25 Aug Hypnotherapy: creating a supportive culture in your own head
A relaxing and spacious experience at London Clinic of Hypnotherapy
When I think of hypnotherapy, I think of the 1997 Friends episode when Chandler Bing is listening to his hypnosis tape on his bed that keeps repeating to him that he’s a “strong, confident, woman”. Even though that episode always makes me chuckle, it’s not quite a fair description of the intricacies of what hypnotherapy can offer — even though, like Chandler, I am currently lying on my bed each night listening to audio tapes in exactly the same way.
I first met Lydia Johnson, founder of the London Clinic of Hypnotherapy in 2019, when she reached out about her practice. At that time, I was dealing with increasing anxiety around getting on an aeroplane. It was annoying me, because I was so excited about my career opportunities and the trips I was taking, but the fear of flying was starting to ruin it all. It wasn’t even the flight itself, it was the lead up to the flight each side of trip, so the actual time away feeling relaxed was being cut very short. I’d land in New York and then a few days later start pacing around with sweaty palms thinking about the flight home. Ironically, very soon after, of course, the airlines would shut down due to the pandemic and fear of flying suddenly felt irrelevant.
But for the few flights I did take after our session, my anxiety has reduced significantly. I had really enjoyed our session and meeting her — her skills, empathy and bespoke approach. I remember laying down on her comfortable sofa feeling really at home even though we’d just met and she had allowed me the space to imagine the whole narrative I was spinning around my fears, and by breaking it down and allowing me to picture my journey from start to finish (taxi, airport, security, boarding, flight, landing) — I was able to have a real distance from my thoughts for the first time in a long time. Then a new different fear reared its head and I knew I had to get in touch with her again.
I’ve written before about my sober-curious journey and how I’ve been re-evaluating my relationship with alcohol for a while. I am happier, brighter, less foggy, less anxious and just better all-round when I don’t drink. However, even though intellectually I know all of this, I have so many things that still trigger me to break my cycle of good habits. A cold glass of crisp white wine in front of a good view. A glass of red wine in front of a roaring fire. Friends who say ‘oh go on, treat yourself!’ The thought of the ‘crisp glass of wine’ makes me feel relaxed typing it, the truth is: those drinks never make me feel relaxed. It doesn’t even add an element of ‘fun’ anymore either. I’ve had way more fun when sober on nights out lately and the myth of it all is revealing itself. This feeling of ‘relaxation’ that I am craving at the end of a long day is not be found at the bottom of the glass and yet I found myself doing it anyway because drinking culture is so normalised.
So, I got back in touch with Lydia again. Could she help me with this seemingly self-imposed conflict going on in my mind? On one hand, drinking was making me groggy and foggy, on the other hand, other people’s photos of glasses of wine were enticing me. The problem I had, I think, was the back-and-forth in my mind. That was the thing that was exhausting me, not even the drinking itself at that point. In Lydia’s words, hypnotherapy ‘gives you the spatial awareness in the real world to make the right decision” with “an added layer and support to let go of dilemma and conflict.”
I booked in for a two-hour break-through session. Her therapy room is just off Carnaby street, and I loved the warm and safe feeling within her space, hearing the vibrations of the hustle and bustle of London going on outside the window. You get to feel like the world is ‘out there’ while you are cocooned inside the therapy room. The session was a combination of talk therapy first of all to get to the crux of it, going back over the past, childhood, deeper layers so that Lydia has all the information needed on the issue at hand, and then in the final twenty minutes I lay back on her green velvet sofa with headphones on, listening to the relaxing sound of her voice as I let the words go deeper into my psyche. I was in a cosy trance and then when she told me to open my eyes, I opened them gently.
The only requirement after the session was to listen to this bespoke audio she created for me every evening before bed — easy! — and I do already feel a shift. Lydia told me to trust the process and that listening to the audio daily will rewire neural pathways, remind me of why I want to uplift my thoughts to create a kind and supportive culture in my head. She also explained that “vagus nerve relaxation is key” and I enjoyed learning about the terminologies behind it all. This is what I felt I was missing, this structure and routine of a daily ritual to clear my mind, as I was falling into black and white thinking to do with fallen ‘on’ and ‘off’ a wagon that I had created, and the audio has already helped stave off the overwhelm of making decisions each day.
She broke it down very clearly for me: our thoughts lead to feelings that lead to behaviours. The first twenty minutes of our day is key. We really can set ourselves up for more good days than not if we have the right information and tools at hand. Hypnotherapy is definitely less ‘alternative’ these days as Lydia told me both her dentist and my doctor are both hypnotherapists too. This stuff should be taught at schools.
Following the session, I feel like I have a bit more space in my brain, it’s not as noisy. It’s not as conflicted. It’s calmer. Whatever happened in that room has no doubt helped mark a shift, and I’m excited to see what it goes from here.
Intrigued? You can enquire or book a session with Lydia here.