however, I believe that we have a duty to provide the scaffolding around our young people.

I’m veering off course slightly but I feel compelled to question our sense of responsibility as a society when it comes to allowing our children to be children without piling on adult baggage. I don’t have to look far to see really warped images and depictions of people and life that confuse superficial beauty with self-worth, riches with success and sex with love. I could go on.

Again, I have to ask why?

Of course, it’s about money. Desirability sells.

But I suspect there’s something more sinister going on.

Why are young girls feeling that they have to (almost) bare all? What’s driving this? I believe that despite women having more rights, there is still an unspoken, underlying rhetoric underpinning our society that depicts women as sex objects. For all the progress that, on the surface, has been made, I do not believe that, as a society, our deepest core beliefs have changed enough.

So, there you have it, my school-run musings triggered by middle age and the mystery of the disappearing skirt.

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Be mindful of mindfulness: Thought provoking (and perhaps controversial) musings on the pitfalls and advantages of mindfulness.

I sometimes treat myself to Holland & Barrett’s Healthy well-being magazine. It encourages me to sit down, relax (which I find difficult) and read about things that really interest me and it’s a way of bringing some calm into my life. An article called “Mindfulness is making our stress worse” by Ronald Purser, professor of management at San Francisco University, caught my attention. And, why wouldn’t it? In the UK, mindfulness is offered as part of NHS mental health programs and is promoted as a DIY therapy for combating stress, anxiety, pain and many other emotional, mental and physical issues.

In fact, I attended a twelve week mindfulness course a few years ago and I loved it. It was great to be part of a group and amongst other people on a similar journey of de-stressing and finding calm in their lives. The group was really supportive and, as an added bonus, I met people who have become great friends.

But . . . what about the mindfulness? My first impression? It was interesting! REALLY interesting! It was fascinating to become aware of the thoughts that floated into my mind. They were so incredibly random yet must, on a level, have been connected. I could really see the benefits of practising this. It’s like brain training and not dissimilar to working out at the gym. Building up a strength and resilience in order to allow troublesome thoughts to pass through, to let the thoughts come and go without inflicting their negative messages on one’s mind both consciously and subconsciously is a wonderful and, most importantly, beneficial practice.

However, the process of focusing inwardly actually made me more aware of the aches and pains that I had been experiencing. In fact, I became aware of pain that I hadn’t, until then, consciously realised I had. I came out of the first session with a sore knee and limped home! When I relate this experience to people, I add an element of humour to it. I do look back and have a good old chuckle at myself! Now, this could be viewed as a positive experience. Having realised that I had a sore knee, I was able to look for the root cause of the problem. Perhaps I had, in a sense, become dissociated from that part of my body. Is that a positive or a negative thing? I’m not sure there’s an answer as it really depends on how we each perceive this particular scenario. On a more serious note, however, I do agree, in part, with the author of the article, Ronald Purser. He states “many people come to meditation as a way to escape pain and emotional issues, a way of numbing the self . . . my view is that it enables people to avoid critical thinking which might otherwise benefit them by allowing them to look at and address the causes of their distress.”

Although Ronald Purser is suggesting an outcome that doesn’t necessarily fit into my own experience, he does have a valid point. What if one begins to let helpful thoughts come and go? Do we really want to be dissociating ourselves from our minds and the myriad of thoughts both positive and negative?
I’m simply asking questions here and even if people who practice mindfulness feel its benefits and do not experience any of the points I’ve raised here, that is equally valid and any comments regarding different perspectives are welcome.

So, how does the practice of mindfulness relate to musical performance anxiety? In terms of helping clients with musical performance anxiety, I would suggest that a practice such as mindfulness which focuses one’s attention inwardly is not appropriate or helpful in the moment of performance. Think about it. For those of you with experience of performance nerves, do you really want to draw your attention to how you are feeling, physically and mentally? Yes, I know that one of the aims of mindfulness is to be able to let thoughts drift away without judgement as soon as they enter your mind but, in that moment, in your performance, do you want to heighten your awareness of these things: panic, sweating, shaking, fast and shallow breathing, tension? Will that help? Surely we want the opposite. We want to be immersed in the music in that moment. We want our attention to be more externally focused. We want to be receptive and reactive to the music and the performers around us and we want our musical intuition to be free.

For a successful musical career, I believe that a strong belief and trust in our innate musical abilities and in ourselves is vitally important. In this respect, I’m not convinced that mindfulness is the most appropriate or helpful therapy. How we perceive ourselves is rooted deeply within our belief systems and any negative beliefs, in my opinion, need to be addressed through therapies that can explore and re-think such unhelpful assumptions and thoughts.

However, back to mindfulness . . .

Away from musical performances, I would suggest that when used with an understanding of how and why it works, then, for seeking calm from intrusive thoughts and for training and strengthening one’s mind, mindfulness is great and well worth exploring.
As Ronald Purser says, it is not a “one-size-fits-all self-help tool” and as I say, simply use mindfulness mindfully.

Is stress-related sick leave causing you stress? Find out how to boost attendance, increase profits and have a happy, healthy workforce.

Stress, anxiety and depression have made it into the top three most common reasons for workplace sickness absence. According to the Office for National Statistics, in 2016, mental health issues ranked third behind only flu and musculoskeletal conditions and contributed to the loss of 15.8 million working days. In a 2017 article describing a worrying upward trend, Management Expert, Sophie Swanscott, claimed that stress, as a cause of workplace sick leave, had climbed to second place that year. Now, in 2019, Britain’s biggest employer, the NHS, cite stress-related sickness as the number one reason for absence from work.
Why are stress levels on the rise and what can companies do to help their employees enjoy good mental health and well-being?
Firstly, it’s important to look at the reasons behind stress-related illnesses. Why are stress levels rising? Is stress confined to the workplace or is it more widespread?The Health and Safety Executive lists 6 stressors that originate in the workplace – demand, control, support, relationships, role and change. Of course, it’s for employers to look at how these issues might affect their workforce and to be able to effectively identify signs of stress exhibited by employees. However, it must not be forgotten that other forces can also be at play when it comes to mental health.
External pressures (financial, logistical and social) have a huge impact on people’s lives. Low salaries, long hours, higher living costs, austerity, job insecurity and contract working add to the burden of financial hardship. And although latest employment figures show that 71.4% of women are now in work, the highest figure since records began in 1971, for women (or men) with children, it’s fair to say that unless family duties are shared with a partner or wider family, life can become a logistical juggling act.

Social factors also do not escape scrutiny here. Indeed there are many issues within society that have the potential to contribute to an overall increase in stress levels. Brexit is, of course, a shining example of how differing views can create division between people, between friends, colleagues and even families. Perceived ideals can also be seen as a curse on our collective mental health. Definitions of happiness, beauty and success are dictated to us via film, TV, and the media and, with the rise of social media over the last decade, such ideals are invading our psyches more frequently and more persistently than ever.
And finally, another thing to consider (and it is perhaps the most important aspect of mental health that employers could seek to address) is a person’s individual way of coping with the stresses and strains of life. I say this with no judgement; how we approach and perceive life is determined by a myriad of factors including genetics, innate temperament and our life experiences. What stresses one person might be of little significance to another and vice-versa. There are as many different interpretations, perceptions and reactions as there are people. Unfortunately, as figures show, the workplace, in many ways, bears the brunt of these 21st century pressures and stresses and the numbers are continuing to rise.
So, what is the solution?

My advice – refrain from blaming anyone or anything. As Dr Robyn Vesey, Organisational Consultant for Tavistock Consulting, states, “blame is indicative of the problem in the first place.” Instead, try to create a collaborative working environment. Make it known that your company is investing in the health and well-being of its employees. Organise a weekly walk-in hypnotherapy clinic – a qualified hypnotherapist can offer relaxing time-out for employees, a time where they can perhaps choose to air any worrying issues, find solutions to nagging problems or to learn relaxation techniques that they can incorporate into daily life.
Hypnotherapy is a solution-focused therapy; therapists use their expertise to uncover deep rooted beliefs that influence how we experience life, beliefs that determine our expectations, our perceptions and affect how we behave and react to the people around us. The role of the therapist is to challenge these unhelpful beliefs (which we all have) and help and guide the client to a place where the belief is viewed from a more helpful and healthy perspective. And, of course, the work undertaken in the session is reinforced during the hypnotherapeutic process.

Hypnotherapy, I believe, belongs to the world of neuroscience. It works directly with the brain’s ability to change and re-wire itself (neuroplasticity) and to build strong neural networks through the process of repetition. It is able to bypass the part of the mind that is constantly in the present (the conscious mind) and which gives a platform to what I refer to as the Inner Critic, the voice of doom and gloom that hacks away at one’s confidence. During the therapeutic process, as the conscious mind is allowed to enjoy a virtual voyage to a favourite place (real or imaginary) the agreed therapy is able to be delivered with far less resistance which, for me, is one of the main reasons why hypnotherapy is so quick and effective.

Not only does hypnotherapy get great results, the speed at which it can make long-lasting and positive changes means that it is also a very cost-effective investment on the part of employers. As is widely recognised, happy and healthy workforce make happy, healthy and productive industries.


As I sat . . . pondering . . . during a lull in an orchestral rehearsal, I found myself asking two of many musician’s million dollar questions, “what makes great music great and what makes a great musician great?” Of course, “great”, in this context is a subjective term. However, for the sake of allowing the core message of this blog to stand out, I would ask if interpretations be put aside for the time being.

Most of you know of, and have heard either live or on video or audio recordings, the performances of Jacqueline du Pré. Described as “legendary . . . charismatic . . . brilliant . . . one of the greatest . . . ”, (I could go on such is the extensive literature about her), she was known, apart from her incredible playing, for her “romantic, emotive style.” You’ll find all these quotes if you google Jacqueline du Pré and none of them are taken from Wikipedia!!!
Perhaps I’m about to hit shaky ground here but I will dare to suggest that even if her musical style and interpretations are not to your taste, it cannot be denied that her performances exude a very convincing message. Why and how???

She was a musical genius!
But what did she do?

Yes, she was a fantastic technician, a musical genius BUT . . . her focus and desire to “become” the music in that moment and allow her life’s experiences and existence to interpret every note and every phrase and to live it, there, in front of an audience was quite extraordinary.
Moving on . . .

In my younger days, I never really understood why some conductors were referred to as “maestro.” My naivety was abruptly cast aside when, in a Philharmonia Orchestra rehearsal, Lorin Maazel stood up to conduct Brahms Symphony No.2.
Wow! It was electric! But what did he do differently?

He ABSOLUTELY knew what he was doing and he was charged with a fizzing, ENERGY of ABSOLUTE INTENTION.
And the intention, in this sense, was about the music; it was about EVERYTHING that was needed to bring the music to life. I believe it is the job of the musician to set the music free in all its greatness.For me, nobody sums up the essence of music like the great J.S.Bach . . . “The aim and final end of all music should be none other than the glory of god and the refreshment of the soul.”

The very brief examples above are written as food for thought and to demonstrate my INTENTION for this blog.
Being “in the zone” is a rather clichéd phrase which you have all heard of but it represents a key ingredient of successful performances. It’s being in that place where one finds a fine balance of musical focus, receptive and reactive awareness, intuitively knowing when to dip in and out of a technical mind-set and simply when to sit back and enjoy the ride.

I’ve come across other blogs with really well-intentioned advice such as “focus on your sound” or “know the audience are there to enjoy the music” but I can’t help wondering if this simply misses the point.
I would argue that:

  • Studying the music
  • Technical preparation
  • Musical focus

. . . are three of the most important ingredients of a successful musical performance, the first two points enabling the third point (musical focus) to really come into its own.