Well, not you ... me.
Yesterday I did the hour and a half drive to the hypnotherapy school in Lafayette. It is not the easiest building to find because while the address claims that it is on a main street, I actually had to find a dirt road beside a construction site and wind up a hill. Thank heavens my husband had been in the complex of buildings the week before doing some work or I might never have found it. Still, I was grateful for a really light traffic day and I got there with 3 whole minutes to spare!
The center is a 3 story, natural wood sided building with enormous windows that look out over a garden to one side and a grove of trees on the other. I walked down two short flights of stairs to the front door, and then stepped up into the building (who designed that?), and stood on a landing with stairs going up to my right and stairs leading down to my left, and no signs. As I pondered which way to go, a very friendly white dog (that looked a lot like a mop head) bounded down the stairs, stopping where she was about eye level with me, holding a tennis ball in her mouth and waggling her entire body. I just cracked up, which meant the school's director heard me and came out from the upper floor to welcome me.
The office sported two nearly identical dogs - mother and daughter, I think. I shook the hand of the office manager, Holly's husband, and we went to chat. I looked over the materials for the hypnotherapy training and I was really impressed. They teach a lot more than Ericksonian hypnotherapy. I looked at the 8" binder briefly, which is most of the reference material and thumbed through three books while she asked about me and I asked about her, and the school, about certification, etc. We walked around the building and she showed me the sand play therapy room. OMG.
Three sides of the room were flanked with floor to ceiling bookshelves. On every shelf there must have been 50 - 100 toy figures, of all sorts and sizes. Some were small, like the kind you get in a McDonald's Happy Meal, while others were larger. They were all lined up in neat rows on their shelf like so many little soldiers in a battalions. They were also in groups by 'kind' - some were family figures, buildings, mythical figures, heroes/heroines and on and on. I was so overwhelmed by the sheer number of them that I was nearly struck dumb. On the back wall, under a wide window, was a stack of trays with sand and then low shelves with more baskets of toys. I picked up one... "Jabba the Hutt" from Star Wars and I sort of laughed at how comical it was. She teaches sand play therapy for adults and children and while I don't really know much about it, ok not really anything about it, I'm thinking any kid would just love to be in a room with that many toys.
I really liked Holly, and just the feel of the place. Every room was filled with big overstuffed couches and chairs. It was the least 'school-like' instructional facility I have ever seen. Besides teaching Hypnotherapy and several other helping modalities, her husband (who is also the office manager) is also a sound engineer and a musician, so there are recording facilities on-site which is pretty cool because students film and record their work with each other so they can review it individually and with the group as a whole, critiquing technique and offering feedback. This also helps students work on their voice, to make it more pleasing. I'm sure none of us know what we sound like. Personally, I hate to hear myself on tape, but I think it would be helpful to know so adjustments could be made.
After the introduction, I booked a session with one of the graduate students. Nathanial is also a grad student at one of the colleges I am considering and even in the same Marriage and Family Therapy program. Kismet. I had this vision of him before I arrived - he would be a talk-lanky young man, with dark hair. He was exactly that - Chinese American, as lean as a willow branch, soft-spoken, and just exuding this warmth and kindness. It turns out he is also a QiGong and Tai Chi instructor and vegan. Of course he is!
Here's a cool bit - my session was FREE! I felt a bit bad, as he drove in from San Francisco to Lafayette to do it, but he assured me that it was his pleasure to do it and he gets feedback from Holly on how well he did his job as 'payment'. It was sort of a dual session. We talked about my 'issue' that I wanted to address. I went in with "exercise motivation", but as we talked about it, Nathanial asked if we could go a 'bit deeper' with it. I agreed because, hey, this is free and I want to play with this a bit. We talk about a recent incident when I went out to walk on the bike trail and I was verbally accosted with fat slurs by some half-drunk homeless guys (I haven't been back on the trial since, btw). He leads me through an EFT tapping session. I follow his movements as he takes one hand and taps in various points on his other hand, forehead, to the side and below his eye, above his lip and on his ribcage, while repeating a series of statements. The idea is to move energy along the meridians (if you know Chinese medicine) and to defuse the anxiety, stress, fear etc. of a particular incident. We go through this several times and it is oddly soothing.
Next he leads me in a hypnotherapy session. I was led down a flight of stairs to the therapy rooms, and found out that the bathrooms are yet another flight down from there. My thighs were already sore from the grocery totting the day before, so boy were my legs burning by the time I came back up to the therapy room. Yeesh. After huffing up the stairs, I was treated to a more 'traditional' trance session than what I've been getting on my CDs. I sit on a comfy couch, surrounded by pillows and I plop one on my lap to rest my hands on. He counts me down from 10 to 0, and does a guided imagery. What was interesting to me is that it was not a pre-determined scene. He started me off on a footpath, but then I mentally created the scene as we went along. It was also interactive, in that he asked me questions during the session and for feedback. We next revisited a scene from a real early childhood incident where my 1st grade teacher asked all the kids, one by one, to cue up and then jump up, grab the monkey bars and then do a dead hang for a period of time before she would catch us as we dropped. I knew... KNEW that I 'might' get up there, but dead hang at my weight (I was fat by Kindergarten) was going to be a disaster. It was. I fell and slammed my face into hard packed sand, scraped a half-dollar size wound into my forehead and jammed a tooth. The teacher also didn't expect me to drop so fast, so she wasn't there to 'catch' me. He asked me to be with my 1st grade self, to comfort myself, then as the 1st grade me to explain to the teacher what I need from her, and imagine doing it again .. this time successfully and without the peals of laughter from other kids assaulting me. It was remarkably emotional, and tender and I was pretty surprised that he was able to get that out of me. He counted me back up and out of the trance and I felt really quite happy but relaxed. He suggested I stick around a while, have some water and 'integrate', but it was 2:40 and I wanted to miss rush hour traffic on the way home. Assured that I was just fine, I thanked him - he hugged me - everyone there hugged me ... very ... hippy ...and I liked it.
I thought I was perfectly fine on the drive home, but about 1/2 hour out I began to get a headache, and then realized I was exceedingly hungry. Still, I was together enough to come home and not panic or freak and pound a ton of food. I pulled a yogurt out of the fridge and it held me for the hour, until my husband came home. As the evening wore on, I realized I was utterly and inexplicably exhausted. Yes, I did spend 3 hours on the freeway, but this didn't feel like driving fatigue. This felt like... I don't know ... like you do when you've had a good, long cry or spent an afternoon telling a good friend about something awful that you had happen to you. I was wrung out, spent ... not distraught, just ... spent. I also experienced this roaring tinnitus in my ears, like I had been standing too close to the speakers at an outdoor concert. It is still there a little bit today.
I slept like a log, and truly .. I feel like I released something in that session. Hmmmm and to think, I probably have shoes older than Nathaniel! He is clearly in his element.
One funny thing ... he had trouble figuring out what to call my younger and older selves... he began with "Young Bernice" and "Old Bernice", and quickly sensed that calling a woman OLD is a bad idea .. so he switched half-way through to "Young" and "Adult". *lol* Clearly I wasn't in trance enough to let that one go by without a grimace!
I have decided I will take at least the first in the 4 series of trainings and maybe the whole series if I like it. Hotel rooms in that area are so so so expensive that I will have to commute. I hope I'm not entirely a mess after a 9 hour class, plus 3 hours of commute time I will have enough time to eat and go to bed! Maybe I will get lucky and someone else in the class will want to share a room and split the cost?
I planned to walk to the vet today - about 2 miles - to pick up pet food, but my legs and rear are so sore from getting back on my exercise routine and all the stairs yesterday that my legs soundly voted NO. They won't get off so easy - we're doing it tomorrow, no matter what!