How daily self-hypnosis can change your life - and why it's time to give your smart-phone a rest
“When it comes to the misconceptions surrounding hypnotism - movies and stage performers have a lot to answer for,” laughs Gerry McAuley.
“During the 60s and 70s, it seemed every cabaret club had a hypnotist on its bill. Thousands would pack into the Fiesta cabaret club on Arundel Gate to see performers turn audience members into everything from egg laying chickens to amorous objects of desire.
“The dominance of the stage hypnotist in the latter half of the last century produced a stereotype that has left massive misconceptions about a state of mind we experience every single day of our lives – normally without even realizing it.”
It was during a particularly difficult time in his life that Gerry, aged 63, turned to hypnotism for the first time.
“It was pure necessity to help me deal with a lot of massive changes that were happening in my life,” he explains.
“It was 1983 and I’d just moved from London, and got a new and very demanding job as a management trainer.
“After reading an article in some journal, I went to see a local practitioner who offered to teach me self-hypnosis. It was the start of my journey.”
Gerry began practicing self-hypnotism every day sat on the train to work.
“I found it really relaxing and it made such a big difference to how I felt each day,” says Gerry, of Bradway.
“So many people have habits, fears or beliefs that hold them back - from lacking confidence to feeling you need to stay in a job you know is not right. Hypnosis, when done correctly, can change those thought patterns.”
In 1989, Gerry worked with his wife, teaching her self-hypnosis to help her through a completely natural 26-hour labour with their daughter Phoene.
“Long before the term ‘hypno-birthing’ was coined, midwives all over the world were helping labouring women with these techniques,” he says.
Today Gerry is an unlikely bridge between two worlds; working as both a management consultant, and as a hypnotherapist and life coach. He recently opened a new practice, Stillpoint, in the Sharrow area of the city.
“Of course there are a lot of misconceptions about what I do,” he laughs.
“First of all, I must emphasise that hypnosis requires the active consent of the individual throughout. No one can be made to do anything under hypnosis that they do not wish to do. A suggestion will only be accepted if it is truly acceptable to that person.”
“Hypnosis involves being in a state of trance and there are many everyday examples of this action trance states. These include driving a car somewhere and not remembering the journey and having a pleasant daydream – the list is endless!”
Gerry says his work in the field of mental health has made him acutely aware of the issues facing the local population – and he firmly believes there’s a ticking time bomb in the region.
“I think it is tougher than ever being a young person growing up in the screen obsessed world of today, one with alarmingly rising rates of children as young as seven or eight suffering from anxiety and depression,” he says.
“Recent research says only one third of parents in the UK read bedtime stories to their kids and a quarter of British parents revealed that their children listen to bedtime stories through technology like smart speakers, home assistants and apps.
“Real life is passing kids by as they – and their parents - stare into their tablets and phones. I was a playground recently and was saddened to notice around 80 per cent of the parents there, their heads bowed studying their phones, while all around there were children running and skipping and swinging from the monkey bars, shouting ‘mummy, daddy, look at me!’
“I’m not anti-smart phone, genuinely. I think these devices are powerful and useful tools if used correctly, but it’s a bit like someone who enjoys eating, crossing the line into a food addiction. There’s a tipping point with anything, and when we are absorbed in mindless activity, like browsing social media, seeing what other people are doing with their lives, at the expense of engaging with our own, it’s unhealthy.
“Self-hypnotism and mindfulness takes you away from these external distractions, giving you time to focus on the deepest instinctive part of the mind - the part that knows you better than you do.
“I like to help people to get back in charge of their own lives, and away from allowing technology to manage it for them. It's never been more important to talk to one another, to engage in our lives, and be present – essentially everything that makes us human.”