Along with depression, isolation and frustration, Will Newman began to feel that his fate was out of his hands while serving in the U.S. Navy during the Vietnam War.
"Waking up some mornings you realize you have absolutely no control over your life, no control over what to do and when to do it, where you will be, and absolutely no control about whether you'll live through the day," he said.
This sense of powerlessness did not subside once he returned home. And one way it expresses itself is through eating and weight fluctuation.
But since meeting with hypnotherapist Margot Miles with Success Hypnosis in Lake Oswego, he has not only lost ample weight but felt more confident than ever that he won't gain it back.
"Her entire approach to weight loss and weight maintenance is just a good, straightforward, useful approach. It makes sense. It works. Her whole practice is a supportive and enabling approach," Newman said.
Miles works with veterans to help them cope with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), isolation, weight gain and other residual effects from war.
"There's people who have served in the Vietnam War. There's people who have served during Desert Storm, people who have been retired from the service for many years," Miles said. "I work with people from all branches of service and often what they're working on is something related to PTSD."
As a child, upon struggling to open a jar, Miles asked her father — also a hypnotherapist — for help. Instead of prying it open, he told her to visualize the sound of opening the jar, the smell of pickles and the satisfaction of performing the task before trying again. And sure enough, her imagination became reality.
According to Miles, rather than some nefarious mind-control mechanism, hypnosis is simply achieving success through visualization.
"All it is is using the power of your mind which is already quite powerful toward a beneficial goal," Miles said. "The techniques we use here are the same types of visualization techniques that professional athletes use to prepare for a game. When they visualize success in the game then they're more likely to succeed."
In her sessions, Miles first gets to know the patient and asks them about the difficulties they are facing and the root of those difficulties.
Then, to get them into a hypnotized state, she dims the lights, plays soothing music and tells the client to relax certain muscle groups and lean back in the recliner.
"Some feel like they have fallen asleep but more often than not it's just relaxed, sort of like being read a bedtime story," Miles said.
During the hypnosis, which she calls a "guided meditation," she focuses solely on instilling positive thoughts rather than forcing her client to relive the trauma. Miles also has clients listen to a recording of the session before going to bed.
She said during the hypnotic state, while the conscious mind wanders, the subconscious is hard at work.
"When we're relaxed our subconscious mind is an even better learner," Miles said.
Miles has noticed that veterans of the Iraq War have dealt with feelings of isolation when they return home. But she also works with clients like Newman who have endured deleterious effects for most of their lives.
"In the messaging I will always incorporate messages that they're supported, that they're cared for and that they matter," Miles said. "I love working with vets. I feel so honored to help them on their healing journey because often they've been through a lot."
She recommends that war veterans and most of her clients also receive consultation from a clinical therapist and says hypnosis can complement such services.
Newman, for his part, has lost weight many times before and tried myriad diets only to eventually gain the weight back. However, after seeing Miles, he began noticing improvements almost immediately and lost 60 pounds in just six months. He has now gone seven months without putting back on the weight.
And Newman said that along with the hypnosis, the information Miles provided was useful.
"My entire approach to what I eat changed: What to eat, when to eat, when not to eat, what not to eat, why. Underlying it all is an understanding of what's going on when you eat and when you don't eat," he said. "It gave me information and an understanding of how to manage my intake of food that I have been able to practice."
Miles said she often notices changes within the first week and that her clients usually say they sleep better, have more energy and feel more connected to others over time.
And witnessing those improvements is what makes her job worthwhile.
"Seeing people feel better and that they can change, that they can feel better, it's a wonderful thing," she said.
For more information about Success Hypnosis, visit https://www.successhypnosis.com/.
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