Hypnosis & Hypnotherapy
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My Story in more detail
As you get to know me, you'll find I have the heart of a mystic and the mind of a skeptic. So hypnosis is perfect for me: a scientifically validated and refined technique working with the messy, complicated, emotional, mysterious parts of ourselves. It has been a twisty road to this point in my life, but I believe my experience brings a richness to my work in hypnotherapy that I wouldn't otherwise have.
I was born and raised in Arizona, to a typically healthy family. My parents were Christians, both lay ministers active in our congregation and region, and we children were raised in the loving embrace of our faith community. I remember being a very spiritual child, when even my play would be centered around acts and artifacts of worship and reverence. In high school, in my spare time I read Thomas Merton and studied religion. And I was lucky enough to have the constitution where I could physically do most anything I wanted to do without struggle - racketball, skateboarding, bouldering, hiking. I started learning Kung Fu (both physical and spiritual!) and acupuncture/acupressure. (Living in Flagstaff, at 7000 feet, was a daily aerobic workout I hardly appreciated at the time.)
In college I studied philosophy and religion - forever cementing my ambidextrous love of Reason and Faith. But, as one might expect in one's college years, while I intellectually appreciated "religious experience" (the way an anthropologist would), my own psychology became dominated by a passionate naturalism: the belief that whatever there is at work in the world, it is natural (not "supernatural").
I spent the next decade living by an approximation of Ocham's Razor: the philosophical principle that the simplest explanation requiring the fewest assumptions is most likely the true answer. This might serve well in scientific research (might), but it doesn't allow much room for magic or deep connection in one's life. These were, nevertheless, growth-filled years for me. I was studying philosophy and feminist theory at the graduate level. I spent a lot of nights by campfire, thinking and talking passionately and deeply with my friends. I learned to play the guitar and wrote a book. I served in Peace Corps Ukraine for three years - effectively a sabbatical from thinking about myself too much. When I returned to the States, I decided to re-engage my faith community, grew more politically active around peace and justice issues, and even started Seminary studies.
I was still a naturalist when I began Seminary. What I came to realize most of all in that program was that religion and faith was a language that people of goodwill have used to understand themselves and each other. However I feel about any religion in particular, I found that I could respect the tradition. And that opened a door.
Within a few years I was ordained and in public ministry in Seattle. I soon started working for the denomination regionally. Then, in an exciting opportunity, I was invited to be the executive minister over continental Europe and Eurasia. It was an amazing adventure. One that was cut short by an abusive coworker who had the protection of the chain of command. Within two years I went from being the best minister I had ever been to a husk of a person - suffering a nervous breakdown, devastating loss of sense of self worth, and desperate to escape. I left that position, losing our home, career, and new friends in the process, and returned to Seattle a broken person.
One beautiful thing that came out of that time was our first daughter. Then two years later, twins. They are angels (most of the time) and really lovely little persons.
But to be honest, those years were very dark and difficult. With three kids under three, we didn't have time for friends and our families were not in the area. We didn't have much support, and my wife was working to support the family in a demanding job. I was in no emotional state to do much but survive. Living in Seattle is expensive, even when you choose a very small house and turn the front yard into a microfarm. Three kids, a mortgage, car insuance and the rest... we decided the stress and debt were not worth the unhappiness and exhaustion. We sold our home and planned to live off-the-grid on some property out in the woods.
By this time I was working again for our church locally - working with congregations, individuals and clusters of congregations to discern objectives and how to meet them. I was tasked with member education, and social justice. It was a tailor-made position for me, and I am profoundly grateful for it.
Then my father-in-law was diagnosed with stage four cancer, and we moved in with them to care for him while my mother-in-law traveled for her work. A little while later, the church downsized and my position was lost. I continue to be an active minister, but not by profession.
Over the following years, I experienced another extraordinary growth period in my life, and took my previous education, experience, passion and training in a new direction. Realizing how much diet and exercise contributed to my depression following Europe, and how much they helped in my recovery was profound. Intentionally working through a variety of emotional and mental/belief issues unresolved since my trauma seven years earlier was an unforeseen blessing that came from my studies to be an Integrative Wellness and Life Coach. I began training and pursuing advanced study in hypnosis, finding in it a more direct path to the best work I was doing in religion: working with the subconscious to change behavior and attitudes, making lives better and happier. What was becoming clear to me is that I have been preparing for this my whole life.
Everything that I had experienced - good and bad, physically and emotionally, mentally and spiritually - informed and shaped me to be able to bring a unique perspective and help others.
I have an undergraduate degreee in philosophy and religion - marrying two related (and mutually-informative) but often antagonistic traditions. My spiritual journey has taken me from naive Christianity to profound questioning to a novel sense of devotion that is able to embrace both the discomfort of belief and "non-belief", and embracing the tradition (what has been handed down as meaningful) and novelty (creativity and reaching into new areas of spiritual insight and exploration). I have been brought from a place of judgmentalism through a time of cynicism to a place of compassion and eagerness. Now I can appreciate all of those places and stages and coping mechanisms as legitimate and as people doing the best they can with the resources they have. I can be dedicated to the best that I know, while always knowing that I may have to abandon what I "know" for a better (deeper, greater) understanding. I can help other people be affirmed where they are but also called (or at least open) to a greater sense of being. (Metanoia?)