During a brainstorming session about possible story ideas for the first issue of the Calistoga Tribune in 2010, I was trying to come up with creative angles on the whole New Year's topic. In the past, we have written stories about health clubs, asked local bigwigs for predictions, and stopped people on the street to ask what their resolutions were. After eight years, though, the annual events and holidays become harder and harder to tackle with a fresh mind.
Then I saw that we have two new regular advertisers in the newspaper: a hypnotist and an astrologer. Perfect! Here was a unique take on working on resolutions, and also something I knew nothing about. I hoped it would be interesting to me and to our readers.
And so, I interviewed Anthony Royce Barnacott of Kamalot Astrology and Donna Rodolph of Hypnosis for Change. Both were knowledgeable, enthusiastic and contagiously thrilled to talk to me. But there was a bonus that I wasn't expecting: both also offered me a free trial to get a taste of what they do.
Anthony is currently preparing my TimeLine, an astrological chart which will tell what is in store for me in 2010 based on my Dec. 26, 1962, 5:43 p.m. birthdate. It should arrive in the mail in the next day or two. So that is still to come.
Today, at 12:30 p.m., I was hypnotized by Donna. She specializes in helping people overcome problems, things like losing weight, stopping smoking, overcoming fears, reducing stress or managing pain. Although there were any number of things on that list I could have chosen, I selected the biggest obstacle in my life: food. I have struggled with eating disorders and weight gain and loss since I was a young teenager. I have periods of stability, then again go back into the cycle of destructive behaviors. Could hypnosis really work?
Well, we'll see. The session was surprisingly relaxing, and did not, as I thought it might, put me into an unconscious state. Instead, it was more like a deep attentiveness, with a complete absence of tension. Donna had me visualize what it would be like to be healthy and fit, and I had a strong image of myself as a runner, something I used to do, and have been considering taking up again.
I still feel a bit skeptical of the whole process. But despite that, hopeful. Maybe this really can help me rewire my brain, and establish new behaviors.
An interesting note to all of this was Donna's comment that she could not offer me any "satisfied customers" names for interviews, because when she was starting her still relatively new practice, most of her clients were Christians. As in fundamentalists. And, because of that, they were very guarded about their participation. Apparently there was some sense that a good Christian shouldn't be turning to something as potentially "spooky" as hypnosis for answers. I guess God was supposed to do it for them.
All of which made me reflect on my own spiritual practice. I didn't turn to hypnosis and astrology looking for answers - what I was really looking for was a story. But once I was there, it made me wonder a bit. How does all of this fit in with Zen?
I guess the good news is that it doesn't have to fit. There's enough room in my Zen, anyway, for everything....even the far out stuff. Because it's not a religion - it's a way of being present for life, no matter where each day takes me.