Hypnotherapy can also be a way to help you access memories, images and feelings to explore beliefs that may still operate in your life, and enhance your capacity to consciously direct your life.
I chose Canyon Ranch Lenox to help me recover from the death of my brother by gun violence because they have unparalleled resources for health issues, including a staff of psychologists. This is the place where you can dive deep into whatever is hurting you, and find real help.
My program advisor and I had decided the most important service for me would be an "Inner Journey" with Jeffrey Rossman, Ph.D, head of Canyon Ranch Lenox's Life Management Department. I have experience with hypnotherapy, and had a feeling it could be helpful.
The Inner Journey Begins
To begin, Dr. Rossman and I talked a while about my brother's death, what I was feeling and what I wanted to accomplish in the 100-minute session. He helped me identify two goals: to further my healing process, and to be able to write about my brother and what he meant to me. "I say I want to do it, but I see I'm not doing it," I told him.
The traumatic circumstances of Wesley's death felt like a wall between me and the happier memories of our time together in childhood. I hoped Dr. Rossman could help me access those memories in a meaningful way, and dissolve whatever obstacles are keeping me from writing them down, like other people's criticism, and the heartbreak of remembering the brother I lost.
For the actual hypnotherapy session, I lay back in a comfy chair, covered up with a blanket, and closed my eyes. Dr. Rossman guided me back in time and asked me to recall some of my childhood memories of my brother. The first memory was walking home from school together. Some boy yelled out "Marrieds!" at us from across a park. It was supposed to be an insult -- a boy and a girl together! -- but we both just looked at him like he was crazy. It didn't disturb either one of us in the least. We liked to be together.
Wes Stood Up For Me
I remembered how my brother was willing to fight a much bigger boy who was grabbing at my legs, preventing me from coming down the slide. "Leave my sister alone!" he yelled, furiously windmilling his arms. Wes knew he couldn't beat the boy in a fight, but he was willing to take him on, and the boy stopped bothering me. Wes was my protector.
I remembered how we played "War" with his other friends from the neighborhood -- Wes had a Bazooka -- and there were arguments over whether someone had been shot or not. "It's not that common for a boy to include his little sister in his activities," Dr. Rossman commented. "They are generally regarded as a nuisance."
Dad spent $300 on a used boat one summer -- an unusual, unnecessary expenditure, just for fun -- and Wes and I water-skied our way through a couple of high-school summers. When Wes went to college I wanted to run away from home, but he talked me out of it. "There's a university high school here in Norman," he said. "You can come here."
The Truth Of A Deep Brother/Sister Bond
Dr. Rossman reflected back to me the truth of our relationship in a way that I felt no one else has really perceived -- how special it is to be a brother and sister, what a rare and beautiful relationship we had, unlike any other in my life. Dr. Rossman saw the terrible depth of my loss.
Wes was there for me from the very beginning of my life. We loved each other, accepted each other, and enjoyed each other's company. We didn't like every single thing the other one did, but we were honest when conflict arose. We got through it.
Then Dr. Rossman focused on the future. "You have an important story to tell," he told me. "It's a beautiful story, and a tragic story. And to write it you must keep your heart open, and be willing to remember the beautiful memories you have shared with me, and also the painful memories." He told me it would be a comfort to remember this beautiful relationship. "You will find the words."
Afterwards I felt more connected to the happy memories of my brother, and more confident in my ability to honor him and do him justice. It's not like one session makes the pain go away, but Dr. Rossman helped me over some of the places where I felt hindered. He moved me further along the path of healing, and helped indicate the way forward, for days when I walk the path alone.