Mindful Healing: The Role of Self-Hypnosis in Easing Cancer Discomfort

A few weeks after my breast cancer diagnosis, I was called back for an additional biopsy due to concerns about another area in my breast requiring an MRI-guided procedure. An MRI is an imaging machine resembling a small tunnel. During the procedure, lying on my belly, a piece of plastic from the MRI table pressed against my sternum, causing pain and discomfort despite local anesthesia.

As the doctor prepared for the biopsy, I recalled a friend who underwent thyroid surgery using self-hypnosis for anesthesia. Trained by a hypnotherapist, he induced deep hypnosis and numbness in the throat area. Though I was in the early stages of my hypnotist training when diagnosed, prompted by this memory, I attempted self-hypnosis. Visualizing a serene ocean scene—gentle waves, wet sand, and the sun’s warmth—I aimed to connect deeply with this imagery.

While the pain persisted, self-hypnosis made it more manageable. I found sanctuary in my mind—a haven to seek solace amid medical procedures.

Self-hypnosis is an alternate state of consciousness, blending relaxation and focused attention. It is a natural state we experienced daily (when absorbed in reading or arriving home without remembering the last miles of a journey).

Research confirms hypnosis’s efficacy in reducing cancer-related symptoms like pain, nausea, fatigue, emotional distress, and anxiety. However, incorporating it into standard cancer care faces barriers due to myths about hypnosis, limited understanding of its mechanism, and practitioner availability.

Throughout treatment, I utilized ocean visualization to briefly distance myself from the clinical setting. I adopted more self-hypnosis techniques to manage anxiety and pain, and I implemented a daily visualization of my treatment attacking cancer cells with the aid of my immune system. Envisioning my body’s defenses combating cancer cells with unwavering strength and cleansing my body of any waste or toxic components fostered a sense of empowerment and deepened my belief in the mind-body connection. I continue this visualization practice to this day.

In my coaching sessions, I encourage and guide others to harness the innate power of their minds. I believe self-hypnosis extends far beyond mere relaxation; it is a conduit for healing. By accessing the subconscious mind, we can regain a renewed sense of control and unearth reservoirs of resilience, hope, and determination. Self-hypnosis becomes a personal refuge—a simple yet profound practice empowering patients to harness inner strength, fostering resilience and hope with each focused breath.

Have you used self-hypnosis in the past? Want to learn more? Contact me.

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