He came to see me for a personal problem that was causing him a lot of pain. I wanted to give him some self-hypnosis home work to do between sessions, as support, until we had resolved all his issues - which would take about 5 sessions.
The self-hypnosis method that I teach is Cal Banyan's 7th Path®. It is a body, mind, spirit approach to self-hypnosis. When clients practice it they say special affirmations to themselves called recognitions. Each of the recognitions has a place for the client to put their name for their higher power. Most people use "God", "Spirit", or even “Love" because the name can be anything that is larger than them and uplifts them, the larger and the more uplifting the better. After I explained this to my client he teasingly asked me, "How 'bout if I use "the NFL?".
Sometimes my clients really make me laugh.
"In all seriousness, though”, my client continued, “I am not sure I am a believer.”
"I have to admit; I can't say that God has been scientifically proven to me either”, I answered back. “The way I look at it, though, is I want to believe things that make me feel better, so I choose to believe there is a God. You, by the way, do the same thing."
"Yes, you choose to believe things that make you feel better. For instance, when you lock your door at night you believe that locking your door will make you safe, but you don't know. You've allowed yourself to believe that, so you can sleep peacefully and feel better. If you really thought about all the things that could happen to you, even with the door locked, you'd be pretty miserable. Isn't that true?"
"I guess it is."
"We believe all sorts of things that have not been proven to us. Another example is when you are driving on the right side of a two lane highway. You believe the cars on the left side are going to stay in their lane, but you don't know."
“Hmmm you do have me thinking.”
And you know, there are other things that can make us feel better through belief, things that can even cure disease. You've heard of placebos, right?"
"They are very powerful. If a person believes a pill will make them well, even if the pill is no more than sugar, they can make a total recovery. The power of placebos has been well documented."
"That is true."
"Speaking of believing things, most of us have had the experience of thinking about something and then it happens. I have a friend that wanted some packing tape for mailing a box and as she was driving she saw some just lying on the side of the road. Someone had dropped it. It was a brand new box of packing tape. She believes she can attract anything by the power of her mind. This is only one of the many things she has attracted like this. It actually gets kind of weird, the stuff she can “conjure up” sometimes."
My client shifted and I could tell by the movement of his eyes that he was remembering something that hurt. Then he said, "It's just that my mother was abusive and part of her abuse was to shove God down my throat. We were Catholic. She used God to manipulate and to scare me into doing things she wanted me to do."
"Well, that is enough to make you want nothing to do with God.
" "That’s why I am wondering what name to give a higher power. I don't even know if I want to go there."
"So you mean on top of every other crappy thing she did to you, she also ruined the idea of God for you?”
"Sometimes I think I never had the chance to really even decide for myself. She shoved the idea down my throat, so I rejected it and her."
"You know, anybody who has been through what you have been through would feel the same way you do. I'm sorry that happened to you. Would you like to hear more, or would you just like me to put this stuff away?”
“I think I would like to hear a little more."
"Well, that’s up to you. I just want to say that I hate when people act like they alone own the idea of a “Higher Power” and that only they have knowledge of Him. With 7thPath® you get to decide what to call that higher power. Most people use the word God, but plenty of people have used words like “Peace”, “Nature” or “The Universe”.
By the way people tell me all the time there is no God, but it just seemed to me I'd be happier if I could get myself to believe that I had an all-powerful friend."
"Like a super hero?" my client laughed.
"Better than a super hero. He is my version of God after all”, I smiled. “From the mind's stand point if you ever do want to revisit the idea, you can look at God your own way. For instance, God can be what you want and what you need such as peace or love. God can be your very own and you can be His. He can be your most intimate friend. Some would argue this, but, actually, God is what you make him. What kind of God do you want?”
“What kind do you have?”
“My God is guiding me, and has my back. This is the kind of “Loving, all knowing Friend” I choose to believe in. I love God. God loves me. I make this my reality. Like my friend who finds the packing tape on the side of the road. And, I am just a lot happier this way.”
"So have you seen evidence of God?"
"Maybe the evidence is just a bunch of hallucinations. Some would argue the entire world is a hallucination. I just know I do not feel alone, I am restored when I pray, meditate or do my 7th Path®, I rarely feel afraid and I find my intuition has improved giving me an inner guidance system which makes my life easier.
All of this didn't happen overnight. It gets better by a matter of degree as I practice. But it has been very nice because this path of life, well, it can be a very rocky one sometimes."
This client did go on to practice 7th Path®. He never told me the name he chose for his higher power. Some clients share that and some don’t. You can also change your name for your higher power whenever you want to when practicing 7th Path®. And by the way, you can also practice 7th Path® and be an atheist or agnostic. Just about everyone can identify a higher power that is larger than them and uplifts them, even if it is Family, Nature or Love itself.