Hypnotherapy cures my fear of Chinese lessons

By Patrick Whiteley ( China Daily ) Updated: 2008-01-21 09:24:03

The Webster's dictionary defines phobia as an extreme or irrational fear of or aversion to something. Up until a month ago, I was terrified of learning Chinese. Today I love learning hanyu and have no doubt I will be speaking Chinese sooner rather than later. My cure? A bizarre mix of hypnosis and traditional Chinese medicine (TCM).

My phobia was frustrating considering I had spent six months, and a small fortune, banging my head on the classroom walls. I just didn't get it.

I had memorized 800 words and most sentence patterns, but as soon as the teacher started to speak, I would catch the first two or three words and forget everything else.

As I tried desperately to remember the rest of the sentence, I would forget the first few words. In a language lesson I was speechless most of the time. This lack of total comprehension is normal for a beginner, but after five months, I felt something was horribly wrong.

I upped my classes and would have five one-on-one classes per day followed by a couple of hours of homework at night. I would play Chinese dialogues before I slept. Sleep? I couldn't sleep! My putonghua phobia had given me insomnia.

My brother told me about a possible hypnotherapy solution. Mark is a good surfer but had stopped because of his three young children. A big swell was about to hit the Sydney coastline and Mark was excited and afraid. He felt his rusty surfing skills would render him helpless. After hypnotherapy he ripped, tore and lacerated the 3-m waves to shreds. If hypnotherapy could work for my brother, it would work for me.

Hypnosis is an altered state of consciousness in which the mind becomes detached from its usual concerns. I have discovered my thinking and behavior is driven mainly by my conscious mind. In the conscious state, the brain thinks and analyzes continuously, and the unconscious mind takes a back seat. The conscious mind is a little like a teenager, high on energy and annoyingly low on discipline.

My conscious mind wasn't having immediate gratification, so it was hijacking my lessons.

During hypnosis, my chattering consciousness, which kept telling me, "you can't speak Chinese", was taken out of action. My subconscious mind rose up and was ready for instruction.

Hypnotherapist Barry Disch, who also uses acupuncture, put me into a deep state of relaxation. He then calmly told my subconscious about the joys of Chinese language.

I've had a few sessions and my passion for Chinese is rising rapidly. Fear sometimes creeps back but I understand what is happening and treat my teen-like mind accordingly. I don't scold it, I ignore it and focus on the positive. I breathe deeply.

Believing in the treatment is a key factor to my cure. I am very open to meditation, hypnotherapy, TCM, and the concept of chi energy.

In fact, since I moved to China, I'm open to a lot more ideas about life, the universe and everything. Soon, thanks to my new language, I'll be able to understand even more and I'll hear it from the locals themselves.

(China Daily 01/21/2008 page10)

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